[ Page 205 ]
Health care charges. Ms. A. Hagen –– 205
Property taxes for seniors. Mr. Blencoe –– 206
Funding for education. Mr. Jones –– 207
Tabling Documents –– 207
Mr. Peterson –– 208
Mr. Sihota –– 210
Mr. Hewitt –– 213
Ms. Smallwood –– 217
Mrs. Gran –– 219
Mr. Miller –– 221
Hon. Mr. Witch –– 224
Mr. Rose –– 227
Tabling Documents –– 230
The House met at 2:07 p.m.
HON. MR. VEITCH: I would ask all members of the assembly to welcome in the House today two constituents from that great constituency of Burnaby-Willingdon, Jim and Ruth Tinkess.
MR. MILLER: Mr. Speaker, in your gallery today we have two visitors from Prince Rupert, both members of the Prince Rupert Convention and Visitors Bureau: Miss Judy Parkin and Miss Linda Lutz, down here to meet with the Minister of Transportation and Highways (Hon. Mr. Michael). I'd like the House to make them welcome.
HON. MRS. JOHNSTON: In the gallery this afternoon we have the mayor of Ladysmith, Alex Stuart. I would ask you to please welcome him.
MR. BLENCOE: In the House today a constituent from Victoria, Mr. Don Casswell, and his father John Casswell, visiting us from Ontario. Will the House please make them welcome.
MR. PETERSON: In the House today I've got some fine people who are very close to me, whom I'd be very pleased to introduce. First of all, my two sons Ryan and Kevin; I might say, at their tender ages of 10 and 8 years old they probably know more about the wonders and mysteries of political life than I did when I was 21. Secondly, their maternal grandparents — very good friends of mine — Norah and Bill Howard. Thirdly, their maternal great-grandmother Laura Rushworth, and my brother and his gracious wife, Greg and Devinder Peterson. In the members' gallery I present to you four generations off my sons' family tree.
Mr. Speaker, in your gallery I would also like to introduce two very good friends: Mr. Charlie Johnson, who has been a friend of mine for 20 years; and Mr. Louis Pastro, who is a hunting and fishing partner and a very valued friend.
Will the House please join me and welcome all of these great people.
MR. SIHOTA: I'd like to ask the House to join me in welcoming here today several residents from the fine riding of Esquimalt-Port Renfrew. First of all, my riding president Al Jones and his wife Margaret; secondly, someone who, up until October 21, 1986, was the best MLA that Esquimalt-Port Renfrew has ever had: Mr. Frank Mitchell, and his wife Kay.
MRS. GRAN: In the gallery today we have from Langley Mrs. Edith Greenwood, retired constituency secretary for Bob McClelland, and Mrs. Helen Northy, retired teacher and member of the Social Credit Party for 52 years. I ask the House to make them welcome. Also from Langley, playing hookey for the second week in a row, are two constituency secretaries, Mrs. Marjorie Allen and Mrs. Ida Fallowfield. From Esquimalt-Port Renfrew, which is my home away from home, are my mother, Mrs. Hilda Ewen, who is also my landlady, and Mrs. Margaret Williams and Mrs. Del Denike. Would the House please make them welcome.
MR. JONES: I would like to introduce a constituent of mine from North Burnaby who, I think, helped this House in the past by assisting Rosemary Brown in preparing for her debates here, which I'm sure some members will remember. She was Rosemary Brown's constituency assistant, Barb MacPherson. I'd like the House to make her welcome.
MR. BRUCE: In my ongoing interest of introducing everybody from Cowichan-Malahat to this assembly, I'd like the House to welcome some members of three chapters of the women's auxiliary from Cowichan-Malahat: the three presidents, Clasiena Atsma, Pat Guest and Helen Aagaard; accompanied by Selma Meeres, Sheila Owen, Florence Cockburn, Adeline Anderson, Betty Palmer, Im Vanderkruyk, Tara Van Steenbergen, Lillian Winter, Pam Dyke, Sue Pauls, Doreen Knight, Lois Cartledge, Rita Littlejohn, Doris Lame, Joyce Wells, Beverley Mountain, Jean Kinney, Sheila Dickson, Helen Towe, Dorothy Mattin, Judy Gloster, Helen Doman, Doris Andrews, Bonnie Klettke, Betty Doman, Dorothy Gray and Eleanor Tennant. Would you please bid them welcome.
Mr. Speaker, it's also important that you note that although we have many fine ladies in the riding of Cowichan Malahat we also have some very fine gentlemen. Touring with these ladies today are Charles Kinney, Alan Anderson and Eric Guest, all being watched over by my wife, Anneke. Would you bid them all a very warm welcome.
MR. MERCIER: I feel sort of humble; I only have one person. I'd ask the House to welcome in the gallery, from Burnaby-Edmonds, a constituent and dedicated campaign worker during my election campaign, Josephine Wearing.
MR. LOVICK: I was intending to be last because I wanted to break with tradition and ask the House to please join me in welcoming one of my constituents and a hard campaign worker, regrettably for the other side: Mr. Dick Winkelman, a former city alderman from Nanaimo. Please join me in welcoming him.
MR. WEISGERBER: I'd like to ask the House to join me in welcoming three farmers from the Peace River country: Gene Lahey, Frank Breault and Richard Johnson.
HEALTH CARE CHARGES
MS. A. HAGEN: My question is to the Minister of Health. The new $5 user fee for services such as chiropractic, podiatry and physiotherapy is going to hit senior citizens particularly hard. Some of those people will undoubtedly be either delaying or canceling services of this nature. Why is the government targeting senior citizens in its bid to reduce health costs instead of promoting preventive services and community clinics as a means of ensuring that services to our senior population are available as needed?
HON. MR. DUECK: This item of course will be discussed fully when the House is discussing my ministry and its estimates. All I can say at this time is that the government is not singling out seniors; it's not singling out anyone. This province knows — and you know as well as we do — that the
[ Page 206 ]
budget has skyrocketed as far as health is concerned. It's not just a British Columbia problem; it's a problem across Canada. We're seeking ways and means of cutting back on the total health budget, and rightly or wrongly we have chosen the areas you mentioned and some others.
MS. A. HAGEN: Certainly the people who are calling our offices don't share the minister's view. I want to quote a statement from one of those people who called our office today. That statement, very simply put, was: "This budget is going to put me in a wheelchair." What assurances can this government give to the old and the frail that their fear and despair around maintaining their independence with the essentials of health services will in fact be alleviated by actions other than the actions proposed in this budget?
HON. MR. DUECK: You say there is a concern; of course there is a concern. Every time you cut back, there is a concern. When the heydays were here and we were adding more programs, it was very popular to be a minister. When you are in a position that you have to cut back, it causes concern. However, I would also like to tell you that 20 percent of the population will not be charged, because they are in the category of being either on GAIN or on welfare. As you know, anyone earning $3,500 or less taxable income will not be charged that fee. And with the others, of course, there's a dividing line. Very often when you make a division there will be some people who do get hurt. Hopefully, what you say, that they will be ending up in a wheelchair.... I do not believe that's going to be the case.
MS. A. HAGEN: Mr. Speaker, recently the government announced that it was canceling a surcharge of 8 percent on people with incomes in the $40,000 range. Most of our seniors, in fact, do not have that protection. Will the minister undertake to consider rethinking this particular tax on the poor and moving to rescind this onerous burden on seniors for essential health services?
HON. MR. DUECK: Mr. Speaker, we have no intention at this time to rescind it.
MS. A. HAGEN: Another question, Mr. Speaker, to the same minister, please. The budget proposes a new pharmaceutical charge on users of Pharmacare, 75 percent of the dispensing fee plus an increase in the ceiling on Pharmacare. For seniors, this erodes the universality of the Pharmacare program. Why is the provincial government acting at this time to reduce the very limited incomes of older citizens in this province?
HON. MR. DUECK: Again, Mr. Speaker, the people on limited income will not be charged. It is those above that bracket, the $3,500-a-year taxable income, that will be charged. The ones that are on GAIN or the ones that are on social welfare will not have to pay that extra charge.
MS. A. HAGEN: There is not an opportunity to debate your reading of your Minister of Finance's proposal, but my understanding is that only those who are in receipt of GAIN will have relief from this particular proposal, and those are people who have, in fact, any income — only $1,000 a year. So there are many people who will be affected.
1 would like to ask the minister what studies have gone into this decision that would show the kind of impact this will have on the disposable income of seniors and that can deal with the fact that many people cannot afford these extra costs and still maintain the medication they need for health and well-being.
HON. MR. DUECK: Mr. Speaker, the question the hon. member asked is better put to the Minister of Finance.
MR. ROSE: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker. Candidly and frankly, and I hope openly, is the government of British Columbia, like the government of Alberta, embarking on a two-tiered medicare system, one for the rich and one for the poor?
HON. MR. DUECK: If we followed your example, we would have a two-tiered system. I think what we are doing will guarantee that the best system in the world, which we have in British Columbia, will continue.
PROPERTY TAXES FOR SENIORS
MR. BLENCOE: I have a question for the Minister of Municipal Affairs. Many senior citizens in this province have worked long and hard and diligently to live in their homes and pay for their mortgages, hoping for security in their old age. Can the minister answer why the government has decided to assess the elderly of the province of British Columbia a minimum property tax of $100, particularly while for those of high income the income surtax is being eliminated? Could the minister answer that question?
HON. MRS. JOHNSTON: I think that question is better put to the Minister of Finance (Hon. Mr. Couvelier).
MR. BLENCOE: Mr. Speaker, it is this minister's responsibility for this area, and she is denying it and will not answer these questions. A supplementary: there are thousands of seniors in the province who have incomes below the poverty line. Has this government done any study of the numbers of seniors who have a home now but have little real income in terms of paying this extra real property tax and will now be forced to live below the poverty line? Has the government done any studies to see the impact of this?
HON. MRS. JOHNSTON: Well, I would have to take that question on notice now and bring back a complete answer for the member.
MR. BLENCOE: What we are asking is, is this government wanting...?
MR. SPEAKER: Hon. member, the question is taken on notice. If you want to phrase a new question, that would be in order.
MR. BLENCOE: I have another question. I want to know, Mr. Speaker, if this government is prepared to pay for its fiscal irresponsibility on the backs of senior citizens in the province of British Columbia. That's the issue.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. That's not a question.
[ Page 207 ]
MR. BLENCOE: To the minister again, what is the government policy today with regard to exempting low-income seniors from this tax and making it applicable only to property owners with the income to pay for it — in other words, high-income earners?
HON. MRS. JOHNSTON: Mr. Speaker, I believe this is a question that should better be put to the Minister of Finance.
FUNDING FOR EDUCATION
MR. JONES: I have a question for the Minister of Education. Given that public schools in this province have suffered five years of cutbacks, given that school boards around this province would like to see some reinstatement of lost services, and given in the budget an increase of 42 percent given to private schools, to the degree of $5 for private and independent schools for every $1 in increase given to public schools, why is it that the minister has done this, and is it the minister's plan to privatize the public school system because it costs less?
HON. MR. BRUMMET: No, Mr. Speaker, certainly there's no plan to privatize the public schools. The high percentage comes partly from the fact that it's a lower base that is being worked on. For instance, with the independent schools getting only one-third of the operating cost per pupil of the others, any 1 percent at the public school level automatically translates into 3 percent. I certainly don't know where the member gets $5 to the independent schools for every $1 to the public school system.
MR. JONES: Those are the relative increases given per student in the minister's budget.
If it's not the minister's intention to create this privatization — and the impetus for doing so could be explained by his answer, in that it does cost less — why is it then that the minister has created this division between the public system and the private system, and why has he been so unfair to the public school system in comparison?
HON. MR. BRUMMET: I don't think the minister has created any division. I think some of the critics and other people are trying to make a division out of it. We haven't created the division.
MR. JONES: Is the minister aware that a small number of the schools in this province that are receiving grants of this kind are charging something in the order of $5,000 per year in fees; that they are the bastions of the privileged, producing a school system that can operate at twice the cost of the public school system? Has the minister considered any possibility of a sliding scale, giving less grants to those who are already charging high fees?
HON. MR. BRUMMET: No, I can't say that we have, in that it's a matter of choice that people choose to send their students to the private schools at a cost in addition to the taxes that they pay. It may have been true that at one time some of the independent schools were catering to the elite, but certainly that is not true in all cases. Many students who are not among the elite have difficulties and are going to the independent schools. Again it's a matter of choice, and people do choose to send their students, at personal cost, to independent schools.
Is that member suggesting that people should have no choice in this society?
MR. JONES: My answer to the question was to ask me if I would like to see the choice created in the public school system. Is it this minister's intention, then, to continue funding those schools that are already charging high fees and already have a school system that operates at twice the cost, when in fact those schools don't need the grants in order to operate at a reasonable level?
HON. MR. BRUMMET: Well, I am not quite sure what the member is referring to. We are funding at about one-third of the operating cost of the public school to the independent schools. I don't see that the independent schools with a third of the funding can really replace the public school system. So I think the public school system is perfectly safe with 100 percent funding for their students and only a third of that funding for the independent schools.
MR. SIHOTA: I have a question then to the Minister of Education. He says that the public education system is safe. In my riding Jordan River Elementary is going to be closed down for the lack of $40,000, and you're pouring $42 million into the private school system. Do you consider that to be an appropriate allocation of public priorities?
HON. MR. BRUMMET: I think in view of some of that member's statements, I'd have to check his facts before I could respond.
MR. SIHOTA: I don't think the minister should be allowed to duck the question on that basis. The fact of the matter is that he can read any newspaper in this city and find out that there is a $40,000 shortage.
Putting aside the figures, does the minister consider it to be an adequate allocation of public priorities when a public school is being shut down and when, as we all know, private school funding is being increased to the tune of $42 million?
HON. MR. BRUMMET: Again, I would have to really check to see if that public school is being shut down strictly on the basis of a $40,000 lack of funding. I think there is quite a distortion of the facts.
Hon. Mr. Witch tabled the report on applications pertaining to the Public Service Labour Relations Act, dealt with by the Labour Relations Board of British Columbia in 1986; the sixty-sixth annual report of the Public Service Commission, April 1, 1984, to March 31, 1985; and the sixty-seventh annual report of the Public Service Commission, April 1, 1985, to March 31, 1986.
Hon. Mrs. Johnston tabled the annual report of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs for the fiscal year ended March 31, 1986.
[ Page 208 ]
Orders of the Day
ON THE BUDGET
MR. PETERSON: Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure and a sense of honour and humility that I rise to speak in favour of this government's budget. It undoubtedly will bring Langley and British Columbia into a new and vibrant economic era.
First, Mr. Speaker, I have many fine people to thank and express my appreciation to: first, my two boys, Ryan and Kevin, for their enthusiasm during the campaign, their understanding during my absences and their constant love and support; to my relatives and in-laws for their help, good advice and loyalty; to the dedicated Social Credit constituency executive who were always there to help; to Ida Fallowfield, my campaign manager; and to the 600-plus election volunteers who gave their time and worked so hard to ensure our success at the polls last October 22. Without their efforts, my election would have been but a pipe-dream. I shall never forget them. I would also like to thank all the people of Langley. I very much appreciate their confidence in me and will do my best to represent them well.
I would like to offer my congratulations to each and every member of this House, and say that I'm looking forward to working with all of you. My main objective is to make Langley and British Columbia an even better place to live.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate you on your election as Speaker of British Columbia's Legislative Assembly. I know you will serve this House well. I also offer my congratulations to the first member for Dewdney (Mr. Pelton) on his election as Deputy Speaker, for he too is a most capable individual and well respected by all hon. members.
Mr. Speaker, it is also with great pride that I congratulate my running mate, the first member for Langley (Mrs. Gran), on her appointment as Deputy Chairman of the Committee of the Whole. I have great respect for the first member for Langley and her fine record of achievement as alderman for the municipality of Langley for five years, as a tenacious and tireless worker who stands firm for her beliefs, and as a wife and mother who believes strongly in the family unit. She possesses an aura of dignity and charm, and I predict that as a member of this government she will significantly contribute to Langley and British Columbia as a whole.
