2000 Legislative Session: 4th Session, 36th Parliament
The following electronic version is for informational purposes
The printed version remains the official version.
THURSDAY, JULY 6, 2000
Volume 20, Number 24
[ Page 17151 ]
The House met at 2:08 p.m.
G. Campbell: It was a year ago today that the former member for Delta South passed away. I know many members in this House have commented on that to me today, and I hope that everyone will keep him in their prayers tonight on what may be the last sitting of this session.
Hon. D. Miller: Two introductions: first, Brian Sullivan, who is the director of external affairs for BP Amoco, one of the many energy companies that are making significant investments into British Columbia in terms of expanding our economy; second, my executive assistant from Prince Rupert, Sue Staehli, a very capable woman who works for me in my Prince Rupert office. I would ask the House to make both of them very welcome.
M. Coell: I'd like to welcome to the House today two residents of my riding of Saanich North and the Islands. They are MP Gary Lunn from Saanich-Gulf Islands and the mayor of North Saanich, Linda Michaluk. Would the House please make them welcome.
Hon. U. Dosanjh: Sitting in the gallery is a member of my staff, Christine Pascus. We'll be losing Christine, unfortunately, in the very near future, as I understand that she will soon be moving to join her new husband Michael, who was recently transferred to Guam. Would the House please make Christine welcome and join me in wishing her all the best for her future.
Hon. P. Ramsey: I have the pleasure to introduce to the House today Gregory Kidd, who is the son of my executive assistant. Gregory is one of 30 boys and girls between the ages of seven and 13 from Prince George who have made a 1,200-mile round trip to Sidney to compete in the provincial roller hockey championships. They represent the Prince George Reapers hockey club. I'd ask the House to join me in wishing them every success in their competition.
T. Nebbeling: Today in the House we have a delegation from Squamish. This team is here to meet with a number of ministers to discuss the economic viability of Squamish, because of some problems that we are facing in Elaho. I would like to introduce the members; there's a number of them here. The team is led by the mayor of Squamish, Corinne Lonsdale, who is well known to members. The president of the Squamish chamber of commerce, Mr. Shabbir Dhalla, is here, as well as the senator of senators of the chamber of commerce in Squamish, Mr. Bill Manson. Two members of the IWA, Mr. Rob Otto and Rob Halliday, are present, and then there is the director of the Soo Coalition for Sustainable Forests, Ron Sanders, together with two members from Interfor, Jim Belsheim and Keith Rush. I ask the House to make them all very welcome.
V. Roddick: It gives me great pleasure to introduce today the Children's International Summer Village. There are nine young people from Sweden and nine from Canada who do an exchange, plus two leaders, Stephanie and Julian. I would ask the House if they would make them welcome.
Hon. J. Kwan: There are two special guests in the visitors' gallery today from the Ministry of Community Development, Cooperatives and Volunteers, deputy minister's office. They are the very capable Heather Neufeld, who is the executive coordinator for Deputy Minister Hal Gerein, and Pam Shatzko, who is the senior executive assistant. Would the House please give a very warm welcome to these hard-working staff of my ministry.
Hon. G. Wilson: I notice on the floor of the Legislature today a former Speaker and a former MLA who is now the Member of Parliament for the riding I represent provincially. Mr. John Reynolds is with us, and I know that he's an organizer for the Canadian Reform Alliance Party -- or the Conservative Reform Alliance Party now. I'm not sure if he's here to recruit the members opposite, hon. Speaker, but perhaps he should start with the member for Richmond Centre.
Hon. C. Evans: I'd like to welcome my friend Lonnie McLaren and her friend Bernice Gonzalez. These young women have come all the way from Cadboro Bay to visit us today. They're 11 years old, and they just graduated from grade 6. After question period, they'll be visiting the museum. Then they'll be teenagers for awhile, and then they're going to come and be the next generation of politicians in this room. Will the House please make them welcome.
Hon. H. Lali: I notice sitting up in the gallery my executive assistant Keith Simmonds, who is going to be a father in a few months. He's very happy about that, and we're all happy for him as well. Would the House please give Keith Simmonds a warm welcome.
L. Reid: I want to acknowledge someone in the gallery today who has been of tremendous assistance to me over the past five months. Her name is Rheta Steer, and she acts as the nanny to my little daughter Olivia. I'd ask the House to please make her welcome.
Hon. M. Farnworth: In the gallery today is someone who is very important to me in my constituency, and that is my executive assistant Gwen Ranger. I am her third MLA, she having started off with Stu Leggatt and then Mark Rose and then my colleague sitting to the right of me. She was one of the first
Hon. M. Farnworth: Just wait, just wait, just wait. The member from Vancouver should realize that I was talking about my colleague here -- right? Three and a half as opposed to four
Anyway, she was one of the first constituency assistants in the province when the position was created back in the seventies, and she is one of the longest-serving in the province for any political party. I would ask the House to make Gwen Ranger most welcome.
B. Goodacre: In the gallery today I have a dear friend from Burns Lake, Mr. Ron Piper, who I got to know shortly after I got elected, inasmuch as he carries around in his head more information about aboriginal people than anybody I've ever met. I'd like the House to please make him welcome.
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M. de Jong: A friend and resident from Abbotsford, Darren Stollings, is here. I hope members will make him welcome. It's always great to see him.
BIOLOGISTS' ACT 2000
M. Coell presented a bill intituled Biologists' Act 2000.
M. Coell: I move that a bill intituled Biologists' Act 2000, of which notice has been given in my name on the order paper, be introduced and now read a first time.
M. Coell: I put forward this bill as an exposure bill, and I think it's safe to say that it won't be debated in this session of the House. We put this forward so that consultation can begin on a bill that I believe is needed in this province.
The Biologists' Act will establish a management framework for the practice of professional biology in British Columbia that will ensure that information and advice on species population, habitats and ecosystems are provided by qualified individuals who are accountable to their peers and to the public of B.C.
With the introduction of this act, we on this side are showing our support for this necessary and worthwhile endeavour and hoping to begin the consultation process with those affected -- which will lead to the adoption of a biologists act in the future -- that will work in the private and public sectors alike.
I would move that the bill be placed on the orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting of the House after today.
Bill M211 introduced, read a first time and ordered to be placed on orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting of the House after today.
MEDICAL PRACTITIONERS ACT
AMENDMENT ACT 2000
S. Orcherton presented a bill intituled Medical Practitioners Act Amendment Act 2000.
S. Orcherton: I move that a bill intituled Medical Practitioners Act Amendment Act 2000, of which notice has been given in my name on the order paper, be introduced now and read for a first time.
S. Orcherton: The Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons across Canada have a long history of interfering with the public's right to choose medical doctors who incorporate complementary medicine into their practices. Complementary medicines are medical therapies free from side effects of drugs and surgery, such as environmental medicine, acupuncture, homeopathy, botanicals, ortho-molecular medicine, vitamins -- by the use of vitamins and minerals -- and chelation therapy.
This bill allows medical practitioners to use their own judgment, in the interests of the patient, to diagnose and treat patients using complementary medicine. It protects medical practitioners who practise complementary medicine from harassment by the College of Physicians and Surgeons. Alberta and Ontario have adopted similar legislation. In 1995 a study showed that 56 percent of general practitioners indeed believe in alternative medicine and believe in the ideas and methods extending therefrom.
Hon. Speaker, interest groups in British Columbia, notably the Citizens Supporting Complementary Medicine, both the Vancouver Island group and the lower mainland group, support this initiative, along with the Association of Complementary Physicians of British Columbia, who've done a substantial amount of research on this topic and proposed many of the amendments adopted in this bill. I'd like to thank Deborah Cooper, an intern working in our caucus, who assisted in the preparation and particular thanks go to Judy Kubrak and Mr. Hugh Pearson, who pushed this initiative forward.
It's time for doctors and society at large to recognize that complementary medical therapies are an important component of health care. This bill moves our health care system into the twenty-first century by recognizing that complementary and medical treatments are appropriate and are indeed supported by the public.
With that, I move that the bill be placed on the orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting of the House after today.
Bill M212 introduced, read a first time and ordered to be placed on orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting of the House after today.
TOM GUNTON'S REPORT
C. Clark: You know, all this discussion yesterday of the government's plan to assign code names to all its senior people got me thinking about the original international man of mystery in this government: Tom Gunton, the man that they drove from the fourth-floor bunker. Since then, though, he's been toiling away in his basement lab working on a secret assignment for the government, an assignment so secret that not even the minister who was paying him knew that he was working for him.
So we advised the minister that he was working for him. We told the minister he had this man working in deep cover for him, and the minister said he'd look into the project, he'd find out what it was and he'd tell us what was in the report. Well, that report was due on July 1. The minister said he'd deliver it to the House on July 1. It's past the date. Where is it?
Hon. G. Bowbrick: The report was due July 1, and it was submitted -- unfortunately, in my view -- in draft form. It was reviewed by -- at least it was presented to -- the deputies on the 4th, the first business day. It's my intention to make sure it's made public next week, when it's in publishable form.
The Speaker: The hon. member for Port Moody-Burnaby Mountain on a supplemental question.
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C. Clark: What's the delay, hon. Speaker? You know, you'd think that Mr. Gunton would be able to prepare something for public release on his own. Look at all the experience in editing that Mr. Gunton has. Look at the experience he's shown with the budget. You'd think that this minister would have a little more confidence in Mr. Gunton's ability to be able to deliver something on time, when we're paying $100,000 for it.
Will this minister admit that the real delay in providing this project to the House is that he wants the House to rise so that no one will see it before then, because the real reason that they paid Mr. Gunton $100,000 is because it was a severance payment for a man who'd become much too embarrassing for this government to have around?
Hon. G. Bowbrick: Hon. Speaker, I take my commitment seriously. I said that we expected that report to be in my deputy's hands by July 1. I wanted to table it in the House this week. It isn't in a publishable form right now. It will be out next week. The last time I checked, that makes it a public document, and all the members of the opposition can look at it, as well as the rest of the people of British Columbia.
FOREST MANAGEMENT PLAN
G. Abbott: During Forests estimates the minister promised to undertake a full socioeconomic analysis before introducing the Kootenay-Boundary higher-level plan. Now the government's going ahead and imposing the plan without the benefit of any study of potential job losses. Here's what the minister apparently didn't want to know: according to the Interior Lumber Manufacturers Association, 1,300 forest workers will lose their jobs if this plan is implemented.
Will the Minister of Forests explain to these forest workers and these forest communities why he's imposing a forest management plan that will result in more job losses?
Hon. J. Doyle: Back in March, I think it was, I met with the Interior Lumber Manufacturers Association in Victoria. I gave them a good hearing. At the same time I told them that we had to proceed with land use planning. We did release the higher-level plan this week. It is out for 60 days for consultation by all sectors in the East and West Kootenays. So that is up to them now to get input back to us. At that time, government will make a final decision.
The Speaker: The hon. member for Shuswap has a supplemental question.
G. Abbott: The Minister of Forests made a commitment in Kelowna to the ILMA. He made a commitment to this House in Forests estimates that there would be a social and economic analysis before this plan proceeded. Clearly that commitment was worth just about the same as every other commitment we've ever heard from this government: nothing.
This plan will kill 1,300 jobs. The ILMA, the employers' association, is rightly angered and dismayed by this betrayal. I want to quote briefly from their very recent press release on this: "It is clear once again that the government has no vision for the social and economic future of the Kootenay-Boundary region. It is also clear that the current government does not know or understand the potential impacts of their forest management policy decisions for the area."
Will the Minister of Forests tell us why he's determined to impose this plan, while turning his back on the communities and the forest workers that rely on the forests for their livelihoods?
Hon. J. Doyle: This, from the party that voted against the Forest Practices Code
Hon. member, I said that it is out for 60 days for input. You're welcome to give input too on this report. So I look forward to the input, and I look forward to spending time, when the House recesses, in the Kootenays, in the Nelson forest district, getting personal input and written input.
R. Neufeld: My question is also to the Minister of Forests. I want to remind that Minister of Forests that it was that government that promised they would never take any money out of Forest Renewal, and it was that government that tried to take $400 million or $500 million out of Forest Renewal. This Kootenay-Boundary plan is going to cost 1,300 family-supporting jobs in the region. On top of that
R. Neufeld: Just listen up. The member from Prince George, if she would just listen up
Hon. J. Doyle: As far as investments in the province, in Fort St. John -- I think it was a week ago -- $200 million was announced in new investments in this province -- $200 million.
I will say the same as I said to the other questioner: the plan is out there for 60 days for input. Everyone is welcome to make input before we make a final decision, the three code ministers.
The Speaker: The member for Peace River North has a supplemental question.
R. Neufeld: Well, you can talk about Peace River North all you want, Mr. Minister. We're talking about the region that you represent; we're talking about the Kootenays. The 1,300 jobs and $57 million in payroll -- that's the question that you should be responding to.
Mr. Speaker, here's what the people of Kootenay-Boundary say: "We have been let down on a massive scale by this NDP government." How can the Minister of Forests expect us to believe anything he says when the people in his own region, in the Kootenay region, believe that they have been let down by this NDP government?
Hon. J. Doyle: I remember well when this person became a Liberal about four years ago, just after
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The Speaker: Order, order.
Hon. J. Doyle: I meant to say "pretend Liberals." At that time we just had restructured the industry in Golden -- 700 jobs. What did that member say in Revelstoke, 90 miles west of Golden? A Liberal government would not have restructured the community of Golden and Malakwa: that's what he said about jobs in the Kootenays.
PROVINCIAL TOBACCO TAXATION
F. Randall: My question is to the Minister of Finance. I was interested to see in the Vancouver Sun last week that the Canadian Taxpayers Federation thinks B.C. should cut its tobacco taxes by 75 percent. Given that the B.C. Liberal caucus has recently hired the Canadian Taxpayers Federation's Robert Pauliszyn to be in charge of their finance policy research, can the Minister of Finance comment on this apparent new policy coming from the Liberals and what effect it would have on provincial income?
Hon. P. Ramsey: I guess I shared the member's dismay when I looked at who the Liberal opposition was getting its advice from on taxation and tobacco use. Listen, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation says: "Reduce tobacco taxes by 75 percent." That would mean, hon. Speaker, a reduction in provincial revenues of around $330 million.
But more importantly, it would mean further addiction of children in our province. We have kept our tobacco taxes high, and tobacco consumption has gone down. Regrettably, I think they ought to get their advice on the impact of cutting tobacco taxes from, let's say, Philip Morris U.S., since there is no question that increasing taxes will cause a decrease in smoking. This point is perhaps best illustrated by the present situation in Canada, and British Columbia is leading the way.
We have radical notions being filtered into this party every day; this is another one. I ask them to join with us in keeping tobacco taxes up and smoking down.
COST OF FOREST LANDSCAPE
UNIT PLANNING STUDY
R. Coleman: When a minister spews drivel like that in this House, you know that they're a government in trouble, hon. Speaker.
At the beginning of May, during Forests estimates, the minister promised to provide a copy of the cost study with respect to landscape unit planning, a whole new set of regulations that has potential of horrendous costs to the forest industry. The minister said he would make it available in two to three weeks. Well, it's two months. Where is it?
Hon. J. Doyle: The item that the member mentions was mentioned -- he's right -- in question period. The cost of landscape unit planning is still under discussion between the COFI and the Ministry of Forests.
The Speaker: The member for Fort Langley-Aldergrove has a supplemental question.
R. Coleman: During estimates the minister said that the cost of this landscape unit plan will be no more than 10 cents per cubic metre to industry and that any other costs would be borne by government. Will the Forests minister admit today that he's delaying the release of this report because once again he's wrong? The fact is that this plan puts the taxpayers of British Columbia on the hook for tens of millions of dollars.
Hon. J. Doyle: I think it was last November when the deputy minister, on behalf of the then minister, sent a letter to the industry, where at that time they suggested that the ministry, government, would get involved with the industry if the price of enforcing this or implementing this was above, I think it was, 10 cents per cubic metre. Those discussions continue with the industry today.
