Legislative Session: Fourth Session, 39th Parliament
COMMITTEE C BLUES
This is a DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY of debate in one sitting of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia. This transcript is subject to corrections, and will be replaced by the final, official Hansard report. Use of this transcript, other than in the legislative precinct, is not protected by parliamentary privilege, and public attribution of any of the debate as transcribed here could entail legal liability.
PROCEEDINGS IN THE
Committee of Supply
ESTIMATES: OFFICE OF THE PREMIER
The House in Committee of Supply (Section C); P. Pimm in the chair.
The committee met at 2:47 p.m.
On Vote 10: Office of the Premier, $9,008,000 (continued).
A. Dix: We have a new Chair, and we've got a short period of time this afternoon. I understand we have till 3:30. Then the estimates of the statutory officers and the estimates of the minister of community services will end things here in the Birch Room — the attic, as we call it.
Just a short question to the Premier, first of all. As we near next May's election, can the Premier commit, as her predecessor did in advance of the 2009 election, to end government information advertising four months ahead of the fixed election date?
Hon. C. Clark: Well, as the member knows, there have been some changes to the Elections Act recently that govern spending and third-party spending. We will certainly be living with government policy on this, living within the law on it.
We had a chance to briefly explore the member's view on government advertising before, and I'm still hoping that he'll be able to give us an answer about whether or not he supports government doing advertising in general and how the current government spending sits with the spending that he was a part of in the 1990s.
A. Dix: So will the Premier be doing what her predecessor did prior to the 2009 election?
Hon. C. Clark: Well, perhaps. We're going to look at the legislation as it…. We're going to look at the changed landscape as a result of the legislation.
But again, I'm curious to know the member's view on this — he's had lunch to think about it — and whether or not he supports the government doing advertising.
A. Dix: Okay. We'll ask the Premier, since I think the answer to that was "perhaps"…. That's a long time to wait for that answer, but that's okay.
I just had some questions about the Premier's evolving position on the Senate. The Premier in the last year has advanced the following positions: abolishment, increasing B.C.'s seat complement, leaving vacancies in Ontario and Quebec unfilled in order to increase B.C.'s share of existing seats, passing legislation to allow for Senate elections in B.C. and just holding an election without legislation.
I guess the question I had for the Premier was: why would it make sense for British Columbia — and this is her most recent position on the Senate — to give more authority to a body where we have one senator for every 700,000 people when other provinces have one senator for every 30,000 people? Why would that make sense at this time, and why would it make sense to expend public money on it when, for example, there have been four Senate elections in Alberta and only two of the actual senators have been put in place and Alberta still is left, as we are, with only six senators?
Hon. C. Clark: There are many ideas about how we could reform the Senate, though the one that we are going to be moving on is essentially, although not completely, expressed in the private member's bill that was presented to our Legislature by the member for Chilliwack.
In that private member's bill, he contemplates a sunset clause in the legislation. That he put there because the Senate is far from perfect. It needs to be reformed if it's going to work. The Prime Minister has expressed a very strong view that he intends to reform the Senate.
In the member's bill that was put forward, there is a sunset clause because we want to make sure that we are trying to be a constructive part of reform of an institution that is unlikely to go away in the short term but to make it known quite clearly that we expect to see that reform, or our legislation will expire. That's why the sunset clause is in the private member's bill.
A. Dix: The Premier has said on national radio that she was going to conduct an election in the wake of the mandatory retirement of Senator St. Germain. I guess the question is: will such an election take place?
Hon. C. Clark: We will bring forward some legislation on the Senate election. As I said when I became Premier, we want to encourage private members to be able to…. We want to make sure that private members know that if they introduce a bill, it has some chance, some good chance, of actually becoming the will of the government.
This is a private member's bill that was brought forward by the member for Chilliwack. He put a lot of work into it, a lot of thought, for some of the reasons that I enumerated just a moment ago. We intend to make sure that that comes forward as legislation.
It is funny to hear the member talking about how the Senate isn't fair when his own party is clearly on the side of protecting 25 percent of the seats for Quebec at the expense of British Columbia and Alberta. His own leader came out and said that. He refused to call him out on it. That is wrong.