I would like to pay tribute to Bob McClelland, a good friend, who served his constituency in this province for 14 years. He was first elected in 1972. Bob served as Minister of Health, Labour, Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources and finally as Minister of Industry and Small Business Development. His contribution to previous governments and to the people of British Columbia will not be forgotten.
Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance (Hon. Mr. Couvelier) and his very competent staff are to be complimented on their hard work in the production of this budget. I believe that this document lays out a path to continued and greater economic recovery so that all British Columbians can fully share in the great potential of our province. This budget recognizes and acts on the need for assistance to the disadvantaged, but it also recognizes the detrimental effect a continued and increased deficit will have on future generations. I am pleased that the deficit shall be reduced by $321 million, or over 27 percent. Deficit reduction is positive action, Mr. Speaker, but I am proud that we have approached it with consideration for all British Columbians. We have not forgotten the disadvantaged. I feel that the Minister of Finance has almost achieved the impossible: a realistic budget with concern for individuals; for that, with the deepest of sincerity, I applaud him.
British Columbia is indeed blessed. We are fortunate to have a Premier who has set such a positive tone and direction for this province, a leader with a zest for life and unlimited energy who refuses to take no for an answer, yet a leader who feels compassion and has a deep understanding of humanity, an individual who recognizes that British Columbia's greatest and most valuable resource is its human resource.
I firmly believe that our Premier will go down in history as one of the most successful leaders of British Columbia. Last week the first member for Vancouver East (Mr. Williams) chose to chide the Premier for his trips out of the province, indicating that he should stay in his office in Victoria. I must take issue with this, and I am sure that the first member for Vancouver Centre (Mr. Harcourt) will agree with me. Let the record show that, as mayor of Vancouver, the current hon. member for Vancouver Centre said: "I think the time has come when the mayor of Vancouver should be on the road a lot more aggressively to be where the business is, a partner in helping things happen." I would really be interested to know what the NDP's position really is.
I believe that in order for British Columbia to reach its full economic potential, we must further develop our markets in the United States, in the Pacific Rim and, indeed, over the entire world. We have the good fortune of having a Premier who is a marketing master and who well understands the importance of exporting our goods and services worldwide. I encourage our Premier to continue with this program, for he is laying the groundwork whereby the private sector can fully capitalize on and develop these opportunities for world trade.
I believe this action is vital, for it will produce jobs for British Columbians and contribute to a better lifestyle for us all. I must also comment on statements made by some members of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition. They have allegedly stated that fed-bashing is a game becoming popular with this government. First, let me say that I find the word "fed-bashing" distasteful. I believe in the greatness of Canada. There is a huge potential for growth in our country. I am a strong supporter of the federal system and all attempts to encourage national unity.
However, I also believe very strongly that B.C. deserves a fair share from Ottawa. All Canadians should benefit equally from Confederation, yet this has not always been the case. We must work in cooperation with our federal and provincial counterparts. Only through this process can we hope to gain what we believe is a just and fair share. This government has stated clearly our willingness to cooperate with the federal government in a positive manner that will allow B.C. to play a full part within Confederation as a strong economic partner.
An important step in attaining greater equity is the successful negotiation of a free-trade agreement between our nation and our largest trading partner, the U.S.A. We are of the view that a free-trade agreement will benefit all Canadians, including British Columbians. Unlike the hon. member for Coquitlam-Moody (Mr. Rose), we are not of the view that free trade with the United States will infringe upon Canada's independence and sovereignty.
In the recent throne speech, our government stressed strongly the importance to B.C., and indeed to all of Canada,
[ Page 209 ]
of an early and successful conclusion to current free-trade negotiations. Our provincial government has put its position on free trade with the U.S. most clearly. It will safeguard British Columbia's interests while strongly supporting a comprehensive trade agreement with our neighbour to the south. At present, close to 80 percent of Canada's merchandise exports are sold in the U.S., making continued access to this market of 265 million people of crucial importance. Free trade would provide a significant and important boost to our economy and guarantee greater access to American markets for our commodities and finished products. In addition, with a free-trade agreement British Columbia's Pacific Rim trading partners, investors and clients will recognize the opportunities available to them — the suddenly unfettered access to the large and lucrative U.S. marketplace.
Another way our province would receive a fairer share in Confederation would be by having greater representation on federal bodies and organizations. Based on the budget speech, I am optimistic that this government has set the wheels in motion that will carry us to this objective. I personally applaud the fact that as a result of the meetings between our Premier and the Prime Minister of Canada, a council of ministers has been established. The council would deal with all matters of interest and concern affecting both levels of government. We are confident the council will ensure that our request for a fair share of federal procurements and contracts, as well as increased representation on federal boards and agencies, will be met.
The restructuring of the Senate would be another positive step in the process of better reflecting B.C.'s interests at the federal level. Senate reform has long been an issue of concern in this country, and there have been many solid proposals put forward by this province and others to create a more representative and equitable Upper House.
Mr. Speaker, I believe that a free-trade agreement, the new council of ministers, and Senate reform will constitute important steps in British Columbia's quest for a fairer share within Confederation, as well as for furthering our economic growth.
While I'm on the topic of our federal government, I would like to take this opportunity to say that I am a western Canadian. I was born in Alberta and have lived in British Columbia for my entire adult life, but I also love and take pride in all of Canada.
When God created British Columbia I'm sure he stood back, had a look at his masterpiece and decided it needed a crown. Mr. Speaker, that crown is Langley. I would like to speak of some of the jewels in that crown, and how the Minister of Finance's budget will positively impact those jewels.
First, Fort Langley, our birthplace, was constructed in 1827, and on November 19, 1858, the Crown colony of British Columbia was proclaimed by Sir James Douglas. Our government recognizes the historical significance of this landmark, and each year on November 19 holds a cabinet meeting at the site of the original fort.
This budget also recognizes this significance, for in these contemporary times Fort Langley will most certainly be promoted as a destination not to be missed by our super salesman, the Minister of Tourism, Recreation and Culture (Hon. Mr. Reid). The fiscal vehicle for this promotion is of course part of the $15 million marketing plan provided for in the budget.
Considering the growing ties we are establishing with our Pacific Rim neighbours, I am very pleased to see that funding of about $300,000 will be provided for the establishment of the Pacific Rim Institute of Tourism. Mr. Speaker, with the beautiful Vancouver trade and convention centre due to open shortly, and the Victoria convention centre now under construction. we are adding to our impressive range of facilities to attract conferences, tourists and investors from around the Pacific Rim.
Mr. Speaker, I share the excited optimism of the Minister of Tourism, Recreation and Culture about our tourist industry in this beautiful province. I look forward to working with him in promoting tourism in Langley as well as the rest of my province. My riding of Langley has many existing and potential tourist attractions. We also are very fortunate to have many parks and recreation facilities which are havens for those who enjoy the outdoors and athletic activities.
Another crown jewel that must not be ignored is the fertile farmlands of Langley. Agriculture is Langley's primary economic base, and we as government must not forget this fact. I applaud our Premier's appointment of our current Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries (Hon. Mr. Savage). In my discussions with participants in the agricultural community, this appointment is received with total approval, for this minister knows well the importance of this sector in British Columbia's economy. According to the 1981 census figures, less than 1 percent of the province's total agricultural land is found in the Langley census district, yet over 10 percent of the total number of farms in the province are located there. The Langley census district produces over 7 percent of the province's total agricultural sales.
I would be remiss if I did not speak of the high calibre of the public school system in Langley. I would like to pay special tribute to the commitment and dedication of Langley's teachers, principals, district administrators, school trustees and all of their support staff, who do such a great job in educating our youth. I totally support the increase of the Minister of Education's (Hon. Mr. Brummet's) budget by 11.3 percent, for this funding will contribute much to the future well-being of our province. Mr. Speaker, Langley's public school system is indeed a major jewel in our crown.
This government and the Minister of Finance have not forgotten about the major importance of post-secondary education. The $38.4 million increase for colleges, institutes and universities recognizes that fact and, I'm sure, will be well received. A university in Langley that deserves special mention is, of course, Trinity Western. This high-calibre institution attracts students from all over the world and, as my colleague pointed out, is self-supporting. Trinity Western is truly one of the jewels in the crown of Langley.
Obtaining a post-secondary education requires dedication, hard work and self-sacrifice for the student and often for the parents as well. I support the government's plan to offer a tax-deductible registered educational savings plan, because this will enable parents to plan for their children's educational future. The scholarship credit plan will allow grade 8 to 12 students to earn credits towards the cost of their own post-secondary education by striving for scholastic excellence.
The high standard of health care in this province is the envy of many outside jurisdictions. Langley Memorial Hospital, the birthplace of my youngest son, Kevin, deserves special mention, for it too is a major jewel in our crown. The dedication and professionalism of Langley's doctors, nurses,
[ Page 210 ]
ambulance drivers, administrators, hospital boards and support staff deserve a tribute from all of us. We must not forget the Langley Memorial Hospital's women's auxiliary, for they quietly and effectively contribute significantly to our health care system by fund-raising, visiting the sick and many other worthwhile actions that help alleviate the burden of illness. This coming fiscal year our Minister of Finance has allocated $3.18 billion for health care in British Columbia — 29 percent of our total budget. I submit to you that this is commitment to the people of this province.
I look at this government's community economic development program with special interest — $3 million will be provided to challenge communities in all parts of B.C., to encourage them to establish local industries and find seed capital for local entrepreneurs. Such communities as Aldergrove, where the spirit of entrepreneurship is strong, will greatly benefit from this program. I urge the riding's chambers of commerce to work in conjunction with the municipal administrations of Langley municipality and Langley city. We must work in a spirit of cooperation and develop plans that will take advantage of this program. The vision and dedication of the Minister of Economic Development (Hon. Mrs. McCarthy) are well known throughout this province, and innovative community economic development plans will most certainly receive her total support. This is an opportunity for the constituency of Langley to improve its community economic base. I know its people will show the initiative required and come forth with great ideas that will improve our local economy. I pledge my support in assistance to them and look forward to their suggestions. I congratulate the Minister of Finance on his fine program.
Mr. Speaker, to say that this budget excites me would be a major understatement. Consider the impact that the reduction of the sales tax to 6 percent, with the further reduction to 5 percent before March 31, 1988, will have on our economy. This puts more spending power in the hands of British Columbians. This in turn will encourage the private sector to open more manufacturing and retail businesses and will provide more job opportunities.
To the opposition I say this is real and permanent job creation, not just temporary stopgap measures. Our Social Credit government identifies and fulfils the needs of British Columbia and its people.
Mr. Speaker, I applaud the increase of welfare rates for families and single parents. The rates will rise by 5 percent on June 1, 1987, and another 5 percent on December 1, 1987. That is a total increase of 10.25 percent within a six-month period. The GAIN shelter allowance was increased 4.7 percent last October and will be raised further on December 1, 1987, by an average 6 percent. This is positive action by the Social Credit government that cares for the disadvantaged of this province.
The increase in day-care funding by 30 percent to $26.7 million to help single parents get back to work recognizes the need to help individuals who, because of their commitments to their children, may find themselves in need of assistance. I totally endorse this program and the individuals who take advantage of it.
Mr. Speaker, at this time I would like to set the record straight on some statements made on March 20, 1987, by the first member for Nanaimo, (Mr. Stupich), the opposition Finance critic. The hon. member stated that in 1987 employment stands at exactly the same figure as it did in 1981. In fact, the record shows that 8,000 more British Columbians were working in the second and third quarter of 1986 than at the previous B.C. employment high point in 1981. More specifically, according to Statistics Canada, 1,278,000 British Columbians were employed during the second and third quarters in 1986, compared to the same period in 1981 when 1,270,000 British Columbians were working on a seasonally adjusted basis.
B.C. created the second-highest number of jobs in Canada in the month of February 1987 compared to January 1987 on a seasonally adjusted basis. B.C. created 16,000 jobs in February t987 over January 1987. This compares with 22,000 in Quebec, 1,000 in Ontario and 2,000 in Saskatchewan. On a seasonally adjusted basis, according to Statistics Canada, during the same monthly period, Alberta lost 4,000 jobs and Manitoba lost 2,000 jobs.
In addition, the hon. first member for Nanaimo, spoke of the virtues of the Manitoba budget with respect to small business. I must point out that in Manitoba's recent budget, the NDP government increased the payout tax from 2 percent to 2.75 percent on businesses with a total payroll of $100,000 or more. This is a harsh and unreasonable tax on small business in that province that will impede their efforts to create jobs.
Mr. Speaker, when the Minister of Finance delivered the budget on March 19, I was very proud to be a member of this Social Credit government under the capable leadership of our Premier. Today I am proud to speak in the confidence I have in this budget. I believe very strongly that this budget will ensure the future economic success of Langley and British Columbia. It will provide the vehicle whereby free enterprise can flourish, which in turn will generate additional revenue so our government and our Finance minister sometime in the future can table a completely balanced budget, totally eliminating our deficit.
Mr. Speaker, in conclusion, I would like to thank our Minister of Finance for a budget that I firmly believe will lead British Columbia to full economic recovery so each and every British Columbian can lead their lives to their fullest possible potential with a minimum of government interference.
Finally, Mr. Speaker, I would like to express my eternal gratitude to our Premier who has moved this great province in the right direction and provided the leadership and understanding that is so desperately needed in today's society. Thank you very much.
MR. SIHOTA: I listened with some interest to those moving words from the member who spoke just before me.
AN HON. MEMBER: They moved quite a few people, all right.
MR. SIHOTA: They certainly did. You know, he'd have you believe that everything is perfect in this province of British Columbia; that nothing is wrong, which of course begs the most obvious question: if things are so good, why are they so bad? Why are 200,000 people out of work in this province? Why is it that we're shutting down schools and at the same time increasing expenditures for private schools to the tune of $42 million a year? Why is it that in our hospitals people have to be held up in the corridors before they can find a room for them? I'll tell you why, Mr. Speaker: over the years this government has failed to deal with the fundamental economic problems facing this province, and the budget that
[ Page 211 ]
the Minister of Finance tabled the other day does nothing to address those problems either.
Speaking about the Minister of Finance, of course it's great to see him in the House now that question period is over. All of us on the opposition side look forward to the opportunity of dealing with the minister tomorrow, in light of the fact that — that is, if he doesn't know yet — his ministers referred all of the questions back to him.
It's interesting, though, when you begin to look at this government. The government ran on a mandate. They said — actually, they promised — new jobs. They promised no taxes. In fact, I think as late as January 17 this year the minister was saying, in the Vancouver Sun, no income tax increases for the people of British Columbia. So they promised new jobs, no taxes and a fresh start. But what do we get from the budget? New taxes, no jobs, and a false start. That's what we got — a false start.
The government, and particularly the Minister of Finance and the Premier, must be just a little disappointed over the reaction they received on the budget. I think they had planned — and hoped — that they would receive a far more positive response than they got. In essence, when one takes a look at the budget and its contents, and the speech that flowed from that budget, it's evident that it was really a public relations gimmick; and the public relations gimmick just didn't go. They tried to touch the right spots. They tried to deal with a number of matters. They hoped that the headlines would congratulate them on reducing the sales tax, on increasing the welfare rates or upping the day-care subsidies. They were hoping that all of that would result in applause and, more important, would camouflage the real intent and purpose behind the budget.
The real intent and purpose behind the budget is basically to make a money grab; to try to extract as much money as they can from the pockets of the people of British Columbia to do indirectly what of course they were afraid to do directly: secure some funds to deal with the deficit that this very government created. As it was, once everyone saw the camouflage and public relations rhetoric that was behind the budget, it was evident what the budget really was. It was antibusiness and, in particular, anti-small business. That's interesting, coming from a government that says it has the interests of small business people at heart.
I received quite a few calls over the past weekend from business people in my riding very upset about the terms and the components within the provincial budget. It was anti-small business; it was anti-seniors and anti-jobs, and we'll talk a little bit more about that in a few minutes. So it didn't really come as a major surprise to me that the Premier and the Minister of Finance weren't here at 2 o'clock today. I think they were huddled in the comers with their public relations experts, trying to figure out what exactly went wrong and how they could do the best damage control between now and the weeks to come.