AOX EMISSIONS FROM PULP MILLS
G. Plant: I have another question for the Minister of Forests. There's an important issue for pulp mills in British Columbia; the issue is AOX emissions. It's an issue on which the minister's cabinet colleagues appear to be divided because on the one hand, the Environment minister has recently confirmed her expectation that all B.C. pulp mills will be zero-AOX-compliant by the year 2002. On the other hand, the Minister of Employment and Investment has said just as enthusiastically that, in his view, the AOX regulations should not apply to Skeena Cellulose, and maybe chasing zero is something we ought not to be looking out for. So my question is for the Minister of Forests, who is responsible for the industry.
An Hon. Member: How about saving some jobs? You're talking about jobs. You told us
The Speaker: Order, member.
G. Plant: As the minister responsible for the industry, will the Minister of Forests show some leadership and sort out this feud and disagreement among his cabinet colleagues?
Hon. J. Sawicki: Through the leadership of this government when it was first elected in 1991, we took some very strong leadership and sent a message that AOX must be reduced in terms of protecting the environment. We have made tremendous progress. And I congratulate industry for the progress they've made in reducing their emissions to the point that many of the shellfish areas that were closed because of pulp mill pollution are now opened; that's good news. I want to finally say, hon. Speaker, that my ministry continues to work with the pulp mills to encourage them to reduce all forms of pollution
Hon. J. Sawicki: Heckled by your own caucus here.
I'll repeat, hon. Speaker: I wanted to finalize by saying that my ministry continues to work cooperatively with industry to encourage and to reduce all of their emissions and all of their effluents, in order to protect the environment and protect the viability of the mills in the communities and the jobs in this province.
The Speaker: The bell ends question period.
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Hon. C. Evans: It's a pleasure to present a petition from the Arrow Lakes school district parents, asking the government to remove the school board trustees.
Hon. H. Lali: I have the honour to submit the annual report of the B.C. Transportation Financing Authority for the year ending March 31, 2000, in accordance with the Build B.C. Act.
Hon. G. Wilson: I have the honour to table the annual report of the B.C. Utilities Commission, 1999.
Hon. P. Ramsey: I have the honour to table a number of reports: the annual report of the British Columbia Securities Commission for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2000; the annual report of the public service pension plan for the year ended March 31, 1999; the report on business pursuant to the Legislative Assembly Allowances and Pension Act, part 2, during the fiscal year ended March 31, '99; the report of the Crown Proceeding Act for the fiscal year ended March 31, 1999; and finally, the unclaimed money deposits report '99-2000, for the year ended March 31, 2000.
Hon. J. MacPhail: Hon. Speaker, I rise to table the '98-99 annual report of the British Columbia Lottery Corporation.
Hon. G. Bowbrick: I have the honour today to present two reports. One is the annual report of the Science Council of British Columbia for the year ending March 31, 2000, and the other is the annual report of the Industry Training and Apprenticeship commission for the year ending March 31, 2000.
Hon. C. Evans: I have the pleasure to present two reports. The first is the annual report of the Okanagan Valley Tree Fruit Authority for the year '99-2000, and I thank the directors for their good work. The second is the annual report of the B.C. Assets and Land Corporation for '98-99.
The Speaker: Hon. members, I have the honour to present the 1999 annual report of the chief electoral officer to the Legislative Assembly.
G. Clark: I apologize. I ask leave of the House to make an introduction.
G. Clark: I'd like to introduce to the gallery and ask the House to welcome Len Werden, his daughter Shannon Werden and their friend Chelsea McDonald. Would the House please make them welcome.
Hon. D. Lovick: In Committee A, I want to call committee stage debate on the Secure Care Act, Bill 25. In this chamber, I want to begin by calling third reading of Bill 28, the Balanced Budget Act.
G. Farrell-Collins: Point of order.
The Speaker: The Opposition House Leader has a point of order.
G. Farrell-Collins: There's going to be a recorded division almost immediately on the bill. So rather than call the Chair, perhaps we could do that first and then start the committee in the other room.
The Speaker: Thank you member, I appreciate that. Perhaps members could remain in their seats. There will be a division.
BALANCED BUDGET ACT
Third reading of Bill 28 approved on the following division:
|YEAS -- 37|
|NAYS -- 34|
|van Dongen||Barisoff||J. Wilson|
Bill 28, Balanced Budget Act, read a third time and passed.
Hon. D. Lovick: I now call third reading on Bill 18.
FINANCE AND CORPORATE RELATIONS
STATUTES AMENDMENT ACT, 2000
Bill 18, Finance and Corporate Relations Statutes Amendment Act, 2000, read a third time and passed.
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Hon. D. Lovick: I want to call committee on Bill 24.
AMENDMENT ACT (No. 2), 2000
The House in Committee of the Whole (Section B) on Bill 24; T. Stevenson in the chair.
Hon. A. Petter: I move, with leave, the amendment to section 4.1 that is in the possession of the Clerk.
[SECTION 4.1, by adding the following:
4.1 The Dentists Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 94, is amended by adding the following section:
Power to make regulations
87 Without limiting any other power the Lieutenant Governor in Council may have to make regulations under this Act, the Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations respecting retention of records including, without limitation, regulations respecting the following:
(a) the records or classes of records that must be retained by persons to whom this Act applies, including, without limitation, by the persons who are qualified and permitted under this Act to practise dentistry in British Columbia;
(b) the basis on which and the circumstances in which the records that must be retained by a person referred to in paragraph (a) may be retained by another person;
(c) the manner in which, the locations at which and the persons by which any or all of those retained records may or must be retained, and the circumstances and manner in which any or all of those retained records may or must be moved to any other location or person;
(d) the period for which any or all of the retained records must be retained;
(e) access to the retained records including, without limitation, the hours during which, the persons to which and the manner and circumstances in which access to or extracts or copies of any or all of the retained records must be provided;
(f) the fees, if any, that may be charged by any person having custody of any or all of the retained records for the provision by that person of access to or extracts or copies of any or all of the retained records;
(g) establishing offences and prescribing penalties for any breach of any of the regulations made under this section;
(h) any other matter the Lieutenant Governor in Council considers appropriate in relation to records that must be retained under the regulations made under this section.]
On the amendment.
G. Plant: I simply want to indicate that this is, I think, a good step forward in terms of dealing with a particular issue that arises in the context of the Limitation Act as it affects the province's dentists. I know that there are always concerns in the community at large about the Limitation Act. No doubt there are other groups in the community that will, and do, have issues that they'll want to bring forward. I am glad that this particular issue has been brought forward so that some progress can be made in ensuring that the dentists of British Columbia are not subject to an unreasonably extensive or lengthy ultimate limitation period. I wanted to express my gratitude to the member for Fort Langley-Aldergrove for helping me to understand this issue in order that we could respond to the government's initiative on this matter.
Hon. A. Petter: I just think perhaps I should offer a few words as well on this and, indeed, the next three amendments that I'll be moving, because they all relate to the same matter which the member has referred to. And that is the desire to try to fix a limitation period with respect to dentists that is more reasonable and consistent with recommendations of the Law Reform Commission of B.C. There is further work to be done in respect of other professions, and certainly government is committed to moving forward on that as well.
One of the issues with respect to dental records in the limitation period has been the concern that reducing the limitation period from the current 30 years might jeopardize access to dental records. It's the government's view that the limitation period is one issue and dental records are another issue, and that the vulnerability to liability should not be determined by the need to maintain access to dental records.
What these amendments do is that they separate the two issues. The amendment before us right now is consequential to the reduction in the limitation period to a more reasonable period of ten years, in that it provides a power to, by regulation, establish a repository for dental records beyond the ten-year limitation period. It's government's intention to do that in consultation with dentists, with the RCMP and certainly with the office of the information and privacy commissioner so that we can deal with the need to maintain dental records for the purposes of police investigation and coroner services, but not have that issue jeopardize or impede the affixing of a more reasonable limitation period.
So that is what these amendments are about, and I'm very gratified to hear that the opposition is supportive of this direction. As I say, there are other professions that also have limitation periods that are worthy of review, and the government's intention is to proceed with such review and move forward on these issues in an orderly way.
Hon. A. Petter: I move the amendment to section 18.1 standing in my name in Orders of the Day.
[SECTION 18.1, by adding the following:
18.1 Section 8 (1) of the Limitation Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 266, is amended by striking out "or" at the end of paragraph (b) and by adding the following:
(b.1) against a person who is qualified and permitted under the Dentists Act to practise dentistry in British Columbia, based on professional negligence or malpractice, after the expiration of 10 years from the date on which the right to do so arose, or.]
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Hon. A. Petter: I move the amendment to section 68.1 standing in my name in Orders of the Day.
[SECTION 68.1, by adding the following:
68.1 Section 8 (1) (b.1) of the Limitation Act, as enacted by this Act, does not apply to bar an action commenced before the coming into force of that section.]
Hon. A. Petter: I move, with leave, the amendment to section 69.1 that is in the possession of the Clerk.
[SECTION 69 (1),
(a) by adding "18.1," after "13,", and
(b) by deleting "and 68" and substituting ", 68 and 68.1".]
Section 69(1) as amended approved.
Hon. A. Petter: I move that the committee rise and report the bill complete with amendments.
The House resumed; the Speaker in the chair.
Bill 24, Miscellaneous Statutes Amendment Act (No. 2), 2000 reported complete with amendments.
The Speaker: When shall the bill be read as reported?
Hon. A. Petter: With leave now, hon. Speaker.
Bill 24, Miscellaneous Statutes Amendment Act (No. 2), 2000, read a third time and passed.
Hon. P. Ramsey: By leave, I move that the order for report on Bill 3, intituled Budget Measures Implementation Act, 2000, be set aside and the bill recommitted in respect of section 102.
Hon. P. Ramsey: I call Committee of the Whole on Bill 3.
IMPLEMENTATION ACT, 2000
The House in Committee of the Whole (Section B) on Bill 3; T. Stevenson in the chair.
Hon. P. Ramsey: I move the amendment to section 102 in the possession of the table and, I believe, of the opposition.
On the amendment.
(a) in the proposed subsection (1) by deleting "55, 57 to 77," and substituting "55, 57 to 77,", and
(b) in the proposed subsection (6) by deleting "Sections 27 and 30" and substituting "Sections 27, 30 and 56".]
I. Chong: I appreciate the amendment that the minister has provided and put forward. So often I think that when the government bring forward bills, they don't consult with members on this side of the House, and with the members of the public in particular. It's particularly important, when we're looking at finance bills -- because all taxpayers, all British Columbians, are affected in this way -- that we have the opportunity to bring these issues forward to this government to ensure that we don't miss opportunities to ensure that those sections will be implemented in the proper way, in the proper fashion.
This has happened time and time again on a number of bills. In particular, particular sections of this act have been of concern. We have received comments from the public at large. It's important that when those issues are brought forward, we don't allow commencements to occur where it would unduly harm the economy of this province -- something that this side of the House is particularly concerned about.
I know members on this side of the House have been vigorously opposing those kinds of amendments or changes to our finance bills, to those financial transactions that in the past have made those detrimental economic effects occur, only to find out that we lose small businesses and that our economy suffers even more drastically than it has in the past.
At this time, this amendment certainly has to proceed. We will be supporting it on that basis. I want to thank members on this side of the House who have been particularly sensitive to some of the sections of this act. And for the minister and his staff to have listened and to provide this amendment at this time
Hon. P. Ramsey: I think that just for the record I'll put on the record what the import of the amendment before the House is. Section 102 regards the commencement date for various provisions of Bill 3, the Budget Measures Implementation Act, 2000. Under the unamended version of section 102, section 56, which changes treatment of sales tax being charged to out-of-province owners who bring boats and recreational vehicles and other tangible personal property into B.C., would change as of April 1.
Members opposite and members of the government caucus and members of the public have raised concerns about this measure with my office. I would point out to the House that the provision of section 56 -- to close what was seen as a loophole in that -- was actually a measure proposed by businesses in British Columbia. What we have here is a situation in which one set of businesses in the province is saying that the changes to section 56 that have been proposed in Bill 3
[ Page 17158 ]
will assist their businesses, and another set of business people in the province saying that imposing those changes that are contained in section 56 will hurt their businesses.
If we had allowed the act to go through without amendment, that tax would automatically be changed as of April 1. Instead, we are introducing this amendment to delay or postpone implementation of that section, to give myself and the Minister of Small Business, Tourism and Culture a chance to consult broadly with all sectors of the business community concerned about this particular provision of the provincial sales tax. I think this provides us an opportunity to consult again to make sure that we've got it right as we move forward in this province to encourage small businesses and make sure that they are thriving. I'm very pleased to have this amendment before the House today.
G. Farrell-Collins: I just want to make a few brief comments. I think the minister, in the first part of his comments, explained what this amendment does. I just would refer people to the Hansard at the time of the debate on this bill in section 56, at which point in time we had a fairly vigorous debate about the merits of it -- whether it would work or not. Members of the B.C. Liberal opposition voted against that section for the reasons that were highlighted at that time.
I'm glad to see this. It's essentially hoisting that section for a period of time, perhaps forever, depending on what this task force or review determines. But I think one can go back and look at the debate at the time it took place and get a good sense of what the difficulties are that are faced by the government in trying to implement this type of tax policy. And one could get a good understanding of what the potential impact could be on the economy. I'm glad this is being hoisted. It probably shouldn't have got this far in the first place. It's not a new issue; it's been out there for some time.
I want to pass on a good deal of credit to those individuals out there in British Columbia who saw this as something that would damage their community or their tourism industry or their businesses and have been vocal enough about it to get the attention of the government. I'm glad that it's going forward today.
Section 102 as amended approved.
Hon. P. Ramsey: I move the committee rise and report Bill 3 complete with amendment.
The House resumed; the Speaker in the chair.
Bill 3, Budget Measures Implementation Act, 2000, reported complete with amendment.
The Speaker: When shall the bill be read as reported?
Hon. P. Ramsey: With leave now, hon. Speaker.
Bill 3, Budget Measures Implementation Act, 2000, read a third time and passed.
Hon. P. Ramsey: I call third reading of Bill 2.
BUDGET TRANSPARENCY AND
The Speaker: When shall the bill be read a third time, minister?
Hon. P. Ramsey: With leave now, hon. Speaker.
Bill 2, Budget Transparency and Accountability Act, read a third time and passed.
Hon. D. Lovick: I call Bill Pr401, second reading.
AMENDMENT ACT, 2000
D. Streifel: I move the bill now be read a second time.
Hon. Speaker, as I explained on introduction of the bill, these are some changes to the Mission Foundation Act that I guess the folks in Mission have been pursuing for some time. They finally have it on the floor of the House, and I'm hoping the chambers will accommodate the wishes of the citizens of Mission.
The changes are primarily housekeeping. It redefines the catchment area of the proceeds that will be spent for charitable purposes in the Mission area. It defines the boundaries primarily within the catchment of school district 75, as opposed to a description that was in the bill prior. There are a few other minor changes, and as I say, I'm looking forward to the House supporting this initiative.
Bill Pr401, Mission Foundation Amendment Act, 2000, read a second time and referred to a Committee of the Whole House for consideration forthwith.
AMENDMENT ACT, 2000
The House in Committee of the Whole (Section B) on Bill Pr401; T. Stevenson in the chair.
Sections 1 through 6 approved.
D. Streifel: I move the committee rise and report the bill complete without amendment.
The House resumed; the Speaker in the chair.
[ Page 17159 ]
Bill Pr401, Mission Foundation Amendment Act, 2000, reported complete without amendment, read a third time and passed.
Hon. D. Lovick: I now wish to call Bill Pr403.
WESTMOUNT CAREER MANAGEMENT LTD.
(CORPORATE RESTORATION) ACT, 2000
P. Calendino: I move that the bill now be read a second time.
Just to explain to the members of the House, this bill is to reactivate or reinstate into the registrar of companies the company that was mentioned in the bill. What happened was that the company was incorporated in 1985. The advice that was given to the sole shareholder was not proper legal advice; therefore there were no reports filed to the registrar of companies. The sole registered owner was not aware that they had to file reports, because they had moved and didn't receive any notification. The company has carried on, and at this time they cannot carry on business unless it is reactivated. So I hope that the House will support this bill.
Bill Pr403, Westmount Career Management Ltd. (Corporate Restoration) Act, 2000, read a second time and referred to a Committee of the Whole House for consideration forthwith.
WESTMOUNT CAREER MANAGEMENT LTD.
(CORPORATE RESTORATION) ACT, 2000
The House in Committee of the Whole (Section B) on Bill Pr403; T. Stevenson in the chair.
Sections 1 to 4 approved.
P. Calendino: I move that the committee rise and report the bill complete without amendment.
The House resumed; the Speaker in the chair.
Bill Pr403, Westmount Career Management Ltd. (Corporate Restoration) Act, 2000, reported complete without amendment, read a third time and passed.
Hon. D. Lovick: I now call Committee of Supply. We are going to be debating the estimates of the Ministry of Labour and responsible for B.C. Ferry Corporation.
The House in Committee of Supply B; T. Stevenson in the chair.
The committee met at 3:15 p.m.
ESTIMATES: MINISTRY OF LABOUR
On vote 38: ministry operations, $29,752,000 (continued).
D. Symons: Just continuing where we were before the break, asking questions relating to the fast ferry program of this government
When it was decided to use only one cat on route 2, the corporation had said at that time that it would save, I think, $5 million per year in operation maintenance costs. Since then I think they've said: "Well, if we don't operate the three of them, we could save somewhere in the neighbourhood of $11 million." There's another $7 million or so that would be saved by not operating a third ferry on route 30, back and forth from Tsawwassen to Duke Point, to take care of the trucks, the commercial vehicles that would be excluded from the Horseshoe Bay terminal. So we have that one aspect, that you can save money by not operating the fast cats. Some wag suggested to me that if you build more of them and don't operate them, you can get yourself into the black rather than the red by continuing to save $5 million a year on those ferries. But I don't think those finances would quite hold up.
Since the cats were put onto that operation, one week on and one week off, I'm just wondering
Hon. J. MacPhail: While the Pacificats are tied up
D. Symons: For the other ships in the fleet, those servicing jobs are performed by a night crew that comes in and performs that, so the ship is shipshape and ready to go the next morning. It's interesting. In one case, it's an overnight job; in the other case, you're saying the service job is a week-long job.
I think we can move on here. Let's take a look at the ISM certification and whether it has been done. Who's responsible and pays for the ISM certification and also Transport Canada certification? Is it CFI or B.C. Ferries that would pay those costs?
Hon. J. MacPhail: The corporation pays for it.
D. Symons: So the certification actually takes place, then, after the vessel has been commissioned and turned over to the corporation. Thank you for that clarification.
I wonder if we can move on to another topic. Fisheries and Oceans are basically interested in environmental assessment. I've got an interdepartmental fax that says in one part of it
[ Page 17160 ]
prehensive impact assessment report, identifying the potential and adverse impact to fish and fish habitat from the operation of the new Pacificat ferry."
The report, it says, was finally received on July 27. But the last phrase of the letter is the one that I'm concerned about, and I want to know if there's been any change in this attitude. The last sentence says: "They have not been overly cooperative to date. But I don't want to get into a legal battle either." Those were the writer's comments. This was back then; times have changed, possibly. I'm wondering if you're a little more cooperative with other agencies that have relationships to the operation of these fast cats.
Hon. J. MacPhail: It's hard to respond to something that's a very large document in one sentence that perhaps is in or out of context. So without responding to the actual phrase, but to the general proposition, the corporation cooperates fully with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, but there's often a tension between agencies. But the cooperation does exist.
D. Symons: Also, a letter to Fisheries and Oceans from B.C. Ferries is dated July 7, 1999, I believe, and there's a comment here: "We are still trying to gain more experience so that we can answer your questions completely. That is proving to cause too much delay. The vessel is not going to be in full-time operation. This gives us more time to consider your full assessment, to fully assess the reality." On the one hand, they're saying that they don't have time there.
I've lost the other reference here. But what I find is that there is another letter, which I am at a loss to find, where the wording is that
Yes, this particular letter is to the water quality unit, habitat enhancement branch -- part of the British Columbia government -- from B.C. Ferries on July 23. It says: "We have anticipated the wake-and-wash issue with some considerable care. Appendix A, entitled 'Motor Vessel Pacificat: Wake Wash Trials Data' is the complete report on wake and wash." So just keep that in mind; this is a letter of July 23, and they talk about the complete report on wake and wash.
Yet we go to a letter directed on July 30 to the regional director of Transport Canada, Captain Nash, and this letter says: "With regard to the study of wake and wash, we have not yet completed our internal research." This letter is seven days after the other letter to your own government, where you say it's a complete report on wake and wash. Then you're telling Transport Canada: "We have not yet completed it." I'm wondering why the inconsistency.
Hon. J. MacPhail: I do apologize. It's a little bit hard to follow the sequence of this, but let me just explain to the member what actually did happen. As the member may recall, there were two wake-and-wash reports done. The initial one that perhaps the first letter refers to
D. Symons: I've got it further on in my notes, but I think I'll look at it now and go from memory on my notes to it. Then there is a third wake wash study. There was a study. I believe Sandwell Inc. started a study in November of last year; however, it was reannounced in February of this year, And I believe it's in the $200,000 range, by Sandwell. I'm wondering if the minister might comment on whether that wake wash study has come in yet and indeed if you can tell us in which fiscal year that particular study will be accounted for.
[J. Cashore in the chair.]
Hon. J. MacPhail: There are two wake wash studies. The major one is the Sandwell one that started in September. We are awaiting, within a very short period of time, the final report.
D. Symons: Then the B.C. Ferries
Hon. J. MacPhail: It was commissioned in September, so it's the same one.
D. Symons: So Sandwell maybe meant they had begun it in November, I suppose. Thank you. Is that a fixed-price contract?
Hon. J. MacPhail: Yes.
D. Symons: I wonder if we might go on now to the issue of how many claims have been made to B.C. Ferries relating to damage claimed to have been caused by the fast ferries, how many of these have been settled and what the total settlement cost may be to date. And possibly while I'm at it, how many claims are still outstanding?
Hon. J. MacPhail: We'll take that on notice.
D. Symons: Thank you. I'm not surprised that you wouldn't have that material available right at the moment.
I want to move on now, if we can, to the decision to sell our fast ferries. It was announced, I believe, on March 13 of this year that this decision had been made. I'm just curious. The document that we have called "Evaluation: Pacificat Deployment Options" -- it says "Confidential" here. It was given in May 2000. I don't believe, if I remember correctly, that the Ferry board had this report before May. It seems that the decision to sell was made before a report on deployment options came out that might have impinged upon that deci
[ Page 17161 ]
sion to sell the ferries. I'm wondering if you might sort of explain why the decision to sell was made prior to having this deployment options document presented to the Ferry board.
Hon. J. MacPhail: The decision to sell the Pacificats was a cabinet decision, and cabinet was privy to all of the information in that report.
D. Symons: Yes. As I remember, the decision to enter into the fast ferry program was also a cabinet decision and maybe taken hastily, because they didn't have all the relevant and accurate data. I'm just wondering whether this has been done again on the selling of them.
I did send a letter on March 27 to the CEO of B.C. Ferries, in which I basically asked
But that certainly did not look at the option of either putting in, let's say, two turbines for diesels and therefore achieving your speed, covering that problem with the fast cats and probably engine breakdowns as well, and on the other hand looking at the possibility of using two of the current diesels and using the ferry in what I'll call a regular ferry configuration -- simply taking your 19 knots and crossing in the regular time, thereby at least using what we have and putting it to some practical use, because our docks were made to fit it. It seems that nowhere in this deployment options was that taken a look at.
So did the cabinet do that? Was there a study looking at those particular options of do we sell them, or do we find some way to make them work in a way that B.C. Ferries could use them?
Hon. J. MacPhail: Actually, the document that the member does refer to talks about use of the ferries at conventional speeds. The issue of refit with turbine engines was examined by the corporation, and cabinet did consider that.
D. Symons: I'm wondering if, when Treasury Board and cabinet approved the package deal for the removal of the $1.1 billion
Hon. J. MacPhail: Well, I presented it to Treasury Board. I was appointed as minister February 29, and the announcement was made March 13, so it was sometime in between then. If the member needs to know the exact date, I can certainly find out.
D. Symons: The point I'm getting up to is the point also, I think, that came out a moment ago when I asked about the deployment options one. Apparently the decision to sell the ferries was made before the B.C. Ferries board had full information, I think. And that wasn't then a board decision; as you said, it was a cabinet decision. So I'm wondering when the B.C. Ferries board approved that package of plans for the fiscal year and the future plans for B.C. Ferries. Was it before or after the cabinet made the decision?
Hon. J. MacPhail: March 30.
D. Symons: Thank you. I'm wondering also
Were there any further reports, other than the deployment one done, that were presented to cabinet or to the board relating to the sale or deployment of the fast ferries?
Hon. J. MacPhail: I have the full Treasury Board submission on all matters.
D. Symons: Would those documents be available for perusal?
D. Symons: The minister is saying it's privileged information. But I gather that after it has been acted upon -- and in this case, it has been -- those documents might be made available.
Was there a cost-benefit analysis done on using the fast cats at conventional speeds? Was it done as a cost-benefit analysis and using the two engines at lower RPMs? You mentioned earlier that this was something considered. But was it done on a cost-benefit basis?
Hon. J. MacPhail: Yes.
I. Chong: I just have one or two very quick questions, having just received the financial annual report for the year '99-2000. I do note that in the capital plan that was mentioned in this report there has been, I guess, a re-evaluation done on a number of the older vessels. I know that in the past it was expected that ferries had a life span of 40 years. I'm wondering whether, in that evaluation of the older vessels, the life span has been reviewed to extend beyond the 40 years and therefore represents a change in the valuations that are reported in the financial statements -- and for the amortization rates to change. Can the minister advise on that?
Hon. J. MacPhail: The reason why the corporation would change the life of the vessel would be for amortization. The hulls of the vessel are pretty much fully amortized now.
I. Chong: But I guess I was trying to determine whether
Hon. J. MacPhail: Well, there's no vessel that would suggest a ten-to-15-year extension of life span -- maybe around five. And secondly, these are older vessels that were given to the corporation. The government bought them, and they were transferred at zero value. These are much older ships.
[ Page 17162 ]
I. Chong: Those satisfy the questions I have on the financial statements.
On a different note, I did receive a call from a constituent this past spring, concerned about the video machines that are on the ferries. In fact, she contacted me, and I requested that she contact the Ferry Corporation. She very promptly, I might add, received a letter back. I do appreciate the staff -- Mr. Geoff Dickson, the assistant VP of the marketing and business development section -- writing back and explaining the policy on video games.
This particular constituent was concerned about the nature of the games that were on these ships, which she felt were rather graphically violent. And she was wondering who was watching these kinds of materials being brought on board. At that time, the letter that was written in response to this constituent said that B.C. Ferries is re-examining its video game standard.
I'm just wondering if the minister, through the president, can advise what kind of time frame we're looking at on those video game standard changes and revisions and, if there are going to be substantive changes or a policy change, whether my office might be contacted and informed of that.
Hon. J. MacPhail: It's an interesting and broader question than just the ferries. There are no standards; there are no classification centres -- I think there's been some of video games. I think the member may have noted that there has been some discussion of this in the media in other areas, just video games generally.
Certainly, as the parent of an 11-year-old boy, I would applaud any review quickly. So the Ferry Corporation itself is doing an internal review and applying a more rigorous standard of vigilance around the issue that the member's constituent raises. There are and will be changes in the games.
I. Chong: I hope that when those changes occur, the minister can keep members on this side of the House advised as well. Sometimes these issues come up in our constituency offices throughout the year, and we may not place as much importance on them, perhaps, as we should.
I do have to again applaud the corporation. Having received the letter from this constituent, they did remove one of the games called Silent Scope, which obviously really had concerns for this constituent. Zero tolerance to gun games is where I think many people are headed. So I thank the minister for that.
Very briefly, another area, which I know has been canvassed, is in the area of reservations. I want to bring this to the attention of the minister. I realize that there's not much that can be done. I see the president and staff here, as well, and hope that they can look into it.
A particular constituent contacted me who had made a reservation and used the automatic system. She received a confirmation number, I think, a PIN number or whatever they call it. When she arrived at the terminal the next day or the following week -- I can't recall now -- she said she gave that number and said she had a reservation. Nowhere in the system were the terminal operators able to confirm that. Subsequently, she was denied the reservation. The ships were not full, so she got on board anyway. But her concern to me was that she had given her MasterCard or her Visa number and had already been charged for the extra $15. It just wasn't worth it to formally complain and launch an appeal.
My only concern and objective in raising it is to let the corporation know that sometimes there are some glitches in automated systems. There are also no opportunities to dial back in and perhaps cancel that reservation or to find out why that occurs. It's just too much bother for some constituents to ask for a credit voucher on a $15 transaction, which may take a day or a week to resolve. So I just bring that to the attention
R. Thorpe: The first question I'd just like to ask is: is the capital plan of $131,267,100 the approved plan, and is that what the corporation is working with this fiscal year?
Hon. J. MacPhail: I couldn't hear the member, whether he said $131 million or $121 million.
R. Thorpe: I said $131 million.
Hon. J. MacPhail: Okay. It was $121 million, which included a $4 million carryover from the previous year, which the corporation has subsequently determined they don't need. So the capital plan for the year 2000-01 is $117 million.
R. Thorpe: Okay. So that $117 million
Hon. J. MacPhail: I see where the member is getting confused by the $131 million. Those last two figures, $826,000 and $13.3 million, are operating costs.
R. Thorpe: With respect to the capital plan, then, could the minister advise -- because the government certainly was put under a microscope for the management of its capital expenditures, controls and programs at B.C. Ferries -- what controls are in place now to ensure that the capital plan of $117 million is not exceeded?
Hon. J. MacPhail: There's a range of increased reporting mechanisms, monitoring mechanisms. But the three major ones are that there's greater and more rigorous reporting at the board level, the board of directors -- I'd be happy to get that policy for the member -- and there's an internal project management committee headed by the CFO and monthly reporting to Treasury Board.
R. Thorpe: So Treasury Board is getting monthly reporting from Ferries without exception. How often is cabinet? Is cabinet advised every month also of this new capital system?
Hon. J. MacPhail: Not necessarily, no.
R. Thorpe: With respect to the capital plan and based on our taxpayers' previous experiences, are these fixed-price capital contracts going forward?
[ Page 17163 ]
Hon. J. MacPhail: Well, the capital plan includes a huge array of different kinds of projects. So I can't say across the board that they're all fixed-price. Certainly the vast majority of them go to tender and are fixed-price.
R. Thorpe: I'm sure this will just be a very brief answer from the minister. For those contracts that aren't fixed-price, I'm sure the minister and senior management of B.C. Ferries have in place systems to monitor non-fixed-price contracts in case they do get out of control.
Hon. J. MacPhail: The corporation is operating under new systems and a new budget reporting system as well. All of them are designed to immediately pick up variances from budget.
R. Thorpe: With respect to the five-year capital plan, I'm going to refer to the year 2002. At what point in time in the year 2001 are decisions going to have to be made to activate projects in the range of the $73 million that's identified here? When do buttons have to be pushed in the fiscal year 2000-01 to impact on those decisions of 2002?
Hon. J. MacPhail: Each year the corporation has to come to Treasury Board for that year's approval of the five-year capital plan, so it's part of the budget-planning process for the year 2001-02. I'm informed that the corporation will be in advanced stages of preparation for that to take to Treasury Board for approval in the middle fall of this year.
