About the Committee System

About the Committee System

​​What are Parliamentary Committees?

Parliamentary committee​s are appointed by the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia to undertake business on behalf of the Assembly. Committees are comprised of small groups of Private Members who have been appointed by the Legislative Assembly. Committees derive their powers from the House and must report their findings back to the House.

Committees consider only those matters that are referred to them by the Legislative Assembly. Within their terms of reference, committees are afforded total independence in their deliberations.

The committee system allows for a more detailed examination of policy and other matters than is possible in the larger House. At times, the committee system also provides members of the public with the opportunity to have direct input into the parliamentary process by making written or electronic submissions and attending public hearings. Parliamentary committees may travel within British Columbia to obtain evidence.

Select Standing Committees are established by the Legislative Assembly at the commencement of each session. During the 2nd session, 38th Parliament, Standing Order 68(1) was amended thereby establishing the following nine Select Standing Committees:

  1. Aboriginal Affairs
  2. Children and Youth
  3. Crown Corporations
  4. Education
  5. Finance and Government Services
  6. Health
  7. Legislative Initiatives
  8. Parliamentary Reform, Ethical Conduct, Standing Orders and Private Bills
  9. Public Accounts

At the commencement of each Session, a Committee of Selection is appointed to prepare and report lists of Members to compose the nine Select Standing Committees of the House.

In addition, special committees may be created by the Legislative Assembly to examine a single, specific issue. A special committee ceases to exist after it has completed its investigation and presented its final report to the House. A common type of special committee is one which recommends the appointment of statutory officers of the Legislature, such as the Auditor General or the Ombudsperson.

The use of parliamentary committees allows for a more detailed examination of matters than would be possible in the larger, more formal environment of the House.

In recent years, committees have investigated a wide variety of topics including: sustainable aquaculture, the use of cosmetic pesticides, and the provincial mid-term timber supply.

Select Standing committees may also be referred a bill (Standing Order 78A) or a vote within the Estimates (Standing Order 60A). But in practice these referrals rarely occur. However, private bills are automatically referred to the Select Standing Committee on Parliamentary Reform, Ethical Conduct, Standing Orders and Private Bills after first reading in the House.

At its first meeting, a committee elects a chairperson and a deputy chairperson, reviews its terms of reference, and embarks on drafting a business plan.