1977 Legislative Session: 2nd Session, 3ist Parliament
The following electronic version is for informational purposes only.
The printed version remains the official version.
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 1977
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Celebration of Queen's Silver Jubilee. Hon. Mr. Bennett — 643
Hon. Mr. Fraser — 643
Hon. Mr. McGeer — 651
Mr. Macdonald — 653
Ms. Brown — 656
Hon. Mr. McClelland — 659
Mrs. Wallace — 660
Hon. Mr. Wolfe closes the debate — 665
Division on the motion that Mr. Speaker leave the chair for the House to go into Committee of Supply — 667
The House met at 10 a.m.
MRS. B.B. WALLACE (Cowichan-Malahat): I would like to introduce to the House today a group of high school students that will be here a bit later from Lake Cowichan. I think Lake Cowichan is perhaps the only school that has a parliamentary forum in operation, complete with Mr. Speaker and Clerks. They do an excellent job there. I would ask the House to join me in welcoming them and their teacher.
MR. J.J. KEMPF (Omineca): Mr. Speaker, in the buildings, and hopefully in the gallery later on today, we have with us this morning the Minister Without Portfolio responsible for physical fitness and sport, the MP for Skeena, the Hon. Iona Campagnolo. I would like this House to welcome her.
MR. G.F. GIBSON (North Vancouver-Capilano): Mr. Speaker, as a lonely Liberal in the House I would like to welcome a colleague from Ottawa.
Hon. Mr. McGeer files a report on the state of research and research funding in British Columbia by Dr. Roger Gaudry.
HON. W.R. BENNETT (Premier): Mr. Speaker, I ask leave to make a short statement.
HON. MR. BENNETT: Mr. Speaker, as you and all members of this assembly know, on Sunday we will mark the 25th anniversary of the ascension of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth to the throne. As such this province has declared a proclamation that the week of February 6 to February 12 inclusive be declared Her Majesty's Silver Anniversary Week in the province of British Columbia.
Further, Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the government and the people of the province of British Columbia, we've sent the following telegram to Her Majesty in honour of the anniversary which all of us celebrate on Sunday. It reads:
ON BEHALF OF ALL CITIZENS AND THE GOVERNMENT OF THE PROVINCE OF BRITISH COLUMBIA, I HAVE THE PLEASURE AND HONOUR TO SEND YOU OUR WARMEST GREETINGS ON THE SILVER ANNIVERSARY OF YOUR ASCENSION TO THE THRONE. WE ARE PROUD OF OUR ASSOCIATION WITHIN THE BRITISH COMMONWEALTH AND OF YOUR DEVOTED AND DEDICATED SERVICE TO ALL PEOPLE THROUGHOUT 25 YEARS. WE SEND TO YOU AND YOUR FAMILY WARMEST WISHES AND GREETINGS FOR THE FUTURE AND TRUST THAT YOU WILL GRACE US WITH ANOTHER VISIT TO BRITISH COLUMBIA SHORTLY.
MR. W.S. KING (Revelstoke-Slocan): I want to commend the government for their appropriate message to Her Majesty. Certainly we in the loyal opposition want to associate ourselves with the message. Particularly you may also be assured that King of the official opposition is a very dedicated monarchist.
MR. GIBSON: Mr. Speaker, I, too, would wish to be associated with the words of the Premier in paying tribute to the example and inspiration Her Majesty and her family have been to the people of the Commonwealth for the last 25 years.
MR. G.S. WALLACE (Oak Bay): Mr. Speaker, as a person who once looked very closely at Scottish nationalism I would still like to make it plain that we owe all our honour and respect to Queen Elizabeth II and would like the Conservative Party to go on record, without equivocation, as strongly supporting the telegram and extending our best wishes to the Queen for many more years.
Orders of the day.
ON THE BUDGET
HON. A.V. FRASER (Minister of Highways and Public Works): I appreciate that welcome, and certainly I appreciate the large attendance in the public gallery this morning. (Laughter.)
I am happy to take part in this budget debate as the MLA for the Cariboo. First of all, in case I forget, I want to say that I certainly want to support this excellent budget, Mr. Speaker. It has a modest increase of 5.9 per cent. Sixty-five cents of every dollar in this budget goes to three ministries of government: namely, Health, Education and Human Resources, commonly referred to as "the people departments." So I think that with all the carping criticism we get from the opposition, the people certainly will be well served by this portion of the budget.
This government was elected on December 11, 1976, and I feel that one of the reasons for our resounding victory was the fact that the citizens of this province wanted a stop put to the wastage of public funds. I would remind you, Mr. Speaker, that all the money that the government has is trust funds, and the people of this province want them treated as such and certainly not thrown around with abandon
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like the prior NDP did so well for a little over three years.
Mr. Speaker, this government wants to honour that mandate we were given, and we will see that public funds are spent justly and properly. We have done that for the last year, and we intend to do that throughout our mandate. It really is the reason that we are sitting here and the reason they are sitting over there. I believe, Mr. Speaker, sincerely in this great province of ours that the NDP will always sit over there because of their record between 1972 and 1975. They will never again be on this side, which is the government side, of this Legislature. The people of this province gave them an opportunity to govern and they muffed it completely. I don't think they will ever be given another opportunity to try again.
MR. D.G. COCKE (New Westminster): Keep on talking, Alec.
HON. MR. FRASER: As the MLA for Cariboo.... There is that man chirping away there, the MLA for New Westminster, the man responsible for the $181 million loss in ICBC — probably the one most at fault because you were director of ICBC from beginning to end.
HON. MR. FRASER: They should have dispatched you to London as well. (Laughter.)
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!
HON. MR. FRASER: You are the only minister of the former government who was a director of ICBC from beginning to end — they changed other ones — so you have to assume the largest responsibility for the $181 million loss in that corporation.
HON. MR. FRASER: As the MLA for Cariboo, I know the citizens of the great Cariboo riding will be happy with the reduction in taxes on mobile homes, Mr. Speaker, and the reduction of tax on propane. I would just like to say that all during the time of that prior administration, while propane was increasing in price and tax, they were approached constantly by citizens of this province to do something about it and they never did do anything.
Now under tougher conditions this government has done something to bring that fuel, which is so important to isolated residents, back in line with other fuels. I think that everybody in the remote areas will be happy about that.
1 would like to say, Mr. Speaker, that the greatest problem they have had in the riding of Cariboo, and in central and northern British Columbia, has been the British Columbia Railway. I would just like to make this observation: during most of the term of the NDP government this Crown railway had more non-operating time than it had operating time.
I would remind the House that the directors of that railway were the prior Premier (Mr. Barrett) and the hog-head from Revelstoke-Slocan, who was a director for a while until he came in conflict and they replaced him with the member for Vancouver Centre (Mr. Lauk). He ended up being the prior Minister of Mines. As a matter of fact, that member for Vancouver Centre, Mr. Speaker, did make a record for himself as he was known during the latter part of the NDP administration as the best Minister of Mines the Yukon ever had. (Laughter.)
But back to the British Columbia Railway: when this government assumed power it was still not operating properly. I want today to tell you that the railway has now been running with continual operation for approximately the last six months. I want to pay thanks to the workers on that railway, the management of that railway and the unions for accomplishing this feat that was not accomplished in the three years prior to that. At the present time, all the freight has been delivered on time and the people of the interior and the north of British Columbia can get their vital products to market. Consequently, this has saved thousands of jobs from going down the tube.
I don't think that I should conclude my remarks about the railway without giving great credit to the Minister of Economic Development (Hon. Mr. Phillips), who worked all 1976 to achieve stability in this railway.
MR. G.V. LAUK (Vancouver Centre): Is this a testimonial dinner?
HON. MR. FRASER: It was he who had to pick up all the mess. The member here from Vancouver Centre is always chirping about what they would do. He got it sorted out, and everybody in the interior and north of British Columbia want to thank him immensely for that great effort.
AN HON. MEMBER: Give him the gold watch!
HON. MR. BENNETT: We had to do it without files, too!
HON. MR. FRASER: As you know, the official opposition call themselves the New Democratic Party. I think in view of their record in government, and now their record in opposition, they should be given a new title. They love to use the initials NDP, so we'll
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stick with that, but I call them the Notorious Disaster Party, Mr. Speaker.
MR. LAUK: You're not very nice.
HON. MR. FRASER: They were a disaster in government. The
people of this province saw through their ballyhoo and threw them out
where they belong — in opposition. They are now a disaster in
opposition because they are continually shooting off at the hip without
anything to back it up as far as facts are concerned. They certainly
belong in opposition, and as I said earlier, I am sure that's where
HON. MR. FRASER: You know, Mr. Speaker, they keep chirping away. They don't like to be reminded of what they did, but do you know the treasury was over-filled with money when they took over? There's no government or jurisdiction that has ever taken over what they took over. There was money everywhere in surplus accounts, and you know what we ended up with. The surplus was all gone, hundreds of millions of dollars were spent and we ended up with red ink. That's what we inherited when we took over.
HON. MR. FRASER: They wonder why, and they blame us for the economy not recovering. No wonder the economy isn't recovering as fast as it should recover with the record they left behind. It will certainly take a while to live that one down.
MS. R. BROWN (Vancouver-Burrard): You admit it's not recovering.
HON. MR. FRASER: Mr. Speaker, that notorious disaster party over there never paid any attention to highways. As a matter of fact, they nicknamed their minister, the now member for Prince Rupert (Mr. Lea), Mr. Peter Pothole. He was well named because that's all we inherited from them in the highways system of British Columbia that is so vital to all our citizens, no matter what they're doing, and, of course, as well to our commercial life and our economy.
MR. LAUK: Are you filling potholes?
HON. MR. FRASER: They allowed the highways system to deteriorate. I might say to you, Mr. Member: are we filling...? They're filled already.
MR. LAUK: You haven't even paved in front of the buildings here.
HON. MR. FRASER: If some of these members here from the lower mainland would get out beyond Granville and Georgia, maybe they'd find out what's going on. They would know that this work has already been done.
MR. LAUK: Did you say between Granville and Georgia? That's a city.
HON. MR. FRASER: For a moment I'd like to talk about the repaving programme — and I emphasize repaving, not paving of newly constructed roads but repaving of the existing system.
MR. D.F. LOCKSTEAD (Mackenzie): You topped it in my riding.
HON. MR. FRASER: Now there is that member for Mackenzie chirping over there and, you know, he said that we stopped them. As a matter of fact, he had the nerve to go into the Cariboo riding and tell the Cariboo people that he was pleased to see the highway programme continuing the programme they had started. You know, they just about ran him out on a rail after that announcement. (Laughter.)
I'd just like to tell him that I was in his riding, as well as many others this last year, and I went into the riding of Bella Coola. I was amazed to find out that that riding of Mackenzie — the Bella Coola community — hadn't seen that member since December, 1975.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh! Shame!
HON. MR. FRASER: And I'm surprised at that. I thought that member got around. But they did indicate to me that they weren't interested whether they ever saw him again. (Laughter.)
HON. MR. FRASER: One thing he forgot to tell you, Mr. Speaker, is that on the road to Bella Coola, because of the Northland Navigation mess caused by the Government of Canada — and I hope that minister's here to hear that — the Ministry of Highways is upgrading the road to Bella Coola so they'll have land access as well as water access. They're working right today on improving that road. He never mentioned that.
MR. LAUK: They're not working on it.
HON. MR. FRASER: Anyway, back to the
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repaving of the existing highway system.
MR. LAUK: You've got your nephew out there with a shovel.
HON. MR. FRASER: The average life of the asphalt pavement is 12.4 years, Mr. Speaker, and the asphalt pavement we have in the system now has a life already spent of 11.5 years. So, you can see that our paving throughout the province is not in very good condition. It has very little life left in it. Of the total highway inventory of 25,000-odd miles, 24 per cent of this inventory of public roads is paved. If we base the average life expectancy of the pavement on 15 years rather than 12.4 years, we would have to pave 475 miles of the existing black-top roads per year to keep the current inventory in reasonable condition.
Mr. Speaker, the NDP government, that did not believe in roads or proper transportation systems, paved an average of 15 8 miles per year. You can see from that that they paved only about one-third of the existing system, of what was required to keep our system up to date, just to keep even. That's how far behind we were getting.
HON. MR. FRASER: If we would have kept up with their policies, Mr. Speaker...
MR. R.L. LOEWEN (Burnaby-Edmonds): Shocking!
HON. MR. FRASER: ...it wouldn't have been very long until most of our highway system that is paved — and I might say I would like to see a lot more than 24 per cent of it paved — would have decreased and we would have got down to gravel. As a matter of fact, that's what happened in a lot of areas in the province — our main arteries were down to gravel. I might say that that gravel has now been covered. It was done in 1976.
We in the Highways ministry are also stepping up passing lanes and we intend to have around 75 miles of these in place, hopefully, for the big tourist season we're going to have in 1977, so our motorists aren't continually confronted with long lineups and frustrations that they have become used to in the past.
We will continue to accelerate the paving programme, Mr. Speaker. I'd just like to mention a few facts regarding grading contracts. They're referred to as grading contracts by the professional engineers but, Mr. Speaker, in laymen's language, these are the large road construction projects which are put out to contract and done by the large road-building contractors in the province. I might say that all these large jobs are put out to tender and, in all cases, awarded to the low bidder as long as he conforms to the specifications in the tender called.
We have awarded contracts right here in the city of Victoria on the Trans-Canada Highway. That contractor is at work. I believe that in the capital city area here they've been waiting for something to happen to the Trans-Canada for seven or eight years. In the short time that we've been government they are actually at work to four-lane that road so the commuting traffic will have better access to the downtown core area.
While we're dealing with the capital area I might just comment on the Trans-Canada. I see a few councils in the area re-engineering the project, but we don't consider this will be any big problem. This project will be completed, hopefully, this time next year. I just would like to mention, for the benefit of the Victoria people, that the Blanshard Street extension, I believe, has been talked about since 1960 or 1961. I recall quite well, Mr. Speaker, in the dying hours of the House last year, when the MLA for Oak Bay (Mr. Wallace) gave quite a dissertation on the history of the Blanshard Street extension...
MR. WALLACE: I'm glad you were listening, Alex.
HON. MR. FRASER: ...and he pointed out the fact that it had finally gone underground. The prior NDP had decided to build a tunnel underneath the shopping centre.
AN HON. MEMBER: All the way to Prince Rupert.
HON. MR. FRASER: Yes, they even mentioned they were going to build a tunnel from Vancouver to Prince Rupert, but they were thrown out of office before they got around to that.
But anyway, regarding the Blanshard Street extension, I would just like to advise this House that it is going ahead. We expect to make the tender call on that on or around April 1, and I think by the fall of 1978 it will all be a fact and in place. I only say to the MLAs from this area, regardless of party, I wish you'd get hold of your respective councils and tell them not to start arguing now and re-engineering that project, because all it will do is delay this long-needed project. We will compromise with these people but, you know, our engineers have worked a long time — so have theirs — and I don't think this is the time now to start debating whether what intersection should be at what level and so on. I don't think they have to argue any longer. They should get together and get it resolved.
Yes, large grading contracts have been let on Vancouver Island. I heard somebody mention
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Cowichan. There is roadwork going on in that riding — more roadwork than they've seen in many years. There is roadwork going on, and hopefully by the fall of 1978, for the first time, there'll be a decent road from Victoria right through to Port Hardy and Port McNeill on the north end of Vancouver Island. As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, I expect the member for Comox (Ms. Sanford) will be voting for this excellent budget, because if she votes against it it really means that she doesn't want the roadwork to go ahead in the Comox riding.
HON. MR. FRASER: I would just like to tell her that if she does vote against it, that's the message we get as the government — she doesn't want this long, long road project to be completed. There's $20-odd million in highway money alone in the Comox riding to complete that to the north end of Vancouver Island. I can assure her that if she does vote against the budget we will tell them all in the Comox riding her position.
MR. WALLACE: That's Cariboo budget, Karen.
HON. MR. FRASER: Mr. Speaker, regarding other road projects which are all over the province, I'd just like to detail another one. I refer to a project in the Coquitlam riding. You know, they had an MLA in Coquitlam from 1960 to 1975, until the public there caught up with him. He was the ex-Premier of the province (Mr. Barrett); he's now the Leader of the Opposition...
AN HON. MEMBER: Where is he?
HON. MR. FRASER: ...or I think he is; we never see him around here, and....
AN HON. MEMBER: Pro tem.
HON. MR. FRASER: I think he's just pro tem. They've got their problems over there.
HON. H.A. CURTIS (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): Boy, do they have problems!
HON. MR. FRASER: At their next convention I imagine he'll be put on the skids and....
HON. MR. FRASER: Yes, the prior Minister of Lands and Forests (Mr. Williams) got $80,000 out of out of them to....
HON. MR. CURTIS: What was his name?
HON. MR. FRASER: You know, I just forget the name, but I'm sorry the first member — and I think he is the first member — for Vancouver East is not in his seat.
HON. E.M. WOLFE (Minister of Finance): Speak to his chair!
HON. MR. FRASER: Yes, I'll speak to his chair and warn him that he better look out because that prior Minister of Lands and Forests in the NDP government I notice is really after him, and they've got him on the skids, too. I hate to see a Scotchman on the skids and on the way out of this House. (Laughter.)
HON. MR. CURTIS: Do you think he's getting advice from Gordon Dowding? (Laughter.)
HON. MR. FRASER: Yes, I did see, Mr. Speaker, the former Speaker of the House here this morning. I hope he enjoys his stay here, but I hope he doesn't pass out too much of his legal advice because that'll be problems for whoever gets it.
MR. WALLACE: Vicious attack. (Laughter.)
HON. MR. CURTIS: A streetcar named "defeat." (Laughter.)
HON. MR. FRASER: We have 160 or 170 miles under contract, in the large contracts, Mr. Speaker. This compares with a whole total of 28 miles under the prior NDP government in the year 1975.
Another higher-profile project in the Highways department, as you probably know, is that the Highways department hopes to upgrade the approaches to Stanley Park to give better access for bus service to the North Shore. We are also looking at further work on the Lions Gate Bridge — the north end has been done, but the main span has not. The engineers haven't made their minds up what to do there, but we hope to make announcements shortly.
MR. LAUK: It's a dangerous bridge right now because of you.
HON. MR. FRASER: Something else we've done in the Highways department, Mr. Speaker, is decentralize the handling of subdivision approvals. What we have done there is appoint approving officers in each region of the province. The Highways department at the present time is in four regions: headquarters are located in Burnaby, Kamloops, Nelson and Prince George. We have approving officers in each one of these areas, and instead of them looking over approvals in a cursory manner, then sending them to head office in Victoria, we've asked
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them to give final approval except where there is a large commercial development involved. We want to cut down the red tape on approval of subdivisions, and we have started to do that. The other thing we intend to have out shortly is a booklet on how to proceed for and through the bureaucracy of subdivision approvals so our citizens will know more what they're confronted with and have it in black and white in front of them.
I want to tell you that in this last year — and it's been a great pleasure for me — I have travelled over all the roads in this province, or a great many of them.
MR. LAUK: On foot?
HON. MR. FRASER: No, I travelled by car, and not by helicopter.
MR. LAUK: On foot; you can't travel by car on those roads.
HON. MR. FRASER: I've been in the northwest from Prince Rupert to Terrace, to Stewart, to Cassiar and over to Atlin. I've travelled Highway 16 from Rupert through Hazelton, Smithers, Burns Lake, Vanderhoof and Prince George. In the northeast I have travelled from Fort Nelson to Dawson Creek, down the Hart Highway to Mackenzie and Prince George. I have travelled throughout the central interior, all over the Okanagan — and believe me there are lots of problems there — Kamloops, Merritt, Lillooet and the Fraser Canyon. On at least two occasions I've been in the East and West Kootenays. I have been throughout the lower mainland and Vancouver Island. I have looked at the roads and the establishments of the Highways and Public Works departments, and I have met with practically all the city councils in this province — the regional districts, chambers of commerce and interested groups.
It is, as I say, a very happy experience for me and I intend to continue that because it's the only way you can find out what's going on. I did find it interesting. A lot of communities said they hadn't seen the prior minister, and I even find out that they are writing editorials about him in the Prince Rupert News: "Do I you remember us, Mr. Member? We voted for you — have you forgotten?" They haven't seen him even in his own riding since he has been in opposition.
HON. MR. CURTIS: Where's he living now?
HON. MR. FRASER: I don't know; it's very interesting.
Mr. Speaker, this crowd of socialists over there discouraged investment with their selfish philosophical ideas of building more space for government use than they needed, destroying the incentive of a market for the private sector.
MR. LAUK: Who's paving that front road out there?
HON. MR. FRASER: An excellent example is right here in the city of Victoria where buildings are now coming on stream, and others have reached a stage where it's too late to stop construction.
MR. LAUK: Is that M.E.L. Paving out there?
HON. MR. FRASER: They are costing more per square foot than any private-sector commercial building. The mayor of Victoria claims that there are 400,000 square feet of vacant space in the city, and I might say the mayor made a fine speech when he made his great speech here a while back, in my opinion. I'd like to tell the mayor and the city of Victoria that the NDP had a further million square feet of space on the drawing boards for this city. I would like to say that this government does not plan to dump this one million square feet into the Victoria marketplace. I would like to say that this government has now taken a responsible approach to the construction and management of public buildings in this province by establishing, through Bill 23, the British Columbia Buildings Corporation.
Government ministries will now be accountable for their space demands. I would like to emphasize the word "accountable" as, under the past regime, the Department of Public Works was not only scrambling to build buildings as quickly as they could; they also increased their annual rentals from $3 million to $17 million a year.
The British Columbia Buildings Corporation will now charge the client ministries fair market value for their space requirements. Of course, the members will know that that is in their estimate books now.
MR. LAUK: Sam wants to know if you're going to pay your taxes.
HON. MR. FRASER: Never again will the taxpayers in this province be faced with the irresponsible decision of moving civil servants into space that is costing several times the amount paid by he private sector.
Mr. Speaker, you will recall that when the NDP were the government there was a great furor about the rental of empty office space. I want to report to you today that that is now a thing of the past.
Since we have taken over we have reduced the eased vacant space to approximately 12,000 square get at a cost of $4,600. This is a reduction from a peak of 131,221 square feet at a monthly cost to the taxpayers of $65,000-odd. So we have effectively educed that waste by approximately $60,000 a
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month, or approximately $750,000 a year.
The structuring of the B.C. Buildings Corporation is well advanced. It will be operational by April 1, 1977. This is the first Crown corporation in Canada to take such a responsible approach to government accommodation. I understand, Mr. Speaker, the government of Canada is coming here shortly to find out how it happened so that they can probably look at it.
Just a note or two about the Coquihalla, which was announced in the speech. This new route that was announced in the throne speech commences on the Hope-Princeton Highway about four miles east of Hope and follows the Coquihalla River to the old Porteous siding on the Kettle Valley. At this point the alignment leaves the Coquihalla River and follows Boston Bar Creek to its headwater. From the summit the route drops to the Coquihalla Lakes, then follows the Coldwater River valley to Merritt. The saving in distance between Vancouver and Kamloops amounts to 40 miles.
An alternate route suggested by outside parties was the Vancouver-Pemberton-Kamloops. This route is 30 miles longer than the route we have selected to construct. I hope and anticipate that we will get going on that soon.
The reason for this new route — we have to have a third route to the coast — is because we estimate that by 1982 Highway 1 and Highway 3 will be loaded with so much traffic, if the increases happen as in the past, that it will be almost intolerable for the motorist. So we intend to get on with that as soon as possible.
We have done some environmental studies on it through the fish and wildlife branch and Environment Canada. More are done, but we'll get on with that as soon as possible.
Mr. Speaker, 1977 is the year of conversion to the metric system for all highways in Canada. We have been working all year in preparing for conversion. This metric conversion is scheduled to take place throughout the nation in September this year. In June of this year there will be a province-wide newspaper advertising campaign to inform the public of the metric speed limit changes. In August a similar province-wide campaign will be held.
Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, there have been four regions in the highway system up to the past. We are now going to expand that to six regions, and take off the large territories and responsibilities regions 1 and 4 have had. We'll be establishing another region in the northwest with headquarters at Terrace; we will establish another region headquartered in Nanaimo to look after Vancouver Island, which has formerly come under Burnaby and all the lower mainland. It was just too much. We'll be going ahead with that during this year.
The ministry has been restructured. With the advent of the British Columbia Buildings Corporation, the public works programme within the Ministry of Highways and Public Works will be much reduced. In order to amalgamate the two former portfolios into one efficient ministry, we have restructured our organization. As of April 1, we will have only one deputy minister, with two assistant deputy ministers. One assistant deputy minister will be responsible for that which is left in the former Department of Public Works, such as the safety engineering division. The same assistant deputy minister will be charged with the responsibility of administration and will be the comptroller of functions. The second assistant deputy minister will be the chief engineer of highways and will be in charge of the four divisions that are being set up there.
Heading into the new fiscal year, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that this ministry has had a substantial increase in funds provided for its operation. Again this year we have a very ambitious programme in construction, paving and day labour. We are going to pay special attention to upgrading and maintenance programmes.
As the minister responsible, I'd like to say I'm still not satisfied with the maintenance programme in the highways section of the ministry. I think that we can still get better service without adding to the money — that is quite substantial there — and we are working to that end. We are restructuring the ministry and there will be a new man in charge of the maintenance programme. I hope this will bring better service to all our motorists and citizens of the province.
The opposition has been talking here ever since the session opened that we never did anything about unemployment. I knew all the time that it was just carping criticism without any substantive fact. I want to tell you here this morning that the Highways ministry, because of their expanded programme, have 2,400 people at work today who would not be at work if we had continued on the way the NDP were running the Highways ministry. These people are at work and have been at work. You know, one thing I've found out in the department since I've been there as the minister is the fact that they all wanted to stop work about October. They always did because the money was shut off. This year, because of our excellent weather, the money was supplied and this work is still continuing today. The only thing that will stop it is the weather. Of course, that hasn't happened so far and we don't anticipate stopping at all right through the winter. All through the highways system they had been trained to say "no" to our people who wanted improvements to the roads, whether it was patching a pothole or grading roads. My biggest problem is to turn them around and get them lifted up so they can say "yes" once in a while, and I'll continue to do that.
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MR. SPEAKER: Hon. minister, may I draw your attention to the fact you're on your final three minutes.
HON. MR. FRASER: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I would just like to comment regarding some of the building construction going on, more specifically to the large downtown Vancouver building, and remind this House that when we assumed government we had a hole in the ground over there with the funds — that were provided by the prior Social Credit government — spent, the amount of S25 million.
MR. LAUK: Oh, come on!
HON. MR. FRASER: The prior government had made no accommodation — not one five-cent piece — for the continued construction of this building.
MR. LAUK: Nonsense!
HON. MR. FRASER: Because of the creation of the B.C. Building Corporation, those funds have now been supplied. That project is going ahead. Part of it will be completed in 1978. We're hoping that all of it will be completed in 1979.
MR. LAUK: Three years behind schedule.
HON. MR. FRASER: So, I would just like to remind the House that, while they had grandiose plans over there when they were the government, they didn't supply the bucks. They hadn't done a thing about it, as near as we could find out from any records they left behind. They didn't leave that many records, Mr. Speaker. That little noisy man from Vancouver Centre (Mr. Lauk) has most of them in his basement. I believe he stole all the files that were around.
MR. LOEWEN: Chicken little.
HON. MR. FRASER: I'd just conclude, Mr. Speaker, by saying that....
MR. LAUK: Point of order, Mr. Speaker. The hon. minister said that I stole files. The Minister of Forests (Hon. Mr. Waterland) repeats the charge. The charge has never been made outside the corridors of this House. I invite that hon. minister to do so. In the meantime, would he withdraw that statement?
AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, come on!
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.
MR. LAUK: That minister knows that if he said it outside, in the corridor of this House, I would take him to court. That is a false, political lie and that minister should withdraw it immediately.
HON. MR. FRASER: Certainly, Mr. Speaker, I'll be glad to withdraw if he doesn't like the word "stolen." I guess "taken" is better. I understand they were taken.
AN HON. MEMBER: Where are they? Tell him where they are.
MR. SPEAKER: The hon. minister withdraws the word "stolen," though. Does the hon. minister withdraw the word "stolen"?
HON. MR. FRASER: Yes, I certainly do. Mr. Speaker, I'd just like to conclude by saying that the highway programme has been stepped up. It will continue to be stepped up. As far as the economy of this province is concerned, it is going to improve. As a matter of fact, I saw an article in — believe it, of all places — the Victoria Times just a couple of days ago that said B.C. and Alberta would lead the nation in economic recovery for the next 15 years. Alberta would be ahead of us and B.C. would be second. I have great faith in the future of British Columbia, not like the notorious disaster party over there. I will take great pleasure, when it comes time to vote, to support this budget.
MR. LAUK: Point of order: I rise under standing order 42 to correct statements made by the hon. minister. His statements, made about the construction of the government building complex in the centre of the downtown part of the city that is in my constituency, were absolutely erroneous and incorrect. The funds had been provided for the completion....
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. That's not a correct point of order under that standing order, hon. member.
MR. LAUK: It says: "No member may speak twice to a question except in explanation of a material part of his speech," and then any member may get up under....Well, that's not under 42. But any member can get up and correct a statement.
MR. SPEAKER: Only if you are correcting a statement, or a misrepresentation of a statement, that you, hon. member, used in debate on the floor of this House.
[ Page 651 ]
MR. LAUK: Well, I recall making a speech about this last spring...
AN HON. MEMBER: Wrong again!
MR, SPEAKER: Order, please.
MR. LAUK: ...outlining the finances. The minister shouldn't try and deceive the House that way.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!
AN HON. MEMBER: Wrong again!
MR. SPEAKER: That is not a correct point of order.
HON. P.L. McGEER (Minister of Education): Mr. Speaker, like the Minister of Highways, I want to make it quite clear to you that I'll be supporting this wonderful budget that the Minister of Finance (Hon. Mr. Wolfe) has brought down for the people of British Columbia. I want to tell you, Mr. Speaker, that if there is only enough tax money in this province to increase the budget by 5.4 per cent, and your portfolio gets a 12 per cent lift, you are very grateful, not only grateful to the Minister of Finance, but grateful to your colleagues in cabinet who take such a generous view toward what must be a high priority in our province: namely, the provision of education for our young people.
I want to disagree very strongly, Mr. Speaker, with some of the statements that were made by the official opposition and by some of the independent members on the other side. That is that it is responsible, appropriate, just to spend money as you wish without giving any thought at all to the future. The Minister of Finance, I think, made a key statement in his budget speech when lie said: "You cannot borrow your way to prosperity." I don't know anybody who has ever succeeded in that in life, and our government would be no exception to the example of history.
It started back in the late 1940s, Mr. Speaker, that this province became not only self-sufficient in operating, but partially self-sufficient, through current revenues, in the provision of capital needs. As our province improved its economic base during the 1950s and 1960s, it became totally self-sufficient in the provision of operating and capital for its burgeoning Crown corporations. Then, Mr. Speaker, the NDP came to office in 1972. In a period of three years this province not only lost its position of self-sufficiency in operating and capital; it lost its self-sufficiency in operating alone.
Mr. Speaker, when this government took over, we were faced with an operating deficit — let alone capital — of between $300 million and $500 million. I can tell you it has been a tremendous struggle for the Premier, the Minister of Finance, and all the ministries, to bring us back finally to a state where we can be self-sufficient on the operating side.
But let there be no doubt that the province faces tremendous capital needs in the future that are going to have to be obtained by borrowing. This province, because it is resource-based, has capital-intensive industry — the most capital-intensive industry of any province in Canada. Before new jobs can be provided, this investment has to be put in place. Some of it, through the Crown corporations of government, will bridge that gap between the private sector and the public sector. They are instruments of economic strategy. The job they do cannot entirely be done by private enterprise and, therefore, they must borrow so the citizens of this province will have jobs.
That is what the budget is all about. Some have suggested, on the other side, and, I might say, some have suggested in the press, that it would be appropriate and responsible for this province to go ahead and spend and spend and spend on operating account — pay no attention to the cost of education or hospitals, just build highways if we want to. But if we do that kind of thing, Mr. Speaker, we not only leave an impediment to those who come after us in this House, but we also make it more difficult to borrow on capital account for those things that must be done to provide jobs.
Some would have us tax and tax and tax to pay for education. But, Mr. Speaker, that simply cannot be done and still have jobs for those students when they graduate. There has to be a balance. I say to those who are the professionals in the educational system: we want to pay them well. Indeed, Mr. Speaker, they are the best-paid people in the educational profession anywhere in Canada.
But with the tax situation as it is and with the need to provide jobs, it's unrealistic to expect everybody in the educational system or everybody in the public service in any of its facets to have national guidelines, plus fringe benefits, plus increments. Because if the total of these exceed the ability of taxes to support them, then we're just going to get ourselves into the kind of morass that the NDP drove us to in their three short years in office. Mr. Speaker, if we are to have prosperity provided again in British Columbia to get out of this economic dilemma that the NDP placed us in, we're going to have to have an effective economic strategy.
MR. COCKE: Come on, now!
HON. MR. McGEER: Well, Mr. Member, you did that. In the three short years you were in office you destroyed the ability of the province to finance. You took away our self-sufficiency in capital; you even took away our self-sufficiency in operating. When we came to office, Mr. Speaker, it wasn't just the $340
[ Page 652 ]
million that we were short on current account, it was all the bills that kept coming in, all the promises that t had been made, the expectations, unrealistic expectations that were out there on the part of people who had been trained to feed at the government table by the NDP when the food wasn't in the cupboard.
MR. LOEWEN: They still don't know it. They're not smart enough to realize it.
AN HON. MEMBER: Coverup by the NDP!
HON. MR. McGEER: Mr. Speaker, in the educational system the primary and secondary system is more or less static now as far as population is concerned. There's still a little rippling going on as far as different grades are concerned, but the population is not moving at a fairly rapid rate. It's not that way at the post-secondary level, just to refute the argument raised by the member for Prince Rupert (Mr. Lea).
At the university level there's a 10 per cent increase this year in population; in technical and vocational schools there is an 11 per cent increase. These are the people who are closest to entering the job market.
This is where the huge bulge is. This is where expenditures have to be made to provide the skills; this is where the link-up between education and the economy of British Columbia has to be tightened up.
Just today I tabled the report by Professor Roger Gaudry with regard to the
state of research and research funding in British Columbia. Professor Gaudry,
as probably most of the members know, was the developer of the largest private
research establishment existing in Canada. For 10 years he was president of
the University of Montreal. He was a founding member and the second president
of the Science Council of Canada. We wanted to find how we could improve our
technological base here in British Columbia to give a new arm to the industrial
development of this province and to provide more and better jobs for our citizens.
He has given us some advice and it's in the report that I have just tabled.
Remember, this was prepared for us by someone from the province of Quebec whose ties through the Science Council had been to the federal government.
The report says that the steady decline in the real value of federal government support of research projects, coupled with increasing costs, has placed B.C. in a real danger of falling below a basic level of research activity in certain areas and failing to provide for the future of highly skilled scientific manpower in the needs of this province.
He recommends, Mr. Speaker, that an industrial park be created in B.C. as a stimulus to industrial innovation. He says that we should have a provincial mechanism to define and administer a detailed provincial research policy. He suggests that some of he non-renewable resources of this province be placed in a fund to stimulate applied research and development so that we can have jobs to replace hose that depend on these depleting resources.
Just yesterday, Mr. Speaker, the Premier of this province was explaining to the House that if we take all of the income that we get from non-renewable resources like natural gas and blow them on current account, we have nothing put away for the future to provide jobs that replace others. Remember, it was he NDP that introduced this large source of new revenue from natural gas. But it was all blown, Mr. Speaker! Nothing was put in the kitty from that! There was no provision at all for a heritage fund like he Premier suggested so that jobs would come in the future.
MR. A.B. MACDONALD (Vancouver East): Wrong, wrong, wrong!
HON. MR. McGEER: Shovel it all out! Shovel it all out! There was no thought for the future at all, no thought even to the present.
But that's not the counsel we've got from Professor Gaudry. He tells us in his report, Mr. Speaker, that the policies of the federal government with respect to research have placed the technological base of our province in jeopardy.
He says that the conditions created by the policies of the federal government have stretched the depreciating value of the research dollar insufferably and it has resulted in the diminution of the research which is going on in our universities, upon which our future technology will be based.
So the advice he gives this province, Mr. Speaker, as an interim measure, is to preserve the technology of our province which is presently in jeopardy as a result, to use his words, "of the insufferable policy of he federal government." I'm sure that's something which the member for North Vancouver-Capilano (Mr. Gibson) will recognize as being true, and perhaps he can get on the telephone to Ottawa and try and straighten that out. Through you, Mr. Speaker, to the member, give them some instruction instead of taking all the instruction yourself from the other direction.
MR. GIBSON: I have enough trouble keeping you fellows straightened out.
HON. MR. McGEER: Mr. Speaker, the Department of Education has been able to initiate some new programmes in the past year as a result of moneys provided by the Minister of Finance (Hon. Mr. Wolfe), and we're going to have sufficient funds in this budget to carry on and develop some of these. We are making the dollars stretch as far as we possibly can.
[ Page 653 ]
We created the Haney Educational Institute, taking over a correction facility from the Department of the Attorney-General. We started a new educational facility going at the former Riverview educational facility for nurses, and we got that from the Minister of Health (Hon. Mr. McClelland). We've expanded our aircraft-maintenance training by buying a hangar from Pacific Western Airlines. So we'll obtain educational facilities from anybody we can get them from because the pressures are so great for providing new technical and vocational programmes in this province.
The increase in population is so high, 11 per cent this year, the fastest growing area of education in our province, and so poorly served, I might say, Mr. Speaker, by the former government, and so poorly served by the federal government in the transfer payments it is allowing to this province — the lowest in all of Canada.
We are putting in new core facilities. Malaspina has now been finished — as the member for Nanaimo (Mr. Stupich) should know. In Prince George it's well underway, nearing completion, and in Kelowna we have just commenced.
Mr. Speaker, in the budget this year — and of which I am very proud and pleased — funds are set aside for the delivery of third- and fourth-year programmes to the interior of British Columbia, and we're going to be paying aggressive attention to all of that. We are stretching the dollars. We're making every single one count, unlike our predecessors in office, and because of that and because of the balanced and well-thought-out budget of the Minister of Finance we are going to make substantial progress in education in the coming year.
It's part of the economic strategy of British Columbia, and something that will be elaborated on by the other ministers, showing how this cabinet is working together to provide British Columbia with prosperity that it's never known before. Mr. Speaker, I support this budget.
MR. A.B. MACDONALD (Vancouver East): Mr. Speaker, because of the imminence of the vote I am going to speak very shortly and try and hold my remarks to no more than 20 minutes, and I'm sure that meets approval in the back bench down there. As the member for Oak Bay (Mr. Wallace) would know, there's an old Scottish saying that it takes a learned man five hours to prepare a 20-minute speech, but to prepare a 40-minute speech it takes a dunce no time at all. So I had to devote a lot of time to this particular address.
I want to talk — just two or three lines — about the fiction propagated by the Minister of Education. Does that minister know that in every year, 1973, 1974 and 1975, even though '75 was a bad year, total capital investment increased in the province of British Columbia?
MS. K. SANFORD (Comox): He didn't say that.
MR. MACDONALD: No. Well, you know, they are propagating pure fiction for the political interests of that unholy coalition opposite there, and they've been going around the province besmirching the NDP financial record. Now we had some difficulties in the year 1975, but on the whole it was a record of balanced budgets and industrial expansion in this province. Mr. Speaker, for him to say that BCPC did not have reserves in the bank account...go back and look at the figures. When we went out of office they had about $75 million in reserve in BCPC for future development. That member doesn't know what he is talking about. I wish I could spend more time on that, but I can't.
Mr. Speaker, just a few pleasantries before I begin my speech. I was interested that Premier Bennett went to the Under-40 Millionaires' Club at the Four Seasons while the Socred hordes were meeting over at the Hyatt Regency for their convention. The Under-40 Millionaires' Club — self-made — and all the millionaires were standing around there and he was assuring them...
HON. J.R. CHABOT (Minister of Mines and Petroleum Resources): Were you there?
MR. MACDONALD: ...that the world would be made safe for Rolls Royces. They were all standing up and saying: "We're self-made men. We have become millionaires in only three generations." (Laughter.) In the case of the Premier, it's in only two generations. But it makes you kind of worry, you know — the A-G's department — because I think when you see that hospital scene with the old millionaire possibly on the death bed, and the death duties abolished, and the foot of the son and heir possibly straying toward that oxygen hose — Agatha Christie stuff — it's kind of dangerous. Well, we haven't time for that.
[Mr. Rogers in the chair.]
I want to say something about the way this government has covered up on what is a very serious matter. It was brought up by the member for Revelstoke-Slocan, the House Leader, and their response was to investigate the leak, the public servants, the disappearance of the letters. It was an admission of guilt on the charge. The only response of the Premier to this serious charge of circulating a political blacklist is instantly to mount an investigation to find out who brought this improper conduct to light. That is an admission of guilt, a plumbers' unit to investigate the leak but not the fire.
[ Page 654 ]
The Premier says it didn't matter that documents identifying public servants as NDP or Socred went out from his office. It is against all constitutional proprieties. It is fact, and, in fact, one Norman Pearson, Deputy Minister of the Department of Lands, identified on that list, was summarily fired five days after the memorandum was sent out from the Premier's office. Will you investigate that...
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Shame!
MR. MACDONALD: ...or will you investigate the leak? You've got more in-house investigations going on around here on everything but what matters. I ask this....
MR. MACDONALD: Who's this? Well, it was the butcher store. (Laughter.) I don't know that one. I know where the liquor store is in Kerrisdale, but I don't know where the butcher store is.
But I want to ask this, Mr. Speaker: were there other lists that went out with other names, and was Terry Ison of the Workers' Compensation Board, who was summarily fired shortly thereafter — even though his resignation as of next June in a proper manner was in the hands of the Minister of Labour (Hon. Mr. Williams) — was he on somebody's list? Because that man, too, was summarily fired for nothing else but political revenge by this government.
MR. MACDONALD: The Hon. Minister of Consumer Affairs was kidding me a little bit about the price of scotch. He said the British pound had fallen but we had laid in a lot of liquor — I knew that — but, you know, the pound was down to $1.88, he said, when we bought a stock. He didn't say that it had already fallen then from $2.30, and he didn't explain really that...if it's falling, you don't increase the price, eh? Oh, I don't want to talk more about that.
That man doesn't know. He says we did nothing in liquor in the whole three and a half.... I wish that man who now has charge of that portfolio would go back and read the files of the accomplishments of those three and a half years.
I want to say something a little more serious about the Hon. Rafe Mair, because speaking to the....
MR. MACDONALD: Oh, the Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs, which, Mr. Speaker, is an ungodly mixture, because you're not going to protect corporations and consumers. You may protect neither, but you will never protect both. So I hate to give him that title, but I do. That was done when the MLAs had been sent home, eh — done by order-in-council under that reorganization bill?
MS. SANFORD: Right.
MR. MACDONALD: Anyway, the Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs, speaking to the members of the Victoria Real Estate Board in Victoria, December 16 last, dismissed Dr. Gideon Rosenbluth's report — the real estate report — as, "not particularly inspiring." What a surprise coming from that hon. minister! A hot-shot real estate speculator appointed to Consumer and Corporate Affairs by the Premier says the Rosenbluth report has nothing in it that calls for any great change. I say that's baloney. A man with speculative real estate holdings as long as your arm.... I notice the disclosure statements of the hon. minister, and this is real estate — just be patient — real estate, real estate, real estate, real estate, real estate, real estate, real estate. And this hon. minister says that the Rosenbluth report isn't worth considering!
In this quotation in the paper from that meeting, he says that his job is "to perform the role of a policeman for a fair market." In other words, "It's every man for himself," said the great Root Bear as he danced among the chickens. (Laughter.)
Whose interest does the hon. minister represent? It is not the public interest, but the real estate promoter's interest. How can he think otherwise? Quite within the law, and I make that plain, the hon. minister took an option in 1975 from the widow of Donald Haughtom — the parcels are on that disclosure, just part of it — to purchase an historic ranch south of Kamloops, the Haughton Ranch, formerly the Long Lake Ranch. The Haughtons put it together, assembling the separate titles over many years. They were all separate titles.
This is an opportunity, eh? There were 6,000 acres of deeded land for cattle; for feed and adjacent grazing leases, about 9,000 acres. Mair's term to the widow Houghton: $10,000 down for the option; $240,000 in six months; the balance, to a total of $500,000, in 10 years. Is this private business or a matter of public concern? In this case it is both.
Before the ink was dry on the option, the separate titles — and this was the opportunity to break it up — some as small as 86 acres, were listed for sale, The listed price total $1,326,000.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!
MR. MACDONALD: The breakup with the public providing the services.... That's what happens when you break up historic, ranches. The Minister of Highways (Hon. Mr. Fraser) knows that. The roads,
[ Page 655 ]
the sewers, the police, the school and all the services have to be provided for the public. There's nothing wrong about this. It was simply a smart real estate promotion. To break up an historic ranch and sell the pieces is quite within the letter, perhaps even the spirit, of the law. But would you put this promoter in charge of real estate in the province of British Columbia? Premier Bennett did, and the buccaneer philosophy was installed in public office.
The clear, simple message of the Rosenbluth report is that real estate commissions the public are paying are too high — read the report; that this has increased housing costs and held back land from development; that people entering the real estate pre-licensing courses are grist for the big realtor's mill and drop out — 850 of them in the year 1974 — when they have been used up and can't any longer make a living in real estate.
In 1973-4, 733 new people entered the real estate business as salesmen. They pay their fee; they take the pre-licensing course. The total number of salesmen in B.C. that year was far too many — 6,628. Eight hundred and fifty dropped out in that same year. It's a free run of people for the industry. "Bad luck and good-bye," after a very bitter experience for the 850. There were too many salesmen, a fantastic turnover. The average earnings for 55 per cent of them were under $9,600 a year, with a 200-hour-a-month average work load. The result: inefficiency, low productivity, high real estate commissions, and a slackening of ethics in the industry. Commissions had been fixed contrary to the new competition Act: 5 per cent for residential, 7 per cent for multiple listing, 10 per cent for farmland and vacant property. The industry says that it no longer sets commissions, but Dr. Rosenbluth says at page 29: "While the rates are no longer fixed by collusive agreement, the rates typically charged have not, in fact, declined from the levels established earlier."
For example, if you go to sell property and you want the multiple listing, you pay the 7 per cent. If you go through Block Brothers, in the person of Henry Block.... Henry Block is defending that minister, and I have to take on both of them. He says commission rates are not too high, but you know when you go through Block Brothers how the commission is 7 per cent on the house you're moving out of and 7 per cent on the house you're moving into. Then they do the financing and make something more on that. That minister, who is supposed to be protecting the consumers of the province of British Columbia, says: "That isn't too high." The Rosenbluth report says it is.
I say the hon. Minister of Consumer Affairs is not protecting the consumer interest. He is not protecting the public interest; he is not engaging in a fight against inflation. I referred to the disclosure statement. The hon. minister has put his real estate holdings in trust since becoming a minister.
MR. MACDONALD: The word is "in trust"; they're there. But I say, Mr. Speaker, that there is no such thing as a blind trust for a seeing-eye promoter. Commissions won't come down. The number of salesmen who are going to be exploited in this industry won't be helped; the consumer will not be helped by that minister.
Mr. Speaker, I'm watching my time. I've got about 10 minutes more.
MR. MACDONALD: Five, two, one!
I just want to say a word about separatism. I believe that it is an important issue for British Columbians, but I believe this wave of separatism will crest, break and recede. But we can't save Canada by just wringing our hands. Federal encroachments on provincial affairs should be rolled back.
The Minister of Labour (Hon. Mr. Williams) is over there. He mentioned yesterday when answering a question that they come in with federal civil servants to take a bit of the parimutuel track. It's ridiculous!
Duplication of services, federal and provincial. A dual court system: the federal court is handling the same cases as have been handled well for years in the Supreme Court of British Columbia. Two sets of Consumer Affairs offices throughout Vancouver and parts of B.C. — why this duplication and overlapping? And while Rene Levesque is wrong about separation, we are all victims of what is a mindlessly burgeoning federal bureaucracy. It applies in environment, jails, forests, securities, legal aid, credit unions — they want to inspect them — police. Federal prosecutors are sitting around waiting to take their time in provincial courts. It's a useless overlapping of services, even in consumer advertising. The taxpayer is losing his shirt paying for the same services twice.
The government answer is legalistic, constitutional reform, patriation of the Constitution, a B.C. Judge on the Supreme Court of Canada, B.C. senators, eh? And a constitutional conference was called for by the hon. Liberal leader (Mr. Gibson). But I say, Mr. Speaker, a conference of that kind now would be disastrous, a sounding board for separatism and agreement on nothing. I can't agree with that.
Why don't you join this little group? A Liberal after all is only a socialist with his brains knocked out. Come over. (Laughter.) Repent, repent! What am I saying?
Separatism is a worldwide phenomenon. Tribal loyalties in Africa, civil war in Lebanon and Ireland, Indian land claims — even the Queen Charlotte Islands want to separate; husbands want to separate
[ Page 656 ]
from their wives. The tide will flood and ebb but it will get worse before it gets better. And the consequences are that if Canada breaks up, the parts, one by one, will fall into the United States and we will have the continental sharing of our resources of trees and water and all the rest of it, with a vengeance. So Rene Levesque should be told. He keeps saying — he and his ministers — that Quebec will separate and remain nicely friendly and a customs union in Canada. He should be told: "No way." British Columbia sells its products on the world market at competitive world prices and we would not buy Quebec-manufactured goods produced under a tariff wall and receiving a preference in the province of British Columbia. If there was separation, we would buy as we sell, on the competitive world market.
I wish I had time to say — and I'll do it very quickly now — something about the oil patch up at Fort St. John. The giveaway: 45,000 barrels of oil — and the Minister of Economic Development (Hon. Mr. Phillips) knows what I'm saying is true — come down per day to the coast. I'll admit that these companies went on a little slowdown strike with the NDP when I was the Minister of Energy. But you've got to bear in mind that when we set royalty rates we took into account that they were old wells dug long ago before inflation set in — all paid off, the machinery operating, pumping out the oil. Our royalties were fair. We did not give in to that particular strike. But look what the Social Credit government has given to these companies in one year. What a giveaway to settle a strike. The price of a barrel of oil has gone up $2 in that year, from $8 to $9.75, that nets, incidentally, in the Peace River only $9.20. But still, it's a $2 increase up there. That means, with the $2 increase, that these producers in the north have been given — 6,000,000 barrels a year times $2 — an extra $32 million a year gross increase. And I admit that's gross. Then you apply the royalty. And every time the minister speaks, he says prices are in the right direction and we're going to catch the Arabs. We've got to have replacement costs charged to our consumers for oil, whether it's the arctic $15 or the tar sands $12. When prices go up, he says that's the right direction.
The $32 million that I mentioned is subject, under our government, to a royalty of 46.9 per cent. Despite the tremendous cash windfall given those particular branches of international companies for the existing old oil, the minister reduced the royalty rate from 46.9 per cent to 40.48 per cent. This means that at the 40 per cent royalty rate, the companies are receiving an extra $19 million a year for the old oil and the royalty rate reduction has given them an extra $7 million a year. The Social Credit, therefore, has given to the oil companies with the old oil of British Columbia another $26 million a year, while they go out to the people of the province and say: "Practise restraint." There is no restraint for the international oil companies, and they are not spending on exploration and development anything like the profits they have reached in the last year. They came to this government like Oliver Twist and asked for more and they sure got it. The Minister of Energy, Transport and Communications (Hon. Mr. Davis) says he has the trickle-down theory. That's the theory of this government: what's good for General Motors is good for you. It'll all come down. Crumbs from the table will fall to the common people. The golden shower. That's their philosophy.
In the oil fields we put in an incentive. When we gave an increase, we gave them a part of it as an incentive bonus. It could only be cashed if it was reinvested in the oil fields and the gas fields of British Columbia. While these increases have gone on they haven't increased the incentive a bit.
They are operating on the hope that the international oil companies — with the money that is flying out of British Columbia, with their greatly increased profits — may, they hope, reinvest part or all of that money in Canada. The NDP's answer to that is that for resource development there has to be planning and partnership and public control. With that kind of a programme, in terms of sheer expansion, conservation, and development of our resources — mineral, oil, gas and timber — we in the NDP can do better for Canada and better for British Columbia than the trickle-down theory that what's good for General Motors is good for you.
And I wasn't playing squash the other night; I was speaking to some Anglican students.
HON. MR. CHABOT: Thank you for the answer. You told me they were coming back. Answer that one.
MR. MACDONALD: Two o'clock on Monday.
AN HON. MEMBER: Are you waiting?
MR. MACDONALD: Ask me at 2 o'clock.
MS. R. BROWN (Vancouver-Burrard): Mr. Speaker, unlike the Minister of Highways (Hon. Mr. Fraser) and the Minister of Education (Hon. Mr. McGeer), neither of whom is in his seat just now, I am not rising to support this budget.
I cannot support this budget which carries on in the tradition of the budget brought down by the Minister of Finance in 1976 of being destructive, not just to the economy of this province, but certainly very destructive to the people as well. A number of members from the opposition have outlined reasons why the promise made by the Minister of Finance and the Premier that this budget was going to be good
[ Page 657 ]
for the economy, and good for the people of British Columbia as well, is a false promise and certainly not one which is carried out by the facts of the budget itself.
So what I want to do, very briefly, is just talk about some of the impact this budget is going to have on the constituents whom I represent, the people of Vancouver-Burrard — as well as the people in this province — who depend on the government for services and also one particular group which depends on the government for its income. Mr. Speaker, as far as the economy is concerned, those people who consider themselves the small-business sector of British Columbia are suffering as a result of the fiscal and economic policies which this government first instituted when it came in, and which it is continuing to the present time.
The second member for Vancouver-Burrard (Mr. Levi), and myself issued a questionnaire, the results of which we are going to make public within a couple of weeks. But I just want to touch, very briefly, on a couple of the points which came out. This questionnaire was directed specifically at the small businesses in the riding of Vancouver-Burrard — an urban riding, as you know. Without doubt, the response coming says that as a result of the increase in the sales tax, which was introduced with the first budget, as a result of what has happened to gasoline, as a result of the wiping out of the rent ceiling for commercial establishments, as a result of the increase in ICBC rates, as a result of the increase in ferry rates and as a result of the government's policy which wiped out $300 million out circulating money in the province, last year and this year a number of those businesses are declaring bankruptcy. They are going belly-up, Mr. Speaker.
It is interesting to note that it is not just Vancouver-Burrard that is suffering from an increase in bankruptcies over the first six months in 1976 — and there was an increase of over 15 per cent. The second member for Victoria (Mr. Barber) tells us that certainly small businesses, such as restaurants and motels in Victoria, are also reeling from the fiscal bungling of the Social Credit government, and certainly from its fiscal policies. Even the Premier's own riding is suffering from the fiscal policies. HOMECO a business in that area that builds recreational vehicles and mobile homes, is also on the verge of bankruptcy as a result of some of the fiscal policies of this government.
Allan Emory — I don't know if he is on the government's blacklist or not, but who certainly is not a member of the NDP — is the president of the Victoria Chamber of Commerce, and says that this government has done nothing to assist either the industrial or tourist economies. He said that the government has crippled the tourist industry, and he is crying out to the government for help. The only help that he received, of course, was a further blow from this government in the form of its budget which is doing even more to destroy the secondary industry base in this country, to wipe out the small industry in this country and, certainly, to further hurt the tourist industry and the motel industry.
Mr. Speaker, the second group of people I'd like to talk about specifically are those people who depend on the government for their services.
Now in the throne speech, which I did not hear because I was not here, but which I have certainly read over a number of times, a number of promises were made, Mr. Speaker. Even some of the government speakers made promises in terms of the throne speech. Those promises, we hoped, were going to be honoured in the budget.
Promises were made to senior citizens; promises were made to children; promises were made to people in need. Even the Provincial Secretary (Hon. Mrs. McCarthy) stood in the House and made promises to the women of this province. In fact, what we've discovered from the budget is that the budget has designated that, really, the people in need in this province are those who leave estates of over $200,000 when they die. Consequently, those are the ones who are going to receive benefits under this budget.
The budget also designated the mining companies as the ones that are in need. They are the ones who are going to be allowed, as it is euphemistically put, a greater flexibility in writing off the explorations and other taxes.
It's interesting, Mr. Speaker, that even though we have the capability of measuring the disastrous economic impact of this budget on the economy and on the people of British Columbia, we really have no way of measuring the disastrous impact on the people in terms of services to children and the long-term results of that, services to our senior citizens and the long-term results to that, services to the handicapped and the long-term results to that. Because, in fact, we're going to pay for these things in the long run.
We may not have to pay for them in the duration of the lifetime of this government, but certainly the future governments and the future people in British Columbia are going to have to pay for the disastrous cutbacks in services to the mentally ill; services to the handicapped; services to the children with emotional problems, to the youth in this province; the wiping out of groups like, as I mentioned earlier, the handicapped group; the cutting of funding to groups like Aurora House, which gives a service to women who have problems with alcoholism.
We can't measure the cost, in terms of human suffering and human impact, of these kinds of fiscal decisions, but what we do know is that we are going to pay for it in the long run. We may pay for it in terms of increased population in our jails; we may pay for it in all kinds of socially destructive ways for
[ Page 658 ]
our population in the long run. That is the reason why I think it is so sad that we have a government that hasn't taken that into account and hasn't really come to grips with the real disastrous consequences of its short-sighted fiscal policies.
The Premier of this province promised to make British Columbia the Texas of the world. He really did when he was running this campaign, and he's living up to that promise. That certainly is one promise he's living up to. Texas also brought down a budget just after Christmas. Although they have a budget which, like ours, is well over $3 billion — if anything, they have a surplus budget — they have done precisely the same thing that this government has done. They have cut back on their services to people; they have cut back on their services to senior citizens and dependent mothers.
If I can quote from this, Texas, like this government, has written into its budget all kinds of benefits in terms of its oil rich and its corporate and business interests. If you'll remember, Mr. Speaker, Texas is that state which is among the wealthiest of the United States, yet which has the highest incidence of people living in poverty and certainly the worst social services for anybody in all of the United States.
Mr. Speaker, my time is running out so I want to touch very briefly on two other groups of people. One is a group of people who are directly dependent on this government for their income. I'm talking about the constituency secretaries. As you know, each member in this Legislature is allowed a certain sum of money to hire a secretary to work for them in the constituency. Those secretaries have not received any kind of an increase to their income since this government took office — not one cent. As the result of the government's increase in taxes, as the result of the government's fiscal policies, the cost of living in this province has gone up for everyone. As a result of inflation, the cost of living has gone up in this province for everyone. Yet these people, who are dependent on this government for their income, have not received one cent in increase from this government since they took office.
Now maybe it is that the government doesn't realize that most of the people working as constituency secretaries not all of them, but certainly most of them are women. Maybe this government doesn't realize that a number of those people working as constituency secretaries are the sole support of their families. But surely, at the same time when the members of that government were fighting to have their income increased by the 10 per cent which it was increased, a battle could have been put up on behalf of the constituency secretaries too.
MS. BROWN: I'm not arguing with you whether you want to take it off or not, Mr. Premier. What I'm saying to you is that in the same way you can wipe out succession duties on people who make over $200,000 in this province, and the same way you can take into account wiping out tax benefits and gift duties...
DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Member, kindly address the chair.
MS. BROWN: ...through you, Mr. Speaker. The Premier spoke to me without going through you. But through you, Mr. Speaker, to the Premier, at the same time that that government made those kinds of concessions on behalf of people in this province who don't need it, surely they could have taken into account that the people working for MLAs, who are having to live on $700 a month and a little bit more, were entitled to some kind of increase. I say shame — not shame to the Premier. I'm saying shame to all of the members of the government back bench, as well as to the members of cabinet, that you didn't go to bat on behalf of those women who are working in your constituency on your behalf, even to see to it that they get a cost-of-living increase in terms of their income. You sit in this House and tell me that you are supporting a budget that is supposed to be so good. The people working for you are not getting any kind of benefits out of it whatsoever. You are a disgrace, Mr. Minister. You are a disgrace, Mr. Speaker. The government is disgraceful in the way it treats its own employees.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Order! Order!
MS. BROWN: It's disgraceful the way the government treats its own employees. Okay, so the truth hurts!
HON. R.H. McCLELLAND (Minister of Health): Apologize to the Speaker.
MS. BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I'm sorry. That must have been a slip of the tongue. I did not include the Speaker in my statements.
AN HON. MEMBER: Is that a slip of the tongue also?
MS. BROWN: No. What I have to say about the members of the government benches not speaking on behalf of their constituency secretaries stands — it's disgraceful. You could have gone to bat for them the same way you went to bat for yourselves.
In concluding, Mr. Speaker, I want to make one brief statement about something that I know is also of no interest to the members of the House over there. That is the fact that the budget totally ignores the
[ Page 659 ]
existence of the rest of the world. This is a selfish and self-centred budget. There's no question about it. Now under the New Democratic Party government, a small sum of money was set aside that was to be used in those parts of the world that needed some kind of assistance. The first thing that the administration when they came in was to wipe out that money, to recapture that fund as they said it was.
MS. BROWN: Okay, the understanding was surely that....
DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, please. Hon. Members, the first member for Vancouver-Burrard has the floor.
MS. BROWN: It's interesting, Mr. Speaker, that whenever anything is being said that really comes home, everyone over there starts chirping. So I take it as a compliment that they've heard what I've said for a change. So please, don't disrupt them.
MR. LOEWEN: I didn't hear it. Repeat it again for me.
MS. BROWN: You can't hear. There is no point to talk to you; you can't hear.
Mr. Speaker, what I want to talk about is the fact that this province — that surely must be considered one of the more fortunate parts of the world, one of the more prosperous parts of the world — in this budget could have taken into account that there are other parts of the world that could benefit from some of the surplus and some of the good things that we have. That they not only recaptured and wiped out the agricultural fund that was in existence to aid developing countries but, in fact, have not included anything in this budget in terms of our responsibility to the rest of the world must be deplored.
In closing, Mr. Speaker, I want to say that for those reasons, as well as for other reasons mentioned by members on the opposition side, I cannot support this selfish, self-centred budget which is so destructive — not just in terms of the economy of this province, but certainly in terms of people and their needs as well. Through you, Mr. Speaker, to that government, it is a disgrace and a shame, and I certainly hope that it is going to be withdrawn and rewritten, taking into account that we are not an island unto ourselves and that we do have some kind of responsibility to other people outside of those people in this province who die and leave an estate of $200,000 or who are involved in mining explorations. Thank you.
HON. MR. McCLELLAND: I'll be very brief, I just want to make a few comments about some of the things that have been said, and certainly add my support to this budget — the finest budget that's been presented to this province in many years.
I'd like to welcome back the member for Vancouver-Burrard before she leaves. Say hello to your mother for me, Madam Member.
There's been a lot of comment in this House about the employment opportunities that this budget will provide. Mark my words, Mr. Speaker, this budget does provide employment opportunities and we will provide jobs in British Columbia. I think it needs to be noted before we go any further that in the past year, this government has provided 30,000 new jobs for British Columbia people.
It should be noted, Mr. Speaker, that this budget provides for a hefty, healthy 18.5 per cent increase in the budget of the Economic Development ministry. Mr. Speaker, that 18.5 per cent increase is jobs — that's what that department is all about — and for the first time in many years, Mr. Speaker, this government is giving real meaning to the Department of Economic Development, and it has a minister (Hon. Mr. Phillips), not a token, as was the case in the last government.
Just one example of the many things that the department intends to do in order to create jobs is the announcement that was made by the real member for New Westminster over there in terms of the new development that's going to happen in the city of New Westminster. I want to tell you that that doesn't only mean jobs; that means new life to a city which was having severe difficulties.
AN HON. MEMBER: Right on.
HON. MR. McCLELLAND: The Minister of Human Resources (Hon. Mr. Vander Zalm) has announced the PREP programme, which is finding thousands of jobs for people on welfare in British Columbia. Do you know what makes the people on the other side of the House mad about that PREP programme? It cuts red tape. It cuts down the bureaucracy. It gets jobs directly for people, and those people don't understand that. If it isn't built up in bureaucracy and red tape, then it doesn't fit into the mould of the opposition.
It must be noted, Mr. Speaker, that the highways budget for this coming fiscal year is up $70 million, and who do you think builds highways, Mr. Speaker? People. And that's jobs — jobs for British Columbians in expanding the highways programme in this province that was left to rack and ruin by the previous government. That which also must be noted are the initiatives by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing (Hon. Mr. Curtis) in developing new housing proposals and initiatives for British Columbians. Who do you think builds houses, Mr. Speaker? People. Jobs for British Columbians. It must
[ Page 660 ]
be noted that there is $15 million additional in the Ministry of Labour for summer employment for students and what do you think that is? Jobs for British Columbians. I must apologize to the member for Columbia River (Hon. Mr. Chabot). (Laughter.)
I have to tell you, too, that in my own ministry this government has seen fit to allow me $100 million extra in this upcoming fiscal year to provide health services for British Columbians. I'd like to say that in the past year several major projects were completed, or at least substantially completed, in British Columbia for a cost of almost $35 million in hospitals. Our emphasis, as mentioned in the throne speech, is on extended-care beds in this province, and we have now over 4,000 extended-care beds in British Columbia with over 1,600 now under construction. About 500 of them will open by the end of this fiscal year — and that's just a start. Who do you think builds hospitals? People. British Columbians getting jobs by the positive policies of this government.
This government is providing the people of this province with new jobs, new investment opportunities, and a totally new climate for the financial affairs of the province of British Columbia. I don't usually like reading newspaper articles, but this is a really good one, so I would like to pass it on to the members of the House. It's from the Victoria Times of Wednesday, February 2, 1977, in which it is pointed out in an article by the Times business editor that over the next 15 years British Columbia will grow faster than any other province except Alberta; B.C. second only to Alberta.
MR. LOEWEN: Hear, hear!
HON. MR. McCLELLAND: This article mentions that our one major problem may be union problems over this summer. If we can get over that, we are in good shape. But I would like to quote just one item from this article...
MR. LAUK: One year and we're falling behind Alberta.
HON. MR. BENNETT: You were falling behind Newfoundland. (Laughter.)
HON. MR. McCLELLAND: ...and I wish you would listen, Mr. Member.
HON. MR. MAIR: Way behind!
HON. MR. McCLELLAND: But it says: "In saying that B.C. is second only to Alberta in its 15-year growth forecast, over the past four years the main problem in B.C. had been ill-advised taxation policies..."
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!
HON. MR. McCLELLAND: ...but these have either been changed or their efforts have been moderated," and the article goes on to say: "Now the future is quite bright." Now the future is quite bright for British Columbia because of the policies of this government. The opposition talks about tax increases in the last year. Why do you think those tax increases were necessary? Because of the ill-advised taxation policies of the former government.
I'll tell you that this government just got here in time, Mr. Speaker, to turn it around or we'd have been going down the hill like England was. I could go on and list the priorities of this government in the field of health services, which is the ministry for which I am responsible, significant developments in the field of medical teaching; 200 new pediatric beds on stream and moving forward; 92 maternity beds on stream and moving forward in the province of British Columbia; new health units at Lumby, Pender Harbour and Mayne Island; new health centres, integrating health and social services, have been announced for Terrace, for Prince George, for Vernon and for Kamloops; expansion of the programme for forensic psychiatric services in this province; improvement of air ambulance services; restoration of escort services; extended training for ambulance attendants; the Minister of Education (Hon. Mr. McGeer) has announced the new educational centre at Riverview Hospital, now under Douglas College; the increased emphasis on health education in this province in terms of preventive health, which is the way we're going to go for the future; Action B.C., now under the Department of Recreation and Conservation in a direct marriage of the two departments in providing preventive health-care services; government approval for a 30-bed residential treatment centre for the Lower Fraser Valley for intensive therapy programmes for alcoholics; a new detox unit in Maple Cottage at Woodland School will serve South Burnaby, New Westminster, Surrey, Richmond, Delta and Coquitlam. Eighteen major hospital programmes completed.
I could go on and on and outline the significant advances of this government in terms of health services for the people of British Columbia. But, Mr. Speaker, I don't want to embarrass the opposition too much today. It's Friday and everybody wants to go back to their own home constituencies, so all I'll say in closing is that I support this budget, and so does every British Columbian who's interested in the future of this province.
MRS. B.B. WALLACE (Cowichan-Malahat): Mr. Speaker....
MR. LAUK: Hey, look who's in the House.
[ Page 661 ]
MRS. WALLACE: Oh, welcome back, Mr. Attorney-General. It's nice to see you again. I hope you're feeling much better.
The Minister of Health is one of the ministers in that cabinet who has a very innovative way of bringing improvements to this province. He makes cutbacks one year and then the next year he reintroduces those programmes and calls them improvements. That is the tone that department has taken; that is the tone this cabinet has taken.
Mr. Speaker, we have sat through many long hours of debate on this budget.
MR. LOEWEN: Where's the opposition?
MRS. WALLACE: Well, the budget debate is grinding to a halt today and as this happens, Mr. Speaker, I'm wondering whether or not the long hours of debate had any effect on the people who sit across from me. They either don't listen or they don't understand. The Premier of this province stood in the debate recently and said that there had been no constructive criticism offered. Every member who has gotten up on this side of the House had made constructive criticism. The mud-slinging does not come from this side, Mr. Speaker.
MR. LOEWEN: Kitchen economics.
MR. C. BARBER (Victoria): Who circulated the blacklist?
MRS. WALLACE: You people don't seem to realize a very important point: you are the government; your job is to come up with policies and programmes, and to present those policies and programmes. We are the opposition: our job is to criticize, and that is what we are doing. Instead of coming up with some supportive statements, in nearly 90 per cent of the cases the people who have stood up have spent the time of their speech in this debate in going back with the same old phrases: "It's all your fault; it's the NDP's fault" — trying to blame it on the previous administration, and not standing up and taking responsibility yourselves.
You, through your policies, have done more to effect the economic downturn in this province than any other one factor. You have created a tax-fed depression here by taking out of the pockets of the people who spend money for consumer goods and drawing it into the government coffers.
DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. member, kindly address the Chair.
MRS. WALLACE: Mr. Speaker, what are the policies that are portrayed in this budget? I don't think the government members know what those policies are. They haven't told us what they are. That government approaches the business of governing the province like they were running a chain of hardware stores.
AN HON. MEMBER: No!
MRS. WALLACE: They think they are handling bins full of nuts and bolts. They don't realize that they are dealing with people, human beings with problems.
MR. LOEWEN: Who uses hospitals? Tell us who uses hospitals.
AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, for God's sake!
MRS. WALLACE: Their whole approach to government is one only related to dollars and cents, not to the human need. Where is the opportunity for youth? Where is the right to the seniors, the handicapped and the sick to some degree of dignity in this province?
MRS. WALLACE: Nothing.
In my opinion, Mr. Speaker, one does not judge people by the amount of wealth they amass, but rather by their sensitivity and their degree of perception. The same rule applies to governments. I stand to criticize this government for lack of sensitivity and for lack of perception.
They are preoccupied with nothing but figures, figures in the books. Let us just look at this preoccupation for a moment, Mr. Speaker. Last year that preoccupation with figures led us into a gymnastic feat of fiscal juggling unprecedented anywhere in the world. The Clarkson Gordon report was a report, not an audit. It would have been in order to have an audit at a change of government, but it wasn't an audit; it was a report, a reassembly of figures provided by the ministers of the Crown. That report indicated a deficit of $541 million.
Now, Mr. Speaker, we have the public accounts. We know what that deficit was. It wasn't $541 million, it was $261 million. Let's look at what made up that deficit: $181 million, that very strange come-to-me, go-from-me kind of manoeuvre between ICBC and the Minister of Finance. Just for that little manoeuvre, it's costing the taxpayers of this province $18 million a year in interest to loan $181 million to ICBC and borrow it back the next day, to give it to ICBC and borrow it back the next day. That cost $18 million. We know now that they didn't need it because they have, according to your own answer, on the order papers, Mr. Minister, accumulated $272 million without any funds from this year's payments
[ Page 662 ]
on insurance. Shake your head; hide your head, Mr. Minister.
AN HON. MEMBER: No deficit. This ranks with the so-called deficit of the ICBC, $300 million ripoff.
MRS. WALLACE: That's right.
In that $261 million, as well as the $181 million, there were special warrants; payments to the universities; payments to the towns and villages of this province; payments to the farmers, the beef producers; payments that weren't expected until April, or June, or even into September. They were paid off to try and accumulate that deficit. You've cooked the books, Mr. Ministers.
[Mr. Speaker in the chair.]
You can prove anything with figures. That was a manipulated deficit to try and make the former administration look bad; now we are having a manipulated budget presented to us this year.
We are told there is a 5.9 per cent increase. They are holding the line: restraint, balance, no deficits. But that is not so, Mr. Speaker. What about the expenses of the Crown corporations that were included in last year's budget? Those are gone now. We have B.C. Hydro, B.C. Ferries, the B.C. Buildings Corporation — a nice spot to hide our deficit. Those corporations are not even responsible to this Legislature. All they have to do is bring in a statement of assets and liabilities once a year. There is no response, no opportunity to find out what is really going on there. The taxpayers of this province are underwriting for Crown corporations over $1 billion in debt, and you say you have a balanced budget. Ridiculous! You are comparing apples and oranges.
MR. COCKE: Hear, hear!
MRS. WALLACE: You can't compare a budget that only covers part of the total expense with a budget that covered a much greater part of that expense. When you talk about holding the line to 5.9 per cent, that is an incorrect statement, in my opinion, Mr. Speaker.
What about the revenue side of the budget. What about the revenue? I suggest that those ministers over there are talking out of both sides of their mouths at once. I think this has been mentioned in the House before but it bears repeating. On page 10 of the budget, it talks about the economic outlook. The gross provincial product will be up 5 to 6 per cent. Improving conditions around the world are going to make this happen. Forest products will be up and are expected to increase. Real gains in business investments, in the tourist and travel industry...gains, gains, gains on page 10. The economy will round that proverbial corner. The economy has made the upturn. That's according to the Minister of Finance (Hon. Mr. Wolfe).
Well, one would think with all that fine, economic activity we would see some much more substantial revenue. Instead, on page 25, in the total revenue forecast, there is not enough increase in there to even cover the inflationary factor, Mr. Speaker. And when you look at the sales tax, as has been pointed out by several members, that's a good indicator of what's happening out there in the hustings among the people. You see that that sales tax increase is just not there. There is no room for any greater purchasing power in the hands of the people, the people spending money — and that's a good indicator of what the economic situation is in any area.
That budget suggests one of two things. Either the Minister of Finance really doesn't expect the economy to take an upturn.... I might be inclined to agree with that, but the Premier doesn't agree with that, Mr. Speaker. The Premier said in this House that he's hoping for a surplus. And if he has a surplus, he's going to have a heritage fund. Well, a heritage fund, by any other name, I guess, would be called a pre-election fund.
AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, oh!
MRS. WALLACE: Right on! Yes, that's right. That's what it would be and that's what it will be. You're putting together a deliberate surplus so you can give handouts when it comes to an election, because you didn't indicate that you were going to take any portion of that which might have accrued from non-renewable resources for that fund this year. You said that that was....
MRS. WALLACE: Oh, yes, that was the intent. But what you said, Mr. Premier, was that if there was a surplus this year from whatever source, it would go into that heritage fund. That's what I read in your remarks in Hansard, Mr. Premier.
Mr. Premier, you don't save for a rainy day in the middle of a rainstorm, and we're in a rainstorm now. We're in an economic rainstorm. We need every bit of money that you can possibly spare pumped into this economy to provide the jobs and the services that people need. Instead, you're talking about saving for the future.
AN HON. MEMBER: Instead of leaving it in the ground, we'll put it in the bank.
AN HON. MEMBER: You won't have a future the way you're going.
[ Page 663 ]
MRS. WALLACE: Your Minister of Human Resources (Hon. Mr. Vander Zalm), Mr. Premier, through you, Mr. Speaker, brags about underspending his budget. And when I go out and see the amount of human suffering that is out there in my constituency and around this province as a result of that minister's legislation, I recognize that be is a minority of one who thinks that he is such a great guy. He gets up here and tells us that everybody loves him. But, Mr. Speaker, there is a terrific amount of concern and upset that that minister's legislation has created.
The Minister of Health has talked about jobs and this government, like its Socred predecessor, seems to hang everything on a highway programme. Seventy miles of highway. That's the answer: build 70 miles of highway.
MR. LOEWEN: Who uses highways?
MRS. WALLACE: Seventy miles of highway.
MR. LOEWEN: Who uses highways?
AN HON. MEMBER: Persons use highways.
MRS. WALLACE: That minister told us that he knew exactly how many miles and at how much cost, but he didn't say how many jobs. He didn't tell us when. How many years? Is it all going to be spent this year? When is he going to start? The day after the budget came down, he said he was going to have an environmental study. When is the environmental study going to be held? Was that just more window-dressing or are we going to have an environmental study? Is there going to be a highway?
MR. LOEWEN: Who uses that highway?
MRS. WALLACE: We'll see how many jobs that creates. But one thing we do know for sure: $15 million for summer employment. Do you know that's less than has been provided by previous governments for summer employment? Less!
Do you know, Mr. Premier, through you, Mr. Speaker, that we have nearly 100,000 unemployed people out there and you're providing $15 million? Do you know what that amounts to, Mr. Speaker? — $150 per person. That's what you're providing for jobs, $150 for each unemployed person out there, and that's a shameful amount. Shameful.
There is nothing in this budget for the small, independent businessman. There is nothing for the farmer. Nothing at all.
Talking about the farmer, there are some interesting possibilities this government could undertake. I have a letter here from the secretary-manager o f the British Columbia Cattlemen's Association. He's talking about some of the problems in the beef industry, He says:
"You will note that we mainly produce calves and feeders which are shipped out of the province to be finished to market weight. With proper policies and incentives for finishing cattle we could stimulate the provincial economy and supply close to 50 per cent of our own demand for beef."
This is a document put out by the Agricultural Economics Research Council of Canada, and it gives some very interesting figures on what can be done. In B.C. it is estimated that 22 per cent of the total economic activity generated is directly or indirectly associated with agriculture and food production and distribution. For every dollar of beef produced from the province's own resources and sold at retail, approximately $2.85 worth of economic activity is generated. The full economic effects from production and sale of an extra dollar's worth of beef, however, are more persuasive. When this new wealth in the form of wages, salaries and other income is spent, a total of $5.50 worth of economic activity is generated throughout the province. It's estimated that in B.C. for every calf that we ship out of this province we lose $2,000 of economic activity. How about feedlots and processing plants, Mr. Speaker?
MR. J.J. KEMPF (Omineca): How much did you lose?
MRS. WALLACE: How about something for the farmers? That would provide jobs, that would stimulate the economy but, no, the budget is strangely silent on that. And they are even threatening the Farm Income Assurance Programme. Now there has been a lot of talk about this and I'm sorry the Minister of Agriculture is not in the House.
MR. LAUK: It wouldn't make any difference.
MRS. WALLACE: I want to read into the record a statement from the B.C. Fruit Growers Association executive. This statement is headed: "A response to the address by the Hon. J.J. Hewitt." I won't read it all, but it says in part:
"What are people really talking about when they apply the word 'viable' to any economic enterprise in B.C. or, for that matter, in Canada? Is the Canadian automobile industry viable? Is our forest industry or mining industry viable — the economic return of our professional people of the labour unions, or of our civil servants, our manufacturing industries and banking institutions? We suggest that the minister examine and study these and he will soon learn that the sole reason for their level of
[ Page 664 ]
economic operation and income is that the government legislation had made it so. Governments, federal or provincial — and, sometimes both — make these endeavours viable.
"We wish to point out that the government financial support does not always go under the label of a subsidy" — a term that some people find objectionable, Mr. Premier — "but rather less obvious means are employed. What difference is there if stumpage fees or royalties are reduced or eliminated, or if a direct payment is made to the industry? Agriculture receives far less financial support than other enterprises."
What about MacMillan Bloedel? What about Cominco? They're getting plenty of handouts, but nothing for the farmers, and you're talking about withdrawing farm income assurance.
Leave job-making to private enterprise, you say. What's happened in the logging industry? MacMillan Bloedel, the big giant here on the coast, has laid off thousands of workers. Some of them are back, but there is no reason they couldn't all be back, the weather being what it is. Instead, it ranges from 75 per cent back to something like 25 per cent back to work. Leave it to private enterprise. That's not good enough, Mr. Members over there, not good enough.
Mr. Speaker, in conclusion I want to talk just briefly about what's been happening in the Department of Human Resources. The Minister has told us how great his GAIN legislation was, what an improvement it provided for the people of this province. Well, have any of you read the article in the Sun: "Has Compassion Left B.C.?"
But let's not leave it to chance. This is a copy of the regulations for GAIN, and the minister has said that GAIN is going to improve things. I'd like to quote from page 1.22 — and these are the minister's regulations on how to apply GAIN. He gives some tables for those in receipt of income assistance, and afterwards he makes some notes. This became effective October 1, 1976, and the note says, on page 1.22: "Applicants in receipt of benefits immediately prior to October 1, 1976, will not have their benefits reduced by the foregoing policy." Two classes out there, Mr. Speaker, two classes of pre-GAIN and those who were post-GAIN — two classes out there.
For example, a family of five living in my constituency, in receipt of welfare — social assistance — pre-GAIN, that family received $470 a month. One of those parents was handicapped. The father was accepted for the handicapped pension, $265 a month. As a result of that acceptance, Mr. Speaker, that family's income rose to $685 a month pre-GAIN. That family now — if they were to apply since these regulations have come into effect — would receive the father's $265 plus, for a unit five — five persons — $345 allowance support and $160 for monthly shelter. Well, it happens they don't pay $160; they only pay $120. They would receive that less...because the regulation goes on to say: "Deduct from the shelter allowance $75 if one parent receives handicapped pension. Deduct from the family support portion the remaining portion of that income." Do you know what it comes to for that family? It comes to $456. It's less now under GAIN than they were receiving before on social assistance. That's the improvement in GAIN. That's this great, brave new legislation that that minister has introduced.
Mr. Speaker, that minister has caused heartache and despair to the people in our province. The member for Comox (Ms. Sanford) talked yesterday about two young men in sleeping bags trying to be first in line to apply for work. In my constituency, for four nights a young man slept in his sleeping bag under the bridge at the Cowichan River. In the morning he got up without food — no breakfast, no food, no money — and went and stood beside a pay phone waiting hopefully and praying for a call from a company where he had put his name in and they had indicated that they might need him and might call him. Four days with no food, no shelter, no money.
MR. COCKE: That's the smiling minister.
MRS. WALLACE: That's the smiling minister — the man who can do wrong. That's the kind of thing that's out there. It takes me back — and I can remember — to the days when the youth of this province rode back and forth across this country on the rods of the railcars or in the boxcars. They were unwanted, unclaimed, unneeded, and driven from town to town. That's what happened then, and we're back into that same situation — right back in an uncaring society. Those same boys, two of them starved to death, Mr. Member for Columbia River (Hon. Mr. Chabot) — if you're here — in Bowness Park in Calgary. They did an autopsy and they had grass in their stomachs.
Here, in Vancouver, the illustrious ancestor of one of the members over there put tear-gas to those boys in the post office because they could in no way support them.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Shame!
MRS. WALLACE: They drove them from the post office. And a few months later, what happened? Those boys were heroes because there was a war. I chose my direction then, Mr. Speaker, and that was a direction away from the kind of economic system that would allow that kind of society to prevail.
The Minister of Agriculture (Hon. Mr. Hewitt) knows how to hurt a person. He said that I didn't
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belong in this party; that I should be with my friend to my right, even if it's my left.
I assure you, Mr. Speaker, and the members of this House, that I am in the right party. I'm in the party that stands for human rights and human dignity, that supports the needs of the people of this province and not the needs of the rich, the wealthy and the money-lenders.
MR. SPEAKER: The hon. Minister of Finance.
MR. SPEAKER: One moment please, hon. minister.
MR. LAUK: A point of order. The Minister of Finance rose to take his place a second time in the debate. He did not rise on a point of privilege or under standing order 41, nor did he rise to take a point of order. Therefore Mr. Speaker recognized him incorrectly under standing order 42 which states: "A reply shall be allowed to a member who has moved a substantive motion but not to the mover of an amendment, the previous question, or an instruction to a committee."
MR. LAUK: We're debating a motion of an instruction to a committee — there's no question about that. That's been ruled on in every House in the Commonwealth. However, we rise, Mr. Speaker, to take objection to recognizing him as a matter of precedent, and we would ask Mr. Speaker and the House not to take this as precedent. However, because the opposition critique has been so effective and the response by the government so weak thus far, we'll grant leave to the hon. minister to reply. (Laughter.)
MR. SPEAKER: Hon. member, in replying to the point of order, it's not a matter of granting leave to the minister. It's clear in standing order 42 that he has a right of reply. It is only a question of the Chair informing all of the members of the House before he is recognized or when he is recognized that the minister shall close the debate.
The hon. Minister of Finance shall close the debate.
HON. E.M. WOLFE (Minister of Finance): Mr. Speaker, we have yet another facetious point of order in a long list of facetious points of order by that same member.
Mr. Speaker, I took the trouble to list some interesting language from that member's speech yesterday in the budget debate. You would think he would address himself to the specifics of the debate. Instead, we find language something like this: "chippy;" "arrogant;" "a bunch of hokey, outlandish statements;" "oppress;" "a collection of cliches, homilies, half-truths, no-truths and flim-flam;" "pure and unadulterated treachery." I suggest, Mr. Speaker, that it is one thing to offer honest criticism, but when you get into absolute verbal irresponsibility you have to question the objectivity of any matter he has to raise in this debate.
HON. MR. BENNETT: That was the clean part!
HON. MR. WOLFE: There's more.
AN HON. MEMBER: He should resign.
HON. MR. WOLFE: Mr. Speaker, before you get the impression that I'm criticizing the opposition...
SOME HON. MEMBERS: No!
HON. MR. WOLFE: ...I want to suggest that they should be complimented for doing the best they could in an almost impossible job. After all, for two weeks they've tried to criticize this budget. They've gone through the library from top to bottom. They've researched; they've put it in the computer, out of the computer. But how can you knock this budget? They've failed, Mr. Speaker; they've failed miserably.
How can you criticize a budget which exercised restraint to the tune of 5.9 per cent in expenses, which didn't increase taxes, yet which increased the degree of expenditure for human benefits by a substantial degree.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Right on!
HON. MR. WOLFE: About all you can say about that party, Mr. Speaker, is that they left a legacy of $261 million, of which they accumulated a loss of $400 million in one year. That's no small job.
HON. MR. BENNETT: Debt! The party of debt.
HON. MR. WOLFE: Mr. Speaker, in listening to the opposition speakers during this debate, I'm amazed that not one has considered the provincial government budget for next year in relation to the total expectations for the B.C. economy. I would have thought that our recent experience of double-digit inflation and the serious consequences it imposed upon everyone, but particularly upon those of our population who lack the power to protect themselves against its insidious affects — namely the unorganized, the elderly, the handicapped, the
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unemployable — would have caused someone to analyse the budget in relation to the total economy.
The recovery of the economies of the industrialized countries, especially the United States and Japan, which started in the first quarter of 1975 and achieved a real growth of around 6 per cent last year, is forecast to continue through 1977. It is expected the demand for British Columbia products will increase in 1977 in response to this demand.
Obviously, with demand for production increasing, care must be taken not to create excessive demand within the economy which could trigger increased bidding in the marketplace for scarce resources, whether they be labour, money, raw materials or any other products required for production. It is this government's belief that the main thrust for long-term economic growth in British Columbia should come through the private sector.
Certainly the provincial government has a role in this development. There is a necessary public sector infrastructure that takes the form of highways, schools, hospitals, housing and the many government services required for the public good and benefit, as well as electric power and water and rail transportation facilities. In addition, government, through its policies, can foster growth in the private sector to provide more jobs and increase total income that will then generate the additional revenue to government to augment government services. But it is the commercial industrial investment which provides the base for long-term achievement.
It is this government's view that given the promising external market outlook and the opportunities it presents, the private sector of our economy will consume more of our resources this year and, in the process, will remove many of the concerns expressed by the opposition throughout this debate.
I have just returned, Mr. Speaker, from a meeting of Finance Ministers in Ottawa and there is concern, right across Canada, including Saskatchewan and Manitoba, over the danger of overheating the economy at a time when, even yet, we have not reduced the inflation rate to an acceptable level. All support the need to restrain government expenditures and are trying to avoid tax increases.
Mr. Speaker, there is a growing realization in this province and in other jurisdictions that governments can distribute wealth better than they can create it. It is the role of industry to seek out opportunity, invest capital and produce wealth. This process takes time and depends on events in other countries, as well as what governments do here in British Columbia. An economy such as ours marches in step with that of our major customers, the United States and Japan. What can be done is to follow moderate, progressive policies that restore investor confidence and ensure that British Columbia industry is not disadvantaged in the international marketplace. This budget has been a positive step toward improved productivity of British Columbia industry.
First, the 5.9 per cent increase in estimated expenditure signals that the growth of the government sector of the economy has been brought under control. Resources are scarce, Mr. Speaker, and resources committed to the public sector are not available for more productive use in the private sector. Resources for investment produce wealth, part of which can then be distributed as social benefits to British Columbians.
And then we have addressed the source of inflation directly: the unreasonable expectations by the individual of more than the economy can deliver. Our message of individual restraint has been matched by the practice of government restraint. It is a message, Mr. Speaker, that has been well received by the citizens of the province, who have a better comprehension than some members of the truism that if you want to distribute aid and benefits to the deserving, you need a growing and healthy source of wealth from which to draw.
Our message of restraint, of spending only what the economy can afford on government services, is the true basis for continued progress in this province. With restraint by individuals and government, many of the constraints that inhibit economic progress are resolved. Labour and management have a better basis for agreement, production costs should stabilize, investment will occur and utilization of the productive capacity of the labour market and capital structure of this province should improve.
So, Mr. Speaker, the budget that I brought down on January 24 is a budget for the times. It is a budget designed to deal with the problems and uncertainties that still plague the economy of this province. It is a responsible budget for the present as well as the future. It is a budget of restraint coming at a time when more examples of restraint are badly needed. It is a budget to meet the real needs of our people.
We recognize that government cannot solve all of the problems in our economy or in our society. We have moved to provide help in areas where it is necessary and feasible, in areas of health and education. We have moved to provide job opportunities for the unemployed. But the major part of the necessary expansion in economic activity must come from the private sector. British Columbia earns its way in the world primarily through export of the products of our major industries. These exports have given us a standard of living in this province that is among the highest in the world. Anything that jeopardizes those exports will be detrimental to our standard of living.
Our industries are now in a position in which their costs are making them uncompetitive in world markets. The rapid growth of government has played
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a significant role in creating these costs. Restraint on government's part is necessary to help ease them.
By setting an example of restraint this budget will play a role in the fight to make British Columbia more competitive in world markets, and will make investment here more attractive. There is a need for this increase in investment if we are to reduce unemployment.
Mr. Speaker, while we have restrained growth and expenditures in this budget we have not neglected the areas of human need. Of the overall increase in expenditures of $214.7 million, 46.9 per cent goes to Health, and 43.5 per cent of this increase goes to Education. An expansion of the highway construction programme by $70 million and a youth summer employment programme of $15 million will have a direct impact on the effort to reduce unemployment. In addition, the programmes of the Crown corporations, particularly British Columbia Hydro and the British Columbia Buildings Corporation, will serve to create employment. So this budget shows that it is possible to exercise restraint in government without sacrificing important social programmes and without increasing taxes.
Mr. Speaker, with leave, may I continue for just one or two minutes?
HON. MR. WOLFE: Mr. Speaker, through responsible administration pledged to see that value is received for every tax dollar, the budget has been held to an increase of only 5.9 per cent, but services to people have been maintained or even increased. This budget is worthy of the support of all members of this House and of all British Columbians.
I move that Mr. Speaker do now leave the chair for the House to go into Committee of Supply.
Motion approved on the following division:
YEAS — 27
NAYS — 16
Division ordered to be recorded in the Journals of the House.
The House in Committee of Supply; Mr. Schroeder in the chair.
DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
On vote 79: minister's office, $141,324.
The House resumed; Mr. Speaker in the chair.
The committee, having reported progress, was granted leave to sit again.
Hon. Mr. Gardom moves adjournment of the House.
The House adjourned at 12:55 p.m.