Fourth Session, 41st Parliament (2019)
Thursday, November 28, 2019
Issue No. 301
The HTML transcript is provided for informational purposes only.
The PDF transcript remains the official digital version.
Report on the administration of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, 2017-18 and 2018-19
Bill 33 — Securities Amendment Act, 2019
Bill 37 — Financial Institutions Amendment Act, 2019
Bill 38 — Climate Change Accountability Amendment Act, 2019
Bill 39 — Miscellaneous Statutes (Minor Corrections) and Statute Revision Amendment Act, 2019
Bill 40 — Interpretation Amendment Act, 2019
Bill 41 — Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act
Bill 42 — Fuel Price Transparency Act
Bill 43 — Election Amendment Act, 2019
Bill 45 — Taxation Statutes Amendment Act, 2019
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 2019
The House met at 10:05 a.m.
[Mr. Speaker in the chair.]
Introductions by Members
Hon. D. Eby: It is an incredible honour for me to stand in this House to draw members’ attention to three national championships brought home by the UBC Thunderbirds this year: gold in women and men’s rowing and, particularly and most recently, in women’s soccer.
Why I’m emphasizing women’s soccer is we have two members of the team that brought home the national championship to British Columbia here in the Legislature today. We have Emily Moore, from Victoria, and Anisha Sangha, from Burnaby. They’re both members of the UBC women’s soccer team.
Now, it was an exceptional game. I’ll note that Emily is the Thunderbird’s goalie and did not allow a single goal the entire tournament. Anisha played exceptional defence the whole way through. Not only did she make a great save in extra time, but Emily Moore also has a personal relationship with the Legislature. Apparently, she’s the great-great-great-grandchild of Premier Richard McBride, who served here from 1903 to 1915.
Would the House please join me in congratulating the Thunderbirds and welcoming these two exceptional athletes to the premises.
Hon. H. Bains: It is with great pride that I say today…. Joining with me, joining with all of us in the House, is my senior MA, Karen Cooling, and her daughter Pam Cooling.
Karen has been with me since the first day that I was sworn in as minister. Let me say this. If you haven’t had a chance to meet Karen or a chance to work with Karen, you are really missing out. I first met Karen in early 2000 when Karen and I worked on a project together. From day one, when I met with Karen, I was moved by her dedication, her passion towards workers’ rights, women’s rights and her real desire to leave this earth, for our future generations, cleaner and environmentally friendly.
Tomorrow is Karen’s last day with my ministry and with our government. I’m going to miss her, and I know my staff will miss her.
Would this House please join with me in thanking Karen for all the hard work she has done over the last 2½ years. Let’s give her and wish her a happy retirement.
Thank you, Karen.
P. Milobar: As we all know in this House, we cannot do the job we do without the support and patience of our family back home. Fortunately, this week my wife has decided to join me down here and provide that patience.
Would the House make the most patient woman I know, my wife of 26 years, Lianne Milobar, welcome.
Hon. S. Robinson: We have 15 staff from my ministry who are joining us today from the project and business services area in the corporate services division of the Ministry of Citizens’ Services. This team assists staff within the ministry to help plan and deliver technology solutions that not only support our government but the citizens of British Columbia as well.
I thank them for their incredibly important work and ask that everyone please make them feel welcome.
D. Routley: I really feel good about this introduction. My friend Steve Arnett from Ladysmith is here.
Now, Steve Arnett is serving his third year in an apprenticeship as a grandfather, and I’m hearing he’s doing pretty well, although his wife Cathy is clearly a successful graduate already. It’s 43 years that they’ve been together, I believe. She has retired from a lengthy career in the volunteer sector as an office administrator.
Now Steve is here, and it makes it special, because today royal assent will be given to the UN declaration on the rights of Indigenous peoples legislation. Steve is a seventh-generation registered Métis B.C. citizen with Ontario roots. His origins begin generations back with a Wisconsin Ottawa great-grandmother whose progeny led to his great-great-great-grandfather, who fought as a Métis voyageur with the British in the War of 1812, as did others from his Drummond Island Métis community.
After Drummond Island was ceded to the U.S. in establishing the Canadian border, he was awarded a 20-acre plot in Tiny Township on Georgian Bay. Pierre Giroux was one of the original 22 signatories, along with five of his relatives, on the 1840 Penetanguishene Métis petition prior to effective control.
I appreciate the indulgence of the House. It’s so important to Steve that he be in Hansard on this very important day. He served many years as a social worker, managing the Nanaimo Youth Services Association. His dedication has affected thousands of people, and I raise my hands to him.
D. Davies: I’d like to introduce a few new members to this Legislature here today. Those, first of all, being my beard and the member for Shuswap, his moustache. Of course, down at Skeena over there, you can see another beautiful, sporty moustache. That’s just to mention a few of the new members in this House today.
Of course, this is wrapping up Movember here in a couple of days. Thank goodness. Some of us, unfortunately, can only grow facial hair. A little challenge growing it elsewhere. So I take advantage every time I get to grow hair.
I’d also like to introduce the rest of our team for our caucus. Of course, we have the members for Vernon-Monashee, Delta South and Kootenay East and Cam Ehl, David Somerville, Dion Weisner, Sam Arno Burgess, David Decolongon, Kevin Dixon. Those are the members of our team, and I’m proud to say that we’re the only registered political party in Canada that has a team in Movember.
Would the House please welcome these things on our faces and thank the rest of the team.
Hon. S. Fraser: I just want to acknowledge that there are a number of guests in the audience here, in the gallery and in the precinct, that are here to bear witness to royal assent being given to Bill 41, the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act. I just want to acknowledge all of those in the audience here today, in the gallery and that are in the building and thank them for being supportive.
A. Weaver: I wish the House to welcome a person who has been working in the Legislature on behalf of me as an individual, when I was here as an independent, and more recently with the caucus. His name is Aldous Sperl.
None of us can do the jobs that we do without the exceptional legislative staff that we work with. Aldous came here in the early days, when I was sitting as an independent, and then moved to work with independent Vicki Huntington as one of her legislative assistants for a number of years before actually returning to the Legislature as our Whip’s organizer.