On the one hand, he stands here in this chamber and says he thinks the Senate is unbalanced, that it doesn't represent B.C.'s interests. On the other hand, his own party wants to make sure that they are protecting, guaranteeing, a minimum 25 percent of the seats for one province in central Canada.
A. Dix: I'm surprised to hear the Premier — because this was the most recent of five different positions that she has put forward on the Senate in the last year — expressing this. My position actually is in favour of abolition of the Senate. It's exactly the same as the position she put forward last year, actually.
I'm going to quote her exactly. I like to quote her exactly here. She says:
"The number of seats in the House of Commons changes to accommodate that" — the population growing — "so our voice, proportionately, in the House of Commons is growing all the time. In the Senate it's fixed. And we start electing the Senate, we give them legitimacy, and then we're stuck with one out of ten votes? Forget it. I don't want to disadvantage British Columbia like that. I think that people who support an elected Senate in British Columbia had better give their heads a shake, because it's not good for British Columbia. The best thing for British Columbia would be to abolish the thing."
Well, that's very reasonable. I had that position last year too. I still have that position today.
I want to ask the Premier if they've costed out the cost of a Senate election and why she clearly changed her mind 100 percent on this issue.
Hon. C. Clark: I haven't changed my mind on abolishing the Senate, but I do think we have to live in the realm of reality, and we have to make the best of a bad situation. That means that when the Prime Minister says he wants to reform the Senate, there is almost zero chance of getting rid of the Senate — particularly when this member's federal leader intends to stand firmly, foursquare in the way of that happening, when his leader stands up and says he wants to make sure that Quebec maintains 25 percent of the seats.
If the federal Leader of the Opposition says that he won't reform the Senate and the Prime Minister says he prefers to reform it, what we need to do, I think, is to try and make sure that we are part of making sure that reform works in a way for British Columbia. I think we should be living in the realm of reality on this, trying to make the best of what's an absolutely imperfect situation and see if we can be a constructive part of reforming the Senate. That's what we're attempting to do.
A. Dix: Last year the Premier said that people who think you should elect the Senate should "give their heads a shake," and this year she's proposing legislation to say that we should elect Senators. That's a change in position.
Fair enough. The Premier is allowed to change the position that she has in January 2011, then on June 3, then on June 23, then again on June 24 — and now again. She's allowed to change her position. She is representing British Columbia, though.
The fact of the matter is that Senate reform is very difficult because the provinces…. It has nothing to do with federal politicians. The provinces are unlikely, particularly in Atlantic Canada, to give up the level of representation they have now. Everybody knows this. This is a straightforward matter.
The question for British Columbia is: should we be enhancing the legitimacy of an elected House of Commons where British Columbia is getting a little less than its share of representation but still a share of representation, or should we be giving legitimacy to a Senate by elections? I think that that's not the right idea. I'm in favour of abolishing the Senate. I have been, and I'm curious to know why the Premier, on this specific point, has changed her position. That's all.
Hon. C. Clark: We are trying to be a constructive part of reforming the Senate. The member clearly is doubtful about the Prime Minister's ability to be able to try and bring some reform to the Senate. I'm not quite so pessimistic. I think that this is something that could indeed be possible.
But it may not be, and that's why the sunset clause is in the private member's bill. We want to make sure that British Columbia is a constructive part of this decision, a constructive part of this change, should it happen. I'm more confident, clearly, about the likelihood that this could happen than the member is. I know the member's position is: "Well, it's never going to work, so let's just sit on our hands and do nothing about it."
Well, I think we should try and be a constructive part of this change. That's what we're attempting to do in being a part of reforming the Senate. That, I think, is what the member for Chilliwack should be applauded for trying to do. I think that's part of trying to make sure we are responding to the changing circumstances in our country.
I'm quite hopeful that the Prime Minister can make good on his commitment to reform the Senate, and I think that British Columbia will do better and British Columbians' interests will be better represented if we make sure that we're a constructive part of that change, instead of saying, "Oh, it's all impossible," and just deciding to sit on our hands, as the Leader of the Opposition appears to be choosing to do.
