1987 Legislative Session: 1st Session, 34th Parliament
The following electronic version is for informational purposes only.
The printed version remains the official version.
THURSDAY, APRIL 30, 1987
[ Page 889 ]
Water quality of Okanagan Lake. Mr. Harcourt –– 889
Health care for women. Mr. Miller –– 890
Environmental Appeal Board. Ms. Smallwood –– 890
Student loans. Ms. Marzari –– 891
Pharmacy dispensing fees. Ms. A. Hagen –– 891
Royal Inland Hospital board of directors. Mr. Miller –– 891
Sale of Dome Petroleum. Mr. Clark –– 891
Teaching Profession Act (Bill 20). Second reading
On the amendment
Mr. Skelly –– 892
Mr. D'Arcy –– 894
Mr. Harcourt –– 897
Mr. Jones –– 899
Division –– 913
The House met at 2:06 p.m.
HON. MR. VEITCH: In the galleries today are some very distinguished British Columbians whom I hope this House will bid welcome to. They are the directors and senior staff from the British Columbia Buildings Corporation: first, the chairman, Tom Toynbee; and the directors, John Wittenberg, Doug McCallum and Gordon Robson. Also, we have with them Dennis Truss, the vice-president of administration and chief financial officer; Peter Dolezal, the president and chief executive officer; and Mike Grannum, the corporate secretary. These people serve British Columbia in a very real and meaningful way, and I would ask the House to bid them welcome.
MR. CLARK: Yesterday a number of high schools participated in milk runs for Rick Hansen, and I was proud to participate in a very successful run at Notre Dame Secondary School in my constituency, with over 500 students — the school which happens to be my alma mater. I'd ask the House to acknowledge today the contribution of all those who participated in this very worthwhile endeavour.
MR. R. FRASER: Mr. Speaker, in your gallery today we have about 15 students from Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon, who are here with their professor, Dr. Donald Balmer. They're up in British Columbia learning the parliamentary system from a practical and observation point of view. They visited with the University of B.C. and University of Victoria people. In fact, this is a very special year, in that it celebrates the thirtieth anniversary of the trips that Dr. Balmer and his students have made to the provincial Legislative Assembly. Would the House join with me in making them welcome.
HON. MR. RICHMOND: This past weekend in Victoria and in Oak Bay, these two communities played host to a very successful jazz festival, and I would like to personally thank Mr. Lorne Whyte and the hundreds of volunteers who made it possible. I think the House, and especially the members from this area, owe them a huge vote of thanks.
Secondly, Mr. Speaker, this year it was truly an international event, with bands coming from Scotland, from Australia and from Guatemala. I'm pleased to announce today that in your gallery we have the band with us, in its entirety, from Guatemala. I would like to introduce Paco Gatsby and their leader Bob Porter. I ask this House to make them welcome.
MR. SERWA: Today I'm honoured to make an introduction on behalf of the second member for Boundary–Similkameen (Mr. Messmer). In the public galleries, on a school tour, are some grade 11 students and their teacher from the Antioch Christian Academy: teacher Chris Guenther; students Kim Weger, Twyla Southwick and Lisa Henniger. Would the House please bid them welcome.
MR. S.D. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, in this Volunteer Week there are two people here from Kamloops today who really epitomize the spirit of volunteerism. They are Erna Huff and Bette Berst. I would ask the House to join with me in making these two very good volunteers welcome.
MRS. GRAN: In the gallery today, Mr. Speaker, we have two members from my constituency: Neil Klassen and Richard Griskevich from Fort Langley. I would ask the House to make them welcome.
MR. SPEAKER: I've been given notice that the Minister of Finance would like to make a ministerial statement.
HON. MR. COUVELIER: Mr. Speaker, I ask leave of the House to rise for the purposes of extending an apology to the House for the manner in which I presented the details surrounding Bill 37. I stand before the House, in my nakedness, asking for forgiveness for this oversight.
The fact of the matter is, Mr. Speaker, that Bill 37, as anyone who peruses its contents will know, deals with a variety of relatively minor taxation amendments dealing with various taxation statutes — nine in number. It had slipped my mind that tucked into one of those sections at the end of the bill was a reference to a memorandum of understanding struck between the province of B.C. and the federal government. By way of explanation of that, the House might like to know that those memorandums, or similar memorandums of understanding, have been struck between the federal government and eight provinces, so that the inclusion of that Section in the act really merely formalized an understanding that has been reached and, indeed, we are not unique in that respect. However, it was an oversight and I did tend to mislead the hon. member, the first member for Nanaimo (Mr. Stupich), the opposition critic, and lulled him into a false sense of security for all of 24 hours, and I am sorry for that.
MR. STUPICH: On behalf of the opposition, we accept the apology in the good grace that it was offered. When the minister spoke to me about this, I reminded him of an incident that happened when I first entered this place as an MLA in January 1963 when a then veteran, Leo Nimsick, cautioned me: "Never listen to a minister's explanation of any bill and never pay any attention to the explanatory notes. Read the legislation." I think maybe we will both remember.
I'm more concerned about the nature of the amendment, but of course there will be other opportunities to discuss that. I'm also concerned, though, that this is not the first instance of ministers not being aware of what actually is in the legislation. We've had both the Premier and the Minister of Labour (Hon. L. Hanson) admit that they were confused and surprised at some of the things included in Bill 19, and I wonder whether the House Leader is taking any steps at all to make sure that ministers are better informed and at least have an opportunity to read the legislation before it comes in. There will be other opportunities to pursue that.
WATER QUALITY OF OKANAGAN LAKE
MR. HARCOURT: I'd like to ask the Minister of the Environment about the water quality of Okanagan Lake. I understand that the water quality is so poor that many Social Credit Party members are contemplating civil disobedience. As a matter of fact, there were also a number of other members of the Save Our Lakes group in Vernon who have collected 6,000 names on a petition for the Vernon city council to stop the construction of the sewage outfall that I'm sure you are aware of, Mr. Minister.
[ Page 890 ]
My question is: has the minister done anything at all to try to postpone the construction of the new sewage outfall by the Vernon city council until a detailed report, which includes recommendations for action on this problem, can be done by his ministry?
HON. MR. STRACHAN: I'd like to thank the Leader of the Opposition for the question. Needless to say, this concern has been at the forefront of my ministry since I came into the ministry. At this point I am not counselling or recommending that the municipality of Vernon delay at all the deep water outfall project. We have approved it, and any decision to delay would be up to the corporation of the city itself. I can tell the members, though, that the ministry is giving active consideration to other methods of spray irrigation. We are going to be putting some funding into a poplar tree project which we understand will take up a lot more water in spray irrigation.
With respect to doing any more studies, it is my advice that the situation has been studied to death since before 1980 and an awful lot of money has been spent on studies, and I really can't see the value of expending any more on more studies.
MR. HARCOURT: Mr. Speaker, a supplemental then to the Minister of Municipal Affairs, because this problem is one more example of the failure of the government to provide adequately for municipal infrastructure upgrading so as to prevent further deterioration of municipal infrastructure. In particular, Mr. Speaker, there is a specific problem with what the minister has . . . .
AN HON. MEMBER: Question.
MR. HARCOURT: Well, I'm laying it out so that some of you can understand more clearly the question. I have to do that with some of you. For some of you, I may even have to bring in a blackboard, but I will try not to do that too soon.
The problem is that for the sewage outfall approach the funding is 75 percent provincial government and 25 percent local, and to do exactly that poplar project or the alfalfa project, it is the reverse. There is an disincentive to do it, because it is 25 percent provincial and 75 percent local. I would like to know if the Minister of Municipal Affairs is prepared to do at least one more study on equalizing the treatment for a better on-land treatment than throwing more sewage out in Okanagan Lake.
HON. MRS. JOHNSTON: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the question from the Leader of the Opposition, and, as he has been made aware, the jurisdiction lies with another ministry inasmuch as the area is ecologically very sensitive. But I would certainly be pleased to take that question on notice. I never have any objection to doing further research if it appears that it may be beneficial. I would be pleased to look at that.
HEALTH CARE FOR WOMEN
MR. MILLER: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. The minister said Tuesday he was not aware of the difficulty that a 14-year-old girl had in obtaining an abortion at the Kamloops hospital. I am sure the minister is now aware of that. Could the minister advise whether he is taking any steps to ensure that the girl's family, who had to spend $3,000 to obtain that abortion, both in going to Kamloops and ultimately going to Vancouver, will be reimbursed for that amount?
HON. MR. DUECK: As I said the other day in the House when this question was asked, I had the information from the news media but not from the hospital or from anyone else involved in this particular case. I must say it's always a sad situation when an unmarried woman, especially someone 14 years old, gets pregnant and asks for an abortion. However, I must give you the same answer as I did the other day: there is a duly elected board operating in Kamloops, they have appointed a therapeutic abortion committee under the Criminal Code of Canada, and they've acted in their wisdom, or unwisdom, as you may see it. To that point I can only say that the ministry will not get involved unless there's a risk to health or the hospital itself is not operating properly. I do not have evidence of that.
MR. MILLER: Would the minister not agree that the situation is clearly getting out of hand when the members of the board make statements such as that they don't believe anybody should have an abortion at any age, and when the minister's own appointee says that he would have difficulty approving any abortion, and that's politics and that's the way the wheel turns? Does the minister not feel he has some responsibility in regard to what is happening in that hospital and the denial of medical services to people, which is their legitimate right under the Canada Health Act?
HON. MR. DUECK: To begin with, we have not got a government appointee at the present time, so I don't know where you get that information from. Secondly, the hospital board is operating. I don't know what their policy is. They have doctors on that therapeutic abortion committee. Would I, as a lay person, second-guess physicians who have the responsibility of deciding whether a woman should have an abortion or not? I would say no. We have a policy in place under the Criminal Code of Canada, and I would not second-guess a physician.
ENVIRONMENTAL APPEAL BOARD
MS. SMALLWOOD: I have a very simple question to the Minister of Environment and Parks. On April 24 an order-in-council was passed which permits the chair of the Environmental Appeal Board to accept written briefs only. Such rulings, when made, will effectively end public participation and cross-examination in public hearings. Is this the way the administration defines an open government?
HON. MR. STRACHAN: It's a very open-ended question. The order-in-council has three facets to it. Number one, we introduce a filing fee of $25. Two, we do allow for written submissions as well as oral submissions, but the director can make that decision. I believe it really opens the hearing process up more if someone can send in a written submission, as opposed to having to appear at a hearing. In other words, we are offering more availability for people to make their concerns known to the appeal board.
Thirdly, the order-in-council states that the mandatory time-limits of six and 12 weeks are done away with, allowing
[ Page 891 ]
for an immediate appeal, if someone wishes immediate action; and those who wish to gather more evidence to go to appeal don't have to worry about the 12-week time-limit. They can take longer to gather witnesses or information to come to the appeal board.
So in answer to your question, I believe it is open government; I believe it's effective legislation. If it proves not to be effective, if there is genuine concern expressed by the courts, as was earlier, or by people throughout the province, then I'd be happy to review those orders I signed the other day.
MS. SMALLWOOD: Supplementary. I'm glad the minister is prepared to review his decision. However, what the amendment to the regulations does, in essence, is bring the law into line with practice. The court case that the minister referred to instructed the government to hold public hearings and allow people to speak at those public hearings. What this law does is circumvent what the court instructed the government to do. Can the minister not clarify for us what the intent of this regulation is, if indeed it is not to bring the regulations into line with practice?
HON. MR. STRACHAN: That's an excellent restatement of the first question. You'll simply have to read my first answer, because the second answer would be the same.
MS. MARZARI: My question is to the minister acting for the Minister of Advanced Education and Job Training (Hon. S. Hagen). In the government's new student aid package, students who can't find work will be required to do fulltime volunteer work over the summer in order to be eligible for full assistance for a loan. What does the government intend to accomplish by undermining the basic concept of volunteerism by enforcing it in this way, and forcing unemployed students to work for nothing, and who are they going to work for?
HON. MR. BRUMMET: Mr. Speaker, I'd be happy to take that question on notice for the minister.
PHARMACY DISPENSING FEES
MS. A. HAGEN: My question is to the Minister of Social Services and Housing. Yesterday the minister announced that seniors on GAIN will receive an additional $125 in income assistance per year to help them cover new charges for prescription dispensing fees. Can the minister assure the House that this increase in the total income of these seniors will not affect the amount they receive for SAFER or rent supplements, so that the hardship of increased drug costs will not just be transferred to them as increased rents?
HON. MR. RICHMOND: Mr. Speaker, to the member, yes, I can assure the member and the House and all the seniors in this province of that; and I appreciate the opportunity just to set the record straight in that the measures I announced yesterday were simply the mechanics of carrying out what was promised to seniors in the budget speech.
MS. A. HAGEN: Another question to the minister, Mr. Speaker. The $125 yearly amount will be received in monthly payments, but that extra money will not be available to seniors until cheques that they will receive from GAIN in late July. Can the minister explain to us the reason for this delay, and what provision he has made so that those persons who do not have sufficient money to pay for their prescription drugs will be helped in the meantime?
HON. MR. RICHMOND: Mr. Speaker, it has just taken the staff a little time to work it out so that we do it properly. That is the only reason for the delay, and it was spelled out clearly in the press release that it would be retroactive. As I've said before, in this ministry we do not turn anyone away who is in desperate need of medical care or subsistence allowance. Anyone who is truly in need will never be turned away, and anyone who falls under that category will be looked after by this ministry.
MS. A. HAGEN: Will the minister assure this House then that the information regarding procedures that would assist seniors who require dollars to purchase their drugs will be uniformly and consistently available throughout the province to seniors, to pharmacists and to advocates of seniors? That is not the case at the moment. Can the minister assure us that that will happen, and of how he intends to carry out such an information program?
HON. MR. RICHMOND: The answer is yes, Mr. Speaker. The information will be available from all of the Social Services offices throughout the province.
ROYAL INLAND HOSPITAL BOARD OF DIRECTORS
MR. MILLER: Further to the Minister of Health. In view of the seriousness of the situation in Kamloops with respect to what's happening in that hospital board, and in view of the fact that the head of the medical staff has said there's a danger to patients' health in that community, would the minister agree to send his deputy minister up to Kamloops to compile a report, bring it back and report to this House on the situation?
HON. MR. DUECK: Mr. Speaker, I must tell the opposition member that I have had no evidence, no correspondence, that there's a danger to health or a health hazard in that area whatsoever.
SALE OF DOME PETROLEUM
MR. CLARK: A question to the Minister of Energy regarding the sale of Dome Petroleum to Amoco. Since that proposed sale has been announced, there has been much concern. . . . Even Alberta's Energy minister has spoken out about protecting Canadian interests. Since Dome is B.C.'s fourth-largest producer of natural gas, has the minister decided to make any representations to the federal Energy minister or to Investment Canada regarding this sale?
HON. MR. DAVIS: Mr. Speaker, I have spoken to the federal Energy minister, and he has assured me that the national government's concern primarily is employment and secondly is security of energy supply. With those two concerns in mind, the takeover by Amoco will probably occur.
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Orders of the Day
HON. MR. STRACHAN: Adjourned debate on the amendment to second reading of Bill 20.
TEACHING PROFESSION ACT
On the amendment.
