1979 Legislative Session: ist Session, 32nd Parliament
The following electronic version is for informational purposes only.
The printed version remains the official version.
FRIDAY, JULY 6, 1979
[ Page 581 ]
Forest Amendment Act, 1979 (Bill 22). Hon. Mr. Waterland.
Introduction and first reading –– 581
Ministry of Tourism and Small Business Development annual report.
Hon. Mr. Phillips –– 581
Ministry of Economic Development annual report.
Hon. Mr. Phillips –– 581
Milk Industry Amendment Act, 1979 (Bill 14). Second reading!.
Hon. Mr. Hewitt –– 581
Mrs. Wallace –– 581
Hon Mr. Hewitt –– 582
Provincial Home-Owner Grant Amendment Act, 1979 (Bill 19). Second reading.
Hon. Mr. Vander Zalm –– 582
Mr. Skelly –– 583
Mr. Mitchell –– 583
Hon. Mr. Vander Zalm –– 583
Committee of Supply: Ministry of Education, Science and Technology estimates.
On vote 62.
Hon. Mr. McGeer –– 583
Ms. Sanford –– 587
Hon. Mr. McGeer –– 589
Mrs. Dailly –– 590
Hon. Mr. McGeer –– 591
Mr. King –– 592
Mr. Barber –– 593
Ms. Sanford –– 594
Hon. Mr. McGeer –– 594
Mr. King –– 595
Hon. Mr. McGeer –– 595
Mr. Hanson –– 596
Hon. Mr. McGeer –– 597
Select Standing Committee on Standing orders and Private Bills, first and second reports.
Mr. Mussallem –– 598
FRIDAY, JULY 6, 1979
The House met at 10 a.m.
HON. MR. HEWITT: I don't have an introduction from the gallery but I do have an introduction to the members of the House from the agriculture industry in British Columbia. On your desks you will find a glass of beautiful cherries, freshly picked and brought to the House in conjunction with the B.C. Fruit Growers Association, by the two southernmost members of the Okanagan Valley, the member for Boundary-Similkameen and the member for South Okanagan (Hon. Mr. Bennett). I don't know whether cherries are ready in the North Okanagan (Mrs. Jordan) yet, but if they are we'll include the member for North Okanagan. These are beautiful Okanagan cherries, Mr. Speaker.
MR. SPEAKER: I trust, hon. members, the Fruit Growers Association will appreciate that we have suspended the normal practice of the House of not having food in the chamber. I hope they have a keen appreciation of this.
MR. KEMPF: We don't have any cherries in the north, but certainly we have some very, very fine people. With us in the gallery today is a former member of this House, a very fine representative from the northern part of this province: Mr. Howard Lloyd.
Howard, leaving this chamber, had an historical connotation. He was the last member for Fort George to sit in this chamber. As well, in asking the House to make him very welcome, we must remember, as members of this House, that it took two members to replace him. Would the House please make him welcome.
Introduction of Bills
FOREST AMENDMENT ACT, 1979
Hon. Mr. Waterland presented a message from His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor: a bill intituled Forest Amendment Act, 1979.
Bill 22 introduced, read a first time, and ordered to be placed on orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting of the House after today.
Hon. Mr. Phillips tabled the annual report of the Ministry of Tourism and Small Business Development for the year 1978, and the annual report of the Ministry of Economic Development for the year 1978.
Orders of the Day
HON. MR. GARDOM: I ask leave to proceed to public bills and orders.
HON. MR. GARDOM: Second reading of Bill 14, Mr. Speaker.
AMENDMENT ACT, 1979
HON. MR. HEWITT: Mr. Speaker, this bill is the result of a decision made in the Supreme Court of Canada a few years ago regarding the authority of the federal Agricultural Products Marketing Act, and it is necessary to bring this amendment into our Act to allow for the delegation of authority regarding removal of surplus milk products in the province. As members will recall, we did the same thing last year with the Natural Products Marketing Act, and this bill does the same thing with the Milk Industry Act. You might say it validates something that is being done, but because of the Supreme Court of Canada decision it is necessary for us to amend the Act.
You could call it housekeeping. However, it does correct something that could result in a serious problem if the Act weren't amended. It also validates collection of levies already made by the Canadian Egg Marketing Agency. In that respect, the Act is necessary in order that there be no call on the agency as a result of the Supreme Court decision.
With those comments, I move that the bill be now read a second time.
MRS. WALLACE: The minister has indicated this is more or less a housekeeping matter. I agree with that, but I have a couple of questions. Why are we having this bill introduced now? That is the same judgment that affected vegetables and other products that was corrected last year. It's rather strange there has been a whole year's delay, when we were in contravention of the law as a result of that Supreme Court of Canada finding.
I'm surprised it has been left this long and that it wasn't brought in last year when a similar amendment was brought in to the Natural Products Marketing Act. I assumed at the time that perhaps the reason it wasn't brought in — I didn't really think it was an oversight on the minister's part; I thought he was aware we also had a Milk Board, as well as those under the Natural Products Marketing Act — was because of the problems with the milk surplus quota, which is really what this Act is all about.
When the milk surplus quota was established to create marketing control — and I'm not opposed to that — B.C. got the short end of the stick. We in B.C. had kept our house in order. We had produced a reasonable amount of milk. The figures are evidence of the point I'm making. When that milk surplus quota was established B.C. got about 3 percent of the total, yet we have 11 percent of the population. Ontario, with 37 percent of the population, got 31 percent of the quota; Quebec, with 27 percent of the population, got nearly 48 percent of the quota. That's a very unfair distribution of that quota.
The result has been that farmers in British Columbia have been forced to buy Class 1 milk quota; this has forced the price up. The result has been a penalty applied to our farmers, which has meant that our milk processing plants can barely get enough milk. Plants of milk powder production, cheese and butter are operating at very low capacity.
I had hoped the reason for the delay in introducing this bill was because the minister was going to use the requirement for this bill as a lever to increase our surplus quota in British Columbia. I'm a little disappointed to find
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the bill coming in with no related announcement that this has been accomplished.
Now, a year later, in contravention of the finding of the Supreme Court of Canada, we've failed to bring in legislation which could just as well have been brought in last session. Evidently there's been no effort made to increase the B.C. share of the milk surplus quota before introducing this legislation. I'm very disappointed in that. I would like the minister to comment on that.
HON. MR. HEWITT: The member for Cowichan-Malahat is quite correct. The bill before you now is before you for the very same reason as the Natural Products Marketing Act was changed with regard to eggs. The last one, if she recalls, was brought in late last year in the House. Then the ministry looked at this bill. It wasn't brought forward, but it was to be brought forward in the next sitting of the House and, of course, we're dealing with it at this time. There has been no action against us. The industry, of course, is quite receptive to the system that is in place and has been in place for a number of years. Again, that's why it's more or less just housekeeping as opposed to doing something to avoid an action. We have cooperation with the industry and they're very supportive of the bill.
The MSQ is probably a little outside the scope of this bill, but I would like to comment on it. MSQ is the milk surplus quota. The member mentions that we kept our house in order, and I agree, Madam Member; the milk industry in this province is second to none in Canada. It's because of that fact that we are a little concerned, because we have 11 percent of the population and approximately 3 percent of the surplus milk quota. I should say first of all what that does, for the benefit of the members. It affects our milk processing industry, and that's one of the concerns that we've expressed to the federal Minister of Agriculture and on occasion to the Canadian Dairy Commission, and we will continue to have those discussions. I intend to bring the matter forward again when I meet with the federal minister later on this month.
But the interesting thing, Mr. Speaker, is the MSQ. The milk surplus quota system was brought into being in October 1973 and I would have thought that the administration of that day would have been a little more vocal so that we would have had a better deal for the milk industry of this province. As opposed to having to change something, we should have fought a little harder at that time.
With those comments, Mr. Speaker, I now move second reading of the bill.
Bill 14, Milk Industry Amendment Act, 1979, read a second time and referred to a Committee of the Whole House for consideration at the next sitting of the House after today.
HON. MR. GARDOM: Second reading of Bill 19, Mr. Speaker.
PROVINCIAL HOME-OWNER GRANT
AMENDMENT ACT, 1979
MR. SPEAKER: The Minister of Municipal Affairs (Hon. Mr. Vander Zalm).
HON. MR. GARDOM: He was here a moment ago. He certainly surprised me there. Well, Mr. Speaker, this is a very interesting bill. It is Bill 19, and it is entitled....
MR. SPEAKER: May I recognize the hon. Attorney-General?
HON. MR. GARDOM: Mr. Speaker, it has just come to my attention....
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I hear a point of order. The member for Alberni (Mr. Skelly).
MR. SKELLY: Mr. Speaker, in the absence of the Minister of Municipal Affairs I was the first member on my feet, and I'd be more than willing to move the bill. [Laughter.]
MR. SPEAKER: Facetious, I'm sure.
HON. MR. GARDOM: Mr. Speaker, it has just come to my attention that the Minister of Municipal Affairs has entered the chamber and I'd like all members on each side of the House to bid him welcome.
HON. MR. VANDER ZALM: It gives me great pleasure to introduce the Provincial Home-owner Grant Amendment Act. I think all British Columbians are very proud of this particular program, which was introduced some years ago, and which has been of tremendous benefit, particularly to our seniors and those who are handicapped, in alleviating the burden of property tax to a great degree. We have seen considerable change over the years, in that it started out back in 1957 at $28 per homeowner, and we've seen it increase over the years. I'm very proud to say that over the last four years we've seen some hefty increases applying to not only all homeowners but especially seniors and the handicapped. The category of handicapped was added several years back, and we felt there should be some special recognition of their particular needs.
In 1975 the homeowner grant stood at about $280, with a provision for those in a given income bracket to receive an additional $50 of credit or benefit, to a maximum of $330 for those 65 years of age and over. We've seen increases in the interim, and we are now very proud to present, in this particular bill, an increase of $100 for all residents, making a total of $380 off their taxes to go, first, to the educational tax, and $580 for those in receipt of the handicapped allowance or who are 65 years of age and over.
It certainly goes a long way toward alleviating to a very large degree the property tax burden for a lot of British Columbians. Not only does it benefit most people over 65 years of age and those in receipt of handicapped benefits — not only does it take care of much, if not all, of the school taxes — but it goes a long way to reducing, if not completely eliminating, the municipal general tax burden as well.
The minimum required for anyone to pay is $50, except for those 65 years of age and over or those who are handicapped. They are required to pay only the minimum of $1.
With that, Mr. Speaker, I move second reading of Bill 19 — a very progressive Act — the Home-owner Grant Amendment Act.