AN HON. MEMBER: Not true!
MR. SIHOTA: Of course it's true. I fully expect that in the weeks to come we'll see the members opposite stand up and say: "Yes, we listen to the people." We'll hear them say: "Yes, maybe we should take a second look at the changes in income tax. Maybe we should have a study on the matter of small business taxes. Maybe we should have a study on the matter of small business taxes. Maybe we should examine the whole thrust of our budget."
MR. SIHOTA: The Minister of Finance says maybe we should do what Manitoba does, and I say yes, you should, because at the end of the day — let me remind the Minister of Finance of this — the Manitoba government has the best record and now the lowest rate of unemployment in this country. And the NDP government in the Yukon has reduced by 50 percent its rate of unemployment. So yes, Mr. Minister of Finance, do what Manitoba did. Have the guts to do it.
AN HON. MEMBER: They're finally starting to make some noise over there.
MR. SIHOTA: They're waking up over there now.
MR. SIHOTA: Well, let's talk about unemployment, since the members opposite seem more interested in that matter than in anything else. I heard all those eloquent words by the speaker before me talking about how many more people are employed in British Columbia today than yesterday. But let's look at the facts and in particular let's take a look at the budget document itself: page 55, for all those members opposite who have it. I quote: "The average unemployment rate is forecast to remain in the 13 percent range." That's what the Minister of Finance says. Flip it over; on page 57, to bring the point home to the members opposite, the budget says that the unemployment rate this year in British Columbia is expected to be 13.1 percent. Last year it was 12.6 percent. Mr. Speaker, you don't have to be a pollster to know that the people of this province, and indeed of this country, feel that the number one problem with our economy and the number one issue in this province today is unemployment, and that the number one task in front of all governments is to begin to reduce the rates of unemployment, and that's what we are trying to do, that's the goal.
AN HON. MEMBER: We are.
MR. SIHOTA: The members say that they are. Well, I ask them: take a look at your own budget. It forecasts an increase in unemployment next year, not a decrease. Those are your own figures; they're not figures that I've dreamt up. They're right within the 1987 budget documentation. It's a shame that the Social Credit government has embarked on a budget that seeks to raise unemployment to 13.1 percent — that finds the level of unemployment in this province today to be totally acceptable.
MR. BLENCOE: They're planning unemployment.
MR. SIHOTA: They're planning unemployment; that's precisely what they're doing. In fact, in a minute I'm going to be bringing to the attention of the members opposite a little bit about what other jurisdictions are doing about the question of jobs and unemployment.
[Mr. Pelton in the chair.]
[ Page 212 ]
Let's talk a little bit about the reality of unemployment. I want to share with you a couple of situations that I face in my life every day that are not unique to people of this province. It's a story that I tell often and it is not a very happy story. Several years ago, when I was going to university, I started to play hockey with 18 chaps. At the time we were going to university 16 of us were working; two of us, myself and my room-mate, were not working. We were both going to university. Today, some four and a half or five years later, 14 of those 18 young chaps my age — somewhere between 29 and 33 years of age — are out of work; 14 out of 18. One of those is a teacher who spent four years obtaining his bachelor of education and who worked for three years in the school system. Today he is driving a truck that delivers linen supplies throughout the greater Victoria area. He's qualified; he doesn't show up on the statistics as being unemployed, but he's underemployed. He is not doing what he's trained to do. Another chap is an accountant. He spent two years at college obtaining his diploma for accounting work. For three years he worked with a bank, and since then he has been unemployed. He's been drifting from part-time job to part-time job in all sorts of labour, $4-an-hour tourism-related jobs. He hasn't been able to get back into his chosen field of being an accountant.
That's the reality of what's out there in the streets today. I ask you, what promise does the budget hold out for those people? Nothing. It's unbelievable and totally unacceptable that a government in this day and age would say that it expects unemployment to increase, that it is not willing to do anything about the basic problem in our society. I find it very difficult to believe. The budget speech and certainly the throne speech that came before it were full of all sorts of buzzwords. They were full of buzzwords like "deregulate, " buzz phrases, as I call them, like "get government off the backs of people." Let's privatize. Let's bring in the private sector to do everything. Buzzwords, public-relations buzzwords. Well, Mr. Speaker, I say this: if the government wants to have one buzzword, that one buzzword ought to be full employment. That's what this party stands for: full employment. That's not an obscure dream. That's not something that is difficult to achieve. The only issue is whether or not governments have the will to achieve full employment.
The Conservative government of Ontario appointed Mr. Ken Dryden — whom I think some of us know as a former hockey player and currently within the honourable profession of lawyer — as a commissioner to deal with the matter of unemployment, specifically youth employment in that province. He was appointed by a Conservative government, and maintained after that in the province of Ontario by a Liberal government. Not too long ago he came down with his report, in which he said: "There must be a clear public commitment to full employment as the first step to lowering unacceptably high rates of unemployment." His definition of full employment means the situation in which everyone who wants and is able to work has a job. He said: "I find it disturbingly ironic in the circumstances, where something is as fundamental and is in fact a real value in this country — having a job if you want one and are able to work — why that should represent something that is so unutterable, no matter which party."
Well, this party is not afraid to utter the words "full employment." This party is not afraid to say that ought to be the goal and the mandate of government. This party is not afraid to say that the government should use the capital at its disposal that comes through that budget to achieve the goal of full employment. He has asked the Ontario government to do that, and I would hope that the government here in this province would also embrace that same policy of full employment. Of course, the members opposite on some occasions have certainly not hesitated to embrace the ideas of members from this side. I would, of course, encourage the members of the government to embrace the concept of full employment and take us to it, because it's in the best interests of the people of this province.
The reason why the budget forecast unemployment to rise in British Columbia is that the Minister of Finance is quickly realizing the very flaw within his budget.
MR. BLENCOE: Where is he?
MR. SIHOTA: He's disappeared again, I'm sorry to note, but that's not surprising. When it gets a little hot in here, I guess he finds another room to hide in.
The budget does the very thing that results in unemployment. The budget begins to take disposable income out of the pockets of working people in this province. It begins to tax them enormously — from 44 percent to 51.5 percent; that's the increase in the provincial portion of income tax the people in this province are now going to have to pay; $600 a year extra for every family in this province. You take that money out of circulation in the economy and pump it back into the trivial projects of this government, and you begin to retard economic development.
The property transfer tax. I'm sure all of the members opposite have received calls similar to those I've received over the weekend. Realtors, small business people, are upset about the property transfer tax. They understand it. I had a phone call on Sunday from a small business person in my riding who was complaining about the effects of $1,200 now being put into a tax when one transfers property, as opposed to being put into video recorders and TVs and chesterfields and carpets and other goods and commodities that make the economy go. That's what the property transfer tax does.
It's no wonder, when you raise income tax, when you impose taxes like the property transfer tax in the way it's been done here, that you have no choice but to conclude that unemployment is going to rise this year in this province. That's what the budget document says: 12.5 to 13.1 percent.
The provincial government had a wonderful opportunity to do something with the economy this time around. They had a windfall of about $300 million in the lumber export tax, $300 million that they hadn't bargained on receiving. I believe it was $90 million on the health matter that they had received because of the decision to eliminate user fees, and I believe $70 million in other areas. Somewhere between $400 million and $500 million the government had at its disposal to begin to do something about the number one problem in this province, job creation. What did they do? Absolutely nothing.
I listened with interest to the Minister of Finance, who I am glad is now back in the chamber again, Mr. Speaker, when on an open-line show he said: "I don't understand why people are criticizing me for not doing anything about jobs. I can't figure out what is happening here. I am creating 5,000 new jobs" — 200,000 people unemployed, and he's creating 5,000 new jobs.
[ Page 213 ]
Mr. Speaker, $500 million was available to this government to put into job creation activities, and all we're doing is putting in a nominal amount to create 5,000 jobs. We're doing nothing about silviculture in this province, and I know the minister — I'm glad he's here again now — made a rather interesting comment, to put it politely, over the weekend in Duncan about his concern that all the trees are going to hatch at the same time in this province and will have to be brought down, and what do we do with that problem? Well, I know quite a few unemployed foresters that can tell the minister what ought to be done with that problem, if he perceives it to be a problem.
In any event, it is true that the budget says unemployment is going to rise, and it is true that there is nothing within the budget that begins to place a dent in the matter of unemployment. But at the same time, it hurts the very people in this province that created the wealth of this province, seniors. Seniors have been punished and victimized by this budget.
I want to relate another story, because on the weekend I was at a meeting of the Active Mobile Homeowners' Association. It was their Vancouver Island annual general meeting. A lot of the mobile home owners in this province are seniors, and we got to talking about the need for a bill of rights for the owners of manufactured homes. More about that on another speech.
But the point is that there were 50 senior citizens in the hall. Unprompted — I didn't ask for it — they all took up a petition that I have here with me today and they signed it, protesting the government's decision to increase property taxes for senior citizens from $1 to $100. Seniors who created the wealth in this province ought to have the opportunity to share in that wealth, not to produce more revenue for government.
One senior, when he talked to me privately afterwards, was worried about the fact that now he would have to find $50 a month more for chiropractic and physio fees. He didn't know where it was going to come from. He's on a fixed income, $437 a month. That's his fixed income, and out of that, after he pays his rent and his food, he is now going to have to find $50 more for that. He is going to have to pay more for his prescriptions on the dispensing fees and the deductibles on Pharmacare.
The seniors in this province are upset, and if you haven't heard from them yet — and I believe that you have.... For all the lightweight back-benchers on the government side, if they haven't been able to transmit the message back to cabinet yet, don't worry: we'll be there as members on this side of the House fighting with those seniors to convince this government to reverse the very negative implications in this budget for seniors. Shame! It's despicable.
Mr. Speaker, I talked earlier on about the imagery and the public relations aspect of this budget. I happen to be, of course, the critic in our party for the Attorney-General's (Hon. B.R. Smith's) ministry. I looked with some interest to see what was going to be provided in the A-G budget this year. Of course, for all of those who practise in law and who have an interest in the affairs of that ministry, our concern immediately goes to the issue of legal aid.
The government in its budget speech said that legal aid funding was going to increase by $5 million from the $14 million last year to $19 million this year. Well, I don't see anyone applauding on the other side, so I am sure they have seen the same sham in that statement that I have, because last year there was $14 million allocated for legal aid. There was $4 million in additional warrants that went out to provide assistance to the depleted legal aid system. As a consequence, Mr. Speaker, $18 million was expended last year on legal aid. They're putting $19 million in this year, an increase of $1 million, of which the federal government pays half. So the total net amount going into legal aid as new moneys this year is not the $5 million that this hyperbole of a budget speech says. It's not $5 million, it's $500,000 — a pittance going to legal aid.
MR. WILLIAMS: Ten percent.
MR. SIHOTA: Ten percent of what was indeed said by the minister as going in there.
I tell you, Mr. Speaker, today I had the opportunity to meet with people from the Law Society of British Columbia. They're not impressed. They understand. They've seen the sham. They know what the government has done. The word is going to be out: it wasn't $5 million but $500,000. The sole purpose of that statement in the budget speech was to generate the public perception that the government was doing something about a public need. You tried to deceive the lawyers and the people of this province into thinking that you were beginning to put a substantial amount of money into legal aid. Deception. It didn't work; you got caught.
Mr. Speaker, those are some of the concerns that we on this side of the House have about the budget. I want the members opposite to know this: there is a new spirit within the caucus on this side. You're going to hear from us. You're going to see us with the seniors; you're going to see us with the young people; you're going to see us with all the small business people who have been devastated by this budget. We'll be taking that message out to the doorsteps, to the seniors' groups around the province, to the chambers of commerce, and we will be telling them exactly what this government did. Three years from now, Mr. Speaker, there will be a new message in this province — a totally different new spirit. Watch out for what's going to happen from this side of the House.
Mr. Speaker, when you look around this province, when you look at its wealth.... I understand that the second member for Langley (Mr. Peterson), who spoke before me, was talking about the jewel or the crown that this province was and all that kind of nice stuff. It transcends the boundaries of Langley right across the province. It is a beautiful province. It has a tremendous amount of wealth and resources. There is an overwhelming amount of opportunity in this province. Given our natural resources and the desire of our people to work, there are all sorts of things that we can achieve in this province. We don't need 13.1 percent unemployment. We don't need to have seniors hit the way this budget does. There is a tremendous potential in this province, and we can tap it. But when you look at that potential, and when you begin to look at the rates of unemployment and at the deficit, you can come to only one conclusion: that the only thing wrong with this province is Social Credit.
MR. HEWITT: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise and speak in the budget debate.
I want to give the member for Esquimalt-Port Renfrew (Mr. Sihota) a little education. I want to tell him that it is not the federal government that pays; it is not the provincial government that pays; it is, my friend, the taxpayer who
[ Page 214 ]
pays. And if we thought about it for a moment on both sides of the House, we'd recognize that we have a great responsibility in this House to make sure we are good managers of the taxpayers' money.
Mr. Speaker, I welcome the new members to the House: 39 in the class of '86, the largest contingent of new MLAs in history, I guess. I'm not sure what the size of the first House was when we entered Confederation, but I doubt if it was 39. I think it was pretty small.
Mr. Speaker, we as MLAs are very privileged. We are given a vote of confidence by our constituents. We're to represent them, we're to cut through some of the red tape to assist them when they have problems, and we participate both on the opposition benches and government benches in shaping the future of B.C.'s economy and social programs. Although the government and opposition have different philosophies — I think that's fair to say — we respect each other's views, and we respect each other's views and we respect each other as individuals. We may not agree, and in the heat of debate we cast remarks across the floor of the House, but I think we'd all agree that it is a privilege and an honour to serve in this House, and we respect that privilege.
I, like others before me, would like to pay tribute to two former members of the House who are no longer with us.
The late Ernie Hall, former member for Surrey, was a tough opponent, a respected opponent, an excellent debater with a sense of humour. He could invoke a little bit of humour when we became too serious, when we got a little upset with one another. I can recall — and I hate to bring this up, Mr. Speaker — in the throne speech where we made a mistake and said coal for hydroelectricity, and I think the member for Vancouver East brought it up. Can you imagine what Ernie Hall would have done with that line? He would have had us rolling in the aisles with regard to making an error in the throne speech. But it's good to laugh at ourselves from time to time, because this is serious business and it's nice to have a little bit of humour to lighten the load.
The late Al Passarell, Landslide Al, who won it by one vote, and the man who wrestled grizzly bears — remember that story? He was a big man with a big heart. He was the north country's Will Rogers. If he had something to say he said it in a simple, straightforward manner which all could understand. To give you an example, for those of us who were there at the time, Al's speech to this House on the availability of medical services in the constituency of Atlin will be remembered for many years as an impassioned speech by a man who was truly concerned about the people he represented. It was one of the greatest speeches I've heard in this House.
Mr. Speaker, the budget and throne speech debates allow us to talk about our constituencies — and many members have in their maiden speeches — or to comment on the government's economic and social blueprint for the coming year. This budget is a good budget. It deals with and addresses the deficit; it talks about less regulation, additional funding for social programs, a new direction on taxation — reducing the social services tax while, granted, increasing other taxes. Nevertheless we all agree, I think, that the sales tax hits everybody and probably hits the lower income carrier more than anybody else when it comes to taxing at the point of sale. I think that budget was excellent, and I compliment those people who have spoken on it and the ones who spoke on the throne speech as well — good speeches and a lot of enthusiasm. I can recall the enthusiasm I had, along with my colleagues from "the class of '75" when we came in as a new team and were excited and were prepared to represent our constituents and to work together to make this province a better place. The thirty-fourth session of the Legislature, Mr. Speaker, will be exciting and productive because of the enthusiasm of those 39 new members.