MR. SKELLY: Just to recap what happened prior to the lunch period, I was discussing the merits of hoisting the bill that we're currently debating for six months, to allow the government full process of consultation and to allow the government to reconsider the contents of the legislation that's before the House; and expressing a bit of my pessimism, I suppose, as to the attitude of the government towards motions like this and towards the intent and the good faith of the opposition in presenting these motions.
As I pointed out before lunch, it's very rare in the history of this Legislature that a hoist motion is presented, and when a hoist motion is presented by the opposition, it's done only when the opposition has grave concerns about the impact of the bill on the public good of the people of the province of British Columbia.
We're very concerned about the attitude that's been demonstrated by the members opposite. It seems that they're simply waiting for the debate to expire. At that point, we'll get back on the main motion itself. They'll wait for the debate to expire on that motion, and then they'll proceed in exactly the way they intended to proceed in the first place. It seems that the government's attitude toward consultation and cooperation both with the opposition and with other groups in society in this province is really a sham, and that they have no intention of consultation or cooperation at all, no intention to give a full look at the concerns that people have about this bill and to suspend debate in the House until that full look is taken.
Now it seems to me that this bill, along with Bill 19, is simply another battle that this government has taken over the last six years, as far as I can recall, against the teachers, against the B.C. Teachers' Federation and against the public school system. It seems to be a part of a continuing attack, and for that reason the government really has no intention of backing off in the intent of this bill. The bill, I suppose, is a part of that whole program of attack against the public school system, and in this part they are attacking or pursuing their vendetta against the B.C. Teachers' Federation.
I wonder why the government has the attitude that it has towards the public education system in the province. It seems that they have the same attitude towards public education that they have towards the legitimate opposition in the Legislature: that they're simply a problem, that they have to listen to them for a while and then they go about doing their business regardless of the debate on this side of the House.
It seems that this government has the same attitude towards the public education system that the Conservatives have towards the Post Office — begging your pardon, Mr. Speaker, as to your former political affiliation and probably some of the speeches you made in the House of Commons relative to the Post Office and its efficiencies. But it seems that the Conservatives in this country like to use the Post Office as the whipping-boy, and the more inefficient they can make the Post Office, the more they get to whip it. It's a good thing for the Conservatives that we do have a public postal system in Canada; otherwise they'd have to go and attack something else.
It seems to be the same with the Social Credit Party here in British Columbia. The thing they love to attack is the public education system. That was reinforced . . . .
MR. SKELLY: The Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources (Hon. Mr. Davis) says he wants to start his own Post Office. Well, maybe they'll whip him for a change.
The Social Credit Party in B.C. seems to have the same kind of attitude towards the public education system. I was interested to read from the statements made by the new member for Okanagan–Similkameen . . . .
MS. CAMPBELL: No such riding.
MR. SKELLY: Okanagan–Boundary . . . .
MR. SKELLY: Boundary–Similkameen — one of those ridings. I'm mixing my Conservatives with my Socreds.
Mr. Speaker, I'd like to mention a few of the words that this member spoke when concern was expressed about the private school system by one of our members, and the fact that in the Victoria school district the provincial government is now spending more money per pupil for students in private schools than they're spending for students in the public school system. It was suggested here that the reason the Socreds support the private school system is that they're concerned about the moral fibre of their children. They send their children for protection, because they're concerned that they should send their children to a school to have the moral and the spiritual fibre of their children lost during the time that they're trying to obtain an education. It seems to me that that member was suggesting that by sending children to a public school their moral and spiritual fibre is in danger. That seems typical of the attitude that Social Credit members have towards the public school system.
I was offended when the Premier of this province attempted to link this bill and his concerns about the B.C. Teachers' Federation with the case of Mr. Noyes, who was charged and convicted of sexual assaults on children under his care while he was a teacher in the school system.
It seems to me that this is the kind of attitude that is reflected in the bill that we are dealing with today. It's a very unhealthy attitude towards the public education system in the province. It seems to me that Socreds value those kinds of things that are done for private interest and private gain and for the benefit of private groups of citizens, and they seem to attack those things that are done by all of us together for the benefit of all of us together. The public education system is one of those things, so they constantly attack the public education system. One of the ways you attack the system, of course, is to question the motives, the capability, the competence and the morals of teachers in the public school system. This has been a constant theme throughout the Social Credit speeches that have been made both in this Legislature and outside the Legislature. It is a matter of concern to me that this bill represents that kind of attitude on the part of Social Credit members . . .
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MR. SKELLY: . . .towards teachers and towards the public education system that seems to be shared by the first member for Vancouver–Point Grey (Ms. Campbell) as well.
MS. CAMPBELL: Shallowness is unbecoming.
MR. SKELLY: In fact, the word "unbecoming" was even used by the Premier to describe teachers who have decided to embark on an instruction-only campaign.
I was interested in a question that the second member for Vancouver–Point Grey (Ms. Marzari) asked in the House today, where the Minister of Advanced Education (Hon. S. Hagen) is now suggesting that in order to qualify for student aid, students in this province are going to be expected to do compulsory labour — but phrased in these terms: compulsory voluntary labour. This country did away with compulsory voluntary labour back in 1833 when we, along with the rest of the British Empire, abolished slavery. But it seems to me that this kind of approach is being taken by the government — and it is representative of an attitude by the government in their approach to the public school system — and that is why we have this bill on the floor today.
As I pointed out before the lunch hour, I have had connections, as has the second member for Vancouver–Point Grey. I have been a school trustee in a school district on Vancouver Island. I have also taught in schools on Vancouver Island and on the Queen Charlottes. I have found over the years that teachers in general, the vast majority of teachers, are among the finest citizens that this province has to offer. They are willing not only to commit the time that they put into the classroom and are paid for to their students and their communities, but they are also always willing to commit time beyond that to the things that they do voluntarily for their students and for the community.
I would just like to draw Mr. Speaker's attention to the fact that in my own family, my daughter is a pianist and plays . . . . The first member for Kamloops (Hon. Mr. Richmond) was drawing attention to the jazz festival that took place here on the weekend in Victoria. My daughter plays for a school jazz band and a school vocal group. Now she goes to practise at 7:30 in the morning — all voluntary; she doesn't have to do it — and the teacher is there at 7:30 in the morning to coach that jazz band. Two teachers commit a great deal of their extracurricular time on a voluntary basis to make sure that those students get the training outside of school that they are not getting inside of the school. As a result of the amount of time those teachers have put in, their jazz band has won the West Coast Jazz Festival, and they are now entitled to go on to Ottawa and to compete nationally in a national music festival. The government of the province did not put a nickel into their travel; it didn't provide a cent to their travel back to Ottawa. To those students who were representing the municipality of Esquimalt and the people of British Columbia and putting the best face of British Columbia forward to those other people in eastern Canada, the government of this province didn't contribute a nickel. But I will tell you what happened: teachers, parents, students, supporters in local business, supporters in the professions and individual supporters throughout the community got together, and as a result of that volunteer effort on the part of those citizens and those teachers, those kids will now be able to go to Ottawa, and I suspect they are going to win the national festival and bring those honours home to British Columbia.
I will guarantee you one thing, Mr. Speaker: there's going to be a government politician to meet them when the plane lands, taking advantage of all of that volunteer effort that was contributed by teachers on behalf of their communities — that very profession that this government loves to attack. When they bring honours back to the province and to their school and to their students, then the government is there to take the credit. I think that is hypocritical. The teachers have been forced under constant attacks by this government to withdraw the labour that they do voluntarily on behalf of the people of this province and on behalf of the citizens of this province. What a shabby approach to take to a group of citizens who make such a fine contribution both in terms of the hours they spend in the classroom and the quality of instruction in the classroom and in terms of the amount of work that they do voluntarily outside the classroom on an extracurricular basis for the students that they serve in this province. If this kind of legislation so outrages the teachers that we're deprived of that volunteer work that they do on our behalf, I think there's something definitely wrong with this legislation. If we could have avoided that kind of confrontation by sitting down with the teachers in advance, by discussing what the requirements of the legislation would actually be, what would be acceptable to them and to school districts and to the government, it would have been a far more fruitful effort at achieving the kind of agreement, the kind of cooperation and the kinds of results that we want in this province. Instead, the government has seen fit, bull-headedly, to attack a group in our society which does a great deal of service to the people of our society; has seen fit to attack that group, using this kind of legislation, when they could have achieved what they need to achieve through other means, by using a process of consultation, a cooperative process that was acceptable to all of the people involved.
Mr. Speaker, nobody is more embarrassed by bad teachers or by inefficient teachers or by problem teachers than are the teachers themselves. If there was a way to get those teachers out of the procession and to direct them into some other line of work where they might be more effective and efficient, I'm sure that the teachers would be fully prepared to sit down with the government and to sit down with school districts, and to develop those mechanisms, provided at the same time they don't make every teacher in the province vulnerable to the kind of firing without cause that this government seems to endorse. The method of developing those kinds of mechanisms is available to us, but it's only available to us if it's done on a cooperative and consultative basis. It seems that this government has rejected that kind of approach.
[Mr. Pelton in the chair.]
I know the back-bench member over there, the brand-new rookie from wherever it is in the province.
MR. S KELLY: Are you denying that he is a rookie or that he's from someplace in the province?
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MR. SKELLY: Mr. Speaker, I didn't hear who it was, so I can't really refer to him by constituency.
MR. ROSE: It's the rookie from Richmond.
MR. SKELLY: The member complains about the suggestion that we develop a mechanism that's acceptable to all parties in the province; yet, Mr. Speaker, that's exactly the kind of processes that we've seen developed when people get together in a collective bargaining situation, when they know what the problems are and they know what the roadblocks are, and they know that they want to achieve a solution that's to the benefit of all of the people involved, as well as all of the people in the province.
1 know, Mr. Speaker, that the government back-benchers, and that member for Richmond as well, have been instructed as to how they should deal with this bill. They've been given their marching orders, and they're following their orders. When they're told to speak, they speak. Today we found out that when they're told to shut up, they shut up. We know how government back-benchers operate, because we've seen the Tories do it in Ottawa.
MS. CAMPBELL: You are offensive.
MR. SKELLY: I take that as a compliment from the first member for Vancouver–Point Grey.
Mr. Speaker, I know you, as well as many other people in this House and many other people in the province, are getting tired of the constant warfare that's taking place with our school system; of the constant kind of attacks that have taken place over the last many years by the Social Credit government against the public school system in the province of British Columbia; that this legislation represents only a continuing part. We've had it in terms of restraint; we've had it in terms of cutting back on expenditures for textbooks; we've had it in terms of cutting back on making counsellors and librarians and other services available in the school system, which this government considers frills and therefore should be cut back. We've seen the constant cutbacks that have been taking place in grants to school districts over the years, and the constant cutback in the teaching staff, so that many teachers are now overburdened in terms of the amount of students they have in their classroom and in terms of the amount of class work that they're forced to do. As a result, teachers in this province, Mr. Speaker, have been driven to the point of frustration, where they don't know where to turn. We've seen that children in this province have suffered as a result of what this government is doing in its attack on the school system.
The reason we moved this amendment, Mr. Speaker, is not to delay, not simply as an attack on the legislation, but simply another offer to this government, to allow the promised process of consultation to go ahead, without having this bill on the floor of the Legislature as a gun to the head of the teachers; to allow this process of consultation to go ahead, free from any of the kind of pressure that this bill represents. We're asking the minister, we're asking the government, to stand back a little bit, to pull back a little bit, to give the process of consultation that has started between the minister, the trustees and the teachers an opportunity to work, and to work well, and to deliver the kinds of results that we hope it will deliver. I think that can only happen if this bill is pulled from the table and if we allow an opportunity for teachers, trustees and government to get together to put together the kind of legislation which will achieve the kinds of results that they all want. Mr. Speaker, I hope you will use your influence on the members of this Legislature to see that this bill is hoisted for six months, to allow the government to proceed with that process of negotiation.
MR. D'ARCY: I think it's unfortunate that so few of the government members take this particular motion seriously. I think it's most unfortunate indeed that so few are even at work today. I certainly have no trouble seeing the wall opposite, where sometimes there can be a sea of heads; I see lots of beautiful marble over there.
MR. SKELLY: And that's the heads.
MR. D'ARCY: However, the minister is here, and I give him credit for that.
There has been an awful lot of rhetoric and writing in the press about this particular piece of legislation. My concern is for the educational community, if not the entire community, in the constituency that I represent. That's why I have a concern about this bill, and that's why I would like the minister and his cabinet colleagues to take some time to study it. In my constituency, I suppose, it would be easy to say: "Oh, the teachers have a lot of concern about this." Well, they do, of course, but parents also have a lot of concern about this, and the students themselves — and when I say students, I'm not just referring to high school students; I'm talking about children from the kindergarten level on up. They're not quite sure what is wrong, but they're aware that something is wrong, because they know there's a lot of discussion about it.
There was, and I think still is, an expectation of a favourable attitudinal change on the part of the present government relative to the last few years. This kind of legislation, whether or not it is fully understood out there in the communities that I represent — or that you represent, Mr. Speaker . . . . There is a feeling that confrontation never really died, that it's back with us, that there has been inadequate consultation, even among those of my constituents who agree with some of the principles of this particular bill before the chamber today.
I'll just give you some of the concerns of school board members, who are duly elected just as we are duly elected, and some of the concerns of parents, especially those with children in the system who have special needs. And let's remember, special needs does not necessarily mean learning disabilities, but may mean a particular brilliance in some area; perhaps it's just a need for some remedial work. In the two major junior secondary schools in my riding, Mr. Speaker, they have annual library book budgets of $200. That's all that the board can afford. We know what a volume costs. If you ever look in the bookstores, you know that these days a volume of anything costs $20 at least. You might get a paperback for $10 or $15, but a bound volume costs at least $20. So we might liberally estimate that that $200 might be good for ten books a year — not new books, but ten books to replace those which wear out or which go missing, and as anyone who has ever had anything to do with libraries knows, some material goes missing one way or another.
There is some money for supplies. I am advised by school board people and by educators that while they can get money,
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especially through Excellence in Education funds, for buying things like computers, they've got several computers facing the wall because they don't have anybody to teach the kids who want to learn something about those computers. That's another interesting thing: you can get money for hardware. I've got two schools that have recently had computerized telephone systems installed. Nobody realized there was anything wrong with the old system. Nobody wanted any money for new phones, but there was money for computerized telephones.
While this is going on, the libraries, as I said, are falling apart. School libraries are not staffed anymore in my constituency. They used to have teacher-librarians. Now it's "teacher" in capital letters and boldface, and the "librarian" is a little tiny bit, because the teachers who used to be teacher-librarians now are spending their time teaching all the time and they're never in the libraries. So the students and the kids who need those libraries as resource centres and need to use them are on their own — unsupervised, no assistance, no direction as to where they can find the material they need. When they want to work toward what, Mr. Speaker, I'm sure you and everyone in this chamber I hope would agree is what we all want — the pursuit of excellence in our schools — the pursuit of excellence with our young people, the pursuit of excellence in our province in all fields, the children out there are not even being allowed to take advantage of the limited resources that are there already, already bought and paid for by the taxpayers of B.C.
Mr. Speaker, I have two school districts. We have a couple of district resource centres which are sort of a general nonfiction lending library of material — computer material, graphics. They used to have trained staff. Now they don't have those anymore; they each have part-time secretaries, who by the way do an excellent job but part-time secretaries can't find material. They can't order it. They can't replace it. What they do, Mr. Speaker, is if a teacher knows and can find what they want that's already in one of those resource centres, they will send it out to the appropriate school or deliver it. Once again specialized facilities bought and paid for can't be used the way they should be.
I give one example of an area of special needs for remedial work, maths. Hardly to some members on the opposite side an airy-fairy subject, mathematics. It is a very important subject in British Columbia. We all know that some students have difficulty with mathematics. It doesn't mean they're dumb, it doesn't mean they have a learning disability; they just have trouble. Maybe some people here had difficulty with math in school and needed some remedial work.
Mr. Speaker, in one junior high school where they have three classes of remedial math students, they only have one teacher to handle that. So two of those classes don't get their remedial math training from anyone who has a specialty of working with mathematics on a remedial basis. After all, all teachers, no matter how well qualified — just as in any other field, medicine, law or whatever — can't be all things to all people. They can only have so many specialties. The fact is the school district and the local teachers' association are not in a position to provide the people with the specialized needs that the children have for remedial math, and that is through the entire subject range of compulsory courses, Mr. Speaker. I only use math as an example, but it doesn't matter whether it applies to physical education or physics or English or whatever course.
We all know that there are larger class sizes in British Columbia. We all know that all of the arm's-length professional assessments that have ever been done in this province or any other jurisdiction south of the 49th parallel or in the provinces to the east of us would indicate that an ideal class size is around 18 students. Even if one knows that some classes, especially in smaller districts, are going to run up into the mid-20s, high-20s — we have a situation where we have many classes in my constituency with over 30 . . . . And it's not just the sheer numbers. Teacher after teacher after teacher, whether elementary or high school, has told me: "You know, Chris, it's not just the numbers of students; it's the numbers out of that 30 or 35 who have special needs, and out of those numbers with special needs it's the numbers that have severe special needs."
Now I'm not one who says our society is getting worse, but I do know that there are a lot more children in the system who didn't used to be there when I was in the system. When I was in school in the 1940s and the 1950s, any kid that had any particular problems wasn't in school. They either left school early, or they were taken out, or the school system said they couldn't handle this particular person.
Now, thank goodness, we're much more humane, much more Christian in our attitudes, and society as a whole has accepted the fact that the educational system has a responsibility for all people. But those individuals who require special attention put special strain on teachers. This particular piece of legislation — and this is why I wish the minister and the government would have a look at it — to a considerable degree demoralizes the people who are doing their best professionally to deliver the educational services that they know the students in the system need. Because that after all is the bottom line on any bill pertaining to education in the province of B.C. It's not so much what I or a teacher or a school trustee might think of it; what's important is, does it help or hinder the delivery of quality education services to the students of British Columbia? I would like the government to delay passage of this bill, because I am firmly convinced, from speaking with educators and elected trustees from my constituency, that this bill does not serve that.
Mr. Speaker, the teachers did not particularly ask for these provisions in the bill. The school trustees say they didn't. One cannot escape the impression that we had with earlier pieces of legislation discussed in this House: that to the government consultation meant taking 100 particular proposals, picking out the one or two you want and trashing the rest. The teachers and school trustees, as near as I can tell, anyway — other members may have heard what they wanted to hear or heard differently — asked for the same responsibilities, the same duties and the same privileges as have been enjoyed for decades by other occupational, professional and trade groups within the province of British Columbia. They didn't ask for special treatment; they simply asked to be treated the same as anyone else under the collective bargaining legislation in the province.
I know of no other occupational group, whether self-employed professionals or professionals employed through public sector employers, that had a particular piece of legislation forced on them by the government of B.C. — any government of B.C. When the medical people want amendments to the enabling legislation that allows them to set up their various controlling bodies, they come to government and suggest amendments. Usually, eventually in some form
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or another, those amendments are passed through the Legislature, whichever government is in office, in a manner that is acceptable to that professional or occupational group. The same is true with accountants, dentists and so on.
Mr. Speaker, I know of no other group that's had something forced upon them that neither they nor their employers — who are the school trustees — have asked for. That's why I would like the minister — who I know cares about education, and I don't say that speciously; I know he does care about the quality of education in B.C. — to have another look at this.
This particular law proposal is creating a lot more problems in the schools right now than it would solve. Let's think about the last few years. We've had continuous reductions in the real amount of funding per student, adjusted for inflation, made available to the schools of British Columbia. We had the former member for Prince George North, in his program of consultation which he called "Let's Talk About Schools." It created hope; it created a feeling that perhaps the government is going to listen and understand some of the problems that exist out there in the schools. There was at least an attempt at a certain consultative, consensual and collegial attitude. But nothing really came out of that, out of improving the education system in British Columbia. Nothing really came out of that that would give hope to parents, students and teachers.
I don't believe that teachers are just like any other organized occupational or professional group. They are not really into spending a whole lot of time, or any time at all, in radical behaviour or confrontational tactics. In my experience, teachers — certainly in my riding — want to teach. They want to teach and they want to help the community. I don't believe that teachers are confrontational, and I don't believe that school trustees are. But I think the government is.
I think the government is because the government has not accepted the reality that there is a major difficulty within the school system of British Columbia that, in major part, is a result of government policies over the last few years. Now we have an act which further demoralizes those professionals in the system, of which the overwhelming majority really do fundamentally care, first and foremost, about the young people in their classes.
Mr. Speaker, once again I have to use an example from the local level. A while ago the schools board set up something they called an individual program, which was a program of taking young people who were defined by professionals in the community, not by educators, as having particular individual needs — in other words, needs that could not possibly be satisfied in the classroom, no matter how professional the teacher was. . . . But we have, with the one class that could be set up in the Castlegar School District, a waiting-list, which is larger than the class, of people who were not defined as difficult by teachers or by the school board, but were defined that way by professionals outside the educational system.
Mr. Speaker, education is one of the major visible expenditures. It was one of the former British Prime Ministers — I think it was Anthony Eden - who was fond of saying . . . . I don't know whether I am quoting correctly, but he was fond of saying: "Everyone is in favour of general economy but particular expenditure." Of course, what he meant was that we would all like the government to be parsimonious with our tax dollars, except on those things which are near and dear to us as individuals. That is only human. Government spends money on a whole lot of things. I use government with a capital G; here we are speaking of the province, and I suppose the school boards as well.
Education is one of the most visible areas of government expenditure in any community. I know it is natural for everyone, out of their tax dollars . . . . Lord knows, we are all taxed heavily enough that we can see and appreciate the efforts of municipal government to provide fresh water and sewers and paved roads, and of the Highways ministry to provide highways between communities. Of course we all know the need for good health care and effective law enforcement. But one of the most important areas to the citizens of this province is education, because you can see the schools and you know the kids, whether or not you have any children in your own family in the system. Everyone has relatives or friends with children in the system.
There is a strong feeling among my constituents that we are not getting the bang for our bucks out of the education system. They don't blame the school boards, and they don't blame the teachers. There is a feeling that the system does not have the tools to do the job. I said earlier that everyone would agree that we want to aim for excellence in our young people, excellence in our economy. That really is the most important natural resource that we have: the human resource.
Mr. Speaker, we are not getting that. I use another example that can happen in a classroom, at any level in the school system, to a teacher who has to spend several more hours marking and preparing course work. Because of the size of the class and its special needs, what happens is that the teacher does not use the time before school or during the breaks to help individual students who need special help. They don't have the time at noon hour; they don't have the time after school. It's not a case of working to rule. It is simply a case of a teacher getting to school, putting in their number of hours, having some time that they must use for supervising, and spending their entire time on either marking, preparation of courses or actually teaching. They don't have the time that they used to have, even when I was in school, to work for 15 minutes, half an hour or an hour with students in their classes who are not in a hopeless situation, but who need some special time. They don't have that time anymore.
I would hope that the minister and the government would step back and have a look at this piece of legislation. I have been told by a great many teachers, administrators, superintendents, directors of instruction and so on that there are a lot of special needs in the school system that don't necessarily pertain to education, that certainly don't pertain to the training and education that the teachers got.
These are teachers who have master's degrees and are very experienced. They say: "Gee, Chris, I was taught to teach physics or math or a language. I wasn't taught to be a child psychologist. I wasn't taught to be a special elementary school counsellor." Some people may say that those things are frills. You don't need those; you didn't need them when I was in school. You don't need them now.
Once again we come back to the fact that there are a number of children in the school system at any level who, in fact, need special services outside the realm of the kind of excellent training that teachers get and have when they graduate with their bachelor's or master's, or whatever degree they get. So teachers are being told to provide services — or being required to; it's not a case of their being told. They know professionally that they have children under their care who
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need psychiatric and, in some cases, even medical assistance, which they are not trained to give.
Recently the school boards in my area financed a school improvement seminar along with other school districts from the Kootenays and the Okanagan, and this was something that we could all support. It wasn't a boondoggle; it attempts to improve the system as it is, and to do that cost-effectively by taking the resources that are available, however limited, and trying to improve the system as it was. They talked about making the schools work better individually internally, within the school. The emphasis, I was told by the elected people and by teachers and administrators, was on such things as consensus, consent, collegiality, how principals and vice-principals play a key role in operating the school and delivering the services.
We know what this bill does to that. It separates the principals and the vice-principals from that atmosphere which can be built of consensus, consent and collegiality within the school.
Mr. Speaker, those administrators who are now directors of instruction, directors of curriculum and superintendents of schools in most, if not all, cases came through the system with a great deal of effort on their part to improve their education degrees and have virtually universally, in my experience in my riding, the respect of the principals below them and the teachers and the elected school board members, whatever the political feeling of the school board members. You must remember that school board members are primarily concerned with the educational services; otherwise they wouldn't have run for school board in the first place.
Those people are not happy with the separation of the administrators, principals and vice-principals, from the teachers on the line within the system. What I'm hearing is that where the hope of consensus and consent and collegiality was there in making the schools work better internally with the financial resources as they exist today, it has been and is going to be replaced by confrontation and coercion.
I hope that the government moves back on some of these things. We read in the press that perhaps the government is considering some amendments to this bill, as they are to others. I can only say that it's tremendously important, not just to teachers as an occupational group. One, I guess, could easily get the impression that whenever anyone feels that their situation is not going to be as favourable as they once saw it, they're being hurt.
My concern is for the entire educational community and in particular the students in my own riding. Teachers have politics like all of us, and I would assume that there are almost as many . . . . It's none of my business how teachers vote, but I would assume there's almost as many who supported the government party as myself in the last election.
One of the things that has been said quite frequently to me is that while they don't have anything personally nasty to say about the member for North Peace in his capacity as Minister of Education, they have a tendency to look back at previous ministers, such as the former member for Prince George, in a relatively fond way, because they say: "We thought we had it bad before, and it's getting worse again." It's almost like the old good guy, bad guy routine. When things get bad and you get some hope that things were going to get better — and I believe everyone in the education system had some hope that things were going to get better — what they find is even more of a confrontational attitude than they had before and less of a consultative attitude on the part of government than they had before. They say at least they knew before that their suggestions were considered favourably by the government in the last year or so. Even though very little came out of it, at least they knew that their suggestions weren't rejected and replaced by suggestions that nobody knows whereof they came.
I'm happy to have had the opportunity to make a contribution to this debate. I hope that the minister and his cabinet colleagues will take the remarks that we have from this side of the House, and hopefully members from the other side will have on behalf of their constituents and their children in their ridings, and that we can get on with having a good second look at this particular bill.
MR. HARCOURT: I would like to reiterate the three reasons why our caucus feels that Bill 20 should be hoisted. I'll summarize them. I won't put them on a blackboard, I'll just summarize them.
The first reason is that it does nothing to address the real problems in education today in British Columbia. That's the key reason. The second is that the process for development of the Teaching Profession Act has not followed the cooperative, consultative process that has been used in drafting all the other professional acts. Thirdly, Bill 20 is a recipe for continued confrontation and disruption in education. Those are the three reasons that we have been trying to make very clear to the people of British Columbia why this is such a disastrous intrusion, negative intrusion, into the education of our young people in this great province of ours.
The first reason I said is that it does not address the real problems of education. I want to make it very clear that the essence of why we feel that this is a negative — I won't even use the word "initiative" because that would be the wrong word to describe this piece of bad work . . . . The real issue is that a teacher's working conditions are a child's learning conditions. That is the essence of what we should be looking at.
When a teacher fights for improved working conditions, they're fighting to improve learning conditions. I want to go through some examples of where neither this act nor the budget address the problems I want to talk about.
The first is class size, because the two are linked, and I want to show it. A larger class for students, such as we have in this province, very large classes, means a greater workload for teachers, more marking, more energy in student management, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. But the result of overloading teachers with students, with those extra responsibilities, is that it creates an unsatisfactory learning environment for students. There is less individual attention. There is lower student achievement.
This correlation is borne out clearly in research. I would like to quote the Smith and Glass Laboratory of Educational Research paper of 1979: "The effects of class size on classroom processes, pupil effect and teacher satisfaction are strong and consistent. On all measures, reduction in class size is associated with higher-quality schooling and more positive attitudes." This bill and the budget did not deal with that central problem.
MR. HARCOURT: They did not deal with that whatsoever.
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MR. D'ARCY: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.
MR. HARCOURT: The question that smaller class size improves student achievement....
DEPUTY SPEAKER: Pardon me, hon. member. The member for Rossland–Trail rises on a point of order.
MR. D'ARCY: Mr. Speaker, I would like the members on the government side to know that they're quite welcome to join this debate once they have been recognized by the Speaker.
MR. HARCOURT: For the past chairperson of the Vancouver School Board this has struck a sensitive nerve, and rightly it should; I'd be embarrassed by this piece of legislation myself. And I'd be embarrassed to represent a riding like Vancouver–Point Grey where education is a very proud part of the fabric. I'd be embarrassed, too, because as the site for Jericho school . . . .
She should be particularly interested in this quote from the "Report on Education Research" by the national education centre, April 1986, that says that smaller class size improves student achievement, particularly for economically disadvantaged students, and it boosts teacher morale. For a number of years, from the Bill Bennett government's deliberate policy of systematically increasing class sizes in B.C. until they are now the largest in Canada, and for many years before, when the now Premier became the minister of miseducation in this province and started the legitimacy of attacking and savaging and belittling the teaching profession and others associated with that, we have taken this province back in a time warp. No wonder the school systems are in trouble, because this bill does not address this concern of class size. I would hope that the hon. member from Vancouver–Point Grey would see fit to deal with Vancouver's situation, where we have 60 percent of the students in our school system who require English-as-a-second-language instruction. And we have larger classes. We have classes with 35 to 40 students where on the average 50 percent of the students have English as a second language.
MR. HARCOURT: I see that we have struck many raw nerves here, and you should be embarrassed.
We have a teacher in a classroom with 35 to 40 students where the students are trying to learn the language, the culture and the way of life in this great province and country of ours. We have on top of that two or three mainstream young people with disabilities. We have on top of that a number of young people who, as the hon. member for Rossland–Trail (Mr. D'Arcy) has said, we used to kick out of the school system. We now keep them in the school system, but there are not the backup resources to help those young people with their emotional problems and the trauma that they're suffering at home, particularly in this time of very high unemployment and the depression that that brings to families and to family life, particularly with the number of single-parent families that there are. We are overloading the school system. Having larger and larger classes in that climate is a tragedy in this province, and this bill does not deal with it.
A second example of how this bill doesn't deal with the real problems in our education system is in the whole area of teaching resources. There is a shortage of teaching materials, textbooks and other up-to-date resources, and this creates more work for the teacher. Members on the other side may say: "That's a good thing." Some of them who aren't here have belittled the teaching profession and needled members of this caucus who are proudly teachers, and they say teachers should work harder. Well, again, there is a relationship here, because when you do not have those materials and resources as a teacher, it also negatively impacts on the learning opportunities for the students, because what kind of a learning environment is provided when we have outdated materials, inadequately stocked school libraries, and textbooks that are not available on a per-pupil basis? Yet in a 1986 survey of teachers that was done by the B.C. Teachers' Federation, 62 percent rated the adequacy of textbooks as poor or totally unacceptable. Almost two-thirds of our teachers said that the resources that were there — not for them but for our young people — were totally unacceptable. That does not deal with this economy . . . .
MR. HARCOURT: Young people, Mr. Minister, had better have a decent education or they're going to be in more glue than they are right now. And you in particular shouldn't be smiling about students being in that dilemma. You should be concerned about it, instead of smiling about our young people not having those resources. No wonder the school system is in trouble, with that kind of an attitude.
Bill 20 does not address that concern.
MR. LOENEN: We have a royal commission.
MR. HARCOURT: Mr. Speaker, we heard about this royal commission; I heard it raised. This royal commission — a prosecutor; you send out a prosecutor to prosecute the education system. It's bad enough that it's a lawyer, but to send a prosecutor is really atrocious.
HON. MR. BRUMMET: So is your comment.
MR. HARCOURT: I don't blame you for commenting, members of the government for the next 976 days.
I want to tell you about the third example of real problems in the education system that this bill does not address. Support services — counselling, library and administrative time, and teaching aides to help in the preparation of materials and lessons, and to assist in marking — give teachers more opportunities to work with individual students, to spend more time on teaching and determining methods and plans. Yet over the last . . . . Turn your back, Mr. Second Member for Richmond (Mr. Loenen). Turn your back; that's what your government's doing to the education system. You've been doing it for the last five or six weeks.
Yet, Mr. Speaker, over the last five years dramatic cuts in these services of counselling, library and administrative time, and teacher aides have made it very difficult for teachers. Hence, again, it's linked to the learning conditions for our young people. It inhibits the services to our students — not to teachers, but to our students. We're once again pushing headlong, gung ho, back into the past. Bill 20 does nothing to address this need. What we're talking about is that teachers' working conditions are a student's learning condition; the
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two are inextricably linked. This bill does nothing to deal with that.
We have a school system with serious problems. When is the government going to address them? When? You didn't do it in the throne speech; you didn't do it in the budget; you're not doing it with this legislation. When are you going to address it? What you are doing instead is creating a demoralized teaching force and diminishing the learning opportunities for our young.
In a teacher survey conducted by C.Q. Research Corp. in 1986, nearly 80 percent of the respondents stated that teacher morale in their school had declined since 1982. Heavy workloads and deteriorating working conditions often frustrate teachers' feelings of success in the classroom. In fact, according to the survey, unmet needs of students rate second only to the attitudes and actions of the provincial government as a source of stress to teachers. What a great reputation to have! I'm sure this government is proud of that reputation. Bill 20 only makes the situation worse. Rather than addressing real problems in education, Bill 20 is creating political problems. It is rattling the cage of teachers deliberately. It is setting up a climate for confrontation, Mr. Speaker. So that's the first reason why we feel the bill should be hoisted.
The second is that there is an alternative to some of the negative knockers on the other side, to the negative, doubting people who don't think that cooperation will work. Well, it does. The other professional acts are an example of a cooperative, consultative process. Why don't you do it with the teachers? Instead of walking away from the problem you've created yourself, you could have had that sort of process. You didn't have to ram this down the throats of the teachers. You didn't do it to any other profession in this province.
I want to give one example I know something about, and that's the Law Society of British Columbia. An old act of 1955 was the Barristers and Solicitors Act. It was replaced with a new act, the Legal Profession Act, last spring. Mr. Speaker, this was a cooperative effort between lawyers and the Attorney-General's office that took five years. It was done with amendments that were worked out by the Law Society, in a democratic way, through the 6,000 members of the Law Society. It was presented to the Attorney-General's office. It was then formulated into a draft bill. Changes were made at the request of members of the Law Society. But the point is that it was not imposed on them. It was done with respect, it was done intelligently, and it was done to create a better situation for British Columbians who were going to take advantage of the skills of highly trained professionals such as lawyers. That's what teachers are: highly trained professionals who are proud to be involved in educating our young. That same process has been completed or is underway with podiatrists; dentists; veterinarians; chiropractors; physiotherapists — the Medical Practitioners Act, the Naturopaths Act; engineers; pharmacists; accountants, certified, general, chartered and management; nurses, registered, licensed practical and registered psychiatric — and there's the Social Workers Act. Why not for the teachers, Mr. Speaker?
The third reason we are requesting the hoist of this bill is that it is going to bring confrontation. Bill 20, instead of addressing the real problems, some of which I have outlined, instead of patterning itself on a cooperative and consultative approach, as has happened with all the other professional associations, is setting forth a recipe for confrontation. Why would the government choose to do that? Why would the government consciously choose to create confrontation? That's what this bill does.
What happened on Tuesday in this province, the closure of schools and the disruption of education, is the result of the Premier's stated intention of ramming through this legislation which affects all of the 30,000 teachers and, through them, the students in their classrooms and their parents and families.
The last time the Premier had his hand in education, he got the confrontation ball rolling. This isn't the first time; we hope it's the last. In 1982-83, Bill 89 was brought in and legislated a closure of schools for six days — again, school closures, chaos, confrontation. Why would the government do it again? That is the question we are asking. The blame for this must rest with the Premier. He is causing the unrest. He is causing the chaos. He is causing the confrontation.
Taking the education system in our province back 50 years is not our idea of progress, Mr. Speaker. My mother was a teacher in Alberta, around Lethbridge, in the middle of the Depression. She went to normal school in Calgary. When she taught in the Depression, she could be fired without cause. She had grim conditions in an old one-room school, with far too many students to teach with very few resources. She had low pay and no support from any professional association or union of significance. And that's where this bill takes our educational system back to. It's a tragedy that this bill does that in our province.
I want you to be clear: our party is united in its opposition to Bill 20. We are united in that opposition, and we are united in supporting the motion to hoist. We are united in calling upon the Premier to end this confrontation by hoisting Bill 20 and addressing the real problems of education. Instead of, at best, being involved in political mischief and a vendetta . . . . The first member for Langley (Mrs. Gran) at least had the courage to be upfront and say: "We're out to get the BCTF. That's what we're involved in. Make no mistake about it. We're not here to improve education or the future of our young. We're here to kneecap the BCTF." I appreciate that kind of honesty; but I find it disgusting that that would be one of the intents of this bill. That is the best reading that can be placed on it. The worst is to make sure there is no future for the young of this province.
So, Mr. Speaker, we say, very simply: hoist Bill 20.
DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Chair recognizes the member for Burnaby North. Before we proceed, the Chair would like to know if you have been designated.
MR. JONES: Yes.
DEPUTY SPEAKER: If Hansard would make a note that we have a designated speaker . . . . Please continue.
MR. JONES: It's a pleasure for me to rise and take my place in the debate to consider postponing consideration of debate on this legislation for six months. It's a pleasure for me to follow the Leader of the Opposition and my other colleagues on this side, who I think have presented in an eloquent and articulate form very good reasons for delaying consideration of this legislation. The arguments have been thoughtful, cogent and compelling, and delivered in many cases with courage. A number of members on this side have been suffering from colds and flu, and I am beginning to join them right now.
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It's also a pleasure to follow the Minister of Education, who spoke this morning, Mr. Speaker. I know the Minister of Education is a very thoughtful minister, and he spoke with great enthusiasm this morning. However, I found his remarks lacking in substance. He quoted an article that supported his vision for the future of the teachers' organization and did not give the source of that article, so I could not check it. He gave some figures on teachers' salaries, which certainly have nothing to do with this bill. Maybe it's an attack on fat-cat teachers; I don't know what the intent was there. It seemed to me the basic message of the minister this morning was that we have to push this legislation through because the teachers want it so badly.
It seems sad to me that this attempt to ram through legislation is occurring in the province at this time. To me it's a sign of an arrogant government. I'm afraid that when any government is in power for too long, that kind of thing happens: they spend all their time talking to each other, their focus becomes more and more narrowed, they become less tolerant of other views in society, they become more arrogant, and their desire is to ram through legislation that does not benefit all the people of the province but serves their particular political ideology.
The minister did not really speak to the hoist motion this morning. I recall reading an item in a newspaper approximately a week ago — that he was concerned about this kind of thing. He said something to the effect that if this legislation wasn't approved at this time and was taken out of the Legislature, it wouldn't get back. Mr. Speaker, the minister knows that the government has the right to govern, that they have a majority in this House, that they can take legislation out, bring it back, and approve it or not approve it as they wish. It seemed to me what the minister was saying was that he was afraid to have this legislation exposed to public scrutiny, viewed and judged by the public. Perhaps all the rush on this bill is that the government has some polls that see public opinion shifting in this regard and not supporting the government.
I follow too, Mr. Speaker, the speeches of the members on the other side. I've spent the last couple of days reading the speeches of all members in this House, and I must confess that I'm a little blue in the face from reading the Blues. The sad thing I see is that, on the other side in this debate, the kind of commitment that we talked about in the early part of this session, a commitment to listening, cooperation and working together in this Legislature, is not happening in this bill. I think it happened to some degree under Bill 19: there was some listening to the opposition. I understand that there are amendments to Bill 19 coming down, and I've been told that some of those amendments are as a result of the debate. That's what should happen in this House.
However, what I've seen in the opposition arguments on the hoist motion is a tremendous amount of intolerance, of not listening and of denying any of the things that this side of the House is saying. Sadly, Mr. Speaker, it's symbolic of this session that there is a good deal of intolerance, and we've seen a number of signs of that. We've seen intolerance of people who are exercising their democratic right to protest on the lawns; we've seen intolerance in this House of religious views; and in this legislation we see intolerance of teachers and in fact even of a segment of teachers whose political views are not supported by the government. I think that's what this legislation is all about, and it's a good reason to consider delaying when the motive is so negative and so narrow.
One of the reasons I think we should consider delaying this legislation is that it is a complex bill. There are radical changes being proposed in the legislation that will alter, I think in a significant way, the fragile and delicate relationships that exist within our school system.
I think even members opposite have agreed that the legislation is not well understood in the public. I wonder how many members here today have read all 27 pages carefully and have appreciated all the implications that this legislation holds. I did see some members raise their hands indicating that they had thoroughly read the legislation, but nobody raised their hand indicating that they appreciate all of the serious implications that this legislation holds for the province of British Columbia. Certainly I join the members, because I don't think anybody here appreciates all the implications of this legislation.
Perhaps, Mr. Speaker, what we should do is have a little quiz. We could have 20 questions, and we could even make it an open book quiz. You could bring forward your legislation and we could ask some questions and just judge how well this legislation is understood. I know the member for North Vancouver–Capilano (Mr. Ree) will suggest I'm out of order if I pick specific sections of the legislation, but I'm doing this in order to pick some highlights of the legislation that I think are not well understood, and I think it is a compelling argument for hoisting this legislation.
Let's try a few questions. For example, which of the following will be members of the college when this legislation is implemented: the Minister of Education; a significant number of teachers in the private school system; retired teachers; and teachers who are residing outside the province of British Columbia and even outside the country of Canada? The answer is all of the above. All of the above will be members of the college when this legislation is implemented.
MR. LOENEN: What's wrong with that?
MR. JONES: I didn't say there was anything wrong with it; what I'm suggesting and what I'm arguing at this point is that this legislation isn't well understood. When I mentioned this to the government House Leader, he seemed quite shocked. I am sure the government House Leader has read this legislation, and he was shocked that all these people would be members of the college.
Let's try question number two. What will it cost the average teacher in British Columbia in terms of belonging to the kinds of organizations that they belong to now and belonging to the college? Well, I would suggest the answer to that one is something like two to three times what they're paying now.
Some of you had an evening with the College of Dental Surgeons the other evening and I'm sure perhaps you would inquire of the dentists of this province what their fees are. Their fees are something like $1,200 per month, and the vast majority of work done by that college is done by volunteers.
What we're going to see under the college is a tremendous bureaucracy created. There are probably going to be something like 50,000 or 60,000 teachers eligible, that have certificates. These people are going to be located all over the map. They are going to have to be tracked down and asked whether they want to be members of the college and pay fees.
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We are going to have to have registrars and assistant registrars, and we're going to have records and paperwork and computer files until they're coming out the college's ears. So I think the implications of the bureaucracy are not understood.
An easy question, question number three: will there be laypersons in this college of teachers? The answer: there will, and I think that was the intention of the minister, and I don't think anybody is opposed to that. But I don't think it's well understood.
Question number four, another easy one: how many provinces in Canada have a college of teachers like the one being proposed in British Columbia? Zip. Absolutely zero. No other province has the kind of college being proposed here.
Question number five — who wants to take this one? How many school boards in this province support the hoist motion? Between zero and 10, between 10 and 20, or between 20 and 30? The answer is the third choice — between 20 and 30 boards in this province, boards that are elected democratically like everyone in this House, people who come from areas like every other member in this House, who don't view this legislation in the same black and white political terms as the Legislature of this province and who can see it for what it is. They think there should be a delay of this legislation.
Well, let's try one for the first member for Vancouver–Point Grey (Ms. Campbell). As a principal in a school. . . . As soon as possible after this legislation is approved in this House, principals will be asked to elect whether or not they wish to become administrative officers under this act. How would you elect, Madam Member? I think you would have a very difficult decision to make, because it would require a tremendous amount of faith on your part to know what kind of contract your school board was going to offer you, because before you make that decision you'll have no idea what sort of contract your board is going to offer you. It's going to be very difficult for you to make that decision.
I'm pointing out, Mr. Speaker, that there are a number of problem areas in this bill that I think support the recommendation to delay consideration of the bill for six months.
Let's try a few more questions. How small will the smallest bargaining unit be in this province after the legislation is implemented? It can be as small as the smallest school in this province. I think there's an assumption that it will be the same size as local associations now. That's not what the legislation says, Mr. Speaker.
Question number eight. Who will be designated as essential when this legislation package is approved? Will it be teachers of special needs students? Will it be teachers who teach in residential schools? Will it be principals and vice-principals? Will it be grade 12 teachers in June? Or will it be all teachers in this province? I don't think we know the answer to that question, Mr. Speaker, and it's very difficult to consider approval in principle of this bill until those kinds of questions are answered.
Question number nine. In how many of the four B.C. School Trustees' Association annual general meetings between 1982 and 1985 were motions to separate principals and vice-principals from the teaching force either defeated or referred? The answer, Mr. Speaker, is four of four of those annual general meetings during that period, and those were the periods in which that question was considered.
For the lawyers in the House, Mr. Speaker, what does the power and capacity of a natural person of full capacity mean? All previous education legislation spelled out that unless something was specifically stated in the legislation it was assumed to be prohibited. Now under the power and capacity of a natural person in full capacity, unless an item in the legislation is specifically prohibited, then it's considered to be permissible. That's quite a change in the legislation, Mr. Speaker. It means that the legislation is wide open and the college is wide open to do the kinds of things that they see fit, and perhaps at the expense . . . . I think it is a broad suggestion for the college, and it is the kind of thing that should have time to be considered by the members of the teaching profession, the school trustees and the entire education community, as well as the general public.
Question number 11. How many amendments has the minister already prepared to this legislation? Perhaps all these questions that we're raising at this point are already amendments. Why not delay consideration of this legislation at least until the amendments are prepared so we can decide whether we can support this bill in principle or not. Until we can see the amendments, it makes it difficult to debate the legislation. It seems like the government likes to shoot first and ask questions later.
Question number 12. What sort of concerns do school trustees in this province have regarding this legislation? Surprisingly, one of the main concerns is the due process for their employees. They're concerned that this legislation tilts the balance of due process in favour of the employee — too much so — and they're concerned about it. They particularly want the principals and vice-principals in this province to have due process and not be at the whim of their member boards.
Question number 13 is on methodology. The minister and I had a little discussion on this, and I think the minister makes a good point that this type of item should not be negotiated. But it seems to me, Mr. Speaker, that even though it's precluded from negotiations, it's not precluded from the government. The government still has the kind of authority that can rob professional autonomy from teachers. In the Vancouver Sun on Wednesday, January 28, the Premier said: "My views will have an influence, no question about it. I think people elect others to represent them basically on what they stand for, which includes, certainly, their moral values or the way they approach things." That says to me that the kinds of values that a person has in this province when he probably holds the highest office in the province can influence the kinds of things that go on in schools to the point where they can encroach on the professional autonomy of teachers to determine the kind of techniques and methods they employ in the classroom.
Question 14 of 20 questions: what role will principals play in collective bargaining after this legislation is implemented? Will they play a neutral role? Will they be busy bargaining for themselves? No. Under this legislation principals and vice-principals will be given the responsibility to assist boards in all disputes between the board and the teachers, and also in collective bargaining. What kind of climate is that going to set up between principal teachers and their teacher colleagues, when they are on separate sides of the bargaining table?
Question 15: how do boards bargain with their administrators? We don't know, Mr. Speaker. This has not been defined in the legislation.
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Question 16, regarding the minister's first appointment of 15 members to the council, where it suggests that he will consult with the BCTF. Perhaps the question would be: what kind of consultation will that be? Is it the kind of consultation where a brief is accepted and basically ignored, as we've seen in the past many, many times? And if the minister appoints those first 15 members to the council and we have subsequent elections, has it escaped the members here that incumbents in elections have an advantage? Certainly the government side of the House must appreciate that.
Question 17, with regard to eligible voters for the college: do the government members think that the number of eligible voters in the west Kootenay and the north zones compares favourably to those in, say, the Vancouver and Fraser Valley zones? Well, the answer to that one is that there are three to four times as many eligible voters in the Vancouver and Fraser Valley zones as in the other two zones that I mentioned; something like 2,500 to 3,000 in Vancouver, to 800 in the west Kootenays. Again we see a kind of gerrymandering that we've become familiar with in this province.
Three more questions to go. Question 18: when will those elections be held? We don't know. We know they will take place in 1988.
Question 19: how many elections in the next 11 years will be held on weekends? Well, I believe it's two, and we don't know the form in which those elections will take place. Certainly if they're on weekdays it's going to be quite different than if they're on weekends.
Question 20, regarding an appeal of a decision of the discipline committee: on what grounds will an appeal be granted on a decision of the discipline committee of the council of the College of Teachers? The answer is: only on very limited grounds. Only on legal technicalities, on procedure, can there be any appeal of those decisions; certainly not on the professional judgment of the members of that college. I think that's a shame and is a denial of due process for teachers when that happens.
My point of the quiz, I don't know how members present did. . . .
MR. JONES: You flunked?
HON. MR. BRUMMET: If you'd read the bill you wouldn't have had to ask the questions.
MR. JONES: Obviously the minister did well on the quiz. I would expect the minister to do well on the quiz, and I think the minister does have a good understanding of the bill. However, the people who are going to be influenced most by this bill are not the Minister of Education. It's going to be the members of the education community and the students and public in this province, and they need more time to get to the kind of understanding that the minister already has. They need the six months that's being suggested in this hoist motion.
As I mentioned, I have had some occasion in the last few days to review the comments of various members of the government side. I'd like to pick out one — actually it was on a previous debate — that I consider the most audacious statement of this session; I think it has to be. It's from a friend of mine, my colleague from Burnaby–Edmonds (Mr. Mercier), who I used to play basketball against and who on a personal level I have respect for. However, I think the comment that he made a couple of weeks ago regarding teachers certainly has to go on record as the most audacious statement made in this House in this session. He said: "I would like to take a few minutes to talk about the teachers, because I have" — and I believe the member is a chartered accountant — "some . . . ideas for them. It's time they used their imagination . . . . I think I could accept that statement if he suggested something like: "It's time they used their imagination more." What he's saying is that teachers are not imaginative, and he's also saying they are not creative.
[Mrs. Gran in the chair.]
He goes on to say: "They have never had a greater chance to be innovative. On the positive side, teachers will have the freedom to be the masters of their own destiny." And here's the part that I think has to go down in this session as being a real travesty toward a group of people who should be held in high esteem by our society. The member for Burnaby–Edmonds says: "There is a great opportunity for the 90 percent of the teachers who are dedicated and effective to deal with the other 10 percent who drag down their overall performance." I guess that at the time the member made that statement he had a good understanding of the motivation of this bill and he saw one in ten teachers of this province — 10 percent of the teachers — as being incompetent. I wonder if the teachers in this province who would have heard that statement would be looking around and trying to find the one in ten amongst their colleagues who should not be there. I think this is an outrageous statement, Madam Speaker, but it also is very revealing as to the government agenda as far as this legislation goes.
Madam Speaker, I wanted at this point also to reflect on some comments that you made, and I don't know quite how to address you: as the first member for Langley or as the Speaker. However, I will . . . .
AN HON. MEMBER: Don't attack the Chair.
MR. JONES: I would never attack the Chair.
The first member for Langley is a member who I think has the respect of both sides of this House and who is a very capable and compassionate member of the Legislature, and whereas the member for Burnaby–Edmonds had the most audacious statement of this session, the first member for Langley, Madam Speaker, probably had the most honest statement when she said: "The reason for debating this bill is to get a few people in the BCTF."
MR. S.D. SMITH: Did she really say that?
MR. JONES: Well, I could look it up right now, but it's very close to that. Certainly the section on the reason for. . . . She said that the reason for debating the bill had to do with a few people in the BCTF. In other words, Madam Speaker, in order to deal with a few people in the BCTF whom she wants to deal with, we're going to get at 30,000 and disrupt our school system in the process.
So I think the member for Burnaby–Edmonds and the first member for Langley reveal the true intentions behind this legislation. They are petty and they are vindictive, and it's not worthy of this Legislature to put forward legislation like that — and that's a good reason to hoist this legislation.
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I mentioned, Madam Speaker, that the first member for Langley is held in high esteem by both sides, but that member went down in my estimation during this debate when she did the following: she drew out six-year-old minutes and quoted from those minutes and spent a considerable amount of time doing so, and suggested that these minutes were from a committee of the B.C. Teachers' Federation. The minutes from which she quoted undeniably had no formal connection with the B.C. Teachers' Federation and were not representative in any way of that body. I know the member did not intentionally mislead the House in doing so, but I think it was a gross error in judgment on that member's part to construe that those remarks in any way reflected the interests of the B.C. Teachers' Federation. It was a serious error in judgment.
The second member for Langley (Mr. Peterson) mentioned how great the school board in Langley was, and he's probably right. Does that member know that the school board in Langley supports this hoist motion, as do a number of other boards in this province? He also mentioned, as I referred to a minute ago, that there is appeal to the courts. Yes, but there's no appeal on the merits of the case, only on legal technicalities and process.
The Attorney-General (Hon. B.R. Smith) had a lot of interesting statements, as he should as a former Minister of Education — a minister for whom I had considerable respect when he was Minister of Education. He mentioned the tour he went on. I followed him a little bit on that tour, and I was quite impressed with his pace and the hard effort he made. In fact, I made a presentation to him at that time, and followed him to his next session. He had no time for dinner in between those two sessions. I think his dinner consisted of a bag of peanuts. However, as is often the case with education in this province, that review process resulted in nothing. I've never seen the results of my presentation and other presentations. Unfortunately, we lost that minister, and we've had a series of ministers since.
I noticed that in his remarks that minister didn't mention the current president of the B.C. Teachers' Federation, perhaps because he knows that person. I believe they're from the same constituency, and I'm sure he holds the current president of the B.C. Teachers' Federation in high esteem. He mentioned some from a few years back whom he held in less esteem, and whom perhaps he knew in his role as minister.
He mentioned the "Let's Talk About Schools" report in his comments on the hoist motion. It's interesting to quote from that report.
MR. JONES: No, the former minister, now the Attorney-General. In his remarks he mentioned the "Let's Talk About Schools" report. But he didn't mention the section which suggested that 80 percent of the professionals and a majority of the public preferred that principals belong to the same employee bargaining unit as the teachers. The Attorney-General also suggested that there was "not one objection on that side of the House" — referring to this side of the House — "that I can explain to anyone in the real world." Now what does that mean — "the real world"? Well, I guess that means that those people involved in education see the world through one set of eyes, and the Attorney-General and his friends see the world through a different set of eyes; and perhaps that's reasonable.
I recall that not that long ago a member of this Legislature was accused of not having a real job because he was a teacher. I woke up one morning to a radio announcer who said that there had been some kefuffle in the Legislature, and the comment was: "Well, I don't know the pugilistic abilities of Mr. Reid, but I do know that Mr. MacWilliam has a black belt in karate." It seemed to me that those kinds of comments, suggesting that teaching is not a real job or that teachers aren't part of the real world, are really the kinds of comments we don't need to hear in this House.
AN HON. MEMBER: Did Mr. MacWilliam perhaps take the comment out of context?
MR. JONES: I wasn't here at the time. Perhaps. . . .
DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. member, could I just remind you that we don't address members of the House by their names.
MR. JONES: Thank you very much, Madam Speaker. I hope Hansard will correct me. It will be the member for Surrey–White Rock–Cloverdale or the Minister of Tourism rather than Mr. Reid. I'm sure that Mr. MacWilliam's name can be used, as Mr. MacWilliam is no longer a member of the Legislature.
Let me suggest to the Attorney-General one kind of argument that he can perhaps understand. Let's just take the current situation in which the teaching profession has a difficult job of both defending its members and disciplining them. But so does the legal profession, because the legal profession both prosecutes people and provides legal aid for them at the same time. There seems to be a contradiction there, but I'm sure the Attorney-General has no problem with that, although I believe he has cut back the funds in that regard.
The Attorney-General also said, in challenging the teachers on the college: "Why don't they run with this legislation and have the best college in Canada?" In fact, they won't really have the best or the worst; they'll virtually have the only college of this kind in Canada. He also commented on the work stoppage and implied considerable mistrust of the BCTF and its processes in terms of voting and that king of thing. Were the Attorney-General here today, I would like to ask him for his evidence, as a lawyer, for that kind of mistrust. The evidence in terms of the number of people who voted in those votes is probably best reflected in the number of people who attended the session at the Memorial Arena the other day. There were over 2,000 members in evidence on that day, and certainly if they had voted one way, they wouldn't have appeared at the Memorial Arena to take a different position.
The Attorney-General also said that the Sullivan commission can monitor this bill. Why not have the Sullivan commission . . . ? Mr. Sullivan and the Attorney-General, I'm sure, know each other well, and he could help Mr. Sullivan with this. Instead of monitoring the bill, give him the task of determining public opinion on this bill and suggesting ways to improve it, to make it the kind of bill that would work in British Columbia instead of the kind of bill that will bring division.
The Attorney-General and the member for South Peace River (Mr. Weisgerber) also suggested that principals and
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vice-principals are in an invidious position during work stoppages. I would like to ask those members whether they also consider it invidious to take away the kind of job security that the members of the teaching profession have enjoyed for many years.
The Attorney-General also suggested that principals are very happy with this bill. Well, I would like to quote a letter sent to me which was a copy of the text of a telegram sent to the Education minister supporting the position of the Vancouver School Board, the Vancouver Elementary School Teachers' Association and the Vancouver Secondary Teachers' Association. It's from the Vancouver School Administrators' Association. The Attorney-General is suggesting that principals and vice-principals are very happy with this bill; I am suggesting evidence to the contrary. It's from the president of that organization, and it says:
"The Vancouver School Administrators' Association, which is composed of elementary and secondary school administrators and school board coordinators, expresses its agreement with the motion passed by the Vancouver School Board, April 13, 1987, regarding a request to delay the passage of Bills 19 and 20 pending full discussion by all affected parties, and notice of this agreement is forwarded to the Hon. A. J. Brummet, Minister of Education, immediately."
It hardly sounds to me like administrators are very happy with Bill 20.
The member for South Peace River, in his remarks on the hoist motion, was very helpful, because he defined for me the meaning of the word "consultation." According to that member, who was describing the consultation of the Minister of Labour (Hon. L. Hanson) . . . . He suggests that the Minister of Labour went around the province receiving briefs and that he consulted with the Minister of Education; of course the Minister of Education is a past teacher, a past principal and a member of the teaching profession. I suppose, if you receive briefs and you talk to one of your fellow ministers, then that's consultation. That's very helpful, because I was wondering what members opposite were thinking when they talked about consultation all this time.
That same member talked about graduation activities being threatened in this province. That one bothered me a little bit, because I consider that kind of comment to be really fear-mongering. Graduation is a very important activity that we all care about. I don't know whether teachers have been asked whether they would make an exception in their current campaign as far as graduation activities go, because the kind of consultation that same minister describes . . . . I doubt that those kinds of discussions took place.
It is my hope that the consultations that the minister is promoting now and has engaged in with the B.C. School Trustees' Association and the B.C. Teachers' Federation are successful, so there will be no need for any of this kind of action. That action is some months away, and hopefully the current situation will be resolved and the climate will return to normal in our schools. I think we all want that. So any comments about graduation are premature, and they are preying on the fears of the public.
MR. JONES: No, I think the minister should do that. I'm sorry the second member for Richmond (Mr. Loenen) is not here. He described the removal of principals and vice-principals from the bargaining unit as not unusual, as common practice, and as built on historical precedent. I don't know what school systems that member has been looking at, but certainly he hasn't been looking at any in Canada other than Quebec.
That member also says that other jurisdictions are going to look at this and are going to emulate us. Well, Madam Speaker, other jurisdictions are looking at this legislation, and I can guarantee you that they are not going to emulate this system.
AN HON. MEMBER: How can you guarantee that?
MR. JONES: 1 will try and prove that point in a few minutes.
The first member for Vancouver–Point Grey (Ms. Campbell), unlike her school board, which was in favour of delaying this legislation, makes a good argument in favour of delay when she says that many members do not understand this bill. I think she is right. That member is a good MLA, and she has offered to go out to her constituents and explain the bill. I think she has a good grasp of the bill herself. That member should do that for the next six months, and then we will have good understanding of this legislation, at least in that riding.
She makes an analogy with the situation in the nursing profession. Certainly the nurses did choose something that helped serve as a model for this legislation, and that is the relationship between the Registered Nurses' Association of British Columbia and the B.C. Nurses' Union. The fundamental difference between that situation and the situation that we are facing right now is that those nurses didn't get legislation rammed down their throats. Those nurses chose that legislation, and if you talk to any nurses in this province, you will find that there is considerable friction between those two bodies.
The same member suggests that Bill 20 will provide an opportunity for teachers who care deeply about professional concerns to get active and give their expertise and experience to the profession as a whole. I don't see any interpretation of that comment other than as an insult to the teaching profession. To suggest the teachers don't care deeply about professional concerns, that they are not active in giving their expertise and experience to the profession as a whole, is an insult. It is something that is tremendously misunderstood in this province. I don't mean to stand here and be an apologist for the B.C. Teachers' Federation, but when teachers and their organization are under such attack, they need an advocate in this House. It is misunderstood, Madam Speaker, that so much of the work of that organization is the kind of work that we all would support, regardless of political persuasion, and much of that work is exactly the kind of thing that the first member for Vancouver–Point Grey is suggesting will happen under this bill.
It is happening right now. It doesn't make the headlines. But we know the real world isn't the headlines out there. The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of the budget of the organization that is under such attack is spent on exactly this kind of activity. I tried to outline that in introducing the bill from this side of the House.
I liked the honesty of the member in saying that the BCTF is having its ox gored. I think that is exactly what is happening, and it is the kind of honesty that the first member for Langley (Mrs. Gran) brought to this debate.
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I am surprised at the next comment that that first member for Vancouver–Point Grey made, because she suggested she has some understanding of the Ontario Teachers' Federation. She suggested that the Ontario Teachers' Federation has very little professional power. She suggests that it's confined to the right to develop a code of ethics. As a matter of fact, Madam Speaker, the Ontario Teachers' Federation is established by a provincial statute, the Teaching Profession Act, which includes the object of promoting and advancing the interests of teachers, to secure conditions that will make possible the best professional service. The Teaching Profession Act specifies that every teacher is a member of the federation. The act also provides that the board of governors of the Ontario Teachers' Federation may make regulations, prescribing a code of ethics providing for the suspension and expulsion of members from the federation, and other disciplinary measures. That hardly sounds to me like limiting the professional power of that organization. I don't know where the member got her information, and I don't think she was deliberately misleading the House, but she was certainly misinforming the House with that statement.
The second member for Cariboo (Mr. Vant) had some interesting comments. He said: "There are some teachers, believe it or not, who are for the children." Again, what we see in these comments is the kind of attitude that is coming from the government's side with regard to the teaching profession. I don't understand it. Certainly teachers are no better or no worse than anybody else in this province. The kind of statement that suggests that there are some who are for the children implies there are many who are not for the children and don't care about their jobs; that is a shocking insult to teachers. It's the kind of thinking that went into this legislation.
He goes on to say: "Some are short-sighted, looking primarily for their own interests." Again, it's an attitude that I don't accept. And I don't think you can believe this member's statements when he says things like: "Manitoba is a communist state." It's unbelievable that a member in this House would say that kind of thing. I'd be happy to debate with that member the relative degrees of fascism in British Columbia versus communism in Manitoba.
The point he was trying to make with respect to Manitoba is that Manitoba teachers do not have the right to strike. He's correct in that. However, I'm sure that British Columbia teachers would look very favourably upon the situation that Manitoba has. If the member is thinking that the legislation offered here is better than in Manitoba, I'd suggest that he talk to the minister and persuade the minister to offer Manitoba's legislation.
Manitoba teachers bargain under sections of the Public Schools Act, which provides a full scope of bargaining but has a compulsory arbitration mechanism as their dispute resolution mechanism. The Public Schools Act specifies that local societies of the Manitoba Teachers' Society shall be the bargaining agents. The Manitoba Teachers' Society is established by a provincial statute, the Teachers' Society Act. The objects set out in the statute include advancement and safeguarding of the interests of the teaching profession and of teachers. The act specifies that every person having a certificate of qualification, and employed to teach in a public school in the province, is a member of the society. The Teachers' Society Act further provides that the provincial executive may investigate complaints regarding the professional conduct of any member, and subsequent to an investigation may make such recommendations as it may see fit to the Minister of Education. That would have been a good model for the kind of legislation that this government wanted to foist on teachers in this province. I think they would have bought that.
The member also described a situation where he went to the annual general meeting of his local teachers' association, and there were representatives of other political parties there, and he was the only one that received an ovation at that meeting. Well, I happened to phone a friend of mine from that district who was at the same meeting, and his version of the story was quite different, so I can only see that the member who talks about a communist state in Manitoba and the right to strike not being in Manitoba, but misses all the rest of the valuable legislation that those teachers operate under, would say a thing like that and show that kind of selective perception.
That same member also implies a lower mainland bias to the current structure of the B.C. Teachers' Federation, certainly playing on a prejudice that exists in this House about anti lower mainland thinking. However, that member should know that only one of the last ten presidents of the B.C. Teachers' Federation has been from the lower mainland, and that the makeup of the current executive of that organization accurately reflects the population of this province.
The first member for Okanagan South (Mr. Serwa), who is a regular attender of this House and, I think, a very reasonable person, made some comments on the hoist motion that . . . . I question how reasonable he really is. He quotes from a letter that speaks of compulsion, and I assume from that that he means there was compulsion in the vote that teachers took to have their protest action, there was compulsion in their one-day protest action, work stoppage, strike or study session — whatever that side of the House chooses to call it — and there's compulsion to have teachers take actions that they don't really believe in and don't really wish to pursue.
What that tells me is that that member thinks the teachers of this province — or the majority of them, anyway — are spineless, and they're a bunch of sheep, and they don't do what they believe in, and they're easily coerced. I don't believe that's the case, and I don't think there's any evidence that that's the case. I think the greatest example of peer pressure that I've seen lately is the virtual unanimity of the members opposite in jumping into line in support of this legislation — which I'm sure the Premier appreciates, but I'm amazed that it's so unanimously supported by the members opposite.
That same member, whom I believe is a reasonable person, also made the statement, in regard to the legislation and the submissions that the B.C. Teachers' Federation made . . . . He suggests that every aspect requested by the teachers was attended to, and in a manner that they requested. I don't think anybody requested a separation of principals and vice-principals. I don't think anybody requested a college. I don't think anybody requested an end to the Labour Code or an end to the Essential Service Disputes Act. None of those things was requested, and certainly the manner and form in which this legislation has ended up was not requested.
That same first member for Okanagan South also took exception to Elsie McMurphy's suggestion that the Socred government was "Mickey Mouse."
[ Page 906 ]
AN HON. MEMBER: Is that how you kill two hours — take one quote out of each member's speech and talk about it for a while?
MR. JONES: I think the attitude of this government reflected in these comments by members is worth noting, and it should be on the record that these comments by the members are highlighted.
As I was suggesting, the first member for Okanagan South took objection to the president of the BCTF suggesting that the Socred government was "Mickey Mouse." I can understand the members' feelings in that. However, I think the government has to be above . . . . Certainly the government, with its power, has to be above the pettiness and vindictiveness that would take that kind of comment to heart and be offended by it. Certainly as politicians we have to be able to take a little bit of heat, and as a government you have to be able to take a lot of heat. I consider this to be a very minor thing, and to make it part of your speech in the Legislature of British Columbia blows it way out of proportion. I can understand your not appreciating it, but you're a member, you're a politician. You can handle it and your government can handle it. You don't have to come down with the hammer of Thor to get even with groups that make those kinds of comments.
MR. WEISGERBER: Two hours of sharp, constructive criticism.
MR. JONES: I appreciate your listening and that you are appreciating that it is constructive and it is criticism.
The member for Columbia River (Mr. Crandall) was here a minute ago. I'm interested in some of his remarks too, because he had a concern regarding the costs of this sitting during the hoist motion. I can understand that member's concern and that argument. However, I'm sure that member supports the fact that this House is governed by rules and that those rules are developed in the best interests of all British Columbians. It is providing an opportunity for us to behave in a democracy, to expose to the light of day the concerns of both sides of this House.
I am sure there are things that I don't like. I don't like existing under the shortest question period in Canada, but those are the rules, and I accept them, even when the member for Kamloops has loaded questions for the Minister of Education. I accept that. I also accept the fact that many government members eat the clock during question period. I accept those rules. The members opposite don't like a hoist motion, but certainly it's a part of this Legislature's operating rules, and it's there in the best interests of good government. So I don't think all the whining and complaining about the hoist motion is very constructive at all.
That member also suggested that this was not a very constructive debate because the media weren't present. Well, I don't think we're here to debate for the media's sake. I think our concern here in this hoist motion is to try to persuade you that this is bad legislation and needs a thorough review; it needs a six-month delay.
AN HON. MEMBER: Well, it is a thermometer of the value or quality of debate.
MR. JONES: Well, I think that if we measured the quality of debate in this House by the number of members of the press who are present, none of us would show up.
The first member for Okanagan South suggested that the BCTF has control over principals. The Minister of Education is here, and perhaps you could ask him: when he was a principal, did the BCTF coerce him in any way to do anything he felt was unprofessional or improper in his role as a principal? I'm sure, knowing the Minister of Education, that he wouldn't be railroaded by anybody, and I don't think any principal in this province would.
Madam Speaker, there was another statement from the first member for Okanagan South, and it's one that strong objection was taken to today. That was the comment that this kind of dialogue we're having is encouraging lawbreaking. I don't think that's the kind of comment we should be making in the House, particularly coming from a member who I think is a very reasonable member.
[Mr. Speaker in the chair.]
That member also exposed his view that the BCTF speaks for a minority with a common political aim. I think that if that member understood the democratic nature of the B.C. Teachers' Federation, he would be reassured that everybody has an equal chance to participate equally in that organization, and that nobody, no matter what political aim they might have, has an advantage in that organization.
The second member for Boundary–Similkameen (Mr. Messmer), who I think must be mesmerized by his leader — at least, unlike our House Leader, I wouldn't say that he has a "Couvelier" attitude — suggested that the education audit, which was a post-restraint booklet put out by the B.C. Teachers' Federation, contains criticisms that suggest that teachers are an incompetent, overpaid and overindulged elite that needs to be put in its place. I think the member had some difficulty with this one, because at one point he suggested that it's untrue, and then later that it's true. I think he really has to make up his mind whether or not he thinks teachers are an incompetent, overpaid, overindulged elite.
That member also quoted NDP policy from a 1966 convention. I'm pleased that member is interested in our policy. I suppose it makes better reading than his party's policy, if it does have policy. I don't know whether or not the Social Credit Party has policy that it publishes. But he says the NDP supported the establishment of a college, and he quotes correctly: that a B.C. College of Teachers be established "in consultation with B.C. universities, the B.C. School Trustees' Association and the B.C. Teachers' Federation . . . the New Democratic government will establish a B.C. College of Teachers whose responsibility it shall be to supervise the certification of B.C. teachers." Well, Mr. Speaker, I don't think the B.C. Teachers' Federation, the B.C. School Trustees' Association or the B.C. universities would oppose that. And if that's what the members opposite would like to see the college do, I don't think there'd be any problem in this province, and we could get back to some peace and harmony. I suggest that if that's the thinking of the government, then they should withdraw this bill and put forward one which suggests that the college supervise certification of B.C. teachers, because that was what was being proposed in 1966.
The second member for Dewdney (Mr. Jacobsen), who I think is also a thoughtful member, had some interesting
[ Page 907 ]
comments. Attributing some to me, he said: "I could hardly believe that there's a suggestion on the part of anyone in this House that the only issues that matter to education are the questions of teachers' working conditions and salaries; that that would be the paramount issue facing education in this province." I don't know how that could be attributed to me. Certainly this bill does not deal specifically with working conditions and salaries. I tried to emphasize in my remarks the tremendous impact that this legislation is going to have on teacher-teacher relationships, teacher-principal relationships, professional development, certification and discipline of teachers. The member said he listened carefully to my remarks, but I think he misconstrues what I was concerned about in my remarks. He does me a disservice.
In winding up this debate I thought it would be fruitful to go over a few of the remarks and have illustrated for the record, putting them together, some of the thinking of members on the government side and some of their very negative attitudes towards teachers and the teaching profession, to help explain the motivation behind this legislation.
I mentioned earlier about school boards in this province and the many school boards that support our hoist motion. As we know, school boards are unique bodies. They're political bodies, but they're not political like the Legislature. I don't think people on school boards are quite so caught up in the politics of we-they and bad guys-good guys. What we would see would be voting patterns that would not be all that consistent in terms of people voting together in blocks. Yet these groups are democratically elected. They represent the people in their communities, specifically on the issues that we're dealing with in this bill. They're worth listening to. I think those people do speak on behalf of the public in terms of education.
Let me quote what a few of these boards think about this legislation and how that thinking supports the hoist motion. I know that the Minister of Education would be interested in what the Stikine board thinks.
"In view of the following information: that Barry Sullivan has been appointed to head up a Royal Commission on Education; that budget submissions were made by March 15, 1987, and Bill 19 phases out the CSP effective October 1, 1987, with increments removed immediately; the lack of direct consultation with both parties directly involved in the system; and the speed with which Bills 19 and 20 are being forced through the Legislature;
"And whereas the passage of Bills 19 and 20 will have a dramatic and serious effect on board, teacher and community relations, the quality of education in our schools and on the future of education in the province of British Columbia;
"Therefore the Board of School Trustees for School District 87 . . . urge the government of British Columbia to withhold passage of Bills 19 and 20 until all parties have had an opportunity for discussion and input."
Mr. Speaker, I'm sure the members for Vancouver South, Vancouver–Point Grey and Vancouver–Little Mountain would be interested in the Vancouver School Board's position, which is very similar. They passed a motion suggesting that the government slow down and provide for full consultation and input. There was one dissenting vote on that motion. I think the makeup of the Vancouver School Board would be generally supportive of government positions, but perhaps on education this government is even out of touch with its supporters.
The member for Shuswap–Revelstoke (Hon. Mr. Michael) would be interested in the fact that that board suggests the government of B.C. delay submission of Bill 20 to the Legislature and set up a process to allow thorough discussion of the bill.
A groundswell of support is happening across this province in that we need to delay passing of this legislation. The Prince George members would be interested to know the board of trustees of School District 57 "respectfully request the government of British Columbia to delay passage of Bill 20, the Teaching Profession Act, until those parties most affected by the proposed legislation have been afforded an opportunity to provide input."
The member for North Vancouver–Capilano (Mr. Ree) and the Speaker would also be interested in what the North Vancouver board said. They're urging the Premier and the Education minister to consult with all parties prior to passage of Bills 19 and 20.
The members for Okanagan North, Shuswap–Revelstoke and Boundary–Similkameen would be interested in what the Vernon School Board is suggesting we do in terms of this bill. They are urging the government to withhold passage of Bills 19 and 20 until all parties have had an opportunity for discussion and input. This was sent to the Premier and the Education minister. That minister will be most interested in the position of Peace River North. They are asking for consultation and delay of passage.
MR. JONES: Cancellation would be nice.
The member for Surrey–Newton (Hon. Mrs. Johnston) and the member for Surrey–White Rock–Cloverdale (Hon. Mr. Reid) would be interested in Surrey's board and their position to delay passage of Bills 19 and 20 until consultation with all interested parties has taken place. Delta members would be interested to know that their board supports the hoist motion, supports consultation with all parties to delay passage of the bills.
The member for West Vancouver–Howe Sound (Hon. Mr. Reynolds) would be interested to know that the West Vancouver–Howe Sound board has sent a letter to the government urging delay. The Sooke board is urging delay of the legislation. The member for Mackenzie (Mr. Long) and the member for West Vancouver–Howe Sound would be interested to know that the Sunshine Coast board urges the same kind of thing: withhold passage of Bills 19 and 20 until all parties have had an opportunity for consultation. It goes on and on, and there are some 25 to 30 boards.
MR. JONES: Certainly the second member for Kamloops (Mr. S.D. Smith) notes that that's not a majority of boards. A majority of boards have not taken any position on this legislation. Those that have taken a position, to my knowledge, have supported the hoist motion.
MR. JONES: Let's just assume that they don't have a position.
[ Page 908 ]
Mr. Speaker, the other reason that I think we should delay consideration of this legislation is that it is so out of touch with other similar legislation in any province in Canada that we see almost complete consistency with respect to organizational structures and collective bargaining rights of teachers in every other province. In no other province do we see a separation of the professional role and the economic development role of teachers' organizations.
These organizations have had full collective bargaining rights for years, including principals, which this legislation removes. Mr. Speaker, considering the Canadian context, this legislation should not go ahead. There is no need for separation in this way. There is no need for British Columbia to be so different from any other province.
Mr. Speaker, in all but one province in Canada, we are out of touch — with every other one except Quebec. In every other province, principals and vice-principals belong to the same bargaining units as do their teachers. There is no reason for B.C. to be different. I think if we looked at this legislation in the Canadian context, and we should take six months to do that, we would reconsider and redraft this legislation.
I think if we could speak to other teachers' organizations across Canada, they would support this hoist motion. Certainly the Premier and the Minister of Education have heard from those organizations. This is a telegram from the Alberta Teachers' Association sent on April 6 to Mr. Vander Zalm and Mr. Brummet, the Premier and the Minister of Education, from Alberta, suggesting that:
TEACHERS OF ALBERTA ARE SHOCKED AND OUTRAGED AT BOTH CONTENT AND PROCESS OF BILL 20. WE DEMAND IT BE WITHDRAWN. CONSULTATION WITH TEACHERS THROUGH BCTF MUST PRECEDE ANY LEGISLATION AFFECTING THEM. OUR 465-MEMBER REPRESENTATIVE ASSEMBLY ON SATURDAY AFFIRMED THE RIGHT OF OCCUPATIONAL GROUPS TO CHOOSE THEIR OWN ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURES. WE CALL ON YOUR GOVERNMENT TO RESPECT THIS RIGHT. FURTHER, THE PROPOSED DENIAL OF NATURAL JUSTICE TO TEACHERS HOLDING ADMINISTRATIVE DESIGNATIONS IS AN ACTION ABHORRENT TO CANADIAN DEMOCRATIC VALUES. YOUR GOVERNMENT MUST WITHDRAW THESE PROPOSALS IN THE NAME OF JUSTICE, COMMON SENSE AND GOOD EDUCATION OF THE STUDENTS IN YOUR SCHOOLS.
The Provincial Association of Protestant Teachers of Quebec sent a similar telegram on April 7, with copies to the Premier and the Minister of Education, saying:
THE 6, 000 MEMBERS OF THE PROVINCIAL ASSOCIATION OF PROTESTANT TEACHERS ARE DISMAYED AND DISTRESSED AT THE INTRODUCTION OF BILLS 19 AND 20 BY YOUR GOVERNMENT. THESE BILLS ATTACK THE RIGHT OF TEACHERS AND PRINCIPALS TO ORGANIZE AS THEY SEE FIT. THE PROPOSED LEGISLATION TO SEPARATE THE PROFESSIONAL AND ECONOMIC INTERESTS OF B.C. TEACHERS THROUGH THE CREATION OF A COLLEGE OF TEACHERS IS ALSO A RETROGRADE STEP. BILLS 19 AND 20 SHOULD BE WITHDRAWN IMMEDIATELY.
The Ontario public school teachers sent the following to the Premier and the Education minister:
THE ONTARIO PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHERS' FEDERATION DEPLORES THE AUTHORITARIAN UNDERMINING OF THE TEACHING PROFESSION IN BRITISH COLUMBIA. THE LACK OF CONSULTATION ON THE COLLEGE OF TEACHERS, THE SEPARATION OF PRINCIPALS AND VICE-PRINCIPALS, AND THE ELIMINATION OF MANDATORY MEMBERSHIP IS REGRESSIVE LEGISLATION. I URGE YOUR GOVERNMENT TO WITHDRAW THESE DRACONIAN MEASURES AND RETURN TO A SYSTEM WHERE TEACHERS ARE ENSURED FAIRNESS AND HAVE LONG-ESTABLISHED RIGHTS GUARANTEED.
The Canadian Teachers' Federation sent a similar telegram:
LEGISLATION IMPOSED UNILATERALLY UPON TEACHERS WITHOUT CONSULTATION AND WITHOUT THEIR CONCURRENCE INVARIABLY CAUSES HAVOC WITHIN THE EDUCATION SYSTEM. ON BEHALF OF THE 220,000 TEACHERS FROM EVERY PROVINCE AND TERRITORY IN CANADA, I URGE YOU TO SUSPEND FURTHUR ACTION ON BILL 19 AND BILL 20 TO ALLOW FOR FULL CONSULTATION WITH AND INVOLVEMENT OF THE BRITISH COLUMBIA TEACHERS' FEDERATION.
From the Newfoundland Teachers' Association, similarly:
THE 8,500 TEACHERS OF NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR, AS MEMBERS OF THE NEWFOUNDLAND TEACHERS' ASSOCIATION, PROTEST IN THE STRONGEST POSSIBLE TERMS BILL 20, AS INTRODUCED BY YOUR ADMINISTRATION RESPECTING THE TEACHERS OF B.C. IT IS A TOTAL MISUSE OF THE DEMOCRATIC PROCESS WHEN A GOVERNMENT UTILIZES ITS POWER OF MAJORITY TO SUBVERT THE STRENGTH OF EXISTING ORGANIZATIONS WHOSE VIEWS MAY NOT BE CONSISTENT WITH THOSE OF THE PARTY IN POWER. WE CALL UPON YOUR GOVERNMENT TO POSTPONE CONSIDERATION OF BILL 19, AND PARTICULARLY BILL 20, AND TO INITIATE IMMEDIATE CONSULTATION WITH BCTF REPRESENTATIVES REGARDING MATTERS CURRENTLY BEING ADDRESSED BY THE LEGISLATION PROPOSAL. MR. PREMIER, THIS REFLECTION OF YOUR ADMINISTRATION'S VISION OF FREEDOM IS NOT ONE THAT SHOULD BE EVIDENT IN A DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY AND CERTAINLY NOT IN ONE OF THE PROVINCES OF OUR SHARED COUNTRY.
THE TEACHERS OF SASKATCHEWAN ARE SHOCKED BY THE RECENT LEGISLATION INTRODUCED BY THE GOVERNMENT OF BRITISH COLUMBIA, WHICH ATTEMPTS TO DESTROY THE EXISTING PROVINCIAL TEACHER ORGANIZATION. THIS KIND OF ACTION WITHOUT DISCUSSION AND CONSULTATION WITH THE TEACHERS OF THE PROVINCE IS UNPRECEDENTED IN OUR DEMOCRATIC COUNTRY. AS PROFESSIONAL COLLEAGUES OF THE TEACHERS OF BRITISH COLUMBIA, THE TEACHERS OF SASKATCHEWAN CALL UPON YOUR GOVERNMENT TO WITHDRAW BILLS 19 AND 20 AND EMBARK ON A FAIR AND RESPECTFUL APPROACH TO PROBLEM-SOLVING.
ON BEHALF OF THE MANITOBA TEACHERS' SOCIETY AND ITS 12,950 MEMBERS, I WISH TO EXPRESS EXTREME DISPLEASURE WITH YOUR GOVERNMENT'S INTRODUCTION OF BILL 20. TO IMPOSE THE "MEDICAL" STRUCTURAL MODEL ON TEACHERS WHO DEVELOPED THEIR OWN ORGANIZATION MODEL THAT HAS STOOD THE TEST OF TIME FOR OVER 70 YEARS IS AN INSULT. TO LEGISLATE THOSE STRUCTURAL CHANGES WITHOUT CONSULTATION WITH THE BCTF MAKES A MOCKERY OF OUR DEMOCRATIC TRADITIONS. WE ARE INCENSED BY THE GOVERNMENT'S ACTIONS AND URGE YOU TO WITHDRAW BILL 20 IMMEDIATELY.
From the Federation of Women Teachers' Associations of Ontario:
ON BEHALF OF THE 32,000 MEMBERS OF MY ORGANIZATION, I URGE YOU TO RECONSIDER BILLS 19 AND 20 AND TO CONSULT WITH THE AFFECTED GROUPS BEFORE ANY FURTHER ACTION.
From the Ontario Teachers' Federation:
THE ONTARIO TEACHERS' FEDERATION REQUESTS THAT YOU WITHDRAW IMMEDIATELY BILL 19, THE INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS REFORM ACT, AND BILL 20, THE TEACHING PROFESSION ACT. WE ARE APPALLED
[ Page 909 ]
THAT BOTH BILLS WERE DEVELOPED WITHOUT CONSULTATION WITH THE B.C. FEDERATION OF LABOUR AND THE B.C. TEACHERS' FEDERATION. THE MEMBERS OF BOTH FEDERATIONS HAVE AN OBVIOUS DIRECT INTEREST IN THESE SUPPOSEDLY DEMOCRATIC PROPOSALS. IT IS INCOMPREHENSIBLE THAT YOUR GOVERNMENT, WHILE TALKING OF LABOUR PEACE, IS DETERMINED TO PASS LEGISLATION AIMED AT DESTROYING THE WORKERS' REPRESENTATIVE UNIONS AND UNDERMINING THE COLLEGIAL RELATIONSHIP IN SCHOOLS. SUCH DRACONIAN ACTION CAN ONLY INCREASE UNREST, RATHER THAN BRING CONSTRUCTIVE JOINT ACTION TO IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF EDUCATION AND WORKING LIFE IN YOUR PROVINCE.
From the Centrale de l'Enseignement du Quebec — that's Quebec's largest teachers' union, with 100,000 members:
BECAUSE OF THE ATTACKS ON REPRESENTIVITY AND UNION RIGHTS THAT CERTAIN BILLS PROPOSED BY THE GOVERNMENT OF BRITISH COLUMBIA IMPLY, AND BECAUSE IT IS OF INTEREST TO US TO BLOCK ALL PROVINCIAL LEGISLATION WHICH AIMS TO LIMIT OUR ORGANIZATIONS IN THE MANDATE GIVEN THEM BY THEIR MEMBERS, THE GENERAL COUNCIL OF THE CEQ (A) DENOUNCES THE INTENTIONS OF THE GOVERNMENT OF BRITISH COLUMBIA TO ADOPT LEGISLATION CHALLENGING THE REPRESENTATIVE NATURE OF THE BCTF AND ITS CAPACITY TO FULLY EXERCISE ITS RIGHTS AND MANDATE; (B) EXPRESSES TO THE BCTF ITS FULL SUPPORT AND SOLIDARITY IN ITS BATTLE TO PRESERVE ITS RIGHTS TO CARRY OUT ITS MANDATE BOTH IN ITS NEGOTIATION AND PROFESSIONAL ASPECTS; AND (C) GIVES THE NATIONAL OFFICE THE MANDATE TO APPROPRIATE MEASURES OF FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE ACCORDING TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE SITUATION.
Mr. Speaker, I think what we see is that this government has created a national concern. The 220,000 teachers across this country are watching this process very closely. They strongly support the school boards I've mentioned that call for a delay of consideration of this legislation. They support the teachers of this province, who are tired of being singled out for special treatment, special treatment different from other teachers across this country and different from all other professions in this province. I think what we've seen throughout this country is that there have been wise governments of every political persuasion that have found better ways of working with their teachers than this province has.
I think what we need is a respite, a period of peace, a period of calm reflection, a period where we can view this legislation in the Canadian context and in the context of other professions in this province and can get B.C. back on the Canadian map. I think we can find ways. I sincerely think the minister is trying at this point in time, and I wish him all success in finding ways of working with teachers and other parts of the education system in order to develop a better piece of legislation than we've been asked to debate in this House.
[Mr. Pelton in the chair.]
We've talked a great deal about consultation. It was the member for South Peace River (Mr. Weisgerber) who clarified for me what the government's definition of consultation is. I believe that there is a need to delay this legislation to provide time for more consultation.
The other day in the House there was introduced a member of the teaching profession who has been active in that profession for 35 years, a former superintendent of schools in Saskatchewan who has in recent years been a lobbyist for the B.C. Teachers' Federation, Mr. Jim Bowman. Inasmuch as this is his last day on the job, and inasmuch as he with his long experience has something to say on the delay of this legislation which we're considering at this time, I would like to point out some of his comments made recently in an editorial in the BCTF Newsletter of April 9. He said:
"We know that Mr. Hanson, the Minister of Labour, held an exhaustive series of hearings around the province on labour issues, including teachers' bargaining, and in so doing impressed at least this observer with his composure, his good manners and his apparent fairness to all who appeared before him. Having made that excellent start, why didn't the government convene a meeting of stakeholders and have them, with the ministry representing the public interest, hammer out positions that we could all live with in this province, as they did with the early retirement scheme?
"Failing that approach, they could still have brought forward their present bills as prospective legislation for discussion, reaction and change, and we could all have had a merry old time bashing away in meetings and in the media in a very healthy democratic manner. But this approach, 'This is the way we're going to do it, and be damned to you, "' — speaking of the government's approach — "smacks of the kind of treatment that Premier Vander Zalm swore to eradicate when he succeeded Mr. Bennett. What else can we think but that all those meetings were merely camouflage to conceal a government that had already formed its views? "Ambrose Bierce's definition of a plebiscite as 'a popular election to determine the will of the sovereign' comes to mind.
"The stew that teachers are being fed comes from a recipe that, though it may have many recognizable individual tastes on our palates, is really a concoction dominated by Mr. Vander Zalm's trenchant view of principals as management, Mr. Carter's" — formerly deputy minister — "views on splitting teachers into separate professional and bargaining organizations, and Mr. Brummet's scarcely veiled hostility to teacher 'unions' in general and the BCTF in particular. The whole pot has been stirred by far too many cooks who think that labour unions should have little space in their kitchen and intend to see that they are out in the cold, where they also think they have put the BCTF.
"That's where they have made a very major error, in my view. If I can switch metaphors, I have on occasion likened teachers to a redoubtable and much threatened species. We browse separately, although not too far from the herd. We fight among ourselves, of course, at times, and we have our mavericks. We also, for much of the time, don't think much of our collectivity nor of the leaders of our herd. But threaten us, as has now been done, and slow to anger as we are, we will stick our vulnerable ends into the circle and present a very formidable front to those who would try to eliminate us.