R. Thorpe: Before the capital plan is finalized, will the corporate strategic plan be done in advance this time?
Hon. J. MacPhail: The corporate strategic plan is a 15-year plan. It will be completed in February of next year. So the answer to the member's question is no, not for this coming submission. However, this coming submission on the five-year capital plan is almost universally dealing with the refurbishment of existing assets, so it will be unaffected by the 15-year plan.
R. Thorpe: With respect to -- and I know the minister doesn't like to hear it, but she's admitted it many times -- the fast ferry fiasco
Hon. J. MacPhail: Well, the corporation has realigned resources to exactly what the member wishes. So it is occurring, but it's with reallocation of resources internally. He may note that the first year of the capital plan actually provides for new systems, which were much needed.
R. Thorpe: So what the corporation has done, then, is taken whatever financial resources they had and reallocated them into internal audit or whatever the support mechanism is. Maybe the minister can advise me what it's called. How much is that internal audit or control section
Hon. J. MacPhail: The changes that were made internal to the corporation were managing the resources internally in a much different fashion. It wasn't necessarily that there weren't enough resources; it was that there was no consolidated reporting mechanism in effect, no direct reporting mechanism to the CFO. All of that has changed. The business management group has been consolidated from across the corporation into a single entity, one unit, under the direction of the CFO and with rigorous attention to budget management.
R. Thorpe: I don't want to make assumptions, but the minister said budget management, and I would assume that means both operating budget management and capital budget management. Is that a correct assumption?
Hon. J. MacPhail: Yes.
R. Thorpe: Can the minister advise how much additional financial resources have been allocated to outside auditors and outside consultants for this fiscal year we're discussing, vis-à-vis the previous fiscal year?
Hon. J. MacPhail: The external auditor is a fixed-price contract, so the cost is the same this year as last year. The cost for external consultants is pretty much the same for last year as this year. The focus for the use of external contractors has changed. Though last year they were very much focused on internal changes to the corporation, this year they're focused on things such as the tariff review.
R. Thorpe: Actually, I am aware that the auditor's is a fixed-price contract for the audit. My question was: how much additional moneys have been allocated or budgeted this year for special work that's not covered by the outside auditors?
Hon. J. MacPhail: The budget line is about $75,000.
R. Thorpe: Are any of those funds designated for the outside audit firm or whoever they may contract for any forensic audits?
Hon. J. MacPhail: No.
R. Thorpe: Can the minister advise what safeguards are taking place and have taken place within the consolidated B.C. Ferry Corporation to ensure that individuals who are on the payroll as employees are not also doing work as part of or as independent consultants to the Ferry Corporation?
Hon. J. MacPhail: It's a management rule that the practice is unacceptable, and it is enforced in that way.
Hon. J. MacPhail: It is a management practice, a well-noted management practice, that that is unacceptable. If the member has specific incidents, we'd be happy to investigate them.
[ Page 17164 ]
R. Thorpe: Thank you. I'm pleased to hear that it's an unacceptable practice; it is in most organizations. I'm wondering, then: can the minister confirm if any employees have had to be let go or disciplined for such actions?
Hon. J. MacPhail: The management rule has recently been rigorously enforced as opposed to in the past, so the answer to your question is no.
R. Thorpe: I want to finish up -- and I hope I don't shock the minister too much here -- by expressing my thanks to the senior management of B.C. Ferries. Whenever I've had questions of them, whether verbal or written, they've been very prompt at getting that information back to me. I appreciate that very much, and I'd like to thank them.
[T. Stevenson in the chair.]
D. Symons: The next section I'd like to look at is relating to the cats. I'll let the minister know that we're getting very near the end; she'll be pleased to know. This is dealing with the request for proposals for the Pacificat adviser/sales consultant. I'm wondering if you might be able to tell us how many firms were sent out this invitation to put in a tender. Can you give me an idea of the number of firms that did and then how many responded on the receipt confirmation form you have at the back?
Hon. J. MacPhail: Twenty-two received packages; 12 responded.
D. Symons: Of the 12 that responded, how many actually put in a proposal? The response is just that you wanted a package to go to them. Did they want a package? How many actually put proposals in?
Hon. J. MacPhail: Twenty-two received packages; 12 submitted proposals.
D. Symons: My first question, then, was: how many had received the document that asked if they wanted to
Hon. J. MacPhail: Yeah.
D. Symons: Okay. But there will be some that will not be submitting a proposal. So how many in total were sent out?
Hon. J. MacPhail: Twenty-two were sent out; 12 submitted proposals.
D. Symons: In the document that was sent out for them to make proposals on, in the middle of the page it talks about the corporation's preferences with respect to the sales/disposition of the vessel. In order, they are (1) unconditional sale at an attractive price, and I certainly cannot argue with that one; (2) sale with vendor financing; and (3) leasing the vessels to operator or operators. Then you further follow that up with (4) no assumption of onerous or unacceptable legal or financial risks by B.C. Ferry Corporation, as determined by B.C. Ferry Corporation in its sole discretion.
I'm somewhat concerned about 2 and 3 and the risks which may be taken by the Ferry Corporation if you get into a sale with vendor financing. Vendor financing, I assume, is the government, which would be financing the sale of this and would be paid back. But with some possible purchasers in some countries that have a worse record than others, once those ships are out of our waters, no matter what arrangement you may have either with a lease or a sale, you could have serious problems. If it's on a sale with vendor financing, once they have the ship, you may find yourself tied up in legal arguments in some third country where you're dealing with trying to get your finance payments, or the same with the lease payments, while they're running the ship down to the point where once you manage to get the ship back, it's not worth anything at all. I have concerns that with sale with vendor financing or leasing vessels to operators, you can get yourself in a situation where you might find that the risks will outweigh the advantages of moving the ships offshore so that they'd be out of sight of the B.C. taxpayer.
Further down here in these conditions it says: "Conclusion of sales in a timely and expeditious manner." In that expeditious part, please be careful of the sale with vendor financing or the leasing of vessels. How are you going to handle the real traps that can be in that sort of arrangement and the risk you may be taking?
Hon. J. MacPhail: I thank the member for his advice; I think it's appropriate advice. That's exactly the reason why there was such a rigorous, time-consuming process for selecting our advisers for sale, who have a wealth of expertise in this area -- just as the member suggests is required.
D. Symons: I shall be watching that carefully, of course, as I think many people will. I certainly suspect that you'll be watching even more carefully.
In this agreement you have with the firm that did win the request for proposals, PricewaterhouseCoopers, you put out a news release. Apparently at that time there had not been a signed contract with them. You had an understanding, I believe, but not a final signed contact. Has that contract now been signed?
Hon. J. MacPhail: There are some very minute final details to work out, none of which has precluded the company from working for weeks.
D. Symons: So the minister is saying that they're already on the job, but the final details will be worked out. Are you able to give us some of the details, or to what extent can you give us the details of that particular contract? Particularly, along with that, how much money will Pricewaterhouse receive either as a retainer during the time they're doing it or as a commission on the sale at the end of each or all of the ferries? How much money has Pricewaterhouse received to date in relationship to this particular contract?
Hon. J. MacPhail: The contract is subject to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, and we are prohibited
[ Page 17165 ]
commercial contract. However, I can inform you that all the details will be released at the sale. Usually the range of compensation is between 1 and 3 percent, and this contract is well within that.
D. Symons: That does give some information, and I thank the minister for that.
I suppose a clause in a contract that says that none of the conditions of this will be made public
Hon. J. MacPhail: Freedom of Information Act.
D. Symons: Freedom of Information Act. I see. I still can't see that you can't write the contract in a way so that freedom of information wouldn't apply -- so that it would just be an open contract like many contracts are that are signed by the government in dealing with highways and other issues where we know when the bid goes out and comes in what the contract is for. I'm not quite sure how freedom of information applies in this case, but maybe you can explain that in a moment.
I did ask if Pricewaterhouse had done any work up to the current time and received any payment, and if they have, what they may have done up to the current time. Have they received any sort of payment so far? I'm not asking the figure. If they have, what work has been done at this stage?
Hon. J. MacPhail: No, they haven't. But you know what? The hon. members of the opposition have not taken up my offer to meet with PricewaterhouseCoopers. I made that offer within days, so I hope that the member is going to do that. Feel free to get as much information as you can. PricewaterhouseCoopers has made that offer, and it still stands.
D. Symons: I appreciate the offer, and I will take the person up on it after we're not tied up in the Legislature here. I am wondering, also, if you might be able to tell me whether any of the B.C. Ferries consultants or past consultants are also involved in this particular project, and if so, who they are.
Hon. J. MacPhail: There are no past B.C. Ferries consultants on the Pricewaterhouse team, but if the member would like to ask for a specific detail about any input of a particular person, I'd be happy to respond to that.
D. Symons: We did have a sales team for the last three or four years working for CFI, I believe. I was asking, basically, if there are people -- maybe some of those, or other people -- that have been working with sales in the past that are now moving over and assisting Pricewaterhouse in their sales attempts.
Hon. J. MacPhail: The people who were involved in the sales of the technology through CFI are providing background information to the PwC team as well as contacts.
D. Symons: I was concerned. I believe we spent somewhere in the neighbourhood of $3 million over the years working on a sales project for CFI products. They must have gained some expertise and some knowledge. You're saying that in one way or another, that's being used. Is CFI currently involved
Hon. J. MacPhail: B.C. Ferry Corporation.
D. Symons: Was that RFP for the sale of the ferries created in-house? Or was there an outside agency that helped perform the request for proposal that was eventually the contract signed with Pricewaterhouse?
Hon. J. MacPhail: The corporation worked with staff of the Ministry of Finance.
D. Symons: Finally, were there any outside individuals used to assess the quality of the various proposals, or was that simply done in-house as well? Or did you bring in people who were involved either in ship brokerage or in other aspects related to the sale of vessels?
Hon. J. MacPhail: Ministry of Finance staff were involved in all aspects of the RFP.
D. Symons: So then you're saying that there were no people with expertise in ship brokerage involved in evaluating the proposals that came in.
Hon. J. MacPhail: Well, that was the group that was actually making the proposals to do the work.
D. Symons: A final question, and then we'll turn back to Labour itself. There was a web site, ships-for-sale.com. Apparently they had put the fast ferries on their web site, and apparently there's no charge for this. I'm wondering: the owner of that has written to the minister on two occasions offering their web site services to sell the fast ferries. Has the minister responded to those letters?
Hon. J. MacPhail: I'll make sure that PwC is aware of your concern. They're responsible for that.
D. Symons: I would like to thank the staff of B.C. Ferries for their answers and assistance to the minister. I would also like to thank the minister. I know this is a tough time for both of us in this situation, my asking and your responding, and I appreciate the candour with which you've responded to the questions and taken my persistence on some issues.
Hon. J. MacPhail: Yes, thank you to the critic and also to all of the members of the Liberal opposition for a good debate -- and thank you to the staff.
K. Krueger: I think the minister may need a little time to change personnel. I have some questions with regard to pension benefits standards.
Hon. J. MacPhail: I don't honestly know whether I've got any staff coming, so let's go.
K. Krueger: The minister's executive assistant is arranging the staff. There is a matter I'd like to touch on in the
[ Page 17166 ]
interim. When we were dealing with WCB estimates the other day, there's a question I didn't ask because I didn't have any hard documentation on the allegations. But there are allegations from time to time that the WCB actually punishes people for having the temerity to bring their cases before the MLA's office.
Subsequent to our discussions of WCB the other day, the member for Fort Langley-Aldergrove brought documentation to me, which had come to his attention through his constituency assistant, of a Mr. Gerry Wall, a WCB claimant who has been going through all the necessary steps at WCB, is eager to retrain, to rehabilitate himself and get into something new that he's capable of doing. This gentleman was eager to have the assistance of the MLA's office, because he was anxious about an approaching deadline for a program that he wished to enter and believed that he could enter.
When the constituency assistant spoke with the WCB, with an employee named Denise Hall, she was shocked that Denise Hall said that because Mr. Gerry Wall had come into the office of his MLA, in her mind, in Denise Hall's mind, it showed a lack of motivation to work with WCB, and that she, Denise Hall, had the authority to cancel any and all payments on these grounds. We think it is shocking and totally unacceptable that any government employee or Crown agency or Crown corporation employee would speak to a claimant or a member of the public that way and actually deem themselves to have the authority, let alone the ability, to punish somebody for going to the MLA's office. I want to ensure that the minister agrees with that.
Hon. J. MacPhail: I'd be happy to investigate the specifics of the allegations. If the member could inform me in writing -- it's just easier -- or brief my staff, I'd be happy to investigate it.
K. Krueger: The member for Fort Langley-Aldergrove will certainly provide those details to the minister. But I would like the minister's agreement on the record that nobody should ever be threatened by government or any agency or Crown for having brought a matter to the attention of their MLA -- or punished.
Hon. J. MacPhail: Yes, I agree. I have no idea whether that's what happened in this situation or not, but I agree with the premise.
K. Krueger: The pension people have not yet appeared, but I wanted to ask the minister the status of the pension suspension legislation from last session. How many people have actually had their pension suspended through the provisions of that legislation since last session?
Hon. J. MacPhail: I'll take the question on notice. I'll be happy to get the information for the member.
K. Krueger: The operating engineers have been cutting back the pensions of their pensioners. Of course, we have a member in the house -- the member for Burnaby-Edmonds -- who was on staff with the operating engineers. He confirmed to me last night that he draws two pensions from the operating engineers and that they, in their investment portfolios, hold substantial real estate holdings, one of which he purchased for them for $2.2 million. The operating engineers recently turned down an offer of $33 million for that property. That is fresh information from last evening.
I would ask the minister, also, to have her pension benefit standards people look into this situation. I know she's hearing from operating engineers pensioners, as I am, and it seems manifestly unjust that when they're sitting on those types of potential returns, they're cutting pensioners back. I'd like the minister's commitment to look into that issue as well.
Hon. J. MacPhail: Yes.
K. Krueger: That concludes Labour estimates, and I thank the minister for her responses to us throughout.
Vote 38 approved.
Vote 1: legislation, $38,082,000 -- approved.
Vote 2: auditor general, $6,645,000 -- approved.
Vote 3: office of the child, youth and family advocate, $1,324,000 -- approved.
Vote 5: Elections B.C., $9,976,000 -- approved.
Vote 4: conflict-of-interest commissioner, $312,000 -- approved.
Vote 6: information and privacy commissioner, $2,280,000 -- approved.
Vote 7: ombudsman, $4,610,000 -- approved.
Vote 8: police complaint commissioner, $1,127,000 -- approved.
Vote 51: commissions on collection of public funds and allowance for doubtful revenue accounts, $1,000 -- approved.
Vote 53: environmental boards and Forest Appeals Commission, $2,014,000 -- approved.
Hon. P. Ramsey: Hon. Chair, I move that the committee rise and report resolutions.
The committee rose at 4:27 p.m.
The House resumed; the Speaker in the chair.
The committee reported resolutions.
Hon. P. Ramsey: I move that the reports of resolutions from the Committees of Supply on May 1, 4, 9, 16, 18, 31, and June 5, 6, 8, 13, 14, 15, 26, 28, 29 and July 4 and 6 now be received, taken as read and agreed to.
[ Page 17167 ]
Hon. P. Ramsey: Hon. Speaker, I move that there be granted from and out of the consolidated revenue fund the sum of $22,082,097,000. This sum includes that authorized to be paid under section 1 of the Supply Act (No. 1), 2000, and section 1 of the Supply Act (No. 2), 2000, and is granted by Her Majesty towards defraying the charges and expenses of the public service of the province for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2001.
Hon. P. Ramsey: I also move that there be granted from and out of the consolidated revenue fund the sum of $1,555,970,000. This sum includes that authorized to be paid under section 2 of the Supply Act (No. 1), 2000, and is granted by Her Majesty towards defraying the capital, loans, investments and other financing requirements for the province for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2001.
Hon. D. Lovick: Mr. Speaker, I also have the honour to move certain motions, albeit not in the same mellifluous tones as my colleague the Minister of Finance.
First, Mr. Speaker, by leave I move that in addition to the powers previously conferred upon the Special Committee of Selection, the committee is also empowered to sit during any period in which the House is adjourned, during the recess after prorogation until the next following session and during any sitting of the House; to determine the membership of any select standing or special committee of the House; to deposit a copy of its reports with the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly during a period of adjournment; and upon resumption of the sittings of the House, the Chair shall present all reports to the Legislative Assembly.
Hon. D. Lovick: By leave I move that reports of the auditor general of British Columbia deposited with the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly during the fourth session of the thirty-sixth parliament be deemed referred to the Select Standing Committee on Public Accounts.
Hon. D. Lovick: If they thought the other ones were difficult, listen to this.
By leave I move that a special committee be appointed to select and unanimously recommend to the Legislative Assembly the appointment of a child, youth and family advocate pursuant to section 3 of the Child, Youth and Family Advocacy Act and that the special committee so appointed shall have the powers of a select standing committee and is also empowered (a) to appoint of their number one or more subcommittees and to refer to such subcommittees any of the matters referred to the committee; (b) to sit during a period in which the House is adjourned, during the recess after prorogation until the next following session and during any sitting of the House; (c) to adjourn from place to place as may be convenient; and (d) to retain such personnel as required to assist the committee; and shall report to the House as soon as possible, or following any adjournment or at the next following session, as the case may be, to deposit the original of its reports with the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly during a period of adjournment and upon resumption of the sittings of the House, the Chair shall present all reports to the Legislative Assembly. The said special committee is to be composed of members determined by the Special Committee of Selection.
Hon. P. Ramsey: I have a rather lengthy motion.
By leave I move that the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services be empowered to examine, inquire into and make recommendations with respect to the prebudget consultation report prepared by the Minister of Finance in accordance with section 2 of the Budget Transparency and Accountability Act and, in particular, to:
1. Conduct broad public consultations across British Columbia on proposals and recommendations regarding the provincial budget and fiscal policy for the coming fiscal year by any means the committee considers appropriate, including but not limited to public meetings, telephone and electronic means. The committee shall ensure that, within practical limits, all British Columbians wishing to make representations before the committee be heard.
2. Make public by no later than December 31 a report on the results of those consultations.
In addition to the powers previously conferred upon the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services, the committee shall be empowered (a) to appoint of their number one or more subcommittees and refer to such subcommittees any of the matters referred to the committee; (b) to sit during a period in which the House is adjourned and during any sitting of the House; (c) to adjourn from place to place as may be convenient; and (d) to retain personnel as required to assist the committee; and shall report to the House as soon as possible, or following any adjournment or at the next following session, as the case may be, to deposit the original of its reports with the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly during a period of adjournment and upon resumption of the sittings of the House, the Chair shall present all reports to the Legislative Assembly.
The said committee is to be composed of Mr. Zirnhelt, the convener; Messrs. Cashore, Conroy, Goodacre and Janssen; Ms. Gillespie; Messrs. Farrell-Collins and de Jong; and Ms. Chong.
[ Page 17168 ]
SUPPLY ACT, 2000-2001
Hon. P. Ramsey presented a message from His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor: a bill intituled Supply Act, 2000-2001.
Hon. P. Ramsey: I move that the bill be introduced and read a first time now.
Hon. P. Ramsey: This supply bill is introduced to provide supply for the operation of government programs for the 2000-01 fiscal year. The amount requested is that resolved by the Committee of Supply after consideration of the estimates. The House has already received, taken as read and agreed to the report of resolutions from the Committee of Supply and, in addition, has resolved that there be granted from and out of the consolidated revenue fund the necessary funds towards defraying the charges and expenses of the public service of the province for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2001.
It is the intention of the government to proceed with all stages of the supply bill this day.
The Speaker: Members, I would ask you to remain in your seats for a few minutes while the bill is distributed.
Hon. members, I call you to order. In accordance with established practice, the final supply bill may advance through all stages this day.
Bill 31 introduced, read a first time and ordered to proceed to second reading forthwith.
SUPPLY ACT, 2000-2001
Hon. P. Ramsey: I move that the bill now be read a second time.
This supply bill is the final supply bill for the 2000-01 fiscal year, the first having been passed on March 30, 2000, the second having been passed June 29, when the Legislative Assembly previously authorized appropriations for the year. This bill requests supply of $22,082,097,000 for voting expenditures. They're outlined in section 1 and schedule 1 of the bill. The bill also requests supply of $1,555,970,000 for voted capital and loans investment and other financing transactions as outlined in section 2 and schedule 2 of the bill.
The preamble to this bill includes a reference to the $300 million forecast allowance included in this year's budget. This reference complies with the disclosure requirements contained in section 7 of the Budget Transparency and Accountability Act.
Finally, hon. Speaker, I point out the requirement for passage of the supply bill in order to provide for the expenditures of government for the 2000-01 fiscal year.
I move second reading of Bill 31.
Bill 31, Supply Act, 2000-2001, read a second time and referred to a Committee of the Whole House for consideration forthwith.
SUPPLY ACT, 2000-2001
The House in Committee of the Whole (Section B) on Bill 31; T. Stevenson in the chair.
Sections 1 and 2 approved.
Schedules 1 and 2 approved.
On the preamble.
G. Farrell-Collins: In regard to comments earlier by the minister in second reading, the $300 million buffer in government revenues, just so I'm clear
Hon. P. Ramsey: Yes, that is correct. What we are doing for the first time in a final supply bill is putting the forecast allowance in the preamble. While other budgets tabled in this Legislature in recent times have included a forecast allowance, that has not been presented in this form.
The Enns committee recommended that budget documents disclose what your prudence factor is. So, hon. Chair, what this bill says is that the most likely deficit for the coming year, the current fiscal year, is $978 million. To be prudent, we have cushioned that by saying revenues might be $300 million lower than we think is likely. That is what a prudence cushion is, as you do budgets. We're revealing it explicitly in this legislation and providing it for debate in the Legislature, where the member can think it's too high, too low or about right.
Hon. P. Ramsey: I move that the committee rise and report the bill complete without amendment.
The House resumed; the Speaker in the chair.
Bill 31, Supply Act, 2000-2001, reported complete without amendment, read a third time and passed.
Hon. D. Lovick: It's routine, members.
Mr. Speaker, I want to suggest that the House have a recess until 5:15 in order to accommodate Committee A,
[ Page 17169 ]
which is still carrying on with its business in the Douglas Fir Committee Room. So if that's agreeable -- I believe it is -- I would move that the House recess until 5:15.
The Speaker: On agreement, the House will recess until 5:15.
The House recessed from 4:48 p.m. to 5:21 p.m.
[The Speaker in the chair.]
SECURE CARE ACT
Bill 25, Secure Care Act, reported complete with amendments.
The Speaker: When shall the bill be considered as reported?
Hon. D. Lovick: By leave now, Mr. Speaker.
Bill 25, Secure Care Act, read a third time and passed.
Hon. D. Lovick: Mr. Speaker, I move that Ms. Val Roddick, MLA, be substituted for Mr. John Weisbeck, MLA, as a member of the Select Standing Committee on Public Accounts.
The Speaker: Is leave granted, members?
Hon. D. Lovick: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House at its rising do stand adjourned until it appears to the satisfaction of the Speaker, after consultation with the government, that the public interest requires that the House shall meet or until the Speaker may be advised by the government that it is desired to prorogue the fourth session of the thirty-sixth parliament of the province of British Columbia. The Speaker may give notice that he is so satisfied or has been so advised, and thereupon the House shall meet at the time stated in such notice and, as the case may be, may transact its business as if it had been duly adjourned to that time and date. And moreover, in the event of the Speaker being unable to act owing to illness or other cause, the Deputy Speaker shall act in his stead for the purposes of this order.
The Speaker: Members, His Honour is about to enter the chamber. I would ask members to please remain seated.
His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor entered the chamber and took his place in the chair.
Budget Transparency and Accountability Act
Budget Measures Implementation Act, 2000
Tobacco Damages and Health Care Costs Recovery Act
Finance and Corporate Relations Statutes Amendment Act, 2000
Definition of Spouse Amendment Act, 2000
Miscellaneous Statutes Amendment Act (No. 2), 2000
Secure Care Act
Agri-Food Choice and Quality Act
Balanced Budget Act
Mission Foundation Amendment Act, 2000
Westmount Career Management Ltd. (Corporate Restoration) Act, 2000
Clerk of the House: In Her Majesty's name, His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor doth assent to these acts.
Supply Act, 2000-2001
In Her Majesty's name, His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor doth thank Her Majesty's loyal subjects, accept their benevolence and assent to this act.
Hon. G. Gardom (Lieutenant-Governor): Mr. Speaker and hon. members, may I wish each one of you and your families and, indeed, all British Columbians a most cheery summer -- and no rain dances, please. Hon. members, my gratitude to each one of you for your service to your constituents and to our province.
Also, before leaving I invite you and all British Columbians to our celebration of Confederation Day, the day we joined Canada -- or some say Canada joined us -- on July 19, 1871. This is going to be at Government House from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, July 15. Come one, come all; you're most welcome. Mrs. Gardom and I would indeed be delighted to see you.
His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor retired from the chamber.
[The Speaker in the chair.]
Hon. D. Lovick: Mr. Speaker, we have travelled some distance together. The journey, I think, has not always been smooth, but I think it has, for the most part, been cordial. I think all parties in this chamber have carried out their duties with the appropriate zeal and dedication.
I want, on behalf of the government -- and, if I may, you, Mr. Speaker -- to wish all members of this chamber a happy respite from our legislative duties, safe journeys and a pleasant time in months to come.
Hon. D. Lovick: Let the record show, Mr. Speaker, that various gestures of understanding and sympathy are now being exchanged.
With that, Mr. Speaker, I move the House do now adjourn.
The House adjourned at 5:31 p.m.
[ Page 17170 ]
PROCEEDINGS IN THE
DOUGLAS FIR ROOM
SECURE CARE ACT
The House in Committee of the Whole (Section A) on Bill 25; R. Kasper in the chair.
The committee met at 2:54 p.m.
On section 1.
L. Reid: I have a number of comments I wish to make at the opening of this discussion this afternoon. The first one is about the phrasing in the explanatory note. When I read, "The purpose of this Bill is to provide for the involuntary secure care of young persons at high risk of serious harm or injury because of self-destructive behaviour
They don't believe that the tone and tenor of this bill is the least bit respectful of the fact that these young children have been sexually exploited and that in fact children do not consent to sex and that in fact they have been involved in prostitution. They would have wished that the wording of this bill could have in fact been more respectful of the children's role in this endeavour.
In that we are on section 1, I'm going to reference under the definition section that a "police officer" means a person who, under (b), "is a member of the military police of the Canadian Armed Forces." Can the minister give an example of when that circumstance may arise?
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: My understanding is that it's a fairly pro forma definition and that when one defines under the Police Act, that's included, so it's an across-the-board kind of definition.
L. Reid: If the minister could respond to my question on the police officer definition "
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: The situation would occur when a particular situation happened on a military base, because a civil authority and the municipal police or the RCMP have no authority on a military base. If such a situation happened on a military base, then it would be the military police who would take care of that.
Section 1 approved.
On section 2.
L. Reid: I would make the same comment that I made in my opening remarks on the explanatory note. The individuals in question believe that the behaviours of sexual exploitation belong to the purchaser, not to the child. They see the tone of this act as being alarming in its level of disrespect. And certainly, hon. Chair, I concur. I think there are ways that this could have been phrased to be far more respectful of the children who find themselves in such dire circumstances.
Under section 2(2): "For the purpose of this Act, an emotional or behavioural condition may be demonstrated by, among other things
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: First of all, there is absolutely no intent to display any sense of disrespect to the young people who get themselves caught in these situations. And further, as the bill was being drafted, as information was being drafted, consultation was done with other bills and across this whole country.
So first of all, in terms of the use of "emotional" or "behavioral," that's common phrasing that is used in other such legislation. The other piece of this -- dealing with sexual exploitation -- is meant to in fact clarify this differently than other legislation. In another province, for instance, strictly speaking, prostitution is what is identified. Sexual exploitation is meant to be broader than that. It's meant to be children, young people, who are caught up in that, and this is a way of offering them an opportunity to come out of it and do it differently. But sexual exploitation is also meant to include pornography and some of the involvement that young people, through no fault of their own, get drawn into -- some of that kind of activity which we all deplore and appreciate that they got caught up in inadvertently.
L. Reid: I would ask that the minister put on the record the other bills where in fact sexual exploitation is considered a behavioral condition. I can tell you that the term, the phrasing, is most offensive to the young people who have come to see me about this bill. They do not accept for one moment that that's a respectful comment on who they are as young people.
Perhaps the minister and her officials can wrap their minds around some type of friendly amendment today where they would allow that section to be rephrased. If the intent is to be a support, be of assistance, to the young people in this province, for us to suggest that their behavioral condition is sexual exploitation, that somehow the behavioral condition belongs to them
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: Here, let me try it this way. What we're trying to get at here is to reach and to respond to the broadest number and kind of conditions that harm children. That's what this is meant to be about. I gather that a fair amount of thinking went into the wording of this, and this was the best that we could come up with at the time.
There is, I gather, as well, to add to that
This is about harms to children, and this is about responding and intervening when harms are happening to
[ Page 17171 ]
children -- not that the children are responsible for them, but that harms are happening to these children by others. The others will be dealt with in another act. The others, though they're perpetrators, are not part of this bill; they're part of some other legislation. So this is about trying to make sure that we have a broad definition of the condition that young people can find themselves in and that we can then respond to.
L. Reid: Well, I'm going to try this for the minister and see if she and her officials can wrap their minds around this. Section 2(2) states: "For the purpose of this Act, these conditions may be demonstrated by, among other things, (a) severe substance misuse or addiction, or (b) the sexual exploitation of the child."
What the young people in this province are taking objection to is the notion that the behavioral condition belongs to them. So if there are ways that this minister can see to the rightful conclusion today that, for the purposes of this act, "these conditions" may be demonstrated by
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: I wonder if the member would repeat the statement again. Or if she has it written down, she could send it over to us while we give it some thought.
L. Reid: Section 2(2) reads: "For the purpose of this Act, these conditions may be demonstrated by, among other things
So I'm deleting "an emotional or behavioural condition" and substituting "these conditions."
If it pleases the committee, my colleague has some questions unrelated to this aspect of this section, and we could allow him to proceed while we have this discussion.
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: I appreciate the point, but in fact I'm happy to respond right now and to say we'd be happy to include those alterations that the member would like to have, and I thank her for the suggestion. We will be happy to incorporate those into this section.
G. Plant: I wanted to ask a question, which is fairly general, but I probably should have tried to go first as we started this. But since we're talking about the purpose clause, that's a pretty general context and may be as good a place as any to ask it.
Some who have examined both this bill specifically and the general question of secure care have raised issues around whether the exercise of the powers that will be available to officials under this act might constitute an infringement of rights guaranteed under the Charter. Those are pretty important rights, constitutionally guaranteed rights. They include the right to liberty, the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure and other pretty profoundly important rights. The courts, of course, when they adjudicate cases around issues of the allegation of infringement of those rights, examine whether or not the rights have been infringed but also, if they have, whether or not the infringement can be justifiable within the terms and conditions that are established in the Charter.
It seems to me that on its face, Bill 25 clearly raises Charter issues. I'm hoping that the government has identified that possibility and that it has sought and obtained advice that says that while the issues may exist, there is no basis for concern. This bill will withstand any Charter challenge. So my question to the minister is: has she sought or obtained that advice, and if she has, will she make it public?
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: I thank the member for the question. Yes indeed, we have checked legal opinion through the legal services branch of the Attorney General ministry, and we have also reviewed other legislation. The act is indeed modelled on other legislation which restricts freedom of individuals and incorporates checks and balances available in other legislation -- that's also part of that.
The due process part of the provisions in the act address Charter rights and protect the child from breaches of these rights. The legal services folks from the Attorney General ministry have been with us all the way along in terms of the development of this legislation and have reassured us. And I think that in some other moments when I have talked about this bill -- second reading, for instance -- I have read in some of the rights and some of the checks and balances that are in place when this act passes.
G. Plant: Just to get more directly, again, to the question. Having done all of that work, I want to be sure I get the minister's clearest assurance that from her perspective, from her ministry's perspective, relying on that advice, she is satisfied that this bill does not violate the Charter.
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: Yes; I can say yes.
L. Reid: I would move the following amendment under section 2(2) -- to delete the wording "an emotional or behavioral condition" and insert "these conditions."
Section 2 as amended approved.
On section 3.
L. Reid: Under section 3(1)(d) the child's cultural, racial, linguistic and religious heritage will be considered. I want to know how this will be determined. How are we going to measure success from having made that statement?
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: I appreciate the question from the hon. member regarding section 3(1)(d) about the child's cultural, racial, linguistic and religious heritage and how that will happen. We have and expect to have, first of all, culturally appropriate staffing, access to language, placement close to the child's community when it comes time for a placement. Then after, care would be set up in a similar fashion. I would refer the member to section 17, where it also talks about the rights of the child, as we do our best to do in the other aspects of the ministry, work with young people and children.
L. Reid: Again, section 3(1)(e) -- the child's views. There is certainly a flavour through this bill that if the child is found to be disruptive or is not interested in participating in the
[ Page 17172 ]
process, they simply will be removed from the hearing or the meeting, etc. -- all through this bill. So how will we be assured that a child's views will be taken into consideration?
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: Basically the child is entitled to legal representation at the hearing, and there are other safeguards around all that too. The advocate will be informed whenever a hearing is set up, so the advocate's office has an opportunity to be there. Every plan of care is to go to the children's commissioner for further review, if that's necessary -- well, it would be necessary; it's there. They have that possibility. And conversations that the child wishes to have with lawyers, with family -- any of those specified groups, and again, it's identified in the act
They've done a pretty fair job, I think, of trying to cover those eventualities and to bring into play those agencies that already exist and have concerns around children and young people and how they are treated -- that they may be treated with the utmost respect in the difficult situation they are in and that, if you like, society is in, when we want to assist them in one of these last efforts, when things have not gone well for them up to now.
[D. Streifel in the chair.]
L. Reid: I appreciate the minister's comments, but I need to understand
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: I'd like to reassure the member -- as the member refers to section 17, which we will come to soon enough -- that all those rights that are listed there apply for however long the child is under a certificate for secure care. Obviously, whenever there is a situation when the secure care discussion comes up again, then all that process is there. But at any time, the advocate, for instance, is always and can always be involved and can ask for a private conversation with the child. That's always available at any time. So section 17 applies anytime throughout the stretch of the secure care period.
L. Reid: The young people who have come to me have real concerns. Certainly the first 72 hours are critical, and indeed they may or may not have access to legal counsel during that period. And who is the decision point? In my reading of the bill, it's the director of secure care that will make that determination but may, indeed, make that determination in a telephone call. There may be no opportunity for the child to actually seek that person's counsel and believe that the child has been heard. Who is there, early on in the process, to hear the child?
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: There are two situations, and I know the member is aware of this. The 72-hour piece of this is in an emergency situation, when it is imperative that quick intervention happens. In this case, it may be that the child's lawyer is not there at that moment. Within 72 hours, however, the director of secure care must be informed and a hearing must begin. Therefore the lawyer is there, and the advocate has an opportunity to be there; then the process unfolds. But that has to do with an emergency, where it is imperative that quick intervention happens within that.
In the non-emergency situation, there is time, for the young person is known to the social workers in the community and is known to
L. Reid: I appreciate the minister's information, but the question was specific to who in fact, in the first 72 hours
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: I think the response would be that the director or the director's designate would be the one who would be on the site or at the situation to respond to it and to be sure that the right thing has happened.
L. Reid: Not to put words in the minister's mouth, but am I hearing that either of those two individuals would then be the person responsible for speaking directly to the child?
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: Yes.
Section 3 approved.
On section 4.
L. Reid: I want to have a free-ranging discussion at this juncture, because it will make sense, so that we don't have to canvass this issue at every aspect of this bill. And the comment I want to put on the table is the reference to the issuance of a secure care certificate. My comment is around the notion that family court judges already have some experience in this area.
The concern I have is around the basic mechanics. I know there will be instances yet before us where these young people are standing in front of a family court judge who, prior to this bill, had no ability to secure service or to issue a secure care certificate, if you will. The situation's not going to change after this bill. You're still going to have individuals standing in front of family court judges.
What is the minister's intention? Is it at that point that the family court judge holds that child, retains that child, sends out for the director of secure care -- somehow transfers that child from the family court room to a secure care hearing
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room? What are the mechanics of how that works? That's an issue that's come before me many, many times in the last number of days. It seems to me that if these children are elusive, in some instances, if they find themselves in that courtroom, it would make sense to allow the process that this government is putting on the table as being a viable option to in fact be engaged. Is that the minister's intention?
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: With apologies for the delay, it's an interesting question. But first of all, the act is pretty clear about who may issue a certificate of secure care for the child. At this stage it's very clear in that, and no family court judge can do that. The family court judge could refer a case to the director of secure care, but no family court judge has been identified here -- or any other level of court that can do that. We have set in place here an independent board -- people with specific experience in this realm, if you like. They must take those four criteria in place into consideration. But they don't have the right to issue a certificate; only the designated people do.
L. Reid: So for the record, the family court judge has the young person standing in front of them at that point and realizes that he is not in a position to issue that certificate. At that point, is the child then transferred to the secure care director, transferred to a secure care facility for a hearing? Is the child in custody at that point?
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: The judge in that case, in that situation, has only the remedies that are available to that judge depending on the statute that brings the child to that court. Those are the only remedies that would be available. In terms of getting in touch with the director of secure care, I suppose they can do that; that would be to pick up the telephone. I don't know.
L. Reid: The minister is correct. That's exactly what I asked. In terms of the frustration that will emanate from judges today who have these young people in their courtrooms, they basically now will have no greater ability to deal with this issue. So the young person, who may indeed have eluded all kinds of support systems in the past, will simply walk back out the door. We will have made no gain in terms of attempting to assist that child, if that's the minister's intention -- and obviously it is, by reading this section, which precludes any other activity from taking place.
My question, again, is: if this is a dire, 72-hour situation where the police officer has this child, is the minister trusting that the educational process will be that the police will learn very quickly that children should come into a secure care discussion as opposed to being in a courtroom situation? Maybe those are some of the educational opportunities that the minister believes will be available ten or 12 months hence, when this bill is actually implemented. But I would appreciate some guidance on that question.
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: On the issue of training, yes, there will be training. That's part of the time situation that we need to put in place when the bill finally passes but before it is proclaimed. There's training for a number of groups including the police, youth workers and probation officers. And some discussions, clearly, with judges who may have some interest in what this means
This is for a very limited number of people. This is not a place for someone who would normally be in a youth justice situation. That's a separate entity that exists. It's in place, and there are supports and services in place for those who are caught up in the legal system first. This is not about the law; this is about young people in harm.
L. Reid: I appreciate the minister's comment. However, I'm not convinced it'll just be young people who have been in one process or the other. I think there will be enormous crossover. I think there will be individuals who avail themselves of the secure care option, who also have a youth record, if you will, within the court system. I think that is more than possible, and it's certainly likely that that will happen in the next year or so as this piece of legislation unfolds.
So my last question on this topic to the minister would be: if indeed there is a young person today that is being held in detention under an offence, if you will, does that person, through his family court judge or other advocate, have any ability for this to become a remedy, in that other remedies put in place by the court system in the past may frankly not have worked?
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: Yes. I think the point needs to be made, too, that the judge is not the advocate, but there are likely
Section 4 approved.
On section 5.
L. Reid: Just a timing question on section 5. The hearing must be held within seven days. Does the minister have a sense of how the interaction will happen, how the communication will go, within the first 72 hours? The young people on the street who have come to meet with me certainly have fears that the first 72 hours will not provide them with any level of communication. When they come to the act -- and frankly, a lot of them have read the act in the last number of days -- they believe that it is likelier that seven days will elapse before they are involved in any kind of communication about their future. And certainly this section allows for that. It is my hope that the communication would occur far earlier in the process -- hopefully on day one or day two. What is the minister's intention?
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: First of all, I think we need to be clear that this section is not about the emergency group. The child or young person is not in fact in secure care -- as we talk about section 5. At that point, the child is doing the child's business. The request would come forward for a hearing, and
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the child would be informed -- as is outlined here -- as would the particular defenders and advocates on behalf of that child. The child is not in secure care at that time. The child is in the community when the approach is made to the board.
L. Reid: Just to be clear, there's no possibility that any child could be contained under this section for seven days without something happening. Okay, I'm accepting that.
Section 5 approved.
On section 6.
L. Reid: Section 6(1)(c) reads: "the designated representative of the appropriate Indian band or aboriginal community, if the child is an aboriginal child, other than a Nisga'a child," etc. I would hope that the minister could outline the consultation process which took place with aboriginal bands re the writing of this section.
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: This section matches up precisely with the aboriginal consultation process in the section that went on around the Child, Family and Community Service Act and reflects years of the work that has been undertaken, and is ongoing all the time with the aboriginal communities across British Columbia. It's very clear who is to be consulted and how the consultation process is to happen. It's a very extensive one with the aboriginal bands. It's a significant issue for everyone on this one.
L. Reid: I accept the minister's comment that it is significant. Can she give me some guidance as to what particular consultations took place for the writing of this bill, Bill 25?
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: After the working group produced their report in 1998, a lot of subsequent conversations happened and consultations with at least 200 other groups. Part of that group was a child welfare forum that exists with and around the ministry already, which has ongoing conversations about children in care and the special needs and special concerns. That group had an opportunity to review the working group's documents and offered lots of opinions on that. And that's reflected in the bill.
L. Reid: I would simply ask: can this child welfare forum be considered an aboriginal consultation?
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: I think it could. All the members of the committee are representatives of the child welfare aboriginal community and aboriginal agencies with whom we work.
L. Reid: The minister has talked about the number of children that this bill will impact on at any one time being somewhere in the neighbourhood of 20 or 30 children in the province of British Columbia. Can the minister tell me today what percentage of that 20 or 30 the minister believes would be aboriginal?
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: No, we have no particular numbers in mind nor are anticipating any particular numbers. We know that they are part of the group of young people who find themselves on the streets and at risk of harm. That we know. In terms of how many will be part of the secure care program, we don't know that.
L. Reid: The minister, I'm sure, has heard this criticism, this caution, as well -- that the aboriginal young people on the downtown east side today and in the downtown south believe that this is another opportunity to deny them liberty. They are in fact found in large numbers in those communities and see this as an opportunity to single them out yet again. Is the minister understanding their concern, and is she planning to respond to that concern?
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: Yes, I want to assure the member and other members that we share the member's concern. To that end, we're working very closely with the aboriginal agencies who work in the situation of the downtown east side and downtown south. So we are able to delegate some of the responsibility for serving these young people so that their best interests are indeed looked after and so that the cultural concerns and cultural awareness are very much carried out within their own supportive community. It's very crucial that at the point when harm seems to be as a high risk, we can work with the services and on the ongoing security for that child -- not within care but without -- so that they are receiving the services that are in their best interest.
L. Reid: Will the minister kindly put on the record the names of the aboriginal agencies or organizations that she has consulted with over the creation of this bill?
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: In the interest of being absolutely accurate, we will get the number and the names of the agencies. We believe there are four, but we'll just be absolutely clear with the member, and we'll get that information to her.
Section 6 approved.
On section 7.
G. Plant: I wanted to ask a couple of questions about the right to counsel. At the risk of oversimplification, there are two broad processes contemplated by this act. One is apprehension, and the other is an application for a secure care certificate.
I want to be sure that I'm reading this section right. The child will have the right to be informed of the right to attain and instruct counsel and be provided with information about retaining counsel and with information about the role of and how to contact the child, youth and family advocate in both cases -- both in the case of apprehension and in the case where a child is served with a notice of application for a secure care certificate. Is that correct?
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: As I understand the question, the answer is yes.
G. Plant: I don't know if there's been much discussion about money thus far in the debate. I know that the minister has talked about a budget for the implementation of this act. Can the minister advise if there are funds included in the $10 million global figure that are specifically set aside for the
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purpose of ensuring that the right of children to retain and instruct counsel as provided for in this section will be adequately funded? I make the obvious point that I assume that the majority of these kids are not going to have the resources to retain or pay for counsel on their own.
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: I know the member appreciates that specific amounts of money and that sort of thing are generally dealt with in budget estimates. But generally and broadly speaking, there will be some provisions for legal financial support.
Section 7 approved.
On section 8.
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: I would like to move an amendment to section 8 that is listed in the orders of the day. I move that the amendment to section 8 standing in my name in Orders of the Day be put on the table.
On the amendment.
(a) in the proposed subsection (1) by deleting "for a specified period of not more than 30 days" and substituting "for a period specified under subsection (1.1) of this section", and
(b) by adding the following subsection:
(1.1) The period specified by the board in a secure care certificate must be no longer than, in the board's opinion, is necessary for the purpose of assessing and assisting the child, but in any event must not exceed 30 days.]
G. Plant: There are two parts to the amendment, a part (a) and a part (b). I suppose that, as much as anything, it's a point of order. Do we have both parts before us now?
The Chair: Yes, they are both in front of the committee.
On section 8 as amended.
G. Plant: In this context I wanted to pursue an issue that is perhaps more general in nature. We now have the section in front of us that provides for
The minister knows that section 70 of the Child, Family and Community Service Act is a section that sets out the rights of children in care. I'm not going to read them all. I think they may come from the UN convention on the protection of children. It's a long list of some important rights, and it is a list that follows the proposition that children in care -- a technical term -- have certain rights.
In subsection (3) of that section of that act, the act provides that the section doesn't apply to a child who is in a place of confinement. So there is a list of rights that apply to kids in care, but they don't apply to kids in care who are in a place of confinement. The question I'm going to get to, of course, is the relationship between those provisions and what happens to kids who are either apprehended or made the subject of an order of the secure care board and then find themselves detained in a secure care facility.
The question, I suppose, is whether detainment might constitute confinement. I want to make the question just a little bit more careful or complete, because the Child, Family and Community Service Act defines "place of confinement." That's in the definition section, I think, of the Child, Family and Community Service Act.
In general terms, before I get to the specific words, a place of confinement is either a jail cell or a mental health facility. Specifically, though, with respect to jail cells the language used is: "A correctional centre, a youth custody centre or other lawful place of confinement." It seems to me, then, that there are two lines of questions. A place of confinement is a kind of general term. It does have specific application in a jail sense, but it might be almost any place where somebody is, in the most ordinary sense of the term, confined. In some circumstances, detention may well amount to confinement. In many circumstances, I suspect, it won't, because the terms and conditions of the detention won't be so restrictive. I know that the act has been designed to encompass a broad range of terms and conditions of detention. I assume that in some cases, we may be talking about nothing more than a curfew, perhaps, or some orders or restrictions around where someone could go. But at the other end of the scale, we may be talking about fairly serious detention.
So in general terms, then, the question is: will kids who are apprehended or made the subject of a detention order under this act lose the rights they have? Will they lose the rights they have as children -- if they have those rights -- under the Child, Family and Community Service Act? Another way of putting it would be: is the making of a secure care order a way of getting around the rights that kids in care would otherwise have?
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: It's getting very complicated, and we'll see if I can keep it straight for my own sake and perhaps for everyone else.
First of all, secure care would be considered to be a lawful place of confinement. Section 70, then, of the CFCS Act would not apply while that certificate is in effect for that child. Then any complaints about that -- in either case, actually -- go to the children's commissioner. So their rights are also protected in the sense of where they can go to complain. But also, section 17 has been incorporated into this act -- the pieces that are in that other act -- so that it's very clear what the rights of the child are and how they must be looked after when they are in that lawful place of confinement.
G. Plant: But I think, if I understand the minister's answer correctly, that the code of the child's rights in respect of secure care is going to be found entirely in the provisions of Bill 25. If I follow the logic of the first part of the minister's answer, we don't go to section 70 of the CFCSA, because when you're the subject of apprehension or an order under the Secure Care Act, you are considered to be in a lawful place of confinement and therefore outside the scope of section 70. Have I got that right?
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: Yes, that's my understanding.
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G. Plant: This probably isn't the place to have a detailed debate about whether there has been a complete and appropriate enumeration of the rights available to kids who will be subject to apprehension orders under this act. I guess the question is to get the minister's assurance that from his -- her -- perspective there has been that consideration given. I've had five years of doing Attorney General estimates in this room with an Attorney General who changes but always happens to be male, so it's a bad habit thing.
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: I wouldn't want to do what AGs do, which is
Now, if I understand what the member is saying
L. Reid: Just two questions as they pertain to this section. Under 8(2): "If the child is under 12 years of age, the ward may not issue a secure care certificate without the minister's consent." My question is a simple one: how will the age be determined? I've met many young people in the downtown south and the downtown east side who have two or three or four birth certificates, if you will -- pieces of identification that they have obtained in interesting ways. What is the answer to my question?
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: We certainly appreciate the problem and deal with it almost daily. What happens is that we would go to the original sources, talk to parents. Frequently the young people will be known to the agencies and the authorities and those folks who already know of them. I'm sure the member has been through conversations like that, too, where you see this young person, quite a young person but one who looks about 16 or 18, and the police say: "Well, you know, she's really 12." That's the sort of thing
G. Plant: The act goes into some detail to constrain the powers that the secure care board has by reference to statutory criteria. When it comes to the question of the minister's consent in this subsection, there is no expression of principles or terms and conditions that will guide the minister statutorily in the making of the decisions that she will be asked to make, at least none that I've seen. I might say in passing that I think that, if I'm right in my reading of the act, that would constitute a defect in it. We're not going to be able to remedy the defect perfectly. But perhaps a small step down the road would be if the minister could indicate some of the principles that she would consider ought to apply to a decision of whether or not to grant or refuse consent under this provision when, and as soon as, the occasion arises that she'll have to make that kind of a decision.
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: First of all, the minister would be very much working within the general principles of the detaining of young people, which are essentially that you don't for those under 12. That starts off to be one of the first criteria used. We would then advance out to: what is the actual evidence? What's happened in other communities, in other provinces? Ontario has a similar provision. I'm not sure whether they've actually developed criteria for this. But certainly the minister's office would be consulting as to the best interests of the child. One of the pieces of that is that we, in fact, don't detain children under 12.
G. Plant: I take it that when the minister says we don't take children under 12, she is stating what amounts to a policy objective, if you will, or a principle, as opposed to some limitation on her power. Clearly the whole point of this provision is to permit the possibility of detention in the case of kids under 12. What the minister is saying is that a guiding principle is that she would be extraordinarily reluctant, I suppose, to grant that consent. Is that an accurate way of
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: This process is so interesting. I get all sorts of other information which is sometimes easy to share and sometimes less so in the process of responding to these questions. So I am really appreciating some of this.
First of all, the member is, of course, absolutely right. It would be very extraordinary circumstances when the minister would be involved. The minister has to take very extraordinary care in the sense of the decision that is then made. There are other situations when a child needs that kind of intervention. There are other people that ought to be more involved than the minister. That would be the parents; that would be checking out what the risk behaviours are -- the nature as to drug use involved.
And what about the director of child protection? That whole piece of it says something else. The minister does not want to, ought not to want to, be involved in any of these kinds of decisions at all. But occasionally they may land on the minister's desk. The provisions need to be very clear that the nature of it is that you are very reluctant to get involved at all, because there are other things that can be put in place.
L. Reid: One last question on section 8(4). The board must give written reasons for a decision to issue or refuse to issue a secure care certificate. My question is simply the time line. How long will it take to issue those reasons in writing?
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: The first answer is: as soon as possible. Secondly, to make it more precise
L. Reid: May I put on the record that it should never exceed seven days, at the very outside? And I'm hoping that it would be within the first 72 hours. If it's appropriate to contain a child for 72 hours, it's more than appropriate to give them reasons within that same length of time. I would simply leave that on the record for consideration.
Section 8 as amended approved.
On section 9.
[ Page 17177 ]
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: I move the amendment standing in my name in Orders of the Day:
[SECTION 9 (4), by adding the following paragraph:
(a.1) change the period of detainment specified under section 8 (1.1);.]
Section 9 as amended approved.
On section 10.
L. Reid: My comment on section 10 is around the type of secure care facility that will exist in the province. I am wondering if there will in fact be different facilities for different care certificates, if you will. Is there a central clearing house, or will there be an opportunity to match the child who is the recipient of this secure care certificate to the most appropriate placement?
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: As much as possible, that is the plan.
L. Reid: In that there will probably be some opportunity to individualize these certificates, I'm hoping that that's the intention. Will there also be a framework for standardized certificates for anything beyond the 72 hours? Will there be a certificate that is pretty much a framework that talks about a two-week placement for a drug and alcohol addiction?
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: Essentially, yes. Every certificate will be tailored to the needs and the requests that are brought before the board.
L. Reid: So the second part of my question
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: I'd like to ask the member to hold that question till we get to section 14, 15, perhaps even 16. Many of these issues will be there -- and what the statute says is required for that child then to be included within that certificate.
L. Reid: Then let me just put this on the record for the officials as we work toward those particular sections. Recommendation 8 of the secure care working group report says: "The working group recommends that the ministry develop and implement a safe care option as part of its continuum of services for children, youth and families." It is the continuum piece that I will come back to repeatedly during this debate, because again, I have serious reservations that it in fact exists today.
Section 10 approved.
On section 11.
L. Reid: I am on section 11(6). "If a child is detained under this section, the director of secure care must ensure that an initial assessment of the child is completed within a 72-hour period
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: I need to emphasize that it would be entirely based on the needs of the child as the child presents, as they say, when they first all come in contact with each other -- the right professional. So it's a little like a triage situation: what's the first thing we absolutely have to do? If the child is intoxicated totally, then that may be the first
L. Reid: Can I understand, then, from the minister's comments that there will not be any children in secure care that do not have access to a physician during the initial assessment phase?
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: The member is right; there will be a physician available.
Section 11 approved.
On section 12.
L. Reid: I basically referenced my concern, I think, two sections earlier. Again, my concern is around the different type of facility that may be available for a particular type of certificate or a particular type of child. I'm interested to learn the minister's thinking on melding together, if you will, a range of children with a range of needs. Certainly the research out of Alberta looks at containing in a separate facility only children who are involved in sexual activity, not in fact merging that group of young people with the drug- and alcohol-addicted population. It seems that this act makes no separation for those two populations.
What is the minister's intention in terms of that question? Will there be particular facilities that respond to sexually exploited young people, to contain them separately from individuals who have drug and alcohol problems? And I fully acknowledge that there will be some crossover there; there will be children who have issues in both of those areas. But for those who do not, will the decision be taken to keep those populations separate?
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: The answer is yes, that is very much what we do. Again, section 14 will show and demon-
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strates again what the statute will say, and that is to consider the child's best interest. The separation principle is an understood one within the system, and that is what would be undertaken.
We have some slightly different information about Alberta. They don't have drug and alcohol services available for the secure care, and there tends to be an everything-into-one kind of thing in secure care in Alberta, as I understand it. So it's a little different. This is a different kind of act. The attempt is very much there that we indeed separate the young people and in fact begin providing services that they specifically need.
L. Reid: My understanding of the Alberta model, if you will, is that they very clearly separate out those young people involved in sexual exploitation and those involved in drugs and alcohol. So I think the minister's answer is partially correct -- that yes, they do not intend to merge those two populations together. And I believe that the minister has indicated that that will also be the basic premise for British Columbia -- that those two populations will not be merged, save for the young people who would have issues in both of those areas.
The understanding that we have in the official opposition is that there will be a renovated building on the Maples site that will become one of the facilities of secure care in the province. My question is to learn whether or not the decision has been taken on whether those young people will be kept in individual settings, if you will. Or are they going to be in group settings? Is this a dormitory-style approach to containment? Those are a number of questions that the young people who have come to visit me have certainly wanted to know the answer to.
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: First of all, no final decision has been taken as to what facility or facilities will be in place. We have a team of people now working on these ideas. They are taking a number of things into consideration, including geography, the nature of the building, what kind of program is going to be offered. Several principles are part of all of this. In terms of security, the minimum required is what we want to do here, appreciating that while there are some young people who might want to run, the majority of others probably won't. So we don't see a maximum-security setting as necessarily being required. We're looking at more home-like settings that will offer a variety of opportunities for young people to feel more secure as they work at making changes in their lives.
L. Reid: Let me say this: I appreciate the minister's response to that. The young people who have come to me -- and the minister will know these very same people -- have talked about the security of the streets as their ability to stay on the move. Once they're contained, they do have fears for their personal safety. Will they have those fears from other individuals who reside in the same facility? More than likely. The dynamics of those relationships are not going to alter dramatically because we have now placed them in a secure care facility.
The minister, I know, shares this concern, but I would want some assurances today that indeed all will be done to protect the children who reside collectively in those facilities. That is an enormous fear for the street kids today -- that they will be contained and that the dynamic in there will become so intolerable that they will be fearing for their personal safety while in the minister's version of secure care.
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: Yes, we entirely agree with the member that the concern around that issue is significant. Children need to be safe. They need to be in a safe place where they are safe from themselves, in a way, but also from others. That's very much what we're going to be trying to do as the folks who are doing the search for the right kind of facilities.
L. Reid: My last comment is on section 12(4): "If the child is not apprehended within 30 days after the date the secure care certificate was issued, the certificate expires at the end of that period and the child may not be apprehended under it."
The minister should know that the people on the street who've come to visit have said that that's simply the 30-day warrant for their arrest. That's the language; that is how they are reading that particular section. They will do their absolute best to be elusive during that 30-day period, because they see this as another opportunity, certainly, to limit any personal liberty.
A lot of the young people share the same concerns that Joyce Preston has shared -- that when they truly needed assistance, when they were a whole lot younger, the province simply wasn't there for them. Their families failed them, the system failed them, etc., etc. These are typically not children who are brand-new to the system. These are children who have records with the Ministry of Social Services, the Ministry for Children and Families. These are children well known to people in the field and children who were easily recognizable to be at risk when they were very young.
As a teacher, I support the comments that Joyce Preston has made. These children don't become at risk magically when they're 12, 13 or 14 years of age. The signs have been absolutely evident along the way, and the fact that the system has failed them along the way allows us to be at the juncture we find ourselves at today. How do we, so far downstream, come back to the table with what the minister would see as a remedy in Bill 25, which these young people continue to see as just a further dismantling of their personal liberty and of their individuality? I mean, this is not a respectful piece of legislation, there's no question about that.
Can the minister comment on where the system wasn't, if you will? Why wasn't it in place for these young people before they got to be 13 or 14 years of age? Is she prepared to commit today that her government will commit to an early intervention plan, so that we're not having this same discussion 12 years from now, when the brand-new babies of today are 12 years of age and are at risk and find themselves in situations of sexual exploitation or drug and alcohol abuse?
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: There's no doubt that we've got the
What we're trying to deal with here is children at high risk of doing serious harm -- but also removing them from
[ Page 17179 ]
some of that danger that they have found themselves in. We know that there are people there
We talked earlier about the personal fears that young people have, about who preys on whom. That's part of what this is about, so that some intervention has happened to surround that child and remove that child to a place where they can be safe, where they can have an opportunity to talk to professionals and have a different chance. Regrettably, it's not a last chance, but it's getting towards that. These young people are in very, very serious danger, and we must intervene. That's what this is all about. That's what we need to be doing. Very high risk behaviours are being dealt with under this act.
Sections 12 and 13 approved.
On section 14.
L. Reid: I'm on 14(2): "If a suitable secure care facility is located in or near the child's community, the director must give priority to placing the child in that facility." My question will be around the funding, because indeed there will be an array of communities across this province from whence these children will come. Is it the minister's intention to craft more than two or three centres for this type of facility around the province of British Columbia?
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: Yes. While there are likely to be two or three fixed spots, the finances are going to be set up in such a way that there is flexibility so that a bed opportunity can be -- and could be -- located under a contract in communities dotted around the province. That's where
L. Reid: What the minister is saying is indeed falling on fertile ground. It is appropriate, in my view, to allow these programs to go forward on an individual basis. It is not my intention -- and from my earlier comments, you will know that I don't think it's appropriate -- to lump all these kids together. I don't think that would be the most healthy model to pursue.
Having said that, I would certainly support the minister's intention to place these children who are in unique circumstances into their home communities. Will there be any input sought, if you will, from these young people to learn whether or not they wish to return to their communities? Most of them have made their home in the lower mainland and southern Vancouver Island. Will we respect that choice that they have made? How will that decision be reached?
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: I think the best way to describe that is: very careful consideration of the child's best interests.
Section 14 approved.
On section 15.
L. Reid: On section 15, my question -- and certainly there's the tenor of this through the bill
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: Again, I think the best way to put that is
L. Reid: Simply to put one last comment on the record. That is the most fearful aspect of this legislation for a number of young folks who have come to see me. They left that situation because it was absolutely untenable and intolerable. To have this bill return them to the situation where it all started is causing great concern. So I will accept the minister's words that it will be done with the utmost care and consideration. But if this bill is going to be respectful of children, I think we have to ensure that their views are heard on that and at the very earliest moments of this secure care discussion affecting their personal life.
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: The members have assurances from all the folks who have been part of this. The intention is in fact to very much protect young people from exactly those kinds of circumstances. We do not want to be putting them back into threatening situations that have been part of what got them where they are.
Section 15 approved.
On section 16.
L. Reid: This particular section, "Health care consent," has also raised the ire of a number of young individuals who have spoken to me on this question. The way they read this section is that they will be involved in medical examinations, etc., with or without their consent. So their particular question to me that they would wish me to pose to this minister is: does that mean they will in fact be put through forced AIDS testing, as an example?
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: Well, member, the medical testing would be related to the nature of the circumstances that brought them into secure care. Sometimes, if they've involved in prostitution, that might mean a requirement for an AIDS test.
L. Reid: That was my conclusion as well, hon. minister. And just to put it on the record, the young people who this will affect have serious concerns that, again, their personal liberty is being absolutely trampled -- that if they were in any other setting, no one would force them to any health care procedure without their consent. This is an enormous undertaking on behalf of this government to inflict, to impose, this upon people who have in fact committed no crime. I mean,
[ Page 17180 ]
individuals incarcerated today would have more rights at their disposal than this section is indeed allowing for young people in the province of British Columbia. So I appreciate the minister's candour in her response. That indeed is how I read the section as well.
I simply wish to put on the record the enormous concern I have that this bill will become less and less helpful as the downsides become more and more apparent. This is an enormous downside for young people on the streets today -- that indeed even their ability to consent to health care has been removed from them. So if the minister is aware of that concern and, I trust, is as uncomfortable with that section as I am and will do what she can to ensure that there is some dignity, some respect, entered in for this process, entered into the discussions around this particular section, because it's, frankly, absent today
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: I want to put some other points on the record about all this. First of all, it is indeed a serious issue. There's no doubt that procedures like this would be clearly
The same provision exists currently in the Mental Health Act. I need to make that point, because there are circumstances when a young person may be brought in for this or a certificate sought for this, and the assessment about health procedures or health remedies needs to be based on accurate knowledge. That needs to be found somehow. The deemed consent can clearly be monitored.
But I think we may want to look at it as we get to section 45 and some of the regulations that need to be put in place. Perhaps consultation with an ethics committee might help us work through the best way to make sure, for the health interests of the child -- for the health interests and therapies and that sort of thing that are going to be needed -- that the professionals are working with the right information and as full information as one can have in the circumstances.
L. Reid: I appreciate the minister's comment that indeed the consent of the child would be sought. But nowhere in section 16 is that indicated; absolutely nowhere was that provision given any credence. So I appreciate the minister's comment, and I would certainly welcome the introduction of this debate before an ethics committee, etc.
Section 16 approved.
On section 17.
L. Reid: Section 17(1)(a) states: "
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: Yes, there certainly was discussion about what community standards would be and what reasonable standards would be in the circumstances, which can be very different perhaps from community standards -- I'm not sure what the member might be thinking -- of other institutions of some kind and what that would be. I think reasonable is a pretty sensible kind of phrase for the kinds of circumstances
L. Reid: I think that's a fairly weak response, hon. minister, but I will accept it. I think that if this government has gone for nine years in terms of crafting some kind of uniformity around the language, it made sense to stick with
In terms of section 17 -- and my hon. colleague has canvassed this in an earlier section -- we talked about the fact that these are now a separate set of rights. They are indeed not parallel to section 70 rights under the Child, Family and Community Service Act. I think the minister alluded to the rationale for that earlier, and I will accept that. So in terms of my particular comment on section 17, to move to (1)(l)(iii): "
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: It is an identical provision to the Child, Family and Community Service Act, so we've included that in this as well. I have no doubt that some of us, knowing someone is in care, might well want to -- perhaps the hon. member would from time to time -- go and have a conversation with them about how it's working out. So that's available to the hon. member to do.
Sections 17 and 18 approved.
On section 19.
L. Reid: Section 19(1) states: "Before the expiry of a secure care certificate, a director of secure care may apply to the board for a renewal of the certificate." My question is: what happens beyond that? It's my understanding under section 19 that a secure care certificate may not be renewed more than twice. Let's say 90 days has elapsed. What then? What does the future hold for these young people? Are they returning to the streets? Are they returning to their parents? What kind of generalized harm reduction strategy is there beyond the 90 days of containment?
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: We anticipate that there would be very, very few who would be in need of a similar situation after 90 days. Clearly it's very complicated. If they still do, if a young person still does need that kind of care, then discussions and some planning would have to go on about whether the Mental Health Act had some provisions in it for that. Clearly after 90 days we can't hold them. But a plan of action would indeed be in place so that if there are services in the community
[ Page 17181 ]
community following a program of some kind and visiting with a therapist so that they can continue their recovery from the situation that they were in. That is what we're all hoping for.
We didn't want to make it any longer than the 90 days for all those good and valid reasons we talked about earlier -- about having them in care in the first place. So it will be complicated, there's no doubt -- whatever happens after that. But the folks that will be doing the work with the young person will very much be in discussions with all the authorities around them to sort out what could happen next.
L. Reid: The minister talks about a plan of action. Would that plan of action be operationalized by a youth agreement? Would that be one of the opportunities, one of the options available? And that question pertains to whether it's after 90 days or after 30 days. Would that option be available to them?
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: Sure. That could be available at any time in the continuum along those 90 days or after the 90 days, yes.
L. Reid: Section 19(4)(c) reads: "
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: The act says the board.
L. Reid: Am I defining correctly "the board" to be the director of secure care and the panel as constituted for that particular child?
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: It would be just the panel.
L. Reid: On that note, does the minister have a sense yet of how many panels will be constituted across the province? Are we talking three or four or five specialized groups of individuals? We expounded all the way to 70 or 80 or 90 panels across this province in discussions at the briefing, but I can't imagine there are that many people that skilful in this particular decision -- i.e., how to best refine policy around children who have been sexually exploited or drug and alcohol abused. What is the minister's sense of how many panels will be constituted around the province?
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: The board would be a relatively small board, but the panels would be made up of members of the board, so that panels may construct themselves in different configurations depending on what they're dealing with. The total number might be 12 to 15. It would be the total number of people involved but at different configurations of that same group of people.
Section 19 approved.
On section 20.
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: I move the amendment to section 20 standing in my name in Orders of the Day.
[Section 20 (5), by adding the following paragraph:
(a.1) change the period of detainment specified under section 8 (1.1);.]
Section 20 as amended approved.
On section 21.
L. Reid: I have a very specific question about the secure care board. Will this board be run as a provincial entity, or will it be reflected in the regions of the province? I ask that question when we talk about regional directors of child protection now -- that there will indeed be 11 to reflect the regions of this province
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: It will be something like the review board that is in existence. There's one board with representation from around the province -- geographic, professional, culturally based -- and a number of those provisions will be part of what will make up the board.
Section 21 approved.
On section 22.
G. Plant: There are two parts to section 22. The first is a provision that gives the board exclusive jurisdiction to hear any application or other matter under the act, with an exception. The second is a privative clause that limits the right of parties to call proceedings of the board into question or to review or challenge them. I want to ask a question about each of them.
It's possible that someone who is being detained under this act may have an allegation along the way that their Charter rights were infringed by the action of someone acting pursuant to a secure care certificate or an apprehension. Would the ward have jurisdiction to hear an application with respect to a Charter issue arising during the course of an apprehension or detention?
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: It would seem that the member would know this better than I -- how complicated legal issues can be. Panels and boards like this also face those same kinds of issues. At this stage, we don't know. We wouldn't know until a Charter challenge happened perhaps, and it came forward. I suppose if there were some recommendations or some legal advice sought or if there is some concern, the Supreme Court of B.C. would be the better place to take it. The Supreme Court would be the better place to take any concern about breach or lack of phrasing here or the lack or excess of jurisdiction. So at this stage, we don't know.
G. Plant: Well, we were dealing, first of all, only with subsection 22(1). I have a different question to ask about subsection 22(2). The question around subsection 22(1) was whether the board would have jurisdiction to entertain a Charter challenge, which could conceivably constitute an application under this act if the Charter challenge were to
[ Page 17182 ]
some aspect of a secure care certificate or the administrative decisions made under that certificate. I gather that the minister's answer to that is, in effect, they don't know whether the board would have that jurisdiction. Is that a fair summary?
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: Yes, that would be a fair summary. The act doesn't give them the right to hear that, and I suspect that's a jurisdictional thing. It happened someplace else.
G. Plant: Let's move on to the next section, then. I agree that Charter issues get wrapped up in jurisdictional questions for administrative tribunals, so I don't have any difficulty with the minister's last answer.
I want to ask about this provision in a different context. Statutes like this are always filled with language by draftspersons trying to limit the jurisdiction of the courts. There are a lot of judicial decisions. In fact, there's a whole body of law that exists, as courts wrestle with these clauses and try to figure out what it is that they will and will not review.
A couple of examples, I guess -- or maybe just one -- of a situation that I'm not sure on which side of the line it would fall
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: Yes, I think a circumstance as described by the member, of a charge of bias, could probably easily fit under excess of jurisdiction. That would be one that would fall in that.
G. Plant: Would it be possible to take this one small additional step, then, and say that those aspects of administrative law that deal with issues around natural justice and bias, which do typically find their way into arguments about jurisdiction, would be, generally speaking, permitted by subsection (2) of this clause? What the clause is really trying to do is preclude a court from sitting in judgment or second-guessing the substantive merits of a board or director's decision. Is that a fair summary of the intention here?
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: I thank the member for his observation and his assertions, and I agree with him entirely. Yes.
Section 22 approved.
On section 23.
L. Reid: I'm on sub (7): "Subject to the regulations, hearings of the board are not open to the public." Yet, in fact, if these young people found themselves in a courtroom, they certainly would have the ability to have that hearing process be open. Does this section preclude them from bringing an advocate, bringing a spokesperson on their own behalf, to be part of the process?
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: The answer is yes to supports, yes to bringing an advocate, but no to the public. We don't want their pimps, and we don't want the people who are preying on them to also be there to interfere in any way with their right to be heard and their right to some secure care.
Sections 23 and 24 approved.
On section 25.
L. Reid: The child's right to be represented and to participate. I want to bring the minister to the secure care working group report. I simply want to put the two recommendations from that report on the record, because indeed, if this discussion will provide some hopeful fertile ground for the group that crafts the regulations, that would be welcome.
Recommendation No. 2, on page 33 of the report, says to implement services which are currently absent from the continuum. The minister knows I began that train of thought at the beginning of this debate -- that there are services that are absent today -- and the discussion then was that that needed to happen and that they needed to be implemented. That's the same result today. Those services still need to be implemented.
Page 43, recommendation 9. "The recommendation is that the ministry develop a voluntary, specialized service for sexually exploited children and youth that is distinct from safe care." That was the recommendation, and that is the recommendation that the people who worked on the report believed in. They indeed saw that as being a much more appropriate, respectful way to proceed with individuals who had been sexually exploited. They have enormous issues that hopefully could be addressed without containment. I would simply ask the minister to fold these two recommendations into her thinking when the regulations are drafted. Frankly, this was the best advice of the day and was accepted in its entirety by this ministry; yet it is not reflected in this act. This act is a dramatic departure from recommendation No. 9. So I would simply put that on the record for the minister's future consideration.
Under section 25(1): "Subject to the board's discretion under section 26(1) to dispense with notice to the child, a child is entitled (a) to be represented by counsel
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: Regardless of the point the member may have been making, the child is always entitled to legal representation.
Section 25 approved.
On section 26.
L. Reid: I will simply make the same point on section 26(1). "On application or on its own motion, the board may dispense with the requirement of this Act
The question that the young people have put to me is that if notice is not guaranteed, how indeed can legal representation be guaranteed? I will take it that the minister's answer to the first concern is the same as for the second concern.
[ Page 17183 ]
Under 26(3): "The board may shorten the time period for notifying a person of, or serving a person with notice of, a proceeding
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: The answer is yes.
Section 26 approved.
On section 27.
L. Reid: For the benefit of the young people who have actually asked for copies of this debate: "
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: One would have thought that their legal representation, their lawyer, would give them advice on how to do that.
L. Reid: I too hope that's the case, hon. minister. I will allow that to pass.
Sections 27 to 30 inclusive approved.
On section 31.
L. Reid: I'm on 31(2): "A director of secure care must, in accordance with the regulations, (a) establish a procedure for reviewing the exercise of a director's powers, duties and functions, under this Act
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: The existing complaints procedure is spelled out under regulation, and that complaints procedure would be
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: All right. I'm sorry. I'm talking about the other act. The Child, Family and Community Service Act has a complaint procedure in place there, and it's by that regulation.
Sections 31 to 33 inclusive approved.
On section 34.
L. Reid: When we come to section 34 and the sections that follow, I want to put on the record the concern of David Loukidelis, who is the information and privacy commissioner for the province of British Columbia. In a letter of protest to the ministry, Commissioner Loukidelis has reminded the ministry that it was already less accountable to the public than other government agencies, due to similar exclusions in the Child, Family and Community Service Act.
The result, the commissioner added, is a two-tiered access and privacy system whereby clients of the ministry have fewer rights than clients of other public bodies. "I will not stand by and see further erosion of these fundamental rights in the guise of a secure care act."
The minister will know that we have attempted to strike the sections from this act for the very reasons that the privacy commissioner has put on the table -- that the process is not respectful today of young people's rights to information and, frankly, some of their own information. They do not believe that this act guarantees them that level of access. It seems to me that this session began with a new Premier, who talked about transparency and talked about accountability and talked about opening up the process. This doesn't do that. This in fact entrenches what has been considered to be an older, archaic approach, if you will, to information -- to bring the information into the public domain -- and denying people access to their own information
Our amendments on the table today are in fact a reflection of our displeasure with the direction this ministry has taken in terms of pursuing these particular provisions of this act. These are questionable privacy provisions. I know it is the minister's intention to see these questionable privacy provisions go forward under the guise of a secure care act.
It gives me tremendous discomfort. It's frankly wrong for the ministry to proceed in this way. I know that when we had discussions in the briefing, the individuals present believed that there will be some opportunity to make amendments, to bring this more in line with what is a more modern, contemporary act. In fact, this is old-style, backward legislation -- to quote my colleague -- when it comes to denying individuals access to information that is rightly theirs. This is not dramatically different than the debate that had been held in school districts in the last 20 and 30 years about who owns a child's records. It's the child.
We came to that conclusion in the school district. It seems to me that we shouldn't be dragged screaming and kicking to the very same understanding today, when it becomes the issue for these children who will in fact be apprehended under this act. It will be a focus on containment. I'm hoping that by the time this act is fully implemented, the focus will be on care. I don't have that comfort today, because I know for a fact that the services required are not available today.
So for the act to proceed with these very questionable privacy provisions intact causes me and members of the official opposition enormous concern. Again, our amendments that are standing in my name on the order paper reflect extreme displeasure with the fact that the ministry has proceeded in this way. We will simply vote against the sections of the act.
Sections 34 to 39 inclusive approved on division.
Sections 40 to 43 inclusive approved.
On section 44.
[ Page 17184 ]
L. Reid: Section 44(1)(c) contravenes section 32. My understanding of that is that there are no reprisals because of the review. If the minister could give me a little more guidance on that particular issue.
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: My understanding is that this is essentially what you might call whistle-blower protection; that's what this section is all about.
While I'm at it, Mr. Chair, we galloped quite quickly through sections 34 to 42, and I appreciate the member's comments. But I wanted to put on the record several other comments that I think are important, and I appreciate where the hands on the clock are.
I have directed staff to work with the privacy commissioner. We are, I gather from staff, reaching some fruitful conclusions and working towards addressing the specific issues that have been raised. We are very hopeful that we will have some resolution about that.
It is important, as I have mentioned in comments I've made on this before, that the provisions in this are related to the provisions in the act from 1996, and it's important that when we solve one, we solve both. So it will be important to do that. My understanding is that it's not true that administrative details are not available. They indeed are available. Our concern has always been who has access to the information. The individuals themselves always have access to the information. The question has come up in the past: does the child want the parents to have access to that same information? Maybe the child does not want that.
That's part of what those provisions have been, and I wanted to make sure that that's on the record. But in the long term, we are having very close discussions with the privacy commissioner, and I think we'll have some very fruitful and important conclusions in a couple of months.
L. Reid: Back to section 44(1)(a): "A person commits an offence if the person without lawful excuse impedes or obstructs a director of secure care or a police officer from apprehending or detaining a child
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: There is, under section 20, a review of the decision concerning the certificate of care. If a parent changes their mind -- then back to the board and have a further discussion -- they would not be subject to that penalty.
Section 44 approved.
On section 45.
L. Reid: I'm on 45(2)(g)(v), "the recording of proceedings." If indeed a young person is interested in having a written record of the hearing process, would they be precluded from taking a recording of those proceedings?
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: Yes, it's very important that those proceedings be recorded and be available to the participants.
Sections 45 and 46 approved.
On section 47.
L. Reid: Section 47(3)(c) reads: "
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: My understanding is that there are guidelines within that act that would govern the nature of the positioning of the placement of a child. The parent may well be very involved with the child and may want to be able to direct where the child might go, with the child's agreement. But it might well be, if the parent lives in Prince George and there's an aunt who lives in Hope and the child is in Vancouver, that the child might, by agreement, be placed with some relative in Hope. It's all part of the existing legislation.
L. Reid: The key words I heard the minister say were "with the child's agreement." That's not reflected in this section. But it would warm my heart if, indeed, that is what the minister intended to convey.
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: I have to confess, Mr. Chair, that I misspoke myself. It is not there with the child's consent. This piece is from the other act and allows for the direction to happen according to the situation. I'm getting tired -- sorry.
L. Reid: If the minister would wish to make one further comment, could she assure me that if a child is going to be placed in a designated facility at the behest of a parent, the facility would be a family member or a friend that would be known to the child -- the emphasis being the piece "known to the child"?
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: In almost all cases, the answer would be yes.
Sections 47 to 50 inclusive approved.
Hon. G. Mann Brewin: I move the committee rise, report the bill complete with amendments and ask leave to sit again.
The committee rose at 5:18 p.m.
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