A. Dix: That's all very interesting.
Just a small informational question: has the Deputy Minister to the Premier been involved in meetings around the Port Mann bridge to ensure that the bridge comes in on time and before the election? Is he involved in those meetings? Have there been those kinds of discussions with the contractor involved with the Port Mann bridge?
Hon. C. Clark: I do just want to go back for a second. The member said he always likes to quote me exactly, and I just don't want to let that stand on the record as accurate, because in my experience, it's not.
With respect to the member's question, I'm advised that my deputy has had no meetings with the contractor.
A. Dix: Just a question with respect to the proposed toll on the Port Mann bridge. Someone earning $44,000 each year pays about $1,700 in provincial income tax. The Premier will know that someone taking the Port Mann bridge after the toll comes in will pay about $1,500 a year if they use it five days a week, 50 weeks a year.
I'm wondering if the Premier thinks that's going to be sustainable for a person living south of the Fraser.
Hon. C. Clark: Well, the member knows that the government's tolling policy is that there is a free alternative, first of all, but second, one of the things that we know from this discussion the last time the government had it is that people in the Fraser Valley are very interested in the time saving. People will save an hour a day on that crossing, which is very significant.
You think of that extra hour a day at your job, earning money, or that extra hour a day, spending it with your family. We all, or at least I certainly know what it's like to be a commuter in the suburbs and how difficult it is to make sure that you have time for your family when you're back and forth all the time. So that hour time saving will be significant, I think, in terms of quality of life for a lot of people.
Second, people will save about $1.50 a day in gas, because they'll be moving across more quickly. I think that's also significant.
Third, though, if people are using a litre less gas a day, that's also going to have a very real impact on the amount of greenhouse gas emissions. I know that that is not something that the NDP have taken a great deal of interest in, in the past, in opposing almost every major environmental initiative that has made British Columbia a leader on climate change. However, it is important to our government, and I know that it is important to people in the Fraser Valley as well.
So on all three of those points, I think people will see significant improvements.
A. Dix: That may be, but really the question is…. The one-income family of four pays $1,288 in provincial income tax. We'll see that more than double. They'll pay more for the bridge than they pay in provincial income tax. That's a fairly troubling increase for them.
We're reaching the end of the estimates, so we're going to do a few short questions for the Premier.
Last year during the estimates, the Premier offered to hold consultations on the comprehensive economic trade agreement with the European Union, CETA. None occurred prior to the July round of negotiations or the talks that took place in October. An FOI we did revealed that there were no plans in the works for a genuine consultation on what would be a significant undertaking that has significant impact on provincial jurisdiction.
I just wanted to ask the Premier whether she plans to follow up on her offer to hold a public consultation with respect to this agreement in advance of its approval.
Hon. C. Clark: I'm advised the ministry has been consulting with municipalities, I think extensively, regarding their concerns and issues with it.
I would just add to the member's last comment, because he raises personal income tax, which I'm really glad we can have a chance to talk about here. That family of four that he's talking about is paying 40 percent less personal income taxes than they did in 2001 — 40 percent less. I think that that's something we should celebrate. I'm glad the member gave me a chance to get up and talk about that.
That's for a family of four with a total income of $30,000. For a single individual earning $25,000 — and I think for a single individual living in Surrey, perhaps, and going across the Port Mann Bridge — it's a 50 percent decrease in personal income taxes since 2001.
That's really good news for British Columbians. I just wanted to take a moment, because the member raised it, to talk about where we're at with personal income tax and lowering the cost burden that government puts on individuals each and every day. It's an issue of central importance to me and my government. We've been working on trying to make life a little bit more affordable in very, very tough economic times. All those tax decreases that have happened over the last ten years have been a major part of that.
A. Dix: Oh, one hesitates to be distracted by such comments when MSP premiums have gone up as they have. For people earning $44,000 a year, for example — gone up 50 percent in '02 and then 18 percent over the last three years. Then more in the coming years. I guess that's families first.