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MR. SKELLY: In general we support the increase in the homeowner grant. We do agree it is progressive legislation. It has been copied by other provinces, including Saskatchewan. Unfortunately they abbreviate the homeowner grant there; they call it the property improvement grant, but they also make it available to small businesses. The abbreviation of "property improvement grant" is PIG, whereas in B.C., it's HOG. Possibly the minister could consider changing some of those acronyms to make them sound a little more generous on the part of the government. But, in general, we support the legislation.
One problem is that for people under 65 there has been no homeowner grant increase for the past three years, so this increase for those people is long overdue. For those who don't fall within the terms of the section which allows more generous benefits for people age 65 or over, or people who come under certain classes of disability pensions, unfortunately there still are problems with people on disability who aren't receiving the $1 minimum and the more generous homeowner grant. We'd certainly like to see some changes in it.
Since the Social Credit government came to office after 1975, you have had to pay $50 before you qualify for the homeowner grant. This turns around what is essentially a way of making property taxes progressive and makes it regressive for people under 65. I hope the minister would take a look at this aspect of it.
There are many low-income people under the age of 65 who are living in very modest housing; yet they must pay that minimum $50 tax. It becomes a real problem at tax time for them to raise $50. I would hope the minister would take a look at that in further amendments to the homeowner grant, to see that the problem of this $50 minimum is removed. It changes the whole idea of the homeowner grant, which was to make a regressive tax a little more progressive for those people who had modest housing and a fairly low income.
You have done the same thing as the government on B.C. Hydro by having a fixed charge on power. Regardless of whether you use power or not, you still have to pay a service or connection charge. On the people who are conservative with their power, who are attempting to conserve electricity, it's a penalty. They must pay that minimum amount, regardless of whether or not they are conservative with the use of energy.
I hope the minister will consider that the $50 minimum really undermines the whole principle of the homeowner grant for those under 65 with modest homes and modest incomes. Other than that problem with the bill, the NDP will support this change.
MR. MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, there is one thing I would like to bring to the attention of the minister, and that is the principle that is embodied in the additional benefit to those on the War Veterans Allowance. Those who qualified for the War Veterans Allowance, if you go back into history, were people who because of war experience had aged prematurely. And today, in our growing and highly developed sophisticated society, the stress of many businesses has caused a lot of people to age prematurely. We're finding this within for the superannuation and many pension plans where, because of illness, because of heart attacks, because of the stress of working, people have aged earlier, and they have been forced — with medical certificates — to retire at an earlier age. I feel that these people too qualify as much as those on an old-age pension or other pension that is equally fixed. If they had normally progressed in their employment they would have lasted until 65, but because of illness they were forced to take an early retirement. I sincerely ask you — through you, Mr. Speaker — to give consideration to giving those who are on an early retirement pension, who because of illness have qualified and must get out of the workforce, the additional benefit that is granted to those over 65, those on a handicapped pension or those on the War Veterans Allowance.
HON. MR. VANDER ZALM: Mr. Speaker, certainly we have moved to make it available to a larger category of people by adding those who are handicapped and those in receipt of the federal disability allowance. I'm sure all of us here would like to see it expanded to include even more disadvantaged groups, but there are difficulties. These particular groups are very identifiable and it has made it relatively easy to make it applicable to them; it's not quite as easy when you begin looking at some of the other groups that might be in receipt of various benefits, be they provincial, federal or otherwise. But I agree with the member that in time we certainly ought to find ways of expanding these benefits to those he's referred to — and to many others as well.
Mr. Speaker, I move second reading of the bill.
Bill 19, Provincial Home-owner Grant Amendment Act, 1979, read a second time and referred to a Committee of the Whole House for consideration at the next sitting of the House after today.
The House in Committee of Supply; Mr. Rogers in the chair.
ESTIMATES: MINISTRY OF EDUCATION,
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
On vote 62: minister's office, $119,071.
HON. MR. McGEER: Mr. Chairman, in speaking to this bargain vote and the very good value which comes to the provincial Legislature, I wouldn't want to suggest any conflict of interest. I would like to have the opportunity, since there are many new members in the House — not all present today — who may not be familiar with the scope of the Ministry of Education, to introduce it to them very briefly as a basis for any questions that they might like to ask during these estimates.
The House will be asked to approve slightly over $1.1 billion, second only in expenditure to the Ministry of Health. But if you include the amounts of money not included in these estimates, but which the public spends on the educational enterprise in British Columbia, the figure is closer to $1.6 billion, and represents the largest single public expenditure in our province.
We have total enrolments in our educational institutions in formal programs of 675,000 young people. In addition to that, one adult in seven is involved in a continuing education course of some form or other. So the enterprise itself is not only very costly in public terms but it reaches
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directly and indirectly almost every citizen of our province. The Ministry of Education itself is a funding agency. We give to the various institutions in British Columbia over 99 percent of all the money that you vote in the Legislature. What is retained by the ministry for purposes of pursuing the effectiveness of these dollars on behalf of the taxpayer is considerably less than 1 percent.
The Ministry of Education itself, with only one or two exceptions, does not run educational programs. Those are conducted by professionals who work in the various institutions around the province. How many of them are there? There are roughly 1,600 schools; there are 14 colleges; 6 provincial institutes; 3 public universities. So these are the basic institutions that receive funding from the moneys that you vote.
The method by which we pursue these tax dollars when they're given out to the institutions on behalf of the people of British Columbia, who through their taxes fund this enterprise, is in three ways. First of all we pursue all the activities in a program sense, making sure that the academic offerings are of sufficient depth and calibre to satisfy the developmental needs of the people of British Columbia. Secondly we follow the dollars from an administrative viewpoint, making certain as best we can that the way the institutions themselves operate provides a form of fiscal accountability to us, and through us to the public. Finally we administer the capital programs of the province to be certain that the buildings and the necessary capital facilities are there.
Within our ministry we have a deputy minister, who sits next to me, Dr. Walter Hardwick, and three associate deputy ministers; one is for post-secondary education, Mr. Andy Soles, whom I see in the gallery up there today; Mr. Jack Fleming handles all the financial aspects; and Mr. Jim Carter, who is presently away in Europe, does all the primary and secondary programs. These people are available to all members of the Legislature at any time for questions that they might have. This is the broad scope of the department.
Looking at each of the individual divisions, I'd like first to spend a moment or two to describing the primary and secondary system which operates under Mr. Carter, and how we handle the academic, administrative and capital systems that are part of the accountability mechanism that exists within the Ministry of Education. The most urgent problem that we faced as a new government was to introduce systems of academic accountability into our primary and secondary school system. During the permissive years of the late 1960s and early 1970s academic accountability had slipped away not just here but throughout most of the western world. This is why we brought in the core curriculum and the Provincial Learning Assessment Program. The person who really spearheaded that whole movement is also sitting up in the galleries today. He is a veteran of 32 years in the Ministry of Education. He has been a stellar performer for the public of British Columbia during his total career in the public service, and will soon retire — Mr. John Meredith. I wonder if the members will recognize his contribution.
We're satisfied that the core curriculum and the Provincial Learning Assessment Program have completely turned around the attitudes in our primary and secondary school system. The whole objective of bringing this two-pronged attack into the academic accountability side of our primary and secondary system was to make certain that every youngster in our school system received a basic education program that would ensure at least survival skills at the time of school leaving. In those cases where that floor — that necessary basic program — was not being met, we have been able to identify this through the Provincial Learning Assessment Program, so that remedial steps can be taken before you have the much more costly exercise of redeeming people who've gone through the system, but who haven't yet acquired the skills.
Now we're beginning to examine more than just the basic program in the schools. We're beginning to look at the standards that are being achieved at the time of school leaving. To this end we have been working on developing at the operational level the administration of standardized examinations that will give the teacher in the classroom some idea of the performance of the youngsters at a particular level in a particular subject — not that this is to be the total judgment as to whether or not a student is fit to pass or fail, or has acquired the skills, but to give a benchmark of achievement. The English placement test was done with that purpose in mind. Now there are tests being developed in chemistry, in the 11 and 12 program, in math at grades 3, 8, 10 and 12, and hopefully others. We've got tremendous cooperation from the teachers in the system in the development and administration of these tests. I think it's going to do a great deal to satisfy everybody in the system that we've got appropriate academic achievement and academic accountability.
We discovered upon inquiry that there were not standard systems within British Columbia for grading and promoting students in the system. So now we're in the process of rewriting the administrative bulletin for schools that will hopefully achieve some kind of a rational system whereby the student, the parent and the teacher will know exactly how much progress is being made and approximately where the youngsters stand relative to the system as a whole.
I've spoken at the Council of Ministers of Education, on more than one occasion, for the need to develop across Canada a standard, national core curriculum, so that students in one part of the country in a given grade would be receiving approximately the same material as students in another part. I can't appreciate why there should be a difference in a program offered in English or science or math or in any of the skills that are common not just to all parts of Canada but to all parts of the world. I can't see why the program needs to be different in Halifax than Victoria, but that is indeed the case today, and until people come to grips with this problem on a national scale we're going to continue to have a certain amount of drift in the system.
We're paying particular attention on the academic side in our school system now to the ends of the scale. We've never had a program in British Columbia for gifted youngsters. As a consequence of that, all during history we've had intellectual wastage of larger or lesser degree among our most capable youngsters. This year, starting in September, we're going to go into what might be described as an advanced pilot program in grades 4, 5 and 12, specifically to enrich the academic offerings so that these more gifted youngsters will receive appropriate challenge in the school system, and hopefully will develop the superior skills that will allow them to make a far more than average contribution to society when they enter into the world of work after school leaving.
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This is the Year of the Child and we're also now giving particular attention to dealing with the problems of learning disabled and handicapped children, again providing appropriate educational facilities for people that have been deprived in their birthright of the equal physical and mental gifts of the average youngster. To give them the enrichment that they deserve equally as citizens in this province is something we need to address, and we need to develop suitable programs throughout the system. This is underway.
I would like to leave the academic side and talk briefly about the operating side — what we do in the way of attempting to rationalize the finances of the system. We've requested school boards around British Columbia to submit to us five-year forecasts of what their budgets are going to be. They have an opportunity to scrutinize their future projections in relationship to other school districts and in relationship to the total commitment that can be made in education to this particular side of the educational enterprise.
To my knowledge, this is the only five-year forecasting that goes on in any government in Canada or really any ministry of government in Canada. I'm very pleased with the way the school boards have cooperated. In my personal view, if we were to begin forecasting five years ahead in all ministries, in all aspects of public expenditure, we'd be able to bring far more rationality than we have today to the matter of taxation and budgeting in the public sphere, something which I think would add tremendously to the economic health of our country. But for the moment it's permitting us within the Ministry of Education to take a far more rational view of how we should be projecting our own expenditures within the total budget of British Columbia.
We have gone this year to the local employment of superintendents. You will be asked to approve legislation which will provide for term appointments of superintendents and other administrators in the system. The whole idea of this is to provide additional opportunity to the most capable of our teachers in the system to find entry into the administrative ranks.
At the same time, we've provided security of tenure for those who may cycle through the system and back to the classroom again. Perhaps it's a little like the university model where you have a rotation of administrators and where it is regarded that the highest calling is to be in the classroom itself as a teacher, and that the administrators are really on a tour of duty.
With respect to the capital side of our public school system, this is an aspect that you do not see in your budget estimates. We are currently spending in the order of $100 million a year on providing new school facilities and upgrading the existing school facilities. It's a very large capital expenditure each year. Nevertheless we aren't able to satisfy all of the requests that are put in. Ever since the referendum was removed for school construction, something which I think was a very positive step, it has encouraged school boards to apply for capital funds, and those requests have exceeded the borrowing capacity of the province.
What we've done is to try and order all of the requests that are submitted on a priority basis. We have a five-scale basis of priorities. Top priority goes to the building of new schools in suburbs and those areas where there's a growing population, where if you didn't get the school built in a hurry, the youngsters would have to go on shift. Bottom priority goes to administrative offices for school trustees and garages for school buses and non-essential renovations to schools.
We don't refuse people and say: "No, you're never going to be allowed to have that capital facility." What we do is apportion the money we have available, and people who are in the category five end of things may have to wait a few years in order to get their particular project completed. So the priority system allows us to get the most important things done and to delay the less important things hopefully not to the hereafter.
Mr. Chairman, if I could speak briefly about what happens at the post-secondary level, while we have modestly declining enrolments in primary and secondary school levels, particularly secondary — it's going to go down 15 percent in the next six or eight years — at the post-secondary level we still have growth. The universities have pretty well capped off in the last three years but the colleges and institutes are still experiencing major growth, particularly in the career and technical areas, so you will note in your estimates that more is asked for. A considerable jump takes place this year in the budget of those colleges and institutes.
[Mr. Ritchie in the chair.]
We operate in British Columbia 14 regional colleges, which now cover every major area of British Columbia. In addition to that, we have six institutes, five of them newly created in the last year or two, which take on specialty areas and have a provincial mandate to fulfil a particular skill requirement. The most important of these and the one to look to for the future is the Open Learning Institute.
As promised, they will be offering their first courses this September, two in the academic field and a number in basic adult education. There will be a second phase, commencing in January, where more academic offerings will be provided and then they'll be in modest, not quite full-scale operation, but certainly operating like a fully fledged institution a year from September. Remember that the whole purpose of the Open Learning Institute is to bring the full range of post-secondary programs to the individual right in their home; to make it possible for people, no matter what their previous academic achievement, no matter what their financial status, no matter what their geographical location, to have an opportunity to have all of the benefits that can flow from any of our institutions delivered to them on-site. We'll be using print, cassette, videotape, tutoring — a galaxy of methods — to provide the necessary service so that people can learn in their own area, mostly on their own, and they've got to have support in order to achieve that.
Sitting in the background with all of this is something which is potentially far more significant. About a year ago we did a small pilot project in beaming an educational program from BCIT via satellite to a number of local communities, including a logging camp. That pilot project was a success and will be expanded this year where BCIT will be beaming several programs via satellite to five of our colleges using one of the channels on Anik B. If we can achieve success with this, therefore making it apparent that you can deliver a lecture from one centre to everywhere in British Columbia via satellite, with voice-over participation on the part of people collected in studios or even next to their telephone, wherever they may be, we'll be in a
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position to consider launching a satellite totally for educational purposes. One satellite can cover the area of western Canada and has 32 channels on it. I just want you to think for a moment about the possibilities of being able to have 32 channels available at all times, so that you could initiate any educational program in one location in British Columbia, and have the people participating in that particular lecture sitting at their television set — 98 percent of all homes have television sets — where the voice-over could come back through studio microphones or telephones and where....
HON. MR. McGEER: Yes, the feasibility of that was demonstrated in our initial pilot project a year ago. That's going to be expanded with several full courses being offered this fall between BCIT and a number of our community colleges. The voice-over is where you see Dr. Hardwick giving a lecture, and you may be in Fort St. John listening to it. You have a question and you ask him and it comes back into the studio. Two-way communication where your picture would be beamed back is difficult because you would have to have a television camera on you, but the voice-over can be done by telephone. So we may not be very far away in Canada from the time when we could begin to consider delivering our educational programs in this fashion.
[Mr. Strachan in the chair.]
This is a development which deserves to be watched very closely because the potential of it is truly enormous. The cost of putting a satellite up runs just under $50 million. But the satellite stays up there for a number of years and it's shared by half a country.
HON. MR. McGEER: You're going home and ducking in the basement at night, I gather, waiting for Skylab to fall. Well, obviously the newer satellites are going to have to take into account the behaviour of sunspots. I don't know how much we've got in the way of scientific prediction about sunspots in the future. In any event, this is what we have on the academic side.
We've established, from the financial accountability point of view, a new and standard accounting system for our colleges which is available now, not just as a model for the educational system but as a model for government as a whole. In order to determine how best to apportion the available money among our colleges and institutes, we found that we needed to create a system that would provide full financial details and permit comparisons on a program basis. We're very proud of this new system. I'm extremely pleased with the individuals in the ministry who have created it.
Similarly, we've developed a capital funding program. People should realize that our colleges academically have developed far in advance of their physical facilities, so we're probably 10 to 15 years behind. We've got several hundred million dollars worth of permanent buildings to put in place around British Columbia; that cannot be done overnight. Again, we've developed a method through the management advisory council, which has the chairmen of all the college boards of British Columbia working on developing priorities, so that if money does become available, we'll be able to apportion it on a fair basis, taking into account the necessary geographical distribution as well as the priorities within each college.
Some people are going to have to be a little patient, because all of this cannot be achieved overnight. There's a fully developed program which should be implemented within the next five to ten years — we're into a catch-up phase — and we're not going to achieve that overnight.
We're particularly keen to develop more opportunities for youngsters in the vocations. I have no hesitation in saying that the systems we have developed to date have not served our young people well. Getting into trades and vocations is frequently the most difficult of all educational exercises. We really must devise more intelligent schemes that not only open opportunities to our young people coming along in British Columbia but will give us the necessary skill and versatility in our work force to take on the challenges of building Canada in the future. So often in the past we've denied our young people opportunity, and then when we've needed skilled people we've gone to Europe and we've gone to Asia — we've even gone to Australia and New Zealand — and brought in skilled people, while putting our own able youngsters in a position of inferiority to the people we've brought in simply because we haven't given them the skill opportunities.
I mention my own field of medicine as one of the most glaring examples. We register between 300 and 400 doctors per year. This year we're only taking in 100 students, despite the fact that maybe 800 apply. Therefore what we're doing is denying our own youngsters opportunity, because the educational system is too inflexible to accommodate them. We're placing our able youngsters years down the road in an inferior position to people who will be given educational opportunities in England, in other parts of Canada, in Europe and in Asia, and who will then come in and take the best positions in British Columbia while our own have to do without.
Really we should consider it almost an educational crime that we do not provide full opportunities for our own youngsters, not just in all of the professions but in all of the vocations and skills. As you move about, you are going to find that people will say: "No, we don't want more of these; we've already got enough." That's always the argument that's offered when you restrict opportunity. We never seem to take the point of view that we should ensure that every youngster in British Columbia has an opportunity to have a skill as his or her right. Whenever you restrict size below the interest of the people who want to develop that skill, you're forcing the individual into an inferior place in life by narrowing the educational gate. We do that in British Columbia, and I hope we are going to cure that instinct.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Three minutes, Mr. Minister.
HON. MR. McGEER: Have I been talking this long? I'm filibustering estimates!
This is not really for the benefit of the crusty old members who've been in this House so many years, but for the new people who've been handed the torch by the electorate of British Columbia to contribute to debate and to bring new ideas. We wouldn't want these people to be
[ Page 587 ]
deprived of the opportunity to know what the veteran members know so well.
Mr. Chairman, we try to develop administrative systems in our universities which are appropriate for the tremendous expenditures that you are asked to approve through these estimates. The Universities Council of British Columbia has asked our universities to provide admission statements, and they're examining the matter of academic transferability and financial accountability. We have, by an Act of the Legislature, created the Educational Institutions Capital Financing Authority Act, which has made it possible for educational institutions, for the first time, to get over the backlog. There's something like $76 million worth of building going on at our universities today. The gap is closing; we should be able to catch up within five to ten years, because we've established this borrowing authority by act of the Legislature.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, there's a new endeavour in the ministry that you'll be asked to look at this year, and that's the science aspect of education, and the tie-in that that provides for what we will hope becomes a full-scale industrial thrust in British Columbia, based on the exploitation of our educational skills and the development of novel, high-technology industries. We know that such industries grow, in terms of employment, nine times as fast as low-technology industries. British Columbia historically has provided its employment through resource industries that are renowned for being capital-intensive but extremely slow growth in terms of employment opportunities. This is because machinery to do the standard jobs replaces people continually. Therefore the numbers that are employed in mining, forestry and so on are not increasing.
So if we're to say to the people in British Columbia that this is an area, unlike many parts of the world, where young people can have productive and satisfying careers without moving somewhere else, without going to a frontier in some different part of the world, then we've got to have the kind of industrial activities that will provide those opportunities and careers. Therefore we must look to those things which we know will provide rapid employment growth, where the tariff barriers that are really set against our labour are not going to be an impediment, as they are with so many standard manufacturing items that have formed the history of the national policy in Canada.
This is a totally new thrust, and we're using the offices of the Ministry of Education to promote through the Discovery Trusts, through Discovery Parks, and through our interest in high technology the kind of industry that will provide that nine times as rapid growth for our young people, as we have in industries that are already established today.
Have I talked too long, Mr. Chairman?
MR. CHAIRMAN: According to the Committee of Supply time, you have, Mr. Minister.
MS. SANFORD: I am rather pleased that we do have the rules with respect to time limits, because once the minister gets involved in science and technology and post-secondary education we can expect him to go on and on and on, because that's where the interest of this Minister of Education, Science and Technology lies; that's where it is. He dutifully outlined for the benefit of the new members of the Legislature what was happening in the schools of the province, kindergarten to grade 12. He went through that step by step, but did you notice how enthusiastic he became when he started talking about science, technology, research and the medical field? That's where his interest lies. That’s where it has always been since he became Minister of Education in this province.
I'm rather pleased that they've finally tied the title of "Science and Technology" onto the Education ministry portfolio, because it really belongs there as long as that minister is in charge. His interest lies in the elitist, post-secondary field. He doesn't have the interest in those hundreds of thousands of kids that go to school each day, nor in the teachers who are working in the kindergarten to grade 12 educational system of this province. He's never had any interest in them, and he's never even tried to find out what happens in the schools of the province unless they are at college or university level.
Last night there was a flurry of activity in our caucus rooms at about 5:45 p.m. when the minister suddenly discovered that the Education estimates might have come up for discussion last evening. A courier was dispatched from his office just before the adjournment at 6 p.m., and came in to speak to our staff in the NDP caucus rooms and asked whether or not he could possibly get into the mail boxes of each individual MLA some information before the estimates of the Minister of Education, Science and Technology came up for discussion. Well, I was quite interested in this, Mr. Chairman, because I thought the minister was finally going to give us some information about what was happening in the public school system — kindergarten to 12 — but not so. I'm sure you saw the particular pamphlet that was produced yesterday and hurried into our caucus rooms with the request that the material be distributed before the estimates of the Minister of Education, Science and Technology came up. Mr. Chairman, did you receive one of these? It's called: "Science and Research." This was dispatched from the Minister of Education's office so that we'd be ready for his estimates based on this material which had to be hurried into our boxes so we could read it.
Mr. Chairman, I've never seen such a glossy production in my life.
MS. BROWN: Not since Captain Cook.
MS. SANFORD: Yes, not since Captain Cook. You're right. Captain Cook was almost in the same category, but not quite.
It certainly shows where the interests of the Minister of Education, Science and Technology lie. Mr. Chairman, I'm wondering if perhaps this beautiful, glossy booklet might have been prepared before the election and somehow got delayed in printing and didn't come out until now. It certainly indicates again and confirms to us on this side where the interests of the Minister of Education, Science and Technology lie. I would like to know, Mr. Chairman, how much this booklet cost. I'm wondering whether the minister would make a note of that so that he can provide that answer at some point during the discussion of these estimates. What did it cost? How many copies were printed? Who is going to receive a copy of this particular booklet?
Mr. Chairman, the minister had an executive assistant by the name of Jim Bennett. Jim Bennett has now left the ministry as an executive assistant and is setting up a game
[ Page 588 ]
and toy store in Victoria. Again it confirms my impression and our impression on this side of the House as to where the interests of the minister lie, because we had an announcement and a press release come out indicating that Glen Mitchell is now going to be the ministerial assistant to Education, Science and Technology. The interesting part of all this — and I hope that the new members of the House are making a note of this — is that "the new executive assistant is going to assist my office by liaising with the numerous agencies which are involved in developing the new science and research policy of the provincial government." There is nothing to do with the public school system from grades 1 to 12. Again, he gets rid of an executive assistant and brings in a new one to deal with the new aspects of science and technology. It ties in well with this beautiful production that we had rushed into our boxes last night.
I have a few questions for the minister with respect to the work of Jim Bennett, who is now operating a game and toy store in Victoria. I understand that Jim Bennett will be acting as a consultant from time to time to the Minister of Education. I'm wondering whether the work that will be undertaken by Jim Bennett will be done through order-in-council. Will it be done by contract? Will he be there on a regular basis, two days a week, three days a week? What kind of money will he be receiving? Lastly, Mr. Chairman, what qualifications does Jim Bennett have to be a consultant in the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology? We all know that he acted as an executive assistant to the Minister of Education, and I know that a number of executive assistants have no particular expertise in the particular field in which they have been working as executive assistants to ministers. What sort of qualifications does Jim Bennett have to do the consulting work that we have been informed the Minister of Education wants Jim Bennett to do? I would assume that Jim Bennett will probably be glad to do some consulting work, because I know it's difficult getting a business started, and that there have been a lot of bankruptcies and so on, but I would like the minister to answer questions with respect to Bennett's particular expertise and how he will be employed in the Ministry of Education.
I'm sorry the Premier's not here this morning because I think — since the Minister of Education, Science and Technology has displayed virtually no interest in the hundreds of thousands of children who attend school from kindergarten to grade 12 — it's time to split that portfolio. I know people sitting on the back bench have interest in education. Leave the minister as the Minister of Science and Technology, and let's bring someone into that position — somebody from the backbench, perhaps. I see Mr. Brummet back there — sorry, Mr. Chairman, I must not use his name — I see the member for North Peace River in the House. I know he has an interest in the educational field. Mr. Chairman himself may have an interest, and I'm sure he's concerned that the present minister has not shown the interest over the last few years in education in the province.
Teacher morale is not that great. I have never heard the minister give a word of praise for the work that's being done by the teachers of the province. I haven't heard that, and I'm really looking forward to the day when we have a publication that's as glossy as this, which shows what is happening to the children in the schools, the learning process, and which gives some indication of what's going on in the public education system. I don't think we're going to see a booklet like that on public education. We'll get it on science and technology from this minister.
The teachers have been concerned that the minister has shown very little interest in what they are doing, or in the contribution they are making. I was interested this year to note the Okanagan teachers put on a special conference to deal with the fact that the public generally does not hold them in a good light, and with the fact that there is a crisis of confidence in the schools and in what teachers are doing in the schools. They were so concerned they put on a special conference to deal with this particular crisis of confidence in public education. The minister has never given a word of encouragement or shown that he is interested in what is happening or what is going on with those youngsters from kindergarten right through to the post-secondary level.
But the one aspect of the public school system the minister is very good at is in placing the load of paying for public education at the local level. Since this minister has taken office we have seen a continual increase in that load. The mill rate has gone from 26 mills in 1975 to 41 mills this year. That is what the local taxpayer has to pay for that basic education program. This is in spite of the fact that four years ago this government indicated to the people of the province the system of financing for public education is outmoded, and that the load must be taken off at the local level. The McMath report has recommended that the education costs should be paid for 75 percent by the province and 25 percent at the local level. What we have now is a steady increase in the percentage at the local level. This year it's gone up to 61 percent paid for at the local level, with the province picking up only 39 percent. In 1975 the province was paying 48 percent of the total costs for that basic education program. Now it's 39 percent. I see no indication that the government has any intention of reversing that direction. The taxes raised for the basic education program will continue to be borne at the local level.
I have no doubt the minister will make some reference to the homeowner grant. But he knows that, traditionally by the Socred Party, that grant has been applied just before an election. The people of the province can expect to see nothing again until the government has had a chance to build up a surplus and can give out another homeowner grant as an election gimmick to obtain votes.
He is taking away the operating costs of the colleges, Mr. Chairman. The colleges are no longer funded locally and he made a great to-do about making an announcement with respect to removing the operating costs of colleges and assuming those at the provincial level. But the operating cost of the community colleges last year was 1.88 mills. The increase in the mill rate this year is more than 1.88 mills. So who's kidding whom here? The mill rate has been increased this year again by 2.25 mills. He's made a big production about removing the cost from the local people, but he's added a mill rate that's even greater than what it cost to pay for the operation of those community colleges.
I was sorry, Mr. Chairman, that in the opening remarks of the minister he did not mention an event which took place this year in relation to the Nishga school district. For the first time in the history of the province, there was a high-school graduating class from the Nishga school district. The minister made no recognition of it at any point, as far as I know. He certainly didn't mention it today in his remarks. But this was the first native Indian school district,
[ Page 589 ]
established in 1974 by the previous Minister of Education, the member for Burnaby North (Mrs. Dailly).
This was an attempt to give an opportunity for the development of native languages and culture within their own school district. It's been a very successful venture. The first graduating class went through this year, Mr. Chairman, and the Minister of Education made no mention of it.
Mr. Chairman, I'm very concerned about an article that appeared in the paper this morning with respect to a decision made by a board of inquiry under the Human Rights Code. We have found that a board of inquiry has decided that it is quite okay for a school board to fire a teacher who has married outside of the Catholic religion. I am referring, of course, to the funding that is made available by this minister to independent schools and in this case, to a Catholic school which has fired a particular teacher because she has married outside the Catholic religion. That firing has gone to a board of inquiry. The board of inquiry has ruled that under the Human Rights Code that is acceptable. That is a shocking decision.
Now I know that perhaps it is the Human Rights Code that needs to be amended and I certainly can't discuss that under these estimates. But I want to ask the Minister of Education this morning whether or not he intends to continue funding schools which practise clear discrimination in terms of hiring. In spite of what the board of inquiry has said at this point, in spite of the fact that section 8 of the Human Rights Code obviously needs amending in view of this decision, in spite of the fact that boards of inquiry are appointed by a given government and that boards of inquiry, as do so many other agencies of government, reflect the attitude of government, I am wondering if the Minister of Education intends to continue funding those schools which clearly practise discrimination in hiring of teachers.
Mr. Chairman, I'll take my seat at this time and he can answer some of those questions.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Before the minister carries on, I would point out to all members that we are allowing a lot of latitude during the estimate votes. But we should try and contain our remarks to the administrative action of the ministry because that is what is open to debate. The nineteenth edition of Erskine May also says that "estimates do not afford the proper opportunity for discussing how a minister should be chosen." I would point that out to all hon. members.
HON. MR. McGEER: Mr. Chairman, perhaps I could commence by sending over some other glossy publications that we're quite proud of in the Ministry of Education. The first of these is a booklet on post-secondary education in British Columbia. This gives a description of every post-secondary institution, the system generally, and at the back has an index showing all the various programs of a post-secondary nature that our young people can enrol in. This is the glossy form, and that particular publication has gone to every graduating high school student in British Columbia — not the glossy edition; for the big edition we used newsprint, but that was just to save on the cost. Then I'd like, Mr. Chairman, to provide her with another glossy publication of the ministry. This is the report on education for 1977-78, which has been completely redeveloped in its form to try and provide the public and members of theLegislature with a more logical description of educational activities.
MR. LORIMER: Have you read it?
HON. MR. McGEER: The member for Burnaby-Willingdon is reminiscing about the days when he was a minister, when he wouldn't have given any thought at all to reading the departmental reports. But that's not the way we're operating in the Ministry of Education today.
The booklet — which I'm glad the member enjoyed — has been distributed around the world, mostly to scientific companies. We've had a very encouraging response. We've had hundreds of inquiries from organizations that might consider establishing their future research activities in British Columbia. Now we may only get a few. If we get one, the investment has more than repaid itself.
The member wondered whether this might have come out just at election time. The publication got off the presses in time for me to take a few of these to China, when I was a member of the Canadian delegation that went over there, and it was well received in that country. I haven't reported to the House, Mr. Chairman, on that visit; but it might be of some interest to the members here to know what has gone on in China, and what we in the Canadian educational system are intending to do to help that country,
My deputy, Dr. Hardwick, was the head of our negotiating team that worked out the details with China whereby that country might send some of its scholars to Canada starting in September. We can scarcely comprehend in the western world the educational holocaust that struck China at the time of the Cultural Revolution. Nothing like it has ever taken place in the western world at any time in history. The net result for the Chinese people has been that since the Cultural Revolution commenced they have not graduated a single class of engineers, technologists, doctors or professionals of any kind. So for a period of 13 years that country has gone without the benefits that the higher educational system can provide in terms of industry, culture, and social development of every kind. At the time of the Cultural Revolution gangs of sloganeering students and others invaded the institutions, and ridiculed — and in some cases beat to death — the professors who were teaching the young people of that country. There has been no opportunity for China, since it has not had any students coming along, to develop any new faculty of an adequate kind. When the government dismissed the Gang of Four and moved to rehabilitate the post-secondary institutions, they found themselves not only without students, but without adequate professors to teach the students. The only faculty with knowledge and qualifications that they could muster were those who had been in place prior to 1966, and yet these people had been absent from their particular specialties for over a decade, and now for 13 years.
China has moved in two ways to correct this decimation of the intellectual and teaching class. The first thing that has been done is to begin admitting high school students on the basis of political recommendation. Approximately 20 million students are in each age group in China, and thus would graduate from their secondary school system; 6 million of these write state examinations now; and 280,000 are successful in being admitted to their post-secondary institutions. That process has been in place for two years and is now entering its third year. It has had a most dramatic
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effect on the quality of the secondary system in China because now the stakes are very high in having high-quality secondary education.
Of course, the introduction of national examinations itself has had a dramatic impact on the calibre of the people who are arriving at these post-secondary institutions. There is an enormous difference in the calibre of the students who are in the first and second years, as opposed to those who were operating under the cultural revolution system and therefore weren't properly qualified in the first place.
Unfortunately, in Chinese post-secondary institutions they do not have faculties which are aware of the state of knowledge in their particular field to teach these people as they come along. So China, about a year ago, began to approach 13 western nations, of which Canada was one, appealing for assistance to help rehabilitate the educational system. We have responded in Canada, not to the extent I would have hoped, to give assistance to this country. In September we will be accepting 200 scholars — these are pre-1966 faculty members — to give them exposure to their discipline for a brief period of time in this country, then to return them to China to spearhead their educational rehabilitation. We should be accepting more of these people in Canada.
In my opinion, we should not be driving a hard financial bargain. We have no friendlier trading nation than China. They permit us a trade imbalance greater than any major nation in the world. They buy huge amounts of our wheat and export to our country relatively little in the way of goods in return. So for the most populous nation on earth, one of the poorest nations, a nation that has limped along now in modern times without the benefit of what an intellectual class and a good post-secondary system can provide them, they are using their limited hard currency to give us an enormous trade imbalance.
I think the least we could do for the Chinese would be to create a thousand or more wheat scholarships in recognition of the favourable trade that we have in that one commodity. That would permit them to send to our institutions some of their faculty and most promising students so that they would be able later to go back to China, do a great deal for the development of that country and, at the same time, build better relations in the future than we have today.
MR. HANSON: On a point of order, perhaps the minister could focus the scope of his treatise on the commitment of his ministry to Indian education in the province, and move it from China.
MR. CHAIRMAN: That is not an appropriate point of order. The debates on supply, in fact, discuss the administrative action of a ministry.
HON. MR. McGEER: Mr. Chairman, I was going to come to the efforts that have been made for Indian education in British Columbia. I might say that we are short of those books now. We'll probably have a second press run of them in the near future. If members want additional ones I'll try to supply them. On the other hand, if you don't want them I'd be happy to have them back. We will have a supply, I hope, in the next month or two.
MS. SANFORD: How many?
HON. MR. McGEER: There were 6,000 of them. I'll try and get the printing costs; I haven't got them yet.
With respect, however, to the cost of basic education, a question raised by the member for Comox (Ms. Sanford), the amount that is contributed from provincial funds in total is roughly 60 percent of our cost of education in our primary and secondary systems. Without the increase in the homeowner grant, just with the removal of college costs from the property tax this year, virtually everybody in British Columbia will be paying lower school taxes this year, in absolute terms, than last year. The provincial average mill rate has gone down from 50.39 mills to 49.1 mills. So in absolute terms, without the increase in the homeowner grant, people will be paying lower taxes.
As everybody in the Legislature knows, the concept of the homeowner grant is that the money initially goes against school taxes, so that that $100 extra, which really goes first to people living in the most modest homes, gives them a major reduction in their school tax — another $100 off the cost.
Incidentally, I've got the cost of these booklets. The printing was $24,650 — $4.10 per booklet.
With respect to Indian education, I agree with what the member says. The Nishga school district has been an enormous success. I happened to be out of the country at the time of that graduation, but our Assistant Deputy Minister of Education was up at that graduation and was most impressed by what was going on. I could take time and give you a complete rundown of the overall program that we have for Indian education in British Columbia. I don't know whether I really want to take the time right now to do it, but if members are particularly interested in it we could call in the person who is the head of our Indian education system, Mr. Saul Arbess, and go through the whole program with you.
As far as the Catholic schools are concerned, I'm not going to try and second-guess the Human Rights Code of British Columbia. This is an Act of the Legislature — given, by the way, to a friend of your party to administer — and if it's acceptable to the Human Rights Code and those who administer it, I'm certainly not going to attempt to exceed my legislative jurisdiction in order to interfere with those kinds of decisions. It would be entirely inappropriate. The Independent Schools Support Act is the Act that we have to administer, and that in no way interferes with the Human Rights Code and the particular decision that was made by that board of inquiry. So please don't ask the Ministry of Education, or the minister, to exceed the authority of legislative Acts and impose our prejudices — or yours — on what might be a decision of people who are properly qualified and constituted to make those kinds of social judgments.
MRS. DAILLY: I personally found the comments on cooperation between the ministry and the educational system in China most interesting. I think we're all pleased to know that this is taking place.
I would like to go back to a couple of points right now. The minister has given, first of all, an example of some of the books which his ministry has been putting out. Putting aside the information in the books and how well they're done, there is a basic issue here which I'd like to bring out. A few minutes ago the minister held up a book for all of us to see called Post-Secondary Education in British Columbia, and he was pointing out to the member for Comox (Ms. Sanford) that there are other materials that have been sent out to the high school students to show he does have some interest in that area, and that they're done on rough paper and not too expensive. But the point I want to make about this book is not about the contents; I want to talk about when it arrived in the schools of British Columbia. I was in my campaign room the day before the election when a student arrived from one of our high schools in Burnaby and said: "Mrs. Dailly, look what we've just received on our desks, to take home to our parents."
Now I notice the Minister of Forests (Hon. Mr. Waterland) walking out in apparent disgust. I'm glad you're disgusted. I'm disgusted with this blatant misuse of public funds, and I'm glad you share our disgust.
Here we have a picture of the minister on the front page. What do we find? It says: "Introduction: a message from the Hon. Pat McGeer. It talks about the past three years in education being dynamic ones for the province of British Columbia — straight political propaganda put into the hands of the students of this province the day before the election. Now I hope that minister realizes that the example of political ethics which is being set by this Minister of Education, who is supposed to be an example to the students of this province, is at a pretty low level. You know what the book that was brought to me had written on the back page? It said: McGeer's election propaganda for the 1979 campaign." That's what some of the students thought about that book. It's too bad, you know, because basically the thrust of the book is good. It's trying to acquaint our high school students with the opportunities in post-secondary education when they graduate. What did he do? In their terrible desire to be re-elected, they didn't care if they misused the taxpayers' money. They are turning our students into cynics about their politicians and their Minister of Education.
The member for Comox (Ms. Sanford) opened up a very serious matter, to which we've not had a proper answer from the Minister of Education. We now find that many of our fears which were enunciated when the Independent Schools Act was first brought in to this Legislature are right here in front of us today. At the time that Act was brought in — I think if you check back in Hansard you will see our quotes on it — I personally made the point that one of the reasons we objected to the passage of the Independent Schools Act was that we could foresee that public funds in this province would be going to schools and institutions in this province which practise discrimination. We said this would happen. We never did get an answer from the minister or from the government. They were completely evasive. At that time they were looking for votes, and they figured that by pushing this Act through they would gain votes from certain groups in this province. But in order to gain votes, this government has completely abrogated their responsibilities as members of this Legislature to uphold in this province that no discrimination should exist.
We have a case this morning of a human rights board upholding the right to fire a teacher because that teacher happened to have married a divorced Protestant; she was fired from the Catholic school where she was teaching. The minister says: "I have nothing to do with the Human Rights Code; our Legislation is separate." The point is that this minister was the architect of this Act. He pushed it through this House. He obviously sold it to the rest of his colleagues. From the time he's been in this Legislature — and that's longer than I have, which is a fair amount of time now — he has advocated aid to independent schools. So he got his way. He has assured that the people of British Columbia are now being forced to see their tax money given to institutions which practise outright discrimination.
I personally have always fought against all forms of discrimination; my colleagues have. In our party we have a tradition going back to the days when we fought against the internment of the Japanese in the 1940s. Because we fought against that, many of our members went down to defeat. But at least we went down on something we were proud of and which had to be done.
Once again, this minister is forcing us to take part in discriminatory practices. His answer is not satisfactory. Aside from the fact that we have open discrimination being adhered to and supported by this minister, and that our funds are being used in the area of this particular case, what do we also have? I've looked through the amounts of money given to the independent schools of this province, and of the schools that are receiving the largest sums of money in amounts of $200,000 to $300,000, do you know which are the main ones? They are the exclusive schools of this province, which also practise discrimination. They practise discrimination on grounds of sex. You can't get your girl into Vancouver College or St. George's School; and, vice versa, you can't put a boy into some of these exclusive girls' schools such as Shawnigan Lake and so on.
MRS. DAILLY: Whichever one it is. It's the one up-Island — Crofton.
The point is that hundreds of thousands of dollars of our tax money is now going not only to uphold discrimination based on religion, but it is also going to uphold discrimination based on sex and economics. This was said in this House when this bill was brought in. We fought against it. We argued against this. This government has proceeded on its merry way. Now I know we're going to be faced with more inroads. In due course, I'm sure, this minister will be making moves which will increase aid to these schools.
This minister did not give a satisfactory answer on this whole matter of discrimination. He cannot hide behind the fact that he has nothing to do with the Human Rights Code. I'm asking this minister to stand up in this House and let us know that his government does not believe in discrimination. The only way to prove that to us is to remove public funds from any institution in this province which practises it.
HON. MR. McGEER: I owe an apology to a lot of people in my Education ministry, because I nagged and badgered and bullied them to get this booklet on post-secondary education out far sooner than it was apparently delivered. I think the timing of delivery was impeccable. I wish I could claim some credit for that, but all I can really do is to apologize to all the people I bullied to try and get it out sooner.
It apparently didn't achieve what the member deems to have been a political objective because I regret to say we didn't do better in Burnaby. So maybe she's right that the book had a negative political effect.
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In any event, we did manage to get the booklet out before the students left the schools, and this is the thing that they needed to have because we didn't have a method by which we could have delivered it to their homes.
As far as the Independent Schools Act is concerned, that member has her own prejudices and there's really nothing I can do about that. The Act spells out precisely the terms of reference for grants to independent schools, and it is based on the academic performance of those schools, the fact that they offer the same curriculum, that they submit to academic accountability, that the teachers become certified and that the schools be inspected.
We can't open up every independent school in British Columbia to every person from anywhere in the province. These schools, like our own public schools, are limited in size, and we practise a geographical discrimination with respect to our public schools. We don't let every youngster in British Columbia attend one public school. You've got to take the physical plant that is there and apportion it among the people who are in that particular neighbourhood. The independent school has got to operate by admitting people that can be accommodated in the size of that school.
If they violate human rights, there's a Human Rights Code to take care of that. If they practise discrimination, there's other legislation to take care of that. It isn't in the Independent Schools Act for us to impose our individual prejudices, mine or the member's for Burnaby North, on that system. We're educators in the Ministry of Education and we look for the quality, in a professional sense, of the teachers.
By the way, whether they are in the public school system or the independent school system, we don't hire teachers in the public school system either. School boards do that. We certify the teachers, public or independent. That's an exercise the ministry undertakes. We inspect the schools, public or independent, and we ask them to give the same curriculum and submit to the same assessment examinations, public and independent.
We don't look behind that as educators, either in the independent or the public school system. They are treated identically except for one thing. The independent schools get 30 percent of the cost of the public schools. So there is financial discrimination of a very major degree practised against the independent schools. Now it's not the will of the Legislature or of the government that independent schools be given equal funding. But make no mistake, that discrimination is there. Historically the discrimination against the independent schools was 100 percent discrimination, not 70 percent. But it was there and the member was quite satisfied with that financial discrimination.
That just happens to separate the philosophy of this side of the House and that side of the House. That's why the Independent Schools Act was brought in, because it makes good educational sense, good social sense and good fiscal sense. You may disagree. Indeed, I suppose, the time to have expressed that disagreement was on second reading. That's when the opposition was afraid to stand up and be counted. When the election campaign came along, they were afraid to stand up and be counted again.
When we get into debate in the House on the details, it all spills out. It spills out except when the time comes for you to stand up and be accountable to the voters of British Columbia when it comes to second reading in the House, when it comes to your election platform. That's when you run for cover. When it comes to niggling away, standing up in debate, asking us to be prejudiced, that's when it all comes out.
I would ask for that party over there for once to translate the kinds of things they say now into firm stands that the public can understand. When it comes to second reading in the House, stand up and be counted. When it comes to election campaigns, make your policies clear. Don't come in and ask us to exercise your prejudices when you don't have the courage to take those stands before the public.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Just before debate continues I would once again like to remind all hon. members that during estimates the administrative action of the ministry is open to debate, but not the necessity for legislation or matters involving legislation.
MR. KING: With respect to the minister's last remarks, I find it rather refreshing that he objects to the particular moral approaches of the official opposition. Because I can tell you that if a renegade Liberal, a political turncoat, ever started endorsing and sanctioning the moral characteristics of our party, we would indeed be in trouble and have to review the situation.
The issue involved in the case of Mrs. Caldwell, who was fired from St. Thomas Aquinas School, is one that should be debated in this Legislature, and should be looked at very carefully. I want to read a portion of the judgment from the Human Rights inquiry with respect to the very things the minister has just commented on; they refer to the academic qualifications of that individual teacher and her performance as a teacher academically within that institution, which the minister says is the only legitimate interest of his ministry. On page 16 of the judgment is this subheading:
"The discriminatory effect of the school's employment policies on Mrs. Caldwell:
"In the five years she was employed at St. Thomas Aquinas, no one ever reprimanded Mrs. Caldwell for failing to carry out her teaching duties properly. Her appraisal form, exhibit 6, completed by Mr. Stewart as of March 31, 1978, states that she is above standard as a teacher. In his written comments on the form, Mr. Stewart stated: 'As a classroom teacher in commercial courses Mrs. Caldwell is excellent'."
His comment goes on to explain that Mrs. Caldwell is not being asked to return next year, because of her marriage to a divorced man outside the church. Mr. Stewart gave Mrs. Caldwell a strong letter of recommendation in which he stated, among other things, that she has handled the entire commercial program of the school with exceptional competence and responsibility.
"In his testimony before the board Mr. Stewart stated that Mrs. Caldwell was a cooperative member of the staff and that there was no question of her ability or competence as a teacher. The respondents make it absolutely clear that the only reason for the failure to renew was the marriage. Mr. Stewart took the same position in March 1978. The respondents consistently maintained that position when the Human Rights officer tried to settle the complaint and throughout the hearing before the board of inquiry in May 1979. Mr. Stewart stated
[ Page 593 ]
frankly that if Mrs. Caldwell had been a member of a Protestant faith, which accepts marriage to divorced persons, she would have been offered a contract for the following year. The school employed an Anglican teacher who was divorced, and who had remarried. Mrs. Caldwell was treated in a different manner than she would have been if she were not a Catholic. More was expected of her because she was a Catholic."
Mr. Chairman, what we are dealing with here is the public funding of a religious philosophy which is clearly in conflict with a large number of the citizens and taxpayers of this province who through their tax dollars subsidize the very discrimination which was admitted by this particular school. That, I suggest to the minister, is rubbing salt into the wound. I suggest the minister has an obligation. In light and in defence of the academic qualification of teachers in this province, he has the responsibility and obligation, as Minister of Education, to protect the integrity of academic excellence in this province, and also to ensure that no teacher is going to be discriminated against when that academic excellence is beyond question and still they are deprived of their employment opportunity because of a conflict in religious philosophy.
The question is not whether the Catholic Church should have the right to pursue their philosophy and apply their rules to their particular denominational school. That is not the issue; that is not the question. The issue and the question is a moral one for the minister, and this Legislature. It is whether or not public funds should be forwarded to an institution which chooses in its own privacy and wisdom to set up a denominational school along their own religious philosophical lines.
When anyone other than a Catholic reads the finding of this particular human rights panel where the statement is embodied that more was expected of her because she was a Catholic, I want to suggest to the minister that he is contributing to religious conflict in this province, because that statement cannot but be offensive to all of those who are non-Catholic in the province of British Columbia. The minister is subsidizing that conflict with the taxpayers' money. That's the issue. If he has any moral turpitude, Mr. Chairman, he will stand up and say that despite the Human Rights Code and any deficiencies it may have, which will be subject to review in this institution at the appropriate time, as a matter of policy and as a matter of obligation he should and must withdraw public funding from this kind of institution.
Mr. Chairman, Mrs. Caldwell's marriage was in accordance with the laws of this nation and this province. She did not violate a law. There is no breach of the civil or criminal law. The irony of this case — and it's stated openly in the decision — is that Mrs. Caldwell quit the Catholic church and took out membership in a Protestant faith so that she would still be employed as a teacher at St. Thomas Aquinas. In fact, it's noted that an Anglican teacher in that same institution married a divorcee and was allowed to continue in employment simply because she was of another faith. But for a Catholic to marry outside the church is grounds for discrimination by that institution.
Now what kind of nonsense, what kind of an anomaly is that situation? Is that the kind of healthy tolerance for conflicting religious beliefs that should be funded by public money? I suggest it is not. For the minister to try to hide behind geographical allocation of public schools and facilities is an absolute charade. It really goes beyond the imagination for a person of the good doctor's background to use that kind of convoluted argument to support his obvious desire to fund discrimination with the taxpayers' money in the province of British Columbia.
That's the single and sole issue. There is no question of the right of any denomination to practise its own religious freedom. There is no question of their right to set up their own denominational schools and teach the particular religious philosophy that they adhere to. But I suggest there should not be licence to discriminate against people in the course of their employment based on those religious parameters — certainly not to the extent that they are subsidized by the very people they are offending. That is the stuff that conflict and intolerance is made of. I suggest that it’s a dangerous precedent, and it falls right on the minister's shoulders and right on his head if from this kind of example there flows controversy and resentment and bitterness which is predicated on religious lines in the province of British Columbia. It's regrettable, it was predictable and was predicted by the official opposition in the debate on the private schools bill.
Mr. Chairman, I was appalled at the minister using the other argument that it was somehow wrong for the opposition to raise these matters in the Legislature. Does the minister suggest that there is some agency where members are more accountable than they are in the Legislature of British Columbia? Has he become so arrogant that he no longer considers it the right and the duty of elected members of the Legislature to raise matters concerning public policy within the very institution that we are elected to represent our constituency in? Nonsense! The issue is a clear and simple one: will the minister review and consider withdrawing public subsidy to any private school, be it a denominational one or another kind, that offends the human rights and the human dignity of any member of the community? That's the issue that the minister should address himself to, and I request that he do so.
MR. BARBER: My colleague for Shuswap-Revelstoke (Mr. King) has made a very important point and asked some important questions. The minister has the authority to deny, if he wishes, moneys to those schools that practise discrimination. The authority is found in section 5 of the Independent Schools Support Act.
[Mr. Rogers in the chair.]
My questions to the minister are these: First of all, has the inspector of independent schools, to date, provided any evidence whatever of discrimination practised on grounds of racial or ethnic superiority, religious intolerance, persecution or social change through violent action? Has any evidence whatever been forwarded to the minister from the inspector of independent schools that would encourage him to take action under section 5 of the Act, which he's entitled to do? If so, could he give us the details of that? Would he be willing, if such has not been the case to date, to instruct today the inspector of independent schools to take a look at the particular case raised by my colleagues — to do so under the authority of section 5 and to report back to this House as quickly as possible? It is for us,, through you, Mr., Chairman, a highly important matter. On the basis of the
[ Page 594 ]
only evidence at hand there appears to be significant discrimination here.