Mr. Speaker, as back-benchers we have an opportunity to express our individual views at this point in time, whether it's in the throne speech or budget speech debate. I am going to depart somewhat from the usual speech that is given and comment on one subject only, because in my mind this subject affects not just British Columbia but all of Canada. It's timely, because we have a first ministers' conference coming up later this week. The subject is Indian land claims, and in a broader sense the future of the Indian nation. What direction will it take? As politicians and lawmakers, do we look to the future or do we relive and try to change the past? Do we have the right as elders — and I use that word purposely — to deny our children, all our children, equal opportunity in the twenty-first century?
A number of members have raised the question of native Indian claims and concerns. The Leader of the Opposition in his throne speech debate talked about — I quote — "the issue of aboriginal claims." I'd be curious to know whether in that debate he was talking about aboriginal claims or aboriginal land title. I'd be interested to know what his party's policy is on that.
The second member for Cariboo (Mr. Vant) in his speech said:
"...in the spirit of our great party, which in its constitution upholds the universally — and I emphasize 'universally' — recognized principles of Christianity in all human relationships, it is important that in a multicultural society with our first citizens and the rest of us coming originally from all over the world, we are universal in our outlook."
Important words, Mr. Speaker, and ones that I think are very appropriate for today.
To quote the member for Atlin (Mr. Guno) in his speech:
"...I want to make a few brief comments relating to the Indian land question, which is of considerable importance to a large segment of the people of Atlin and, indeed, of all British Columbia. It is a longstanding question that is casting an ever-deepening shadow on the economic and political landscape of British Columbia....
"...I believe that it is not just a matter of land transfer and compensation. It is a matter of reasserting a sense of dignity as a people. It is their continuing fight to say that we as the aboriginal people have a history. We have lived here since time immemorial. We have our own government and governmental institutions. We have our cultures, our languages. Of course, we had our laws and we have our customs and traditions. In short, the aboriginal people in British Columbia are trying to establish the fact that they have a legitimate place here in British Columbia."
I don't deny the fact that they have a legitimate place in British Columbia. The member for Prince Rupert (Mr. Miller) said, and I quote: "...B.C. natives have become strangers in their own house, denied access to economic opportunities which many of us take for granted. As my friend Charlie Bellis...put it to me, we are suffering from
[ Page 215 ]
a form of economic slavery, dependent on handouts from government for our existence." I don't disagree with that statement, Mr. Speaker. These comments have been made before, many times over many years.
Let me give you a quote from a speech made in 1967 by a new member of the House at that time who later became Attorney-General in the Social Credit government, 1975. I'm speaking about Mr. Allan Williams. He stated, as a Liberal at that time: "It has been the stated policy of the Liberal Party that the Indians of this province are citizens and should receive the same privileges and share the same responsibilities and participate in the life of the community in which they live on the basis of equality with other citizens." In my maiden speech in 1976, I talked about equality of the native Indian. In my constituency, as many know, I have several Indian reservations. I spoke in 1983 during the debate on the resolution re the Canadian constitution, and I'd like to read my comments at that time.
"I would like to think that I have a goal as an individual resident of British Columbia and as a Canadian. I think it's fair to say that we all should have — and I think we all do have — the same goal: that is, that Indian and white men are equal and should have equality in the true sense of the word both today and in the future.
"I cannot address the past with any intelligence, but I think equality is where we should be going. We should do our darnedest to get there and to do it in such a way that it can be said in the future Journals of any House that the decision was reached after fair discussion unbiased with regard to political affiliation, but discussion which includes all concerns. When we end up, we should have Canadians in British Columbia and in Canada — not communities of Indians and communities of white men.
"The goal is equality in the way of life. Hopefully sometime in the future, when people address the question of residents in British Columbia, citizens of Canada, they'll see no difference whatsoever between the Indian and the white man. The goal we should be achieving is equality, not something more for either side: equality for those who are alive in Canada today and in the future generations, whether they be Indian or white man."
Mr. Speaker, it's time that the Indian community truly became part of the Canadian mosaic, a mosaic that ensures preservation of heritage and culture, but also ensures individual opportunity for all. Canada is the world's last frontier, the second-largest country in the world, with a population of only 26 million people. We open our doors to the peoples of the world, and they come. They come because Canada is the land of individual opportunity. We have new citizens from Hong Kong, Korea, India, Pakistan, England, France, Germany, Russia, South America and Africa, just to name a few. Many of those people are unable to speak English when they arrive. Many of them come with not much more than the clothes on their backs. They come without skills, but all with the knowledge that Canada is the land of individual freedom and opportunity; all with the knowledge that the Canadian mosaic will allow them to maintain their cultural ties. Yet in my opinion we deny our own Indian people the same opportunity. Why? We deny it because the word merchants, the lawyers and the politicians, both native and white, are still addressing the errors of the past and not considering the future which faces the native children of today.
Let me give you a case in point. Some years ago, Allan Williams, as Attorney-General and the minister responsible for Indian affairs in British Columbia, finalized with the Penticton Indian band the matter of cutoff lands and land claims. A settlement of $12 million to $13 million was paid to that band — and I apologize if I may be somewhat inaccurate with regard to the exact amount; I don't want to be caught up because somebody says it wasn't the right amount, but it was in that vicinity — and several thousand acres of land. That settlement appeared to resolve the issue, which dated back to the early 1900s and the famous McKenna-McBride commission. Well, Mr. Speaker, not so. It didn't resolve the problem, because today the Penticton Indian band wants compensation for a further 65,000-acre claim dating back to 1876. The Indian band laid claim to this acreage, which is commonage land, northwest of Penticton, and they're seeking compensation for these lands which the band says were taken away late in the nineteenth century.
Just to quote the news article that deals with this issue:
"The term 'commonage' refers to lands set aside by the provincial and federal governments in 1876 for the common use of the Indian and white population. When the lands were used commonly, settlers used it for agricultural purposes, and the uses were compati ble with those of Indians who used the land for hunt ing, livestock grazing, harvesting, food catching, summer residences and fishing...."
Commonage lands. We're now going to debate that issue as to whether or not there should be compensation paid in almost the twenty-first century for what happened in 1876. The point I make, Mr. Speaker, is that we're continuing to re-examine the past through the eyes of lawyers and politicians who were not there at the time. They have a tremendous hindsight. It's a wonderful thing when you can determine what happened, what was appropriate at that time, when you weren't even there. Granted, lawyers have a knack for reading the written word and making their interpretation of the written word, but who knows what the intent of that word was in those days.
Mr. Speaker, in my opinion, the reserve system has not served the Indian community well. It is not the Indians' heritage to live on a reserve, Mr. Speaker; it never was. But in those days that was the appropriate way to go. Is it today?
Some years ago, when I was a politician, I picked up a young Indian boy outside the city of Penticton. He was hitchhiking along the side of the road in the rain. I asked him where he was going. He said, very appropriately: "Back to the reserve." When I let him out of the car, I saw him walking away in the rain, and I asked myself: what chance does he have? What future is in store for him? Does he have the same chance as others in our society? The answer to that question, Mr. Speaker, does not lie in a debate over land claims or compensation; the answer lies in equality and opportunity for the individual. Mr. Speaker, the time has come to consider the concept of individualizing the Indian land, to allow title in fee simple to go to the individual native Indian.
Pride of individual ownership; we stand on that. We say it is pride of individual ownership. Why not the Indian in Canada? Why can't he have that pride as well? Why is it always the band land? It could be done, Mr. Speaker; not imposed. For heaven's sake, not imposed — we've done too much of that when we created the reserve — but after open
[ Page 216 ]
voluntary discussion, the Indian, native politician and lawyer and the white man politician and lawyer getting together to determine how it could be done. It would take a lot of time. It would take a lot of understanding. But it truly would allow our native children to be on equal footing with their fellow Canadians, both those who were born here and those who have chosen Canada as their land.
It's a most difficult goal to achieve. I thought long and hard before I rose in my place today to make this speech. It would be a most difficult goal to achieve: individualizing Indian reserves. It would take time: 10, 20, 30 years; a lot of planning, a lot of consultation, but the reward would be worth it. It would take a lot of guts to buck the trend that we're going on today, when we meet for the third time at the federal-provincial first ministers' conference to talk about Indian affairs and the Canadian constitution. It will take a lot of guts to change the trend, but that's what our job's all about. We've got to address these things and be prepared to stand the flak with regard to how we change direction in this country and in this province, as opposed to just going along for the ride. Too long have we gone along for the ride.
Mr. Speaker, rather than maintaining the barriers that deny the native children equal opportunity, we should be working towards ensuring that the native Indian becomes part of the Canadian mosaic, because Canada is his country. I know that some lawyers and politicians, both native and white, will argue that the Indians must not lose their heritage and culture. Again, Mr. Speaker, the reserve is not part of the Indian heritage. It was imposed upon them by politicians who, to defend them, could not visualize what Canada would become in the twenty-first century but only saw the reserve as a solution of the day. The question is: do we as British Columbians and Canadian politicians, native and white, perpetuate that decision, even though we know what the sophisticated, high-tech world of the twenty-first century will be like? We are part of the world community, and we must recognize that and must work towards providing opportunity for all our people in British Columbia and Canada. I want the Indian child to be able to participate in that world community of the twenty-first century. I don't want him or her restricted by the barriers of the reserve. Indian culture and Indian heritage can be maintained as it has been by other ethnic groups in Canada.
I am not sure how we are going to achieve the goal of individualizing the Indian reserve, but we should try. We should try, and by "we" I mean the Indian leaders and the provincial and federal politicians. Again I say we should depart from our present course of further debate on land claims and/or compensation and look to knocking down the barriers to equality.
I am pleased that the Premier has established a committee on native affairs. I sincerely hope that they will take a moment to read my remarks in Hansard before they embark on their discussions. I hope they will have the opportunity to analyze and debate this issue before they enter into the in-depth discussion at the first ministers' conference. I believe that through this committee we could show great leadership in the discussions at the federal level.
In closing, Mr. Speaker, Thomas Berger wrote a book. The book was entitled Fragile Freedoms. You all know who Thomas Berger is, former leader of the NDP party, former justice and author, who has done many studies with regard to Indian affairs in this province. This book, of which I am a critic, had a thrust, and the thrust dealt with minority groups. He talked about the Acadians and how they were treated — the Acadians being those who came up from the States and into Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. He talked about the Metis, the mixed race of white and Indian. He talked about the Japanese-Canadians and how they were treated, the FLQ, the Communist party and the Nishgas, all abused by society, Mr. Speaker, when viewed in hindsight. But throughout his book he failed to recognize the individual, the freedoms and rights of the individual, the most fragile freedom of all.
Mr. Speaker, the constitution of Canada states in section 15: "Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability." That section deals with equality, Mr. Speaker, equality of the individual. In light of the words of the constitution, the question must be asked: why did the young Indian boy I picked up years ago say: "I am going back to the reserve"? Why couldn't he have said: "My mom and dad have a place on Green Mountain Road"? That's why I like to think about individualizing the Indian reserves, this situation that we have today. We as politicians and as lawmakers must remember our children, for, as the Bible says, they will inherit the earth. Let's ensure that the resolution of the Indian land issue allows Indian children to have their place in the sun.
Mr. Speaker, my remarks today are somewhat off the original debate, if you will, of the budget — I realize the flexibility that we have in both the throne speech debate and the budget debate — but I think it is important for us from time to time to break new ground and not to go along on the basis of what we feel is the easy way out. Heaven only knows what remarks I will get from the Lower Similkameen Indian band leaders, from the Oliver-Osoyoos Indian band or from the Penticton Indian band after my remarks are read — if they are ever read; who is to say? — but at the same time, if they weren't said.... And take yourself down the road 100 years. Do we still have the reserve? Do we still have young people who are denied an opportunity?
I think that at this time if we are breaking new ground, if this is a fresh start in British Columbia, then we should address these types of questions and forget about the debate and harangue about how many dollars did you put into welfare this year, how many dollars into education, why did we raise the tax, why did we lower it. The people across from me in this House know full well that the government doesn't print the money, that we don't make the money. We are only guardians of the money that the taxpayers and the economy provide, and we attempt to do the best we can, and we can make the comparisons on this side of the House and say: "Look what a great job we've done." The other side says: "You've made a mess of the whole thing." That is not the issue.
Many people, gentlemen whom I respect a great deal — Garde Gardom, Pat McGeer — because they were, in my opinion, very good legislators, have said that the House had deteriorated rapidly in the past number of years. The debate became harangues, because the issues were not addressed for the future; we were always looking to the past about what was wrong with one another. So if we're talking cooperation, maybe those opposite may like to give some thoughts to my remarks and maybe enter into such a debate.
[ Page 217 ]
Mr. Speaker, I again appreciate the opportunity to raise this issue. The conference that comes up at the end of this week is the third such meeting — the last such meeting — on the Indian issue with regard to our constitution, and I hope that those people who sit around that conference table will give serious consideration to the children of this land, both native and white.
MS. SMALLWOOD: Mr. Speaker, I'm very pleased to follow the previous speaker. I found some of his comments very interesting, although I disagreed with the majority of them. I found it interesting because he talked about equality and because he talked about discrimination. I'd like to address three areas of the budget — three areas that were grossly neglected, three areas that I am responsible for as debate leader. The first area is economic issues for women, the second area is that of B.C. Transit, and the third is environment and parks.
As a rookie in this House, the whole process here has been a real learning experience for me. I've been slightly frustrated by the fact that the things that I care very deeply about don't end up on this government's agenda. I've been frustrated by the fact that the majority of my time is spent trying to have those issues dealt with. It's interesting that in the budget speech women's issues — issues that are of interest to women — are not mentioned. The word "woman" is not mentioned once in this budget speech. However, I believe that this budget is of historical impact on women. I believe that this budget is very much like what happened after World War 11. I am concerned, and in fact I fear that the job creation that this government talks about is job creation for ideologues and job creation in moving women out of the labour force — pushing them back into the kitchen, back to the days of barefoot and pregnant.
I am concerned that this budget does not deal with the realities of 51 percent of the population in our province. For that reason, I'd like to talk now about those realities, about some of the myths surrounding women's economic status, in the hope that this government will deal with some of these facts and design a program that will deal with equality and with discrimination — that deals with them not in a narrow, fundamental way that reflects a single world view but that instead reflects the broad reality of many people's lives in this province.
First of all I think that this government has to realize that half of all women with children under the age of three participate in the labour force. They must also realize that over half of all women with children aged three to five participate in the labour force, that more than half of the women who work outside the home do so to bring their family's income up to the poverty line. This paid work is their second job. Like most women, these women work in unpaid labour in their homes raising children and doing housework. This government must realize that if women were not out in the labour force working — if their income was not contributing — 61 percent of Canadian families would fall under the poverty line.
Young women can no longer count on being so-called "taken care of." Three out of four women either never marry or lose their husbands through death, divorce or separation. That's three out of four women. Families headed by women run over four times the risk of poverty than do those headed by men. Single mothers are five times more likely to be poor than families with two parents. There are disturbing trends in the whole issue of women's economics in Canada.
The National Council of Welfare says that in 1961 the percentage of poor families headed by women was 13.2; 16.6 percent in 1969; 35.4 percent in 1980; and 36.5 percent in 1985. That's an incredible trend. Sixty percent of the women who are single parents with families are poor. One child in five in this country is poor. Children of woman-headed households have a fifty-fifty chance of living in poverty, compared to one in five with men heading the household and one in ten with two-parent-headed households.
Certain groups — and this, again, comes from the National Council of Welfare, reporting to the federal government — including female-headed one-parent families, the young and single elderly, most of them widows, are very vulnerable to poverty. In 1985, 50 to 85 percent of all child maintenance orders failed for women on social assistance and housing. Women on social assistance and housing — those that do manage to get support — have that deducted from their welfare cheques. Sixty percent of women fall in the category that has jobs such as waitress, cashier, sales clerk, cleaner, day care worker, nursing assistant and office worker. Sixty percent of these women are supporting families. Sixty-seven percent of women in 1986 were minimum wage earners. The minimum wage now in B.C. is $4 an hour. Full-time work on the minimum wage gives $8,320 per year before deductions, or about $150 a week after deductions.
All of these statistics don't even begin to touch the reality that women are facing in our province. I find it incredibly difficult to try to bring the realities that the majority of women in this province and, indeed, in Canada are facing.... Without understanding those realities, without those realities being given voice in this House, this government is making decisions that are impacting on their lives without understanding the reality. They suffer under the myth that we are in a situation of two-parent families, in which women have the luxury of staying home and raising children. Indeed, that is not the reality. The reality is that the majority of women need to work in B.C., that the majority of women are working just for basic survival — no frills.
The raising of the minimum wage to $4 in this province — with the full-time wage that I have just given you and the fact that that relates to $150 a week take-home — will not bring a single person up to the poverty line here in B.C. That won't even bring a family of three halfway to the poverty line in B.C. For women such as these the issue of equal pay is not a philosophy; it is an issue of survival, of putting bread on the table.
The poor in this country are getting poorer, and when we talk about the poor, I again want to emphasize that over 60 percent of those people are women. The minimum wage buys 20 percent less than ten years ago. Poverty for women is not cyclical; it is institutional. Women cannot wait until the economy gets better. Women cannot wait until the cycle turns round. Historically women have been the least advantaged in our society. In 1985 the number of poor Canadians fell by 298,000, after a five-year increase. That's according to the National Council on Welfare. A drop of 7.1 percent between '84 and '85. The numbers of poor women dropped by 5 percent. The reduction in the number of poor people in this country was not reflected across the board; the number of
[ Page 218 ]
poor people who escaped that poverty level was disproportionate. Male-headed families dropped by 10.6 percent; women-headed families dropped by 1.1 percent.
Women make up 78 percent of employees in the clothing industry, and their average wage is $166.53 a week. But they only make up 8.6 percent of employees in construction industries, where the average weekly wage is $472.46. What that means is that a brother and sister in this province who are raised together, who have the same advantages, who have the same educational opportunities — that the difference in their income is going to be $166 a week for the woman and $472 for the man. Same education, same background, same family. That is despicable. According to the Canadian statistics, women in Canada, in B.C., have been struggling to improve their situation, asking government to end legislated poverty. The realities are that in 1985, women full-time wage earners earned 64.9 percent of men's wages; in 1984, they earned 65.5 percent of male wages. We're losing ground. After this long struggle, when it has taken women all of their energy to try to raise a family....
We heard a lot in the budget about support for family, about family as the centre of our society, the respect for motherhood. These are the realities. This is the reality of women's lives. Indeed, if we're talking about support for the family and good old mom and apple pie, then damn it, we should be looking at these figures. We should realize that 60 percent of all people living under the poverty line are women. When I took on the responsibility of looking at women's economic issues — as I say, the whole process has been one of learning — I looked at some of the issues the women's movement has been fighting for, for so long: the number of executives in office towers, the number of professors in engineering, the number of graduate students in engineering at UBC. That does not reflect the women I'm representing here, and their reality, and I think it's about time those issues were grappled with, that those were the realities that began to change the legislation and the programs for this government.
I can't begin to touch on all of the issues that impact women's economic reality. I'm fortunate in this caucus to be one of five women who are concerned about the reality of women in this province, and many of the women in my caucus will be dealing with those issues later on in their speech on the budget. I'll just touch briefly on some of the issues that I feel impact women's lives.
During the last year we heard a great deal about the housing crisis in Vancouver. One of the things that didn't break through the din — not to my satisfaction at least — was women's homelessness and the impact on women and the reality that they must face. A survey done in Vancouver of 100 women asked whether or not they were homeless; 56 said they didn't know from one day to the next where they would be staying that night. The woman who did this survey said that she felt this was a very conservative number, because when she was talking to these people, some women would say that they didn't consider themselves homeless; if they didn't have a place to stay that night, they could stay down the street with an old guy they knew in a hotel. They could go and stay with him.
And I say to you, Mr. Speaker, and to this House, that sexual favours for a place to stay make these people homeless. We are just beginning to see the tip of the iceberg in major cities across Canada. Vancouver is no different from the major cities like Toronto with the problems of prostitution and the impact on young people, young girls and young boys that are out prostituting themselves to pay the rent.
That has to be a signal to this government that there is something desperately wrong with their myth, something desperately wrong with this idealistic picture they have of this two-parent household with two lovely children and a cocker spaniel. There is something desperately wrong in this province when we have young women and young men prostituting themselves to be able to pay for a place to stay at night.
What I have done is more or less outline some of the concerns, some of the realities of young women who are at home raising a family, taking on a part-time job to try to pay the rent, some of the women who are homeless and some of the young women who have run away from bad situations in their homes. But I think it is very important for us to look at a cause and effect here. This is the reality that the majority of women in this province face. They face uncertainty, they face vulnerability, they face economic insecurity.
What that means to our senior women is that seven in ten elderly poor are women, that women make up 83 percent of the unattached aged on low incomes. The reason for that is because of their work history, because they gave their lives to raising families, because there is no income security for those who don't pay into Canada Pension Plan or the Quebec Pension Plan. They fall off the edge of the map here. They are in a situation now where those mothers that we care so much about are living in abject poverty. Seven out of ten elderly women are poor.
Is that kind of vulnerability, that kind of economic insecurity, what we want for this mythical family? The reality is that women tend to work in occupations and industries that don't have private pension plans. Unfortunately the Canada Pension Plan and the Quebec Pension Plan don't make up the shortfall. They are designed to complement private plans.
What has this government done for our seniors, for our grandmothers, for our mothers? They have put user charges on Pharmacare. They have put user fees on physiotherapy and chiropractic services. So much for the myth of mom and apple pie.
In 1976, 47 percent of women did not contribute to the Canada Pension Plan and therefore will receive only old age security pensions after the age of 65. That bodes very poorly for those women who are reaching their senior years.
What this government has done is put $2 million in the budget which it says is going to help provide alternatives to abortion. I say to this government that the realities that I have outlined will cost an awful lot more. Those inequities and that discrimination will cost an awful lot more than $2 million. My concern, as I said earlier, is that that $2 million will only be money for brochures, for propaganda, maybe a couple of media clips, but will in no way address the true lives and the suffering that the women of this province face. This government totally ignores the fact of polling that shows that 72 percent of those women polled in Canada say that women should have the say, should have the decision, on abortion, and that the decision should be between the women and their doctors. That is totally ignored by this government, and they are carrying forward their own particular narrow view of the myth of how this family should conduct itself
The question that I put to this House is: given the reality that women face in this province, should women in poverty, women who have to go to food banks to be able to feed themselves and their families, carry an unwanted pregnancy
[ Page 219 ]
full term? I say to you that it is irresponsible for that woman, given the reality of those women's lives.
One of the positive spinoffs of this heated debate across Canada is the number of studies that have gone on looking at what the reality is for sex education and how society can grapple with this problem. One of the most marked studies — one of the studies that I think has the most to say about this situation — zeroes in on teenage pregnancy and points out that the number of young women who are goal-oriented, who see that they have a society that they can fit into, that they have a place.... Those are the women who are least likely to become pregnant as teens. If this government truly cares about the rate of abortion, truly cares about family, truly cares about women and motherhood, then I call on it to turn its efforts to providing alternatives, to giving these young women the opportunity to see that they can be full, functioning, participating members of this society, ending the vulnerability, ending the reality that they find themselves in and that their mothers find themselves in.
Quite frankly, Mr. Speaker, I was slightly confused by the budget speech. I sat here and listened to the Minister of Finance talk about the money that the government was giving for the less advantaged of our society. I saw senior members of the government, including the Premier, making motions to the opposition, like: "Isn't that a good deal? Aren't you guys happy? Why aren't you applauding?" This government has done only the minimum. It is just beginning to recognize the erosion of services, of equality, of support that the many people in this province have worked for. It has done the least that it could possibly do in the way of support for the family. It has not even begun to deal with the cutbacks to social services and community services to women and families that were so savagely put upon this province in the last few years. I do not applaud that recognition; it is the least that this government can do.
Indeed, not only has the government — and it was the senior members, looking for some sort of support from the opposition for its minuscule offerings of so-called assistance to the less-advantaged.... But what this government has done — and we've heard time and again — is put an additional weight on low- and middle-income people of $566 by taxation. I don't call that justice.
One of our earlier speakers talked about taxpayers' money, and that all the government was doing was administering taxpayers' money. What the government is doing is facilitating a distribution of that money, and what that government has done is to take away from the people the least able to pay and give breaks to people who have money.
In 1985 alone the B.C. budget gave $955 million in corporate tax loopholes, and that was over a three-year period. My question is: when we look at all the numbers, how much money has this government, this budget, given in corporate loopholes?
The only program that we have seen prior to the bringing down of the budget that begins to try to grapple with the reality of poor women in this province was a social service and housing program that put $300,000 into a computer program, a pilot project in my riding. What that has done is say that there are jobs all over this province. It has made women more vulnerable, making them more isolated and breaking down the meagre family supports that they have in their communities.
I'm running out of time, and I'm not going to be able to deal with my other two critic areas. In the area of B.C. Transit, surprisingly there's not a whole bunch in the budget in the way of information. I'll be bringing what there is at further opportunities in the House. In the area of environment and parks there are only a couple of lines. It said something like that these changes — they were talking about the tax on leaded fuel — are motivated by the concern for the quality of our natural environment. That is the only reference. There was no mention of major resource decisions in this province — decisions that were made in total absence of any input from the people that care about this province.
MR. WILLIAMS: We need a new minister.
MS. SMALLWOOD: It's getting tiresome, another and another and another minister. But if this minister is not prepared to deal with the concerns of the people of this province, then he too must go. Because I am committed to ensuring that the majority of people in this province, whether it is those who are concerned about the environment, those who are concerned about and need public transit, or those women that make up the majority of poor people in this province.... I am committed to ensuring that they have a say, because I believe that there is some power to be given to their story. Perhaps that's my contribution: being able to stand up in this House and name them and give their story and make this government pay attention to their story.
MRS. GRAN: Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of the Minister of Finance's March 19 budget, which I believe to be innovative and completely unbiased. His budget shows the deep compassion felt by this Premier and his government for those in need and for our health care and education systems. I believe that it has taken courage to make many of the decisions outlined in the Finance minister's budget and foresight to recognize that growing deficits will eventually bankrupt this province. Although some of the measures contained in the budget are tough and no doubt have disappointed some, for the majority this is a fair and realistic budget, and I compliment the Premier, the minister and their colleagues in cabinet.
For the past two weeks we have heard a great deal from the opposition about how much they care about the people in this province and how little the government does, assuming that all Social Credit members are wealthy, without problems and only interested in fiscal responsibility.
Now I must say that the decorum in this Legislature, the cooperation and respect shown, is refreshing, and I hope it will continue. But we must debate in honesty, forgetting headlines in the newspapers and one-upmanship. We must exchange ideas and listen to what each one of us has to say. There is a great wealth of talent, intelligence and knowledge in this room. The people of British Columbia elected not only a good, sound government but a very fine opposition. The fundamental difference I see between the two sides is that one wants to do everything for everyone, and hang the cost; the other believes in individual initiative and less government.
Somehow over the past few years the opposition has managed to comer the market on caring. I would like to set the record straight, just as the Finance minister did in his March 19 budget. Let's start with day care, a subject I have personal experience with. Day care in British Columbia wasn't started by an NDP government; it was started by a
[ Page 220 ]
Social Credit government, under W.A.C. Bennett. How do I know? Not by asking the minister or our research people. I know because I was one of the first single mothers to take advantage of that program, right here in Victoria. With two very young children, I found it very difficult to leave them in home care programs or wherever I could find a baby-sitter. When I found the government program, I was able to go to work, maintain my dignity and self-respect, while my children were in an environment throughout the day that was structured and positive.
To expand on the issue of day care — and it is an issue, used by politicians to gain the women's vote — day care, as we know it in British Columbia, is positive; universal day care is not, and has the potential of destroying a good, sound, much needed program with huge cost overruns. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the taxpayers of this province for the helping hand they gave me when I needed one. It wasn't the taxpayers' fault that my marriage broke up, but I appreciate the help anyway. I compliment the Minister of Finance on increasing the present program's funding by some 30 percent, with the emphasis on helping people help themselves.
We have heard a lot about this budget not addressing the unemployment problem. Yet in the minister's budget is an allocation of $80.7 million for JobTrac, a program that includes five ministries. Training and work experience will provide young people and income assistance recipients with the confidence and encouragement needed to tackle finding a job or making their way in the private sector. The objective is to allow the marketplace to find its own level, to expand and develop, with a minimum of government interference. Surely the opposition members are not asking government to give money to the private sector to create false jobs and a false economy.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to dwell for a few moments on the cry from the opposition on behalf of women — and we've heard a half-hour's worth: women's rights, equal rights for women, and on and on and on. Women are not a needy lot, nor are we a minority group in need of protection by the NDP. I think you will find that most women feel they are competent, reasonably intelligent and able to make good decisions. Women tend not to be political and are therefore easily used. In the last provincial election, out of 21 female NDP candidates five were elected — less than one-quarter. Social Credit had six female candidates and four were elected, or two thirds — no token female candidates.
Let me tell you what kind of damage left-wing activists have done to women and children. Many women enjoy cleaning and looking after their homes, preparing meals for their families, and, yes, even washing and ironing their clothes. Should she feel like a traitor, guilty because she loves her family and likes to do things for them? Many women today are apologetic because they stay at home and look after their families. The left-wing women's groups demand programs, such as universal day care, full pensions, homemakers' wages and equality with men — whatever that is. Right-wing activists now emerging seem to want to demean those women who have chosen to continue with their careers and have a dual role. If ours is to remain a free society, and equality is a goal we want to achieve, women should be allowed to feel completely comfortable in either role. I think we'll survive a whole lot better without either activist group.
1 would like to say further that the role of mother is the single most important role in our society and should be elevated to the position it deserves. When the protection and love that mothers offer in such abundance is withdrawn, the family falls apart.
That brings us to young people. The second member for Vancouver Centre (Mr. Barnes) is completely right when he says there is a problem out there that needs addressing. I am not convinced, however, that any amount of money will change things. Those young people on the streets are victims of a morally bankrupt society. Many are not loved, have never felt loved, and are therefore unable to give love. They are encouraged by the media to engage in activities beyond their years, and are bombarded daily with sexually stimulating TV programs and literature. There are virtually no rules, no focus, no security for these young people. Community and government leaders throughout this province should be encouraging volunteers to get involved instead of setting up cold, impersonal government programs. The family should be our focus. They should be encouraging parents to work out their marriages where possible and to accept responsibility not only for their actions but for their children's actions. Churches could play a larger role in demonstrating that the true Christian spirit exists.
I attended a drug seminar put on by a group called Breakaway. It is a program designed mainly for ages 12 to 17, to help teenage drug addicts break their habit and become useful members of society, and to help their families cope and take an important role in the rehabilitation of their children. These were families from all walks of life, from all income brackets, and many had two parents. There was disbelief, sorrow and a lot of human suffering. One statement stands out in my mind: "We want no government involvement." That's how it works best: people helping people.
Our young people need us. But what they do not need is to be taught that the world owes them a living or to be told that they are a lost generation with nothing to offer. I ask both sides of this House to recognize the problem, and that it is too serious for right-wing or left-wing rhetoric and instead requires a deep sense of caring. The member for Vancouver Centre was right, Mr. Speaker: the jig is up for all of us,
If Manitoba is being held up by the opposition as an example of good government, then perhaps we should take a look at the budget brought down in that province just a few days ago. The primary thrust of that budget was to raise the revenue needed to pay for programs and to reduce the provincial deficit. It was a tax increase budget. Provincial sales tax in Manitoba went from 6 to 7 percent. The land transfer tax went up to 1.5 percent. There was an increase in tobacco tax and a personal income tax rate of 54 percent. Virtually no new programs were introduced, and service levels in health, education and agriculture were simply maintained. Manitoba also has a decreasing population.
Here in British Columbia local communities are being given more responsibility. More decisions will be made locally. Community economic development funding is a welcome item in the budget, and those communities that accept the challenge will benefit for years to come.
MRS. GRAN: Am I getting to you over there?