But one doesn't want to be distracted, because we have such important questions on trade to bring forward. The Premier talked about discussions with municipalities. Will there be public consultations on the CETA agreement?
Hon. C. Clark: No, we don't intend to do that. The discussions are, I'm advised, getting closer to the end. We don't intend to do any further consultation on it.
But I should say that when I was talking about the overall tax burden, I wasn't perfectly clear. The overall tax burden that I was talking about and the overall reductions that I was talking about — a 50 percent reduction for a single individual — include MSP and the changes in MSP. And the 40 percent reduction that I talked about for a family of four includes the costs of MSP.
British Columbians are way farther ahead on those counts than they were in 2001. One of the reasons for that is that in 2001 someone who was earning $20,000 would have paid $864 a year in MSP payments. Now they pay nothing in MSP payments. That's part of the reason that this dramatic reduction in the total cost of taxes and MSP for British Columbians…. That's why it's been such a dramatic change over these years. It's a change that we're very proud of, because I think it makes a real difference in affordability for British Columbians.
A. Dix: The Premier is apparently unaware that there is always premium assistance. The Premier is apparently unaware of the impact of MSP increases on people earning, especially, between $30,000 and $60,000. I mean, that's all right.
I guess I had a further question I wanted to ask, since there'll be no public consultation. So we've gone from public consultations last year to none. Was the particular issue of CETA's impact on health care discussed at the Council of the Federation meeting in January?
Hon. C. Clark: Just so the member is clear…. I mean, I don't like to leave these misrepresentations on the table, so I always want to make sure I correct them.
For a family of four earning $60,000 or a family of four at $90,000, you are still ahead. You're still seeing your total tax burden and your total MSP burden combined go down since 2001. That's pretty good. That's pretty good news for British Columbians.
Absolutely we care about those affordability issues. Apparently, we care a lot more than the government did in the 1990s, because we have continued to lower those burdens on British Columbians over this last decade. We are going to continue to be focused on that.
When I talk about families and about trying to make sure we're looking after families, part of it is making sure that people have jobs to go to. That's related to investment and a triple-A credit rating and all those things that I talked to the member about a little bit earlier.
But it's also, though, important that government make sure that we reduce the amount of burden that we put on British Columbians. We have made a lot of progress since the 1990s on that in all income brackets, and we want to continue making that progress over the coming year because affordability is a major issue for British Columbians.
Now, affordability is an even bigger issue for British Columbians when you're out of work, as so many were in the 1990s. But now with one of the lowest unemployment rates in North America — just over 6 percent, with almost 60,000 net new jobs created in the last year — there are a lot more British Columbians going to work.
If you want to talk about affordability, the fact that you have a job that you can depend on, that gives you a decent wage to be able to take home a paycheque every couple of weeks, is probably the number one concern for people.
On that, I would say, just on the member's question: yes, it did come up. The Premiers talked about it. The Premiers are all concerned about the impact that it could have on pharmaceutical drugs and the cost of pharmaceutical drugs, the impact that negotiations could have on that. All Premiers, all governments, have sent a letter to Canada expressing our concerns about that.
A. Dix: One of the key questions involved in the CETA agreement and a key problem in provincial jurisdiction relates to EU demands to extend brand-name patents for prescription drugs in Canada.
The pressure from other provinces that have taken clear positions on this issue has had some impact. As the Premier will know, a recent House of Commons trade committee report stated that at least in March the federal government had not yet made concessions on these questions.
However, we're entering into a further phase in the negotiations, and there are signals that that may change, that Ottawa may agree to some measures that would lengthen the life of drug patents, measures that would clearly negate recent savings — for example, savings that have been proposed and pursued under revised generic drug deals.
B.C. is a strong supporter of the agreement, but I want to ask the Premier specifically, because the EU has asked Canada to accept patent term restoration, which is also known as a supplementary protection certificate, which would extend patent terms by up to 5½ years. I'm wondering if B.C. will oppose that and would see that as a deal-breaker in terms of supporting the overall agreement with the European Union.
