2001 Legislative Session: 5th Session, 36th Parliament
The following electronic version is for informational purposes
The printed version remains the official version.
THURSDAY, MARCH 29, 2001
Volume 22, Number 14
[ Page 17569 ]
The House met at 10:06 a.m.
Introduction of Bills
HEALTH CARE FUNDING PROTECTION ACT
R. Kasper presented a bill intituled Health Care Funding Protection Act.
R. Kasper: I move that a bill intituled Health Care Funding Protection Act, of which notice has been given in my name on the order paper, be introduced and now read a first time.
R. Kasper: The purpose of this bill is to ensure that the existing amount of funding for health care is not eroded due to inflation or population increases. The government must index future Ministry of Health funding levels to both consumer price index and population increase noted by the Vital Statistics department of the Ministry of Health. The purpose of the bill is to ensure that this government and future governments do not use a baseline of existing funding for health care but take into account those other increases.
Bill M207 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.
CROWN CORPORATION PROTECTION ACT
R. Kasper presented a bill intituled the Crown Corporation Protection Act.
R. Kasper: I move that a bill intituled the Crown Corporation Protection Act, of which notice has been given in my name on the order paper, be introduced and now read a first time.
R. Kasper: The purpose of this act is to formally acknowledge that corporations are owned by shareholders. And being qualified electors, as such, shareholders have a direct input on matters of privatization and deregulation. The bill sets out the changes to embrace the Initiative Act that 10 percent of the shareholders must initiate a request for privatization of a said Crown corporation. Once a successful initiative has been held, a referendum must be conducted under the Referendum Act prior to allowing the privatization of Crown corporations.
Bill M208 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.
V. Roddick: I seek leave to present a petition.
The Speaker: Please proceed, member.
V. Roddick: On behalf of 80 frustrated constituents of Delta South, I would like to present a petition concerning the current management of ICBC.
Orders of the Day
Hon. G. Janssen: I call committee stage on Bill 3.
INCOME TAX AMENDMENT ACT, 2001
The House in committee on Bill 3; D. Streifel in the chair.
A. Petter: I beg leave to make an introduction, hon. Chair.
A. Petter: Joining us in the gallery today are a number of students from Claremont Secondary School in my constituency. I believe they are joined by their teacher Mr. Gardner, and they're here to see the workings of the Legislature and do a tour of the buildings. I'd like the House to join me in making them feel very welcome. I hope you enjoy the experience.
The Chair: The committee is on Bill 3.
On section 1.
G. Farrell-Collins: There are really only two sections to this bill. The first one deals with the energy rebate based on the means testing of the GST application for refundable tax credit. Can the minister tell me how closely this section parallels what the federal government has done?
Hon. P. Ramsey: As the member says, section 1 does deal with the refundable energy credit which was announced in February. We are proposing to use the Income Tax Act as the method of applying that. While the federal government did not use the Income Tax Act to actually provide the rebate, they did, as I understand it, use a special warrant under their system and then issued cheques. So it was slightly different than the mechanism we're using.
As a result of those differences, there are a couple of things we have that they don't. For one thing, we have the confidentiality protections of the Income Tax Act regime. Staff are not quite sure how the federal government got around those provisions, but apparently they did. Second, because we are using the Income Tax Act, we are able to treat this in a way that it is not a taxable benefit. So people receiving this rebate will not be subject to tax. Those are the significant differences in how we're doing it through this vehicle compared to what the federal government did with its rebate.
G. Farrell-Collins: In determining eligibility, there are several provisions here to try to close two loopholes in particular. People who are no longer alive won't receive a cheque. As well, people who were in jail for a period of time in that last calendar year will not receive a rebate, because obviously they weren't paying for their heating in that period of time.
Can the minister explain to me how those provisions here are going to work and how closely they reflect what was done at the federal level?
[ Page 17570 ]
Hon. P. Ramsey: The provisions on trying to not have cheques sent to individuals who are deceased are very close to the federal government's mechanism, though we have tried to push the date -- namely, April 1 -- closer to the time when the cheques are actually cut and sent, which would be the end of April. So we've tried to narrow that gap.
On the issue of sending cheques to inmates of federal prisons, what we had
done was to add, if the member looks at subsection (3): "a person is deemed
not to be an eligible individual for the purposes of this section if the person
was, at the end of the 2000 taxation year
G. Farrell-Collins: My reading of subsection (3) is this -- perhaps the minister could tell me if I'm wrong -- and I'll just read it: "Despite subsection (2), a person is deemed not to be an eligible individual for the purposes of this section if the person was, at the end of the 2000 taxation year, confined to a prison or similar institution and had been so confined for a period of six months or for periods the total of which in that year was more than six months."
The way that reads is that if somebody is in prison at the end of the fiscal year and has been in prison for a period of six months, up to and including that time or at various segments throughout the year, then they would ineligible. It's the "and" or "or" there. The way I read it -- and maybe I'm wrong -- is that the first test is that you have to be incarcerated at the end of the fiscal year.
An Hon. Member: Correct.
G. Farrell-Collins: Right. What if you were incarcerated for seven months but not at the end of the fiscal year? Does the last clause of that paragraph take in that situation?
Hon. P. Ramsey: They have to have been incarcerated at the end of the calendar year, hon. member.
G. Farrell-Collins: So if somebody had been incarcerated for 364 days and got out on December 31, they would still be eligible for the rebate. And if the answer is yes, the question is: why?
Hon. P. Ramsey: I just want to take it back a step. In order to qualify for the rebate, a person must have been a resident of the province from December 31 through March 31. Those dates were essentially chosen to cover a period when energy costs were high. If a person had been incarcerated during 2000 -- or at least on Christmas day, say -- and is a resident of the province for that period, he or she has incurred some high energy costs during that period. They're not incarcerated. They are residents. They would qualify for this rebate.
G. Farrell-Collins: I'm not sure I understood that answer. Maybe it's the year I'm confused with. The minister is saying that this is to compensate people who incurred a charge for high energy rates from December 31, 2000, to March 31, 2001. Is that what this plan was about? Or is he speaking of December 31, 1999, to March 31, 2000?
Hon. P. Ramsey: In establishing a residency requirement, we sought to avoid yet another issue that I know was of concern to staff as we were trying to design this program; that was for people who move in or out of the province. Then the question was: how should you restrict eligibility?
As we discussed at second reading, I suppose in an ideal world you'd have people submit bills and quantify higher energy costs. It would take ten months, and eventually somebody would get a rebate. So we said: "Okay. Surely high energy costs start before the end of the year -- November, December." In my case, living in Prince George, you start getting higher energy costs in October. But it was felt that this period would capture the majority of people and would be a good way of qualifying on the residency.
So in order to qualify, regardless of incarceration or anything else -- and that's a further restriction on who's eligible -- you have to be a resident from December 31 to March 31. I think that's understood.
G. Farrell-Collins: Of this year?
Hon. P. Ramsey: Of this year, 2001. December 31, 2000, to March 31, 2001 -- that's the residency period for eligibility. The cheques are expected to get issued around the end of April, early May.
Then the other concern that I'm sure the member's heard expressed -- and I have -- is sending cheques to people who haven't incurred a high energy cost. One such group is obviously those who've been incarcerated in the federal prison system. We have said that if you're incarcerated at the end of the year 2000 and have been for six months during the year 2000, regardless of your residency -- in other words, you're incarcerated in B.C. -- you will not qualify for the rebate.
Now, I'm sure we can both look at how those two factors intersect and talk about various circumstances. But if somebody is released from prison, say, Christmas 2000, is resident in the province in January, February and March 2001, he or she will qualify for the rebate.
G. Farrell-Collins: I want to separate subsection (2) and subsection (3) for just a moment, if we can. And I think it's pretty easy to separate them. Subsection (2) deals with your residency. Let me take an example here. For the sake of discussing subsection (3), let's assume this person is a resident of British Columbia from December 30, 1999, right through to March 31, 2001. So through the entire 15-month period this person is a resident of British Columbia.
My understanding of how subsection (3) reads is that a person could be incarcerated for 364 days up to but not including December 31, 2000, be released, be reincarcerated on January 1, 2001, for the foreseeable future -- let's say all of the subsequent three months that are contained in this period of time -- and still receive the benefit.
Hon. P. Ramsey: There is one caveat to what the member said -- the example he used, having been in prison for say, a year and a half, 18 months up until the end of December 2000. That person actually would not be eligible, because there's also a trigger for being incarcerated at the end of the calendar
[ Page 17571 ]
year in 1999. That's already in the existing qualifications. It's in the eligibility for GST, which we're piggybacking on. So the member's example doesn't quite fit.
However, hypothetically -- and it would be interesting to see if there's anybody who actually fits into these criteria -- somebody could be incarcerated January 1, 2000, to December 30, 2000, reincarcerated January 1, 2001, and qualify. I suspect that is a very, very small number of people, if any. We have sought to restrict, as much as possible, this rebate to those that I think the broad public thinks should merit it. The member is right that there are, at least theoretically, some circumstances in which an incarcerated prisoner may receive a cheque. I think they are a very, very small number.
G. Farrell-Collins: I was trying to discuss the broadest possible parameters of somebody being incarcerated based on the structure. Another argument could be made here, and in fact, that was the far end of the spectrum. There are a whole range of scenarios within that where somebody could have been in and out of incarceration throughout that period, where they do not require the rebate and whereby they would be entitled to it only by virtue of the fact that they weren't there on one particular day -- that being December 31.
I can give a number of examples. Under this legislation, somebody could be incarcerated for October, November, December, with the exception of the 31st, be reincarcerated, be let out and be rearrested -- it's not like it never happens -- within the week and be back in prison for January, February, March -- the six months where the rebate is targeted, essentially the winter months -- and still receive the benefit. I guess that's why I don't understand the logic of the way this section is written. I don't see the relevancy of the six months until such time as somebody has triggered it by being incarcerated one single day at the end of the fiscal year. Perhaps the reason for that, and maybe the minister can explain, is because that's what triggers the GST rebate. If that's the case, then perhaps it's an odd way of doing it.
Would it not have been clearer to say that anyone who is incarcerated for half of the period between October 1 and March 31 would not be eligible for this rebate? Would that have been an easy way to draft it, which would have perhaps caught that? If the minister is saying that the issue of the rebate is really targeted from, say, October 1 to March 31, the winter period, why are we even talking about the nine months prior to October 1?
Hon. P. Ramsey: I think the member has understood the difficulties that staff are working with in attempting to do this. In theory, yes, we could design a system that he describes: October 31 to March 30. Away you go. CCRA -- Canada Customs and Revenue Agency -- which we're using to deliver this, would first probably take another two or three months to actually get the cheques in the mail and would charge us quite considerably for redesign. What we have done for speed of getting the rebate into citizens' hands is piggyback on an admittedly imperfect system called GST rebates. That is why some of the things that the member and I are discussing appear as ineligibility requirements for the energy rebate.
G. Farrell-Collins: I guess that's the explanation I wanted. No system is perfect. Perhaps if this ever happens again, the federal government will have had a better idea on how to target it better and come up with a better system. I understand the delay; the urgency is to get the rebate into people's pockets as reasonably quickly as possible, and no system is perfect. I just found the wording of that section bizarre. Having read enough tax legislation -- more than I probably want to -- it's not the weirdest section I've ever read, but it's certainly there.
Given the minister's comments, though, that this is targeted for the October 1 to March 31 six-month winter cold period, and also given my comment about not wanting cheques to go to people who've deceased since then and the minister's assurances that that's the reason for the selection of the April 1 trigger point for somebody passing away -- i.e., if somebody's passed away before April 1 of this year -- they won't be eligible for it at all.
Take a couple of seniors. They receive the GST rebate. They've been paying their energy costs throughout the winter -- the two people living there. One of them passes away on March 30. The spouse, whoever he or she may be, will still have those bills. Those bills don't disappear. I don't understand the logic behind cutting them off when they've actually paid for their energy costs, as opposed to somebody in the scenario that I laid out previously who's been incarcerated in that period of time, who will receive the benefit and has not incurred the cost.
Hon. P. Ramsey: Actually, the circumstance that the member describes would not impair the surviving member of the couple from getting a $100 rebate. While obviously the deceased person would not be eligible for it, the surviving person would be and would, for the purposes of the federal Income Tax Act, have had a dependent -- even though that dependent is now deceased -- and would have had it for that period and therefore would have qualified for the $100 rebate.
G. Farrell-Collins: Would the deceased spouse necessarily, under the
Income Tax Act, have been declared a dependent? Perhaps that's the individual
Hon. P. Ramsey: I think what the person would be captured by is the qualified relation. It's not the financial dependency issue, and therefore the person would indeed be eligible for the $100 rebate.
G. Farrell-Collins: Okay. I'll have to look at what the definition in the federal tax act is of a qualified relation, but the minister assures me, then, in the scenario I've just outlined that the surviving spouse would still be eligible for the full $100 rebate as opposed to just the $50 rebate.
Hon. P. Ramsey: Yes, that is correct.
Sections 1 to 3 inclusive approved.
Hon. P. Ramsey: I move the committee rise and report the bill complete without amendment.
[ Page 17572 ]
The House resumed; the Speaker in the chair.
Bill 3, Income Tax Amendment Act, 2001, reported complete without amendment, read a third time and passed.
Hon. P. Ramsey: I call committee stage of Bill 4.
IMPLEMENTATION ACT, 2001
The House in committee on Bill 4; D. Streifel in the chair.
Sections 1 to 5 inclusive approved.
On section 6.
G. Farrell-Collins: Can the minister explain the significance of section 6 to us, please?
Hon. P. Ramsey: The change is because estimates are estimates, not reports on what has actually occurred. So when we talk about the amount amortized in the Financial Administration Act now tied to preparation and tabling of estimates, it's really -- staff advised -- inaccurate. We are actually estimating the amount of the amortization, and therefore we are actually changing the law to fit with what is, on the face of it, common sense. We will not know the exact amount amortized until the actual end of the fiscal year and the preparation of public accounts.
Sections 6 to 10 inclusive approved.
On section 11.
G. Farrell-Collins: Section 11 is the beginning of the section of the
act that deals with changes to the Income Tax Act. That goes right up until
Can the minister explain in general terms what the needs were, what problems
have been found in the last little while as we've sort of set up this new
system? Particularly, the reason I stopped at 11
Hon. P. Ramsey: As the member says, this is a significant portion of the bill, I think -- sections 11 through 40. The great majority of this is technical work. As you know, the federal government is constantly in the process of changing its act as well. The great bulk of the amendments here are to make sure we are harmonized with them -- that there's a good mesh. We're actually catching up on around two years of federal amendments.
Last year, the member may remember, we also had a substantial amount of this sort of work in the legislation. We had a backlog that we were working through the system, and we think this should largely get us up to date and deal with federal amendments which have occurred over the last two years. That is one large theme.
The member asked about 11(c). In some ways this is a result of the fact that we now have two income tax acts: federal and provincial. While we think we have done a good job of saying our definitions apply in regulation, we have a slight gap in saying our definitions apply if there's a difference in the actual act. So we wanted to make sure it was quite clear that we're harmonized -- where we're harmonized, if there are differences, we prevail. And federal definitions apply in circumstances where we don't have a corresponding definition in our act or regulations.
Finally, section 12 is specific to some work on tax on income in this province. But the rest of it -- the member's quite right -- is largely the work of making sure there's clarity between the provincial Income Tax Act and the federal Income Tax Act, that it's clear which definitions apply when and that the provincial statute is brought up to date with changes that have been made in the federal statute.
The Chair: Okay. We have a little bit of retroactive business to do here, committee. The call now will be sections 11 to 14. Do they pass?
Sections 11 to 14 inclusive approved.
On section 15.
Hon. P. Ramsey: I have tabled the intent to delete this amendment. We had proposed section 15 to remove a reference. We have now looked at it and say that would incorrectly remove a reference, and we must keep that reference in there to maintain consistency. So I advise the House that I will be voting against this section of the bill, section 15, so that we can delete it.
Section 15 negatived.
The Chair: The motion is defeated. The Chair really appreciates the help from the sides this morning.
On section 16.
Hon. P. Ramsey: We're all getting good advice from the Clerks.
The same for section 16 -- it's exactly the same issue. This amendment to the tax act would have incorrectly removed a reference that is necessary to maintain consistency. I'm voting against it.
Section 16 negatived.
Sections 17 to 26 inclusive approved.
On section 27.
G. Farrell-Collins: This section permits prepayment of income tax refunds for film and television and scientific research and experimental development tax credits. Can the minister tell me why it was required?
[ Page 17573 ]
Hon. P. Ramsey: This parallels provisions in federal corporate tax credits. The issue here is that to apply for these, my understanding is that pre-auditing is actually required, and the great majority are uncontested applications. The federal government is able to get those uncontested portions back into the hands of corporations fast. This allows us to do the same thing.
Sections 27 and 28 approved.
On section 29.
G. Farrell-Collins: This is a fairly significant section that's being inserted into the Income Tax Act. I notice that in the explanatory note it says it "re-enacts" it, and I'm wondering if this is the legislation that was there previously, in its entirety, and is just being put back in. If so, why? There are a number of cases in the rest of the act where there are provisions for the disclosure or sharing of information relating to taxes with other branches of the provincial government or other governments. In general terms, for all of those provisions as they apply, can the minister tell me whether or not he has consulted with the information and privacy commissioner on those sections?
Hon. P. Ramsey: The member is quite right. Section 29 amends the
section 64 provisions that govern release of information under the Income Tax
Act. There is an existing section 64. As staff worked through some of the
revisions that we were considering, it became clear that the simplest way
As I said at second reading, what we are seeking to do is highlight what information can be shared, under what circumstances it specifies who information can be shared with, including the taxpayer, taxpayer representatives, other public bodies, other specific program areas -- for example, two ministries within the provincial government. It highlights that information can only be shared with other public bodies under an information-sharing agreement, which would of course be captured by protection-of-privacy legislation. It highlights that unauthorized access to data is an offence and subject to fines and imprisonment and harmonizes this act with the federal act.
The member asked, I think, the most significant question: what is the view of the information and privacy commissioner on these provisions? They have been consulted thoroughly as these amendments have been proposed, and they are supportive of these amendments.
Section 29 approved.
On section 30.
G. Farrell-Collins: I'm assuming that the same would apply for section 30 -- that the information and privacy commissioner has been consulted and is comfortable with the information-sharing agreement that's in place there. Is that correct?
Hon. P. Ramsey: I assure the member that is the case.
Sections 30 to 55 inclusive approved.
On section 56.
G. Farrell-Collins: Can the minister explain to me the provisions contained in section 56? It is an increase of $2 million in the First Citizens Fund special account. What is the requirement for? And what is the current status of that account?
Hon. P. Ramsey: I had expected my colleague the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs to be in the chamber for this, but we are moving with speed. This has been an increased appropriation for the First Citizens Fund special account sought by that ministry during budget preparation.
As the member knows, that account uses the interest from the amount in it. Adding an additional $2 million, effective April 1, will provide increased financial assistance through loan guarantees and government transfers to members of first nations in the province. It will increase the revenue earned on the amount in the account by approximately $120,000. That will result in, the assumption is, around ten additional business loans per year, which is the purpose of the fund, and perhaps creating an additional 25 jobs in the province.
G. Farrell-Collins: I don't have the budget documents before me, and perhaps the minister doesn't either. But can he tell me what the current status of that fund is?
Hon. P. Ramsey: Staff in the chamber don't have that information, and I've left my budget material out as well. I'll get the information to the member outside the chamber, if that's acceptable.
G. Farrell-Collins: Thank you. Maybe just in general terms, is this a doubling or a marginal increase? Is it a 10 percent or 2 percent increase? I don't even know what the current status is at all.
Hon. P. Ramsey: The opening balance this year is $34 million. So this is a significant increase, but not a doubling in any case.
Section 56 approved.
On sections 57 to 63.
G. Farrell-Collins: Sections 57 through 63 contain changes to the rural taxation act. They provide an alternate method of taxation. Perhaps the minister can give us a quick explanation of what the changes do, in general, and why they were required.
Hon. P. Ramsey: The decision to amend the act to provide for alternate tax-collection schemes is a response to requests from taxpayers who are taxed on rural property. As the member may know, the current system is: one time a year, pay the full amount. Taxpayers have asked for the ability to have tax collectors design alternative and more flexible schemes, as have some municipalities. These amendments enable but do not mandate the design and implementation of alternative tax-collection schemes.
[ Page 17574 ]
Sections 57 to 63 inclusive approved.
On sections 64 to 67.
G. Farrell-Collins: Sections 64 through 67 contain changes in the Cigarette and Tobacco Tax Act. They look like fairly technical and procedural amendments to me. Perhaps the minister can give us a rough explanation of them.
Hon. P. Ramsey: Yes, this is a technical provision, and if we had
uniform tobacco taxes across the country, I doubt we'd be debating it. The
situation that's seeking to be addressed is
G. Farrell-Collins: Perhaps the minister can tell me how you collect this tax. How do you know that this transaction is happening? How is government aware of it? It would seem to me that communication between an individual and a company or an individual outside of the province, where goods are being sent back and forth, is private communication between two individuals. How is the government aware of this? How do you go out and collect this tax, and how much is collected through this process?
Hon. P. Ramsey: The ministry does have a branch that works with the RCMP. They are able to identify vendors of untaxed tobacco products that are selling into the province. Through that work we do obtain records of who in British Columbia has been purchasing untaxed tobacco, and then collection efforts are instituted as with any other unpaid tax.
Sections 64 to 67 inclusive approved.
On section 68.
G. Farrell-Collins: Starting in section 68, we have the transitional and the commencement sections. The first instance of the retroactivity pops up in the very first section, section 68. This requirement under section 68 makes regulations that were made under the Hotel Room Tax Act -- if they're made before January 1, 2002 -- retroactive to March 16, 1995. It does two things. Not only is it saying that regulations that have already been created, but perhaps we now find out aren't actually enforceable, will be retroactive to March 16, 1995. So people out there who are paying tax would at least probably know what the government's been trying to do, and they would be aware of the regulations now in the Hotel Room Tax Act that the government is going to make retroactive to 1995.
But it does more than that, because it allows the government through the rest of this year, up until January 1, 2002, to create a whole bunch of other regulations that may be retroactive to 1995. Can the minister tell me why that kind of retroactivity is necessary? It's hard enough for people out there to understand the tax act as it is without having to go back -- in this case, six years -- and change the regulations and recalculate and come up with whatever the new tax amount is.
Hon. P. Ramsey: Looking at retroactivity is, I admit, always something that provokes examination and debate, and that's entirely appropriate. In this case, the member will not be surprised if I say that what we're doing is seeking to preserve the current tax administration regime.
The second thing I'd point out to the member is that this retroactivity does not allow sweeping changes to other provisions of the Hotel Room Tax Act. It applies only to the very narrow amendment to the Hotel Room Tax Act that is incorporated in this legislation in section 10. That specific amendment was to level the playing field between hoteliers who are vending rooms, who are subject to the tax, and a tourist broker who might purchase a block of rooms for more than two months and avoid tax or seek to avoid tax. It simply levels the playing field for hoteliers. So the retroactivity, while on its surface the language looks sweeping, is in fact very narrowly constrained to the specific amendment contained in this legislation.
G. Farrell-Collins: I understand the desire to level the playing field
and make people compete on a fair basis. What I don't understand is why you need
to go back to 1994 to do that. It would seem to me that the
Hon. P. Ramsey: Staff assured me nobody is going to get a new tax bill. These brokers have indeed been paying the hotel tax. The amendment that is generated in section 10 came about because of a request for a refund from one of these brokers, who I assume had some very sharp person looking at the tax act and thought that they had found a way of avoiding the payment of it. So this is not an attempt to go back and scoop taxes that have not been remitted. It is an attempt to preserve what has been in place and the taxes that have indeed been remitted under provisions of the Hotel Room Tax Act.
G. Farrell-Collins: I think there is a bit of a difference between that scenario and the one I outlined, and that's fine.
Is that issue currently before the courts, or is it merely an application for rebate? Is it a single application for rebate, or are there multiple applications?
Hon. P. Ramsey: To staff's knowledge, it was a single application for a rebate of the taxes. It is not before the courts.
Sections 68 to 70 inclusive approved.
On section 71.
[ Page 17575 ]
Hon. P. Ramsey: Having declined to approve sections 15 and 16, I will also be declining to approve section 71, since these are the transitional provisions related to those two sections that have now been rejected by the committee.
Section 71 negatived.
Sections 72 to 74 inclusive approved.
On section 75.
G. Farrell-Collins: Section 75 is the commencement section. I note that the minister is going to be voting against subsection (10), and we can leave that for now. At this point, the minister probably does have to move an amendment to delete subsection (10), and I don't know if he wants to do that now.
Hon. P. Ramsey: I move the amendment in the hands of the Chair to amend section 75 by deleting subsection (10).
On section 75 as amended.
G. Farrell-Collins: Again, there are a number of retroactivity provisions in the commencement section here. Subsections (1), (2), (6) and (11) all deal with retroactivity: three of them to 1975, two of them dating back to February 23, 1994. I am intrigued by the date February 23, 1994. The March 16, 1995, one I assume was budget day. I think the budget came in at 10 a.m. that day instead of 2 p.m. Again, the date of February 23, 1994, appears in subsection (11).
Perhaps with the same thought in mind, can the minister explain why those retroactivity provisions are required?
R. Kasper: I'd like to ask leave to make an introduction.
R. Kasper: Joining us in the gallery are some 50 grades 11 and 12 students from Frances Kelsey Secondary School in the northern part of my riding. They're joined by their teachers, David Towner and Des McCambridge. Could the House please make them welcome.
Hon. P. Ramsey: There are a variety of reasons for the different retroactivity provisions. I would say that in all cases, what I said earlier holds here. These are to preserve tax regimes that have been in place, not to levy new assessments.
In the case of subsection (1) this refers, of course, back to the definition
of investment brokers under the Corporation Capital Tax Act. We currently have
one appeal in front of us and nothing before the courts. This takes it back to
Subsection (6). We just recently discussed sections 10 and 68 having the hotel room tax. This takes it back the six years of an appeal period or a retroactive audit period. January 1, 1994, if memory serves, is the mine reclamation, which changed definition to the environmental trust act -- the same dates. The federal one again in subsection (11), February 23, is the same issue.
So we're seeking to harmonize again. This is not an attempt to go back and levy new assessments on either individuals or corporations. It is an attempt to make sure that the harmonization with federal statutes and the current tax regime is indeed intact.
Section 75 as amended approved.
Hon. P. Ramsey: I move that the committee rise and report Bill 4 complete with amendment.
The House resumed; the Speaker in the chair.
Bill 4, Budget Measures Implementation Act, 2001, reported complete with amendment.
The Speaker: When shall the bill be considered as reported?
Hon. P. Ramsey: With leave now, hon. Speaker.
Bill 4, Budget Measures Implementation Act, 2001, read a third time and passed.
Introduction of Bills
SUPPLY ACT (No. 1), 2001
Hon. P. Ramsey presented a message from His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor: a bill intituled Supply Act (No. 1), 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 continuation of government's programs until the government's estimates for 2001-02 have been debated and voted upon in this assembly. The bill will provide interim supply for government operation and expenses for the initial four months of the 2001-02 fiscal year. This will allow time to debate and pass the estimates. This interim supply is required because existing voted appropriations will expire on March 31, 2001.
This bill will also provide interim supply for other financing requirements. The bill seeks supply for 50 percent of the year's financing transaction requirements for capital asset expenditures and loans and investments and 100 percent of
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financing transactions for revenues collected for and transferred to other entities. This will allow time to debate these requirements. This interim supply is also required because existing voted appropriations will expire on March 31, 2001. In moving introduction and first reading of the bill, I ask that it be considered as urgent under standing order 81 and be permitted to be advanced through all stages this day.
The Speaker: Hon. members, the interim supply bill falls into the category of a bill which, by precedent in this House, has been permitted to advance through all stages in one day, and I so rule. I would ask you to remain in your seats while the bill is circulated.
SUPPLY ACT (No. 1), 2001
Hon. P. Ramsey: I move that the bill be now read a second time. This supply bill is in the general form of previous supply bills. The first section of the bill requests one-third of voted expenses as presented in the estimates to provide for the general programs of government.
The first interim supply bill of a fiscal year typically requests three months of voted expenses. However, in keeping with the tradition for election years, this bill requests a slightly greater proportion: four months of voted expenses. Fifty percent of financing transaction requirements set out in schedules C, D and E of the estimates have been provided for in the interim supply bill. This will allow time later for more complete debate on these items.
The third section requests the disbursements related to revenue collected for and transferred to other entities, which appear in schedule F of the estimates. As there is no impact on the deficit, borrowing or debt from these particular financing transactions, 100 percent of the year's requirements is being sought in this bill.
G. Farrell-Collins: Bill 5 is a supply act. It's slightly different from the other supply acts that I've seen before this House, because there is no special warrant attached to the back. We dealt with the special warrant that was granted this year for the money that just went -- to quote the minister -- to Advanced Education for student loans. I think it was attached to the supplemental estimate earlier this week.
As a result of that not being there, this is a very pro forma piece of legislation that every government introduces at the end of the fiscal year in order to continue funding government operations until such time as the estimates are passed.
The minister has stated that he has included a four-month spending provision instead of the traditional three-month spending, which is appreciated. That allows, particularly in an election year, a new government -- whichever government that may be -- the opportunity to continue spending without relying on a special warrant for a period of time until the House can be reconstituted, recalled and a new interim supply bill passed.
Those are the only comments I have to make with this bill. I support second reading.
Hon. P. Ramsey: I appreciate the member's comments. It'll be interesting to see. Having supply acts without warrants could create a whole new tone around supply acts in the future. I now move second reading of Bill 5.
Bill 5, Supply Act (No. 1), 2001, read a second time and referred to a Committee of the Whole House for consideration forthwith.
SUPPLY ACT (No. 1), 2001
The House in committee on Bill 5; D. Streifel in the chair.
Sections 1 to 3 inclusive approved.
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 5, Supply Act (No. 1), 2001, reported complete without amendment, read a third time and passed.
Hon. G. Janssen: Hon. Speaker, I call Bill 11, committee stage. I believe the Attorney General is on his way to the House, so if we will wait, momentarily he should be here.
The Speaker: I'll call the committee Chair, and he can deal with the recess.
SEX OFFENDER REGISTRY ACT
The House in committee on Bill 11; D. Streifel in the chair.
Hon. G. Janssen: I apologize, hon. Chair, but it seems the Attorney General is not available. So I move that the committee rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again.
The House resumed; the Speaker in the chair.
The committee, having reported progress, was granted leave to sit again.
Hon. G. Janssen moved adjournment of the House.
The House adjourned at 11:37 a.m.
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