"But why should we have to take this kind of action against a government that is ostensibly committed to openness, honesty and consultation? If that commitment is to have any credibility, then the legislation must be hoisted. Peace, harmony and prosperity, which we thought was the mandate that put the
[ Page 910 ]
Premier back in office, are possible to attain, but only through meaningful consultation.
"The government has, by its action on April 2, raised the spectre of 1983 all over again. The Premier would do well to reflect on the words of Santayana: 'He who cannot remember the past is doomed to repeat it."'
Mr. Speaker, the government would do well to ponder the words of Jim Bowman on his day of retirement, reflect on this legislation for a period of six months, and come back after those meaningful consultations that he called for have taken place.
There are so many aspects of this legislation that make it radical legislation, not the least of which is the plan of government to separate principals and vice-principals from their teacher colleagues. In introducing Bill 19, as I mentioned earlier, the Labour minister suggested that this action was a result of proposals from the BCTF annual general meeting. Other members in their comments have suggested that principals have been placed in an invidious position during strike action, and I think that was true. What we've seen in recent years is a very awkward situation, whereby repressive legislation has been brought in that radically affected the teachers of the province, and for the first time in their history they were forced into action that they had very little experience in. That reaction, it appears, has led to more legislation around that reaction, to try to correct the problem that had been originally created by government; and now we see more reaction, and we'll probably have more legislation to cover that reaction and more reaction to that legislation, and on and on.
The invidious position that the members opposite referred to was really covered by the principals and their teachers in a recommendation that was put forward, amended and carried at the last annual general meeting of the B.C. Teachers' Federation. It suggested a mechanism that would operate when these much undesired situations occur — but it seems that with this kind of government they occur more frequently — and that was that in the event of withdrawal of services, the concerns, which I’m sure the minister has, as we all have, about the safety and security of the children and of the school buildings be taken care of, and that it go on for a day or a period of days. That was approved at that annual general meeting, which I think satisfied the major concern, healed part of the major rift between principals and teachers, and obviated the necessity of having this kind of legislation that separates them. They were working out the very same problem that the minister was concerned about, and in a better form.
HON. MR. BRUMMET: What about the work-to-rule?
MR. JONES: If we had not had this kind of legislation, we wouldn't have seen any work-to-rule, so there wouldn't have been any problem. It seems that if there's no Socred action, there's no strike — and no need to separate principals and vice-principals.
Much of what I heard from members opposite was that teachers are not in the real world, and that world is difficult for people not in that realm to understand. One that hasn't understood by the Attorney-General (Hon. B.R. Smith), nor by other members, is the implications of removing principals and vice-principals from the teaching force. That removal will, in my view, create a far less creative and more structured environment in our schools. Principals and teachers who have up to this point worked well as a team will become less collegial and more rule-oriented in their relationships. What we know about effective, creative and humanity-based schools tells us that such relationships and leadership models will stifle growth and creativity. The manager model is only marginally effective in very large schools, and we know that very large schools are often very depersonalized and anonymous situations — not the kind that we want for our school system. In those schools, specialization and programming is the order of the day, and some administrators in those situations are seldom in contact with students. Perhaps in that situation a managerial model could work; but I think that's not the kind of school system that we want to have.
Mr. Speaker, even more serious than the separation of principals and vice-principals, particularly in the short term, is the threat that I think teachers are very concerned about: firing for any reason based on the opinion of, I suppose, a colleague or a school board. That's going to have tremendous implications for teachers and principals and their relationship, because I see a tremendous amount of fear of their supervisor as a result of that. Teachers and principals will be at war with each other. Supervision and collegiality will disappear as abuses of power come to light. Teachers who are threatened with the possibility of dismissal for incompetency, mental incapacity and immorality will no longer feel free to take on leadership roles in their classroom, in their schools or even in their communities. The kind of flexibility and creativity and willingness to try new ideas that I think we all want in our school system will begin to disappear from our schools.
What we'll produce as a result of this kind of legislation will be a safe, factory-like model of instruction, controlled and monitored by the college. We'll develop security-conscious teachers. I think of a phrase that's probably unparliamentary, so I won't use it, and security-conscious is the one I'll substitute. Those teachers will retreat behind what used to be a semblance of security, and I think what we'll lose not only from the schools and from the communities but from the province will be the kinds of teachers who are willing to stand up for principles they believe in.
Certainly my own record has been one where I have subjected myself to public scrutiny as a teacher, as I do here today. I guess part of my willingness to do that was because I felt that my views would be respected in a society, but I know there are communities in this province where my views would not be respected, and if I had less security as a teacher I would be much more reluctant to speak out on behalf of my students or my colleagues or my school system. It appears that professional development under this legislation will be centrally directed, will replace the kind of professional development we've had in the past, replace the school and needs-based models of professional development. Teachers will once again begin to jump hoops rather than working together and deciding the kinds of things that are going to best meet their needs and the needs of their students.
In regard to principals and vice-principals, there was a recent publication by the Minister of Education that I haven't had a chance to read yet. I only received it a few minutes ago. It was a special request of the minister, and I appreciate receiving it. What prompted me to request this document was a letter to the editor in today's Times-Colonist. I think it's a very valuable comment on this legislation, on the problems
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with it that need review and reflection and can be improved on. It is on the relationship between principals and vice-principals in this legislation. This letter in today's Times-Colonist reads:
"A few days ago I received the spring 1987 edition of What's New in Education, a newsletter published by the Ministry of Education and authorized by the minister, Anthony Brummet. It is an informative and generally positive publication.
"One specific article deals with the program effectiveness branch and explains how teachers are able to share their expertise and successes with colleagues in other parts of the province through the school improvement network. In this article there is a very significant paragraph which makes me wonder who was the author of Bill 20. The paragraph reads: 'Research shows that better schools are the result when teachers and administrators work together as a unit toward common goals.'
"Bill 20, now in its second reading, will make administrators into management, giving them the title of administrative officers. It forbids them to belong to the same union or association as their fellow teachers and insists they sign individual contracts with their employers. Bill 20 says they may be required to assist in formulating proposals for collective bargaining and may be dismissed without cause, unlike their fellow teachers.
"When teachers and administrators in the same school are not covered by the same collective agreement and are employed under different regulations, there cannot be unity in decision-making. Each side becomes fearful of the consequences and, in the long run, it is the students who suffer.
"I wish Mr. Brummet had read his own newsletter before introducing Bill 20 to the legislature."
I think the letter focuses on a very critical element of the legislation: a break of tradition in this province between two groups of professionals who have worked side by side as a unit for the entire length of education history in this province. It's a dramatic and radical step, and I think it's a step that begs for a second look.
There are also aspects of the relationship between principals and vice-principals that I think should be mentioned. This bill smacks of educational ineptitude, specifically in relationship to the principal's role and making the principal's job an impossible one. We know that principals in this province have been inspecting teachers for many, many years now. Inspection used to be done by inspectors and later was done by superintendents, but principals now do this inspection. They are at the same time teachers, inspectors and leaders. In schools this is not a contradiction of role and function, where it might be in a factory. The roles and functions have to be different between the factory model and the teaching-learning model. It is not a contradiction that principals do those two roles, because the standards of competence on which they are reliant in terms of determining their professional judgment must come from the profession as a whole.
Judgments of competence in school will be correct only if the judge — the principal, in this case — is a full participant in the professional life of that school. Of course, the principal must also know well the subject matters of curriculum, must know the current best practices in education and so on.
Because Bill 20 excludes principals from membership in teachers' organizations, it separates them from the professional life of their schools by law, and as a result makes it impossible for them to do their job properly.
We should also hoist this bill because there are logical inconsistencies and weaknesses in it. The bill creates a three college subcommittee to look after teacher qualifications, professional development and discipline. Elected teachers from the college council will presumably dominate these committees. The committees are set out to apply standards in all three areas.
But if the college and its committees are to be successful, especially in the long term, they require influence over a number of other things as well. They require influence over working conditions, because the standard of teaching in a school is profoundly affected by the circumstances: by the social background of students, over which they have no control, by the quality of instructional materials, by the nature of the physical plant, and by such things as school staff and morale. They also should have control over teacher salaries and benefits, since the quality of the persons who enter teaching is dependent partly on the remuneration they will receive.
The college has no influence on any of these things — no influence on the working conditions or remuneration. So how can they set uniform standards to apply to such a variety of different circumstances throughout the province? Who keeps the keepers? The standards to be applied by the committees are incredibly complex. The relevant body of law and precedent stretches back to the 1840s in Canada and in the United States and to the 1760s onwards in western Europe. Public opinion and input in deciding these standards is surely important. Where does that public input come from? Bill 20 is silent on the question of whether and how it will take this into account. It will take account of neither the historical, legal or philosophical basis of standards in the teaching profession, nor the rightful claims of the state in such matters, since it's public education we're talking about. Does the college simply invent standards, or does it draw them from past practice? Or does it try them on for size in courts of law after the first few appeals? And who keeps the keepers? What standards do we the public apply to judge the competence of the college? Election by teachers is no guarantee of competence, as we can see from certain members opposite.
MR. JONES: No. I wouldn't do that.
I think, too, that in addition to the fact that there is educational ineptitude and there are logical inconsistencies and weaknesses, there are other reasons for postponing implementation of this legislation. Another reason is that I believe that there are politically motivated objectives, such as centralization and privatization. This bill is a further centralization of control over public education. It is true that the 15 members of the proposed college council are to be elected from various regions of British Columbia, but notice who is excluded from membership: virtually all members of the public, excepting the two cabinet and two ministerial appointees, both of whom will represent central authority.
Thus Bill 20 has two objective: centralization and privatization. Why are these objectives wrong? We must keep in
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mind that the proposed college will decide on teaching standards: who will qualify for certificates, what will count as competent teaching and what will not, and what will go down as professional conduct and misconduct. Since B.C. has a public education system, it's wrong to privatize the setting and the policing of teaching standards. Since teaching standards are so important in the continued good health of, first, B.C.'s democratic process and, second, its economy, the province has always kept firm control of those standards, and it's wrong to give them up. Many British Columbians have wanted to see some decentralization in the application of those standards; for example, local school board autonomy.
There is also much in the way of vague language that needs cleaning up in this legislation: such language as "conduct or competence." The terms "conduct or competence" could mean almost anything, and as a result the potential for a witch-hunt becomes possible. After all, the standards of competence and good conduct are largely within the scope and powers of the discipline committee. Suppose that ten of 15 elected teachers were, for example, determined to suppress an entire teaching methodology. For the sake of argument, let's say they wanted to suppress the inquiry method used in social studies teaching. They need only to decide a few separate discipline cases on that basis and that would be it — that would be the end of that methodology.
The Premier of British Columbia recently announced that he expected principals, along with the ministry, to decide on teaching method. It seems to me to leave no place at all for the college or its discipline committee.
MR. JONES: You could have spoken two hours on the bill, Mr. Minister.
I noticed on the day the bill was brought in that the minister read, and I was quite surprised, because the minister is quite a good extemporaneous speaker. He was very nervously reading that day. Perhaps he just had a rough cabinet meeting. Perhaps he didn't want to see the introduction of Bill 20 at this time, and perhaps he lost another one in cabinet. But he is a good speaker, and he represents that side well and puts up a good defence for those cabinet decisions even when he disagrees with them. I wish the minister had more influence in cabinet; I think we would see better legislation if he did.
There are so many reasons that we need to consider delay of this legislation: its implementation should not take place without a much more thorough consultation process. I'm very pleased at the kind of consultation that's taking place between the B.C. Teachers' Federation, the B.C. School Trustees' Association and the ministry right now. I think that's the kind of consultation that should have taken place prior to the introduction of this legislation.
The minister has shown by this process that he cares about consultation, that he is interested in making amendments to this legislation and that he's not as anxious to ram through this legislation as the process that we're engaged in right now would appear. It seems to me that that's the kind of model, the model that he used with the early retirement program for teachers, that we could be following at this time.
There does need to be much more consultation, consultation with the people that . . . . The ministry knows that all the correct thinking is not in Victoria and that people in the field have something to contribute to this legislation as well. I think to start forward with a package like this and work it to something that's acceptable to the education community in this province would reflect well on the minister and his government, and I urge him to do that.
[Mr. Speaker in the chair.]
I've tried to point out that delay should also be considered because this is radical legislation. It's radical legislation, and the evidence of that is the reaction that we've seen around the province in the last few days. It's certainly action that no one likes to see, but if it was not such radical legislation I don't think we would see such a reaction to it. There is no need to proceed as quickly as the government has with the agenda for this legislation, because nothing of any significance is going to happen with it within the next six months, anyway. This legislation will not be implemented until 1988, and much of it will not be implemented until July of that year. There is no need to rush. I think we have a lot of time for consultation with the education community, for review of this legislation, and for consideration of the value of this legislation to the education of our children in this province. The consultation process will provide an opportunity for public scrutiny, which can do nothing if the legislation is, as the members opposite say it is, excellent legislation. If the public have an opportunity to review that, they can confirm or deny that position of government.
The government will benefit in terms of their credibility in the province, a credibility that — after we saw the budget — certainly affected the senior citizens, first-time homebuyers and those in need of health care in this province. The government could use an increase in their credibility, and I think a delay of this legislation would improve that credibility. The legislation itself would benefit.
What can be the harm for a government that has a strong majority in the Legislature in postponing consideration of this legislation, in taking more time? I know we want to give the appearance of being decisive as government. But let's be magnanimous. Let's show the people of this province that we really care about their opinions, are willing to govern on behalf of all them, and are not narrow-focused. If the people most affected by this legislation can live with it, then let's implement it. But if the opposite is true, if the people most affected by this legislation believe in their hearts and minds that they cannot live with it, then let's amend it. Let's work with those people. Let's give those people an opportunity to have their say. Let's practise participatory democracy.
I don't think anybody expects their way — and that's the beauty of the process, which it seems this government doesn't understand. They have to have their way, and they assume that everybody else thinks the same. I don't think anybody expects that. Everybody in this province respects the democratic system, accepts the right of government to govern, and to govern decisively, but not to govern at the expense of the people they're serving. You're not public masters. We're public servants in this House. And I think we're serving the public poorly by the kind of legislation we're proposing today.
AN HON. MEMBER: Elsie doesn't share your view.
MR. JONES: I don't believe that, Mr. Speaker. I don't believe any group that negotiates with government expects to
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get its way. That would be a naive view, particularly with this government.
HON. MR. STRACHAN: Good job, Barry.
MR. JONES: I haven't finished yet. I've got so much more that I want to say.
Mr. Speaker, I've suggested that there's a need to hoist this bill. There's a need, because we need time for consultation. The legislation would benefit. I urge that all members opposite, when they're called to vote on this motion, consider delaying it for six months, so that they really can show that they represent all of the people of British Columbia.
Amendment negatived on the following division:
YEAS — 17
NAYS — 27
HON. MR. STRACHAN: At the outset, Mr. Speaker, my congratulations to the member for Burnaby North on a remarkable performance. It sure beats listening to Don Phillips, let me tell you.
Second reading of Bill 20, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Crandall moved adjournment of the debate.
Hon. Mr. Strachan moved adjournment of the House.
The House adjourned at 5:52 p.m.