Discrimination by itself, no matter what its origin, is an offensive thing; even Thomas Aquinas himself would have agreed with that. Arguable as his philosophy might have been on other grounds he would certainly have agreed with that. But discrimination is made all the more offensive when it's subsidized by you and me through the public purse; it becomes all the more difficult to defend. Our cousins to the south, with really quite magnificent federal law and precedent established since the case of Brown v. the Board of Education, 1952, have repeatedly said that they will not in any fashion subsidize discrimination on any racial grounds, and increasingly on any other grounds, in that country. They've paid a heavy price for that commitment. They've paid a very heavy price for the upholding of that moral principle which says that the state shall never ever, to the extent that it can be advised and will take action, support any form of discrimination at all. They've paid the price. They've had the guts and the simple moral courage to say it is wrong and they will not support it.
The minister has the authority to instruct the inspector to look into this case. The minister has, we think, the duty to tell this House whether or not there have been any other cases that have come to the inspector's attention. Those are my questions. Have there been other cases? If so, what are the details of them? If there have been none, that's, fine. Would the minister instruct the inspector to examine this case under the authority of section 5?
HON. MR. McGEER: The answer to the first question is no, Mr. Chairman, and the answer to the second question is yes.
MR. BARBER: Thank you.
MS. SANFORD: I was rather interested in the pious attitude that the Minister of Education has taken with respect to the decision made by the board of inquiry in relation to this particular firing of a teacher in the Catholic school system, for it was that very minister who was responsible for ICBC when ICBC fought, right to the Supreme Court of Canada, a case that had been decided under the Human Rights Code of this province. That very minister was responsible for ICBC at that time and took a completely different attitude than he is taking now on this particular issue. I am wondering whether the minister will reflect on his actions at that time as the minister responsible and, in this case, review the funding that is going to the independent schools who are using discriminatory hiring procedures; and whether he will consider cutting off the funding for those particular schools; and whether he will at the same time pressure his colleague, the Minister of Labour (Hon. Mr. Williams), to rectify the inadequacy of section 8 of the Human Rights Code.
Mr. Chairman, he is saying that we have to accept this decision, that it's a law of the province. But he is one of the lawmakers over there, and he certainly can make decisions with respect to funding for the independent schools under the Act which is under his jurisdiction. What a complete reversal! The minister says: "Oh, no, we shouldn't even discuss it in this House. It's been decided." But when he was minister responsible for ICBC he certainly made no effort to ensure at that time that it wasn't discussed. As a matter of fact, ICBC at that time pursued the decision of a board of inquiry into the courts. How can he justify those two positions as Minister of Education?
HON. MR. McGEER: I think elected members of the Legislature, whether they serve in opposition or in government, make excellent ombudsmen and champions of human rights. However, they make extremely poor judges and frequently even worse juries. We set laws in the province, and your vote is equal to mine in whatever law of the province may be established. But we leave to others the task of interpreting those laws. I've given an undertaking to the member for Victoria that I would be pleased to have our inspector examine this particular school. That's appropriate under the Act.
But if we've got a violation of the Human Rights Act, that's for the Human Rights Commission to decide, not for me and not for you. I don't disagree with the appropriateness of raising questions about it. I do disagree with the appropriateness of a Minister of Education becoming a judge in this matter when the opinion has already been set forward, contrary to your judgments but nevertheless by people who are properly constituted to consider that question. I can have our inspector look at it again, but I'm certainly not going to make moral judgments about questions of this kind as a minister. I just don't think that's an appropriate task. I'm sorry.
I think it appropriate to establish a reasonable body of others to make those judgments, and if, in fact, such bodies are not in place, then we should probably see that they are put in place. As far as I'm concerned, the Human Rights Commission is there and that is an appropriate area for consideration. If there's a violation under the Human Rights Commission, then it seems to me that we do have a mandate to do something about it.
Mr. Chairman, the member also raised the question of the Heerspink case. I make no bones about the fact that ICBC was very foolish not to write an insurance policy for that particular gentleman. But the issue was whether or not an insurance company must insure everybody who comes through the door. Insurance companies have never accepted that obligation. That's the whole purpose of competitive underwriting.
By law, when it comes to automobile insurance, we do, under ICBC, take everybody who comes through the door. You must. That's what the law says. But for the general insurance business, where ICBC is competing with other insurance companies, they operate by the rules of the industry, which do not oblige a person to write insurance. That right may be thrown out by the Supreme Court of Canada and that will have important implications to the insurance industry as a whole. But don't expect again someone like myself to make that kind of judgment. That's what we have the courts for. I think that people in this chamber should be the last ones to invite a minister to begin to make arbitrary judgments of one kind or another, because if you are lucky enough to have Solomon being the Minister of Education, or any other portfolio, he wouldn't be there for long. Therefore the chances of having somebody who would be an effective judge — and I certainly can tell you I would never be one.... You're going down the wrong road in what you anticipate a minister should do.
So, Madam Member, the circumstances were very different in those two cases. But in both instances it would
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have been incorrect for a person like myself to try to act as the judge.
What we do in the case of the teachers, whether they're in the independent school system or the public school system, is that we grant them a licence. We do not employ them. We don't employ teachers at the Victoria High School any more than we employ teachers at Sir Thomas Aquinas. But we certificate them, and this teacher certainly retains the provincial certificate just as somebody in the public school system retains their provincial certificate unless they have individually done something wrong. But just because they have a certificate, that doesn't guarantee them a job at any particular school, and schools do change their teachers.
Certainly the independent school system provides far less tenure than the public school system. I happen to be against tenures, so I think that's generally healthy. But again, if in the choosing of the teaching staff they violate human rights, then fine. Then it's appropriate to do something about it. But it's not for the minister to make that judgment.
MR. KING: Mr. Chairman, I just want to tell the minister that I don't really want Solomon for the minister, or Judas or anyone else. I think the people have chosen and we have to live with the consequences of that, at least until the next election. But be that as it may, it's interesting that the minister is so reticent about making moral judgments with respect to subsidy with the taxpayers' money. It seems to me I recall that the minister was not at all reticent about making moral judgments with respect to teachers who were charged with drug offences.
It seems to me that under those circumstances, before that teacher ever had his day in court to determine whether or not the charge was a valid one, the minister was quite prepared to intervene on moral grounds and deprive that teacher of his livelihood. So it depends whose prejudice is being suited. Apparently the minister is prepared to act with a very heavy hand, and before the day in court for teachers in certain circumstances, but he is not prepared to intervene in defence of the rights of teachers.
It's true that the Human Rights board of inquiry has made a decision; and it shall be the purpose of members of the opposition to discuss that decision, and the adequacy of the Human Rights Code, during the consideration of the appropriate minister's estimates. What we're dealing with here is something quite narrow, and clearly within the ambit of this minister's responsibility — and that is whether or not public funding should be extended to an institution which clearly and admittedly practises discrimination on the basis of its religious philosophy. You can extend this from the sublime to the ridiculous, and suggest that institutions may believe in all kinds of wild things as a religious philosophy. And certainly there are cults in this province and elsewhere which have been a bit frightening: Social Credit for one; Jimmy Jones for another. I don't know whether there's any affinity there or not; I guess that's for the members to judge.
To suggest that the minister has no responsibility to withdraw public funding from institutions which have the right to pursue and to practise their own beliefs...but they should not have the right to discriminate against other members of the community who have a conflicting religious philosophy. That is the very stuff that conflict and intolerance is made of. That is the stuff that creates the ghettoization of people based on religious grounds. I have always disagreed with that kind of approach.
I believe it's absolutely wrong to start choosing friends and associations on religious lines, or, indeed, political lines. I even have coffee with a Socred once in a while to show how tolerant I am. But, Mr. Chairman, that's the kind of implication involved in this particular decision. It's dangerous, and it should be nipped in the bud by the minister. He clearly has that obligation, and that's the narrow point that he should address himself to.
I'm not finished yet, Mr. Minister; relax for a moment.
With respect to the other implications, as I say, it's not really appropriate to discuss the adequacy of the Human Rights Code under the Minister of Education's estimates. We shall address ourselves to the question, Mr. Chairman, I can assure you, with vigour and with tenacity when the first occasion presents itself.
In the meantime, let the minister stand and say whether he believes in expending public money, the taxpayers' dollars, for any and all kinds of restrictive or discriminatory clauses, whether they pertain to religion, race, creed or any other grounds. That's obliquely what he has said to the House today, and I want him to have the fortitude to get up and spell it out. He's a very articulate and very well educated individual. He must recognize the principle, and surely he can muster his courage and address himself to that principle for once in his life.
HON. MR. McGEER: I just missed that last phrase, but perhaps it's just as well.
I'm glad that the member has exposed himself to the broadening effect of coffee occasionally with the members of Social Credit. I think that he ought to pick up on that and perhaps broaden it a little more.
MR. KING: That's how you started your transition.
HON. MR. McGEER: Who can tell how much the broadness of his own debate might improve under that sort of exposure?
In any event, the member raised the question of drug offences as far as teachers are concerned. I underline once more, without any hesitation, that there is no room for drugs, hard, soft or in between, in the public school system or the independent school system. And if it comes to the lifting of licences of teachers who are found in court to be guilty of drug offences, they will be lifted. I give that warning in advance. We have not done it, but we have given fair warning to the system. It's an obligation, Mr. Chairman, under the Public Schools Act. There was a technicality whereby somebody could be brought into court, plead guilty, be found guilty of a drug offence, and because of a loophole in the criminal charge be technically not guilty, which is absolutely counter to the intent of the Public Schools Act. That's why I gave that fair warning, and that fair warning is still out there to the teachers in the independent or public school systems: "Don't be found guilty of a drug offence, because we will lift your licence." That's very different from lifting the licence of somebody in this situation. They are licensed to teach. Our function is to license teachers, not to guarantee them a job; that's a different question altogether.
I've given an undertaking to the member for Victoria that the inspector will look specifically under section 5 of
[ Page 596 ]
the Act. He's brought no evidence to me. I will not be the judge of a situation such as that. I've made that very clear. We have appropriate bodies to consider matters of this kind, and if those bodies don't exist or are not in place, perhaps we should find others. I can give an undertaking to do that. But don't ask the minister to be making moral judgements, particularly ones that suit your purposes. We don't share the same political philosophy. I'm sorry about that. The public will render its judgment again at some future time.
I must observe, though, as I've observed before: if you feel this way, why is it that during the election campaign the quiet letters go out from the first member for Vancouver Centre (Mr. Lauk) to all the private schools, including the one we're discussing today, guaranteeing that the NDP, if elected, will support them? That's what they said by private letter during the election campaign. It was dropped on the doorsteps, mind you, around the edges of these schools. "Pssst, it's really okay. It's safe to vote for us." That's what the party says during an election campaign. Then you come in the House and take this high moralistic tone. All we say is: for once be true to your principles. Don't go, "Pssst, it's okay to vote for us," on the quiet during an election campaign, and then come in here and take a high moral tone and pretend you would never, ever do a thing like that. Just be consistent and straightforward.
If you say to St. Thomas Aquinas, "We're going to support you," on the sly during the election campaign, don't come in and ask me to lift the money; that only punishes the students who are attending that school. I presume that's what you would like me to do; that's what you are inviting me to do now, right here: "Say today you won't give them any money — punish the children who are attending that school." Mr. Chairman, I don't intend to do that; I don't think it's appropriate.
MR. HANSON: Mr. Chairman, we've heard discussion about hardware which the minister is fascinated with — bouncing signals, laser beams and thin sections of modula oblongatas and hypothalamus and all that sort of stuff. What I would like to talk about just for a minute is the content — what is taught in the schools. We've heard discussion on money; we've heard discussion — or we probably will have — that the minister deprived his colleagues in academia of the right to organize themselves into a bargaining agent.
I want to talk about content in two areas of a system which, I feel, are seriously deficient. I alluded to that when I interrupted the minister when he was embarking on a geographical sojourn around the world. I'd like to bring him back home. I'd like to talk to him about approximately 100,000 people here in the province of British Columbia of Indian ancestry. About 50,000 of them are status Indians, about 50,000 are non-status. I'd like to talk to him about the peculiarities of that particular population distribution — it is a very young population.
In the past, I think the powers that be thought that if the Indian people were just ignored, the whole situation would go away. What happened, in effect, was that the Indian population has expanded very greatly over the last 10 or 15 years. So the normal Bell curve which the minister is very familiar with, which is used to assess people throughout their schooling — whether they fail or whether they succeed or whether they are normal — does not apply to the Indian population, because what you have is an extremely large, very young population with a very low mean age. It's a relatively small working-age population with some older people there. So what you have is a small working population supporting a very large population.
A very large population of young people look toward the future in British Columbia. What do they find when they encounter the educational system? In most instances, they encounter teachers who have not been trained in any way and who, through no fault of their own, have no respect, appreciation or understanding of the Indian history of this province.
They have probably learned most of their Indian history from the grade dusters. They probably think the Indian people of British Columbia rode horses and wore head feathers as they did in the Great Plains of the United States. Only to the member for Kootenay River and Columbia River riding did that ever occur.
The educational system has not imparted to the people of British Columbia, in its colonial history, any understanding of Indian history of this province. Most people aren't aware of the linguistic divisions, the cultural divisions, the different kinship systems, the different social organizations, the way resources were exploited, the technology, the adaptation, and so on and so forth.
That's important. When the minister starts beaming his messages through lasers and various circuitry, and off these shiny bits of aluminum foil, some of the content should include an understanding, a way of transmitting something about the Indian people of this province.
The minister said he would like to bring in his expert who understands all the good things that are happening in education in the province. I see the Minister of Environment sort of peering over his shoulder. Someone from Kamloops, I think, should have a good understanding of the Indian people in his area. All along the North and South Thompson Rivers, all the archaeological sites that were there, right at the junction which is an industrial park, were destroyed in the last few years, gone forever. You would be doing the people in your riding a service to blow into the minister's ear and say: "Come on. Let's do a little something. Put it on the laser beam. It's about time."
From as non-partisan a position as I can take, I say it is about time that this become a serious priority in our curriculum. There are no textbooks. There are no good books in British Columbia that could be introduced in grade 3, 5, 9, 12 to explain these things. They don't exist.
One of the best books was a book written by the late Wilson Duff, The Indian History of British Columbia. The minister knew Wilson Duff, I'm sure, as he knew the late Carl Borden. In fact, the late Carl Borden had a picture of the minister on his wall, for others reasons I'll tell the minister privately.
I'm sure the minister recalls Harry Hawthorn. Harry Hawthorn worked in a survey of contemporary Indians of Canada — two volumes, 1967 — one with a large section on Indian education and another on recommendations. I won't read them all, but perhaps the deputy, or one of the deputies, should go through the recommendations of the Hawthorne report to see how you're moving along and what changes you're making. Perhaps he should report back and tell us how it's going.
The minister referred to the Nishga school board. Certainly that's good. We're all proud and pleased to see that happening. But there are many other bands in the
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province. The member for Omineca (Mr. Kempf) knows the Indian people in his riding need access to education that meets their needs. I'm sure that he would support a positive approach on the part of the minister.
I would like to run through just a couple of the recommendations, though. Again, this was written for the Department of Indian Affairs, so these are not recommendations made to the Minister of Education provincially; but I think that he should be cognizant of them.
Basic recommendations on education: teachers should be encouraged to learn as much as possible about the background and culture of their Indian students, and should get to know individuals.
The Department of Education at the University of British Columbia, I know, does have a small section which deals specifically with Indians and counselling and so on, but I don't think that the student teachers get a very good education on the culture and history of Indian people. The Indian Affairs Branch, through its curriculum division and by arrangements with outside specialists, should develop materials on Indian languages which could be used as guides for classroom teachers.
You know here in British Columbia we have very few linguists who are actually working on the disappearing Indian languages. There are three people over at the Provincial Museum, in the tower, working very hard. There are a couple of consultants who get money from the federal government, a little bit from the ministry. It's not enough though.
MR. HANSON: Teaching in Aiyansh, the minister says. There are many linguistic groupings that are not getting any help at all. There is no one working on the Tlinget. There is very little work going on — probably no work at all going on in the Kootenays.
MR. HANSON: There's enough? Not enough! Very good, there are two votes; we've got Omineca and we have Kootenay.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. Perhaps you can relate this to the specifics of the Minister of Education's vote. We are getting somewhat off the estimates of the Minister of Education. I would just remind the member that in committee we should stick to the specific votes.
MR. HANSON: I think that if we can journey to China, Mr. Chairman, we can talk about Kootenay.
Here is another point that I would like to bring to the attention of the minister regarding curriculum. Some texts continue to include material about Indians which is inaccurate, over-generalized and even insulting. Such texts should be eliminated from the curriculum. Where elimination must proceed gradually it is recommended that teachers immediately correct the Indian content by reference to books and other sources, which should be available in school libraries. Well, again, I'm telling you that the books don't exist. So here is a question of the minister: would the minister initiate a contract, either in-service or out-service, to have textbooks drawn up that could be used in the school system in British Columbia? It is 1979; I would appreciate it if the minister would give serious consideration to developing a number of accurate books to be used in the school system.
I would like to just make a couple of remarks regarding the minister's comments on high technology.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Five more minutes.
MR. HANSON: You can take five more minutes of me? Good. If I could get his attention, I'd probably be inspired to move on a little quicker. I have a couple of ideas here.
Regarding the high technology, I think one of the things that could benefit Vancouver Island and Victoria in particular would be to look at technology as it relates to the 200-mile limit. In terms of marine exploitation and utilization of marine resources, there are many clean, high-technology industries that could be used in the research of our marine environment: the harvesting of shellfish, of fish, of other organic materials, and the planning of all sorts of fancy equipment and hardware. They could be based in Victoria and provide jobs; Vancouver Island would he a very good location for that.
I'm making specific requests of the minister, proposing ideas to him that he consider some of these things. Actually I would sit down if I could get an answer on the books for Indian education, and perhaps some consideration of high technology in the marine industry for Vancouver Island. I'd be happy to sit down and hear the minister's response.
HON. MR. McGEER: We're working a little against the clock. We already have the kind of work that you describe underway, not yet in textbook form, but in curriculum form for the teachers. As you know, there's a special Native Indian Teaching Education Program at the University of British Columbia, so we're trying to bring along both a supply of people who can go into these areas as well as a supply of special educational material, including language development in four different areas. We can work towards other areas in the future, but we are covering four. There's the Nishga, the Gitksan, the Carrier and the Coqualeetza. But we'll expand that. I'd like to invite the member to come and familiarize himself with the total galaxy of things that we are doing in that area. Certainly we agree with his suggestions. We've already anticipated some, perhaps not to the degree he'd like, and I'd be happy to expand on that afterwards with him.
With respect to high technology, this is definitely a priority area now that we've got the 200-mile limit. We're hoping to have a branch of Discovery Park right out there at Patricia Bay next to that federal station, and we're currently negotiating for the land. Perhaps the member could help with that, because it belongs to the federal government.
We've also made $300,000 available to the Science Council which will go specifically for this purpose through a new program that's being developed at the B.C. Research Council. That's housed over on the Vancouver side, and you're quite correct that we should try and expand on what we've already got a Bamfield and out there near Patricia Bay as well as at the University of Victoria. So we hope they'll be good physical locations, and it would definitely be on our list.
The House resumed; Mr. Speaker in the chair.
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The committee, having reported progress, was granted leave to sit again.
Mr. Mussallem, from the Select Standing Committee on Standing Orders and Private Bills, presented the committee's first report, which was read as follows and received:
"Mr. Speaker, your Select Standing Committee on Standing Orders and private Bills begs leave to report as follows: that the standing orders have been complied with relating to the petition for leave to introduce a private bill intituled An Act to Amend the Trinity Western College Act, except for late filing. But with respect thereto, the petitioner has paid double fees in accordance with standing order 98(3). Your committee recommends that the petitioner be allowed to proceed with the said bill, all of which is respectfully submitted. George Mussallem, chairman."
Mr. Mussallem moves the rules be suspended and the report adopted.
Mr. Mussallem presented report number two of the Select Standing Committee on Standing Orders and Private Bills.
Mr. Mussallem moves the report be read and received.
ASSISTANT CLERK: Report number two, July 6, 1979.
"Mr. Speaker, your Select Standing Committee on Standing Orders and Private Bills begs leave to report as follows: that certain private bills hereinafter listed did not proceed past the second reading stage during the sessions of the Legislature of 1976, 1977 and 1978. These bills are as follows: Bill 52, Vancouver Stock Exchange Act 1976; Bill PR402, Vancouver Charter Amendment Act 1977; Bill PR404, British Columbia Accredited Public Accountants Act 1977; Bill PR401, Royal Canadian Legion Amendment Act 1978; St. Vincents Hospital Act. Your committee recommends that one-half of fees paid by petitioners be returned to them in accordance with Standing Order 98, all of which is respectfully submitted. George Mussallem, chairman."
Mr. Mussallem moves the rules be suspended and the report adopted.
Hon. Mr. McClelland moved adjournment of the House.
The House adjourned at 12:59 p.m.