Hon. C. Clark: This is an area of federal jurisdiction. I should actually say, too, that provinces have not until now had even the role that we have at the table in any free trade negotiation, and I know that when I speak to my fellow Premiers across the country, we all consider this to be a very positive development. Particularly as we look forward to the agreements that I certainly consider to be more crucial to B.C.'s interests — free trade agreements with our Asian neighbours — this is a good development, because we do want to be at the table, although we are not negotiating the agreement ourselves.
The federal government has come some way in making sure that we have a chance to work closely on this, although we aren't — as the member, I think, knows quite well — actually at the table. We aren't actually the negotiators of the agreement. It is an area of federal jurisdiction, and as I said, we're paying close attention to where we're at in the negotiations about intellectual property.
We are concerned about how or whether that will impact on provincial drug health care costs. That discussion on patents is still ongoing. No decisions, I'm informed, have been made yet on that, but as I said, we want to make sure that we are protecting our budget, that we are protecting innovative industries.
We want to make sure that we're getting the best deal for British Columbia. We have sent a letter. All Premiers have sent letters, I'm told, to the federal government, expressing our concern about this specific issue, because we want to make sure, as I said, that British Columbia's interests are represented.
Now, let me just close on this, though. I think we've discovered another area of profound disagreement between the opposition and the government. That is on the issue of free trade. We believe in freer trade, and that is clearly the position of my party. I think it's a position that British Columbians would overwhelmingly support.
We believe in free trade because, as a small, open, trading economy, we depend on trade in order to make sure that British Columbians can go to work every day. That is what has built British Columbia, so we want to make sure we get the best possible trade deals that we can and look at every individual deal differently.
[D. Horne in the chair.]
Having said that, as a matter of principle I know the Leader of the Opposition and I disagree on that, just like we may disagree on the question of resource development, just like we may disagree on the question of trying to make sure that we're exporting more of our commodities — just like we may disagree on all of those questions.
I think we also disagree on whether or not free trade is a good thing to pursue. On my side, in my government, we believe in free trade. We think it's good for British Columbia, and we're going to continue with that position in this agreement and in future agreements that I'm sure the federal government will be negotiating on behalf of Canada. We want to see more free trade agreements concluded, because we believe that freer trade is good for British Columbia workers and good for British Columbia families.
A. Dix: The question, I guess, the specific question…. This really has nothing to do with free trade — the extension of patent protections beyond which had been already provided and extended over the years by the federal government that have cost provincial jurisdiction significantly. In this case, what's at risk is hundreds of millions in additional costs and the sustainability of the PharmaCare system.
So if it's disagreeing with the Premier that selling out the public health care system for a deal with the European Union on drug patents…. There's a disagreement, because I would rather spend public health care dollars in British Columbia on British Columbians. If the Premier wants to send that money to European drug companies, well, there you go, hon. Chair. I hope that's not the case, though. The Premier has indicated that it might not be the case.
I don't know whether the federal government, under the agreement — because the reason the provinces are more involved is partly at the request of the European Union itself, because provincial jurisdiction is so significantly involved in these matters — has made any offer to compensate British Columbia for such costs under the agreement.
Hon. C. Clark: The member is quite right about how the provinces came to be involved in this. Nonetheless, I think it's important to note that it is a very, very good precedent for British Columbia. As one of the most trade-dependent provinces in Canada, as a province that has traditionally relied on free trade and open markets overseas, as a province that is increasingly looking to those emerging markets in Asia, free trade really matters for the future of our province.
I raise that because the member is speaking about some specifics of this agreement, but as far as I understand it he isn't in favour of free trade agreements, for the most part. I think he's opposed almost every free trade agreement that this country has entered into, and I think he's done it publicly. He can correct me if I'm wrong. I don't know if he supports even being part of a CETA negotiation as a matter of principle. He hasn't said that.
But I believe, and we all do, in freer trade around the world, and we want to get the best deals. The details of the deals definitely matter. But as a principle, we are certainly not opposed to pursuing these kinds of negotiations.
The other thing that the member said was that I said that it "might not be the case" that we're concerned about the impact on drug costs. I want to be clear about that. It is not the case that we want this to have an impact on increasing our drug costs. That is why, as I've said a couple of times, we wrote the letter expressing our concern about this to the federal government. We wrote that letter because we are concerned about the impact that this agreement could have on drug costs in British Columbia.
We wrote that letter. As I understand it, every other Premier across the country wrote a similar letter. This is something that we've brought to the federal government's attention, and in that letter we told the federal government that we thought one of the…. If this agreement is not concluded in a way that meets British Columbia's concerns, we would like them to reimburse us for those added costs. Of course, just as he said. That's one of the things that we've suggested to the federal government.
Now, I hope that the agreement will be concluded in a way that doesn't impact our drug costs. We haven't yet received an answer from the federal government about that, but we've expressed it very, very clearly, and we're monitoring these negotiations very closely. It's one of our primary areas of concern with respect to this particular free trade agreement.
A. Dix: What was the date on the letter, and will the Premier share it with the opposition?
Hon. C. Clark: I don't have the letter here, so I can't confirm the date for the member. I am advised, though, that we will likely be able to share it with the opposition, subject to concerns about confidentiality. But my understanding is that we'll likely be able to share that. If we're able to, I'll make sure we do.
A. Dix: The Premier will be interested to know that we were just looking at pictures of the Premier at an anti–free trade rally in 1988. This just shows how our positions evolve sometimes.
I want to thank the Premier for her participation in the estimates, if they end at 3:30.
I want to thank Mr. Dyble and Mr. Sweeney, as always, for the hard work that they do — and, I think, their commanding poker face, which is impressive — and Ms. Leamy and Ms. Moran and the whole team — my appreciation to all of them. I know how hard it is as public servants and how hard people work, as well — how hard it is sometimes, when we're discussing things about which they know a great deal, to stay silent and listen to us.
So I appreciate that. Thanks to the Premier, and I'll let the Premier move the appropriate motion.
Hon. C. Clark: While I’m on my feet, thank you to the opposition. Thank you very much to our clerks and our staff here. Thank you to my staff as well, and all the members of the Legislature who have been kind enough to join us for this.
I do enjoy estimates. It's one of my favourite parts of the legislative process. So I'm sorry we had to end as quickly as we did. But I do want to thank the Leader of the Opposition for the time, at least, that we've had together, and on this last day of session, wish everybody safe travels as we all go back to work in our constituencies.
Vote 10: Office of the Premier, $9,008,000 — approved.
The Chair: This committee will take a short recess.
The committee recessed from 3:33 p.m. to 3:37 p.m.
[D. Horne in the chair.]
On Vote 50: Auditor General for Local Government, $2,600,000.
H. Lali: Things move quickly around here. That's about the only time we get exercise, when we run from one end of the Legislature to the other to catch up to this. In any case, I get a few minutes and I'm going to ask a couple of questions to the minister on the LGAG, the local government auditor general, for those folks that might be, by odd chance, watching the proceedings taking place here.
H. Lali: I hear my good friend across the way saying: "Very odd chance."
I was wondering, in terms of the auditor general for local government, if the minister can give an update as to what is happening in terms of two questions. One is the actual physical location where the LGAG office is going to be located, and how that's coming along in terms of any rental space and when it's going to be up and running. Secondly, the process actually for finding the LGAG before that person is hired.
Hon. I. Chong: Just quickly, I have staff with me: Heather Brazier, Nicola Marotz and Robert Easton.
With respect to the physical location, I understand that a potential location in Surrey has been found. Negotiations are underway, so until that is successful it would be premature to say where that specifically will be.
With regard to finding the auditor general, as the member will know, we have just, less than about a month ago, appointed audit council members. They are meeting regularly to ensure that they are prepared to, and when presented with the candidates to interview, have the ability to take a look at this very specialized position requiring someone with a professional accounting designation, someone who is certified by the Auditor Certification Board, who has experience in performance auditing. So the audit council is very much aware of their obligations to consider these qualifications prior to interviewing a candidate.
H. Lali: My second question to the minister. I was wondering if the minister could sort of give a bit of a…. I know the costs, obviously, have not been incurred yet because the office is just going to be set up and up and running, but I believe there's $2.6 million allotted to that. So I was wondering if the minister could give a bit of a breakdown as to where the expected costs are going to go or what the allocation might be. How much for the actual physical building? How much for salaries and benefits? How much for travel? I mean those kinds of major items.
How much for the audit council itself? What kind of sums out of that $2.6 million are going to be allotted towards the business of the audit council? Also, I was wondering if the minister could explain to me: will the audit council also be meeting in the offices in Surrey, once they're set up? I imagine someone will be teleconferencing or video conferencing, etc. But how many times will they be meeting, and what are the expected costs of the audit council itself?
Just to recap — a breakdown over some of the expected costs to be allocated towards a number of the categories that I mentioned and any other categories that the minister might think of.
Hon. I. Chong: Just to be clear, the audit council costs, which are in the $2.6 million appropriation…. What is permitted to be recovered are costs that only relate to travel and per diem. That has been established.
I think during our debates during the legislation we spoke about how the frequency of meeting would likely be something like three or four times a year. But in the first year it could be more, obviously, to do the hiring and also to go over the service plan and the expectations, and then just to get a handle on what is happening.
So the $2.6 million. We have determined that about $1.18 million would be required for salaries and benefits. For the travel costs, we anticipate about $120,000. There is a sum of $350,000 set aside for contracts in case they want to bring in expertise to help with performance audits. Even though you staff up, sometimes there will be people who have expertise in other areas that might require you to take a look at a project or a program or service that has specific engineering needs, for example, that the auditors themselves may not have had as much experience with. Some information operating systems, $225,000.
So $2.6 million has been summed up in this way, and almost half of that, as the member will see, is primarily the salaries and benefits.
H. Lali: I know I said two questions, but this is the final question, and then we can pass the estimates. The final question is to the minister: what are the rates for the per-diems for the folks that sit on the audit council, including the chair or vice-chair as well? Just to add to that: what is the expected range of pay for the auditor general him- or herself?
Hon. I. Chong: As the member will know, the per diems generally follow Treasury Board directives as to what is set out. My understanding is that the per-meeting fee would be for the chair, $350; for the members, $250. So again, if they only met four times a year, a member would expect a remuneration of about $1,000.
With respect to the auditor general, his or her salary would be similar to that of a deputy minister's level. The member will know there are ranges, so again, that will be dependent upon, I believe, their expectations as well as their qualifications.
Vote 50: Auditor General for Local Government, $2,600,000 — approved.
Vote 1: legislation, $69,271,000 — approved.
OFFICERS OF THE LEGISLATURE
Vote 2: Auditor General, $15,752,000 — approved.
Vote 3: Conflict of Interest Commissioner, $480,000 — approved.
Vote 4: Elections B.C., $8,134,000 — approved.
Vote 5: Information and Privacy Commissioner, $5,396,000 — approved.
Vote 6: Merit Commissioner, $1,024,000 — approved.
Vote 7: Ombudsperson, $5,372,000 — approved.
Vote 8: Police Complaint Commissioner, $2,996,000 — approved.
Vote 9: Representative for Children and Youth, $7,317,000 — approved.
Hon. I. Chong: Before I move the final motion, I just want to thank all members of the opposition who have participated in a number of debates, not the least of which I've had in my estimates debates as well. I think it's been a very productive time.
With that, I move that the committee rise and report resolutions and completion of the Office of the Premier; auditor general for local government, through the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development; legislation; Auditor General; Conflict of Interest Commissioner; Elections B.C.; Information and Privacy Commissioner; Merit Commissioner; Ombudsperson; Police Complaint Commissioner; and Representative for Children and Youth.
The committee rose at 3:48 p.m.
[ Return to: Legislative Assembly Home Page ]
publishes transcripts both in print and on the Internet.
Chamber debates are broadcast on television and webcast on the Internet.
Question Period podcasts are available on the Internet.
TV channel guide • Broadcast schedule
Copyright (c) 2012: British Columbia Hansard Services, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada