1976 Legislative Session: 1st Session, 31st Parliament
The following electronic version is for informational purposes only.
The printed version remains the official version.
MONDAY, JUNE 28, 1976
[ Page 3155 ]
An Act to Provide for the Payment of Local Taxes by the British Columbia Railway
(Bill 86) Mr. Gibson.
Introduction and first reading — 3155
Bell Copper — CAIMAW dispute. Mr. King — 3155
Measures to combat school arson. Mr. Wallace — 3156
Termination of funding to Consumer Action League.
Mr. Gibson — 3156
Control of price increases. Ms. Sanford — 3156
Northern pipeline. Mr. Macdonald — 3156
Funding of Cowichan Valley alternate education school.
Hon. Mr. Gardom answers — 3157
Policy concerning AIB and teachers' salaries. Mrs. Dailly — 3157
Embezzlement by welfare officials. Mr. Wallace — 3158
Adjournment of the House to discuss a matter of public importance.
Mr. Barrett — 3158
Mr. Speaker rules out of order — 3158
Mr. Gibson — 3160
Mr. King — 3160
Mr. Speaker — 3160
Mr. Lea — 3160
Mr. Speaker — 3160
Labour Code of British Columbia Amendment Act, 1976 (Bill 77) Second reading.
Mr. King — 3161
Mr. Gibson — 3169
Mr. Wallace — 3174
Mr. Hewitt — 3178
Ms. Brown — 3180
Appendix — 3186
The House met at 2 p.m.
MR. D. BARRETT (Leader of the Opposition): Mr. Speaker, I'd like to introduce two guests in the House today — one a working guest and the other a guest guest.
The working guest is a cub reporter with the London Times and a former member of this Legislature, now reporting in London as Agent-General and serving the people of British Columbia as he has done for many, many years — Mr. Bob Strachan, who is in the press gallery. Mr. Strachan is accompanied by his wife, who is sitting in the members' gallery. We wish them a pleasant visit to British Columbia and we wish them God-speed on their return to London in continuing their good work for the people of British Columbia in that capacity.
MR. W. DAVIDSON (Delta): It is also my pleasure this afternoon to introduce a friend of mine of some long standing, a gentleman who is now a commissioner with the B.C. Forensic Commission and for several years an officer with the Vancouver police force. In fact, Mr. Speaker, had it not been for the cooperation and assistance of this gentleman, many individuals like myself would never have been able to have the opportunity to finish our university training. I would ask the House to join me in welcoming former staff inspector, Mr. Dan Brown, this afternoon.
HON. J.A. NIELSEN (Minister of Environment): Mr. Speaker, I'd like to welcome three constituents from the constituency of Richmond to the House today, Mr. and Mrs. Pirzek and their son Frank.
MR. S. BAWLF (Victoria): Mr. Speaker, I would like the House to join me in welcoming Mr. Brian Small, manager of the Victoria Chamber of Commerce, who's worked long and hard for this community and indeed for the betterment of British Columbia as a whole.
Introduction of bills
AN ACT TO PROVIDE FOR THE PAYMENT
OF LOCAL TAXES BY THE
BRITISH COLUMBIA RAILWAY
On a motion by Mr. Gibson, Bill 86, An Act to Provide for the Payment of Local Taxes by the British Columbia Railway, 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.
HON. H.A. CURTIS (Minister of Municipal Affairs): Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present the report of the Department of Housing — the second annual report for the year ending December 31, 1975. In so doing, may I explain to the House, through you, Mr. Speaker, that this is a typewritten copy. The final printed form from the Queen's Printer is not yet available; however, I did want to table the report at the earliest time.
BELL COPPER-CAIMAW DISPUTE
MR. W.S. KING (Revelstoke-Slocan): Mr. Speaker, last week I asked the Minister of Labour (Hon. Mr. Williams) whether or not he was planning any intervention into the long-term dispute at Granisle between Bell Copper and the CAIMAW union. The minister indicated that a mediation officer had been appointed and that he was awaiting his report. I wonder if the minister can now inform the House whether or not he has that report and, if so, what precise intervention he plans to bring this long-standing dispute to resolution.
HON. L.A. WILLIAMS (Minister of Labour): Mr. Speaker, to the member, I do not have the report. I was advised by Associate Deputy Minister Ken Smith that the report will be in my hands today. As soon as I have that report, I will be discussing it with the associate deputy minister and the mediation officer to determine what initiatives may be taken.
MR. KING: Mr. Speaker, I would ask the minister if he plans, when receiving the report and discussing it with his officials...will the minister be in contact with the union and with the management group at Bell Copper to solicit their cooperation in a mechanism for bringing about a final resolution?
HON. MR. WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, that will depend upon the nature of the report. If the report indicates that that will be advantageous, I will do so immediately.
MR. KING: Mr. Speaker, since this is a most serious dispute which is having a profound economic impact on the community, I wonder if the minister would undertake to report back to the House after he has had an opportunity to receive the report from the mediation officer and discuss the dispute with his departmental officials.
HON. MR. WILLIAMS: Yes.
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MEASURES TO COMBAT SCHOOL ARSON
MR. G.S. WALLACE (Oak Bay): Mr. Speaker, this is a question to the Minister of Education with regard to the continuing series of fires in school buildings, and particularly the fact that in a space of six days in fires at Surrey, Brentwood and Armstrong, total damage of $ 1.1 million was inflicted by these fires. In view of the minister's stated awareness of the serious problem during his estimates debate, can I ask the minister if he has held any discussions with the school trustees association since the debate on his estimates to initiate such measures as resident caretakers on school sites?
HON. P.L. McGEER (Minister of Education): No, Mr. Speaker.
MR. WALLACE: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker: since reports of these fires frequently state that arson is suspected if not proven, and in view of the increasing frequency of these expensive fires, does the minister have any specific measures in mind, particularly for the months of July and August when school buildings will be closed and under even less supervision than usual?
HON. MR. McGEER: Mr. Speaker, traditionally the summer months have not been times of difficulty with regard to the school fire problem, but we will be meeting with the trustees over the summer to develop, hopefully, better policies with respect to fire insurance and the arson problem in schools. With respect to these three fires, I haven't got reports yet to know whether arson is suspected in these cases or not.
MR. WALLACE: A final supplementary: has the minister responded to the request of the Richmond School Board, who recently had a very expensive fire, in order to make it possible for them to finance the rebuilding of the school with fire-resistant materials?
HON. MR. McGEER: Mr. Speaker, there's a finance formula for the reconstruction of schools which apportions according to the cost to the school district — the mill rate that the department will pay versus the mill rate that's paid at the local level. We haven't suggested a change in that formula, but I'll take the question as notice and find out the specific details of any discussions that have taken place on this particular subject.
TERMINATION OF FUNDING
TO CONSUMER ACTION LEAGUE
MR. G.F. GIBSON (North Vancouver-Capilano): Mr. Speaker, a question to the genial Minister of
Consumer Services, who is sporting such a splendid weekend suntan. When the minister announced the Consumer Protection Act, he gave special thanks to three people who had made a detailed, independent study of prepaid contracts for his department. In view of the fact that one of these individuals was Shelley Rivkin, president of the Consumer Action League, will the minister reconsider the termination of funding to that organization considering their valuation contribution to his department?
HON. K.R. MAIR (Minister of Consumer Services): There is no thought at this time, Mr. Speaker, to reconsidering any of the grants made in the past year or any of the grants that were not made.
MR. KING: A neat way of saying thanks.
CONTROL OF PRICE INCREASES
MS. K.E. SANFORD (Comox): My question is to the Premier. Last week on CBC "Hourglass" the Premier stressed that the government now has the legal right to control prices in the province. Today we see the latest price increase. It is in the cost of bread. When does the Premier intend to use his legal right to control prices in order to protect the public?
HON. W.R. BENNETT (Premier): Mr. Speaker, through you to the member for Comox, I'll be in consultation with the Minister of Consumer Services (Hon. Mr. Mair) and his staff who are monitoring prices. Such recommendations as they and the people in the field may make, the government will respond to.
MS. SANFORD: A supplementary. I am wondering, does the Premier consider it more essential to abolish the mining company taxes rather than protect the public?
MR. G.R. LEA (Prince Rupert): No answer?
MR. A.B. MACDONALD (Vancouver East): No answer.
MR. MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, to the Premier. Did the Premier discuss with Governor Dan Evans of Washington the proposal of Trans Mountain Pipe Line to build a pipeline across northern B.C. from the Kitimat-Rupert area to Edmonton for about 500,000 barrels of oil a day from Alaska, and did the Governor of Washington point out that that would kill his plans for a multipurpose port at Port Angeles and mean that supertankers up to 165,000 tons would come past Victoria into the Strait of Georgia
[ Page 3157 ]
HON. MR. BENNETT: Mr. Speaker, as already reported to this House — and I don't know if the first member for Vancouver East was absent then — this subject was discussed at the meeting between the Governor of Alaska (Jay Hammond), the Governor of Oregon (Robert Straub) and the Governor of Washington (Dan Evans). It was one of several items on an agenda, In a busy agenda at a first meeting in which the Alcan proposal — or the gas pipeline from Alaska using existing corridors through the Yukon and British Columbia — was the main topic, it received no more than attention for further study. The proposal was already under study in British Columbia both by the energy board and by the departments in government as just another thing government must look at.
MR. MACDONALD: To the Premier. Did not the Governor of Washington express opposition to this proposed oil pipeline for the reasons I have given and has not the government of British Columbia — or have they — expressed support for that proposal?
HON. MR. BENNETT: The answer to the first part of your question is no and the answer to the second part is that British Columbia has a neutral position until such a time as all the studies are completed.
MR. MACDONALD: Does the Minister of Transport and Communications (Hon. Mr. Davis) who has indicated approval of this, speak for the government or not?
HON. MR. BENNETT: Mr. Speaker, it's under active consideration by more than one department. Till such a time as it has been reviewed and either approved or disapproved by any of the cabinet committees, such proposals are speculative. But it's within the possibility that any minister concerned about British Columbia could speak out positively on the aspects that will help to create employment in this province.
MR. MACDONALD: A supplementary. Does the Premier understand that if this pipeline goes across the north it will mean that big tankers will come into Ferndale right past Victoria? Has that factor been taken into account?
HON. MR. BENNETT: Mr. Speaker, I have already told the member that the B.C. Energy Commission, the B.C. Petroleum Corp. and various government departments are studying it. We certainly don't want. the type of off-the-top-of-the-head opinions or suggestions that come from some members.
FUNDING OF COWICHAN VALLEY
ALTERNATE EDUCATION SCHOOL
HON. G.B. GARDOM (Attorney-General): Some days ago, Mr. Speaker, the member for Cowichan-Malahat (Mrs. Wallace) raised a question concerning the funding of the Cowichan Valley alternative education school. I have received the following information from my officials that the transition has taken place concerning the funding of the programme between this department and the department of my colleague, the Minister of Human Resources. Last year this department funded the school to the extent of $15,000, and this year the Department of Human Resources is picking up $10,000 and the $5,000 will be the responsibility of this department.
MR. LEA: So it's down.
POLICY CONCERNING AIB
AND TEACHERS' SALARIES
MRS. E.E. DAILLY (Burnaby North): To the Minister of Education. In view of the government's commitment to the retroactivity policy of the AIB, and in view of the great uncertainty which the school boards and the teachers of this province are in with reference to their salary agreements, would the minister tell the House what your policy is re the status of the teachers' and school boards' salary agreements as they stand now?
HON. MR. McGEER: The policy of the government, Mr. Speaker, is that everybody is in the same boat with regard to wage-and-price guidelines....
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The hon. minister has the floor in reply to a question.
HON. MR. McGEER: Does he wish the reply, Mr. Speaker? Therefore, the school boards, if they choose, have the right to refer any settlements to the Anti-Inflation Board, and then it's up to the Anti-Inflation Board to make whatever decision it feels is appropriate.
MRS. DAILLY: Is the minister, then, saying it's optional — that the school boards can leave their salaries as they are, or not? I gather that from your words. You said it's up to the school board, that you're not taking any position on this at all. You're leaving it to the school boards. It's optional whether they wish to refer it or not.
[ Page 3158 ]
HON. MR. McGEER: The Department of Education will not be referring the settlements. The school boards individually will be, Mr. Speaker.
EMBEZZLEMENT BY WELFARE OFFICIALS
MR. WALLACE: Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Human Resources: in view of the investigation which has been reported to be taking place at the New Westminster welfare office with regard to the misuse of funds by staff — in one case an employee is reported to have fraudulently obtained $40,000 — can the minister tell the House when the investigation will be completed and if there is any evidence to justify an immediate review of the business and accounting procedures for all of the welfare offices across the province?
HON. W.N. VANDER ZALM (Minister of Human Resources): Mr. Speaker, to the hon. member, I imagine that we should know something within the next several days. Certainly within the next 10 days, we hope to have all of the information complete. I would like to advise the member also that one of the first things we did when we became government was to establish an audit team. We in fact now have three members and hope to have three more shortly who will be visiting all of the offices throughout the province to assure that the procedures used are accurate and that in fact such situations as appear to have occurred in New Westminster will not be happening or be allowed to happen elsewhere in the province.
MR. WALLACE: Mr. Speaker, while I appreciate that answer, I just wonder if the minister is in a position to tell the House and the people of the province what total amount of money is involved in this fraud and whether, in fact, criminal charges are in the process of being laid against members of the staff at New Westminster.
HON. MR. VANDER ZALM: Mr. Speaker, the investigation is not complete so I can't provide that information. It's presently in the hands of the Attorney-General and the police department in New Westminster.
MR. BARRETT: Mr. Speaker, I ask leave to move adjournment of the House for a discussion of a definite matter of urgent public importance, The matter is the release of information by the Minister of Education (Hon. Mr. McGeer) that ICBC now has a multi-million dollar surplus at hand, proving that exorbitant rate increases were unnecessary.
In view of the high unemployment rate and the depressed state of the economy in general, these facts call for immediate refunds of the excess premiums in order to stimulate the economy and alleviate the hardship being caused by this government's policy.
The wording of the motion, Mr. Speaker, is that this House urge the government to refund immediately the excess premiums charged to the motorists of British Columbia resulting in a multi-million dollar surplus to ICBC.
Mr. Speaker, in your ruling I would ask you to consider the statements made by some leading British Columbians, including Mr. Chunky Woodward, the head of the Woodward's Stores, who pointed out recently that retail business in British Columbia is flat. "The feeling is we won't come out of the slump in 1976, " he said. "The ICBC increase in auto insurance premiums..."
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please, Hon. Member.
MR. BARRETT: I'm relating information, Mr. Speaker, to point out the urgency of the matter. Mr. Woodward says: "...and retail sales tax to 7 per cent, as well as the ICBC rates."
Mr. Speaker, the urgency is related also to the fact that there is a high number of unemployed in British Columbia. There is a method of direct government alleviation, and that is why it's necessary for an emergency debate.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Order!
MR. BARRETT: ...as well as the tourist industry on Vancouver Island. I ask you to consider those reasons.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please, In dealing with the motion placed under standing order 35 by the hon. Leader of the Opposition, there are a number of points before the motion qualifies on a matter of urgent public importance. A number of these are outlined in standing order 35 and in the subsections contained therein. So in the initial instance it is a decision for the Speaker to determine whether the request qualifies on the basis of urgent public importance, I must say to the hon. Leader of the Opposition that in looking at the motion I would bring to the attention of the hon. members the following facts.
First of all, in order to qualify, the motion must be raised at the earliest opportunity. I would say to the hon. members that this certainly is not the earliest opportunity inasmuch as the matter of ICBC rates has been discussed in question period by the hon. Minister of Education (Hon. Mr. McGeer), who is responsible for ICBC. He has pointed out to the members of the House the fact that it is possible there will be a savings or a reduction — there is a reduction, I believe he said, in the number of claims — which may result in a reduction in premium rates.
[ Page 3159 ]
But I would say to the hon. members that, first of all, the matter has not been raised at the earliest opportunity, and in that respect it fails on the grounds of immediate urgency.
Another fact that I would bring to your attention...I am quoting now from Sir Erkine May, page 370: "A motion is not acceptable if it is one involving hypothetical circumstances." Certainly it is hypothetical at this time for anyone to try to determine what will be the results of the current year's operation in ICBC.
Another point I would like to raise is the fact that the motion has failed when facts are in dispute or before they are available. It is certainly clear to me, as it must be to all of the members of the House, that, part way through the current year in the operation, to allow the motion would be to deal with the matter before the facts are available. Having looked at the motion, I must now say to the hon. Leader of the Opposition that in those three points alone, Hon. Member, without taking anything further than that into consideration, the motion does not meet the requirements of standing order 35 and therefore is not in order.
MR. BARRETT: Mr. Speaker, if I may point out to you on your three points, the information is new — it is new information.
MR. BARRETT: It is new information. Secondly...
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!
MR. BARRETT: ...because it is not hypothetical, the facts were given as new information.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Hon. Member....
MR. BARRETT: The facts are not in dispute,
MR, BARRETT: Mr. Speaker, if I may have order, please.
[Mr. Speaker rises.]
MR. SPEAKER: Hon. Leader of the Opposition, the hon. member well knows it is the position of the Speaker to determine whether the motion meets the test of urgency under standing order 35. It is not then a matter of debate; it's a matter of whether it has met the test or not. I have indicated to you why your motion does not meet the test of urgency; I therefore must rule that the motion is out of order on the basis of the points I have made.
[Mr. Speaker resumes his seat.]
MR. BARRETT: Mr. Speaker, with respect to your ruling, which I accept, I find it difficult to accept reasons that are based on government statements rather than on Sir Erskine May. However, if that is your ruling, based on government statements, then I must challenge your ruling.
MR. SPEAKER: There's no challenge, Hon. Member.
MR. BARRETT: Why?
MR. SPEAKER: Well, it's a matter of whether it is...
MR. BARRETT: You have ruled it out of order.
MR. SPEAKER: ...in order or out of order.
MR. BARRETT: It is a challenge of a ruling. Surely to goodness you can challenge a ruling.
MR. SPEAKER: It's a ruling that I must make, an opinion that I must deliver to the House...
MR. BARRETT: Right!
MR. SPEAKER: ...based upon the evidence that's before me, Hon. Member. And it has been held not only in this session but in many previous sessions, and it is not a subject of debate...
MR. BARRETT: Any ruling is challengeable.
MR. SPEAKER: ...or it's not a subject of challenge.
MR. BARRETT: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to know....
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.
[Mr. Speaker rises.]
MR. SPEAKER: If the hon. Leader of the
[ Page 3160 ]
Opposition would care to check the records of the House, you will find that not only in this session but in a number of previous sessions the Journals of the House will show, both in this session and in previous sessions, that what I have said is correct.
[Mr. Speaker resumes his seat.]
HON. MR. McGEER: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if I could bring to your attention, sir, the completely faulty premise based on statements....
[Mr. Speaker rises.]
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!
MR. SPEAKER: Would all of the members please take their seats?
MR. SPEAKER: It is not the intention of the Speaker to allow any of the members of the House to engage in a debate on the issue. I have given the opinion of the Chair as to whether the motion was in order or out of order. It is not in order according to our rules under standing order 35, so there's no further debate, hon. members.
[Mr. Speaker resumes his seat.]
MR. BARRETT: I accept the ruling, Mr. Speaker. I now ask unanimous leave to allow the motion to be debated.
MR. SPEAKER: This is a proper procedure....
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please! It is a proper procedure on behalf of the hon. Leader of the Opposition to ask unanimous leave for debate.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!
AN HON. MEMBER: Afraid, eh?
MR. KING: They're afraid of the debate.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!
Leave not granted.
MR. GIBSON: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if I could just have a point of clarification on the ruling. I understood Your Honour to say, first of all, that this was not at the earliest possible moment and then, secondly, to say it was hypothetical. I'd just like to understand: is it too early or too late? (Laughter.)
MR. KING: Point of order, Mr. Speaker: in your ruling you indicated that it was the Speaker's discretion to determine whether or not an emergency existed, and I appreciate that. But in coming to that decision, the Leader of the Opposition asked you to quote the authority. I quote to you, sir, rule 9 in standing orders which requires, in my view, that in explaining a point of order or a practice the Speaker shall state the standing order or authority applicable to the case. I would appreciate the precise authority that the Speaker used for rendering his decision, because this matter has arisen a number of other times and I'd like to understand the procedure.
MR. SPEAKER: It's a matter of quoting the authority, and I'll refer you to Sir Erskine May, the 16th edition, page 370: the matter must be definite — and it goes down and lists a number of subheadings down the full page....
AN HON. MEMBER: What page was that?
MR. SPEAKER: It's 370, Hon. Member...which I quoted from in making my decision.
MR. BARRETT: A $100 ripoff.
MR. LEA: Mr. Speaker, on a further matter of clarification: as you so rightly pointed out, this isn't a matter for debate once you have ruled, but I don't think there's any human being that cannot make a mistake, and if you have made an honest error in coming to your decision, and a member of the House can point that out, are you saying that you do not want to hear about your honest error which could have been made? Is this what you are saying?
MR. SPEAKER: No. I'm saying that I made my ruling based on the rules of the House and Sir Erskine May, page 370, Hon. Member.
MR. LEA: Mr. Speaker, I suggest to you that you made your decision quoting from ministers and from government. That's what you did. You said: "I will not allow this debate, because ministers have said it's not necessary." That's what you said — "not necessary" by the government. I just wanted to
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[Mr. Speaker rises.]
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.
[Mr. Speaker resumes his seat.]
Orders of the day
HON. G.B. GARDOM (Attorney-General): By leave, Mr. Speaker, public bills and orders.
HON. MR. GARDOM: Adjourned debate on second reading of Bill 77, Mr. Speaker.
LABOUR CODE OF BRITISH COLUMBIA
AMENDMENT ACT, 1976
MR. W.S. KING (Revelstoke-Slocan): I want to first of all, Mr. Speaker, extend my thanks to the government for allowing the weekend to study this bill, because it is a major and important departure from the established policy of the Labour Code of British Columbia. I appreciate being granted the extra couple of days to study the bill and find out precisely what it does in terms of amending the Labour Code of British Columbia.
Mr. Speaker, I find in this statute a major change, a major shift away from the industrial relations policy which was contained in the Labour Code of British Columbia as introduced by the New Democratic Party government in 1973. I find two particular areas that are, in my view, of great significance. One is the amendment which has the effect of more precisely regulating the "hot" declaration which is used by trade unions usually for the purpose of organizational activities.
Secondly, and I think perhaps the most profound, is the introduction of an extended cooling-off period by amending section 73 of the Labour Code, and the arbitrary authority which the government is taking to designate essential services in the province of British Columbia in a holus-bolus way, in an open-handed way without respect to any particular industry or any particular function.
Thirdly, and no less serious, is the introduction once again of government supervision over the strike vote and indeed the lockout vote in industrial relations.
Mr. Speaker, we live in a time when almost any Act or enactment which is seen as diminishing labour's strength is gleefully welcomed by a large segment of society. The government has been urged by a number of backbenchers, during the course of debates this year, to present the kind of legislation we have before us now. The member for Dewdney (Mr. Mussallem) and the member for Omineca (Mr. Kempf) have openly worried about high labour costs, apparently having forgotten that the other side of the high-labour-cost coin is the ability of ordinary people to afford the costs of goods and services.
Other members have urged that all transportation, and perhaps even the forest industry, should be embraced in the essential-services doctrine. There is an immediate and a simplistic appeal to this kind of legislation, an appeal to the voter and hence to ever-pragmatic politicians who, since they can be persuaded to adopt whole new political philosophies in return for gaining power, can not realistically be expected to resist the appeal of simplistic solutions to industrial relations problems.
The people of B.C. deserve better, Mr. Speaker. At a minimum they deserve legislation that is based upon an understanding or at least an effort to understand the uniqueness of the B.C. labour relations scene. It's easy enough to observe that the labour in B.C. is more militant than it is anywhere else in North America and to wish, if one is so inclined, that it would cease to be so. Designing legislation to produce that alter reality is quite another matter, however.
It is said that a U.S. legislator in the last-century discovered that his children were having trouble memorizing the value of pi to the required number of decimal points. So he introduced a bill to reduce that value to three even. The drafters of the legislation before us share that touching faith in the limitless capacity of law to solve every problem.
I represent Revelstoke-Slocan, Mr. Speaker, a mountainous constituency in a mountainous province. I suppose that there are some who wish that weren't so — that the mountains weren't there. Life, in many respects, would be more simple — no avalanches, straight and inexpensive highways and so on. But no one proposes legislation declaring that henceforth B.C. shall be flat. I've often wondered, I might add, if the Flat Earth Society doesn't have a major following in the government benches.
In just such an elemental fashion the working people in B.C. are militant. They're aggressive. They're not easily tamed to the requirements of employers or legislators. That has been proved often enough. Bill 33 stood on British Columbia law books for five years — a vote-getter for its drafters, a permanent stain on the law and lawmakers. For five years in this province trade unionists competed to see who could defy that law most flamboyantly. In the offices of trade unions, injunctions given under that law were measured by the depth of the pile. Why did the law fail to change the reality?
Why is it that British Columbia employers and governments look so wistfully at the relatively placid labour scene elsewhere? The seeds for the chaotic
[ Page 3162 ]
labour scene with which we have had to live many decades, under all manner of labour legislation, were planted in the last decades of the 19th century.
Unlike the settlers who came to farm the prairies or to work with the farmer, people came to B.C. to work in the mines and in the forests. In many cases they brought with them the traditions of British and European trade unionism — traditions which were badly needed. They came to work in the mines and forests and ships and railroads in British Columbia — occupations which make even a violent picket line seem a comfortable and easygoing place. Men lived in camps which provided an easy environment for the growth of tough trade unionism. In contrast with the farmhand who worked alongside his employer in the same environment, the B.C. Industrial worker worked and sweated for distant capitalists in far-off executive offices.
The working people of British Columbia, Mr. Speaker, are in the most profound sense law-abiding. CLEU, the Co-ordinated Law Enforcement unit, investigated organizations of this province and in their report described the trade union movement as whistle-clean. Mr. Speaker, I'd like to quote from an article that appeared in the Victoria Colonist on March 21 of this year and the headline states: "B.C. Labour Looks Clean as a Whistle." Mr. Speaker, I read the following excerpts into the record of the House:
"The B.C. labour movement has come out clean as a whistle from a provincial investigation of its activities. 'The honesty of B.C. labour unions provides us with the relief in our tale of racketeering. Although this province has the highest proportion of organization within the work force, it does not have the relationship between unions and organized crime that exists in some parts of the United States, Quebec and Ontario,' the report concludes.
"According to the report B.C. unions have a sophisticated membership aware of issues and participating in the elections to a greater degree than elsewhere. This prevents criminal elements from establishing ties with the unions.
"Recently the trend has been for labour to take complete responsibility for management of pension funds, but this in no way suggests the lowering of their standards of integrity."
Mr. Speaker, the reason I read that report into the record of this House was because, as the report states, it provides stark relief from the organized crime relationship with the trade union movement which has been unearthed in other provinces and other jurisdictions — not only with respect to the trade union movement, Mr. Speaker, but with respect to industries on a broad scale and on a far-reaching basis, vis-a-vis the construction industry and many others.
I want to quote from that report and place on the record of this House the findings of a judicial agency of this government that conducted perhaps the most far-reaching investigation into labour relations and trade unions in this province that has been undertaken in recent times.
As a matter of record they are the findings and I think they're extremely healthy. I think they are findings that the Minister of Labour should have been extremely proud of. I think they are findings and facts that the Minister of Labour should have used in resisting the right-wing calls of some government backbenchers and his cabinet colleagues to resist yet more restrictive intervention in the affairs of trade unions.
Instead of drafting laws which presume guilt on the part of B.C. working people, the Minister of Labour should have been praising them for passing the closest legal scrutiny with flying colours. The loggers and the miners and the railway workers, et cetera, of this province have whistle-clean unions, possibly because they will not tolerate anything less. That same spirit ensures the futility of bad, politically motivated laws. Surely it goes without saying that a new initiative by the government to regulate and interfere and intercede in the strike vote that takes place within trade unions is notice. It's public notice that the minister and his government do not trust the trade union movement to conduct their affairs in an open and honest and law-abiding way. Mr. Speaker, I say that flies completely in the face of the report of the Co-ordinated Law Enforcement Unit, in terms of their finding on the trade union movement just this year.
Bill 33 passed by the former Socred government was an affront to law, lawmakers and the courts, because like the measure which is set to change the radii between the radius and the circumference of a circle, it was factional. It was a law motivated exclusively by the meanest of political impulses, I submit, Mr. Speaker.
We had laws in this province up to the 40s which abused the oriental population of this province, laws which were opposed by the CCF party in that day. Those laws, Mr. Speaker, were not introduced or passed or defended because any lawmaker thought they were just — not at all. The lawmakers of that era thought they would serve to help solve a problem. They were introduced by totally cynical governments seeking to exploit a then popular anti-oriental sentiment. They were politically motivated laws rather than laws brought before this Legislature for the purpose of solving a problem.
Why did that sentiment exist in that era? Because of the need in times of economic stress to have a scapegoat? The real problems of the day — unemployment, labour strife, low wages, et cetera — were difficult to deal with in any general way. If a
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government set up genuinely to solve the problems they could not expect miraculous overnight results. Worse, a genuine approach to the problem would have offended friends of the governments of the day — the Dunsmuirs, the Robsons and the rest of those millionaires. What does a totally cynical government do when faced with such a situation? It identifies a scapegoat, Mr. Speaker — an object of the popular discrimination — and passes laws against that scapegoat. In earlier times it was the orientals. Today it's the trade unions.
These laws, of course, do nothing to solve problems, but that doesn't matter. The resentment of the population is diverted from the cabinet and its friends. It fixes on the object of discrimination and that satisfies the objects of such a government. It keeps men in power. Feeding prejudice is the easiest way to get votes and affords a single response to any grievance. Is it the orientals again? Why, no, it's organized labour again.
The Minister of Human Resources (Hon. Mr. Vander Zalm) understands that process, Mr. Speaker, and he understands it in spades. He's got a political expedient in the current prejudice against welfare recipients. He earns $44,000 a year from the treasury by exploiting and feeding on prejudice against people who get $3,000 or $4,000 from the same public purse.
The Attorney-General (Hon. Mr. Gardom), asked about support of legal aid, replied: "Well, we're not sure we should be assisting these kinds of people." These kinds of people — think about that. In order to ensure that the message gets across, the Attorney-General even adopts Bunkeresque language, not the diction that he learned in private school.
The Minister of Labour now has his political expedient, which is the current unpopularity of organized labour. CLEU issues a report pronouncing B.C. labour clean as a whistle. The minister passes a law calling for supervised strike votes, citing vague, unidentified rumours. Not one tangible shred of evidence is presented to this House that there's been abuse but only vague whispers to justify this kind of intervention into a free democratic institution in our province.
Mr. Speaker, it's the trade unions today — who will it be tomorrow? What about the churches? They're a free democratic institution. I'm sure there are many organizations in society that could use a greater degree of democratization. But I say to you, Mr. Speaker, it's a dangerous precedent and a dangerous intervention and a scandalous one when the government decides that they must intercede to regulate the internal affairs of private organizations.
A genuine Minister of Labour would, in my view, Mr. Speaker, be proud of a report such as CLEU brought down in this province. He'd speak of it often and act upon its premises. I venture to say that both that minister and the Attorney-General (Hon. Mr. Gardom) would be mightily relieved to get such a CLEU report on the Socred Party and its candidates. I challenge that government, Mr. Speaker, to submit the conduct and the democracy of the Social Credit League of British Columbia and all its constituency affiliates to a searching study of the Co-ordinated Law Enforcement Unit and to come out with a record stating that their hands are as clean as a whistle, like organized labour did in this province. That minister sits there in a sanctimonious way presuming to intervene and capitalize on popular sentiment when there is no evidence and no justification for such an intervention.
The minister must try to keep that report quiet and pass laws impugning the honesty of labour in order to get the most he can from his political expedient. It's rough for this minister because he has to share his expedient with the Premier, Mr. Speaker. The Premier has an income of about $150,000 a year and makes a third of it by talking about the greed of people who have to earn between $10,000 and $15,000 a year.
No serious observer of public affairs from any political philosophy can suggest any serious purpose in these postures — these laws — except to exploit and feed on prejudice. The laws that the Minister of Labour has brought before this House will increase strife. Ask any serious practitioner of labour relations in this province, from either management or labour, what contribution will be made by supervising strike votes.
I defy the Minister of Labour to come up with one notable expert in industrial relations who will support this kind of intrusion. Would Bert Blair do it? Would Judge McTaggart? Would Judge Hank Hutcheon? Would Mr. Clive McKee? All of these people are the topnotch industrial relations experts in this province. I venture to say that there would not be one vestige of support from any of those sources for this kind of intrusion.
There is an underlying cause of industrial relations chaos in this province. We have tough, determined trade unionists who have been taught over the decades that greed is the operative principle of this society. "To each his own, and the devil take the hindmost" — that's what P.A. Gaglardi said when he was a minister of the Crown. It's little wonder that the trade unions have adopted that philosophy! That approach reduces our society to a dog-eat-dog fight. Working people don't like that, because even under good, impartial laws they tend to lose dogfights, Mr. Speaker.
Beyond that, it is fundamentally in opposition to the philosophy of trade unions which depend upon cooperation in the last analysis. But they know it's a dogfight. They know that if one dog in a dogfight fails to fight back, that dog is dead. They know one other fundamental thing: you can't follow rules in a
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struggle unless there is a neutral referee to enforce those laws. Even if you happen to have the very best of rules, which we don't have, we can't expect people to obey them without confidence in the availability of a good, impartial referee. Hockey referees sometimes have to work a game in front of rabid home-team fans. They cannot then choose to be popular and partisan; they have to have the courage to be unpopular. As far as the home-town fans are concerned, they can't afford to cave in — they have to give up refereeing. The Labour minister of this province lacks the courage to do either, Mr. Speaker.
This government, with Bill 22, Bill 77 and so on, has clearly advertised that there will be no impartial referee. The man who should be has just scored half a dozen goals for management. The government has it political expedient — a vote-getter — and damn industrial relations! Assurance of an impartial referee is a must in the search for industrial peace in this province.
AN HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear!
MR. KING: It is gone now irrevocably. That opportunity has been traded in by the Minister of Labour for a meal ticket. The government has its scapegoat, and B.C. has built-in, guaranteed industrial strife.
It's important for the people to learn what has been traded away for the political advantage of this ex-Liberal minister and his coalition government of opportunists. We could have moved toward civilization, away from Gaglardi glorified greed. We have that option.
We could have worked for enlightened management. We could have worked with a sense of common purpose, human enterprise, toward a sense of human dilemmas that finally bind us all, away from prejudice and scapegoating, Mr. Speaker.
We could have been establishing in this House the groundwork for a society motivated by some better human instinct than greed. That's gone. Instead we have conflict and confrontation. It was traded by the earlier B.C. governments for the opportunity to exploit the anti-oriental feeling of the day. It is being traded in this era by this government to exploit the same feelings against welfare recipients, legal-aid recipients and trade unionists.
I ask the people of B.C. to consider a real possibility: suppose you became the target of tomorrow's Archie Bunker, and that's a distinct possibility — who will it be tomorrow? And it is an Archie Bunker philosophy — a scapegoat. There is in our society an urgent need to move against public injury for private gain. Good workable law to accomplish that goal must move in an even-handed way against all of the parties involved in such industry.
When we desperately need hospitals, private capital flows by the billions into hula-hoops and battery-operated swizzle sticks. Will that injury to public interest be stopped?
MR. KING: Mr. Speaker, the natural-resource industries of this province sustain huge salaries.
MR. KING: Mr. Speaker, I need no instruction and no lectures to understand industrial relations in this province — none whatsoever. I need no crystal ball or advice to predict that the Minister of Labour is setting the stage for unprecedented industrial chaos and strife in this province over the next few years with his simplistic incursions into the rights of private parties....
MR. KING: Mr. Speaker, if that minister were interested in equity....
MR. KING: Listen to them. Not at all, Mr. Speaker; no gas on the fire.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The hon. member for Revelstoke-Slocan has the floor.
MR. KING: I want to point out, Mr. Speaker, that the opposition in this House has cooperated in a rational way to deal with disputes that have been before this province over the past months. We have offered solutions. We have offered ideas for solving the problems. We have not attempted to capitalize in a cheap political way, as this legislation presumes to do — not at all.
I have said very often, and I repeat, that industrial relations should be above the realm of partisan politics because it's a discipline and an art unto itself.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The hon. member for Revelstoke-Slocan has the floor.
MR. KING: What we have, despite the protestations of the Minister of Health (Hon. Mr. McClelland) and those uncomfortable ministers on the other side, is a red flag contained in this legislation. I predict that not only the government will rue the day, but all of the people of the province will rue the day that this legislation, this statute, was
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introduced in B.C. It's unnecessary and it solves no problem. It's an appeal, Mr. Speaker, to hysteria and an appeal to discrimination, a populous kind of appeal to satisfy the whims of a certain group in society that that government feels they can capitalize on to maintain the office which they hold. That's all it is; it's not problem solving.
Mr. Speaker, I suggested that we need many new things. We need new hospitals. We need a variety of socially oriented policies from this government, and yet there's no intention, there's no direction to intervene and direct the expenditure and the priorities of capital in this province — none at all — but there's an almost hysterical concern with lost man-days as a result of lockouts and strikes. Now surely if you want to be even-handed in terms of social priorities and objectives, the government should be setting some priorities, setting some policies and some guidelines for investment policy in this province as well. But no way; that's a taboo because that's the source from which this party gains its funding and its financial support. That's taboo because of the free-market system.
I remind the government that every worker in this province is a free enterpriser with a commodity to sell — his labour — and if we're going to hold as sacrosanct the investment policies of industry, then I suggest, Mr. Speaker, there's no basis and no foundation whatsoever for an incursion into the rights of working people to sell their labour for what price they feel the market can afford either. I regret that the government is not prepared to take an overall approach, because I believe that greed is creeping very seriously into all considerations in society to an alarming degree.
I think the government should look at natural resource industries in this province. They should look at the huge salaries that these resource industries render to their high executives. How can this government expect workers to accede to restrictive laws, such as the one before this House at the moment, and at the same time read in the daily press and hear in the media where MacMillan Bloedel senior executives last year won a salary increase, Mr. Speaker, of $60,000 — a one-year increase 10 times the average per capita income in this province, yielding a salary about 37 times the average per capita income of most workers? Will we have legislation limiting the awesome bargaining strength that yielded that result, Mr. Speaker? I witness no proposition from this government which demands for the public interest a greater say and a greater control over those boardroom decisions that set those kinds of executive salaries.
The mining industry, which threatened in 1974 to show them who runs this province, has just received a multimillion dollar gift from this government in the abolition of royalties. Indeed, Mr. Speaker, it's been revealed that the mining industry wrote their own ticket as far as that legislation was concerned.
There's a shortcoming in the procedures of this parliament. We are expected to debate each bill separately as though each were isolated from all the others, and I suggest that is not the case. They're not isolated from each other. Clearly, this labour legislation is a piece of a jigsaw puzzle which diminishes the prosperity and the defensive capacity of working people at every turn, while simultaneously gorging the wealthy and powerful. All of the economic thrusts of this government have to be looked at in conjunction with one another.
The minister has mentioned the propane heating industry as an example of an essential service which might require the cancellation of the freedom of working people to withdraw their labour. Will this or some other minister of this government endorse a law prohibiting the movement of capital away from that same essential service, Mr. Speaker? He relies completely upon the benevolence and the freedom and the unequivocal right of capital or industry to determine through their investment policy whether, indeed, there will be a supply or not, without any suggestion that there should be government regulation. But let the workers step out of line and we see the heavy hand of a government which is going to interfere and roll back the rights that all citizens hold in this province.
The minister has mentioned that this is one area that could require the greater and broader arbitrary power that he is taking unto himself. I say, Mr. Speaker, that yes, we can have emergencies. We can be confronted with emergencies in any given industry that we might not anticipate, in the same way, Mr. Speaker, that we can be confronted with any act of God which precipitates an emergency in this province, be it an act of industrial strife, be it a flood, be it a fire — and that's what this Legislature is for. That's what this forum is for — to come together as a group of elected members and to identify these emergencies when they occur and to provide a remedy that's fully debated and open to public scrutiny, not an arbitrary authority which is seized on a perpetual basis for the Minister of Labour to activate at his whim without the benefit of debate to determine even whether or not a genuine, bona fide emergent situation exists, let alone whether an equitable resolution is being provided.
That's what's wrong with this legislation, Mr. Speaker: it's inequitable, it's punitive, and in terms of power — arbitrary power — it's vesting far, far too much in the hands of the Minister of Labour and his cabinet colleagues.
That is a serious question, because it happens all the time as far as capital is concerned — as far as industry directing their capital elsewhere. It's analogous to a labour dispute where a strike or
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lockout obtains. It is a serious question. It happens in response to ads like the one to which I now refer from Puerto Rico which invites the movement of capital away from the high-labour costs areas to such limited environments as the Puerto Rico tobacco industry, which pays the Puerto Rican worker in that industry less than half the U.S. average.
I refer, Mr. Speaker, to an advertisement in Canadian Manufacturing on June 12, 1976. It gives the comparative wage rates for Puerto Rican workers as opposed to workers in the U.S.A.: "In the tobacco industry in Puerto Rico the average wage is $2.21; in the U.S. It is $4.82; a net saving on labour costs of $2.61. In the textile products, $2.24 to the Puerto Rican worker; $3.50 to the U.S. worker, net saving $1.32." And on and on it goes through printing, publishing, chemicals — and I'm not going to run down the whole list.
I heard one of the Social Credit backbenchers a few short weeks ago giving the same kind of analogy. He mentioned the State of Arkansas and said how they have a competitive advantage over British Columbia in the forest industry, and he's quite accurate. But I want to ask: is that the direction of this government? Is that the motivation and the value which this government and their backbenchers place on lives and the respectability of working people in this province? They want to introduce retrograde steps that will reduce working people's status to that of the southern states, an area that is looked at with scorn from all over the world in terms of their approach to industrial relations.
Mr. Speaker, I had occasion to attend the IAGLO conference in San Diego two years ago, and talked to the Secretary of Labour from the State of Georgia, where the whole debate evolved around whether or not child labour laws should be introduced in that state. I say, my God! — with a prehistoric, archaic philosophy such as that, I find it inappropriate and shocking that a member of the government side should be drawing comparisons and some reasonable analogy between what is appropriate for workers in British Columbia and that area of North America.
If that's the direction, Mr. Speaker, I suggest that we are in for very serious and severe times in the province of British Columbia over the next few years.
I'm considering two freedoms, and the advisability of constricting those two freedoms. One of those freedoms is the freedom to move oneself around to work for an employer, or when to work for an employer. The other is the freedom to move capital around — no one owns his body, his machinery, his money. Surely the former freedom is the more profound one, the ability to move oneself. Surely, if we face the need to restructure freedoms in the name of public interest, we would at the very least move simultaneously with equal force against both of these freedoms.
I'm trying to make two points. First, the moral one: if freedom is supposed to be in given up to secure the public interest, then all sectors in our society must be equally restricted. Secondly, and probably one which will be more popularly received, is the practical point: there is a strict logic and momentum in the clash between labour and management in this province; it stems from the conflict which is so real and so fundamental that laws which ignore it merely aggravate it. It stems, as I have often said in this House, from the deepest sources of human relationship. To ignore that conflict, to minimize it, to protect the public interest against injury from it requires, above all, the sense of all participants that there is an even-handed set of rules and rule-makers which will move in an impartial way against the transgressors from either side. It is that fundamental, and only that fundamental, which will take us away from the jungle.
Participants in the struggle are not naive and they are not without resources. If forced to do so, they will find machinery within the letter of the law to protect themselves. When a government concedes, as this one has, to move in every possible way against one participant, to tax and to legislate, to invoke policies exclusively for the benefit of one party to a conflict, that government invites the retreat further into the jungle.
Mr. Speaker, over the past number of years, industrial relations in this province has been a jungle. If one talks to practitioners, either trade unionists or bargainers for industry, in their common, everyday lingo, they refer to it as the jungle. How do you exist and function in the jungle?
My appeal to the Minister of Labour — despite what has been a rather hard-hitting presentation because I feel strongly about this — is not to wave a red flag, not to develop approaches which create greater conflict in that jungle, but rather to design initiatives and approaches and confidence and respect and trust that will move those parties away from the jungle philosophy.
The minister has talked about the concept of industrial democracy, worker participation, worker involvement, call it what you will, and this was a direction which our government was taking, However, that too is viewed by some as being a simplistic gesture that can be accomplished overnight, and that's not the case. It's a state of mind and it's an approach and it's a gradual process which will lead people away from the harsh confrontation of the bargaining table to a common understanding that the health of an industry is in the common interest of not only management, but the workers as well, because the tenure of their security in terms of employment is tied to that industry. Certainly in terms of the government and the public interest, the revenue of the province which enables us to deliver social
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programmes is inevitably tied to the same process.
I wish, I just wish, Mr. Speaker, that the Minister of Labour might have stood back for a period of time rather than capitulating to some apparently popular but misguided and misunderstood public attitude that by regulating the strike vote this is going to solve something. It's going to solve nothing. The former Social Credit government introduced that provision — supervised strike votes did obtain under the old Labour Relations Act of the province of British Columbia under the Social Credit government. It was found to be of no benefit. In fact it provided obstacles to the success of the collective bargaining system.
It meant that it was a hurdle to be cleared — a supervised strike vote. As a consequence, trade unions as a matter of course in this province, before bargaining had got down to the wire where it was possible to establish whether a strike or lockout would be necessary, recognized that there was a hurdle to be cleared — a supervised strike vote. So they hurried the point where they could get to and clear that hurdle. The supervised strike vote just became a token — a token to be cleared in the normal course of collective bargaining, the result being that strike votes were taken in industries where they never would have occurred — where a bargain settlement was obtainable without the device of taking the strike vote or a lockout vote.
As a consequence of that understanding, the former Social Credit government abandoned the supervised strike vote years ago. I find it so retrogressive and so pathetic that this new coalition government in the year 1976 is resurrecting a dead issue, an issue abandoned by that old right-wing Social Credit government of W.A.C. Bennett.
HON. MR. WILLIAMS: What are you afraid of?
MR. KING: I'm afraid of economic and industrial-relations chaos in this province, Mr. Minister. I'm afraid of that, and the people of this province are too. I think that the government should be.
HON. K.R. MAIR (Minister of Consumer Services): Are you afraid of the secret ballot?
MR. KING: Yes, I am afraid of the secret ballot, and if you had been listening to what I say you would understand why. I am afraid because it is a statement that this government does not trust the trade union movement to regulate their own internal affairs, when CLEU, the Co-ordinated Law Enforcement Unit of this province, has stated that the trade union movement is clean as a whistle in terms of any criminal activity or any shady practices.
I challenge the Minister of Consumer Services to subject his own political party to that kind of test. I challenge him to do so, Mr. Speaker, and come up with a clean bill of health like the trade union movement in this province has done — if not, to subject the Social Credit Party of British Columbia to government and public scrutiny in terms of the votes and proceedings that they take at each and all of their constituency and provincial meetings.
HON. MR. MAIR: We'll be glad to have it done.
MR. KING: "Be glad to have it done," indeed! I can think of a number of your colleagues, Mr. Minister, that would be shaking in their boots. Shaking in their boots.
MR. KING: Mr. Speaker, the point is — that is one area — it's a statement of distrust and mistrust by this government that will accomplish nothing positive. That's the regrettable part. If the ministers could describe to me and describe to the public of this province what benefit supervision of the strike vote is going to provide, then I would be willing to look at that device. But I challenge the government to come up with any credible authority involved in industrial relations that will support this kind of device.
I challenge the government's need to introduce this kind of device when the trade union's record is so clean and so enviable in terms of any criminal element. I say to you that rather than accomplish anything positive, this device is a statement by the government that "we do not trust the trade union movement; therefore we're going to intervene in your internal affairs." To make matters worse, Mr. Speaker, to make matters worse, by changing the definition, as the minister has done in section 1, he has empowered such intervention in a strike vote by a trade union to be initiated at the behest of the employer.
Mr. Speaker, when the trade union movement of this province understand that their internal affairs can now be vetoed, and their internal decisions can now be vetoed by the employer that they are in conflict with, I say to you that our opportunity and our hope for any industrial peace and serenity is extremely seriously impaired over the next period of time.
I'm going to have a great deal more to say about this bill, Mr. Speaker, in committee stage. There are provisions in it that I think would be more appropriately discussed in committee, in precise fashion and in detailed form.
In section 1, Mr. Speaker, the minister changes the designation of employers by substituting "person." And in section 4(2), which amends section 81, he provides that "where, upon the application of a person directly affected by a strike vote or an
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impending strike," where, upon the complaint, that strike vote may be interceded in and vetoed and overruled and regulated by the board.
That says to me that that complaint may come from the employer. That's what the legislation says and empowers the employer to do. I say that's extremely regrettable, because it's obviously a device in the hands of the employers to further delay the process of collective bargaining which it often benefits and strengthens them to do, as the minister well knows. I hope that if that is not intended.... Quite frankly, I hope it is not intended and I hope that the minister will clean up the drafting in the bill as it's presented to us at the moment.
Mr. Speaker, there are a variety of areas that, as I say, I intend to discuss in great detail in committee stage. I think the bill is an unfortunate one as far as the regulation of the hot edict is concerned. I submit that that's superfluous and redundant anyway. The Labour Relations Board already had the power and the authority to deal with any act or conduct which the board concluded upon complaint constituted a strike action or an interference with trade and commerce. The minister is spelling it out more precisely. I don't know why, and it seems to me that the provision is superfluous.
The section, though, that gives to the minister the arbitrary powers to designate essential services in any area whatsoever and to extend the cooling-off period to 40 days will not be accepted by the trade union movement. I suggest that, again, it's a red flag which is only going to muddy the waters and make it more difficult to enjoy any reasonable degree of stability in industrial relations in this province.
Before I sit down, Mr. Speaker, I just want to make one last point. I'm not sure whether the government understands it completely or not. That is the additional burden and the additional problem which the Anti-Inflation Board programme has placed upon industrial relations in this nation.
The Minister of Labour himself, Mr. Speaker, recognized the problem in an early speech he made in Vancouver where he was critical of the federal government, but unfortunately somewhere along the line he lost his objections, and the provincial government has come in with a bill accepting precisely and exactly the authority which the federal programme sought over the public sector in B.C. But this programme, superimposed upon all the intricate problems of industrial relations, is a third dimension that has not up to this point been evident and been problematic in the province.
It means, Mr. Speaker, that the Minister of Labour may appoint an impartial third party as he did with the railway dispute — with the non-operating portion of it: the teamsters, the operating engineers and the maintenance of way employees. He persuades those parties to accept as binding the report of the industrial inquiry commission or the third party, whatever he may be, and I think that is fine. I have no objections to that. They give up something, Mr. Speaker. They give up their right to strike in return for an impartial third party appraisal which they accept as binding.
HON. MR. WILLIAMS: That's inaccurate.
MR. KING: Well, the minister says it's inaccurate. It may be in some detail, but I think in general terms it's correct.
MR. KING: Well, it should have come from you, Mr. Minister. You lost the bet and you should have been advocating it, because I certainly subscribe to that approach and have used it many times. I've used it many times. Nevertheless the minister has, in other disputes, certainly publicly asked parties to accept as binding reports of third parties.
But the other point is, Mr. Speaker, that in this case, an impartial third party, Owen Shime, a very well-renowned practitioner of industrial relations from the city of Toronto, I believe, a well-qualified and well-respected industrial relations practitioner, brought down an award which was very high — 57 per cent, I believe, over two years — and the unions thought that they had an agreement, a valid agreement that was beyond defiance by any party. They had given up a right to attain that agreement. They had given up their right to strike only to find that behind that agreement the provincial government came in and accepted the anti-inflation programme of the federal government and subjected it retroactively to public sector disputes which had occurred in this province since October last. This means, Mr. Speaker, that those three unions on the railway had divested themselves of their economic power in good faith, believing that the government and the railway would stand by an agreement which was arrived at, only to find that now it will be submitted to the Anti-Inflation Board and probably rolled back.
MR. KING: Mr. Speaker, I believe that those unions would probably accept that. I believe they would probably accept that if the provincial government were prepared to apply the same yardstick to themselves. If the government was prepared to accept the same scrutiny by the Anti-Inflation Board in terms of the rate increases that they have visited upon those workers affecting their wage rates, then I believe there would be a possibility that the unions would be quite prepared to abide by Anti-Inflation Board scrutiny. But, Mr. Speaker, under the circumstances it's inevitable that
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those unions view it as a stab in the back — a stab in the back — what has happened to them as a result of accepting the minister's persuasion to voluntarily accept as binding an agreement from a ministerial appointment in the person of Mr. Owen Shime.
I want to say, Mr. Speaker, that that dimension visited upon industrial relations in the province bodes ill for the future, because I want to say to you that no trade unionist in British Columbia, after seeing the deal that those three unions on B.C. Rail obtained from this government — the double-cross — will be prepared in the future to accept....
HON. MR. WILLIAMS: It's not a double-cross at all.
MR. KING: That minister, through you, Mr. Speaker, applied a rule...
[Mr. Veitch in the chair, ]
MR. KING: ...the binding rule and jurisdiction of the Anti-Inflation Board retroactively to last October. I defy that minister to stand publicly and say that those unions knew about it. They say publicly they knew nothing about it. I believe that it was, indeed, a stab in the back to those unions, Mr. Speaker — a stab in the back.
What it's going to mean is that this government and the Minister of Labour have lost the trust of the unions in the future. They are not going to be prepared to temper their demands in the public interest when they find that an agreement made is yet subject to some distant agency in Ottawa — an agency which has the authority to roll back the provisions of a signed and sealed agreement in the province of British Columbia, an authority and a power which the provincial government is not prepared to accept with respect to its own conduct, with respect to the punitive rate increases that it has visited upon working people through ICBC, ferry rates, sales tax and so on, Mr. Speaker.
DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, please, Hon. Member.
MR. KING: That's the double-cross. That's the double-cross, Mr. Speaker.
DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon, Member, could we kindly stick to the principles embodied in Bill 77?
MR. KING: That's the point, Mr. Speaker. It's difficult to find principle in the conduct of this government when they have such double standards in terms of regulating working people's wages in this province.
Mr. Speaker, the minister has lost his credibility with the working people of this province, and I regret it. I regret it because I think it spells great problems for the future of the province and the public. The public, who felt they were going to be served by some legislative remedies, are going to find that the converse is true — that in actual fact the minister's foolish and arbitrary interventions will only serve to inflame the industrial relations climate in this province and create the inevitable consequence of unprecedented economic and industrial relations conflict in B.C.
MR. G.F. GIBSON (North Vancouver-Capilano): Mr. Speaker, I have the most profound difficulty with this bill. That difficulty is not related to the contents, about which I will become more particular later, but rather because of the lack of balance in the legislation and the timing of the legislation. The bill is all one way. In every article, in every clause it reduces the bargaining power of organized labour in B.C.
I have great respect for the hon. member who just spoke. He has articulated what I believe to be the feelings of the organized labour movement in British Columbia with respect to this bill. The forcefulness with which he has articulated them I fear may be some sort of a harbinger of the way in which they will be received outside of this chamber. There is a lack of balance and there is no clear and present need that I can ascertain for the introduction of these particular measures at this particular time, even though, as I said, Mr. Speaker, I essentially agree with the measures. Their introduction at this time will serve as a red flag to inflame a situation that we had hoped would be cooling down, a situation where we had hoped that the relationship between the parties concerned, labour and management, would have some chance to improve without the bandages being constantly torn off.
Therefore I would hope that in the interests of the province the minister might see his way clear to some delay in this legislation, some adjournment to the fall session of the House, with the possibility in the interim of discussion with the parties concerned, with the possibility of finding some way of redressing the balance. The balance, as I say, goes all one way, because even though I happen to agree with most of the issues in this bill, there are other things that can be done and included in any kind of amendment to the Labour Code, and which could be presented in a balanced way.
I want to say something about the background in which the Legislature approaches this problem, Mr. Speaker. We have in this province, as fully and as surely in the economic field as in the political field, a very disruptive climate of polarization. We know how
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political polarization works in this Legislature; we know that it leads to a tremendous amount of wasted effort and low productivity because basically the parties don't trust each other. We know that there's a lot of sterile confrontation because the opposition doesn't really have a chance for a constructive input into the management of business. And not to carry this analogy too far, we know that in a situation like this the tone is set by the government, and any conciliatory moves have to come from the government.
That carries over into the economic field where an equal kind of polarization exists, and that stands as a challenge to management in this province because they stand in the role there of government, as being the people who have to make the first move if harmony and conciliation are to be approached. Organized labour in the economic sector is like the opposition in this House. The analogy isn't perfect; organized labour is much stronger than the opposition in this House. They have some enforcement power, but in a sense they are much weaker because they never have a chance of being the "government" — they never have the chance of being management.
Somebody has to make the moves in that situation, and let there be no question as to the need for moves. Unemployment in British Columbia is almost 10 per cent. Unemployment in May was a full percentage point higher than in any May back to 1954. And that's as far back as my reference book went, but I bet it is back to the great Depression. That's the situation we're getting into in British Columbia. We know what our international selling position is; it's bad and it's deteriorating. The only answer to that is productivity, and the only route to productivity, I suggest to you, sir, is cooperation.
I mentioned a challenge to management. Canadian labour in the person of the Canadian Labour Congress, the CLC, at their annual convention in Quebec City this year has put forward that challenge, They have said that they want a share in decision-making. I say let management not reject that challenge. It is a very big move for labour to take that stand because there's an opposite side of the coin: any authority that labour gains in the decision-making in economic affairs brings with it responsibility. My opinion is that that segment of the CLC manifesto in Quebec City represented an important way station in the progress of the labour movement in Canada.
Can British Columbia management and labour rise to that challenge? In our province both management and labour over the years have been very conservative. In part that's personalities in history. In part it's been the high-capital intensity of our main industries that have led some of the people in the business establishment to consider capital questions as being their main problem, with labour a minor factor in their industries and a little bit of a necessary nuisance, a small component.
Can all that conservatism and defensiveness, the polarization, the confrontation in labour management relations in British Columbia be changed? I think it can. I think that fresh winds are starting to blow through the Employers Council of British Columbia and through the B.C. Federation of Labour. It's a little hard to look behind the closed doors and know exactly what's going on, but there's some reason to believe that there's an openness and a freshness of approach.
I like very much some of the things that Bill Hamilton of the Employers Council has been going around this province saying about the need to cooperate with organized labour. He means it, Mr. Speaker. I think there are some possible fresh winds blowing. So let's be careful not to put a stop, not to kill this tender plant that's starting to bud,
There's a bit of an agenda that has to be followed, in my opinion. The first thing is to recognize the economic problem that exists and to say that we are in economic trouble in British Columbia. Believe me, as you look down the road a little bit and you see the growing unemployment figures and you see what's going to happen to the construction industry in the lower mainland in terms of office space six months from now, and you see what's not happening in terms of new investment in the forest industry and new job creation, those problems are there.
Then the second thing is to recognize that the only solution to those economic problems is productivity. Now productivity somewhat comes from technology, but that same technology is available all over the world. That's not how we're going to solve our problem here in British Columbia. Productivity in our case — and that's the third thing to recognize — is going to come about only through cooperation, and constructive cooperation between labour and management in this province.
Then the next thing is to say "let's look for specifics" — things that demonstrate a common interest between labour and management and things that reduce areas of conflict.
What are some of these things? First of all there has to be a basic philosophical emotional acceptance that both parties have a legitimate place in this economy. Unions are here to stay. They are a good and vital element of our society. Management has to recognize that working people and their organizations can bring more than just their bodies to the work place every day. They can bring their initiative and creative energy, and that has to be an emotional commitment and an understanding. From there on, we have to look at ways to improve the common interests and remove some of the irritants.
I'll tell you one very specific irritant between
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labour and management in this province, and that's politics. Both labour and management in this province have been highly political. We all know what happened at the last election. At the last election there was a close alliance between the business community — particularly the big business community — and the Social Credit Party, and there was the historic close alliance between the labour movement and the New Democratic Party.
That's fine. That's everybody's business if that's the way they want to play ball, But they have to understand that if you transport the conflicts of one field into another, you're going to pay for it in increased conflict, and it's not good for either the political side or the economic side. If any labour leader is trying to serve political ends at the same time he's trying to serve the ends of his membership, he can be hampered in that. If any political party is trying to serve the interests of one sector of the community rather than another, because that's who they have a special relationship with, that's not good for them either.
So to me, one of these conflicts and irritants that should be resolved is a backing-off by both labour and management from the political process and in more dealing with each other as political neutrals. It can still be done and retain your political integrity. The United States provides one example and Germany another of places where the union movement is broadly oriented in a political direction, but sees fit to maintain its links with all political parties.
To me the basic mechanism for bringing out not of conflicts but of common interests is to get into the habit of routine meetings at all levels in the labour-management relations area. By that, I mean meetings that are regular and in a non-crisis atmosphere, that are there for the purpose of exchanging thoughts and information and problems.
With this kind of basic first step, when you get to know each other, when you build a community of trust over the months and years, then you have something to build on. The government should be involved in this to some extent, that its good offices can bring this kind of regular relationship about. It should probably be involved in some of the meetings too, insofar as forecasting of the economic affairs and problems of the province is concerned.
A second way of bringing the parties together in a long-term and fundamental way in this province is getting some agreement on facts.
What are the basic economic indicators? What's the business climate? Even so simple a thing as the value of any given package of wages and benefits in any negotiation where you'll find the people on different sides of the table saying "it's 13 per cent"..."no, it's 16 per cent" — getting that kind of basic agreement reduces the number of things you have to argue about.
You know, to help with that, Mr. Speaker, I wish we had the labour college set up that we voted for in this House last year, because over the long term that can do a lot for education in the bargaining process in this province — to the extent that interest can be made mutual and the situation will work better, to the extent that you can harmonize economic interest through things like profit-sharing plans, through things like the so-called ESOP — the employees' stock ownership plan — whereby employees have not only the opportunity but the strong incentive because of taxation laws to invest in a major way in the firms where they work.
Harking back again to the German experience, as reported in the Connaghan report, something like $200 per employee has been raised in capital in an average year and an average firm in that province for investment in those firms. Just in pure economic terms for investment in British Columbia, that would mean over $100 million a year going into very badly needed equity investment — in some cases debt investment — in our province. It's the kind of thing that can serve many ends but it serves, primarily, the end of the harmonization of interest.
Mr. Speaker, why can't we look at things such as involvement of the workers or their representatives in every important decision-making forum in the firm, right from the top to the bottom — right from the board of directors down to the job level? Management is very spooky about that idea. So are many people in organized labour, because they fear that could bring about some conflict of interest in their job of being negotiator. But you can get around that. You can have different representatives, because obviously anyone who was going to represent the workers on a company board, for example, would have to be elected at a separate election. It's just another way of making people able to feel that they are really a part of the process.
Naturally we have to always look at improving dispute-resolution techniques, and I think there have been some real advances on that in British Columbia in the last two or three years. I think the Labour Code has set a good framework for that.
In all of this climate we are burdened down with a particular set of expectations, of which I would single out two. We have the expectations, whether on the labour or the management side, of high settlements, be they in wages or prices, and high settlements invariably yield a high cost of living — and inflation. Any settlement that is about productivity inevitably leads to that. It can't do anything else. And that, inevitably, leads to high taxes so that more is taken out of your higher pay cheque to pay the higher social benefits for people who need them because of the higher cost of living. That's one set of expectations that we have to live with these days. The
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other set of expectations is confrontation. That's just what you expect in the labour field in British Columbia and that breeds more confrontation. It's automatic.
In that context let us look at the specifics of this bill. How do they fit into an atmosphere where there is a history of an enormous amount of distrust and the hope, by many of the leaders in labour and management alike, of gradually building some trust — and I hope in the government, too, and I hope in all quarters of this House, because without that things aren't going to work very well in British Columbia.
First of all, this bill assumes a very important role and a very high stature for the Labour Relations Board because it puts additional heavy duties of judgment on them. But that, Mr. Speaker, really does not bother me because they have demonstrated in an excellent record over the last three years that they are capable of carrying those kinds of loads. So in looking at the provisions of this bill let us always have in mind that there is a proven instrument there to administer many of the discretionary factors that otherwise would be of concern.
The section providing for the change in the cooling-off period from 21 to 40 days I believe to be a reasonable move. The 40 days, I think, is permissive, not obligatory, but it does give the minister and the government some additional manoeuvring time and a mediator some additional time for study, if such be appointed during that period.
The change from the specific words "police, fire and health employees" to the more general designation of "trade union" seemingly opens up that section quite a bit but, on the other hand, it's very specific in the law. It remains a question of persons who are involved with health, life and public safety only.
That section, to me, taken by itself is of no problem. To some extent it takes the pressure off the public, and therefore the government, to make fast moves in disputes of this kind. I think it's always a good thing if third parties can be kept out of these disputes as much as possible, both as to the adverse impact and as to intervention in the affairs of the parties to the dispute.
The next section which is one of some controversy is one that would deal with the internal voting procedures of trade unions insofar as the taking of a strike vote is concerned. It would replace an existing section in the Labour Code and allow the government to prescribe by regulation exactly how strike votes were to be taken. The minister has not afforded us an insight into what those regulations might provide. I presume they would indicate, among other things, who might vote, how they're to be notified, the timing of the voting, the access to the voting mechanism and that sort of thing.
MR. GIBSON: Yes, but we don't have the detailed regulation, Mr. Minister.
MR. GIBSON: Those regulations could be very similar. I'm quite willing to admit that possibility. The minister said, during his opening remarks, that he would be willing to discuss a draft of the regulations with the parties concerned, and I think that's important.
I can still understand the trade unions' concern, being worried about the fact that these rules, whatever they might be, are in regulation rather than in law. Voting rules are a very sacred kind of thing. We have taken care in the election of persons to public life — be they to this chamber, or to municipal or school board offices, but particularly this chamber — to ensure that the most minute detail of the voting procedure is spelt out in law with very little regulatory authority.
I can understand why trade unions would be concerned with the blanket regulatory authority here. That is another reason why I would suggest, in the interests of general harmony on the labour front in British Columbia, that the minister might be wise to let this measure lay over until he has been able to produce some specific wording in terms of the regulations and hopefully incorporate them in the actual language of the bill.
Aside from that objection, it does not seem to me wrong that this Legislature should be providing some guarantees as to democratic machinery in the taking of strike votes. I do not see that as an accusation of dishonesty in the ordinary taking of those votes any more than I see our elections Act as being an accusation of habitual dishonesty in the taking of political elections. It is simply there as a guarantee and a backstop that things will properly proceed, because, Mr. Speaker, as long as trade unions are so important in our society, which they will continue to be, their democratic functioning is essential.
I might say in passing that now that we have done something, or will be doing something, about the democratic voting procedures of trade unions, I would hope that the government might see fit to turn its attention to some of the democratic problems of corporations with their pitifully small disclosure, the enormous powers in the hands of boards of directors as opposed to the shareholders.
I'd like to know what the shareholders thought of the stupidity of the MacMillan Bloedel board of directors in taking exactly the action that the former Minister of Labour describes in his speech. During a year when MacMillan Bloedel shareholders were losing money — not making more, they were losing
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money, Mr. Speaker — the top executives of MacMillan Bloedel get a raise. The shareholders should have a little bit of say in that — and they don't. It's the directors. I think this chamber should not close its eyes to the internal democratic practices of corporations either, because they have an important role in our society too.
MR. G.R. LEA (Prince Rupert): Keep government out of corporations.
MR. GIBSON: But this measure, Mr. Speaker, will not, in my view, seriously impair the bargaining power of the trade union movement. It will not prevent a leader from getting a strike vote if he wants it and needs it and has a good case. It seems to me a good kind of guarantee and back-up machinery to have.
The final major thrust of the legislation would re-enact section 90 to make it clear that the LRB has authority to deal with the so-called "hot" declaration whereby goods or services of a firm that is...
HON. E.M. WOLFE (Minister of Finance): It's already there in 84.
MR. GIBSON: ...involved in a labour dispute shall not be dealt with by other trade union members in the province. The suggestion has been made that such power may already exist in the bill in section 84. I am not enough of a labour lawyer to know whether it does or not, but if it does then we're doing nothing new. But let me simply speak to what I see as being provided in the re-enacted section 90.
To me, Mr. Speaker, the "hot" declaration has always been the exact other side of the blacklist, and equally wrong for the same reasons. It may be justifiable with an infant trade union movement having very great difficulty in establishing itself, but just as a blacklist says to the employee that you will either do what I say or you will not sell your labour anywhere in this jurisdiction, a "hot" declaration turns around and says you will either do what I say or you will not sell your product anywhere in this jurisdiction. To me, Mr. Speaker, where there is a rough balance of negotiating power, either technique is equally reprehensible.
If we thought to take unto ourselves in this Legislature the power to tell someone that either they could not work in this province or they could not sell in this province, it would be thought dictatorial in the extreme, and therefore I question that it should be in private hands in a special-interest group without right of appeal. And that is currently the situation. Currently the power to use that "hot" declaration is arbitrary and capricious in its impact because there are some areas where it can have enormous effect, depending upon the unionization of the distribution sector of the particular goods, and in some cases it is relatively ineffective.
There is nothing wrong, Mr. Speaker, as I see it, with a "don't buy" campaign — don't buy product x or y because they're not fair to their employees — that's fine. But when it comes to an enforcement power, and not just advice to buy but making it impossible for anyone to buy whether they want to or not, I say that that is a power which should be lightly exercised. This section does not prohibit it, but it does give the LRB the right to oversee actions of that kind. I think that that is not bad, and that is again an expression of my faith in the performance of the LRB.
Mr. Speaker, in summary, I am in agreement with each of the major thrusts of this bill, but I am nevertheless extremely concerned about the fact that it is unbalanced. It is all one way. It is all changing the balance of power against labour, and nothing for. At this time of hopeful reconciliation, I think it would have been good if the government could have seen its way clear to bring in a balanced package, even if that meant a little bit of waiting. And that's still possible, Mr. Speaker. Where is the encouragement in this legislation for the parties to get together? That encouragement isn't there. The likelihood is that the business community will read this legislation and say: "We won that round, boys."
Where is the tax incentive for profit-sharing or employee ownership, things that are showing some potential for the harmonization of interest? Where is there some redress in this particular legislation for the bargaining power that is removed by the three main thrusts of this bill? As I say, those are three thrusts that I happen to agree with, but nevertheless they do remove some bargaining power from labour. Where is that anywhere redressed by other potential changes?
Even if the government had come forward, or may yet come forward, with a statement of their basic labour philosophy and a statement of their intention to recognize the rights of workers in our society to be intimately, fundamentally and from the very beginning and throughout the piece involved in the decisions that affect their employment.... Even that kind of a statement would add enormously to the balance of the package — which, as I say, does not exist at this moment.
Mr. Speaker, in the end, harmony and common interest must prevail in this province. If they do not, we will find our economy to be one that cannot provide the social services we would like for the sick and the old, and education for children and the good life for the people who are working,
Without that harmony, those things will not come to pass in the degree to which we would wish it to be. I say it again: productivity in this province and improvement thereof will only come about by genuine voluntary cooperation between labour and
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management. I ask that the government do everything in its power to foster that kind of co-operation.
These measures here of themselves are correct, but the package is incomplete. I beg the government to say, in the absence of urgency — and there is no urgency in this bill, in my opinion — "we will wait yet a little while; we will lay this over the summer. The session will be adjourned for the summer; we will be back in the fall. At that time we will look at this bill, bring it to the fruits of our discussion with management and labour over the summer and see whether it might not be improved in some important ways and above all brought into balance."
For all of these reasons, Mr. Speaker, I say to you that I have an extraordinary difficulty with this bill, a difficulty which I believe the government can resolve in the interests of everyone concerned by waiting a while and improving it.
MR. G.S. WALLACE (Oak Bay): Mr. Speaker, the minister in introducing this bill suggested there were a few minor changes being introduced to the Labour Code. I have to assume he was exercising his own sense of humour, but I notice he is shaking his head, so...
AN HON. MEMBER: He has a great sense of humour.
MR. WALLACE: ...that spells out the terms of reference of this bill. I would not attempt to go into the detail that the Liberal leader (Mr. Gibson) has gone in a very lucid and scholarly way to discuss many of the other underlying aspects of our labour problems. But I think it would be appropriate at the outset, Mr. Speaker, to recall that governments tend not to lead but to react. In the labour management field, this kind of bill that we now are debating is clearly based on the thinking which follows certain deficiencies in the existing labour laws of British Columbia.
It is interesting just to put on record the fact that while countries like to be No. 1 at certain things, the latest statistics published by the International Labour Organization show that Canada is now No. 1 — but unfortunately for the largest number of days lost per 1,000 workers. A year ago we were being somewhat apologetically grateful because we were second to Italy. But the latest figures show that now we are No. 1.
These figures related to 1974. The International Labour Organization, which studied 18 major nations, found that in 1974 in mining, manufacturing, construction, transportation and communications the average Canadian was on strike for 2.6 days, which is 2,600 days lost for every 1,000 workers. It mentioned that Australia, which has compulsory arbitration, was second with a loss of 2,510 days per 1,000 workers. At the other end of the scale was Switzerland with 5 days per 1,000 workers. Sweden had 30, West Germany 60.
These figures for 1974 are borne out by further figures that have been published for 1975, The figures show for 1975 that Canada lost 0.5 per cent of its work force's productive time through strikes or lockouts — 10.3 million man-days were lost in Canada, which is 11 per cent more than were lost in 1974.
B.C. is the worst province in Canada statistically. The average loss of hours in British Columbia is seven-tenths of 1 per cent of the total, whereas the rest of Canada averages four-tenths of 1 per cent, The lost wages in 1975 in British Columbia approximate $56 million.
Mr. Speaker, that gives some quick concept of the size of the problem in British Columbia. This doesn't relate to what government is in power, in my view. The former Minister of Labour (Mr. King) mentioned in his remarks the other day that this kind of enormous problem is a non-partisan, not a party-political problem.
He also mentioned that part of the problem is that we are living in a dog-eat-dog society. I'm not certain that I agree with that, but if that's the premise from which the former Minister of Labour (Mr. King) proceeds to argue on this bill or any other bill, then I would suggest he must have a very negative and sober and pessimistic outlook on the hope that any government can solve such problems if they arise basically from what he called the "jungle philosophy."
I personally recognize the complexity of the problem and the very serious impact that it has on our provincial and national economy, but I cannot believe that a sufficient number of citizens in British Columbia live by a dog-eat-dog philosophy that we cannot, in fact, take a somewhat more optimistic approach than was taken by the spokesman for the official opposition. While in two or three of the specific respects in this bill I do wonder if the minister is not guilty of overkill, what I do sense is the minister trying to grapple with what is the central challenge, and that is to establish balance not between two parties but among three parties, being the unions, the employers and the forgotten element — the public — who are neither employees, unionized, non-unionized or management, but make up a vast percentage of the total population of this province and this country. I hope this bill — and any future bills this minister introduces — will always start from that point, that we've got the rights and interests of three basic groups of people to try and recognize and deal with in a fair and equitable manner.
I agree on one point with the former Minister of Labour (Mr. King), and that is that collective bargaining has lost a lot of its meaning as a result of
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the wage-and-price control programme and the creation of the Anti-inflation Board. But it is very much a chicken-and-egg problem, Mr. Speaker, if you would just permit us to go back one more time and use that phrase that's much overused in this House. The nation as a whole, we're told by most provinces — perhaps not this province — is in a state of emergency because of inflation. When you have problems of relative severity you have to deal with the most essential one first, and that is why we have a national programme of wage and price control with a very definite primary purpose of saving this country from economic disaster such as Britain almost faced right on the edge of the cliff before they got to the point of trying seriously to deal with inflation.
So I agree that collective bargaining has lost a lot of its validity because of the ultimate decisions that are being made by the Anti-Inflation Board, but there again, I don't think that in any way should diminish this provincial government's attempts within this province to create some kind of harmony in the labour-management field.
I was rather amused by the former Labour minister's recital of history. He said that at the end of the 19th century many British immigrants came to this province bringing with them a tradition of British trade unionism. This may well be so, Mr. Speaker, but I have to say in fairness to the trade unions in British Columbia that they're far less militant and far less blatantly politically oriented than the trade unions in Britain. Anyone who cares to follow the British scene these days would be thanking whatever fate guides our destiny in this province to know that we do not have union leaders in the British tradition as they are at the present time.
Many people who are not actively on executives of trade unions but are trade union members in Britain are deeply concerned about the communist influence of many of the most influential leaders in many of the powerful unions in Great Britain. I hope the spokesman for the official opposition was not suggesting that what the trade unions in British Columbia need is something more in the tradition of the British union leadership. Heaven forbid! I would also say that it is and has been much of the trade union militancy and political affiliation that has led Britain to the disastrous state that it was in until recently.
The member for Vancouver Centre says nonsense, but it's interesting, Mr. Speaker, that now Britain faces the disaster that it does, it's the trade unions that are doing a great deal to pull Britain out of the mess by accepting a 4.5 per cent ceiling on wage increases. But they got Britain into a great deal of the mess in the first place.
MR. WALLACE: No, my friend, it's got nothing to do with Scotsmen in government. As you've noticed in this province, it's very difficult for a Scotsman to get into government. (Laughter.)
MR. WALLACE: I hope I am not branded as the member for Glasgow, because I didn't happen to be born or raised in that part of the old sod.
Mr. Speaker, there's responsibility on the part of management and unions in this whole matter of trying to find economic justice for both groups. We all suffer if either one pushes for an unfair advantage. I'm saying that we have a lot that we could learn from Britain, regardless of the degree to which individuals in this House may or may not agree with what I've already said. There has been great militancy in the unions in Britain, and much of the cause of distress in the marketplace was the result of large wage increases that were negotiated.
All I'm saying now is that in fairness to the unions and in recognition of their efforts now, they are showing some form of responsibility and leadership by accepting the 4.5 per cent ceiling on wage increases which, compared to increases which averaged 25 per cent just over a year ago, shows a remarkable awakening of the British people to the economic disaster that's just around the corner. I say, in this province, do we have to wait until we are just looking around the corner at disaster or do you learn from other provinces or other jurisdictions and try to take preventive action or inject some measure of sanity and wisdom into our legislation before it's too late?
I would also say that I hope the former minister of labour (Mr. King) was not suggesting that this bill has anything whatever to do with union corruption. He quoted repeatedly from a study which showed that B.C. unions were clean as a whistle, and I give them full credit for that. Again I say to anyone in this province, thank goodness we are blessed with unions that have that kind of record of not being corrupted. Mr. Speaker, this bill has got nothing to do with corruption. This bill has to do with trying to minimize strikes and lockouts, to shorten those strikes and lockouts which do occur, and to preserve some greater measure of protection for that important third party than has been the case hitherto — namely, the public. I make it very plain that I see no relationship whatever to the matter of union corruption and this bill.
I think that a measure of gratitude in that regard should surely be very evident from the recent convention of the Teamsters' union when Mr. Fitzsimmons made some of the most flagrant and inflammatory statements that if the members of his union didn't like the way he ran the union, then they
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AN HON. MEMBER: What did he say?
MR. WALLACE: I wouldn't want to use four-letter words in this House, Mr. Speaker, but he suggested that they go elsewhere. (Laughter.) We've all seen some of the disastrous and distressing effects of the worst kinds of union corruption, so I want to make my position very plain: this bill has nothing whatever to do with any suggestion of corruption that has to be corrected in B.C. by this legislation.
This legislation is meant to deal with some of the problems that have occurred in this province in recent years, and I believe that, although it may go too far, it is a bill that is worthy of support of this House, always mindful of some of the reservations that have been expressed already this afternoon, and hopeful that the minister will always be ready to back off in whole or in part by further amendments at a later date if in fact some of these sections appear to go too far.
We've heard the Liberal leader (Mr. Gibson) comment about the high unemployment in this province, and I sometimes wonder, when I read day after day about the world economy, to what degree we can effectively reduce unemployment. I believe that it can be reduced. It seems to me sometimes, though, that we're all unduly optimistic in our expectations as to how much government can do in our rapidly changing kind of society and with all the technological problems that arise. But there's one thing that is for sure, Mr. Speaker, and that is that strikes are controllable. We may not be able to control unemployment, but we should be able at least to modify, yes, both strikes and lockouts.
MR. WALLACE: The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Barrett) interjects the word "lockout" and I agree that in this kind of debate we all too readily just use the word strike. I accept that correction, that we're talking about both strikes and lockouts.
At a time when we have high unemployment, which we can only control to a small degree, strikes on top of unemployment are just one further blow to an already injured body. It would seem that if this legislation is going to go at least part way to preventing strikes which do occur, or putting people back to work at least for a cooling-off period, while all this is far from any kind of perfect solution to the problem, at least it represents a conscious effort to try and minimize some of the damage of the past.
It's disappointing to me that such words as "jungle philosophy" and "dog eat dog" have been used this afternoon, because there's little doubt that that's hardly conducive to any kind of harmony and trust at the negotiating table. Quite possibly it is the jungle philosophy which has led us to the present problems. If that is the case, then I would agree with the spokesman for the official opposition that the outlook is anything but bright.
Mr. Speaker, just to deal briefly with two or three of the main thrusts of the bill, I happen to believe that the public of British Columbia is totally and utterly frustrated by the series of strikes in various important areas in this province. The public does not dispute that the parties in these strikes have legitimate points to present and that employees, whether they be in hospitals or B.C. Railway or anywhere else, have every legitimate right to try and negotiate the best deal they can to meet with the ravages of inflation. I don't think any member of the public disputes that. On the other hand, the public does not believe that it should be held to ransom any time that negotiations reach a point where the two parties cannot reach a settlement.
As I said earlier, politics is very much a matter of action and reaction. If we had not experienced various strikes which very seriously damaged the economy of this province and had the potential to lead to a great deal of damage to individuals' lives and health, we wouldn't be debating this bill today.
If this bill does go too far, Mr. Speaker, I don't think we can be unduly critical of the government. We would be, and I would be, a great deal more critical of the government if it had continued for very much longer to take the intransigent attitude that it did during the hospital strike — almost in the sense that until we proved that somebody died because of the strike then there might be action. Now we don't know if somebody died because of the strike, and we don't know what damage or injury various people today might be suffering because they didn't get the care at the time they would otherwise have received the care. That's all rather incapable of proof.
What we do know, Mr. Speaker, is that if this is not a dog-eat-dog society, and I don't believe it is, and that being so, there has to be within the human sphere some very clear point in time when legitimate management-labour grievances have to become second to the greater interests of the people of this province as a whole. It's my belief that in this bill the extension of the power to regard services as essential is worthwhile unless it is abused by being applied in the future to groups that really cannot realistically be regarded as essential services.
The Liberal leader talked about the polarization in this province and the polarization not only politically, but polarization with management and one political party and the NDP with the labour section in society. I just have to plead for the "N"th time that we stop the pendulum swinging and try to bring about a situation where there is something more moderate than these two rather well-defined,
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clear-cut positions on either side of the spectrum.
Yet, Mr. Speaker, the reason this bill possibly goes too far is that it represents a swing back of the pendulum in relation to essential services, and it gives the power within this bill to designate somebody in a relatively unimportant occupation in relation to essential services being designated as such and being compelled to submit to arbitration.
I don't think that will happen, but when I put myself in the position of a union member I would be saying to myself: "Why go from the limited position of firefighters, policemen and hospital workers all the way over to the other side of the spectrum whereby you can designate anybody as an essential service?" Now why is this amount of change necessary? Would it not have made much more sense and would it not have avoided provoking the union movement in this province if a more specific attempt had been made to define categories of essential service?
Either way it isn't easy; I realize that. The minister is shaking his head. I'm not suggesting that what I am putting forward as an alternative would be easy. What I am saying is that if I were a union member looking at the new proposal, my immediate reaction would be that this was overkill and that the minister has created power in the bill, in effect, to take away the strike of any union that can be designated as providing an essential service.
I just feel that is an overreaction by the government, but I want to make it very plain that I believe very much in the fact that there are certain essential services in this province and in this country, and that the public as a whole should not be held up to ransom and probably the risk of life and limb in these essential services that we've talked about many times.
The cooling-off period — I can't really understand why anyone would get uptight because it is being extended from 21 to 40 days. I couldn't help but think of the fact that we're rather far behind in that in this country anyway. The Taft-Hartley legislation in the United States was introduced in 1947, nearly 30 years ago, so let's not get all excited about cooling-off periods; they've been a useful piece of legislation. In the most recent reference I can find in the library the legislation states that strikes that may cause a national emergency can be delayed for 80 days. So, there again, perhaps the Americans overreact sometimes, Mr. Speaker. That isn't meant as an anti-American comment in such a happy year as Bi-centennial year when we are all friends across the border.
AN HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear!
MR. WALLACE: One of my colleagues mentions, however, that if you make cooling-off periods too long it reduces the intensity of negotiation and that sometimes, unless you have this day-in, day-out, knock-'em-down, drag-'em-out sessions for 12 or 15 days continuously, parties to the bargaining lose some of their commitment to find the solution. So within that context maybe 40 days is as long as there should be.
With regard to strike votes, Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the minister in winding up this debate could perhaps give us in more detail some justification for the need for government regulations in the supervision of strike votes. The minister is reported in the press as having said that during the hospital strike he received letters and telephone calls from employees complaining that the strike vote was not properly taken. I wonder if that is the only strike where this kind of complaint has surfaced or whether there may be other examples the minister could quote to justify the reason for this amendment to the bill.
In general principle it would be my feeling that if unions and management are conducting various votes properly, then they should have nothing particularly to fear from having it done under a more specifically and more-precisely-spelled-out series of procedures. After all, Mr. Speaker, when each of us goes to cast a ballot at municipal or provincial elections, there are a series of procedures that you have to fulfil to have the privilege of that very important right in society, namely your franchise.
I know just how tough it is, because after living in one house in Oak Bay for 12 years I went to try and vote in a municipal election, and because the wheels of bureaucracy were either going backwards or sideways I was denied my municipal vote because of the technical, procedural foul-up. I think if we feel it's that important in the use of our franchise at the provincial, municipal or federal level, then I really can't be too concerned that a great measure of precise supervision of strike votes should be considered wrong or unnecessary.
The last thrust of the bill, which I don't feel at all equipped to consider in any detail, is the importance of allowing the Labour Relations Board to determine whether or not goods are hot in the course of a labour dispute. Again, in general principles, it would seem to me that the Labour Relations Board under the new Labour Code written by the former government has acquitted itself well in some very sensitive areas.
I also understand from listening to debates in this House that generally speaking — perhaps with some exceptions, but generally speaking — both management and labour are satisfied with the move towards the administrative law aspect of the Labour Relations Board, rather than taking numerous disputes into court, seeking various injunctions and all the delays that are often associated with such
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approaches. Therefore, since there's no question that the designation of goods as being hot in a strike can have a devastating effect and a ripple effect through many other segments of our community, surely on the occasions in which this can be done they must be done accurately and legitimately and with justification.
From the performance of the Labour Relations Board up to this date, again it would seem to me that it's not at all unreasonable to provide the Labour Relations Board with this more precise and well-defined authority in relation to declaration of hot goods.
So, Mr. Speaker, in summary, it would seem to me that this bill represents reaction to many of the labour problems that have plagued this province in recent years. In particular, my own concern has been in relation to essential services, and while I support this bill, I believe that the minister could have caused less loss of his own confidence by the union movement if he had taken some intermediate step to categorize essential services and not open the door quite as widely as he has done by simply using the word "trade union" instead of "designated unions" such as firefighters and policemen.
The problem, however, of this province in the labour-management field will not be solved by this bill, or perhaps by any other future bill, unless there's something more serious by way of individual effort, in the way of efforts by individuals themselves to exercise certainly a legitimate right at the bargaining table, but to show perhaps some kind of moderate approach whereby they don't try to obtain for themselves benefits that are out of all proportion to the national and provincial economic picture.
If that can't be achieved by any of the means that the Liberal leader (Mr. Gibson) touched upon and described so well, the whole question of employee participation at board level, the opportunity to invest in the company with which they're employed, an attempt to let either side see a little more of the other's problems in a very practical and realistic way.... If some of these things are not done, then I suppose we might have to conclude that it is just jungle warfare and that each group is struggling and fighting to get the highest possible economic return for their effort and to hell with anybody else. If that is the case, then this bill won't solve much, and, for that matter, neither will any other labour legislation that this minister or any other government cares to bring in.
So I hope that this bill paves the way to deal with the more acute problems, particularly in essential services. But I hope that the minister will give us this commitment that if, in fact, the legislation does go too far and inflames the situation rather than provides some mechanism to deal with the more acute problems, we can be assured that there will be further amending legislation in the future, particularly to categorize in a more specific way what this government believes to be an essential service.
MR. J.J. HEWITT (Boundary-Similkameen): Mr. Speaker, the problem that we are dealing with in regard to labour and management, work stoppages, strikes, lockouts, is one of the most serious problems. Sometimes it's something like motherhood and the flag. It's hard to debate for or against it from either party. But I'd like to comment just briefly, Mr. Speaker, on some of the comments that have been made and what some of my own feelings are.
The member for North Vancouver-Capilano (Mr. Gibson) gave us an excellent speech, but I felt that most of his comments were mainly words, Mr. Speaker, words such as harmony and common interest. I feel very strongly that Bill 77, which is being brought in by the present Minister of Labour, indicates that this Minister of Labour is prepared, and this government is prepared, to take action where action is needed, and I must compliment him on that.
Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for North Vancouver-Capilano (Mr. Gibson) makes the comment that the Social Credit Party had an alliance with big business during the last election. I would suggest to him that there is an alliance of those who are in big business, small business, individual old people and young people in this province, but the small businessman mainly, which you don't touch on, hon. member, is a very important part of our society. Without them we don't have the initiative or the effort to create employment, for some of those small businesses today may be the large businesses of tomorrow,
Mr. Speaker, other comments were made where the member was concerned about a balanced package. He felt this was all one way. It's pretty difficult to make the decision, Mr. Speaker, as to whether or not 21 days or 31 days or 40 days or 60 days is a balanced package. I think the decision is made that 40 days does give a little more time for the mediation officer, the commission, or whoever may be involved to determine whether or not a settlement is there to give the employees and the employer the opportunity to cool off.
I think the hon. member made a comment about the secret ballot — and I refer to the all-one-way comment that he made. I don't know whether half a secret ballot would satisfy him, Mr. Speaker, but I seriously think that a secret ballot is something that should be used in the situation that is that serious in regard to strike or not to strike.
Mr. Speaker, I'd like to comment also on the member for Oak Bay (Mr. Wallace), who has mentioned, I think very fairly, that there are three parties involved. One is the union, the second is the management and the third is the public.
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I would just like to elaborate on that, Mr. Speaker, because I feel very strongly there is a fourth party involved and that is the government. The government's part is to protect and ensure the welfare of all British Columbians. Mr. Member, the buck stops here, if I can use that phrase. This government or any government, whatever the party might be that's in power at the time, must consider all the people of British Columbia. They must be able to work with management and they must be able to work with the unions to ensure that the British Columbian — the individual, whether he be young or old — does not suffer.
Mr. Speaker, the only way we can solve this problem is by beating unemployment. We can't meet that challenge, Mr. Speaker, unless we create productivity. You can't create productivity with strikes, with slowdowns, with lockouts. That is no way to beat unemployment. Those things affect our productivity to such an extent that they increase and inflame unemployment and cause rifts in our society.
Mr. Speaker, I strongly believe that this bill helps set the guidelines so the people in this province are not held to ransom. I think the section on essential services is a valid one. I think if you talk to people of the north they would tell you that BCR is a very essential service and I think the cooling-off period — the extension of it — does give the opportunity for management and labour to sit down and to reason a little further to come to a common understanding before the lockout or the strike occurs.
Mr. Speaker, I'd like to deal briefly on the former Minister of Labour's (Mr. King's) comments, which I believe very strongly are outdated comments. He mentioned the sweat of the workers. He mentioned foreign capitalists and right-wing pressures. He also commented that we are attempting to get votes by discriminating against unions. I think that's further from the truth of any other comment that former Minister of Labour, who I think was a very capable Minister of Labour, has made to date.
As I understand it, if my figures are correct, there are approximately one million people employed in B.C. There are 420,000, approximately, employed as union members and about 580,000 that are non-union members. The families of those union members and the families of the non-union members are people that suffer when the strike or the lockout occurs.
Mr. Speaker, there were also other comments made in regard to hula hoops and batteries for swizzle sticks. Regardless of what the product is, Mr. Speaker, the product is created by somebody's idea, somebody's ingenuity, somebody's theory, and the capital is put into the business to create that product, to create the employment and to create purchasing dollars. When he mentions these types of businesses, granted they may not be dollars as well spent as they could be in things such as schools and hospitals, but they do create purchasing dollars which, of course, any economy needs.
Mr. Speaker, I think the hon. member, the former Minister of Labour, made the comment about the high salaries paid to heads of large corporations. I would suggest to him — and I wish I had the figures, Mr. Speaker, but it was no longer, I believe, than about two weeks ago in regard to the wages that are paid to the top executives of the union. They by far outstrip, I believe, the majority of wages that are paid to top executives of private corporations.
Mr. Speaker, the comments I would briefly like to make on the bill are that the secret ballot, I think, is reasonable. I think there's a comment that not only must you be innocent, but you must appear to be innocent. I do not believe, personally, there's any skullduggery that takes place in the strike vote by a union, but I think they must be able to hold that out to the public and say: "We are innocent. This is the majority decision of our members and we have decided to strike or not to strike." I think the only fair way they can maintain their appearance of being innocent with regard to a strike vote is by a secret ballot.
I would suggest to the hon. member for Revelstoke-Slocan that sometimes he should talk to the workers, as I'm sure all of us have talked to workers over a period of time, because I have heard comments that workers are concerned about expressing their vote because they're concerned they will be intimidated. Mr. Speaker, I do not see anything wrong with a secret ballot on a decision that is as important and serious to the workers and to the public as a strike vote.
The essential services section, Mr. Speaker, I heartily concur with. I think the B.C. Railway is a prime example of what can really be considered as an essential service, and I think there are other industries which come very close to that. Mr. Speaker, I think this bill does considerable to maintain and ensure the protection of British Columbians in regard to essential services.
MR. GIBSON: Should we have a secret ballot in the Legislature?
MR, HEWITT: We're politicians, Hon. Member. We can stand the gaff.
The extension to 40 days, as I have mentioned before, does give an opportunity for both sides to look once again to try and reach a common settlement, because the magnitude of the strike vote is such that it affects all; it affects the young and the old, and it affects the families and the employees as well. The hot declaration section amending section 90 of the Labour Code, I also agree with that one.
Mr. Speaker, there is another comment I think the
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hon. member for Revelstoke-Slocan made which is in regard to the Anti-Inflation Board and the cost of administration of that board. I agree with him that the cost of administration of that board is substantial, I think there are upwards of approximately 1,000 employees under the Anti-Inflation Board now.
But there had to be a start, Mr. Speaker, because we were out of control. The settlements in this province, the wage settlements in all provinces, were getting out of hand. The prices, Mr. Speaker, are getting out of hand. Any housewife across Canada can tell you that. But, Mr. Speaker, if we can get this thing under control, if it is a temporary measure to bring some sanity back into the marketplace and back into the labour field and back into management, we'll get it under control and make wage settlements that are fair and related to cost of living, make increases to prices of products that relate to the cost of living increases that are paid to those employees, that are related to the cost of materials. In that way, nobody gets carried away with an exorbitant increase.
Mr. Speaker, I would compliment the Minister of Labour. I think he's done an excellent job in bringing this bill forth, but in closing I'd just like to say: what about the future? What does the future hold for the young and the old people of this province? This, Mr. Speaker, is what I think this assembly has to address itself to, because we can't continually put the Band-aid on the sore. We've got to solve the problem, to heal the wound, so that at least British Columbia can create employment and get that amount of unemployment down to a reasonable level.
Mr. Speaker, all citizens, whether they be union, non-union, management or investor, must have to be aware and they must consider the common good of the whole. Sensible decision-making has to be made at this level, at the management level, at the union level — at the level of every portion of society in this province.
Mr. Speaker, with those comments I would support this bill, and I think regardless of party, regardless of philosophies, more than ever before the people of this province and this country have to deal with this problem or it will be too late.
MS. R. BROWN (Vancouver-Burrard): Mr. Speaker, it was really interesting. As I was listening to the member for Oak Bay (Mr. Wallace), for example, and certainly the backbencher from the government, speaking about this piece of legislation, some interesting memories came to mind. The member for Oak Bay, in particular, when he was talking about strikes, I suddenly remembered one of the worst strikes, one of the most destructive strikes, one of the cruellest strikes this country has ever known. What I'm referring to, Mr. Speaker, was when the doctors of Saskatchewan went on strike against the people of that province because the government decided that health care was an essential service and could not be left in the private purview.
No one worried about who was dying then, As a matter of fact, what the statistics showed was that fewer people died, quite frankly, while those doctors were on strike. (Laughter.) Really, there is no question about it that one of the....
MS. BROWN: It is the truth. It is the truth! Everyone in Saskatchewan suddenly got better.
Mr. Speaker, one of the strongest unions we have in this or any other country, one of the most powerful, has got to be the union to which doctors belong. I'm not referring to the medical association; I am referring to the college — because in fact they are so strong they split themselves into two and we have the medical association and we have the college.
Mr. Speaker, they are so powerful that they have been able to exempt themselves from any kind of labour legislation, including this bill which is under discussion, Bill 77. They are absolutely.... If anyone ever talks about big union, tough union, strong union, they must be referring to the medical association and the College of Physicians and Surgeons, because aside from the legal profession they are certainly the only two unions, as far as I know, that have been so powerful they have been able to have themselves exempted from any kind of labour legislation whatsoever which affects everyone else who works in this country. So I thought that was very interesting.
I was also interested in the remarks of the member for Boundary-Similkameen (Mr. Hewitt) — who, having delivered that brilliant speech, has now left the room — where he referred that this bill was to beat unemployment. In fact, what this bill is doing is beating the workers; it's not doing anything for unemployment at all. If there is one thing that can be said about this government since its inception, it is that it has increased unemployment to levels never before known in this province, so certainly this bill has nothing to do with beating unemployment.
He also mentioned that there were some statistics somewhere that showed that the leaders of trade unions made more money than the heads of large corporations. I would be very interested in seeing those statistics, because no one else has ever even pretended to suggest that was the case. For example, I want to draw your attention, Mr. Speaker, to the national president of the PPWC — the Pulp and Paper Workers Union — whose salary is tied to that of the highest-paid person whom he represents. Certainly this cannot be said to be the case of the president of MacMillan Bloedel, the Bank of Nova Scotia or even the Bank of British Columbia or any other large corporation — the telephone company or whatever.
It certainly sure isn't of this Legislature, because
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the head of this House makes more than the rest of us. So we are setting the worst example of all.
I think it's one of life's little ironies, Mr. Speaker, that the day this bill was brought down, Bill 77, the legislative dining room was serving steak and lobster.
MS. BROWN: Yes, a real working man's diet and a real working woman's diet, isn't it, you would say. What I am trying to suggest is that it is really interesting that the people who always speak out against working people and the people who always try....
MS. BROWN: It was good. Sure it was good, and it was at a good price, too.
But it is really interesting, Mr. Speaker, that the people who are always complaining about wages and who are always trying to curb wages are always those people who make far more money, quite frankly, than most of the working people in this province.
My point here is not, Mr. Speaker, the moral one about those of us who live comfortably. What I am trying to say is that this society, which continually pressures people into consuming more, a society which measures people in terms of their material gains and in terms of their material worth, is the same society which is now trying to weaken the single and only instrument working people have with which to bargain, and that is their labour — in that they are organized, and that is manifested in the trade union movement.
Mr. Speaker, working people in British Columbia want things which cannot by any reasonable standards be referred to as extravagant. The working people are not demanding steak-and-lobster dinners every day of the year. In fact, I am not even sure that they want steak-and-lobster dinner even one day of the year, What they want is decent housing; they want a decent standard of living — to be able to have the odd glass of beer from time to time and at a reasonable price.
There is no one in this House, on either side of the House, who could refer to this as being an unreasonable aspiration on their part. But more profoundly, what working people really want is that their children should not be doomed to the menial and soul-destroying lives in which they find themselves at this time.
Whether it is women working in the most menial of tasks — either for the government or in the private sector — whether it is the man dragging lumber from the green-chain or the person in the mines, they all share one thing in common — that is that they want their children, in the same way that we want our children, not to be imprisoned in the same kind of working experiences, but to have an opportunity for something better.
That really is one sentiment that we all share, and I'm sure that no one in this House would say that that was an unreasonable aspiration for working people to have.
Now working people have only one mechanism with which to ensure or even to work towards this particular goal — only one, and that is through organizing into their trade unions. Mr. Speaker, as working people — organized and unorganized — watch this government tear up their living standards through massive increases in every charge upon their budgets, whether it's the sales tax, or ferry rates or whatever, they at the same time are watching this government ripping away at the only mechanism that they have — their organization, the trade union movement — in an attempt to try and destroy it.
Since December 11, when this government took office, Mr. Speaker, they have waged a ruthless war, quite frankly, against the working people of this province. Now everybody on this side of the House — and the overwhelming majority of trade unionists — quite frankly wish that there was some other way of human beings in society reaching this aspiration. We wish there was some other way of negotiating and relating to each other without having to resort to the economic clout, which is what a strike is — using the only defence you have, which is your labour, as an economic clout with which to negotiate.
We wish that this were the case not just for trade unionists, but for professionals like the doctors in Saskatchewan. We would have hoped that that strike would not have been necessary. The same thing, Mr. Speaker, we would wish for executives, for coupon-clippers or even for members of this Legislature — although it is true that none of us have considered going on strike to this point.
MS. BROWN: No, that wasn't a strike. The hon. Minister of Consumer Services (Hon. Mr. Mair) doesn't even know what a strike is. Belonging to one of the toughest, largest, biggest unions of this province, as a lawyer, Mr. Member, I can't understand why you don't know what a strike is.
Mr. Speaker, we are all very acutely conscious of the kind of hardship that a strike or that economic clout has on unemployed people, on the old, on the infirm and on the unorganized, quite frankly. We all know that. Nobody uses a strike, nobody uses the economic clout in a frivolous way, It's a last resort and nobody enjoys using it — neither the people involved in the dispute themselves nor anyone else who is suffering as a result of it.
Institutions have striven for centuries to replace
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our system of greed, a system in which people are rewarded in accordance with their capacity to collect material things, and at every hand and for every generation working people have been told by the same society which criticizes them for the exercise of their economic strength that that is the only mechanism that will be allowed.
So there you have the dilemma, Mr. Speaker, of an ordinary human being like you and I seeking a more human system and being told that they cannot have it, and at the same time being told that they're to be deprived of the one weapon that they have to use in this fight, and that is the right to withhold their labour. That is the only weapon they have — the right to withhold their services, the right to withhold their labour.
But make no mistake about it, Mr. Speaker — everybody in this society lives by the economic clout. What this Bill 77 does is to deprive one sector — and the hon. leader of the Liberal Party (Mr. Gibson) stated this probably even more succinctly than I'm doing now — of the defence mechanisms that are essential to decent survival. This is what this government, through this legislation and other pieces of legislation, is doing to the working people of this province.
What is the bill, Mr. Speaker, that this Bill 77 is supposed to be amending? It's the Labour Code, and I think it's only fair that we should look at the Labour Code of B.C. in the spirit in which it was designed. The principle of the Labour Code and the spirit in which it was drafted was one of being fair to all sides involved. The member for Oak Bay (Mr. Wallace) says you have management and you have union and you have the public sector too. I'm not quite sure why he separates out working people from the public sector, because I've always thought that working people were part of the public sector too. But that's fine. For the purposes of this debate, let us....
AN HON. MEMBER: The code does that.
MS. BROWN: Oh, the code does that. But really I'm sure you will agree, and I think you did say in your introduction that you recognized that the code was drafted in a spirit of trying to be fair to all sides in a labour dispute, or in a....
MS. BROWN: I'm giving you credit for what you should have said, I guess.
Really, what you are doing with your amendments, Mr. Minister, is to create an imbalance in the code as it presently stands. Now Bill 77, Mr. Speaker, when combined with other bills introduced, such as Bill 22, 57 and 83, indicates very clearly that the Minister of Labour is mounting a very serious attack on organized labour. I really don't think that Bill 77 can be viewed in isolation but I am going to confine myself to speaking about the principle of Bill 77. I'm referring to these only because I think it's a total package which very clearly demonstrates the minister's all-out attack on organized labour.
[Mr. Speaker in the chair.]
MS. BROWN: I do have a copy of Bill 77 with me. What these four bills together do is to interfere with working people's ability to organize, and in particular if one looks at the construction industry, I think it becomes much more clear than probably in some of the other industries — in particular if one deals with the section that has to do with hot declarations, but I'll come to that later.
There are grounds, Mr. Speaker — two grounds in particular — on which one has to oppose this particular piece of legislation. In the first place, unions and working people that the unions represent are still at a very great disadvantage in their struggle — in this province anyway — with national and multinational corporations. Really they are not operating as equals. There still is some imbalance in their relationship, and this is particularly true since the introduction of the national guidelines, the Anti-Inflation Board guidelines and that programme, the end result of which is going to be that the income of organized workers is going to fall farther and farther behind. I'm sure that they're never going to be able to catch up or even keep up with the kinds of attacks that this government is having on their budget. I said this before and I'll say it again, I'm referring to the 40 per cent increase in the sales tax and all the other increases: ferries, the removal of ceilings and things that this government has indulged in since its inception in January of this year.
Continually increasing corporate profits, Mr. Speaker, with occasional well-known exceptions through some incompetence of management, are ample evidence that under the present labour laws of this province, as they were since 1975, the corporations are very well capable, of taking care of themselves. Yet somehow the minister doesn't seem to be satisfied with the balance in this way. He is determined to tilt the scales a bit more in favour of employers. That's the only thing that the amendments to Bill 77 tend to do at this point.
You know I don't really know if the minister is doing this because of any particular sense of loyalty to the employers or if he really is just not aware of the kind of hardship that this amendment is going to work on the working people of this province. In either case the actions are unfair, unjustified and
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contrary to the majority of the citizens of this province who earn their wages through working.
The second reason for opposing the minister's attack on working people is a very practical one. Experience has proven that such attacks are not in the best interests of the citizens, because they cause disruption, conflict and bitterness. What we have instead of working towards a climate of harmony, labour harmony, labour-management harmony in the province is that the very opposite seems to take place. It doesn't work. It hasn't worked.
History has recently, in the 1960s, under the previous Social Credit government, Mr. Speaker, under the former, former Minister of Labour, the member for Columbia River (Mr. Chabot), who launched a series of similar attacks against organized labour, shown that it doesn't work. If I can remind the present Minister of Labour.... I am referring to the passage of the mediation commission Act and Bill 88, which was aimed at the traditional methods of operation of the building trades, again. They always seem to be the unions, anyway, who come in for specific attention from that government over there.
Anyway, what we ended up with during the 1960s, was a series of confrontations involving employers, government, the courts, the trade unions. Everyone got into the act. It really was without doubt the worst labour-management atmosphere during that particular period of time that this province has ever known in terms of conflict and hostility. That was the kind of province that the past Minister of Labour inherited and tried to deal with, with the original introduction, Mr. Speaker, of the Labour Code which this present minister is attempting to amend, unfortunately amending in very, very negative ways.
What I'm afraid we will do is go back to the era of the '60s when we had such disturbing sights as RCMP officers and sheriffs' officers raiding trade union offices. Do you remember those days? You were in the House then, Mr. Minister of Labour. This is what we fear, that really what these amendments to the code are going to do is plunge this province back into the era of the '60s when continually trade union people were being thrown into jail, and there was massive disruption of industry in retaliation, and the general destruction, quite frankly, of labour-management relations in the province. It was an absolute stepping backwards.
The Labour Code didn't create a perfect atmosphere, but what we're saying is that it was certainly well on its way to improving very greatly the atmosphere which we inherited, the one left by the previous Social Credit government. Your amendments, unfortunately, are going to serve to reverse any steps that were taken in that direction.
Basically, it was a fair code when it was coupled with the repealing of the Mediation Commission Act. When the courts were taken out of labour disputes, the whole general confrontation thing started to subside. By and large the employers in the province seemed quite satisfied with that particular piece of legislation and its administration. Even the trade union movement, although it had some grievances against it and didn't see that it was perfect by any means, also found they could live with it.
Even the media, Mr. Speaker, through you to the minister — which certainly cannot by any stretch of the imagination be accused of being either pro union of pro NDP — had to report that generally the state of affairs in the province, in terms of labour-management relationships, was improving very greatly over what was left in the '60s.
This is the situation into which the present Minister of Labour has stepped and is trying to disrupt the balance, quite frankly, with these amendments. What he is doing is leading us right back into those bad old days of the 1960s. What I'm afraid of is that what we're going to find again is one of those long, hot summers we had to live through in this province when everything was shut down — all of the building trades, the forest industry — because this thing has a spin-off effect. The province absolutely shut down every summer, and did that for a couple of years as a result of these pieces of legislation which you are trying to reintroduce with these amendments.
I am extremely disappointed, because I had hoped that the present Minister of Labour, who was sitting in the House when those original pieces of legislation were introduced, learned something from that experience and would not fall into the trap of making the same mistakes.
The issue of the cooling-off period, for example — this particular section dealing with this extension from 21 days to 40 days embodies two of the worst tendencies shown by the present government. It represents an attack on organized labour and at the same time is concentrating still more power in the hands of the cabinet and removing it from the floor of this Legislature — two very serious and two very blatant kinds of tendencies in terms of everything this government has ever introduced in terms of its legislation.
Mr. Speaker, the 21-day cooling-off period represented a kind of a reasonable period which could be tolerated even by organized workers during a strike, because although they may have been unhappy with the provision, the union specifically affected indicated that they would have preferred not to have the provisions but they could live with it because it was relatively short. You know — 21 days, okay. It's not perfect, but it's not that long; so one can heighten their negotiation and hopefully resolve their differences over a contracted period of time.
By lengthening the cooling-off period from 21 to 40 days what happens is that now abuses will start to
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creep in. Why should they sit down and negotiate seriously? Why should any employer sit down and negotiate seriously if there is any hope that this employer could convince the minister, for example, that the service which is being struck can be designated an essential service. We also have to bear in mind that the essential services have not been spelled out; it's an "open sesame." Each case is going to be viewed on its own merit and each decision will be viewed depending on what industry, what time of year, what conditions, whatever. As the minister said, with the propane workers, for example — a strike in summer, that's "not essential, " but once the strike goes into the winter it becomes "essential".
MS. BROWN: Sure. No, no. What I'm saying is: why should management sit down and negotiate with their workers when they know if they hang around long enough he'll designate them an essential service and bring in the 40-day cooling-off period? It just doesn't make any sense.
It's like...why should you hitch a ride when if you stand at a bus stop long enough, a bus will come by? This is what I am afraid extending from 21 to 40 days will do. Of course, the whole kind of frustration and everything built into that kind of confrontation just makes it worse when it actually occurs. That's all it does. Okay.
As I mentioned before, the business of wiping out the designation of, say, firefighters, policemen, hospital unions, et cetera, as essential services is, again, another very blatant kind of interference which, coupled with the extension to the 40-day cooling-off period, makes it absolutely non-essential for management to seriously sit down and negotiate in any kind of dispute.
By amendment this section to apply to any trade union, however, the minister is clearly threatening the trade union movement generally. By removing the very specific limitations imposed previously, the minister is creating a situation where by a loose interpretation of what constitutes a serious danger to life or health, this section can be widely used and abused far beyond the original intent.
Mr. Speaker, the trade union movement has expressed the fear — and I believe it is well founded — that it will be long before any strike which causes the public any inconvenience whatsoever can through a series of distorted interpretations be deemed to be essential.
I notice the minister is shaking his head, and I certainly hope that when he stands up to close the debate he will reassure us, either by suggesting that he is again to amend this amendment and clearly designate what essential services are. Because we are concerned — everyone is concerned by the fact that it is open and applies to any trade union. There are back-door ways of getting this designation.
Again the right of workers in the public sector — the right of workers in the public sector — is the one that is absolutely the most crucial at this time. Are you legislating them out of the right to strike? Is that really what you are trying to do?
HON. MR. WILLIAMS: They have that right.
MS. BROWN: Well, okay. When you are closing the debate, tell us all about it so that certainly people who work in the public sector will have some kind of assurance they will be able to quote you, anyway, in the future that this is not what you are trying to do by a back-door means.
AN HON. MEMBER: You are too suspicious.
MS. BROWN: Sorry, Mr. Speaker, I am not suspicious at all. I have just had my experiences with the government. But that's fine. I am willing to take the minister's word if, in closing the debate, he indicates that he is once again going to amend his amendment in such a way that the workers in the public sector will know that they have absolutely nothing to fear because he is not trying to take away from them their right to withhold their services in the event of a dispute.
Now what about the whole concept of the supervised strike vote, Mr. Speaker? Everyone who has spoken has spoken on this particular issue.
Labour doesn't need to be supervised. I think the member for Revelstoke-Slocan (Mr. King) dealt with this extremely clearly and very well. Major employer groups have not asked for it. There isn't the slightest shred of evidence that there is any need for it. Yet here, without any justification or for any particular purpose, reintroduced into this piece of legislation — reintroduced into the Labour Code — comes the supervised strike vote.
There were supervised strike votes in B.C. for years under the previous Social Credit government. But in 1968 senior Labour department officials managed to convince the government that they were a bureaucratic headache, that they wasted the department's limited resources, that they were sometimes abused by employers as a delaying tactic and that there was absolutely no evidence that they were necessary. So in 1968 they were discontinued.
During the tenure of the member for Columbia River (Mr. Chabot) right up to the present date, there has been no serious suggestion that the decision made in 1968 was a serious mistake.
Aha! There he is. Let the record show that the member for Columbia River is here to agree with what I say. He has to agree because it was during his tenure that the decision was made to discontinue the
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supervised strike vote. Throughout your entire time of office, Mr. Member, you didn't reintroduce it. Yet here it is again; it's rearing its ugly head again — and I am not referring to the present Minister of Labour when I say "its ugly head." I am referring to the concept of the supervised strike vote.
Why is it coming back? What is the requirement, I am asking the minister, through you, Mr. Speaker, for the decision to return to supervised strike votes? Past experience has shown that some employers actually manipulate the provision in order to delay the strike action, a move which in the end serves only to exacerbate feelings and to prolong the strike when it actually does occur.
Mr. Speaker, the department already has trouble meeting its responsibilities in terms of enforcing labour standards and providing conciliation services. We are continually being told that they're overworked — not just the workers, but their personal resources which are available. The Labour Relations Board, whose responsibility will be the supervision of this, is already overtaxed. Its resources are already overtaxed.
Yet in the face of all of these facts, the minister is going to waste a lot of people's time by running around this province carrying out an activity for which there is absolutely no indicated need. At least no one, neither management nor the past, past Minister of Labour nor the past Minister of Labour nor organized labour nor anyone, has been able to explain, but maybe when the minister is closing the debate, he will tell us why the supervised strike vote. I have it right here with me.
Now, Mr. Speaker, I want to ask a couple of questions of the minister, through you. Did the Labour Relations Board chairman recommend or ask for a return to the supervised strike vote? Was this discussed with him, and would you share with us when you get up to close the debate some of the discussions so we will better understand this particular decision? Mr. Speaker, this section 1s preposterous and, again, I suggest that I hope the minister did have some consultation with the Labour Relations Board and that he will share it with us.
The other thing, of course, is management's ability to manipulate the lockout vote, and again I'm talking about the CLRA. If we even look at the forest industry again where the larger employers can somehow influence the decision of the smaller ones and use all kinds of subtle devices to influence how the vote should go.... How is he going to monitor this? Because quite frankly, although he has the power to intervene, we don't really believe that you can monitor it. So we don't believe you really can enforce it, because there are so many ways to circumvent it. There are so many subtle ways in which this can be done.
What I want to....
MS. BROWN: Oh, no, he isn't. Mr. Speaker, we've heard a lot of talk about the hot declaration. I think it was the hon. leader of the Liberal Party (Mr. Gibson) who compared it to.... He didn't use the word boycott, but I think that is what he meant. Also the member for Oak Bay (Mr. Wallace) spoke against the concept of the hot declaration.
Mr. Speaker, the hot declaration really is more of a moral weapon, isn't it, than it is actually a weapon itself? It's not enforceable. You can't enforce a hot declaration. Really what it is is an appeal to people's reasoning and understanding in a dispute. That is what it is. There is no law presently that says that once something is designated hot, you must, under all conditions, respect that hot declaration. So really it's enforced morally.
It's very effective, quite frankly, for this reason. Why is that, Mr. Speaker, because not very many strikes use a hot declaration? I think it's important that we should look at the groups who use hot declarations. It's traditionally your very small groups, and I would draw attention, for example, to one group that used it recently in the Seagram's dispute. We were dealing with a very, very small union that was locked in mortal combat with a very large corporation, and there is no way they can win that particular dispute if they use the simple tactics that they have the right to use.
This is where the hot declaration comes in. They say to all of us, they say to all of their trade union sisters and brothers: "Please do not use Seagram's products because we are locked in a dispute with them over unfair labour practices. We're a small union and we're up against a large corporation. This is what we're resorting to." This is the kind of moral strength that comes out of the hot declaration because, Mr. Speaker, what the hot declaration recognizes is that where an employer is faced with a strike and closes down his operation and decides to wait it out in the classic economic struggle, there is no hot declaration. That is usually the case in our major industries such as the forestry industry.
Those are the kinds of disputes which do not cause confrontation in the minority of situations where the employer attempts to continue operating. That's where you bring in the hot disputes, where either by hiring strikebreakers or by using supervisory personnel to do the work of the striking workers, a different situation prevails. Somebody in those cases is doing work behind the picket lines. The industry isn't closed down. Either the supervisors or someone brought in — certainly not the striking workers — are doing the work behind the picket line that normally would be done by the striking workers themselves, the ones who are picketing. Now under these circumstances, in the view of organized workers, in
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the view of working people, the goods or services coming from behind the picket line are unfair.
MR. SPEAKER: Hon. Member, could I just interrupt long enough to draw your attention to the fact...?
MS. BROWN: Two minutes? Thanks, Mr. Speaker. Okay.
Mr. Speaker, all I am saying is that if the minister is really serious about declaring the "hot" declaration as outlawed, then he also has to outlaw the right of employers to operate behind a picket line. He has to be able to say: "You cannot operate with supervisory personnel. You cannot operate with strike-breakers." In that event then, there will be some kind of balance and then the "hot" declaration can be declared outlawed.
In closing, Mr. Speaker, all I want to say is that I really believe that these amendments cancel the fine tuning of the Labour Code, that this bill tips the scale very sharply in favour of the employer. As I've said before, the result of this legislation is that there's going to be increased trouble in labour-management relations in this province. It's once again going to be a return to the battles of the 1960s with everyone — the trade union movement, organized workers, unorganized workers and the general public at large as well as the employer — suffering as a result. All of this leave me absolutely no alternative, Mr. Speaker, than to vote against this particular vicious piece of legislation. Thank you.
Mr. Kempf moves adjournment of the debate.
Hon. Mr. McGeer files answers to questions. (See appendix.)
Hon. Mr. Gardom moves adjournment of the House.
The House adjourned at 5.55 p.m.
51 Mr. Wallace asked the Hon. the Minister of Education the following questions:
With reference to vandalism in British Columbia schools during the last 12
months for which figures are available —
1. How many incidents of vandalism occurred in British Columbia public schools?
2. What was the total cost of damage done due to vandalism?
3. Of the total cost of damage, how much was covered by insurance?
4. How many schools in the Province are (a) floodlit during hours of darkness and (b) equipped with intrusion alarm systems?
5. How many cases of vandalism were prosecuted?
6. Of those cases prosecuted (a) in how many was restitution paid by convicted offenders and (b) what sum of money was paid in restitution?
The Hon. P. L. McGeer replied as follows:
"1. Since boards of school trustees have not reported such incidents to the Department in any consistent way, this information is not available. The information may be obtained directly from secretary-treasurers of school districts from which information is desired. Only incidents of vandalism involving amounts of over $1,000 are reported to the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia. In the last 12 months, 12 such incidents were reported.
"2. See answer No. 1 for Department of Education response. The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia figure for the 12 reported incidents in answer No. I is $23,200.
"3. See answer No. 1for Department of Education response. The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia response with regard to the 12 incidents reported in answer No. I is that $17,400 was covered by insurance, most of which has already been paid by the Crown corporation with a small portion still pending.
"4. (a) and (b) See answer No. 1 for Department of Education response. The answer to No. 4 is presently unknown by the Crown corporation. The information may be obtained directly from secretary-treasurers of school districts
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from which information is desired.
"5. See answer No. 1 for Department of Education response. The response from the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia with regard to the 12 incidents referred to in answer No. 1 is that two cases were prosecuted by the Attorney General's Department.
"6. (a) and (b), nil."
54 Mr. Wallace asked the Hon. the Minister of Education the following questions:
With reference to fires in British Columbia schools during the most recent 12-month period for which information is available —
1. How many fires occurred?
2. What was the total cost of damage done by fire in British Columbia schools?
3. Out of the total cost of damage, how much of the cost was covered by fire insurance?
4. How many fires were (a) deliberately set and (b) accidental or due to other causes?
5. How many prosecutions for arson have been carried out as a result of these fires?
6. In how many cases resulting in conviction was restitution paid by the offender?
7. What was the total sum of money paid in restitution?
The Hon. P. L. McGeer replied as follows:
"1. Since boards of school trustees have not reported such incidents to the Department in any consistent way, this information is not available. The information may be obtained directly from secretary-treasurers of school districts from which information is desired. The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia has reported to the Department that 31 fires were reported to it.
"2. See answer No. 1. With respect to the 31 fires reported, the total cost of damage was $6,085,000.
"3. See answer No. 1. Of the damage reported in answer to No. 2, $6,071,000 was covered by fire insurance, of which approximately two-thirds has been paid and the balance pending.
"4. See answer No. 1. (a) Seventeen as determined jointly by the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, Police and Fire Marshal's office, and (b) 14.
"5. See answer No. 1. One prosecution by the Attorney-General's Department.
"6. None. The case referred to in No. 5 is still pending.
62 Mr. Gibson asked the Hon. the Minister of Education the following questions:
1. What premiums were paid by the Department of Education to ICBC in respect to school fire insurance, by district, for the last fiscal year?
2. Who will be required to pay fire insurance premiums for the next fiscal year — the Department of Education or the school districts themselves?
3. Will mandatory school districts dealing with ICBC be continued?
4. What deductible clause will be in effect with respect to the insurance written for school districts by ICBC?
5. What credit, in terms of premium deductions or cost-sharing, will school districts get for expenditures made to upgrade the fire protection standards of schools?
[ Page 3187B ]
The Hon. P. L. McGeer replied as follows:
"l. Fire insurance premiums paid by Department of Education in the ICBC fiscal year 1975/76 amounted to $8,232, 568; the breakdown by school districts being as per exhibit attached.
"2. ICBC will bill the Department of Education. Arrangements between the Department and individual school districts have yet to be worked out.
"3. Yes; subject to terms of section 24 of the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia Act.
"4. In respect of fire insurance, there will be a $1,000,000 deductible clause in each and every loss.
"5. Premium credits will be based solely on over-all improvement in fire loss record."