Industrial and commercial non-residential school tax has been reduced to 2 to I from 3.4 to 1. Property taxes on
[ Page 221 ]
machinery and equipment have been eliminated for 1987. Effective March 31, corporation capital taxes are completely eliminated except for large financial institutions, and the corporate income tax rate is reduced. These and other measures give on an annual basis more than $600 million in tax relief to assist the competitive portion of B.C.'s business and industry. This means more jobs for British Columbians.
Mr. Speaker, on the subject of seniors and how the budget affects them, I would like to say a few words about the changes in Pharmacare. This government, in attempting to get a handle on costs in this area, has encouraged seniors to shop around for a low dispensing fee. I have personally seen differences of 300 percent in dispensing fees. The additional burden is paid by the taxpayer. Those seniors on low incomes are protected with an increase of $125 per year in the GAIN for Seniors supplement, and most will be better off as a result of these changes.
This government has demonstrated that they care enough about the seniors in this province to make changes that will at first be unpopular, but that will ensure continuation of benefits our senior population so richly deserves. Mr. Speaker, governments must be responsive to the needs of our seniors, and it is my hope that our Premier will, in the next three years, establish a ministry for seniors' affairs. The growing population of seniors — and they're getting younger every day — demands our attention and lots of new ideas.
AN HON. MEMBER: Looking for a job.
MRS. GRAN: I'd be good at it, too.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!
MRS. GRAN: Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. members for their confidence.
As an alderman in Langley I assisted a company called Britco Structures Ltd. in having the zoning bylaws in Langley municipality amended to permit what are called granny flats to be placed on privately held land. Britco has designed a modular home that enables related elderly single persons or couples to live independently yet in close proximity to their children. These are separate self-contained cottages attractively and solidly designed, beautifully finished and, best of all, reasonably priced. Housing and recreation for our growing senior population must be addressed at all government levels, and the example I have just used is only one way to accommodate the changing needs.
My congratulations to our Premier and his Finance minister for the good, positive image this government presents. Instead of focusing on 15 percent unemployment, let's talk about 85 percent employment.
MRS. GRAN: Well, it's my first time.
Instead of calling an entire generation of young people lost, let's talk about the 80 percent that are doing really well. Let's encourage the people of British Columbia to think positively, to strive for the kind of excellence that we want. This government has demonstrated both, and I'm proud not only to represent the great constituency of Langley but to be a member of the Social Credit team.
MR. MILLER: Mr. Speaker, at the outset I can't help but comment on the remarks of the first member for Langley, who seems to be particularly disturbed about a perceived monopoly that we on this side of the House have about people in terms of caring about their welfare, and I suggest that if she really wants the answer to that question, she should examine the record of her government. Examine the record of the restraint program and its impact on the poor and the less advantaged people in this province; examine and ask why people on welfare have not had an increase in this province since 1982. Maybe then she'll start to come to the realization or the understanding about why that exists.
However, Mr. Speaker, I didn't rise in my place to respond particularly to the member for Langley but rather to respond to the budget document that was presented to this assembly. I must say at the outset that I was particularly surprised during the reading of that budget speech, because as I looked over at the Premier and the Minister of Finance — particularly the Premier — he was exhorting the opposition to rise up and applaud this budget. And I asked myself why was he doing that. What in this budget did he think was so great? Why did he want us to stand up and cheer for this budget? Did he want us to applaud the imposition of another $125 a year on senior citizens? Did he want us to applaud for adding a $5 user fee on medical services? I'm telling you, we won't applaud for the fleecing of senior citizens in this province. Would he have us cheer because his Minister of Finance increased income taxes to take an additional $184 million out of the pockets of middle- and low-income earners, cheer a tax system that will see the average working person pay $140 or $150 more per year while someone earning $160,000 will pay $4 or someone earning $180,000 will get a $50 rebate? We won't cheer for that. We're opposed to that. We think there should be a fair tax system in this province.
The Premier thinks we should be enthusiastic about a budget that says we will continue to have the highest unemployment rate with the exception of two maritime provinces; that we should be happy about a budget that does virtually nothing to stimulate employment in this province. We're not enthusiastic. We're not happy at all, and neither are the people of B.C. We think 13 percent unemployment is a bad thing. We think 27 percent youth unemployment is terrible, and we think the government has a responsibility to do something about it.
So I was surprised that the Premier looked so pleased, as though his Finance minister had created something truly unique, a document that even the opposition would have to approve. Perhaps he is not so pleased today, after his back bench have had a weekend to go out to their constituencies to find out what the public reaction really is.
The question we ask is why, after a dozen years of government that has failed the people of this province, this government did not take the opportunity to make a unique and truly fresh start; why this government did not take the opportunity to introduce a budget that would be a blueprint for the future instead of a continuation of the past.
Perhaps I should have anticipated this budget. After reviewing the throne speech and comparing it with previous ones, perhaps I should have realized that there has been no fundamental change. In 1976 the throne speech said: "During the period of my government's mandate, it will act to rekindle the provincial economy, " — rekindle, remember that word — "and provide programs which will encourage
[ Page 222 ]
individual enterprise and create new job opportunities which are so badly needed."
SOME HON. MEMBERS: What year was it?
MR. MILLER: It was 1976. Does that sound familiar 12 years later? It should. I quote last week's throne speech: "My government will act to let business get down to business and rekindle the spirit of enterprise across our province." Some rekindling! Who put out the fire? What was the fuel? Empty rhetoric.
When you guys started rekindling back in 1976, the StatsCan unemployment rate was 8.5 percent, 96,000 people out of work. After burning that free enterprise fire for a dozen years, the unemployment rate for the first two months of this year is 14 or 15 percent, almost 200,000 people out of work. Some fire!
Let's continue: 1977, a banner year. "My government intends to provide more opportunity to the private sector this year and in the years ahead." Again in 1977: "One of my government's programs to create more jobs includes a program to improve working opportunities for the young people of B.C." Great program! What's the unemployment rate today for young people? Twenty-seven percent.
Let's now move to 1978 for some more gems, this time under the heading of deregulation — government by buzzword. Listen to this: March 30, 1978. About ten years ago, isn't it?
" In keeping with the views expressed at the first ministers' conference, my government firmly believes that one of the most important contributions that can be made by government is to provide the climate in which the private sector can better respond to the challenge of providing jobs and opportunities for our people.
"It is my government's view that government must become less of a burden and more of a servant."
Sound familiar? Well, the words have changed a little bit, but you're still singing the same tune.
There is a new buzzword: privatization. That's the new buzzword in 1987. Job one is to get government off the back and out of the way of the private sector — and rekindle the spirit of free enterprise. It went out there somewhere; it went out.
"My government will immediately appoint a private sector task force to work on privatization of Crown corporations." How about a public sector task force? You know, I really worry about that one.
AN HON. MEMBER: Is that the Premier's Circle?
MR. MILLER: Yeah, it's the private sector. It's those guys running that corporation over there at Expo.
You know, I worked in a pulp mill that was unfortunate enough to be included under the BCRIC umbrella. We all remember that little experiment in privatization. I hope the members opposite at least remember. The result for me and for a lot of my fellow workers is not something to laugh about. There were protracted periods of extensive layoffs, and a lot of people lost their jobs in the process. You recall that little adventurous experiment in privatization. What did it do? It raised $400 million to $500 million in capital and then poured it down the drain. You fleeced thousands of British Columbians of hard-earned cash. A lot of working people I know bought those shares. They bought them because the Premier went on TV and told them to buy them.
MR. MILLER: You probably didn't have the sense to sell when they were high, Mr. Member.
A lot of them lost their jobs; a lot of them lost their faith. No new jobs and a massive outflow of investment capital from British Columbia. Well, that one didn't work, so let's try it again. Let's reach into the pockets of working people to cover part of the cost of our mismanagement and try again. No re-examination, no reflection, just a new label. You know, it's like the tainted tuna — you remember the tainted tuna, eh? We'll just peel off the old label and stick on a new one. Right? Take the old one off and put on a new one.
Well, the lid's finally off. The budget took the lid off, and I'm telling you it's the same old stale ideas that have left us a legacy of high unemployment and massive deficits. You know, I could offer many more quotes, but I got sick reading all those throne speeches because they said the same thing over and over and over again, and there has been no change in British Columbia. I don't know when that message is going to sink in to those members opposite. Perhaps it never will.
Anyway, I don't want to be negative; it's not just me being negative. Although I will be if I have to, and I feel compelled to be that way now.
MR. MILLER: I'm going to slow down here; I'm giving you guys too much information. Well, you can just hand me stuff, and....
AN HON. MEMBER: Repeat it twice.
MR. MILLER: I'll repeat it twice, but I don't know if they'll learn.
I occasionally will resort to quoting the newspapers, as all politicians do. Let's examine the headline in the Province: "Couvelier's First Budget Misses Boat." I've missed a few planes, but never a boat. I quote from the article:
"Words aren't going to make B.C. unemployment go away, and the fundamental outlook is continued high unemployment. This budget pins more faith on the private sector's job-creation ability than even that placed by previous Finance ministers. The sad fact is, however, that adherence to this policy in the past has led to the current 15 percent unemployment rate. One can only wonder just how high unemployment will have to go before the Socreds stop fooling around and start addressing the problem."
I don't want to continue in a negative vein, but I am going to anyway. I'm forced to, Mr. Speaker. I must register my disappointment in the Minister of Transportation and Highways (Hon. Mr. Michael) for giving up so easily, for not fighting for a greater share of that budget. As Richard Allan, the chief economist for the B.C. Central Credit Union, has pointed out, the budget fails to stimulate growth. It concedes a persistent structural deficit that is the result of continuing high unemployment. Spending on new highway construction, notably the promised Vancouver Island highway, could have produced some new jobs. Spending on Highway
[ Page 223 ]
16, particularly with federal cost-sharing dollars, could have produced some new jobs. But I am concerned that the minister has accepted such a large budget cut, and I'll have to tell you more about that in estimates.
AN HON. MEMBER: We care for people, not pavement.
MR. MILLER: Is that why you built the Coquihalla, because of people — your friends?
AN HON. MEMBER: Bye-bye phase 3.
MR. MILLER: Phase 3 — oh, that's the final one, isn't it? Yes, we'll see a bit more about that, too.
Mr. Speaker, in looking at one other aspect of the budget, I'm disturbed that there has been, in fact, an attempt to deceive.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Order.
MR. MILLER: If that's unparliamentary, Mr. Speaker, I'll be quite happy to withdraw it.
MR. WILLIAMS: It's a very poor attempt.
MR. MILLER: I'll have to get better at doing that, but I'm sure I will.
Again, Mr. Speaker, referring to the news media: "Budget Figures Called Fudged, " a headline in the Sun today. It examines a number of the features of the budget and tries to bring the reality out of that speech that the Minister of Finance made the other day. "A closer examination of the figures reveals that spending on these areas does not live up to billing, and spokesmen for affected groups say they are disappointed." It talks about legal aid, funding for legal services; a spokesman says "the government has increased the 'base grant' for legal aid, but the total money provided has not risen substantially." A glowing feature of the budget speech. What's the truth?
AN HON. MEMBER: Deception.
MR. MILLER: It went on to say that in fact "this means 'legal aid is not really available to the working poor."' Maybe you could throw that in with your program to try to make lawyers more honest.
AN HON. MEMBER: Don't get on a question of privilege.
MR. MILLER: Talking about funding for student projects: "Last year's program was a failure — the unemployment rate for returning students was 20 percent — and this year's will be worse.... Financial statements contained in the public accounts released along with the budget show that last year's $10 million student employment program was actually underspent by $1.2 million." He was surprised, because they'd applied for funds and were told there was no more.
Increases in welfare — I've got to relate a little story that I got this morning from my constituency. The increase actually covers only a portion of the welfare cheque: "The increase applies only to the support allowance paid monthly, which, for most families on welfare, is less than half of their total welfare payment."
Referring back to the first member for Langley (Mrs. Gran), the fact that people on welfare in this province have had no increase since 1982 and have had really no programs put in place in terms of trying to relieve the unemployment rate, I fundamentally believe that people like to work. They want to work. They want the dignity that comes with going to work, bringing a paycheque home and providing for their families. I'm a working man and I've worked with enough people to know that that's fundamentally true. By not giving an increase to single people on welfare, to surmise as you do, or to allude, that somehow these people are undeserving of an increase, or that they're boondogglers or do not want to work, is fundamentally unfair.
I was phoned this morning by the unemployment action centre in Prince Rupert — and there's an organization that's done a heck of a lot of good work in trying to help people through the bureaucratic hurdles they've got to jump through in terms of UIC or WCB or welfare or what have you. He related the story of an elderly man who's getting the minimum for single people. The money he has left over to eat on is simply not sufficient. His doctor sent him to the hospital in Prince Rupert, to the dietician, and said: "Make out a program; tell this man how he can use that available capital to have a healthy, balanced diet for a month." The dietician at the hospital sent him away; they could not do it.
MR. WILLIAMS: Can the minister hear this? What do you say to that?
MR. MILLER: You know, Mr. Speaker, other jurisdictions seem to have more concern or more originality, more innovation, more of a lot of things that we lack in this province. Instead of paying lip service to the rekindling of free enterprise, we should have been doing something a long time ago about trying to reduce the high levels of unemployment in this province. We on this side of the House don't have a monopoly on virtue or any other thing, but we have a genuine concern for people, and the reduction of unemployment would be a top priority.
It confuses me. I'm just a simple working man, and I've been confused for years about this lip service to the free enterprise system, when other jurisdictions clearly have been much smarter in terms of managing their economies, of playing to the strengths in their economies. I read a story in the Globe and Mail just the other day, and it refers to a country where they don't get like this when the word socialism is mentioned; it's quite a matter-of fact thing. I think it's fairly commonplace in a lot of the western European democracies, where the government accepts that they have an obligation and a role to play in managing the economy for the benefit of the people who live in that country. They work with the private sector.
I'm just going to take the time to read some excerpts from the article, because I think they're worthwhile and illustrate that we really have been moving in the wrong direction in British Columbia. The prosperity of socialist Sweden, a country with a population of eight million, depends on the success of its enterprises in the world market. You guys pay lip service to that, but what's the reality? Sweden has been called Europe's industrial powerhouse, and Business Week magazine last year described the country as "the envy of the continent." This is a country that has a social democratic
[ Page 224 ]
government. Unemployment in 1986 averaged 2.6 percent, and you people sit over there and deliver a budget speech that blithely says we are prepared to accept a continued unemployment rate in excess of 13 percent. Where is the originality? Where is the inventiveness?
I'll refer to the comments in an article by a Ms. Hedborg. She's an economist and the leader of the Swedish Trade Union Confederation. She comments on technological change to a convention in Toronto.
MR. MILLER: Don't talk about suicide, because I can get into the suicide rate in British Columbia and the fact that we have a real serious problem — a 30 percent increase among young people. We should ask ourselves why that exists.
"We Swedes may not be religious people, but one thing we do hold sacred is full employment."
MR. MILLER: It may be new, and you guys should pick up on it, because a 2.6 percent unemployment rate is a heck of a lot better than what you guys have produced in this province.
"Their methods include placement and counselling services for displaced workers, training grants, mobility assistance and, when necessary, public works projects. These expensive programs depend on the cooperation of Swedish business, both to pay for them and to put them into operation."
What is the reaction in British Columbia to business? The member who spoke before me talked about — and the Premier has talked repeatedly about it; the Premier talks about almost anything and everything; you never know actually what he means — "no more subsidies to business." We've continued, I believe, in this budget an immense subsidy to business.
AN HON. MEMBER: For what?
MR. MILLER: I don't know. Why has the number one industry in this province, the forest industry, gone through those cyclical downturns? Why haven't we put the money from those "good years," when the profits were way up, into reforestation, into modernization and into putting that technological change to work for the future, instead of the present system we have now, where labour is forced to defend their position in terms of trying to protect the jobs of their fellow workers against the onset of technological change, with no future to look forward to, no new industries?
Reading further from the article, it describes how labour and business and intellectuals in that country come together to resolve the problems of that country. Contrast that with what's happened in this province over the last little while. Talk about the restraint program. When we talk about the messages that that restraint program sent out to people.... And let's not forget that in those 29 bills — were there 29 bills? — to abolish the Human Rights Commission.... That wasn't economic. That was a signal. So no wonder labour is reacting. I worry about the comments of the Minister of Finance. It sounded as though he was starting to read a throne speech, not a budget speech, when he talked about labour.
To go on further from the article: "Thus there are no shortcuts on the road to success for Swedish corporations; they succeed only by making the best use of their human resources as well as research and development, which accounts for 2.6 percent of Sweden's gross national product.... What kind of research and development have we had in British Columbia, Mr. Speaker? It's pretty dismal. I don't know the figures, but I know that there's only one forest company that had a....
AN HON. MEMBER: It's 0.3.
MR. MILLER: It's 0.3 percent, my friend tells me. Contrast that with 2.6 and you might start to understand why we have that structural deficit, and why we have that significant, high level of unemployment.
Just as a further illustration, she talks about the activities of Volvo and Saab, two automakers in that country who pioneered the move away from the assembly line into the group work experience, and who tried to create a situation where a worker's life was a little bit more rewarding and fulfilling. "In fact, the recent activities of the two automakers show just how committed Sweden is to technological change. Ten years ago shipbuilding and steel were among Sweden's leading industries. Now they are being phased out and former shipyards have been converted into auto plants." They actually believe in planning their economy.
Here's a statement from business leaders in Sweden. They say that lowering taxes will not make their companies more efficient.
Mr. Speaker, I think those remarks are worthwhile in illustrating that this budget is really not a new document. Even the buzzwords for the 1976 throne speech have been transplanted to 1987. There are no new ideas contained here. We'll continue to exist with high levels of unemployment. It's not good enough for the people of B.C.; it's not good enough for the young people of B.C. I don't know what it's going to take to get the message across to these guys. I noticed that one of the ministers has been given to standing up and reading horoscopes. I suppose that in the absence of planning it's as good as anything — maybe reading tea leaves would do it. What they've offered the people of British Columbia in this budget is not good enough.
I think that my words will be borne out over the coming weeks and months as the government moves to implement the budget. I think that if the back-benchers could truly stand up in this House and advise their government about the real feelings out in their constituencies, the government might be moved to change. But I don't think they'll do that. I'm disappointed. I thought that maybe we were embarking on a new era, that there was a fresh start. That's not to be, and I believe the only choice left to the opposition is to fight this budget as hard as they can, to the best of their ability, and we'll see how it works out there.
HON. MR. VEITCH: Mr. Speaker, I've been pressed into service here, and when the Whip commands I have nothing else to do but obey.
AN HON. MEMBER: They brought in the heavyweight.
HON. MR. VEITCH: Literally, hon. member.
[ Page 225 ]
Mr. Speaker, I certainly want to congratulate you upon your election in this House and I want to congratulate the Speaker of the House. I have been in this place when times have been different, and I hope that you'll keep a steady hand on this place and not let it get out of control.
I want to also congratulate the new members who have been elected to this House — 39 of them. This is the first session of the thirty-fourth parliament. That means that in all time up until now there have only been 33 other groups of people who had the opportunity to be in this House, this chamber, and this very select club you're in now. I want to congratulate you and tell you it's an honour among all of us, but it's a singular honour. Sometimes I wonder, but I remember the fellow going to see the doctor and saying: "Doctor, I've had my nose broken three times in the same place. What do I do about that?" He said: "Stay out of that place." But we always keep coming back here for some reason or another.
I want to congratulate the Premier and I want to congratulate the cabinet, particularly the new members of cabinet who are here in this place for the first time. They have a tremendous responsibility. I want to congratulate the Minister of Finance for bringing down a budget which is a wonderful document as far as I'm concerned — realistic yet caring. So I want to give special mention to the Minister of Finance.
I've been honoured four times. Four times I've run for election — three times successfully and came to this Legislature. One time I sat out for a short hiatus and learned that in this business close doesn't count at all — it only counts in horseshoes. I want to congratulate all those people and their constituents on either side, and I want to congratulate my adversary, who wasn't really my adversary but my opponent during the election campaign. She ran a very, very good campaign, and she's a fine person.
AN HON. MEMBER: She'll get you next time.
HON. MR. VEITCH: You keep trying, but you won't make it.
I want to congratulate as well, Mr. Speaker, the mover and the seconder for the Speech from the Throne. In 1976, when I first came into this House — on St. Patrick's Day, I believe it was — I had the honour of delivering the reply to the first Speech from the Throne of a new government at that time. It was then Bill Bennett's government. The member for Omineca (Hon. Mr. Kempf) was the seconder at that time. I understand the pressures on an individual when they first stand up in this House. It's a different place; it's a different forum completely. It's very unlike any other forum that you'll ever speak in.
[Mr. Speaker in the chair.]
AN HON. MEMBER: What about the Roman Forum?
HON. MR. VEITCH: Well, there was a Roman Forum too. You've been doing a lot of roaming around from time to time.
This parliament brings with it very special privileges as a member of this House, Mr. Speaker, and it brings with it awesome responsibilities. It's important to remember that and to keep every one of them in context. It was very much simpler in the past. In 1952, when Mr. Bennett became the Premier, due in fact to a former member who just passed away in my constituency, Bert Price.... He won by one vote; that was the time they called him "Landslide Price." They became the government of the day. At that point in time, all it took was moving the economy around, and putting things in a little better shape, and sending it off down a much simpler path. The sales were there, the people were lining up on British Columbia's doorstep, wanting to do business in this province — a much simpler time.
Leadership was vitally important in the past, but it's more important here today. Each and every one of us are here as leaders in this forum.
It's more important today because, as the Minister of Finance has pointed out to you, we're entering into what now is a new economy. We've never seen this before. We've never seen the type of economy that we're in now. Expo brought to us, among other things, over 30,000 business visitors, who came here to see what we have in British Columbia, to look at what we have to offer. They traveled throughout the length and breadth of the province, and they're coming back. The legacy of Expo will last for many, many years. They're coming back again to British Columbia. It's up to us how we receive these people, and how successful that wonderful world's exposition will be. It's up to us as to how we use these people, and how we present ourselves as British Columbians in the future.
Expo changed forever the way that British Columbians viewed themselves. It touched everyone. Even the member for Vancouver Centre, I think, likes it now. It touched everyone in this province. It touched every segment of our population and will continue to do so for many years to come.
Last year was an exciting and truly momentous one for all British Columbians. Expo 86 brought world attention and indeed accolades to British Columbia and to British Columbians. Mr. Speaker, it showed the world what a people working together were capable of doing, and it inspired in British Columbians a renewed sense of confidence and a renewed sense of optimism that is with us right till today. We know now, if we ever had any real doubt, that there is nothing we cannot achieve if we work together in this province and in this country towards common goals.
Coming as Expo did on the tail end of a severe world recession, this festival gave British Columbia a fresh start, and the recognition of that new beginning was reflected in the voting patterns of the electorate. They voted for a government and they voted for members that promised to bring with them that new start and that experience that carried on from Expo.
This new government, this new parliament, while maintaining an important philosophical continuity with the past, has, as I've said, many fresh faces. It's got many fresh ideas, and a deeper commitment to listening to the ideas and to the hopes and to the aspirations of the people of this province. The goal of Expo will never be achieved in this province, however ... and the real benefits that can flow from Expo, and for the thousands of people that came here to see British Columbia during that time, can never imbue to the people of this province without cooperation. Cooperation is vital.
I'm completely aware of this unique system that we have, a system of government and opposition. I know that the opposition is there as an alternative government, to oppose. But people have demanded in this latest mandate — the mandate that you received and the mandate that this government received — that we change the way we think and that we
[ Page 226 ]
change the way we do things as a government and as an opposition.
We have a new economy. The traditional sources of enterprise are changing. We have new opportunities and new industries in this province. One of these industries, Mr. Speaker, is the film industry. In 1979, when I was Minister of Tourism and Small Business in this province, and the minister responsible for films, we were able to bring in the great amount of $10 million in that first year. In 1986 it appears that feature films in British Columbia will bring, Mr. Minister of Finance, $156 million worth of new business into this province. Within five years a conservative estimate is $500 million per annum, in jobs that did not exist in this province before. Those new jobs and that new economy and that new industry are brought about through two words: salesmanship and confidence — two human qualities. And that's what this is all about. As we're here as opposition, as we're here debating this budget in this Legislature, we've got to always exude to those people out there in this open economy in which we live that spirit of salesmanship and that spirit of confidence. It's important, and we've got to have cooperation.
In a few short years my municipality, Burnaby, has become literally Hollywood North. A new building at the old Dominion Bridge site with 36,000 square feet and three soundstages was made in 1986, Mr. Minister of Finance, with 3,500 new jobs in this province. As the industry expands, we're looking at 12,000 new jobs five years from now. Twelve thousand new jobs because back in 1978 and 1979 and since then someone went out and asked for the order. Someone said: "We have confidence in you and if you come to British Columbia, this is a place in which you can invest."
This business spreads out throughout the province, Mr. Speaker. It spreads to small communities — movie-making isn't confined to the lower mainland of British Columbia at all. It spreads to the small communities. It's the hardware store in the little community where someone will go in and buy nails. It's the carpenter who is employed, and it's the electrician who is employed. And we have the potential, I think, to expand this even beyond these estimates that we have here if we continue to be a place in which we can challenge people from outside to come in and do business in British Columbia.
Someone said it's a bit like tourism. It's like exporting without leaving home. We have to challenge all British Columbians to do better. We have to challenge all British Columbians to understand this system that we so often give lip service to, and that is the free enterprise system. There may be a better system somewhere on earth, but I don't know where it is. I think this is where we come from. This is where we're at, and we've got to expand on it.
In the budget the reference was made to the public service of British Columbia, and I want to tell you that in my opinion we have the most effective public service that there is anywhere in Canada right here in British Columbia. I want to tell you that when the challenge was made in the throne speech to get out and ask those people to lock arms and work hard on behalf of British Columbia.... They're already doing it, sir. They're already doing it, and the challenge is out there for them alone. Sixty-one government agents and their staff throughout British Columbia have been challenged by me, and I tell you I have been deluged with mail and with suggestions as to how we can better serve the people of British Columbia — little people operating in small communities and serving British Columbians with only one desire, and that is to better serve the people that they represent in this province. I think that at this time and place, we should give them thanks from this assembly and tell them that we do appreciate the public service in British Columbia, and that we will work with them as a government.
Mr. Speaker, this is a realistic budget. It is a responsible document. I believe it was Winston Churchill who said that we can always dodge our responsibilities, but we can never dodge the consequences of dodging those responsibilities. It just can't be done. In the minister's message he said that Budget '87 represents a fresh start. It shows how the government of British Columbia is changing its priorities, changing the way it operates and changing the way that decisions are made in this province.
Most of all, Budget '87 shows how we are investing in the people of this province. No economic policy, as the minister has said, can stand the test of time if it doesn't have at its core a recognition of the needs of the people it was developed to serve.
New ideas and fresh approaches are what British Columbians want, Mr. Speaker. To satisfy their aspirations, the minister has brought forward a fiscal plan, one that, at least on this side of the House, we believe is fairer than we have ever had in any budget up to this point in time. I want to congratulate you, Mr. Minister of Finance and Corporate Relations, for bringing this to the people of British Columbia.
This budget is responsible because it looks at the aspect of in some way or other bringing down that huge debt that we've been, at least throughout Canada and in recent years in this particular province, foisting upon those generations which will follow us. That's the intense debt load, Mr. Minister of Finance, that we have in this country and in this province that we keep passing on to those other generations, because at times governments throughout this country have not have had the courage to stand up and say, "This far and no more, " realizing that governments themselves don't have a dime at all, so they have to reach out into the pockets of this generation and the pockets of future generations to pay for it.
You can deficit-budget all you want, but somewhere and at some point in time someone has to pay the piper. There is an old Keynesian philosophy that says:
My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But, ah, my foes, and, oh, my friends —
It gives a lovely light.
We can't think that way. We've got to move on and realize that tremendous potential exists in the province of British Columbia, potential for new industries, for new economies; potential in the basic industries and the basic economies that we have here.
But potential itself, you see, hon. members of the opposition, is not success in itself. It's only the ingredients, the elements of success. We can have all the coal up in your country, all the lumber in the forests, all of the minerals in the ground; these things are potentially valuable but worthless unless people take them and sell them, take them somewhere and do something with them. Those are the human qualities that I talk of. Salesmanship and confidence — they always has to be there. We always have to be exuding that.
We have to be confident as a place where people can come in and invest their money and employ people like they've done in the film industry. That can extend on and on into a
[ Page 227 ]
host of new opportunities and new industries as long as we have budgets like this, as long as we have a degree of fairness, as long as you do as you have done here, Mr. Minister. You have looked after the needs of the people — those who cannot help themselves. As long as you spend the kind of money you're spending on education and provide the framework and the emphasis for all of these things to happen, human qualities expressed in a very human, very workable document which is this budget.... I want to commend you.
Mr. Speaker, we are in a new economy, a new worldwide economy, and it is an economy that depends upon people selling things to other people. In the United States of America, you can change things just by moving one-half of a percentage point, because they have a large internal population. You can go out and change the sales tax, or you can give back a rebate on something, and you can expand the economy by millions and maybe even billions of dollars. They operate in what is known in economic terms as a large closed economy, because they have a lot of folks there that can buy things. We operate in Canada in a middle-sized open economy. In British Columbia it is a super-small open economy. We don't have people here to use the goods and services that we have to sell. That means that we have to deal with the world. Everything we do and everything we say in this place ought to exude confidence and imbue confidence in those other people who have to buy our products in other parts of the world if we are going to be successful here at all in British Columbia. It's vital, Mr. Speaker.
Marshall Field, the great department store magnate who died many years ago, used to say that normally things don't break down from the mine out to the mill or from the mill out to the processing place or from the processing place out to the warehouse or from the warehouse out to the retailer. He said they used to break down in that last three feet. He said that was the distance across the counter, you see; that's where selling was done or not done.
It is still the same in this country. The three feet becomes larger. It is the same in this world. We've got to be better salesmen; we've got to be more competent than those other people who sell coal, lumber and all of these wonderful things that we have here in this province or all of the things that we can offer. We've got to be more confident. We've got to be better salespeople than anyone any place else in the world if we want to reap the benefits of the things that Expo made available to us on our doorsteps. Without that, without being salesmen, without having the confidence, without doing the right type of salesmanship, we're not going to make it in this province. But I have confidence in British Columbia, and I have confidence in the people of this province that they understand that, and that's why they elected this government, and that's why they accept wholeheartedly, sit, your budget that you brought down the other day. That's the reason for it.
We talk about competence, we talk about human qualities, and I had the pleasant experience of welcoming what I consider a very famous British Columbian at the border just on Friday, and that's Rick Hansen. I want to say that that young man exudes the qualities that I have been speaking of here today. He's a man who has overcome adversity; he's a man who's overcome what was, I guess, almost a tragedy — it must have felt like a tragedy at some times in his life. He's literally pulled himself up and wheeled around the world. He understands the principle of confidence. When I talked to that young man, he just exuded all the things that I wish.... I wish every British Columbian could have been there and felt the warmth and the electricity that came from that very important Canadian and that very wonderful young British Columbian. He overcame tremendous adversity.
This country and this province have adversities to overcome. We have to change the way we think, we have to change the way we do business, if we're going to be successful. We've got to remember that all the things that were important in 1952, even those things that were important in 1975, just won't work any more — they won't wash. We're in a new economy; we're in a new world. We've got to realize that. We've got to equip ourselves for that future, and we've got to change the way we do business here in this House.
You know, there is a tremendous need for government services, and I guess that insatiable appetite will go on and on forever. There's a need for more education, there's a need for more health services, there's a need for more social services and welfare in this province. The only way we can provide these things in larger amounts — if it is necessary for more people — is to increase the amount of money that comes into this province.
They used to say that it's a rising tide that's going to lift all ships. Looking across at my hon. friend over there.... There's a quotation in Holy Scripture that goes something like this: if I be lifted up, I'll draw all people unto me. That simply means that it's the way you lift that ship and the pressure and the work that you do underneath it that's going to make this economy buoyant and provide the money in greater amounts for health and education — and, yes, legal services if you need them — and all those other things. There is an interesting scientific fact, too, about a boat — and we're all in the same boat — and that is that you can't sink half of one. You can't sink the government half and leave the opposition half afloat, or vice versa. In this economy, in this province, we're all in the same boat, we're in the same economy, and we all have the same problems. What we have to look forward to today is locking arms as much as we possibly can and presenting a united face to the world, making the things that underline this budget and the throne speech come true, so that we can have greater prosperity now and for the future.
This first budget of our new government marks a turning point in British Columbia's affairs. This is a government that is caring. It's a government that's responsible. It's a budget that is caring. It is a budget that exudes that responsibility. We're providing help for the disadvantaged. We're maintaining a very effective, very efficient, very well-handled health care system and a good education system in the province of British Columbia. It's up to us all now, Mr. Speaker, to work with the people of British Columbia to meet the challenges of the corning year and realize the full potential of the years that will come again.
MR. ROSE: As will become readily apparent before I get too far into my speech, I didn't plan to speak this afternoon. I congratulate the hon. Provincial Secretary on his speech. I'd just like to tell him that I listened to it with great interest, and I want him to know that it will make wonderful reading.
I found it a little bit ideological. I don't like.... You see, ours is not an ideological party, Our party doesn't believe in shouting these shibboleths like "getting government off the back of the people, "free enterprise, a new start, "
[ Page 228 ]
"rekindling" — all those sorts of guide words and buzzwords. We're not the ideologues. We're, I think, less ideological than most people.
You'd think, for instance, if you listened to that member's speech very carefully, that somehow if we could only reach a stage of pure free enterprise that all our problems would be over. For those people over there who feel this way, it would be heaven on earth. We had that once. We had it in the thirties — or virtually had it. We had no safety nets, we had free enterprise. We had no marketing. We had no old age pensions. We had no workers' compensation. And did we have full employment? Like hell we had full employment; we had thousands of people out of work.
And I'll be interested to know, for some of those new members who have protested too much about how they're going to have a wonderful province and a wonderful system and alleviate the suffering of all the poor and downtrodden, just how they're going to vote when their consciences run contrary to what the government is proposing. Will they stand up and vote against the government?
AN HON. MEMBER: They never have yet.
MR. ROSE: They never have yet, and I'd be very pleased to see them exert some independence and a completely unbiased view of a piece of legislation. If they did that, then we would have a new start. As a matter of fact it would be a startling new start.
I don't know why that member over there.... Now this is not considered a personal attack, not at all. No matter what I say don't take it personally; I want you to promise me that you will not. My friend up there will rule me out of order if I go beyond the pale. But I don't know what that minister has done for a living. He said he was here for four elections.
AN HON. MEMBER: No, three.
MR. ROSE: All right, three, and he lost one. I don't know what he did in the meantime, but I saw in his biog that he was employed by BCIT — well, it was PVI in those days. He was a schoolteacher, and then he was employed as a treasurer or an administrator at BCIT, and then he was a Member of the Legislative Assembly. What did he ever have to do with free enterprise? He's had his snout in the public trough his whole lifetime. If the minister loves free enterprise so much, why doesn't he go out and start his own school, for instance?
AN HON. MEMBER: He's working on it.
MR. ROSE: Perhaps he is working on it; I don't know. I see all these people that are free enterprisers, but they're all here in the House. They're not out in the business world; they're here in the House. So we hear all these things.
Now the minister said that Expo touched us all. You're darned right it did, and it's going to keep on touching us all for the next 20 or 30 years before we pay off the debt. You guys are wonderful, you know. Oh, I know what you'll do. It's the old shell game: now you see the deficit, now you don't. We got one corporation, we merge those, now we've got a dummy corporation — or we've got a dummy at the head of the corporation. We really don't know that, but we do know that there's more than a little flimflam suspected — not by me, because I'm extremely trusting and all that stuff.
All I know is that we have a northeast coal thing that's mired in debt; we've got southeast coal going broke because of competition, and we're being jacked around by the multinationals. First of all the Japanese come to us and say: "Put in this and we'll guarantee a certain price." They don't guarantee the tonnage. Then they go to the Australians and say the same. And then when things get tough on these long-term prices they'll say: "Come on, fellas, you've got to bring it down a little bit because the Australians will give it to us." When are we going to get smart? The only way governments are going to control being jacked around by the Japanese or any other multinational corporation is if governments have their own kind of union against that kind of exploitation.
We've had Expo. We've got SkyTrain, and there's an interesting story. Two weeks ago I offered the Minister of Finance the golden loophole award; but the loophole suddenly closed on him, and who got hanged? Us — for $700,000. Isn't that wonderful. So we've got northeast coal, Expo's got a debt, SkyTrain's got a debt. And do you know what? Us poor little socialists are always wringing our hands. We're the gloom-and-doom boys. "The sky is falling, " said Chicken Little. You guys have the party, we get the hangover. That's what happens. We got the legacy.
You know what has happened? We're going to create employment in films. Terrific, and I think it's important that we do that. Sure we should do that, but we should be creating employment in lots of areas. And how did we create that employment? Who owns the studio? Private enterprise? Don't you think the government should get off the backs of those film-makers? Don't you think it might have anything to do with the Canadian dollar and the skills of those people here? But if you put up that building and you take credit for that, that certainly sounds like government intervention to me, and I don't think that's pure, ideologically. Somehow, brother, you've sinned. That's what happened to you.
Now he's going to privatize the school system. As we destroy and erode the quality of our public schools we're going to keep adding money to the independent schools. Let's call them private schools, eh? Do you know what happened, Mr. Speaker? You would never believe this. I don't know whether it's really at arm's length, or whether this is a conflict of interest in reverse, but we used to have a lobbyist running around here for the independent schools. Now they're really private schools, but he likes to call them independent schools. In what way are they independent? They're not independent of government, because they're again lining up to get their snouts in the public trough. That's reasonable, I suppose, if you have a good ideological reason for passing on your own values and you distrust the public school system.
I notice the former Minister of Education, the former Minister of Consumer Affairs and the former Minister of Agriculture nodding his head. I was remembering how distracted I became with you....
MR. ROSE: Well, let me admit that the minister was good, but that wasn't what distracted me. What happened was that he was sitting right under the light, and the glare dazzled me as it reflected off....
[ Page 229 ]
MR. ROSE: Mr. Speaker, the hon. House Leader said I'm reflecting on a cabinet minister. He was reflecting on me.
MR. SPEAKER: If the member would address the Chair he wouldn't get the cross-comments, I think.
MR. ROSE: Where was I? Oh, yeah. We were talking about Rick Hansen. We had a tribute to Rick Hansen in the House the other day. I thought it was an excellent tribute. I thought it was well presented. Both my hon. friend the Minister of Economic Development (Hon. Mrs. McCarthy) and the member for Cariboo.... The minister said all British Columbians should have been there to watch this wonderful greeting of Rick Hansen. I agree. I wonder, was any member of the opposition invited to go along? Or was it just the Premier and the — minister that went?
HON. MR. STRACHAN: No, I went.
MR. ROSE: And you went. Was anybody in the opposition invited? Because, if he really wished that all of us could have been there, he didn't offer to take any of us along. I just wondered about that. Mr. Speaker, that is my introduction.
I want to remind the minister and all the members of the House that this is not a pure system and never will be. I don't think one exists anywhere in the world, and I think it's kind of simplistic to talk about pure free enterprise or even freer enterprise as long as the hand is out by the corporation or the business.... .. Friend of business, " he said. How come you slapped them with that big tax? He talked about a new era and a new change, and that we must change with the times. I wish I could see some evidence of it, to recognize that we are now in a structurally far different world than we were before.
Is the answer really to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps, or is it just to follow Mulroney and Reagan down that gun-barrel of free trade? Is that the answer? Mulroney says it is, and everybody believes old — 22 Percent" Mulroney. He thinks it's wonderful, and our new Premier thinks it's wonderful. He talks about getting all those exports into the California market. Who's going to have whom on this? Just tell me: are you aware? Have you thought about that? Have you looked at anything? Do you know what they want?
MR. WILLIAMS: We're going to send them oranges.
MR. ROSE: I don't know what we plan to send them, but I'll tell you what we're sending them now. We need to examine this option. Sure we need to trade; of course we do. Our lifeblood is trade. But should we have all our eggheads in one basket?
MR. ROSE: I ask the former minister of communications....
MR. ROSE: Who says it's going to be good for us? Why, it's self-evident. Who says it's going to be good for us? I asked the Hon. Pat Carney, Minister of International Trade, what it's going to do to the food industry. I just got a letter here. It says — these are the agriculture, food and beverage people - that SAGIT reports are not public information. It does not mean they are not, but "under the circumstances, we can hardly share this information with you." You know what I want to know? How is this going to affect our farmers? How is it going to affect our telecommunications? How is it going to affect our strawberry-growers? How is it going to affect the dairy farmers and all the poultry people and all that? You know what? They're against it. But what are we going to do? We're just going to go in there and batter down those California markets. With what? It's like the claim of the forestry: "We're not cutting down big trees and planting little trees. We're going to change all that. It's a new era. We're going to cut down little trees and plant big trees." That's about as ludicrous.
Here is what we are exporting now to the States. Sure, we can do it, but if you question it, you're disloyal. You're a bad British Columbian. We have to do this whole thing on faith. We've got to get the government off the backs of the people; you know that. The people should be on the backs of the government. That's what should happen.
Here's what we've got. We've got 70 percent of our trade now with the Americans. We want more?
AN HON. MEMBER: How much?
MR. ROSE: It's 70 percent right now, and it is virtually free trade. Virtually.
MR. ROSE: Well, of course, I don't know. You were in Consumer Affairs a long time ago, and those figures may be dated. We might have slipped somewhat, because, you know, we've had a few countervails. Fish, potash, what else? What's next? Softwood, we'll see. Pulp is next.
MR. ROSE: He liked me better as an Education critic. I like you better as an Attorney-General, so I suggest you get to work at it.
Anyway, this is what the U.S. Imported in 1960 compared with 1984. It imported 4 percent of its automobiles. Now it imports 22 percent of its automobiles. So we should be able to sell them some automobiles? We do, that's the major export. Are we going to increase that? Oh no, because we're going to get rid of the Auto Pact safeguards, that's what is going to happen.
Steel. It used to import 4 percent. Now it imports 25 percent of its steel. The smokestack industries — the auto, the steel, the heavy industries — all through the midwest have collapsed, and you could never ask for better free enterprise than they have there in the United States, never.
It collapsed. They have become an economic basket case, and we want to hook ourselves up with them. They're still a tremendous market, nobody denies that. But if you think that you are going to get by the Yankee trader, and he isn't going to get in to you, then I think you're sadly mistaken. This is not an anti-American comment. It is one of admiration. I took my education down in the States, and they subsidized me, too.
Apparel — to those of you who speak English well, it means clothing, right? In 1960 they imported 1. 8 percent. Do you know what they import now? Thirty percent. Are we
[ Page 230 ]
going to sell them shoes or clothes or dresses? Here's machine tools. We're going to sell them a lot of machine tools. They imported 3.2 percent in 1960; in 1984, 42 percent of their own machine tools.
So what's happening to them? Can you blame some of those economists for getting a little leery? But they believe in free enterprise: get the government off the backs of the people — all those old shibboleths — as they sink into the sunset, and nothing left of them but a few bubbles and a few nuclear bombs thrown in for good measure. I don't blame them for being....
Stripped of all the hype, that's really what free trade means. It's really a hype thing. It's a huckster's idea. It's not to save Canada or its sovereignty or its culture, but to somehow find one thing that Mulroney can do right — and it won't be right; it'll be wrong.
Since we want to use the United States as an economic model, instead of looking in the mirror, or looking at Japan or West Germany or even — I hope I don't offend too many people who tend to be suicidal — the Swedes, productivity in the United States has not been going up; it's been declining since 1966. Let's take the 1980-84 figures. If you really want to kill interest in a speech, then what you do is you start quoting figures. All right? So I want to kill the interest pretty soon, because it's five to six. Productivity: Japan, up 3.2 percent; West Germany, up 1.7 percent; France, 1.7 percent; U.S.,0. 8 — half of France; Canada,0. 4 — one-quarter of France, that's our productivity.
It seemed to me that this is really not a very helpful kind of setup. I think that what we should be doing.... You can say: well, maybe if we would just free up and get the government out of the way, things would be better.
MR. ROSE: I would like to tell the Minister of Municipal Affairs (Hon. Mrs. Johnston) of the temptations that I've just pushed out of my way.
MR. ROSE: Not intemperate; temperate.
Here's what we have. The celebrated Harvard Business Review made this point:
"Although a host of readily named forces — government regulation, inflation, monetary policy, tax laws, labour costs and constraints, fear of a capital shortage, the price of imported oil — have taken their toll on American business, pressures of this sort affect economic climate abroad just as they do here" — meaning North America.
Do those things sound familiar? You know — we can't get anywhere because there is too much government interference or it's imported oil or something.
"A German executive, for example, will not be convinced by these explanations. Germany imports 95 percent of its oil; we import 50 percent. Its government share of the gross domestic product is about 37 percent; ours is about 30 percent. Workers must be consulted on most major decisions. Yet Germany's rate of productivity growth has actually increased since 1970 and recently rose to more than four times ours."
Now, folks, if your objective.... If you forget about that chant that you do all the time, which you learn somewhere at some dinner meetings and which substitutes for thinking — why don't you have an objective look at what else is going on in the world? It isn't socialism in Japan, but it is cooperation in government and industry and labour. It isn't unrestricted free enterprise; it's government planning an economic strategy and a will to carry it out. That's the difference.
Here's what the Americans want out of free trade: elimination or reduction of all Canadian tariffs in line with U.S. tariffs on Canadian goods. Sounds reasonable, but what about the non-tariff barriers? Will they keep out the hogs from Canada because they've been given an antibiotic, or are they going to delay the import of something because customs needs to inspect it or something like that? They want a substantial reduction of Canadian government subsidies, and what does that mean? Marketing boards gone? Is that a subsidy? Is UIC a subsidy? They claimed that in the fish war, and the Department of Commerce has just received from the potash people in the United States that Sask Potash is competing unfairly.
So, improve access to U.S. exports and service. Oh, we don't export any Fords or anything like that from the subsidiaries here now. I was over in Sweden a few years ago and said, look, we've got great trucks. We make them in Canada. They belong to the big three U.S. But where do they come from to Sweden? They don't come from Canada; they come from the good old U.S. of A. Improved access, better patent protection for American products in Canada. Maybe somebody's copying their generic drugs. That payoff is in the works, and that's why you're going to need these dispensing fees: to pay for those generics that your friend Mulroney wants.
A commitment by the provinces to abide by any trade deal. Even if it gets rid of half the chicken-pluckers in the Fraser Valley, we have to abide by that. Is that right? Of course not. No matter how it hurts our poultry industry or anything like that? Of course not.
No exclusion for Canada from U.S. trade law. Oh, so U.S. trade law puts on the countervails, and it's no exclusion to us. So what are we gaining from this? We've got virtually free trade now, so what are we gaining? But it is a massive danger, and when it comes along and this thing happens I want you to say, and I want you to know, I told you so.
Mr. Speaker, I know that time flies when you're having fun, but I would now like to move that the debate be adjourned until the next sitting of this House.
Hon. Mr. Couvelier tabled the annual report of the B.C. Systems Corporation for the year ended March 31, 1986.
HON. MR. STRACHAN: Mr. Speaker, just prior to adjournment I'll remind all members that this Friday we'll be having our first members' statements. For the new members, I would commend to them standing order 25A, which in part states that you have to have your resolutions tabled with the Clerks tomorrow afternoon at 6 o'clock, and if you don't have a ticket you can't win. So that's my advice.
Hon. Mr. Strachan moved adjournment of the House.
The House adjourned at 5:58 p.m.