1976 Legislative Session: 1st Session, 31st Parliament
The following electronic version is for informational purposes only.
The printed version remains the official version.
WEDNESDAY, MAY 26, 1976
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An Act to Incorporate the British Columbia Association of Colleges (Bill 51).
Introduction and first reading. Mrs. Jordan — 2037
Interprovincial Subpoena Act (Bill 19).
Introduction and first reading. Hon. Mr. Gardom — 2037
Interpretation Amendment Act, 1976 (Bill 20).
Introduction and first reading. Hon. Mr. Gardom — 2037
Safety of BCR operations. Mr. Lea — 2037
Leg-hold traps. Mr. Gibson — 2038
Pollution of Goldstream River by Noranda Mines. Mr. King — 2039
Takeover of Welfare from municipalities. Mr. Gibson — 2039
PWA move to Alberta. Mr. Macdonald — 2039
Committee of Supply: Department of Health estimates.
On vote 86
Mrs. Dailly — 2041
Hon. Mr. McClelland — 2041
Ms. Brown — 2041
Hon. Mr. McClelland — 2043
Mr. King — 2045
Hon. Mr. McClelland — 2047
Mr. Macdonald — 2048
Hon. Mr. McClelland — 2049
Anti-Inflation Measures Act (Bill 16) Second reading.
Ms. Sanford — 2050
Mr. Bawtree — 2054
Mr. Macdonald — 2058
Mr. Veitch — 2058
Mr. Levi — 2060
Mr. Nicolson — 2066
WEDNESDAY, MAY 26, 1976
The House met at 2 p.m.
HON. K.R. MAIR (Minister of Consumer Services): Mr. Speaker, in the gallery today is an old friend of mine and former law partner from Vancouver, Mr. Gustav Kroll. I would ask the House to bid him welcome.
MR. A.B. MACDONALD (Vancouver East): Mr. Speaker, I would like to welcome to our legislative gallery Mr. Jack Chapman, who was born in Gloucester some 80 years ago, who took the first diesel ship out of the port of Victoria, and has been a marine engineer all his life — the ancient mariner. (Laughter.)
HON. R.H. McCLELLAND (Minister of Health): Mr. Speaker, I would like the House to make welcome and, of course, be on their best behaviour for a group of children and their teachers from the Cloverdale Community School. Please welcome them.
HON. G.B. GARDOM (Attorney-General): I'm also pleased, Mr. Speaker, to welcome to the House today a number of students from Point Grey high school in Vancouver with their teacher, Mr. Bowman. Their school motto is honor ante honoris, and as the former Attorney-General well knows, that means honour before honours. Let's bid them a special welcome.
Introduction of bills.
AN ACT TO INCORPORATE THE BRITISH
COLUMBIA ASSOCIATION OF COLLEGES
On a motion by Mrs. Jordan, Bill 51, British Columbia Association of Colleges Incorporation Act, introduced, read a first time and ordered to be referred to the Select Standing Committee on Standing Orders and Private Bills.
INTERPROVINCIAL SUBPOENA ACT
On a motion by Hon. Mr. Gardom, Bill 19, Interprovincial Subpoena Act, 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.
INTERPRETATION AMENDMENT ACT, 1976
On a motion by Hon. Mr. Gardom, Bill 20, Interpretation Amendment Act, 1976, 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.
SAFETY OF BCR OPERATIONS
MR. G.R. LEA (Prince Rupert): Mr. Speaker, I have a question to the Minister of Recreation and Travel Industry. It has come to my attention through the press and through other means that the workers on the British Columbia Railway and their union representatives are concerned about the stretch of track between Squamish and North Vancouver because of about 90 per cent of the maintenance crews being pulled out. The workers and their union representatives feel that trackage is unsafe and becoming more unsafe with every passing day, and also there is the danger of rock slides in that area. They are not being properly scrutinized due to the lack of maintenance.
As the Royal Hudson began its operations on May 21, there is concern by the workers for the safety of visitors to B.C.
MR. SPEAKER: Hon. Member, will you please state your question?
MR. LEA: Yes, I'm getting to that, Mr. Speaker. There is concern for the safety of those visitors and residents of this province and other provinces in Canada riding the Royal Hudson.
I would like to ask the Provincial Secretary whether she is aware of that concern. If not, what does she intend to do about it?
HON. G.M. McCARTHY (Minister of Recreation and Travel Industry): Mr. Speaker, I would be pleased to have a report brought back to the House whenever I check that out.
The member has brought to the attention of the House and of myself an expression of an opinion from the staff. We would like to ensure the member that the safety of visitors and our residents who are travelling is always a prime concern. I'll certainly bring a report back.
MR. MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to ask the Minister of Labour a question on the same subject. With the BCR problem about 3,000 lumber employees at that track are going to be or have been laid off. I'd like to ask the Minister of Labour if he would use his influence on the BCR to see that at least the maintenance-of-way employees are able to do their job so that the situation isn't needlessly exacerbated and there's not needless provocation in a situation that is spelling industrial problems for the
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whole of the province.
MR. SPEAKER: That happens to be a separate question to a separate minister.
HON. L.A. WILLIAMS (Minister of Labour): Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Vancouver East for his concern. If he is truly concerned I'm sure he would know that the matter is currently before the Labour Relations Board on that very subject.
As to the action taken by B.C. Rail with respect to the laying off of certain personnel, I am sure that the hon. member would not want the Minister of Labour to interfere with the Labour Relations Board in the conduct of its authority under the Act.
MR. MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, nevertheless, as the minister knows, the government runs the railway. Why should the government have to be taken before the Labour Relations Board in order to maintain safety on the tracks? I say it's needless provocation. Will the minister intervene as government to see that the management of the BCR maintains proper safety practices so that there isn't that needless provocation?
HON. MR. WILLIAMS: The government will take such steps as are required to ensure that proper safety practices are carried out on the railway.
MR. W.S. KING (Leader of the Opposition): On a supplementary, I just want to ask the Minister of Labour if he is aware that the Workers' Compensation Board, which resides under his legislative purview, is the agency responsible for safety regulation on the British Columbia Railway. I suggest that if he is not, the Minister of Labour may want to ask....
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. That's argumentative.
MR. KING: It's not argumentative, Mr. Speaker. I'm posing a question to him.
MR. SPEAKER: And there's a hypothetical answer in the same statement.
MR. KING: Mr. Speaker, I'll phrase that last part in a different way.
I would ask the Minister of Labour if he is aware that there is a difference between the level of maintenance that is necessary for a resource railway, which is the customary operation of the BCR, and the higher level of maintenance and care that's required when a passenger train is operated over that terrain. I would ask that the Minister of Labour respond to these questions and bring to the attention of the Workers' Compensation Board these matters.
HON. MR. WILLIAMS: Which question does the member wish me to respond to, Mr. Speaker?
AN HON. MEMBER: All of them.
HON. MR. WILLIAMS: Yes, I'm aware of the difference between the requirements of a resource railway and a passenger service, and yes, I'm aware that it is the Workers' Compensation Board's responsibility. As I said to the member for Vancouver East, the government will ensure that proper safety practices are carried out.
MR. G.F. GIBSON (North Vancouver–Capilano): I would like to ask the Provincial Secretary, apropos of the trapping regulations she promulgated last week, if she was aware at the time of the fact that the banning of leg-hold traps with teeth, according to Mrs. Clements of the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals, is a banning of a trap that hasn't been manufactured for years and is almost a museumpiece, in her words.
HON. MRS. McCARTHY: Mr. Speaker, contrary to the press report suggesting that it was a museumpiece, the leg-hold trap with the claws that was banned last week by regulation is in use in the province of British Columbia, and due to those regulations will not be in use after the enforcement. It may well be that, even in Mrs. Clements' words, there are just a few. I understand from my own department there are far more than a few in use. They have been, in fact, on sale in the province of British Columbia in recent months, and indeed the abolition of the trap is a step forward in humane trapping in this province.
MR. GIBSON: On a supplementary, Mr. Speaker. I'd ask the Provincial Secretary — I assume in putting together these regulations she would have this information — if she has some rough idea as to the number of such traps in use which will be banned or the percentage.
HON. MRS. McCARTHY: I'll have to take that question as notice and report back to you on the numbers.
MR. GIBSON: A final supplementary on the same regulations, Mr. Speaker. How is the government planning to enforce the regulation relating to the 72-hour check of traplines?
HON. MRS. McCARTHY: Well, Mr. Speaker, I asked that same question because of the amount of surveillance that would be needed. The department
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feels that they can enforce it and that report has been given to me that they are going to be able to cope with that.
POLLUTION OF GOLDSTREAM
RIVER BY NORANDA MINES
MR. KING: Mr. Speaker, a question to the Minister of Mines and various other branches. Can the minister tell me what his department is doing to ensure that the Noranda mining operation at Goldstream, 54 miles north of Revelstoke, will not emit tailings into the Goldstream River with consequent pollution and danger to the fish-spawning grounds?
HON. T.M. WATERLAND (Minister of Mines and Petroleum Resources): Mr. Speaker, in response to the Leader of the Opposition, there are very well-defined procedures for obtaining pollution-control permits and mine-reclamation permits which must be met prior to any mine going into operation, and our department in conjunction with the Department of Environment will make sure that all proper procedures are followed.
MR. KING: Supplementary. Could the Minister of Mines then assure me that no tailings or other refuse from the mine will, in fact, be dumped into the river known as Goldstream?
HON. MR. WATERLAND: In response to this question, Mr. Speaker, I've already answered the question that all provisions of the Pollution Control Act of this province and the Department of Mines will be met.
MR. LEA: Mr. Speaker, a question to the same minister — a supplemental question. As it appears that the rule that prevails in this province is that it is against the law to pollute if you don't have a permit, and it's all right if you do have a permit, what does the minister intend to do to ensure that the permit that is issued will not endanger the spawning grounds in that river?
MR. SPEAKER: Hon. Member, could you rephrase the question? How do you connect the issue of a permit or a permit itself to endangerment of spawning grounds?
MR. LEA: The minister understands it.
AN HON. MEMBER: You're 0 for 2 today, Graham.
MR. KING: Supplementary. I would appreciate information from the Minister of Mines — that is what I'm looking for — as to whether or not the plan under the pollution-control permit that is being considered is to allow any dumping of refuse into the river. That's the information I'm seeking and I would appreciate the minister's cooperation in answering.
HON. MR. WATERLAND: Mr. Speaker, to the hon. Leader of the Opposition, the Department of Mines does not issue pollution-control permits. They are issued by the Pollution Control Board and we, in the Department of Mines, assure the hon. member that all requirements of these Acts will be met.
TAKEOVER OF WELFARE
MR. GIBSON: Mr. Speaker, a question to the Minister of Human Resources. In view of the announcement by the Minister of Environment last night to the Richmond council that the provincial government will be taking over the administration of welfare in that city, could the minister tell us if this will be the policy of the present government to continue the general thrust of the past government in gradually taking over the administration of welfare in all the remaining municipalities?
HON. W.N. VANDER ZALM (Minister of Human Resources): Mr. Speaker, it's certainly our intention to move toward a complete takeover of social assistance charges now levied against the municipalities. We don't believe it's a charge properly levied against municipalities, and we're working toward that end. Certainly with respect to administration, we hope to see a takeover very quickly. Negotiations will commence after adoption of the budget.
PWA MOVE TO ALBERTA
MR. MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, to the Attorney-General, in view of the widespread concern about the removal of managerial offices of PWA to Alberta, will the Attorney-General be intervening in the test case in the Supreme Court of Canada with respect to the powers of the Transport Commission, and if he will be intervening, which side will he be on?
HON. MR. GARDOM: I'll take that as notice.
MR. MACDONALD: You're working to rule too. (Laughter.)
HON. MR. WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, yesterday the hon. first member for Vancouver-Burrard (Ms. Brown) posed a question with regard to the fatality that occurred in an elevator shaft in New
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Westminster. I have an interim report.
Following the unfortunate tragedy, the elevator was completely inspected and no fault for the stoppage could be found. However, the following day a similar stoppage of the car within the shaft occurred. Further examination disclosed that it might have been caused by a minor electrical failure.
However, while the car stopped within the elevator shaft, the direct cause of the fatality was that a passenger in the elevator forced open the interior doors and then operated the interlock in the outer doors of the hoistway, thereby crating a passageway through which the deceased stepped and fell to his death.
There is a coroner's inquest being convened. Representations will be made at that inquest concerning the installation of warning devices which will activate themselves once doors in elevators and in elevator shafts are improperly opened.
MS. R. BROWN (Vancouver-Burrard): I'd like to thank the minister for his response to my question. I'm wondering whether this then means that the government is not going to be taking any responsibility for the fatal accident which occurred to that 81-year-old gentleman. Is that what I'm to understand from your statement, Mr. Minister?
HON. MR. WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, I indicated that there's an inquest and therefore any fault with respect to the accident has not been assessed by anyone. I'm only reporting on what occurred, and I'll happily provide the member with a further report once the coroner's inquest has been concluded.
MR. LEA: I would like some clarification from your office, Mr. Speaker. Over the past few weeks during question period you have ruled a number of questions out of order for various reasons: one time because you considered the question to be facetious; a number of times because you considered the question to be argumentative. I think the members of the House deserve to know on what basis you reach those conclusions. Is it the tone of voice? Is it the word? Just how is it that you reach these conclusions?
MR. SPEAKER: Order, Hon. Member. I'd be quite happy to provide you with some of the information.... Would you please take your seat? I'd be quite happy to provide you with some of the information that's available to the office of the Speaker in determining whether a question is proper, improper, or out of order. It's contained in Beauchesne, 4th edition, 1958, at page 147. There are listed here probably 25 or 30 different categories and items which, in the past, have been found to be out of order and not a proper question in context of the question period.
I would say to the hon. member, if he does not have a copy of this particular sheet, that I'd be quite happy to give it to him.
MR. LEA: Mr. Speaker, you've already done that and I've looked it over. I am not questioning what you're reading from, or the references. What I am asking is how you define whether a question is argumentative. I realize that an argumentative question cannot be asked; I'm asking how you define it.
MR. SPEAKER: By referring to the rules and applying them to the question that's being asked, Hon. Member.
MR. LEA: I just wonder, Mr. Speaker, whether it's the tone of voice, because....
MR. SPEAKER: Not....
MR. LEA: I'm really happy that you told me that, Mr. Speaker! Now would you consider that argumentative? The words are very plain and they're not argumentative, but my tone of voice was, and I'm just asking you to define for the House...
MR. SPEAKER: Order, Hon. Member!
MR. LEA: ...how you come to a conclusion because...
MR. SPEAKER: I've given you....
MR. LEA: ...I can't understand it and neither can many of my colleagues, or any of my colleagues.
MR. SPEAKER: I'm sorry....
MR. LEA: How do you come to a conclusion?
MR. SPEAKER: Whenever that occurs, I'll be quite happy to assist you.
MR. LEA: Well, it happened today and I'm asking for your assistance, Mr. Speaker.
MR. SPEAKER: And you'll get it when....
MR. LEA: Why did you find the question argumentative?
MR. SPEAKER: And you'll get it when....
MR. LEA: In due course, I suppose. Is that it?
MR. SPEAKER: Whenever I have to rule a
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question argumentative, I'll do so, Hon. Member.
MR. LEA: Well, you did today. Could you rule on that one?
Orders of the day.
The House in Committee of Supply; Mr. Schroeder in the chair.
ESTIMATES: DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH
On vote 86: minister's office, $101,052 — continued.
MRS. E.E. DAILLY (Burnaby North): Mr. Chairman, to the hon. minister, I particularly want to just hear some answers on the whole area of alcoholism, and specifically as it refers to my own riding. I've listened very carefully to the minister and I've been pleased that he has a fairly strong stance on the disease of alcoholism. He's expressed grave concern about the ravages of alcoholism, not only from a health point of view, but the social ravages. Now we have heard him say that he is changing direction — they're moving away from the Alcohol and Drug Commission — and we're waiting for some specifics, of course, as to what action will be taken, particularly in the areas of preventing the disease of alcoholism and in the area of rehabilitation.
It is in the area of rehabilitation, which the minister stressed quite strongly yesterday, that I specifically want to question him. Now if the minister believes in the rehabilitation of alcoholics, I have a very simple question to him: why, then, did you cut off the grants in the riding of Burnaby, one for a halfway house for women who were suffering from the disease of alcoholism — and the record of this halfway house had proven that these women had been rehabilitated and were becoming useful members of society — and another grant to a halfway house for male alcoholics which has also been cut off? What I want to hear from the minister is: if you believe in the rehabilitation of alcoholics, why has one of your first moves been to cut off grants to two very worthwhile projects in Burnaby?
HON. R.H. McCLELLAND (Minister of Health): Mr. Chairman, I'd like to thank the member for the question and for her concern about problems of alcoholism. I think I explained pretty carefully last evening the kind of specific directions we wish to move in with regard to rehabilitation and longer-term facilities, and the funding of community centres as well.
The Member's correct, Mr. Chairman, we have not provided funds for the two organizations she mentions. I must say, first of all, that we had requests for funds for something like $2 million more than we had, We had something like $5 million, and we had $7 million in requests, so we had to make. some quantitative judgments about where we would give those funds. Now the halfway house for men in Burnaby: unfortunately, the assessment I got back was that it wasn't very well run; that there was drinking on the premises; that there were no cost-effective controls in that organization; that, really, it probably didn't have a municipal permit to operate; and that the facility was poorly run.
The situation wasn't the same for the Charlford House for women. However, there is a problem in that the occupancy of that house is only about 5 to 15 per cent at any given time — not very cost effective. Nevertheless, we recognize that because it is a residential treatment centre for female alcoholics — and we don't have very many of those around at the present time — we're looking at it again. Hopefully, when mid-term comes up in July we'll be able to find some funds, but we would like to see the occupancy rate built up a bit so that that house is run to its full capacity and as many females as possible who have an alcoholic problem can get the kind of treatment they need at that house. All I can say to you at this time is that I've asked the directors of the Alcohol and Drug Commission to take another look at Charlford House and see if we can provide some funding for them for the second half of this year,
MRS. DAILLY: Thank you.
MS. R. BROWN: Mr. Chairman, I'm wondering whether I can continue with a thread I dealt with yesterday — that is, health rather than sickness in the minister's department. What I want to talk about is mental health this time.
There was a budget presented to the minister by an ad hoc committee on residences for young adults and adults in the community at large, in Vancouver, of people with psychiatric problems. Now one of the positions that I know you support, through you, Mr. Chairman to the minister, and we all do, is that people should be able to live and function in the community at large. In fact, we're getting away from the idea that mental health...if a person is not well, he should be locked away in an institution and never be seen again for the rest of his life. What we're talking about is rehabilitation and getting people back into the community.
Now there are a number of different groups that cooperate in trying to do this. Riverview has its halfway houses, Vista and Venture, and the Vancouver General uses some, but aside from that, in the community at large, these needs are being met by community groups. In the Vancouver area there are three particular groups that I want to talk about. One
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is the Mental Patients Association, one is the Coast Foundation Society, and, of course, there is LOMA — the Lower Mainland Association for young adults with psychiatric problems. They are three groups which are community groups. They grew out of the community.
They were not legislated into being. They did not come about as a result of a decree of the department but grew up out of a need which was recognized by the community at large. I know, Mr. Chairman, that your government is committed to the whole concept of communities meeting their own responsibilities to their society, and this certainly is what the Mental Patients Association is trying to do, as is the Coast Foundation Society and LOMA.
Now one of the really major kinds of concern has to do with housing. It has to do with once the patient is discharged from Riverview or from Vancouver General Hospital or St. Paul's or whatever, they should not be thrown back into their original environment which precipitated their illness in the first place. But there has to be, for a short period of time maybe, a residence with some kind of supervision that they can live in until they are ready to move back to their original home. Or they may find that they live in that residence for a long period of time.
This is an expensive business. There is absolutely no cheap way to run a residence for people with psychiatric problems. There is no cheap way even if it is done with the very minimum of salary to the staff. You have to have trained staff and you have to have these houses. So there are all these kinds of needs to be met. So the budgets which are presented to the Department of Health are pretty healthy budgets. They're big budgets. So I'm not arguing with the minister about the size of the budgets.
What my position is, though, is that in the long run, if you're just going to look at the business of cold hard cash, it is cheaper either than keeping these people in Riverview once they're well enough to be back in the community at large, or it is cheaper than throwing them back into their original environment which precipitated the illness. Because then there's going to be a very high recidivism rate and they're going to be right back in Riverview or Crease Clinic or wherever again.
So an ad hoc committee came together in Vancouver to present a united front, because one of the things that your department very rightly complains about is duplication of services. On this committee there are representatives from Riverview Hospital, Vancouver General, Shaughnessy, St. Paul's, YWCA, the health science hospital at UBC, Mental Patients Association, LOMA, Coast Foundation Society, the Vancouver Resources Board, the Greater Vancouver Mental Health Association, the Canadian Mental Health Association and the West Side Society for Adult Rehabilitation Residences.
The position taken by the Department of Health is that the operating costs for these residences should not come under the department's jurisdiction and that is what I'm arguing with. I realize that the position has to do with the federal-provincial cost-sharing and that there are difficulties there. This is one of the reasons why it has been sent over to Human Resources rather than dealt with.
The facts are, Mr. Chairman, that in the greater Vancouver area, where we have approximately 500,000 people, according to this brief, there are only six intermediate-term or long-term facilities of this nature providing approximately 170 beds. That is totally inadequate, and I'm sure the minister will agree with that and that there has to be alternative living accommodation. This has been supported by a report which was done for the greater Vancouver boarding home status report, which was done for the city by Dr. Cummings and Sharon Martin. It definitely said we needed transition houses, crisis centres, medium-term and long-term housing facilities for young adults as well as adult adults who are being discharged from our psychiatric facilities.
I am asking the minister really to take another position on this whole business of operating costs as it's pointed out in this recommendation in this brief. Let the Department of Health take over responsibility for the operating costs of these houses. Now Coast Foundation Society wants to go into the funding of 20 more units for long-term stay. LOMA Lodge is looking at putting in eight to 10 more beds, and the Mental Patients Association is looking at two new residences. These are needed, there's not a question about that, plus the whole business of family placement and transition houses.
But the three particular areas: Coast Foundation Society, LOMA Lodge and the Mental Patients Association in particular — I'm asking the minister to make some kind of commitment to these three particular groups in terms of funding their residency programmes. Now I know the position of the department is that they are already to a large extent funding MPA. You know, the MPA budget last year received $100,000, I think, from the department — or possibly this year. The Human Resources and the city of Vancouver all contribute towards the budget that MPA presents. But they are meeting a very crucial need in the community.
The Mental Patients Association operates a drop-in centre which averages between 40 to 100 people going in and out of that centre in a day. It is operated by ex-patients themselves. On Wednesday evenings they have their supper nights and there are usually between 60 to 70 people there. There isn't any question at all.
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MS. BROWN: The Mental Patients Association have a number of houses throughout the Vancouver area, but the drop-in centre is in the Vancouver-Burrard constituency. But this is incidental and it wouldn't make any difference to me. Five houses, and they want two more. Right.
The fact is, and I know the minister is going to admit it, they are doing a fantastic job. The Mental Patients Association is dealing in a way that the traditionalists couldn't. They are meeting the kinds of needs that the professionals couldn't meet because, in fact, they have a different perspective on mental health than, say, the doctors or the nurses or other people who deal. They are continually, on a regular basis, dealing with at least 500 people who use the facilities of the Mental Patients Association — their drop-in centre, their Wednesday night suppers or whatever.
They've gone even further, Mr. Chairman, and they have now opened an office at Riverview, and this is really marvellous. I mean, if you speak to the staff at Riverview they will tell you how very impressed they are with the kind of assistance they get in working with the patients by the Mental Patients Association having their office there.
The Department of Labour has been quite generous in giving them a grant so that they can have four people continually staffing that office. They deal with referrals to housing, community resources. They deal with the review panels and legal problems. They write letters for the patients. They have at least 30 to 40 referrals per month being dealt with by the Mental Patients Association right there in Riverview itself. This is tremendous and the way it should be; this is the way it should be done.
I think the department should be assisting in every way possible to see to it that the Mental Patients Association can function, can carry out its job in a competent way, because they are meeting a need to the patient community which could not and was not being met prior to their coming into being.
So my question to the Minister of Health is: either in dealing directly with the federal government in terms of its cost-sharing, or taking a second look at his own budget, is there any way he can come up with the approximately $90,000 or so that the Mental Patients Association needs in order to operate its additional two residences in and around the greater Vancouver area?
HON. MR. McCLELLAND: Mr. Chairman, I want to thank the member for bringing up this whole subject. I know that she is most concerned about it and I must say, too, that earlier today the second member for Vancouver South (Mr. Strongman) also brought this subject to me. I may be wrong, but it is my understanding that the MPA is not asking for funding only to operate two more facilities; they want total funding from our department.
MS. BROWN: Oh, yes. But I'm zeroing in on the residences. I will deal with the rest after.
HON. MR. McCLELLAND: Well, I was hoping you would let me out of here by....
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. The Minister of Health has the floor.
HON. MR. McCLELLAND: Mr. Chairman, yes, I recognize that the Mental Patients Association is doing a great job in this field. I recognize that other organizations as well are doing good work and we are funding them. The Coast Foundation Society — we have just given approval for them to operate their second unit, a rehab unit in the lower mainland area. Just this week Treasury Board has given us approval to continue payment to LOMA on the same basis as last year, which, as you know, is funded jointly with....
HON. MR. McCLELLAND: It's all right. We are continuing the fund and we are expanding in other areas. The member for Vancouver-Burrard talks only about those few people who are being looked after by those recognized societies which are doing a great job, but it's not the only thing that's happening in the community, and the member knows that. There are all kinds of things happening in the community.
I would like to just point out to the House, while I have this opportunity...because it's not very often, Mr. Chairman, that a minister gets the opportunity to thank his staff and the work they are doing — in public health particularly.
I think the member for Vancouver-Burrard pointed out last night that Mr. Bonham, the health officer in Vancouver, sent out a press release that only 3 cents out of every dollar is being spent in prevention. Now we disagree with that amount but, nevertheless, he is expressing a frustration that we've had for years. Hopefully, we can do something about it somewhere down the line; we have to spend more money on this kind of service. We have to find the money first — that's one of the problems.
But I would like to take the opportunity now, for just a moment if I may, to say thanks for what the people in the mental health division of my department are doing. There were almost 13,000 patients, Mr. Chairman, treated in this province's mental health centres during the past year — there are 30 of them.
The boarding-home programme is a complement to the kind of things that the Coast Foundation Society, LOMA, and Mental Patients Association
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are doing, only it is under the auspices of our department and never gets any recognition — or very little, at least. But it's the same kind of community placement programme for psychiatric care that these people are doing.
Mr. Chairman, the department supervised a caseload in the last year of 1,900 mentally ill and retarded persons. By the end of 1975, the greater Vancouver mental health service had six community-care teams operating in the west end — Strathcona, Mount Pleasant, Fairview, Richmond, Kitsilano and the West Side. Additionally, there were two teams operating in Burnaby and out of the Burnaby Mental Health Centre. Venture and Vista, which are halfway houses for former patients of Riverview, were transferred to that service in April, providing 16 beds for short-term crisis patients, a little different from what we are talking about here.
Riverview's outpatient department also came under the administration of the service during the year and was renamed the Broadway Clinic.
In October of 1975, Mr. Chairman, the patient load of the greater Vancouver mental health service was 2,116 people, compared with 949 during the same period in '74. Burnaby mental health plan continued to provide British Columbia's only regionalized programme of decentralized, comprehensive psychiatric services for both adults and children. There were 25 fully utilized psychiatric beds in an inpatient unit, an adult day programme, adult and children's outpatient service and consultation and educational services.
So while we recognize that these groups, which we are funding to a certain degree, are doing a tremendous job in the community, it is not the only job that is being done. So to say that it is all that is being done is not quite correct.
I would just like to point out one other really serious problem that we have, and this relates directly to the Mental Patients Association. They came to us this year, in January, with a budget of some $98,000. Now the only thing I could say to them at that time was: "We'll look into your request for a grant and see what we can do." We are funding LOMA, we are funding Coast Foundation, and I've said we've agreed to pick up the funding for their second unit, but here we have a group which was funded originally by the federal government under OFY, under LIP, and more recently under LEAP, and dumped by the federal government.
MS. BROWN: Shocking!
HON. MR. McCLELLAND: We talked about that last night with SPARC. You know, SPARC has been funded by the federal government and is now being dumped, and as of July I SPARC sits there. They've been doing a great job; where do they get their money from?
Our budget is set. We didn't know the federal government was going to dump them. And now the patients association is in exactly the same position, and it is one of the reasons, Mr. Chairman, that we really have to get down to Ottawa — and the Premiers' conference next month, I hope, will deal with this — and find some better way of funding these kinds of programmes. It is not good enough for the federal government to come along and say, "Hey, that looks like a good idea; we'll fund it," and then a year, a year and a half or two years later say: "Oh, we can't find the money for that. Give it to the provinces."
So somewhere down the line, Mr. Chairman, we've got to find that answer. Now in the meantime, I know the Mental Patients Association is in a bind, and we'll do what we can. We're looking into it, and that's the best answer I can give you, through you, Mr. Chairman, to the member for Vancouver-Burrard.
MS. BROWN: Can I have just a supplemental? I won't be very long.
I certainly would like to join the minister in saying what a tremendous job is being done by the mental health branch of his department. As you know, I am very intimately involved, Mr. Chairman, with mental health and I certainly agree 100 per cent. During the time I worked at Riverview, part of my responsibility did have to do with the boarding-home programme, so I know Vista and Venture very well, as well as some of the private boarding homes in the Coquitlam area and around there where I used to....
MS. BROWN: Yes, sorry.
However, what I'm really suggesting, Mr. Chairman, to the minister is that I would really like to see Health, Human Resources, Labour and the Provincial Secretary's department sit down together and really work out the whole business of the needs of mental patients during the rehabilitation process. Once they are out of the institutions they shouldn't be just dumped in a halfway house and the squabble goes as to who picks up the tab or whatever. But the departments have to come together and work out an overall programme.
Of course you have to go to Ottawa. I certainly agree with you that the federal government is the ogre, certainly in this particular instance, and if you want me to write a letter of support, Mr. Minister, when you go to Ottawa, I'll write you a letter of support, because I think it is terrible that LEAP just pulled itself out and left the Mental Patients Association hanging there. I appreciate your commitment to look at their budget once again; I hope you will find it.
[ Page 2045 ]
HON. MR. McCLELLAND: If I could just respond very briefly to that, I'd appreciate the letter. I just wrote one in support for you that I promised last night. It is on the way now.
You know, there again, don't assume that we don't sit down and talk to each other. You know, the reason we set up a social services committee of cabinet was so that we could bring these things together; and it is starting to happen. But the same problem exists that we have to fiddle around because of the way the funding comes to us from the federal government. I'd love to have all of this under one roof, but Housing is involved, because Housing gets funds from here. The Attorney-General is involved in some instances. So if we can only get that co-ordination on the basis of our federal funding, then I think our problems will be largely solved as a province.
HON. MR. McCLELLAND: I outlined a proposition that we made, you know, at our last conference last night in the House, and we'll certainly be making more, and British Columbia will take a very strong position at the Premiers' conference which is coming up next month,
MS. BROWN: Thank you.
MR. W.S. KING (Leader of the Opposition): At the risk of breaking into this mutual admiration society, I have a number of short questions to ask regarding various local issues in my own riding, and a number of others.
AN HON. MEMBER: You've never run that risk before. (Laughter.)
MR. KING: No, indeed I have not.
Mr. Chairman, on May 5, the clerk-administrator for the City of Revelstoke directed a letter to the Minister of Health regarding volunteer ambulance service for the city of Revelstoke. He points out, without reading the letter in detail, that the training programmes for ambulance personnel have been terminated by the present administration. He points out that in the Revelstoke area there is quite a heavy call on ambulance services, mainly as a result of highway accidents. I think most British Columbians are familiar with the very, very heavy traffic flow over the Rogers Pass highway. This involves frequent calls upon the local ambulance service to bring in many critically injured people from the summer accidents that regularly occur in that area. It's mountain highway.
He points out that we're facing the increased impact of the Revelstoke Dam development in all probability, and certainly a heavier demand on local health services with accidents of an industrial nature, and so on. The Minister of Mines (Hon. Mr.Waterland) says indeed we are facing that prospect.
That's interesting, because the water licence has yet to be granted. Is the cabinet dictating to,, the comptroller of water rights? Mr. Chairman, this, is a matter that is of concern in Revelstoke, and in a number of other communities, and I would appreciate it if the Minister of Health could give me some indication of where his department is going on the training of ambulance personnel. What we have, basically, are volunteers from the fire department many of whom are not adequately trained. They stand ready, willing and able to undertake the training so that they might become qualified paramedics, which would be a tremendous assistance in that isolated area.
Related to that, Mr. Chairman, is an editorial I clipped from the local Revelstoke Herald on April 7, to simply emphasize to the minister the serious concern that exists in that community. It's entitled "Our Opinion," and the byline is: "Hatchet Job on Ambulance Services Most Unjust." It goes on to make the case in very, very strong terms that this area, which is not very close to the larger hospitals, which does not have the kind of access to air ambulance and so on, should not be victimized by second-class health opportunities and hospital facilities to the residents in that area. So I hope the minister will speak on that. Related to that is a copy of a letter I received from the medical clinic in Cranbrook, and I'm glad the member for Kootenay (Mr. Haddad) is in the House. This letter is over the signature of Dr. R.I. Sheffield. This letter was dated April 30, and I'm going to read it because it points up a very serious problem that areas such as my own riding and, indeed, the member for Kootenay's riding face. It's directed to:
"Mr. George Haddad, MLA, Kootenay.
"On behalf of Cranbrook and District Hospital medical staff, I wish to protest the untimely decision to no longer pay registered nurses to accompany our critically ill patients when transferred.
"Since 1974, the nurse, if ordered by a physician, has been paid by the hospital, the hospital subsequently being reimbursed by the emergency health services branch. Now this payment has been withdrawn with no alternative suggestion, meaning that the patient must be billed privately. This is a problem for the nurses, since they have no billing procedures established, and they quite rightly refuse to provide further accompaniment until matters are straightened out.
"Further, lower mainland areas are able to
[ Page 2046 ]
provide transfer of this type of patient because of adequately trained paramedical ambulance personnel. It is my understanding from the emergency health services branch that further ambulance upgrading has been completely stopped."
That's borne out by my earlier comments applicable to Revelstoke.
"Since we transfer an average of 20 patients per year, usually trauma, and almost always critically ill, this situation is intolerable. It makes the East Kootenays even more obviously a remote area, and obviously receiving less than equivalent service when compared to people in the lower mainland.
"I would ask that you question the minister in the Legislature and that you obtain a written reply from him detailing alternative plans, or plans the department proposes to institute in the near future.
"We feel frustrated that East Kootenay residents must pay such costs, which are truly of an emergency nature, when they supposedly pay for comprehensive medical care already. While extended-care benefits do cover this type of transfer, such benefits are not available as a private package and, therefore, only apply to people able to get group rates.
"Please note that on an average cost of $60 per trip, the total for transfers of all patients, assuming they all needed a nurse, only amounts to $1,200 annually. We appreciate your efforts to correct such an unfortunate decision.
Dr. R.I. Sheffield,
Liaison Medical Officer,
Cranbrook District Hospital Ambulance Association."
I'm wondering why the member for Cranbrook wasn't up bringing the case of his constituents to the attention of his minister. Perhaps he discussed it privately with him — I don't know.
MR. A.B. MACDONALD (Vancouver East): He's been strangely silent.
MR. KING: He's strangely silent, the mute member for Kootenay, the little magician from Kootenay, Mr. Chairman. He's very good at magic — at doing tricks, you know.
MR. CHAIRMAN: We're on vote 86, please.
MR. KING: Perhaps, Mr. Chairman, he thought that with a wave
of his wand this group would go away. But they did make a request that
that member bring this case before the Legislature. I would appreciate
the minister commenting on both of these related matters so that some
insurance and some satisfaction can be transmitted to not only the
Cranbrook-Kootenay area but certainly my own riding of
Revelstoke-Slocan, and all of the interior areas generally which are
more remote — greater distances from the sophisticated health care
that's available in the lower mainland. These are important matters.
The other very small issues, Mr. Chairman. The Kelowna chapter of the Registered Nurses of B.C. have written to me asking that home-care nursing programmes be continued and expanded in that area. I note that they have submitted quite a detailed brief to the Minister of Health under date of March 22, I believe, with a tremendous volume of back-up material to support the need for the kind of programme they are concerned about in Kelowna, and I would appreciate it if the minister would comment on that.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, I just want to point out that I have in my own riding a bit of a unique situation. I have in the south end of my own riding the village of Edgewood where we have a Red Cross outpost hospital, and we have one nurse who attends that outpost hospital at Edgewood.
Her husband does the driving in the family car to bring ambulatory patients from highway accidents and various other mishaps in the surrounding area. The problem is that they are some 45 miles from the closest medical attention which is Nakusp, and some 90 miles, I think, from Vernon. They provide a valuable service to the community and have saved many lives by the immediate response of a trained registered nurse in that area who provides a tremendous service.
The problem is that this lady, the nurse, and her husband require some time off. They are available seven days a week. They use the family car. They deliver a tremendous service and cut a great deal of cost which would otherwise fall to acute-care facilities to provide. They certainly need some back-up support.
I understand that the service is provided by the Red Cross but it seems to me that at least for temporary summer relief and for holiday relief and so on which these people surely need, the Department of Health might be willing to provide some assistance on occasion at least.
These are the three issues I wanted to raise, Mr. Chairman. Finally, just one small point which I've developed adequately in earlier debates on the minister's estimates, and that is the request that I have made to him a number of times, and reiterate now, that he give a commitment to stand behind the financial commitments of the hospital industry to collective agreements that are negotiated this year. I hope the minister will comment on these matters.
[ Page 2047 ]
HON. MR. McCLELLAND: To the member, I'll deal I guess in reverse order.
First, no. Second, Edgewood outpost hospital: we recognize the tremendous service that the Red Cross outpost hospitals are doing. I just had a letter from one in the Queen Charlottes area describing to me the situation in which some people were lost at sea and the problems that went to save lives in that situation under tremendously difficult circumstances.
We know what they're doing. They are heavily subsidized by our department, as you know, and I know that they've asked us to take over the whole operation — and that's under consideration at the present time. But in the meantime the major problem I don't think is funding in attempting to get relief people; it's finding the relief people. Nobody wants to go.
But that's all under consideration at the present time, and we know very well that anyone who is dedicated and is providing that kind of service in an isolated community particularly, under most difficult circumstances, needs a break once in a while and it's as simple as that. The whole programme is under consideration.
I'm surprised that the member, Mr. Chairman, raised the problem of home care. We dealt with that very extensively last night. I went through the chronology of the events that led up to the situation which found us with about 80 staff short in the home-care programme and made the point that it wasn't a decision made by the government which is in place now. It started last summer when the government realized that the economy was in trouble and that some cost restraints were necessary, so there was an order went out that programmes had to be cut back.
Early this year we realized that the home-care programme, if it was to be effective in the kind of low-cost alternatives it was delivering, in terms of health care, had to be restored. So on behalf of our department we made serious representations to Treasury Board and to the government and, as I mentioned last night, we were successful in having that programme restored.
The hiring, I would think, is almost complete now — the rehiring in many cases. There were some 68-70 positions which we ordered to be immediately restored as quickly as possible, and. that home-care programme is back at the level it was last fall and hopefully now it will be an ongoing programme and won't suffer any more interruptions.
The same thing is true, Mr. Chairman, with the ambulance training, and I know, too, that Revelstoke is perhaps a little unique. But there are other parts of British Columbia which have the same kind of problems with a lot of tourist traffic and high-speed highways through their communities, or near their communities. They require more services than others.
Again, we want to get the ambulance service restored, in terms of training, as quickly as we can.
It wasn't this government that stopped the training. The training in two programmes stopped, first of all, last summer and, secondly, last fall. There's been no training since, except for eight people who are currently enrolled in the highest degree of training, which is the EMA-3 programme, which is the real paramedic programme. We have eight people going through that programme right now as the result of a decision made by this government.
Through you, Mr. Chairman, especially since the member who raised this question is a former Labour minister, I would like to say to him that I'd like to thank the union — CUPE, the ambulance employees' division of CUPE — who have cooperated with us 100 per cent in attempting to compromise the situation as it relates to the amount of cash available to the amount of programmes we have to deliver.
CUPE has come to us and sat down with us in our office and we've managed to come up with a proposal which is the best of all worlds at the moment.
We cut back a little bit in the construction of ambulances. We cut back some in the training with the promise that we'll get training going again as quickly as we have the resources available, and it's been a tremendous experience to find that that union came to us with some solid, positive suggestions — which we've implemented.
Further to that, I understand now that the union, on its own, without ever asking the emergency health services or anybody else, is now conducting training courses themselves, as a volunteer sort of a thing, and they're getting their own members together and they're expanding that training programme, in response to the meetings we've had together. I think that's very positive.
But it has to be remembered, Mr. Chairman, that this government's been in office for a little over five months, I think, and the decisions to suspend those training programmes — while we've had to go along with them because the money isn't there — weren't made by our government; they were made previously.
Yes, Mr. Chairman. The member shakes his head, but the first programme stopped in summer, and the second programme stopped in fall, and there's never been any training since. The first training that got started again was when we gave approval for those eight people to go through that EMA-3 programme, and that's a fact. That's all there is to it.
I'm sorry I missed the question you asked about the hospital facilities in Revelstoke, and perhaps you'd repeat that for me. I was talking to my deputies, at the time; so if you want some comment on that you'll have to ask it again.
But I would like to say that there is a complete study being done of the whole ambulance service throughout the province, and it should be completed
[ Page 2048 ]
this week and I hope to be able to respond to that study early this summer. I think that'll answer a lot of the questions.
The escort service? Again, it was a compromise. We know that some areas will suffer more than others because of that, but we also know that there were some abuses of that service. We knew we had a certain amount of money available. The emergency health services made some recommendations to me, as minister, based on that amount of money that was available. They included the number of ambulances to be built, the training programmes, office expense cuts, administration cuts.
We thought first of all we'd have to lay off some crew, but again, meeting with the union, we've resolved that problem so no one's going to suffer financially. However, it was lay off crew or suspend the escort services. We made a decision, and I have to stand by that decision for the present time. Now hopefully, when we get the results of our full-scale study into the whole service, we may be able to make some different decisions, and we will at that time.
MR. KING: I appreciate the minister's advice and his encouraging remarks regarding the reinstitution of ambulance attendant people so that we will have qualified paramedics, particularly in areas in the inferior that are somewhat isolated, and so on.
But I have a different understanding of the sequence of events which took place than what the minister's outlined and, indeed, in the brief submitted by the registered nurses from Kelowna.
They go into great detail, pointing out the problems that have resulted — the loss of patient services in Lakeview Heights, Westbank, Peachland, Winfield, Oyama, Okanagan Centre, Coral Beach, north and east Rutland. They list all of the programmes that have been adversely affected, and then they list the sequence of events, Mr. Chairman.
January 30, 1976: staffing restraint policy by attrition issued. 1. No resignation will be filled. 2. No replacement for maternity leave. 3. No replacements for sick leave. 4. Temporary four-month appointments will be cancelled. "Note: all health unit staff affected by same policy." January 30, 1976.
February 6, March 1, 1976. Letters, telegrams, meeting of concern, organized by all those local groups. So while I don't want to get into a debate on the sequence of events with the minister, I think the important thing is that quality health care be restored to those areas that really need it. I am sure that that is the minister's interest and the government's interest too. That's my concern.
I'm concerned with the minister's assurance that these programmes are going to be reactivated, because the people of the interior suffer in many ways unequal treatment with those on the lower mainland simply by reason of geography. I think it's a responsibility of government in any areas of possible social services to provide equality of service to all of the regions of this province. That's the point. I don't want to get into procrastination about who's responsible; this government is inclined to sit back and excuse themselves from every obligation on the basis that it's all due to that terrible NDP administration, and there's no money available.
I want to say, Mr. Chairman, that that just doesn't wash, and it's not the point anyway. Let's provide service; that's what I'm interested in. I represent people in that area, and I'm sure the minister's concern rests there also. But I am encouraged by the minister's remarks and I hope that he'll be able to report significant advances in all these programmes in the future.
MR. MACDONALD: Mr. Chairman, I'd like to ask the minister about a little thing that came up previously, and that's the woman dentist, Dr. Bruhn-Mou. And the minister rolls his eyes. The last time I brought this up he said: "Oh, it's fine; she's going to take an exam in eastern Canada." So she is; she's going to the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, to write her exams. But we have a statute, the Dentistry Act, for which the minister's responsible and which says very plainly that you can write the B.C. exam if you produce a certificate from a university — and there are four places: Canada, the British Commonwealth, the United States and any other country.
Yes since 1951...and the judge was startled, as he says in his judgment, that the college has not looked at universities in any other part of the world. So if you come from Germany — or in this case from Denmark, because she went through the University of Copenhagen, which is a world-renowned school — or if you come from France or Italy, or in other words, if you are one of the many new Canadians in our society, the college is denying you the right to write local exams.
I say, Mr. Minister, that that is discrimination. It's very unfair that a person who happens to come not from a university in Ontario or one that's recognized in the United States, but from a world-famous school in Copenhagen, France, Germany or Italy, has to go back into eastern Canada and possibly squeeze through a very limited class in the federal exam.
I say the college is falling down in the duty that's been mandated to it by the Legislature to look at these colleges. If they spent five minutes on it, all they'd have to do is look at the credentials that have been bestowed on this one, the University of Copenhagen, by world-famous health organizations, and they'd say: "All right, you can be allowed to write these exams."
Will the minister agree that this is discrimination and that the college should carry out its duty under
[ Page 2049 ]
section 22 of the Dentistry Act, and should have done it a long time ago, quite frankly, to recognize some universities even though they're not the WASP universities of North America?
HON. MR. McCLELLAND: Mr. Chairman, I'd like to respond to the member. It's interesting the comment he makes about WASPs. I was at a conference at Riverview a couple of weeks ago and one of the speakers was a psychiatrist — and I'm sorry the member for Vancouver-Burrard (Ms. Brown) is out at the moment — and he was talking about psychiatry being classified in three separate ways. There was, you know, the in-hospital kind of stuff where you deal with the real hard cases. Then he said that the clean psychiatry was the kind that was out there in the community where the psychiatrist was in private practice dealing mostly with WASPs who were wives of affluent socialist politicians. (Laughter.)
AN HON. MEMBER: Of which there are many.
HON. MR. McCLELLAND: Of which there are many, yes. (Laughter.)
MR. MACDONALD: And of which there are no better.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. The Minister of Health has the floor.
HON. MR. McCLELLAND: Mr. Chairman, there's no way...and the member from Vancouver East, the only member left from Vancouver East, knows very well that there's no way I can say that this is discrimination; it's a case before the Human Rights Commission right now.
MR. MACDONALD: No, it isn't.
HON. MR. McCLELLAND: Yes it is. The Human Rights Commission and the Labour department are dealing with it at the present time.
I'd just like to point out that while the member is very indignant about this dentist — who may or may not have been discriminated against, and we'll find out later about that — the previous government sat on this for two years and never moved while that dentist made representation after representation to the previous government. You never did a thing about it, not a thing. Now you expect us to come in in five months and solve this whole problem.
I'll say to you, Mr. Chairman, that we're looking at the Dentistry Act right now, and there may be revisions in it. But also what the member forgets is that even though those restrictions the member mentions are in the Act, there still is the possibility for that person to write the Canadian exam and then be accepted by the College of Dental Surgeons, which is what she's doing now and which she could have done two years ago or a year ago or whenever the opportunity came about, but she chose instead to make representations to the previous government and she was pushed down by the previous government which refused to deal with her application.
AN HON. MEMBER: That's wrong!
HON. MR. McCLELLAND: Now she's going to write that exam. In fact, as I understand it, it's imminent — this spring some time or early summer. If she passes that exam, the college will accept her as a dentist in this province with full recognition.
AN HON. MEMBER: Why didn't you tell her?
HON. MR. McCLELLAND: Well, they didn't know, I guess. But you had it for two years. Why didn't you do something about it?
MR. MACDONALD: Mr. Chairman, if the minister knew what he was talking about, he'd know that the case was before the courts.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. We haven't recognized the member and Hansard does not know who it is.
MR. MACDONALD: It's the only member for Vancouver East — for a few more days.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!
MR. MACDONALD: Mr. Chairman, the case was before the Supreme Court of British Columbia. That's the judgment, and the previous government — why get into an argument about the past? — could not deal with it when it was before the courts. But now you say it's before the human rights branch. I don't think they've set up the inquiry there. It's news to me if they've set up the inquiry, because I think it's been stalled in the human rights branch. But even if that were so, Mr. Chairman, why does this government have to be taken before the Labour Relations Board or the human rights branch? Why don't you do the right thing yourself and tell the dentists that someone from these countries, with the qualifications to serve the people of B.C. In dentistry, which is so badly needed, has a right to write the exams in B.C. and doesn't have to go to the University of Western
[ Page 2050 ]
Ontario, where we've had graduates, some of whom sit in this House?
But in terms of our people having to travel back there, I'd say it is totally unnecessary and it's discriminatory. I think that the message the minister is giving the college is, "oh, it's all right; she can write that federal exam," which, as I say, is very limited. I say there shouldn't be that kind of discrimination against new Canadians coming to the province of B.C. They should be treated the same as people from the States and the Commonwealth and allowed to write their dentistry exams in B.C. when they have the qualifications, as this young woman has.
HON. MR. McCLELLAND: You sat on it for two years.
MR. MACDONALD: It was before the courts.
HON. MR. McCLELLAND: For two years?
MR. MACDONALD: That's the last I heard of it; it was before the courts. We'll have to wait for the decision.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please.
Vote 86 approved.
AN HON. MEMBER: What happened?
MR. LEA: The drinks are on you, Bob. (Laughter.)
HON. MR. McCLELLAND: I can at least eat tonight. I have my salary.
Vote 87: deputy minister's office and departmental support services, $409,490 — approved.
Vote 88: department executive and administrative support, $4,507,805 — approved.
Vote 89: local health services, $32,308,535 — approved.
Vote 90: special health services, $12,592,562 — approved.
Vote 91: other health care expenditures, $13,561,609 — approved.
Vote 92: office of Deputy Minister of Medical and Hospital Programmes, $62,230 — approved.
Vote 93: hospital programmes, $553,184,450 — approved.
Vote 94: government institutions, $49,026,269 — approved.
Vote 95: forensic psychiatric services, $2,775,800 — approved.
Vote 96: Medical Services Commission, $192,525,000 — approved.
Vote 97: emergency health services, $17,834,434 — approved.
The House resumed; Mr. Speaker in the chair.
The committee, having reported resolution, was granted leave to sit again.
HON. E.M. WOLFE (Minister of Finance): Mr. Speaker, I ask leave to move to public bills and orders.
HON. MR. WOLFE: Second reading of Bill 16, Mr. Speaker.
ANTI-INFLATION MEASURES ACT
MS. K.E. SANFORD (Comox): Upon adjournment last night, Mr. Speaker, I was pointing out that the government has a lot of nerve in asking the opposition to support this bill after all the moves they have made with respect to increases that they have foisted on the people of this province.
The other point that I made, Mr. Speaker, was that the programme is so unfair, and I think people across this country recognize the inequities that exist within the federal government's anti-inflation attempts. We recognize as well as anybody else the need to deal with inflation, and I do want this afternoon to give this government some alternatives that they can consider.
The other day when we were discussing this bill we heard from the hon. Minister of Labour (Hon. Mr. Williams) who made some comments about the provincial government's position with respect to the anti-inflation programme. He made those comments after he had finished making remarks about the first member for Vancouver-Burrard's (Ms. Brown's) home, the clothes that she wore, the trips that she took and the money that she accepted from the United Nations. Of course, Mr~. Speaker, he was completely off base in making those comments. She accepted no money from the United Nations, and I think that point has been clarified for the benefit of the public.
I would like to point out to the Minister of Labour
[ Page 2051 ]
that his comments — and I would like to read those, Mr. Speaker — about profits in this province were inaccurate as well. This is what he said the other night. I am quoting from Hansard
I'll come to profits over which we have no control, and you well know that, Mr. Only Member for Vancouver East (Mr. Macdonald), and you did nothing with them when you were government either — nothing at all, except destroy the profit-making ability of enterprise in this province. That's all you did.
Then he went on to say:
Controls for the NDP with regard to profits means rip out all profits altogether, that's their attitude.
Well, Mr. Speaker, that's rather an incredible statement for the Minister of Labour to make in view of the actions of this government, particularly as they apply to small business. This government has shafted small business time and time again. They have eaten into the buying capacity of the people of the province that is their disposable income. They are no longer going to be able to make the purchases that they used to make, because the government is taking that disposable income.
The ferry rate increases are going to affect businesses, particularly on Vancouver Island and the smaller islands. They are the ones that refuse to impose any rent controls on commercial premises, and I have examples in my own riding of small businesses facing increases of about 400 per cent in their rent. Those are the actions of this government, Mr. Speaker, and the Minister of Labour (Hon. Mr. Williams) talks about the NDP wiping out profits. They have done a fine job, particularly as it applies to small businesses.
But I have no doubt that this government is going to take care of big business. I have no doubt that the mining companies will have their way in this province. I have no doubt that this government is going to take care of the oil industry as well, and that's been evidenced already by comments made by the Premier when he was back in Ottawa pleading for increased prices for a barrel of oil to the oil companies on the pretext that they need this money in order to do exploration. That's nonsense!
The federal government is in much the same boat. We read in the paper on May 18 of this year that Syncrude, poor poverty-stricken Syncrude, is now going to have some extra benefits from the federal government and they will as a result of these extra benefits have an additional return of at least $1 billion and possibly two or three times that amount, because the federal government, of course, must take care of the oil companies as well. What a shoddy performance, and it's the people of this country who are going to suffer as a result of this kind of special consideration for projects such as Syncrude.
But Trudeau's timing in bringing in the controls in 1975, after rejecting them in 1974, reveals to me a deep-seated cynicism about the intelligence of the people of this country. Now the provincial government's going to climb on that bandwagon as well.
But let's just look at some of the facts and let's try to analyse why in 1975 Trudeau decided to impose controls after he had rejected them entirely a year earlier. And these are facts, Mr. Speaker, as revealed by the Economic Council of Canada. For the period 1971 to 1974, corporate profits rose from $8.7 billion to $18.3 billion. That's an increase of I 10 per cent during that four-year period. Now in the same period, the national income rose only 52 per cent, while wages and salaries rose only 48 per cent. So from 1971 to 1974 corporate profits were up 110 per cent, wages and salaries were up only 48 per cent. So Trudeau says, no controls. He's protecting the corporations and their profits.
Now let's look at what happened in 1975 and perhaps we can recognize why Trudeau brought in the controls and why this government is keen to get on that bandwagon as well. From 1974 to 1975, Mr. Speaker, corporate profits dropped from $18.3 billion to $17 billion, and that's a drop of 7.3 per cent. But wages....
MR. J.J. HEWITT (Boundary-Similkameen): Did you read last night's budget?
MS. SANFORD: Yes, I did. Wages during that same period of time rose by 11.7 per cent. So in 1975 we have a sudden change where the profits are actually dropping while the wages were still going up. So, wonder of wonders, Trudeau decides that he's going to change his position entirely and hope to jack up the profits again for the corporations who, of course, give him political support.
Let's just look at one company. Bell Canada has announced to the world that they will probably save in 1976 about $53 million in labour costs as a result of the federal wage control. What does this mean — that the consumers are going to pay $53 million less? Not likely, not likely, not likely!
So I suggest, Mr. Speaker, based on those figures from Statistics Canada, that the reason that Trudeau moved at that time was to deliberately victimize the workers of this country and, even worse, to encourage the public to make scapegoats of the working people. This province wants to participate in that cruel hoax, that very unfair programme. But since Trudeau has decided to zoom in on wages and not prices, I want to look at that old question which is raised quite often with me by my own constituents: are profits or wages the bigger villain in this inflationary period?
Before January of 1975, for 15 business quarters — these are consecutive quarters — profits increased faster than wages. Now those are facts and they are
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revealed by Statistics Canada, and it's only in 1974 that wages began to catch up. So from 1971 to 1974, as a percentage of the national income, wages and salaries fell from 72 to 68 per cent. Then by the second quarter of 1975, and this was the crucial time, it was back to 71 per cent, but profits, as a percentage of national income, rose from 12 to 16 per cent and then they dipped to 14 per cent. These are the revealing clues as to Trudeau's inaction in 1974 and then his complete reversal in 1975.
They are also clues, Mr. Speaker, as to the reason for Bill 16 on the order paper today.
We've heard from the people on the other side about profits and how we're going to control inflation. All we need to do to oppose this legislation unanimously is to look at what happened in the United States following the programme initiated in 1970 to control wages and prices down there. What happened? Within two years the corporate profits had doubled to $80 billion. There again, it was to protect the corporate profits that these were brought in. The same applies here in Canada. The programme is not meant to work fairly, and we know that, in spite of what Macdonald was saying last night with respect to prices and profits. They are not meant to work fairly, and I think it's unfortunate that this government is now attempting to join that federal programme.
You know, we recognize that the Liberals in Ottawa and the Socreds here in Victoria have a mission in life, and that is to strengthen capitalism. But it would be pleasant, Mr. Speaker, if just once they'd be willing to admit that's what they're up to. Instead we have to endure this hypocritical plea from the other side saying: "Let's all unite to join and fight against this dangerous enemy known as inflation."
But just look at what's happened. Look at the statistics; look at whom they are protecting. Mr. Speaker, can you imagine a greater con job on the public of this country than to say that prices can rise to cover increased costs — whatever that might be? They can rise to cover increased costs. If you look at the food industry alone, and look at the major participants in the food industry, you will recognize that because of the vertical integration of those companies they can control prices at almost every level; they can decide what their prices will be to each other all the way along. Sure, they're going to face increased costs, and sure, they're going to pass those costs on to the consumers, but nothing is going to be done about their profits.
Just to give you an idea of the control that exists there, in 1972 one of the major food-industry corporations, that is the Weston Corporation, sold almost half of all of the food that was bought in Canada. Almost half. They are integrated from the farm right through. They can set prices to each other; they can increase costs to each other. They don't have any problems.
What about energy? It appears that price controls on the oil companies — that holy of holies — might discourage oil exploration if they were faced with any kind of controls, Now I wonder if the inventors of this programme even thought that wage-and-income controls would have a similar effect. Logically, I would assume that the federal government's workers are better citizens than the oil companies are because, according to the federal government, they will produce despite controls, but the oil companies won't, so therefore we have to treat them somewhat differently.
What about land prices? We have seen a report in 1974, made by Peter Spur for the CMHC. It was never published, but some of the information from that report has been made available.
We find that we have near-monopoly conditions right here in the area of metropolitan Vancouver. In Vancouver, for instance, nine real estate firms own 5,400 acres. That's 33,000 lots, roughly. They control it. Seven developers — seven alone — own 4,400 apartment units, and prominent in that list are Marathon Realty, British Pacific Building and Western Realty.
Now we've had a practice of holding land for speculation and then releasing it whenever they can maximize the profits. I see by yesterday's paper, the Victoria Times, that there's been another recommendation, very similar to the one made by Peter Spur. This was done through Barney Danson's office, the federal Minister of Housing — a report specifically directed for Habitat in which recommendations are made that land profit be dealt with in this country. Mr. Speaker, it will be interesting to see, once this legislation goes through, as I'm sure it will, what action this government takes with respect to land profits in this province.
Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of inequities in this programme, and there are also a lot of loopholes which some of the speakers on this subject have already pointed out. But price decisions are made behind closed doors, and the public are the last to know about these price decisions, which of course they have a right to pass on to the people.
Foreign multinational corporations can shift their profits between the parent company and the subsidiary, and thereby they can take their profits outside Canada and not be affected in any way, shape or form. There's nothing that this province can do about that problem, and Ottawa doesn't want to do anything about it.
Prices can also be raised on the basis of a company's forecast of cost increases, and those can be gauged within a reasonable degree of certainty. Now that's interesting — any reasonable degree of certainty. If they can predict some sort of increases that they might have in the future, then they can increase their prices.
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Mr. Speaker, perhaps the most unfair part of the federal programme is its unfortunate effect on income redistribution in this country. If anything, the present disparities in income distribution will become more pronounced. Right now the top 20 per cent in this country receive 40 per cent of all of the income. The bottom 20 per cent receive 3 per cent of all the income. Now to freeze the status quo is to freeze inequality. In fact, a uniform percentage increase widens the gap between the top and the bottom pay echelons and, of course, it's the low-paid women in this country who are going to bear the brunt of that.
The federal government does permit a raise of up to $1,000 yearly to workers making under $3.50 an hour, but the only problem with that, Mr. Speaker, is that these are the workers who generally are not organized and lack the bargaining power in order to gain that kind of increase, so that is not going to be much help to them.
The chief means of awarding increases to company executives will be untouched, and this includes bonuses, expense accounts and stock option schemes. About 80 per cent of the top manufacturing executives qualify for bonuses, and these bonuses comprise about a quarter or a third of their salaries. Now there's nothing to say that this won't increase, nothing at all. But I think Trudeau probably put it best himself in 1974 when he was campaigning, and this is what he said at that time in Timmins, Ontario: "You can't freeze executive salaries and dividends because there are too many loopholes to squeeze through." Trudeau himself said that and Pepin, of course, has since said how many ways there are to escape controls if you happen to be in that category — 111 ways was what Pepin said.
Now they are asking us to become part of all this. It's wrong, Mr. Speaker. But there's one group that won't find any loopholes, not at all, and those are the civil servants and the employees of Crown agencies. These are the people who are going to take it on the chin, both from the increases in the government moves such as increases in taxes and ferry rates, and everything else, but also through this anti-inflation bill that we're discussing today. They are the ones who are going to be the unwilling spear-carriers in this fight against inflation.
Mr. Speaker, we in the NDP feel that the federal programme is a cynical ploy to demonstrate to the voters that the Trudeau government is doing something about inflation. They're trying to convince people that they're doing something. All of these loopholes exist. The profits are uncontrolled — but oh, yes, they're doing something about inflation. And the B.C. government's participation in this programme is equally cynical, in my view.
The fact is that the exercise is nothing more than an illusion. We've seen prices going up, and in British Columbia Statistics Canada says they're going up more than they are across the rest of the country. We've been told by the Anti-Inflation Board that we can expect, in the next two or three months, huge increases in the cost of food, for instance. But they would grab — both the federal Liberals and the provincial Liberals and the provincial Socreds — at almost anything in order to sound credible except the obvious one, which is a complete restructuring of society. And that has to be done if we're going to have any success in ensuring equal, equitable distribution of income in this country and doing something about the profiteering that takes place.
But capitalism, that has been nurtured and subsidized by the Liberal, Conservative and Socred governments in Canada and in B.C., is failing. It's their programme that is failing. The Premier (Hon. Mr. Bennett), in his April 9 speech, when he was announcing the introduction of this programme said: "Controls and interference with our market economy are necessary at a time of temporary crisis." But it's his system that made that crisis, Mr. Speaker. Why is it that controls are suddenly acceptable to the Socreds only when they mainly victimize working people and let the corporations go their merry way? That says a lot about their philosophy.
Now when we talk in the NDP about a fundamental restructuring of society, we're not talking about cosmetic remedies designed just to fool the troops. We're talking not only about a planned economy but also about the creation of an awareness by all segments that they are being treated fairly and that exploitation of one group by another in this country is a bad memory. That's what we're talking about.
The Premier says he wants the support of all British Columbians. He won't come close to getting it by supporting this clearly unfair programme, nor by the vindictive, politically motivated moves that he's made since the election. He won't get it. The people across the country are looking at the federal programme and are recognizing that it isn't working, and they're recognizing the injustice that exists within it.
But there are three suggestions that I would like to make, and these are suggestions made by Canadian economists as to what could be done in this country at this time. Peter Sadlier-Brown, Canadian economist, urges that a greater government role in investment decisions take place in this country, that the government become more involved in determining what kind of investment should be made. He suggests that only the firms holding government-issued investment certificates, as he calls them, be allowed tax writeoffs on their expenditures. In other words, he's saying that Ottawa could direct the spending of these various corporations in areas of social need and could also bring the cost down.
Eric Kierans, another Canadian economist,
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condemns the tax policies that reward the corporate spending on investment good, as he calls it, like factories and office towers, when the needs of this country are in basics such as housing. He advocates cutting out gimmicks like accelerated depreciation and offering the same tax rates to all sectors.
Then there's Dr. Dian Cohen who points out that the real roots of inflation are outside Canada. That's an obvious fact of life that many Canadians ignore. Why? I suspect that facing up to the implications of this is something that the status quo supporters don't want to do. Just look at the record of the Social Credit government over the years.
Dr. Cohen suggests that to lessen the impact of the U.S. economy on our own we should reduce our dependence on the extraction and the export of our resources. Now it'll be interesting to see the performance of the Social Credit government who have gone out of their way over the years in order to have foreign investment in our resources. It'll be interesting. Policies on that and another question, the question of the foreign ownership of land, will be interesting to watch once this bill has become law.
Mr. Speaker, one of the truly inflationary factors is that of interest rates. The federal programme on this is very weak, I would just like to give one example of what happens under our present interest-rate structure. If a person in this country buys a home and pays $40,000 or $50,000 on a mortgage at 12 per cent, he will pay the same amount in interest alone for eight years and still owe $40,000 or $50,000 for his house. These kinds of things are hardly conducive to solving the housing problem. Nothing is being done about that — or the inflation problem.
Mr. Speaker, in conclusion I would like to suggest to that government that they have a look at some of the moves that they have already made, with a view to changing some of those harsh taxes, some of the harsh measures that they have imposed on the people of the province instead of going along with this bill.
Why don't they bring in some emergency measures to put people to work in this province? That would help a lot. They should ensure that all people are entitled to their full benefits under the Mincome programme and not fiddle around with it as the current Minister of Human Resources (Hon. Mr. Vander Zalm) is doing.
I think that they should also ensure that royalties for the minerals of this province continue to be returned to the people of the province who are the owners. They should increase the return on coal in this province. They should prohibit the sale of land to foreigners, because that too is inflationary, and Mr. Speaker, they should do something about the land profits that are taking place as reported just yesterday in the paper.
MR. L. BAWTREE (Shuswap): Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak in support of this bill before us, the Anti-Inflation Measures Act. We all know what the purpose of this bill is. It's an act to authorize the investigation of the effect of inflation on price, it's to authorize the temporary regulation of prices and commodities, and it is to authorize the cooperation with Canada to carry out a programme which will help alleviate inflation in this province.
The people in opposition seem to think that we should not be cooperating with Canada in order to bring this about. I don't know why this bill needs to be debated, but it appears that there are some who are in favour of inflation. Inflation is one of the greatest destroyers we have in this province today. It destroys the purchasing power of our wage-earners. It causes the manufacturer to have to add a considerable sum to his normal prices, because the replacement of his supplies and goods are going up without him having any control over those increases. In agriculture as well as see a gradual and continual escalation of food prices over the years which makes the consumer rather unhappy, and yet this inflation makes it most difficult for the farmers and ranchers to get a fair return for their labour and their investment.
Inflation has many sides to it, Mr. Speaker, and it affects agriculture in other ways as well. It feeds on itself because the people lose faith. They lose confidence in our monetary system, and they buy other things such as land, and this inflates the cost of the agricultural land far beyond what should be its real value for food production, because people are trying to buy something else at the same time; they're trying to buy security and not just land to raise food. This in turn increases the cost of food once again, and the inflationary spiral keeps right on going.
Mr. Speaker, probably the most damaging aspect of inflation is the erosion of savings which in turn prevents and discourages people to save, and therefore they fuel the fires of inflation even more.
We might compare what's happening in the private sector — pension plans, for instance — with what is happening in the federal or public pension plans, where they are indexed to the cost of living. These people don't have to worry about the rate of inflation, but the people who are in the private sector cannot keep up.
Inflation erodes the return on investment, and we have a situation today where a person can invest money for 10 per cent, or even greater amounts, and yet end up at the end of the year with less purchasing power than when he or she started. The return on investment today, Mr. Speaker, is returning less in actual purchasing power than it did back in the hungry '30s when we got 2.5 and 3 per cent return on our investment.
No one province, no one area, can stop inflation by itself; it will take the cooperation of all of us.
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Therefore I am happy to support this government in its effort to cooperate and work with the federal government to try and solve this problem.
The one thing that disappoints me the most, Mr. Speaker is the attitude of the opposition, these members who do not seem to grasp the fundamental reasons for inflation. The fundamental reasons for inflation are: individuals spending beyond their means, people who take more out from society than they put in, and governments doing the same thing — governments living beyond their means governments spending more money than they take in, as the previous government did for three and a half years. This was the greatest cause of inflation in this province, and the greatest crime perpetrated by that party which is now in opposition was burdening our children with the debts that they were not prepared to shoulder themselves.
AN HON. MEMBER: No responsibility!
MR. BAWTREE: They spent money far beyond their income and just hoped that these debts would go away.
MR. J.R. CHABOT (Columbia River): We want to hear from the member for Mackenzie (Mr. Lockstead). No responsibility!
MR. BAWTREE: Some of the opposition members have said that this government has increased the cost of ICBC, we've increased the cost of ferries, we've increased the cost of B.C. medical insurance. They just don't understand that the costs were incurred by their party. They don't understand that the cost is made up of the rates that were charged and the losses which still have to be paid for. The cost-of-living formula does not include debts by the government not paid for; therefore the previous government kept the cost of living down by $1 billion. They overspent by this amount, and this and subsequent governments will be considered to have increased the cost of living when, in fact, we are just paying off the bills incurred by the NDP.
ICBC: income under the NDP was slightly over half the amount that had to be paid out. The remaining losses have to be picked up by our children. Mr. Speaker, once again the primary cause of inflation was the NDP living beyond their means.
Ferries: the same thing; the income was far less than the expenditures. The losses will have to be picked up by our children. Again, increases in the rate of inflation caused by the government spending more than they received.
B.C. Medical Plan: last year they spent $76 million more than the revenue — just another burden passed on to our children, and which fuelled the fires of inflation more furiously than ever before in the history of this province.
The opposition members have charged that this bill before us will fall heavily on our senior citizens. I submit, Mr. Speaker, not as heavily as the inflation which robs our senior citizens of 10 to 12 per cent of their savings every year. This makes them wards of the state, which is where the socialists want them, of course. This is where the socialists want all the people of this province — under complete control by the state.
Mr. Speaker, the opposition never understood that the basic reason for inflation is spending more-than you earn. Some of the hon. members from across'the floor seem to think it was a bad thing to balance the books, to pay our bills as they become due. They obviously believe that we should just incur greater and greater debts and pass them on to future taxpayers, or maybe they thought that these debts would just go away.
AN HON. MEMBER: They did, as far as they were concerned.
MR. BAWTREE: The members of that party seem to think that the past overexpenditures of their government did not cause inflation. I must repeat: the truth is that the past government fuelled the fires of inflation more furiously than ever before in our history. They were prepared to mortgage the future of our children and their children. Even such countries as Britain have seen the abyss of self-destruction that inflation is rapidly forcing them into. They are trying desperately to draw back, and there is some doubt as to whether they will even make it. Mr. Speaker, in Britain today they have finally decided that the maximum rate of increase in wages is 4.5 per cent. They may not even survive under those increases.
New York. Look what's happened in New York because they spent more than they took in. They are bankrupt. They have had to lay off 38,000 people in just the last few months in a desperate attempt to try and get their expenditures and their revenues in balance. They still haven't made it, and by themselves they are not apt to get out of the dilemma in which they presently find themselves. The major of New York says: "The reality is inescapable; we face the severest crisis in our history. We'll be tested as never before. Our energies and our commitment will be matched against mounting forces which, despite our best efforts, may well be beyond our solitary powers to dispel." They got where they are today because they spent more than they took in.
This has of course, some secondary, related problems. toe people who are investing their money in banks holding that paper of New York's — which is
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now very doubtful as to its value — are getting concerned that maybe their money in those banks is not very secure either. And we could very well be seeing some runs on some of the major banks in the city of New York — the banks that have been financing that municipality.
Other places around the world are trying to come to grips with their problems. In New Zealand they put a price freeze on. In San Francisco they are contemplating rolling back the salaries and wages for many of their civil servants down there, because they realize that they cannot continue to pay more than they take in.
I'm quite sure, Mr. Speaker, that the workers, the people who are actually doing the work in the public sector in this province — the people in our schools, the people on our ferries, in our hospitals and highways — must know that their jobs are in jeopardy if the costs are greater than the private sector can bear. Fortunately the people of this province recognized what was happening; they recognized what was causing inflation, and last December 11 they made the decision to change the direction of this province, Mr. Speaker. I would urge all the hon. members to support Bill 16, and make sure that we do not take this unnecessary step, that we do not mortgage our future and that of our children.
MR. MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I do not intend to repeat the arguments that have been very cogently put by my colleagues as to why we should oppose this bill. I do not intend to put again on the record the tremendous and staggering increases in the cost of living in the last three months that have been imposed by the government opposite, and the great inequities that exist in the national anti-inflation programme.
What I want to do is point out that New Democrats can vote against this anti-inflation bill, but we can't vote away the problem of inflation. To know what we are against is easy enough, especially with this government, but it is never good enough. So I pose the question: what are social democrats for, and is social democracy a movement with a splendid future behind it? Or are the policies of social democracy valid and relevant to meet the economic challenges of 1976, including the crisis of inflation? I believe that they are.
Mr. Speaker, what we face is a terminal illness of our economic order — inflation and spreading unemployment, or both. It goes by the ugly name of stagflation. We live while an economic order is dying and a new one is struggling in the womb of time. Without the birth of the new, our economy has no way but to go down in spreading circles of social despair.
Mr. Speaker, stagflation is not about to go away in a year or two. I know that Prime Minister Trudeau hopes to see it disappear with a happy return to the free-market economy. He says: "Long live the marketplace where the idea is that people help society best by helping themselves." The "I'm all right, Jack" philosophy. Here breed the evil twins, inflation and unemployment. They are not the disease, but rather symptoms of a deeper social disease, and the penicillin of the Trudeau guidelines or of this provincial bill cannot destroy the germs or cure the body politic.
MR. L.B. KAHL (Esquimalt): Signed, Dave Barrett!
MR. MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, each of the evil pair, inflation and unemployment, hurt society as a whole. Inflation erodes savings, as have been pointed out, overprices our exports in the markets of the world, puts shelter out of the reach of the young families and intensifies social strife and dissention. But inflation savages with the utmost ferocity the living standards of the poor, the weak, the unorganized or those who cannot in defence strike back at the rest of society.
With inflation running along at about 12 per cent per year, the great corporations can administer prices, and with tears in their eyes increase prices by about 15 per cent per year. The professionals are safe behind the turreted walls of their fee schedules. The banks find that the interest rate on the money they lend back to the people mysteriously rises with the times. The strongest labour unions can stay slightly ahead of improvements in productivity and the cost of living. The egg board adjusts its prices to the consumer, but for those left out of their own decision-making in society, and there are many, inflation is slow ruin.
As for that other twin, unemployment, Mr. Speaker, in the bastions of privilege it is regarded as a positively useful way on to exorcize the demon of inflation and discipline working people. Unemployment the great companies can live with; the professionals can survive; the workers with good seniority protection can outlast, but it sinks the poor to subsistence levels. It widens the gulf between rich and poor, and the community as a whole mourns the loss of lost wealth, idle plants, empty fields and workless people.
AN HON. MEMBER: You said that before.
MR. MACDONALD: In olden times, Mr. Speaker — meaning about two years ago — governments like the one in Ottawa thought that one of the evil twins could knock out the other. If inflation rages, tighten the money supply, accept some idle industrial capacity and wait for prices to fall. On the other hand, if unemployment was too high, just loosen up the credit system, starting with the Bank of Canada
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and with more money spent on public works.
Prime Minister Trudeau, in the last three years, has been confronting both of these evils on stage at the same time by furiously increasing the money supply. In 1974 the money and credit supply in Canada rose by 21 per cent. Last year it rose again — the money and credit supply — by 18 per cent. With what results? Prices still forged ahead and unemployment spread — in other words, stagflation.
So we are dealing with a deeper illness, as much of values as of economics. The claims of rising expectations by individuals and groups are greater than the ability of Canada to supply them, and something has to give — with or without controls.
Mr. Speaker, why are people and groups going for broke within and without the law, with little or no thought or heed as to whether society can stand their demands, or whether or not they are impoverishing some of their fellow citizens? I think the answer is that after 200 years capitalist values have finally triumphed, that what is good for General Motors is good for the country, that the greatest good of the greatest number comes from the free exercise of unbridled selfishness, that the jungle law is best. These are the values that have triumphed for predator and tom alike. Let him take who has the power; let him keep who can.
Today, Mr. Speaker, this capitalist creed, once the private property of those who rode to riches and power, is now accepted by everyone, from chairman of the board to juvenile delinquent. The public interest, the things we have in common, the sense of social discipline — all of these are drowned in the sea of grasping self-interest. It is only 14 years since John F. Kennedy in 1961 said: "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country." But nobody listened and today, group by group, we have forgotten that we have and are neighbours. When we consider our great financial houses, the banks, the insurance companies, the pension funds who make the prime lending rate that we have heard about in this debate, 12 per cent for interest at the very least, we see that for a couple who are buying their house for, say, $40,000 in the market today, with that kind of even prime lending interest rate they pay for their house twice in the period of eight years. But that is what the market will bear and what other test is there in this so-called free market economy?
Consider the business establishment elite who rouse themselves to maintain controlled markets and administer prices. If the price of coal or oil rises fourfold in the international markets of the world, why, then they say Canadians should pay four times as much for their own coal and oil. And, of course, that again is the free market economy. The professionals suggest their own guidelines for their professional services. Their clients are unheard. The great corporations and unions struggle over the division of the cost increase to be passed on to the public and the public goes unheard.
What a message we present, Mr. Speaker, perhaps even subliminally, in this unrivalled pursuit of self-interest to the young people of Canada. If we say to them, as we should, that they should be personally accountable for their own conduct, where else do we point to in our society for examples of the same accountability? Oh, there are the virtuous who do not enforce inordinate demands upon society, the poor, the unorganized, the handicapped, the native Indians — only because they do not have the power to back their demands by imposing intolerable inconvenience upon their fellow citizens.
So the endangered species in our democracy, Mr. Speaker, is not the trumpeter swan or the peregrine falcon; it is the public interest. It is becoming, therefore, for social democrats to declare their allegiance, to recall that their party, the CCF, was born at a time of deep depression. Men rode the rods to find work. The cry was not handouts but opportunities, opportunities to work for the betterment of themselves, their neighbours, their country and their world. Social democracy is not only services to people, important as they are, but it is service by people. It is not simply an economic creed or system but a set of moral values. It proclaims man's kinship with his neighbour and a recognition that his neighbour's poverty or misfortune diminishes him.
MR. KEMPF: Tell the people of Vancouver East.
MR. MACDONALD: Ah, but we are told, Mr. Speaker, that only the lure of climbing the money tree spurs people to productive endeavour, that incentive dies even in the boardrooms of the great corporations without those fat salaries, stock options and pension plans. We reject the idea that society must rest upon the premise that only gross inequality of income is essential to productivity and efficiency. The spur of work well done for its own sake, a reward at once to self and others, of the pursuit of workmanship and excellence — these are part of the very practical vision of social democracy.
AN HON. MEMBER: Is that what you did in government?
MR. MACDONALD: Therefore, we say that without a basic change in our values, stagflation will not be overcome. But we also say that with a moral revolution in values must go hand in hand strict economic planning. If it is absurd, Mr. Speaker — and it is — that wages should be held to 8 per cent while the profits after taxes of great multinational corporations, mining our coal and shipping it to
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Japan, rise by 300 per cent in a single year, then we should have a commodity coal board to protect at once the domestic consumers and return as social dividends the resource revenue to the people who own the resource.
If it is absurd — and it is — that great financial institutions should manage the money supply for their own profit, then we need investment direction and control for social ends.
If it is absurd — and it is — that public services are starved while luxury condominiums are built and underarm deodorants hawked, then we ought to plan production for social need and use. What powerful interest promotes public transit? Only the forgotten citizen.
If our natural wealth is mined and exploited by multinational corporations answerable — offshore, floating — neither to stockholders nor to parliament, then we need the best management techniques deployed in public and joint enterprise.
If the strife of capital and labour freezes the social fabric — as it does — why should not labour, with power and responsibility, sit in the boardrooms of the nation and at the table where the real economic decisions are made? More is not enough.
If our social order is disfigured by crass inequalities of income, wealth and opportunity — and it is — they add nothing to our national product and much to our shame.
There, Mr. Speaker, is challenge and bright promise of social democracy, of sharing and abundance in a future unfolding: in our present dog-eat-dog society we apply new remedies, or we confidently expect new evils, for time will not let us alone, and time is the greatest innovator.
MR. E.N. VEITCH (Burnaby-Willingdon): Mr. Speaker, I rise to take my place in this debate on Bill 16, the Ant-Inflation Measures Act.
Mr. Speaker, the opposition have talked at great length with regard to their concern for the so-called "little people" of our society. They talked of small-business wage-earners and those less fortunate people who are not in a position to help themselves: pensioners; the handicapped; the halt; the lame; the blind. I share that concern, Mr. Speaker, and I do not believe that the average person gives a damn whether it's demand-pulled or cost-pushed; they only know that their resources, regardless of how large or how small, are being eaten away by this ravaging, cruel disease that we so loosely call "inflation."
It's been pointed here by many speakers that inflation is the most insidious, most cruel tax of all. It knows no bounds. It covers all strata of society, including the very rich. However, the most devastating effects of this plague fall upon those of very limited means.
The cause of inflation, even though the definition of it can be greatly complicated by the overuse of economic terms, is really quite simple: inflation results when a portion of the populace take more out of the system than they are willing or able to put back into it. This can progress to a point, Mr. Speaker, as is happening in such countries as Uruguay, that the assets of a given jurisdiction become, so overvalued that in world terms they are virtually worthless.
Governments and government agencies of all stripes are not part of the solution with respect to inflation but a very large part of the problem in that governments produce nothing, but merely spend the wealth that has been produced by a more productive sector of the economy.
If governments then, Mr. Speaker, are the prime motivators as far as the problem is concerned, it would behoove governments to provide the leadership. In other words, a rearranging of its own house is necessary before it can go forward into the private sector of our economy and tell that section with any degree of authenticity how they should react to controlling this dreaded disease.
In terms of stress, rhetoric and verbiage alone will not suffice in alleviating the problem. Absolute, forceful leadership is required. Mr. Speaker, there is no substitute for it. There is no substitute, hon. members, for courage in times of stress.
Mr. Speaker and hon. members of this House, how can we as lawmakers of this province with any degree of credibility ask business, labour or any other sector to tighten its belt if we are unwilling by our own actions to provide the example?
Benjamin Franklin said that opportunity knocks, not just once but often to those who are willing to listen and heed the call. Mr. Speaker, not for many years for the leaders of this province has there been such a clarion call. It is a clear call for action whereby we as legislators can set aside for a while our political ideology and work towards the common good, not only for our present constituents, voters and citizens of this province, but by our actions, in effectively dealing with inflation, by our leadership, we may provide the opportunity to leave open for our children and our children's children the options which have been available to us during our tenure.
It is vitally important that the citizens of any jurisdiction have general confidence in their legislators. Those political parties, wherever they may be in this world, who have just experienced defeat at the polls know what happens when the public loses that confidence. Not only that, Mr. Speaker, but regardless of party, what about the matter of confidence in government as a whole? Does the loss of confidence eventually lead to anarchy?
Mr. Speaker, if we do not effectively move and show leadership in the public sector we will pile up a legacy of debt and instability and insecurity that
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future generations will never be able to overcome. Is this how we want future generations to remember the lawmakers of this province and of this country? If the public sector is not expected to comply with at least the same terms of reference as those given to the private sector of our economy, how long do you think the stability will last within this country?
I agree with the views of many of the hon. members opposite with respect to banks and some large corporations, but can we say that an arm is not part of the body? Can we set government and government activity aside and place it in a special position over all other segments that make up a whole? In a democratic society this is intolerable and unacceptable.
Mr. Speaker, without even looking to the future, do you know who will be the immediate losers if we do not provide leadership and if inflation is not brought under control? I'll tell you who: small business, the worker, the handicapped, the pensioners, the little people. That's who will be affected.
Mr. Speaker, we cannot take on a Don Quixote stance, a narrow-minded stance, doing nothing but running around, flailing and fighting the corporate windmills. If we direct all of our energies in this area, we will harm the very people that we purport to attempt to protect through our own short-sighted actions.
A great deal has been said in this House of late about ethnic groups and their ability or inability to succeed in this society. May I remind the hon. members that we all come from various ethnic backgrounds? However, I believe that our forefathers had one common denominator in that they left their homelands in search of a better life and better opportunities for themselves and for their families. If this generation fails to act, we will with one cruel stroke have negated that promise of opportunity which has been sought down through the ages.
Hon. members, we may have varying political philosophies. That's fair game, but I'm sure that if a natural disaster struck us today we wouldn't worry whether we were Socreds, Conservatives, Liberals, or NDPers. We would put our shoulders to the wheel and we would man the barricades. The problem presented by inflation, even though not being so immediate, is nonetheless comparative. When we live in a particular community or jurisdiction we all live together, regardless of philosophy. We are in the same boat when impending or immediate disaster threatens us.
There's an interesting scientific fact about a boat, and that, simply stated, is that you cannot sink half of it. You can't sink business and leave labour afloat, and you can't sink labour and leave business afloat, and you can't sink the private sector and leave the public sector afloat. We are in the same boat when we are in the same country, and we all stay up or we all go down together.
A large portion of that option which is available to us can be decided on the floor of this House by our actions and how we vote on Bill 16. Whether or not we are willing to accept the ravages of inflation, not only for ourselves, but for those other folk, or whether we are able to use the vote concept effectively and work for all of the citizens of this province.
The economy of a jurisdiction, Mr. Speaker, can be likened unto a pump. A pump will quit working at any point when the discharge exceeds the suction. Hon. Members, if at any given point in time the private sector of our economy is either unwilling or unable to provide the funds to government, then the excess discharge point will be reached and our whole system will cease to function.
Much has been said with regard to the actions of our Social Credit government in taking actions that were necessary to strengthen revenues in order to continue and also provide increased services that are necessary for people, Mr. Speaker.
Where are revenues to be spent in government? For people. Look at the budget. The revenues earned all come from outside sources. They are taken in by government and will be spent on services for people and the back-up staff in the public sector which are used in providing the vehicle which will administer those services. After that, the budget is balanced to zero. Government has nothing of its own, Mr. Speaker — nothing of its own — and I cannot stress this point too strongly. If the spending in the public sector is allowed to reign unchecked, the democratic process as we know it in this country must surely break down and be replaced with something much less favourable to the cause of freedom. I am sure that not one member in this honourable House would want to see that happen, nor would we aid or abet in the demise of our system, however imperfect it may be.
Mr. Speaker, hon. members, this bill and the ensuing actions of the AIB are not intended to be a fait accompli for all of the inflationary problems. They are not intended to be a panacea for our ills.
Mr. Speaker, I would refer you to the statements of the Premier when this bill was introduced into the House. At that point in time, he said:
"We do not have all of the answers, but we do maintain the principle that those who provide public services and who also price those services will have to substantiate their prices to an independent agency or group. We have asked our senior staff for a complete review of the process by which these decisions for Crown agencies are made, and in the near future we propose to introduce legislation to overhaul this process and to set up a system of public
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accountability on price decisions.
"In the meantime, to protect the public interest, we will seek, as part of our anti-inflationary discussions with the federal government, an agreement whereby the federal Anti-Inflation Board will review pricing decisions for Crown agencies. We are quite prepared to have the Anti-Inflation Board review the new Insurance Corp. of British Columbia rates, the proposed British Columbia Hydro increases, and any other pricing decisions by Crown agencies falling into similar categories."
What can be more fair than that?
This government is committed to doing everything possible to help in the national attack on inflation. In that regard we want our pricing decisions to hold credibility with the public. We are confident that we have based such decisions as ICBC on strict break-even actuarial principles, and we welcome a review by the Anti-Inflation Board.
Finally, the province's Department of Finance will undertake a study of all government purchasing policies and operations. Renewed attention will be given to prices paid for provincial purchases, and any questionable increases will be referred to the Minister of Finance for review and possible referral to the Anti-Inflation Board.
Any agreement, and this is very important, hon. members, any agreement which we negotiate with the federal government will expire not later than April 1, 1977, by which time provincial changes will be in place so that we will have the machinery available to give proper leadership in the public-sector bargaining as well as to ensure a publicly accountable method of reviewing public-sector pricing decisions. How fair can one get?
Mr. Speaker, I support Bill 16. I support any reasonable method that will help curb the ever-increasing horror of inflation and the effect which inflation brings to our population.
Hon. members, we were lectured the other evening by the hon. first member for Vancouver-Burrard (Ms. Brown) in a very eloquent address. She asked us at that point in time to forget party lines. I say at this time, accept that advice, hon. members; forget party lines. Support Bill 16, regardless of your ideologies. Stand up and be counted.
For a moment forget political ideology and look to the common good. Mr. Speaker, in any free society, one cannot merely join something and simply vote for results. One must do something to obtain results. Let's do something here, hon. members. Let this Legislature show its collective resolve to do something to help mitigate the effects of inflation on our economy.
Hon. members, we honestly do have at this point in time an opportunity to do something for people, some of those people who cannot help themselves, the little people of our society. More than that, we can help provide the framework for generations which will follow after us. We have intelligence in the opposition and we have undoubted intelligence, of course, on our side of the House. Let's not let political expedience mar this opportunity. Forget political philosophies for a moment, hon. members, through you, Mr. Speaker. Forget it, and not only the people who voted for you may do the same again but all of the people of British Columbia will heap accolades on this great Legislature.
MR. N. LEVI (Vancouver-Burrard): Mr. Speaker, this afternoon there's been a quiet peace reigning over this House. First we had the only member for Vancouver East make his statement and we have now had the member for Burnaby-Willingdon make his plea. I think the only thing that should be done now is we should call in the minister who offered the prayer at 2 o'clock and I can sit down.
But, you know, I agree that from time to time we should have discussions in this House which are not full of the usual uncomplimentary kind of stuff that we tend to want to do across the floor, and talk about what is good for the province. But I don't think, Mr. Speaker, through you to the member for Burnaby-Willingdon, that it's possible in the final analysis for all of us to agree, because our ideologies are vastly different. You represent, basically, the free enterprise system. We do not. You know, the bill itself, which has been a long time coming, not only in this province, but in terms of what's been going on in Canada.... For the best part of six years there's been a debate raging in Canada that we somehow need to have some controls. In fact that debate got so hot that the former federal Minister of Finance decided to leave the political scene, leaving behind him an enormous amount of ravaged economies of different provinces, as well as the federal government itself.
I think that really we've been going on with this debate now for almost two months — on and off, sporadic — and there have been a number of reasons for the delays. But I do not get a feeling of a sense of urgency about this legislation, because I think that if really the government was very serious, we would allot a block of time in order that we could get through this particular bill. I think that it's been rather unfortunate that it's gone over so many days. Of course, as it has been prolonged, new information and new situations have arisen, particularly in relation to the effects of inflation on the people of this province. But I'd like to suggest that that bill itself, which is a companion bill to the federal anti-inflation legislation which was passed last year in the amendment which was dealt with sometime in March, really becomes an indictment of the free enterprise system, or the private enterprise system, which the
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members over there represent and are the spokesmen for.
Five or six years ago the great debate in Canada was: can we live with 4 per cent unemployment? Then we had the Prime Minister of Canada attempting to overcome inflation by creating unemployment. So the unemployment went up to 6, 7 and 8 per cent. Now the big debate, somewhat sotto voce in Canada, is: can we live with 6 per cent of unemployment? Because we now have 7 and 8 per cent across the country. Now if we're living in an economic system which is a private enterprise — one can't call it free enterprise because it's not free and it's not enterprising — but in a private enterprise system....
MR. R.L. LOEWEN (Burnaby Edmonds): Nonsense!
MR. LEVI: Quiet, please. Now we're having a quiet afternoon. So just keep quiet.
The thing is that surely you have to look at the system which in a matter of six years can say, through its spokesmen, that five years ago it was....
MR. LEVI: Someone should give that man an enema and put him out of his misery.
Five years ago it was a question of 4 per cent unemployment....
Mr. Minister of Health, I didn't realize you were here. You can apply it.
Four per cent five years ago, 6 per cent now — now surely it's okay that we can attack the federal government and attack the provincial government, but I don't think that that does a great deal of good in terms of this kind of reasonableness that exists this afternoon.
But what about if we really look behind the government and see about the decision makers, the people who have the greatest effect on our economic decisions? They are not elected people. The boardrooms of the very large corporations, who do dominate all of the major economic decisions of our country, are not elected people. They are elected to the boards; they are a kind of self-perpetuating group, but we can't get at them.
Now one of the interesting things about the economy as it exists in Canada today is that with a gross national product of something like $180 billion, we are looking at a government involvement of one-third — federal, provincial and municipal. And we have people arguing from across the way that that kind of involvement in the economy is unhealthy because it tends to lead to an inflationary trend.
All right. Nobody is going to disagree that over the years the costs of government, the involvement in government, has been going on at a rapid pace. But the big question I have in terms of the threat to the people from the private enterprise system is: where has the private enterprise system been in terms of job creation? Let's face it: in the final analysis, in this country and in every country, somebody has to take responsibility to see that people eat and have somewhere to live. Hopefully, that's best achieved by creating employment, but we have not had that kind of thing happen in Canada where you have pretty close to a million people who are employed by the various levels of government.
Where is the private enterprise system in all this? I ask you, in all reasonableness, where is it?
AN HON. MEMBER: What about England?
MR. LEVI: You know, they keep talking about England. My God, we're 9,000 miles...what about England! England happens to have 29 million people in the work force right now, with just under one million unemployed. We happen to have in Canada 10 million in the work force and about 800,000 unemployed. So don't compare that kind of thing, because we're in pretty bad shape too.
What I am asking you is: where is the private enterprise system in terms of job creation? I would say to you: okay, your great argument during the election was that you were going to slash the civil service. Okay, so you slash it by 5,000. Attrition will work, the 15 per cent — and that was something the previous government brought in. How are you going to create out there? Where are the jobs being created to provide the 5,000 or 10,000 jobs for people?
You know, the employer of last resort, unfortunately, in the capitalist system has grown to be the government. And that's a very serious indictment of that kind of system if the government has to become the employer of last resort, and that's where it's been for many, many years. Again we constantly hear from people who will defend the private enterprise system that, given the opportunity, given less taxes, given incentives, they will create the jobs.
But you know, it varies. When DREE were operating back east it was costing $140,000 of government subsidy to create a job. Government subsidy. The private enterprise system is a very large beneficiary of government money — large beneficiaries, running into the hundreds and thousands and millions of dollars. Not $160 on welfare, but hundreds and thousands and millions of dollars of taxpayers' money is being paid to corporations to generate employment. Yet we have today in this country 800,000 people unemployed.
So we come back specifically to where we are here, in terms of the anti-inflation legislation that we want to bring in. The other day I was interested in one
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of the backbenchers — I think it was the first member for Victoria (Mr. Bawlf) who is making a gallant effort to gallop into the cabinet — who was saying that we introduced a freeze with no legislation whatsoever. Of course, he's a new guy and he doesn't really know that when the legislation for the price freeze was brought in, it was brought in under the Consumer Services Act. You might look that up and you'll find it.
But, you know, we have another problem and this....
MR. LEVI: Oh, come, come, come now; we're going to talk about another piece of legislation that apparently won't stand up in court.
This should be of real concern to the Minister of Finance (Hon. Mr. Wolfe), because he's piloting this bill through the House, and what do we have? The Union of B.C. Municipalities in their newsletter of May 4, 1976, have an item at the bottom of the first page which says: "Constitutionality of Federal Legislation."
"The constitutionality of the Anti-Inflation Act will be tested before the Supreme Court of Canada in a case involving the rollback of wages by the Anti-Inflation Board. A number of provinces, including British Columbia, have announced that they will intervene in this case — British Columbia's position being one of support of the federal position on the clear understanding that the federal government must prove that its intrusion into the areas which normally are under provincial jurisdiction, under the BNA Act, was under circumstances amounting to a national emergency. The Supreme Court will hear the arguments on May 31 that's within the next few days.
Don't hold your hands out like that, you look like a praying mantis.
The thing is that when you bring in legislation — and governments can't get away with doing things that are grossly illegal — they can always bring in the kind of legislation that is needed, if there is an emergency, under existing pieces of legislation. This one is going to be tested.
The previous speaker, the member for Burnaby-Willingdon (Mr. Veitch), when he was making his speech, toward the end I got the feeling that it must have been something that the Minister of Finance had written for him because he was enunciating government policy — at least he appeared to be. Ali, the Minister of Finance shakes his head and says no, he wasn't. I thought he was. I thought he was actually going to say that after the agreement is signed, if the Anti-Inflation Board says to British Columbia that we've got to roll back our prices on ICBC, they will agree.
Well, Mr. Member, through you, Mr. Speaker, they're not going to agree to that. I mean, that's okay for you, you're in the wilderness, but they are in power. There's no way they're going to roll back the prices. They've made their decisions and they're going to live with them. So with all the best will in the world, it's not going to happen.
We've had other speakers deal with the issues of the inflation as a result of the government policies in terms of the increase in taxation and the various programmes which are going to cost the people more. But I want to deal with an issue that nobody seems to have got too close to, because nobody really wants to get anybody mad at them.
We've had discussions about who the people are who create inflation, and the main character being looked at as the villain is the government. Okay, I can agree with that, except that if the government doesn't do what it has to do in terms of creating employment, who is going to do it? And we've had no answers on what the possibilities are of the private enterprise system.
But let's look for a minute at organized labour. Let's look at their position in terms of the anti-inflation legislation, what they've done on the national scene and what they talk about in British Columbia.
MR. LOEWEN: Pay the election bills.
MR. LEVI: Ali, pay the election bills. What I would like to know, particularly from the member for Burnaby-Edmonds is: who in the whole history of this country, of this province, within the private enterprise system fought for the rights of working people? Name me one man. Are we talking about J.V. Clyne? Did he ever fight for the rights of working people?
MR. CHABOT: Gordon Dowding did.
MR. LEVI: Did the now czar of the B.C. Hydro fight for the rights of working people? They didn't fight for the rights of working people. The private enterprise system didn't offer medical benefits, pension benefits and two weeks holiday. You know, we're not so far away from the days when people used to work 60 or 70 hours. Now we've got the Minister of Transport (Hon. Mr. Davis) saying in the House that if only the ferry workers will give up the overtime business. Well, yes, they can give it up and work 11 straight hours and be different from everybody else in the province and roll time back to the days of the Nanaimo coal workers.
But they will tell us that the private enterprise system brought in the legislation that created
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pensions, that created health programmes, that created the kind of hospital system we have. The creation of the private enterprise system happens to be charity and welfare. Those are private enterprise creations. They were forced to do those kinds of things out of a real embarrassment. And who forced them to do it? The organized labour forced them to do it. They were the people who spoke for most people in this province, particularly when they were unrepresented. They fought for you people — the kinds of situations that exist for us as MLAs were brought about as a result of the kinds of things that they did.
[Mt. Veitch in the chair.]
Why, we have the member for Columbia River (Mr. Chabot) who is a member of a trade union. Right, Monsieur? Of course it's right. We have many people over there who have benefited from the trade union movement, But the big thing is: where would we be without them?
He says: "Pay the bills." We're going to pay the bills. I only wish that you could tell us in 25 hours how many bills you're going to have to pay to the mining companies, to the insurance companies and for all of those corporate people out there. Pay the bills? The kind of bills that you owe are not going to be able to be paid. You're going to dance to the pipes, that's what you're going to do. They're going to play the tune, and the man who's going to be in the middle waving the big baton is going to be the Minister of Mines (Hon. Mr. Waterland). He's going to be right up there. Right behind him, hanging onto his sleeve is going to be the Minister of Consumer Services.
HON. K.R. MAIR (Minister of Consumer Services): What did I do?
MR. LEVI: You didn't do anything. It's okay, just sit still. (Laughter.) You know, I thought I was talking to the member for Burnaby-Willingdon (Mr. Veitch), and there he is sitting in the chair.
MR. LEVI: No, it's a problem with the medical plan — my glasses need fixing. But I can get them fixed, it's okay.
MRS. P.J. JORDAN (North Okanagan): Can't you afford to pay your own bills?
MR. LEVI: Oh, where did that voice come from? Oh, the whole afternoon, Mr. Speaker, has gone down the tube. There's the member for North Okanagan; she used to be a cabinet minister — she was the first minister without in this government.
MRS. JORDAN: I was a good one, too.
MR. LEVI: Ah yes! She's going to get up next and she's going to tell us why it is she can't live with the trade union movement. She finds it very awkward, Mr. Speaker, to accept the idea that somehow the trade union movement did any kind of good at all in this province.
MRS. JORDAN: Many of my family are good members.
MR. LEVI: Did you hear that, Mr. Speaker? I'll repeat it for her because she doesn't have the floor. "My family were good trade union members." That's what the member for North Okanagan said. So as we go around we pick them up, each one....
AN HON. MEMBER: That's why you're on this side of the House.
MR. LEVI: We can't have the member for Houston coming in here making such vicious attacks on the trade union movement, because he was a logger once. That's quite true, I think. You were once a logger. Nod your head if that's not true. He nods his head. He wasn't a logger.
DEPUTY SPEAKER: Please address the Chair.
MR. LEVI: Right, and when he shaves he drives them inside and bites them off. Okay.
MR. LEVI: So we have the very serious question and we have to hear it from the people on the other side. They've stayed away from it. They've stayed away from characterizing the trade union movement, the people that have been extremely vociferous about this kind of legislation.
AN HON. MEMBER: What's the question?
MR. LEVI: The most vociferous kind of protest that they've had has been in terms of what it is they have to lose in terms of the collective bargaining process historically. They're not talking basically about the loss of money, Mr. Speaker. They are basically talking about a process, a collective bargaining process, that has taken well over 60 years in this country to develop. I'm not going to touch on it, pending legislation that's before this House, but that is a major concern that comes out of the
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anti-inflation bill for those people, and they represent over 40 per cent of the people in this province who work. In all the years that I was connected with the trade union movement.... When I first was connected, we were down around 31 per cent and we're now up to over 40 per cent.
Certainly that's the kind of opportunity that everybody in the province has to have, because we do not have from the private enterprise system a willingness on their part to treat people like human beings. Everything has to be gained across the bargaining table. That is why, in all the years I was associated with the trade union movement and was part of the work force out there, I would find it impossible to vote for this kind of legislation — find it absolutely impossible.
But, you know, all of those people over there, Mr. Speaker, people who have had long working histories and who were active in their unions.... One of them said that's why we're over here. That's a suggestion that somehow you don't think that unions have done any good. If that's the case I would hope to be able to notify the union that he was connected with.
MR. LEVI: I suppose it's possible for the member for Esquimalt (Mr. Kahl) to be upset with the B.C. Teachers Federation. I don't know whether he is or not but he said that's why I'm over here. I don't think he's upset with the B.C. Teachers Federation.
MR. LEVI: Oh, he's moaning and he's groaning. Where's that Minister of Health (Hon. Mr. McClelland)? Another enema down there for you.
MR. LEVI: All of those people over there, if they examine the kind of experience that they've had in their working lives in connection with the trade union movement, have to have some concern about this legislation and the impact that it's going to make on the collective bargaining process, and that's very important.
I want to cover one other factor in terms of the inflation. It's been covered before in terms of the low-income people and the fixed-income people. But I want to deal with, very specifically, some of the effects of inflation on the low-income people and the fixed-income people, but only in terms of the food purchases, just for a minute to give the public — and some of the members across there — an idea of the kind of things that happen.
I was reading the other day a study that was completed for the White House conference on nutrition. What they did was to do a long-range study, lasting well over a year, in which they examined very closely the prices of food as it affected poor people and also a sample group of the middle-class people.
They found some very interesting things about the increase in the cost of food. One of them, which to me was very startling but it was part of the report.... They found, for instance, that in a period of four years — and this study was completed in 1974 — that the price of margarine, which is usually generally accepted as a kind of substitute for butter, went up something like 65 per cent over a period of four years. When they examined the increase in butter, they found it went up something like 8 per cent in terms of price. When they examined a number of other staple foods — these are the foods which are bought continually on a regular basis by the low-income people in order to make their money go further — they found there were dramatic increases in all of these costs, but there were no real dramatic increases in the kinds of foods purchased by the middle-income people. So the impact in terms of inflation is really the most brutal in terms of the low-income people.
The solutions the member for Shuswap (Mr. Bawtree) talked about, the indexing of income. Okay. We've barely touched that as a system of programming in Canada, the indexing. You know, one can say that indexing of income is an important factor. It works, I think, if we can be sure that we can contain the inflation rate below the double digit one. If we're going to get into the situation where it is similar to some countries where not only did they have a cost-of-living indexing but they also have to make a supplement available on top of the cost-of-living indexing in order for people to be able to keep up. But that's not necessarily the solution at all.
The solution in this system that we have in this country has to come from the people who control the levers in terms of the economy. I don't think it's going to come from somebody like the Prime Minister of Canada, who in a post-Christmas musing decided that there's something wrong with the free-enterprise system and threw a terrible scare into all of the boardrooms of Canada, so much so that he even got the director of the Royal Bank of Canada off his seat to protest that it's a good system — that the system has been good for us. I think it's been accepted by the members and, Mr. Speaker, I think even by yourself when you were talking, that perhaps the banks went too far in terms of the amount of money that they made.
The Prime Minister's musings have not done us one bit of good in terms of what he thinks about the free enterprise system. Nor has he done anything in terms of the inflation problem other than, I think, to
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harden the feelings that exist in the boardroom, because when one examines what goes on in the boardrooms of large corporations, that's where the basic economic decisions are made. Their basic motivations are certainly the maximization of profit. We have had no statements whatsoever from the large corporations that somehow they are going to have a partnership with the government that is going to work alongside it in terms of development of social programmes.
Yes, they have an escape hatch in that kind of thing in terms of what they characterize as their social conscience. They get involved in things like the United Way. They make available loan personnel from very large corporations. That's their token contribution to the development of social policy in this country. But their basic concerns are with the maximization of profit. So I think that we can introduce all the legislation we want in terms of anti-inflation price control, but if we are not able to get into those boardrooms where the powerful decisions are made, then this kind of legislation that's being introduced here, Mr. Speaker, is not worth the paper that it's written on.
We need from a government hard action which is not necessarily popular action. In October when the previous government brought in a price freeze, the initial reaction was that it wouldn't work, It wasn't popular, but the legislation acted like a two-by-four. It got people's attention as to what the real problem was in society.
The Speaker, when he was speaking in his place in the debate, was asking for people to concern themselves about the province, about everyone. I agree with him that everybody should do this, and when that price freeze was brought in it called attention to a lot of people in this province that things were getting out of control and needed to be controlled. Remarkably enough, it was the large food stores that offered a great deal of cooperation in terms of that price freeze. It was there; there was a willingness on the part of the large supermarkets to participate in the price freeze. There was a willingness on the part of the druggists to keep the lid on.
What we needed was a breathing space, because the objective was to see what the federal government had in mind. Unfortunately the government across the way moved too quickly. They took off the price freeze. They did extend it but then took it off, and we still do not have in place any mechanisms which will control prices.
I would hope that the Minister of Finance is going to be able to give us some indications when we get to the committee stage of this bill as to what kind of mechanisms the federal government has in mind to monitor and control prices. What do they have in mind? Having participated in this debate in a reasonable way, I'm extremely sceptical that within 12 months there will be no anti-inflation bill; there will be no movement towards continuing to point out to people that the economy is out of control and that we need some form of control.
I think that what's happening is that the federal government and the provincial government with it are going to try and get on the crest of a rising economy, no matter how small it is. The picture is not all that optimistic for next year. It's not all that optimistic in terms of capital investment, so that there really is no basic commitment to take any serious view about this kind of legislation, because first of all if there was I think we would have disposed of this bill over a month ago. That would have given the Minister of Finance and his colleagues the clout that he apparently needs with the federal government to participate in an anti-inflation programme.
We also would have thought yesterday when the Minister of Finance in Ottawa brought down his budget that we would have some real indications of how serious they were about it, but even the Minister of Finance when he was on TV last night, Mr. Speaker, was somewhat pessimistic about the kind of moves that they have made at the federal level in terms of the new budget to come to grips with the inflation problem.
So really what we appear to be faced with is a kind of game. It's really a massive con game on the public. For the last seven months in this country we've heard a great deal about the Anti-Inflation Board, the attempt to control wages, the non-attempt to control prices, and after seven months where are we? We have a government on the federal level that brings in a budget that shows no indication at all of the kind of restraint that everybody appears to think is necessary. We have the same kind of action from the government over there in terms of what they have done, in terms of loading the consumer. So, all in all, there is not a real serious commitment.
It's my suggestion that the reason there is not a serious commitment is because you haven't been able to sell the programme to the people who occupy the large boardrooms of the large corporations. They are not interested in cooperating in any kind of control whatsoever. They're not....
MR. LEVI: Who was that? Who said that? Why is it every time that member speaks he sounds as if he's talking from the bottom of a six-foot hole? (Laughter.)
The thing is....
MR. LEVI: It was near, but it's not out of order. That's right. I know when it's out of order. That's
[ Page 2066 ]
right, Mr. Speaker, it was close.
You know, even the Minister of Consumer Services (Hon. Mr. Mair) started to smile and then stopped. I think it was his beard that was a little itchy that actually started it.
MR. LEVI: In closing, let me say this, Mr. Speaker. There is no way that any of'us on this side can vote for this legislation because it has not, first of all, been treated by the government with a sense of urgency. We've had it before us for almost two months, and it keeps being used, unfortunately, as a filler between estimates. I don't think that that's a serious kind of proposition.
The other thing we had yesterday, which is probably the crowning irony of the whole legislation, is that they are not serious back in Ottawa. If they're not serious, how can these people, who are not really that serious either, try and kid the public that somehow there are going to be anti-inflation controls? There are not. There are not going to be any. So we will have to continue in a position that we take in respect to the people whom we have traditionally spoken for, and people over there — we have not a monopoly on speaking for the little people. That was a question that you raised in your speech, Mr. Member....
MR. CHABOT: He's speaking for a select group.
AN HON. MEMBER: You and I aren't little people.
MR. LEVI: That's quite true. You know, we're not little people. We are little big people. Or little big people this way, depending on which way you're looking.
The thing is that we will continue to offer the kind....
MR. LEVI: Afterwards. (Laughter.) No, we're in good shape now, Bob, you and 1.
We will continue to offer the kind of criticisms that we have toward that government in terms of all of the policies, but in this one I think we have been consistent in terms of our position that it is not an acceptable piece of legislation, and that they, as the government, have been consistent in demonstrating to us that they are not serious about getting this bill through. They've exhibited no sense of urgency whatsoever.
MR. KAHL: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In the previous member's speech, I believe, he made reference to some derogatory remarks I'd made about the BCTF. Is that correct?
MR. LEVI: No, I didn't say that.
MR. L. NICOLSON (Nelson-Creston): Mr. Speaker, the bill which we're debating is one which I certainly can't support, and I don't think that the people of British Columbia will support it either. As was mentioned by the second member for Vancouver-Burrard (Mr. Levi), there seems to be no urgency considered by this government. Indeed, had they seen it as an urgent priority, they could have called a special session of the Legislature back in January, when the price freeze was still on, and they could have asked for these powers.
They're the ones who said that they knew what all the problems of the province were. They had all the answers during the election, but where are those answers now? The answers that they have have been to increase taxes, to increase rates of Crown corporations, such as ferry rates, such as insurance rates. And, you know, they're a little bit uncomfortable over there, Mr. Speaker, so uncomfortable, in fact, that they can't even pay people to go out and canvass for them in Vancouver East — can't even pay them to go out and canvass.
MR. G.R. LEA (Prince Rupert): Oh, that's unkind!
MR. NICOLSON: I'm disappointed, Mr. Speaker, that politics has come to a point where some of the average working people in this province have been hurt so badly that they can't at least be polite at the doorstep to people of political views with which they might not agree at this particular moment. But it's because of the inflationary actions of this government that people have been driven to be less than courteous at their doorsteps in Vancouver East to people trying to get across the Social Credit message. I believe in freedom of speech, Mr. Speaker, and I believe that people should take the time during an election to listen to the views of all people of all political parties and all candidates running, and people representing candidates. But that's what it's come to, and that's what the people in British Columbia are saying about this government.
I try not to be political, especially when I'm at some sort of a social affair. I'm embarrassed when I'm invited to a reception prior to the Creston Blossom Festival and I'm there with people whom I think would maybe give politics a little bit of a holiday, but they've been so incensed by this government that
[ Page 2067 ]
they can't forget about how people are being hurt every day in every way, harder and harder, and more viciously and more uncaringly by this government. The people here can't trust this government to do anything serious about inflation.
Here are the words of the Aldergrove Star, Murrayville: "'It's damn criminal,' said the mayor, and the aldermen all agreed,' and a strongly worded letter will go to "Willy Woodenshoes" (Human Resources Minister Vander Zalm) informing him of the council's distinct displeasure.'"
You know, that's rather regrettable language and that such things should come down. But he says: "'Here Willy Woodenshoes has told us he would clean up the provincial Human Resources department', says Mayor George Streidiger, 'and then what does he do? All of a sudden he sends us an increase. Vander Zalm's department has raised the per capita cost for social welfare in the province, and this means the levy the Social Credit government puts on Langley district for this purpose rises from $130 to $155 for each Langley resident.'"
MR. LEA: Ex-president of the Social Credit.
MR. NICOLSON: Ex-president of the Social Credit party.
I don't like to hear remarks like that because my brother-in-law also comes from the same homeland as the Minister of Human Resources. I don't like to hear ethnic slurs. In fact, because of my half-Italian background I sometimes am offended by some comment that might unthinkingly be made in this House.
MR. NICOLSON: Well, I'm certainly proud to be half Italian — quite proud of it. And I think that we should get beyond this type of thing. But when a government is so uncaring, I have to forgive remarks like that. I have to understand remarks like that, Mr. Speaker, because I think they are made and motivated by some very ill-considered actions that have been taken by this government.
You know, here we have a tinkering with one type of a socio-economic system. These people are taking out a little part of what would be part of a social democratic political system. Then in introducing this they say, on the one hand.... The Premier, when he introduced this in his statement of April 9, said: "We intend to both preach and practise restraint, and we've already demonstrated this in many of the actions we've taken to date — and I might add, since."
I guess this is a matter of give and take, Mr. Speaker: you give an increase in the homeowner grant of $8.5 million, and then you take an increase in residential property tax of $60 million. The only trouble is, the average taxpayer comes out on the short end of $51, 5 million. That's the kind of give and take this government is dedicated to.
MR. LEA: And the Premier puts a new shower in his office.
MR. NICOLSON: The Premier, of course, installing a shower for his office — it cost how much? How many thousands of dollars? Thermostatically controlled. And this is the type of thing that has happened...
MR. LEA: How many times was the tile changed? Tile — not the right colour. Change it!
DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, please. The Hon. member for Nelson-Creston has the floor.
MR. NICOLSON: ...during his period of restraint.
Don't interfere with that, Mr. Speaker, I'll feed upon those words of encouragement that I'm receiving from that side of the House, especially from those people who are so eager. They have to be forgiven because they are all hyper, all psyched up. They are full of the adrenalin of those who are seeking a position in cabinet, and they are all enthused. They're all beaming and they're blushing right up to the tops of their heads.
Mr. Speaker, the reason why we cannot seriously be expected to support this kind of legislation in the hands of this government is that they don't believe in it themselves; they don't believe in a controlled economy. They say that we hold firmly to it that control must be dismantled as soon as inflationary pressures are reined in. What they are saying is that the system got all out of hand; the free enterprise system ran away.
We're talking about a national problem, through you, Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Labour, talking about a national problem as well as one here in this province, although with some differences. In the last couple of months the cost of living has gone up much more sharply in British Columbia than it has in other parts of the country, due to government actions, as outlined by one of the capable civil servants in the Department of Consumer Services.
They don't even believe in what they are doing, and they say that as soon as it's done we want to dismantle it. They also say that we support rent controls under the present circumstances. Marketing board prices and retail food prices must be monitored very closely. We want full legal capacity, should it prove necessary in the future to freeze prices for a limited period of time, not even admission by the time of April 9 by the Premier that there was a need
[ Page 2068 ]
to freeze certain prices.
In fact, he's gone back east and endorsed a raise in the price of crude oil. He's been urging Ottawa to raise the price of oil with no guarantee that exploration would take place in this province, and he is going to bring about dollar-a-gallon gasoline at the pump. That's going to be the result of the kind of actions taken by this government, and they say that they are anti-inflationary.
The people of British Columbia cannot trust this government with these types of sweeping powers which they say they want to fight inflation. But what they really want is the control of the people. They want to control the lives of people, the destinies of people. They want to take away the freedoms of people — the freedom of assembly. They want to break the trade union movement because they know that it is the trade union movement and other organized groups that will be able to fight, not only for their own rights but for the rights of the unorganized, as they have done and will continue to do.
You know, it was rather interesting that it was almost 75 years ago.... Last April 23 marked the 75th anniversary of the first socialist resolution introduced in the British House of Commons by J. Keir Hardie, founder of the Independent Labour Party, father of the labour movement and the socialist movement in the British Commonwealth parliamentary system. He recognized then, as people do today, that the first group of people who could be made conscious of the total problems of people within the capitalistic society were to be found within the labour movement.
It wasn't easy for him to get elected. He was elected in a by-election, was well received in the House, a respected member of the House, but he lost his seat the first time around. He ran again, finally, in a general election and was elected. In 1901, April 23, at about 11:30 at night he introduced the first resolution which recognized truths which were valid then and which are valid today. He recognized that through labour, not only could things be rectified in the minds and problems of labour, but also the problems of the elderly, of the destitute, of the sick and the infirm and the handicapped. Through labour — the power and the success that the labour movement had had could be utilized in order to protect the rights and freedoms of everybody.
Now today we find this group and what have they done? They've increased taxes on every type of taxation that hits at people. What is the one thing they haven't done? One of the things that they asked for was that the AIB exempt items that were for foreign export. Now I can admit that the lumber industry has had a rough time in the last couple of years because of the slowdown in the American lumber market, and it might be necessary for the lumber industry to get every pound of flesh they can from a foreign export market that, it is optimistically hoped, is going to continue to improve, as it has done in the past few months. It is hoped that it will continue to improve and I commend the IWA for supporting that and I say that in the lumber industry there is a case.... I think that the IWA showed restraint in their bargaining last year, that they realized the economics.
But another case where there has not been any problem is in the export of coal, and I can't help but feel some sympathy with those miners in the Kootenays who feel that it's not fair that their wages should be subject to the guidelines of the AIB while the profits of Kaiser, Fording, Crowsnest and any other coal company that cares to get into the game have been rising at a fantastic rate.
Kaiser was originally to sell coal to Japan at $12.85 a ton and by July, 1972, the price had increased to $16.88 per ton. So in 1969 they started out hoping to sell at $12.85 per ton and by July, 1972, they already had it up to $16.88 per ton. They are now getting, Mr. Speaker, $52 per ton and they shipped 1.207 million tons in the first quarter of 1976. Now with that kind of delivery how can one feel that it's the miners who are causing an inflationary pressure if they ask for some share of that productivity?
Here we have energy which is being exported. There are no secondary jobs generated in the province other than the jobs of transportation and distribution, but the people that are extracting this one-time energy source from the ground are not being allowed to share in that almost five-fold increase which has taken the most dramatic increase in the last year or two. We're allowing all of that to go out of the province.
When the NDP came to power in 1972 the royalty on that coal was 25 cents a ton. We said that we would increase it to $1 a ton, which we did, and we raised it to $1.50 per ton. We announced that it would be going to $2.50 per ton this year if we had remained government. Knowing what we know now, Mr. Speaker, we should be taking all of the excess profit over and above a fixed reasonable return to the companies, and we should be using that to help ease the burden, to help expand programmes for the people for whom these members back here have expressed so much concern.
Why is it that we've raised sales tax and we've raised ferry fares and we've raised everything else, but there has been no commitment from this government to raise the royalty on a ton of coal, even from $1.50 per ton to $2.50? It should be raised to $5 at the very least, and anything less than that is absolutely criminal, if we allow people to extract this one-time energy source from this province without anything better. There is a tremendous windfall going to these
[ Page 2069 ]
companies. I'm sure that these companies would see this is reasonable if they are fair, decent corporate citizens. Obviously the world market price is well in excess of the cost of production.
This is something to which the people of British Columbia are entitled, but this government has not shown one bit of concern for average people in terms of raising taxes. They have shown a great concern for these largely foreign-controlled mining companies which, in the case of Kaiser, have used Canadian capital — it was from Toronto-Dominion Bank, I believe — in order to develop that resource. They have taken our savings, but they are taking profits.
So here's a case where Canadians could do something with their own money, possibly as easily as has been done here. How can anyone support this kind of legislation when we have such an aura of hypocrisy about this bill, when it is people who have to pay but not the mining companies, particularly not the coal mining companies, which can well afford some increase?
Also, of course, in the area of housing the federal budget was as much a disappointment to me as it was to most of my colleagues, I suspect, with no real initiatives. I think we do see a pattern emerging here. We see this government tying themselves to the coattails — one might say the morning-coattails — of the federal Liberal government. They're going along with them in their housing programmes and they're going along with them in their AIB programmes. It seems that they are saying "Me, too!" to almost everything that the federal Liberal Trudeau government has had to say.
I can't help but feel sorry for Robert Stanfield. I know that as soon as the AIB legislation was announced David Lewis sent a memo — although he was no longer in public life — to Robert Stanfield saying, "Now you, too, know what it feels like to have the Liberals lift some of your policy."
The Liberals have made such a terrible hash of this and they seem to be making a terrible hash of most of the initiatives, but this government seems to agree with them and go along completely.
MR. LEA: They're all Liberals.
MR. NICOLSON: Here in the area of housing — one of the areas that is most inflationary — we see that we're tying ourselves with the federal AHOC programme. Now the AHOC programme has a lot of potential in certain small areas, and it could have some potential perhaps in the greater Vancouver and Victoria areas, but it can only have potential, Mr. Speaker, in reducing the inflationary impact of housing if the present government continues to tackle demand — in fact, feed demand by subsidizing mortgages, not subsidizing them so much that within five years these people won't have to be paying the full face value of these private mortgages. They are raising the expectations on the one hand but doing nothing to continue the programmes which we had underway which were starting to increase the supply.
If one looks at the statistics in terms of housing starts from last September, one can see that the programmes that we initiated were starting to show some fruit. One would only have to look at one example, and that's the Winch Park in Burnaby, one example where hundreds of serviced units were being created from raw land which was formerly held by the Crown and was not developable, wasn't considered part of it. Now that's the way you fight inflation. You have to attack problems of supply. You can't just feed demand, as will be done.... In fact, this new programme will be stillborn if there isn't some attack made in terms of the problems of demand.
What's happening, for instance, with the Riverview development? Is it going ahead? Pipe was already in the ground and there is a potential of 3,000 units of supply which will help to ease the fuel of inflation.
So here we are. It's going ahead. Well, that's good. I wish you had announced it publicly. I'm so suspicious.... I should have more faith in that Minister of Housing but, you know, he's so secretive about these things, about admitting that anything I might have done in the past might have been right, and putting some sort of seal.... You're silent. I'd like a little bit of encouragement. Okay. It's going ahead then. Well, it's going ahead.
[Mr. Speaker in the chair.]
You know, really coming back to this, we have here a tinkering, a piecemeal lifting of socialist policy, out of context, Mr. Speaker. Somebody said something about about people taking more out of society than they're willing to put back into it. Somebody said that back here. I can't for the life of me think of who it was, but it struck a bell with me. I thought it was a good thought, because I think that the foreign coal companies are being allowed to take too much out of society and they're not putting enough back into it. I think they should come to us and they should say, "We're making such good profits that we're embarrassed." If we look at the profits of Kaiser Coal we see that they alone could generate from their increased profits — they alone, and they're only one of three very prominent coal companies in production today and many others in exploration — could account with their increase in profits for all the revenues that we got last year from coal tax royalties.
Someone else back here interjected and he talked about labour. Somebody back here interjected that labour was responsible. You know if we look at the report, we'll see that there is a total type of system. There's a lot of things within that system that I
[ Page 2070 ]
would object to very much and very strongly if they were lifted out of context and placed into our system. But the Connaghan report on West Germany points out that while all the other European countries in the western sector were undergoing diminishing growth, negative growth, there was actually a real growth in Western Germany of, I think, 0.5 per cent — more than that. I thought that that was rather conservative, but anyhow.... I would say more than that.
Now they have a very complex system and one could point out some of the things they have. For instance, they have no closed shops. But if we were to say that's the reason why they have positive growth, we'd be absolutely wrong because we wouldn't be looking at the total system which is in place there, a very complex system in terms of a system where they transcend the words industrial democracy. They don't like to use the words industrial democracy there. They think it's an oversimplification of what they're doing.
We find that they do have a system that works, and likewise we find that in the Scandinavian democracies they have systems that work very well in many ways and things which we can learn from, but things which we cannot lift piecemeal. Having said that, I might say that there's been no consideration given, for instance, to bringing one part of a controlled economy under the AIB. There's been no consideration given to the conscription of capital as a term of doing a banking business or a financial business in the country of Canada such as exists in the Scandinavian democracies and such as the private banks live with and get along with.
When I say conscript I'm not just talking about conscripting capital so you can build cooperative housing. I'm talking about conscripting capital so private entrepreneurs can also get mortgage interest rates that are at 7 and 6 per cent; and beyond that, yes, government might also get further subsidies to municipally or cooperatively initiated housing. That's part — and that's only a part, again — of a more total system.
In here we talk about — and it's also been mentioned — labour. You know, I mentioned earlier in the House the situation that occurred in Kootenay Forest Products. They were called, as I said, the International Wildcatters of America rather than the IWA, International Woodworkers of America, because under the old system of neglect by a foreign multinational corporation....
MR. NICOLSON: Foreign. You look up their lineage, and right through to the top who controls Eddy Match, Mr. Member?
MR. CHABOT: A hundred years in Canada.
MR. NICOLSON: And besides that — even if they're from Ontario....
But it was allowed to degenerate and the morale in there, in terms of both management and labour, is at a low that couldn't sink much lower.
Now with worker-directors it's been possible that when layoffs have taken place in order that improvements might be made, there's been involvement and people have known what's happening. People have known....
MR. NICOLSON: Yes, and they were given notice. The workers knew why they were being laid off and they supported it because they knew that it was because of improvements and changes in the equipment which were in their long-term best interests of safety and productivity.
Now the productivity is increased and a profit has been shown in most months that I've checked.
MR. NICOLSON: It has been shown. Here's one very small example of how we could positively attack the problems of worker productivity — and, as I say, that is something taken out of context.
But again coming back to the miners in the Kootenays, how can they be expected to show the best productivity in the world when they know that excessive profits are being taken out of this country and used to subsidize the Japanese industry, used to subsidize foreign multinational corporations, when they are the ones who are having to pay the price?
For reasons like this, because it's a piecemeal approach, because they don't believe in controlled economy, I cannot support this legislation.
Mr. D'Arcy moves adjournment of the debate.
Hon. Mr. Curtis presents the report of the Department of Municipal Affairs for the year ended December 31, 1975.
Hon. Mrs. McCarthy moves adjournment of the House.
The House adjourned at 6 p.m.