It’s going to be a great loss as he moves on to Yukon, to the dark nights. Hopefully, they don’t move to daylight savings time and they stay on standard time.
With that, would the House please make him welcome in his last question period, as he’s here today.
SERVICE AS GREEN PARTY LEADER
BY ANDREW WEAVER
Hon. J. Horgan: Following on the member for Oak Bay–Gordon Head, I want to take this opportunity, on his last day as Leader of the Green Party in the Legislature, to wish him all the best as a backbencher in a caucus. I know that he’ll adapt to that position seamlessly, without any difficulty.
It has been a real privilege working with him. Both of us have acknowledged publicly, and certainly privately, that if you had asked us three years ago if we would have become friends, that was “Not on your life” from both of us. But that has happened. That’s proof to all of us members — from every corner of the province, every political persuasion — that if you really work hard at things, you’ll get a good result.
Welcome to the back bench, soon to be, Member for Oak Bay–Gordon Head.
Introductions by Members
E. Ross: In the House today we have Adam Tang. I met Adam Tang long before I became an MLA. He is basically a consultant that was trying to make a connection between B.C. and Asia in terms of the LNG opportunity. He is now trying to make the connection between the immigration policies, in terms of B.C., in terms of what’s happening in Kitimat and Terrace, to try to ease the burden of some of the issues we have around land and labour shortages.
Would the House please welcome Adam Tang to the House.
Hon. K. Chen: I’m very happy to see that my administrative assistant, Lindsay Banh, is joining us for question period for the very first time. I am very fortunate to have Lindsay, who actually worked at the Minister of Education’s office, and her coming over to my office six months ago.
She has made my schedule every day really smooth. I’m able to take a little break in between my busy meeting schedules. I cannot thank her enough and also all the incredible professionals that we work with in this Legislature.
I would like to ask the House to make Lindsay feel very welcome.
SERVICE AS GREEN PARTY LEADER
BY ANDREW WEAVER
M. Polak: Following on the Premier’s recognition, on behalf of the members of the opposition caucus, I would just like to offer to the member for Oak Bay–Gordon Head, on his last day in the Legislature as leader, our congratulations.
We don’t always agree on things, and that’s the way it’s supposed to be in this building. But there’s no question that the member has made a tremendous impact for his constituents and for his party in this House. That certainly is deserving of acknowledgment, and I hope that he wears that warmly in his heart as well.
Introductions by Members
A. Olsen: I’ve got a few people to introduce into the Legislature today. First, I’d like to acknowledge my friend Katrina Stipec and a couple of her colleagues, Leah Ramsay and Jacqueline Clare. This is their first time in the chamber and the gallery watching question period.
As well, I’d like to welcome my chief and the vice-president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, Chief Don Tom, and his Movember, which I see is coming along quite well.
Chief, well done.
I also would like to just raise my hands to Aldous Sperl. Aldous and I have worked alongside each other for the past three years. He worked in my constituency office before coming to the Legislature and was a really important part of the reason why I’m here, in supporting me through the election campaign.
I raise my hands to you, Aldous, to you, Chief Tom, and to Katrina and her friends.
Hon. G. Chow: I would also like the House to welcome my executive assistant, Theresa Ho. She’s joining question period for the first time. She has been working with me for the last six months. She has extensive experience in federal and provincial governments. Would the House welcome Theresa Ho.
M. Dean: Today I rise to recognize Darrell Walker. Darrell was born in 1925. In the 1940s, he worked in the Esquimalt shipyards, and he joined the Canadian navy. He is a great organizer and activist, and he always has volunteered in the community where he lived.
He spent the later part of his career with the Victoria Boilermakers, and for the past few years, he’s been caring for his wife, which is where he is today. Unfortunately, he was meant to join us in the gallery, and I was going to spend lunch with him.
We’ll put that on hold, Darrell.
I’d just like everybody to know that he’s watching at home. So would you please show him your appreciation.
I’d also just like to recognize Emily Moore, who’s the goalie for the UBC Thunderbirds. She saved all five shots on goal to help them get the gold. She’s an Esquimalt High graduate, and she’s here today with her grandparents.
Congratulations to Emily and the whole team.
Hon. L. Popham: Joining us today is an amazing young woman, Brianna Leppard. Not only is it Brianna’s birthday today, but it’s also her first time joining us in the gallery for QP, even though she watches it every day from my office where she works as my incredible administrative assistant, along with Lisa Oldham, my administrative coordinator. Anybody that knows these two or comes into our office knows that the two of them are quite the duo.
I know all of us here feel fortunate to have the staff that we do. We couldn’t do our jobs without them. I’d like the members to give Brianna a warm happy birthday applause and welcome her to the chamber and thank all of our supportive staff.
(Standing Order 25B)
RESPONSE TO ADDICTION
AND PUBLIC SAFETY ISSUES IN QUESNEL
C. Oakes: At the heart of any small town in British Columbia is a sense of community. It is a sense of belonging, and it’s a sense of pride. Unfortunately, the addiction crisis is eroding the sense of community, as often the spiralling effects of addiction lead to increased criminal behaviour and significant self-harm. With limited recovery beds and access to mental health services for those we care about, in small communities, the impacts are multiplied.
In response, members of my community are banding together because, quite simply, police, health and social services are overwhelmed. A new group called Concerned Citizens of Quesnel has pulled together because of this increased criminal behaviour and is creating an environment where we can take back our community.
They have documented hundreds of cases, including a double-amputee senior who has had his house broken into no less than four times while he was in the home sleeping. With the intruder being so close, one victim was able to snap a photo. This is just one example that Evelyn Towgood and Deb McKelvie and their fellow citizens of Concerned Citizens of Quesnel have documented in no less than two thick volumes of complaints from the victims of crime. Many seniors no longer feel safe to shop downtown at a time when business owners are already feeling the downturn in consumer spending as a direct result of the crisis in forestry.
What is required here is leadership. I’m talking about leadership from Northern Health, the RCMP, the court system and our business community — but most of all, all levels of government and elected officials. The citizens of Quesnel deserve leadership. They deserve all of us working together. I am calling on everyone to come to the table, to look at how we can access increased resources and tear down the silos.
Let us champion a northern recovery centre. Let us take back our community. Let us protect our citizens. I reject the premise that this is happening everywhere and nothing can be done. Let us lead together in hope.
CAROL MacLEOD AND
WORKERS COMPENSATION CASE
N. Simons: Russell MacLeod retired from Howe Sound Pulp and Paper, in Port Mellon on the Sunshine Coast, in 2012, almost 40 years since he started his career as a pipefitter. Two years into his retirement, he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, AML, and died the following year.
In the gallery today is Carol MacLeod, Russell’s wife. Knowing that her husband had been exposed to chemicals and suspecting ever since his diagnosis that they were a cause of his illness, Carol applied for survivors benefits from WorkSafeBC in 2015. The board denied her claim in June 2017, saying there was no published study linking AML with working in a pulp mill. She gathered more evidence and requested that the review division look at the case again. So it went back to the board. She was denied a second time.
In May of 2018, based on additional information, including how many hours her husband had been exposed to benzene, the review division sent the file back to the board again. “It’s just speculation,” they told Carol. “The evidence is lacking.” The board denied her claim for the third time.
Carol was undeterred. She wanted justice for her late husband. Armed with evidence from the International Agency for Research on Cancer, she went to the review division again, but this time they wouldn’t refer her case to the board. Four denials and Carol started to feel it was a lost cause. “They want you to give up,” she told me.
With the encouragement of Anya Keefe, an expert occupational hygiene officer, they gathered more evidence and appealed to the Workers Compensation Appeal Tribunal. It was a fresh set of eyes and an open mind that Carol attributes to the tribunal’s October ruling that, in fact, Russell’s leukemia was due to his employment. Her claim was accepted.
Carol says that her success was due to the encouragement and assistance of many, including Prof. Karen Bartlett of UBC, CAREX, Anya Keefe, Don Rheaume of Unifor, Unifor rep Lance Lacey and Jesse Guenther of GKS Law Firm.
Carol says: “I hope that winning this case will open doors for others who work in pulp and paper mills, chemical plants, the oil and gas sector and any job that involves exposures to chemicals.” She has a message for all the workers in this province, which she calls “Russell’s rules.” Know the dangers, use your safety equipment, beware of your surroundings, and pay attention to your health.
CANADIAN WALK FOR VETERANS
J. Isaacs: On October 19, I had the opportunity to support an incredible cause and walk shoulder to shoulder in the second annual Canadian Walk for Veterans. Last year I attended the first walk, and I’m encouraged to see how much it has grown. With ten walks held across Canada, this national movement is bringing communities together to show solidarity and support for the sacrifices of our military veterans and those who are currently serving.
This year’s walk also recognized the important contribution of all first responders — police and firefighters as well as those who work in health care or on the front lines in different capacities, who day after day respond to severe and traumatic situations that can be life-altering.
This year’s theme was suicide prevention. Soldiers and first responders regularly face extremely distressful situations. The effects of their life’s work can accumulate over time. As a result, many suffer from PTSD and other mental illnesses that can lead to thoughts of suicide. We need to support those who are struggling and listen to their stories and their experiences. With understanding, compassion and care, we can break down the stigma surrounding mental illness and give people the confidence to ask for help when they need it.
We are sincerely grateful for the many years of wholehearted service our veterans and first responders have given to our communities and for dedicating themselves to the job of keeping us safe. By joining the Canadian Walk for Veterans, you are supporting veterans and all first responders to live a full and healthy life following their service.
Next year the Kingdom of the Netherlands will join the Canadian Walk for Veterans to celebrate the role Canadian troops played 75 years ago in securing Dutch freedom.
I want to thank Marc Burchell and his entire team, who have worked so hard to make the Canadian Walk for Veterans the success that it already is and for making this special day of recognition possible.
ACCESSIBILITY AND INCLUSION
FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
B. D’Eith: Since 1992, December 3 has been celebrated as International Day of Persons with Disabilities. About one billion people around the world live with a disability. Here in British Columbia, there are more than 926,000 people over the age of 15 with some form of disability. That represents nearly 25 percent of the population. As people age and live longer, the number of people with disabilities and the severity of the disabilities will likely increase.
Accessibility and inclusion are fundamental rights recognized by the UN convention on the rights of persons with disabilities and are prerequisites for the enjoyment of other rights. Under the convention, “disability results from the interaction between persons with impairments and attitudinal and environmental barriers” that hinder their engagement and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.
The disability community is diverse and vibrant. The experiences of people vary according to the nature and severity of their disability, as well as other individual characteristics. Social and economic factors such as gender, sexuality, race, language and religion can greatly impact how people experience and think about disability.
This year’s theme for International Day of Persons with Disabilities is: “The future is accessible.” With this in mind, the government is looking to introduce the province’s first accessibility legislation next year. To inform that work and to uphold the principle of “Nothing about us, without us,” the government is committed to legislation that seeks to identify, remove and prevent accessibility barriers.
I would like to encourage all members who haven’t had a chance to visit engage.gov.bc.ca/accessibility and provide their feedback on what inclusion and accessibility could look like in this province.
SEED ORCHARD ON SAANICH PENINSULA
AND WORK OF CATHY COOK
A. Olsen: Over the past two years, I’ve spoken a lot about our relationship to trees. Mostly, I’ve talked about how we are cutting them down, but today I’d like to focus on another aspect of the industry.
In 1965, the seed orchard on the Saanich Peninsula, now operated by Western Forest Products, opened its doors. It’s now the oldest continually operating seed orchard in Canada. In 1980, a tree nursery was built, and the first crop of seedlings was produced in 1981. Over the years, the seed orchard has produced enough seed for over 137 million seedlings. Five primary species are harvested from within the coastal forest ecosystem: western red cedar, yellow cedar, Douglas fir, hemlock and spruce.
The fruit of the orchards, such as the one on the Saanich Peninsula, are the cones. Seed is extracted from the cones, and seedlings are grown in the nursery. It’s all a vital part of the reforestation efforts across our province.
On a recent tour of the Saanich Forestry Centre, I immediately recognized that the people who work there strive for excellence. One such individual is a constituent of mine by the name of Cathy Cook. She has worked at the Saanich Forestry Centre for 39 years. I was immediately taken by Cathy’s passion for her job, which she is retiring from at the end of this year. During her time at the centre, she has managed the seed orchard, pursuing the mission of the orchard through eight different owners.
Under Cathy’s guidance, the nursery has an incredible rate of success. And 2018 was her third-highest rate of germination, at 92.8 percent. Over her career, which included other seed orchards, Cathy has overseen the development of an incredible 197.2 million plantable seeds. Today I raise my hands to the work Cathy has done over her career ensuring that our forests can be replanted.
Speaking about relationships, in my brief time with Cathy, I can see that she is deeply connected to each one of the millions of seedlings that she has raised. She leaves behind an impressive legacy, one that will certainly be difficult to follow.
BUSINESS AWARD RECIPIENTS
M. Dean: Right across our province, small businesses and not-for-profits play a central role in creating thriving, livable communities for people. I am always impressed by the contributions these organizations make. Today I stand to recognize the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation in Esquimalt-Metchosin and to highlight some of the excellent work in our community.
Every year the WestShore Chamber of Commerce partners with the Goldstream News Gazette to celebrate some of the West Shore’s favourite organizations and places. Community members are given the opportunity to vote, and this year over 40,000 votes were cast to determine some of the standout contributors.
Congratulations to everyone who participated and was recognized. While I don’t have time to highlight all of the work being done, I will mention a few winners: Colwood Dental Group, Olympic View Golf Club, Red Barn Market, Colwood Back to Back Chiropractic, school district 62, Down to Earth Gardens, Juan de Fuca Veterinary Clinic, Wild ARC, West Shore Women’s Business Network and My-Chosen Café.
We also have two of the winners of the provincial Indigenous Business Awards in Esquimalt, recognizing how they “tie practices of the past with the economies of the future.” I congratulate Animikii Indigenous Technology on winning the category of an 11-plus-person enterprise and Salish Seaside RV Haven on winning in the industry-business partnership of the year.
Our community is strengthened by these excellent businesses and services, and it’s a real privilege to be able to recognize them here in the House.
Point of Order
Mr. Speaker: Before we begin, if I may say a word.
On Monday, November 25, after oral question period, the Premier rose on a point of order stating that the member for Richmond-Steveston and the Leader of the Official Opposition used unparliamentary language.
I took that matter under advisement. Pursuant to practice, Speakers have ruled that if the Chair did not hear the offensive language or phrase or if the offensive language was not recorded in the debates, the Chair cannot be expected to rule in the absence of a reliable record. In this instance, the unparliamentary remarks are not captured in the Hansard transcript.
However, may I cautiously note that it is my impression that the tone and tenor of oral question period has improved dramatically over the session. I want to thank all members for their support in this matter.
We’re about to begin now the last oral question period of the year. Indeed, it’s the last one of the decade. I would like to encourage all members to take the opportunity to end the fall sitting in a positive and productive manner and to ensure that we hear both the question and the answer.
Thank you very much.
CONDITIONS IN FOREST INDUSTRY
AND GOVERNMENT RESPONSE
S. Bond: British Columbia’s forest industry is in a crisis. Mass layoffs and shutdowns are announced daily. This week we learned of 50 layoffs at Western Canadian Timber Products, including mechanics, welders and hauling contractors.
Vice-president Don Banasky said: “It’s horrible to think that government is not jumping over hoops to assist in areas other than optics. That’s what it feels like for us. We would simply like to have an ear. So would the rest of the industry. The time for action is now.”
When will the Premier and his government start paying attention and do something? In the words of Don Banasky, “the time for action is now.”
Hon. D. Donaldson: Our thoughts and sympathies go out to all forest workers that are encountering difficult times because of, largely, a global issue around lumber prices. We have embarked on action, unlike the previous government, which ignored the trends that were coming for the coast forest sector. We have embarked on actions through the coast forest sector revitalization initiative. It’s an initiative that we took on immediately upon forming government.
Part of those actions that we’ve already implemented involves driving more logs to domestic production and moving more fibre out of the forests so it can be used for value-added purposes. That is what we’re doing. That’s taking action. That’s understating the long-term trends and addressing them as a responsible government concerned about forestry workers and communities across the province.
Mr. Speaker: The member for Prince George–Valemount on a supplemental.
S. Bond: Well, thank you very much to the minister. Thoughts and sympathies are appreciated. But what workers want, what families need, is support and action from this government.
Let’s be clear. Even at the NDP Convention recently, the Steelworkers made it clear to this Premier that the action really amounted to a lack of support. They weren’t happy either. The Steelworkers told the Premier directly. In fact, the Premier has also heard repeated calls to deal with the stumpage system. Instead, he’s done absolutely nothing while the forest industry is in free fall. Just ask the Steelworkers. They brought it up at the recent convention.
Here’s what company president Brian Dorman says. “The government is taking too much of our sales price for stumpage. Fifty percent of our sales go to the government, which is unacceptable for any sound business to move forward.” That’s exactly the same for First Nations woodland tenures as well, which is why nobody is operating on them at the moment.
It’s all talk and no action. The industry and communities are desperate for specific action on stumpage.
Today it’s the minister, the Premier, anybody over there. It’s their chance to stand up and commit today to fixing the stumpage system.
Hon. D. Donaldson: Well, I want to point out that on October 1, the Interior rates on stumpage decreased by 12 percent and the coast rates decreased by 24 percent. The stumpage system that was put in place by the previous government is responsive to the lumber prices globally.
What we really have here is an opposition in disarray. The Leader….
Mr. Speaker: Members. Members, if we may hear the response.
Hon. D. Donaldson: The Leader of the Official Opposition and the member who just spoke claim they want a review of the stumpage system. But the official opposition critic for Forests says: “Our stumpage system…. If it were to be artificially adjusted, we would be in trouble in terms of our neighbours to the south of the border and the tariffs and duties that are in place.”
They can’t get their story straight. We know that political intervention in the stumpage system right now would make matters worse when it comes to the softwood lumber disagreement.
D. Barnett: Sigurdson Forest Products is a family-operated business located in Williams Lake. President Brian Sigurdson wrote an urgent letter to this government on November 18, and I raised it directly with the Premier last week.
Brian writes: “We are facing a financial hardship due to the state of the forest industry, as a result of high stumpage rates. We currently owe approximately $4.6 million and are looking for temporary relief.”
To the Premier, will Sigurdson Forest Products receive the stay on payments they need to keep on operating, yes or no?
Hon. D. Donaldson: We have concerns with how contractors are able to survive in this difficult climate. We’ve directly put resources towards contractors and to those who are involved in the forest sector.
As far as the particular letter that was written by a member of the member’s constituency that was directed towards the Finance Minister, those are the kinds of considerations and deferrals of stumpage that rest with those decisions within the Finance Ministry.
We are attuned to what is going on in the Interior. That’s why we’ve launched the Interior renewal process. It’s because as we all knew, and as this government knew, there was going to be a decrease in the number of trees, the volume available, through the mountain pine beetle epidemic being over. We took a view that we need to get the input from people around the province, especially in the Interior, into coming up with new ways of approaching that issue.
We embarked on the Interior forest renewal process. We’re attuned to the concerns of those who are concerned about the lumber prices globally, and we’re making adjustments accordingly.
Mr. Speaker: The member for Cariboo-Chilcotin on a supplemental.
D. Barnett: This is an important employer in my community, which operates a sawmill, a planer and a finger-jointer. They have already had to lay off 50 employees, and another 190 jobs are at risk.
This is a crisis, Premier. Will temporary relief be granted or not?
Hon. D. Donaldson: As I said in my previous answer, those are decisions that come out of the Ministry of Finance. There are a number of factors to consider.
What I want to inform the member of is that there are investments going into her constituency to assist with the overall picture in forestry. We opened a community worker support program office in 100 Mile House two weeks ago.
Understanding the impact of the global downturn in commodity prices, we’ve managed to direct Forest Enhancement of B.C. funding into areas that are important — for instance, in the member’s constituency, the recently announced $707,000 to Cariboo Pulp and Paper to bring 74,000 cubic metres of wood out of the forest near 100 Mile House.
These are the kinds of initiatives we’re taking. We understand the impact the global downturn is having on the economies of the Interior, and we’re determined to address it.
LNG CANADA PROJECT AND CLEANBC
INDUSTRIAL INCENTIVE PROGRAM
S. Furstenau: Over the last decade, the royalties coming in from natural gas have fallen considerably. Last year the total value was $102 million compared to a decade earlier, when it reached $1.3 billion. At the same time, far more gas was produced.
Part of this decline, of course, has been due to the declining market prices for gas, but part of it is also the infamous deep-well credit program. My colleagues and I have raised the issue of the deep-well credit several times in this House. It is an outdated fossil fuel subsidy currently sitting at well over $2.6 billion in credits. Just this year companies claimed $631 million in deep-well credits — revenues that did not come to the province for a natural resource that belongs to the Crown.
Added to this is the bouquet of over $5 billion in government subsidies, once you add it all up, that have been given to LNG Canada, a single plant that is soon to become B.C.’s largest carbon polluter. Meanwhile, the rest of B.C. has been told to tighten its belt.
A couple of weeks ago Order-in-Council 580, 2019, was signed and released, which clarifies some of the details about how the CleanBC industrial incentive program will operate, particularly in relation to the fiscal framework for LNG Canada.
My question is to the Minister of Finance. What percent of the carbon tax above $30 a tonne will LNG Canada get back through the CleanBC industrial incentive program when it starts operating in its first eligible year?
Hon. G. Heyman: Thank you to the member for the question. The member’s question is situated in the context of climate action and greenhouse gas emissions.
I want to take this opportunity to talk about the program that we introduced just under a year ago to reduce emissions in British Columbia significantly, in all sectors. It’s called CleanBC.
The members of the Green caucus and the Leader of the Third Party worked with us on developing a plan to reduce emissions across all sectors. We have implemented that plan, and we continue to implement that plan. We understand that it will take a number of steps and a number of stages to reach our target. We’re committed to reaching that target, and we introduced accountability legislation and passed that accountability legislation in this session, in order to ensure that British Columbians can hold us accountable for what we do.
We have had success. The Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing is building zero-energy, efficient buildings throughout the province. Perhaps more importantly…
Mr. Speaker: Members.
Hon. G. Heyman: …the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing is investing significantly in retrofitting social housing for those who can least afford high energy bills, to live in comfort with lower bills and greater affordability.
We have a number of measures in transportation and industry, and I’ll be happy to talk about them at greater length.
The member knows we have a plan. We’re on track. We have accountability, and we have the best and most energy-efficient carbon reduction program in North America.
S. Furstenau: I’m not sure what to say to the minister that I didn’t ask the question of for answering a question I didn’t ask. But I’ll try again.
I’m just going to try again to ask the Finance Minister a question. In light of the Climate Accountability Act and the transparency and accountability that this government has made a commitment to, I think that it is important that the public knows very clearly how much the oil and gas industry is getting in subsidies from this government.
I’m going to ask the Minister of Finance again the same question. What percent of the carbon tax above $30 a tonne will LNG Canada get back through the CleanBC industrial incentive program when it starts operating in its first eligible year?
Mr. Speaker: Members.
Hon. G. Heyman: To the member opposite, that’s exactly what the CleanBC program is intended to do: clean the air across B.C. and across the planet.
I gave the context of the overall emissions reduction strategy in CleanBC because it’s very important, as part of an answer, that we understand that reducing emissions across all sectors, including industry….
The program to which the member refers is called the CleanBC program for industry. It is scheduled — through a combination of rebates based on highest-performing, across-the-globe industries with respect to carbon intensity — to get money back so that they can continue to invest in emission reduction strategies. This program, coupled with technological incentives, will reduce 2.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent by the year 2030, in addition to all of the other measures that are being taken.
I know that the members of the Third Party disagree with this approach, but it is critically important.
If the members opposite…
Mr. Speaker: Members.
Hon. G. Heyman: …would just give me a second or two, I will give them the answer they’re seeking.
It is critically important that we keep the economy moving in British Columbia while lowering emissions, that we keep people employed in British Columbia while we work together with industry to lower emissions. That’s exactly what we’re doing.
LNG Canada is eligible for exactly the same framework as all of the rest of industry in British Columbia. The rebate they will get for the additional $20 a tonne by the coming years….
Hon. G. Heyman: Listen carefully, members opposite. Listen carefully. This is what you’re waiting for.
They will be eligible because they are matching the highest-performing carbon intensity in the globe for 100 percent of the carbon tax above $30 a tonne. And if they meet that standard on review in five years, they’ll continue.
Mr. Speaker: Minister.
Hon. G. Heyman: And if they don’t, they won’t.
AFFORDABLE HOUSING TARGETS
AND CONSTRUCTION OF NEW UNITS
T. Stone: Just like the NDP’s broken child care promises, the Housing Minister has also failed to deliver on the NDP’s housing commitments.
Based on the numbers in her own reports…. Again, this is B.C. Housing’s affordable housing investment plan report first quarterly update. Of the 22,000 units of new housing that the minister claims to have delivered, B.C. Housing says that the number is only 2,279. That’s on page 5. Over half of the units have no funding. That’s also on page 5. And 59 percent of the projects are behind schedule. That’s on page 12.
How many units have been completed as part of the minister’s community housing fund? Zero. How many student housing units have been completed provincewide? Zero. Recognizing….
Mr. Speaker: Members.
T. Stone: I’m sensing a bit of prickliness on the other side. The truth hurts, Mr. Speaker.
Recognizing just what a failure the minister and her housing plan have been, will she stand up here today and tell British Columbians not how many announcements she’s made, not how much rhetoric she’s put out there…
Mr. Speaker: Members.
T. Stone: …but how many actual units of housing has she completed — has she opened and are actually occupied by people — to the end of this year?
Hon. S. Robinson: There are over 3,000 people who now have a home who didn’t have a home before we were in government. More than 6,300 units are under active construction. In fact, I think it was just last week…. There is a seniors housing project in development in Kamloops. And the member opposite would know.
Mr. Speaker: The member for Kamloops–South Thompson on a supplemental.
T. Stone: Well, 3,000 people would be about 2,000 units, not the 22,000 units which she claims to have delivered, or anywhere close to the 114,000 units that British Columbians are supposedly going to see over the next ten years.
The minister’s failure to deliver housing, unfortunately for British Columbians, also extends to rental units. She has no plans to increase housing supply. Note this, Mr. Speaker. Only 1,364 rental units were built in the city of Vancouver last year. That compares to 17,450 units built in Seattle last year. Her rental housing program has also opened the doors on a grand total of 71 affordable housing units provincewide — 71 in the entire province of British Columbia to this point, 2½ years into their mandate.
According to a report from Central 1 Credit Union this month: “We anticipate….”
Mr. Speaker: Members.
T. Stone: According to a report from Central 1 Credit Union this month, “We anticipate an undersupply of construction,” to result in “price escalation and rental hikes.”
My question to the minister would be this. Given her complete failure to increase housing supply, will the minister at least give renters the $400 renters rebate that they were promised, or will this become the NDP’s next broken promise?
Hon. S. Robinson: Well, it’s really very clear to me, and I think to all the members of the House, how little they understand what construction involves. They do not understand the process. In fact, I’d like to tell the member and teach the member a little bit about construction. Clearly, he doesn’t understand how it works.
In the spring of 2018, we launched a new community housing fund to fund affordable rental housing for families and seniors. The project in his own community — they applied, and last fall we announced that they got the funding. Then the projects have to go through the municipal steps, including design, rezoning and public hearings. Perhaps they don’t really understand that process, but we also know that it takes some time to get it through the formal process. Then, of course, you need a development permit.
Mr. Speaker: Members.
Hon. S. Robinson: It was received in February 2019. Then they need a building permit, which this project just received. I was so pleased to see that the two members from Kamloops were able to join me to celebrate the shovels hitting the ground on November 15 so that 150 more homes are coming to their communities.
REBATE FOR RENTERS
S. Cadieux: The mandate letter for the Housing Minister says: “Deliver an annual renters rebate of $400.”
I have an NDP budget planning document that shows that the rental rebate was costed at $163 million annually and was supposed to be implemented this year. But guess what. It’s another NDP broken promise. Even the NDP members say it’s dead and was never anything more than empty rhetoric.
To the minister….
Mr. Speaker: Members.
S. Cadieux: Come clean, Minister. Are renters going to receive the promised rebate, yes or no?
Hon. C. James: Thank you to the member for giving me an opportunity to talk about the incredible accomplishments that we have had as government. The list would be long, so I think I’ll stick with this session only. Then if there are more questions, I’d be happy to talk about the rest of the things we’ve done in simply 2½ years.
Mr. Speaker: Members.
Hon. C. James: Let’s start off with, I think, the biggest accomplishment this session, which is the passing of the UN declaration on the rights of Indigenous peoples in this province.
Mr. Speaker: Members.
Hon. C. James: I am so proud that the last of MSP bills are out. As of January 1, no more MSP bills. Child care spaces, housing, affordability for families….
Mr. Speaker: Members.
Hon. C. James: On the renters rebate, we began the work already by expanding the opportunities for the RAP program, expanding the opportunities for the SAFER program so that more seniors are getting affordable housing. I’m pleased the member is interested in what we are going to do in the next two years.
Mr. Speaker: Members.
Members, I noted that the question period had improved dramatically. The word I meant was “somewhat.”
ADDICTION RECOVERY CENTRES IN
ABBOTSFORD AND LANGLEY
M. de Jong: I have a question for the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. I’m going to a fundraiser tomorrow night for the Abbotsford Women’s Centre. They, of course, have operated an addiction recovery centre for many, many years. They don’t receive any government funding. They’ve been very successful.
This year, of course, the situation is critical because in addition to their operating dollars, they are having to cover the cost of being evicted — evicted because of policy changes made by this government. The same thing is happening to an addiction recovery centre for men in Langley, which is being forced to close. Those people are being evicted.
Her colleagues don’t seem to care. But she, in her mandate letter, is charged with the task of creating an addiction strategy, including a focus on improving access. Well, she’s not improving access. She’s not even maintaining access. She and her government are eliminating access.
Will the minister whose job it is to advocate on behalf of those suffering from debilitating addictions step in and assure the women’s centre and the centre in Langley that they will not be evicted, that they will continue to be able to reside where they are residing today and get the addiction treatment they require and deserve?
Hon. J. Darcy: Thank you to the member opposite for the question. Issues related to the agricultural land reserve we have already canvassed in this House. I won’t be speaking to that.
I’m very excited to have the opportunity to talk about what we have done on the issue of recovery. Our government…. The Premier and I, a few months ago, launched a Pathway to Hope. That is our road map for improving mental health and addictions care in the province of British Columbia. It has been embraced from one corner of the country to the other, from people on the front lines working in mental health and addictions.
Our Pathway to Hope is focused on several aspects. It is focused on…
Mr. Speaker: Members.
Hon. J. Darcy: …prevention. It’s focused on treatment and recovery.
Mr. Speaker: Members.
Hon. J. Darcy: It’s focused on enforcement, and it’s also focused on harm reduction.
Let me start with prevention. We are so excited that we are working upstream. We are starting early. We are investing in children and youth. We’ve expanded programs in our schools, for prevention, for our children…
Mr. Speaker: Members.
Hon. J. Darcy: …so that mild-to-moderate issues don’t become worse.
We have already initiated two child and youth mental health teams in school districts in Maple Ridge–Mission and in Comox. That’s about wraparound care for our young people so they get the support they need early in life before we get into addictions issues.
Foundry youth centres, which are one-stop shops for youth at risk, whether that’s substance use or mental illness…. We have announced spending for 19 Foundry centres in urban and rural communities across British Columbia.
On the issue of recovery centres, recovery homes in this province, under the previous government, have been the wild, wild west, with virtually no enforcement of any rules to ensure that there’s safe care, quality care in our recovery homes. We’ve introduced tough new regulations that come into place December 1.
We are proud of our record of beginning to build an entire continuum of care for treatment and recovery in the province of British Columbia — something that government ignored for 16 years.
Mr. Speaker: Members.
The member for Abbotsford West on a supplemental.
M. de Jong: Well, I’ll tell you who’s not excited. The women at the Abbotsford Women’s Centre who don’t know where they’ll be living this time next year are not excited. The men in the addiction recovery centre in Langley are not very excited because they’re not sure where they’ll be.
The centres that have operated successfully, without any reliance on government funding, are being forced to close at their present location because of policies enacted by this government at a time when this minister is charged with the very task of protecting the interests of those vulnerable people.
In response to a straight-up question about what the minister is doing to advance her mandate, to protect those people, she stands up and can think of nothing better to say than make political accusations. I think it is tremendously disappointing, and the people watching this in those homes are going to be tremendously disappointed.
Has the minister intervened? Has she taken steps? Has she actually done something consistent with the mandate she was given by the Premier to defend the interests of those recovery centres, to defend the interests of the people receiving that vital service, that vital addiction recovery treatment, or is she just going to stand up again and make political accusations that will do nothing to help the most vulnerable people in our society who are counting on this minister to stand up for their interests and step in where her colleagues have so miserably failed?
Hon. J. Horgan: I thank the member for his question. He has raised this issue in the House previously. I’m certainly aware of it. I’ve been working with the Minister of Agriculture to find a way forward for the women in question with respect to Abbotsford. The Langley issue is new to me.
I look forward to correspondence from the member or the members from Langley in that regard. We’ll do everything we can to help, as all governments should do. I do want to say, while I’m on my feet, that the work of the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions has been unparalleled and the first of its kind in the country, as all members know. The challenges are significant.
The member for Cariboo North made a statement, calling on all of us to work together today, as we started question period, on the challenging issues that are happening in her community and, indeed, right across British Columbia. I know every member has certainly not just empathy but concern for the challenges that individuals in our home communities face when it comes to mental health and addictions.
We are doing our level best with the resources available. We continue to have a robust economy, a triple-A credit rating, the highest job creation rate in the country, economic growth exceeding every other jurisdiction in the country. So I believe that the resources are there. We’re going to work with the people involved to get solutions to the members’ questions.
While I’m on my feet, if I may, since we’re extending question period and this is my last opportunity of the decade, I want to go back to a question that was raised by the member for Kamloops–South Thompson.
He referred to the Central 1 housing report. He didn’t read the first line, which says that B.C.’s housing markets are recovering much faster than expected because of the good work of the people on this side of the House and the member sitting right there.
I’ll always lament that there’s no more chance in this decade for someone on that side of the House to ask questions of the Minister of Health, because we always know how enjoyable that is, certainly for the people here and the people who care about health care in British Columbia.
I’m also very saddened that we’re not going to get another question to the best Finance Minister in Canada, who has done extraordinary work patching billion-dollar holes created by the member for Kamloops–South Thompson and a whole litany of other issues.
It’s always exciting to end question period, but the end of a decade is particularly delightful. Thanks for the opportunity.
[End of question period.]
Reports from Committees
PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE
S. Bond: I have the honour to present the second report of the Select Standing Committee on Public Accounts for the fourth session of the 41st parliament. I move that the report be taken as read and received.
S. Bond: I ask leave of the House to move a motion to adopt the report.
S. Bond: I move that the report be adopted, and in doing so, I would like to make some brief comments.
This report constitutes the committee’s unanimous recommendation to appoint Russ Jones as acting Auditor General.
Following written notice by Carol Bellringer, Auditor General, of her resignation for personal reasons, effective December 31, the committee carried out a recruitment process to identify a candidate to serve as acting Auditor General. On November 26, the committee unanimously agreed to recommend the appointment of Mr. Jones as acting Auditor General.
Mr. Jones brings strong professional and academic credentials and broad senior management and financial accounting experience, including service as acting Auditor General in 2013 and 2014. Committee members were impressed with his knowledge of public sector accounting principles and his approach for the caretaker role of the acting Auditor General, in providing continuity for the office until a permanent Auditor General is appointed.
Committee members recognized the high level of knowledge and experience of all the candidates in the recruitment process, and their professionalism and record of dedicated public service. The committee wants to thank all of the candidates for their interest and engagement and for their commitment to the work of this very important office in British Columbia.
I know that Mr. Jones and Ms. Bellringer are in the gallery today. On behalf of the committee and all Members of the Legislative Assembly, I would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to Carol Bellringer for her important service and contributions to the province as Auditor General over the last five years. [Applause.]
Carol served our province exceptionally well. She is highly regarded across the country.
Carol, you are always well prepared and professional in your relationship with the Public Accounts Committee. We want you to know that it will be difficult to replace you, but we wish you all of the very best in your next endeavours.
I also want to extend my sincere appreciation to the Deputy Chair, the member for Esquimalt-Metchosin, for her very collaborative approach; the other members of the subcommittee — the members for Surrey-Guildford and Richmond-Steveston; and all of our committee members for their hard work and collaboration.
M. Dean: It’s my honour today to rise, as well, to acknowledge the work of our Auditor General who is now outgoing, Carol Bellringer. She really did create a fantastic reputation for British Columbia across the whole of the country. I think all of us have appreciated her years of service and her leadership.
I appreciate that she’s leaving us with a great legacy of a very good executive team, and I appreciate the work of the executive in helping us move forward. I thank everybody who put themselves forward for this acting position.
Congratulations to Russ Jones. It’s an important interim position that he’s taking on. I really appreciate his long service to the province, as well, and taking on this role at this critical time.
I want to say thank you to the Chair of the subcommittee and the Public Accounts Committee, the member for Prince George–Valemount. I appreciate her leadership, especially steering us through this extra piece of work at this busy time of year and in such a short time frame as well.
Thank you to everybody who were members of the subcommittee and, actually, all of our members of the Public Accounts Committee. We do an awful lot of work, and I appreciate everybody’s efforts.
Of course, we couldn’t have gotten this work done without the Clerk to the committee and her team as well. We really appreciate your professional and supportive work.
S. Bond: I ask leave of the House to move a motion appointing Russ Jones as acting Auditor General for the province of British Columbia.
Motions Without Notice
ACTING AUDITOR GENERAL
S. Bond: I move:
[That pursuant to section 7(1) of the Auditor General Act (SBC 2003, Chapter 2), Russ Jones be appointed as Acting Auditor General to exercise the powers and perform the duties of the Auditor General, effective December 31, 2019, and continuing until an appointment is made under section 2 of the Act.]
D. Routley: I seek leave to make an introduction.
Introductions by Members
D. Routley: I wasn’t sure about making the introduction, because with my failing eyes, I wasn’t sure if I was seeing my dear friend Ray Harris. It is him. He’s waving. I’m not introducing someone else. That’s wonderful. Ray is a great guy.
I’m earning points here — right, Ray?
He’s a counsellor with the Stz’uminus First Nation. He’s a commercial fisherman. I was very happy to be a member, along with him and the member for Saanich North and the Islands, on the Premier’s Wild Salmon Advisory Council.
Welcome, Ray Harris.
Hon. S. Robinson: I have the honour to present the report on the administration of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
Hon. B. Ralston: I seek leave to make an introduction.
Introductions by Members
Hon. B. Ralston: In the gallery today are two groups from Kwantlen Park Secondary School in my riding. They’re here with their teacher, Karis Brynjolfson. Would the House please make them very welcome.
Motions Without Notice
STANDING ORDERS ON PRAYERS
Hon. M. Farnworth: By leave, I move:
[That effective immediately, the Standing Orders of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia be amended as follows:
Standing Order 25 is modified as follows:
The daily routine business of “Prayers (morning or afternoon sitting)” is replaced with “Prayers and Reflections (morning or afternoon sitting)”.
Standing Order 17A is modified as follows:
Section (1)(c) listing “Prayers;” is replaced with “Prayers and Reflections;”.]
M. Polak: I rise to present a petition on behalf of the Denturist Association of British Columbia.
Hon. M. Farnworth: I know that we’ll be waiting for the Lieutenant-Governor. I would just like to take this opportunity, at the request of the amazing staff who serve us here in this institution…. They remind us, each and every one of us, to please empty our desks when we leave so that they don’t have to do it. They have enough work as it is.
By the way, I take this opportunity to thank all of them for the work they do and wish them a very, very merry Christmas and happy new year.
Mr. Speaker: Members, I am advised that the Hon. Janet Austin, Lieutenant-Governor, is on the precinct. Please remain in your seats.
Her Honour the Lieutenant-Governor requested to attend the House, was admitted to the chamber and took her seat on the throne.
Royal Assent to Bills
Securities Amendment Act, 2019
Financial Institutions Amendment Act, 2019
Climate Change Accountability Amendment Act, 2019
Miscellaneous Statutes (Minor Corrections) and Statute Revision Amendment Act, 2019
Interpretation Amendment Act, 2019
Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act
Fuel Price Transparency Act
Election Amendment Act, 2019
Taxation Statutes Amendment Act, 2019
In Her Majesty’s name, Her Honour the Lieutenant-Governor doth assent to these acts.
Hon. J. Austin (Lieutenant-Governor): ÍY SȻÁĆEL NE SĆÁLEĆE HÍSW̱ḴE ȻENS ENÁ TÁĆEL.
It is an enormous privilege on this historic day to grant royal assent to Bill 41, thereby enshrining the human rights of Indigenous people in law.
ENÁN U HE'LEȻ NE SĆÁ LE ȻENS Á TSĆÁ.
It touches me deeply to think of the work that you have done all together, your unanimous support for this work, which gives me hope for true and lasting reconciliation, gives me hope for a better world. I thank you for your splendid work.
Her Honour the Lieutenant-Governor retired from the chamber.
[Mr. Speaker in the chair.]
Hon. M. Farnworth: 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 41st 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, transact its business as if it had been duly adjourned to that time and date. And that 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 purpose of this order.
Hon. M. Farnworth: I wish everyone safe travels home. Enjoy the time off until we assemble again next spring.
With that, I move the House do now adjourn.
Hon. M. Farnworth moved adjournment of the House.
Mr. Speaker: This House stands adjourned until further notice.
The House adjourned at 11:30 a.m.
Copyright © 2019: British Columbia Hansard Services, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada