Thursday, April 23, 1992
The House met at 1:30 p.m.
Mr. Gregory Dewar (Selkirk): I beg to present the petition of Rick Keep, Cam Wortman, Craig Scott and others requesting the Minister of Family Services (Mr. Gilleshammer) consider a one‑year moratorium on the closure of the Human Resources Opportunity Centre in Selkirk.
Mr. Speaker: I have reviewed the petition of the honourable member for Selkirk (Mr. Dewar), and it complies with the privileges and practices of the House and complies with the rules (by leave). Is it the will of the House to have the petition read?
The petition of the undersigned citizens
WHEREAS the Human Resources Opportunity Office has operated in Selkirk for over 21 years providing training for the unemployed and people re‑entering the labour force; and
WHEREAS during the past 10 years alone over 1,000 trainees have gone through the program gaining valuable skills and training; and
WHEREAS upwards of 80 percent of the training centre's recent graduates have found employment; and
WHEREAS without consultation the program was cut in the 1992 provincial budget forcing the centre to close; and
WHEREAS there is a growing need for this
program in Selkirk and the program has the support of the town of
WHEREFORE your petitioners humbly pray
that the Legislature of the
* * *
I have reviewed the petition of the honourable member for Wolseley (Ms. Friesen), and it complies with the privileges and practices of the House and complies with the rules. Is it the will of the House to have the petition read?
The petition of the undersigned citizens
WHEREAS the Dutch elm disease control program is of primary importance to the protection of the city's many elm trees; and
WHEREAS the Minister of Natural Resources himself
stated that, "It is vital that we continue our active fight against Dutch
elm disease in
WHEREAS, despite that verbal commitment,
the government of
WHEREFORE your petitioners humbly pray
that the government of
As in duty bound your petitioners will ever pray.
Introduction of Guests
Mr. Speaker: Je tiens a vous signaler la presence dans la galerie publique de vingt‑neuf etudiants de la neuvieme annee de l'Ecole Viscount‑Alexander, sous la direction d'Amelie Gauthier. Cette institution est situee dans la circonscription de l'honourable minstre de l'Education (Mme Vodrey).
Also this afternoon we have seated in the
public gallery, from the
On behalf of all honourable members, I welcome you here this afternoon.
ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Mr. Gary Doer (Leader of the Opposition): Mr. Speaker, Winnipeg has always been envied by Canadian cities and North American cities for being one of only two cities in this country that has untreated water for our water supply, with the wisdom of our forefathers and foremothers in the establishment of the aqueduct at Shoal Lake and the water supply to Winnipeg.
Last week the Premier of Manitoba (Mr. Filmon) met again with the Premier of Ontario. He met at a time when there are lobbying attempts going on with one of the companies, one of the 12 mining companies that have claims in the area of the Shoal Lake watershed, Mr. Speaker.
I would like to ask the Premier: Can he advise us of whether he discussed the
issue of the
Hon. Gary Filmon (Premier): Yes, Mr. Speaker, indeed I did raise the issue with the Premier, and I re‑emphasized our desire to have the fullest possible environmental assessment and review done of any proposal that would be within the watershed of Shoal Lake, the source of the city of Winnipeg's water supply.
Mr. Gary Doer (Leader of
the Opposition): Certainly, we concur with the Premier (Mr.
Filmon) to oppose the lobbying by the mining industry and the 12 companies that
have the claims in the
The Premier, in his Estimates of March 23, 1992, indicated that he had discussed with the Premier of Ontario the need for a management plan for the total watershed and work on the development of a management plan for the total watershed. Last time we asked questions to the Minister of Environment on this issue, he indicated that those negotiations were somewhat in limbo, I guess we can characterize his answer.
I would ask the Premier: Can he advise Manitobans what the status is
of the watershed negotiations that are going on, which obviously makes good
Hon. Glen Cummings
(Minister of Environment): Mr. Speaker, it is
still the position of this government that we want a complete watershed
management plan. I hope that the Leader
of the Opposition will use his good office to encourage his colleagues in
We had some confusion for a short period
of time between which ministry in
Environmental Review Process
Mr. Gary Doer (Leader of the Opposition): Pursuant to the Premier's answer to the question dealing with the meeting with Premier Rae, last week, when I asked the question about the changing lobbying from Consolidated Professor, the minister indicated that they would not be raising this issue formally with Ontario because, quote: it was not a formal proposal from Consolidated even though they had the whole mining industry behind them.
In his answer just now he indicated that he has indeed raised this with the minister, which I congratulate him for doing.
I would ask the Premier: Did he receive any commitment from the
Premier of Ontario not to proceed with a changed environmental process in the
Hon. Gary Filmon (Premier): Mr. Speaker, I would be surprised, I suppose, if the Premier would make a decision like that on the basis of a short discussion with me. I will say that I was encouraged by his response and his awareness of the concerns of Manitoba, and I am optimistic that he would be supportive of our position that the fullest possible environmental assessment review be done on any proposal, such as the Consolidated Professor within the watershed of Shoal Lake, and in being supportive, that would indicate that there would not be a change in the proposed method of operation as we have been discussing it in the past.
Conawapa Dam Project
Mr. Gary Doer (Leader of the Opposition): I have a new question to the Premier.
Mr. Speaker, the Premier did indeed meet with
the Premier of Ontario last week, and he did discuss the issue of
Another very important project between the
two provinces obviously is the Conawapa Dam and the Conawapa project and the
transmission line that is proposed to go to
Since the government has signed the
agreement with Premier Peterson in
Hon. Gary Filmon (Premier): Yes, Mr. Speaker, I did discuss that matter with the Premier of Ontario.
Mr. Gary Doer (Leader of
the Opposition): Mr. Speaker, many organizations in
I was wondering, in light of the change in
domestic load growth from an early date of 2001 for
Hon. Gary Filmon (Premier): Mr. Speaker, I am a little amused at the suggestion of the frenzied pace when the agreement was signed in December of 1989, and we are now two and a half years down the road. That is quite some frenzy that we are dealing with. The fact of the matter is that the change in load growth that is being referred to by the Leader of the Opposition was anticipated and was taken into account by the Public Utilities Board in their review. The Public Utilities Board review anticipated a possible change of load growth projection when they made their determination and their recommendation to proceed with the project.
The fact of the matter is that the environmental assessment and review process will be carried out in as reasonable a fashion as it possibly can. We see no reason why the Leader of the Opposition or anybody would want to unreasonably deter or in fact delay the project. The review will be done. People have had almost two and a half years to prepare for the review on both sides, to prepare their case, to prepare their information. Now when they go before that very thorough and complete review, they will be able to make their case.
I would assume that the Clean Environment Commission and the joint review process before a panel of experts will give it a very thorough, very complete and very well‑considered response whenever that time arises. There is no reason on our part to accelerate it, and there is no reason on the part of the opponents to delay it. The process should take place in a reasonable fashion, and it will take place in a reasonable fashion.
Mr. Gary Doer (Leader of the Opposition): Mr. Speaker, did the Premier raise the concerns from the Manitoba MKO organization that Mr. Michael Anderson, the research director of the organization representing 24 bands, has said that the one‑month period that they have to present detailed presentation to the panels is not enough time to deal with this issue? Has the Premier discussed some of these concerns coming from bands which are most directly affected in terms of the proposed transmission line? Did the Premier discuss that with the Premier of Ontario, or can the Premier advise us what he did discuss when he discussed the Conawapa project with the Premier of Ontario last week when he met with him?
Hon. Gary Filmon (Premier): Mr. Speaker, I repeat that all of these people including the bands have had almost two and a half years to consider the proposal and the potential impacts of that proposal. I say, the Leader of the Opposition, from his chair in opposition, has the great benefit of being able to be all over the map and change his position very regularly.
I would like to just quote, Mr. Speaker, what he said in July of 1988, in the debate on the first budget of this administration: We will fight the mothballing of our Manitoba Hydro program right down the line this session and next session of the Legislature.
He wanted this project and this proposal to proceed expeditiously, as quickly as possible, because he wanted that hydro project to be developed.
Now for his own political purposes, he is changing 180 degrees and now talking about slowing down, slowing down, obfuscating, delaying, all of those kinds of things. He cannot have it both ways. I know every day in this House and every day out there he tries to have it all ways, but this is carrying it to a ridiculous extreme, I would say.
Conawapa Dam Project
Mrs. Sharon Carstairs
(Leader of the Second Opposition): Mr.
Speaker, that certainly has not been the position of the Liberal Party in
Mr. Speaker, it has become increasingly
clear that not only is that power not needed in the
Hon. Gary Filmon (Premier): Mr. Speaker, let us not go from the sublime to the ridiculous.
The fact of the matter is, this project and the economics of this project were considered by an objective third‑party review under the Public Utilities Board, and they determined that the economics of the project were positive. They determined that given the fact that there was an assumption that the projected load growth could be out on either side, positive or negative, and they still felt that the economics were positive.
I now find it rather amusing that the Liberal Party argued against this project on the basis that Ontario had made too good a deal, that the Liberal government of David Peterson had put one over on us and made too good a deal on this, and that now we should be concerned about it. Now the people appearing before a similar review in Ontario are saying that Manitoba made too good a deal, that Ontario is paying too big a price and that David Peterson got snookered, Mr. Speaker.
Well, I wonder just what exactly the Liberals want. Did they get snookered, or did they not get snookered? Is David Peterson a good negotiator, or is he not a good negotiator? Make up your mind.
Public Utilities Board
Mrs. Sharon Carstairs
(Leader of the Second Opposition): Well,
with the greatest respect, Mr. Speaker, the arguments that are being made in
Mr. Speaker, the question being asked is one that is very simple. The Public Utilities Board decided this issue on information provided to them by Manitoba Hydro, information which some three months later proved to be terribly inaccurate. Why is this government so afraid to take this deal back to the Public Utilities Board to ask them to re‑evaluate it in light of new information provided by Manitoba Hydro?
Hon. Gary Filmon
(Premier): Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Liberal Party
began her question founded on the credibility of those who were appearing at the
public review in
The fact of the matter is, the PUB report, after the review of the capital projects of Manitoba Hydro, including Conawapa, said, and I quote: The level of the DSM target assumed for planning purposes today will not significantly affect the conclusions concerning the profitability of the Ontario sale, nor will it affect any current decisions regarding the construction of facilities.
They took it into account. It does not have to be rereviewed. They already took it into account. I invite the Leader of the Liberal Party to read that report and to go and consult with the Public Utilities Board about this matter instead of making outlandish suggestions.
Mrs. Carstairs: Well, with the greatest respect to the Premier, the Public Utilities Board is supposed to be an arm's‑length body from politicians and not to be one that is consulted with, one that studies and observes.
Why is this government, in light of significant new information, still refusing to do what is in the best interests of the ratepayers of this province, which is to ensure that our money is being spent appropriately?
Mr. Filmon: Mr. Speaker, there is no new information. The Public Utilities Board said the level of
the DSM target, that is the domestic‑load‑growth target assumed for
planning purposes today, will not significantly affect the conclusions concerning
the profitability of the
Department of Education and Training
Deputy Minister's Salary
Mr. Dave Chomiak (Kildonan): Mr. Speaker, my question is directed to the Minister of Education and Training.
Mr. Speaker, in this budget, the government talked about belt tightening for all Manitobans. It tells school boards and universities to hold the line, yet the government in its actions does exactly the opposite by giving great increases to elite schools while starving the public school system.
Now, this year, we are being asked to increase again the salary of a key appointment of the Conservatives, a deputy minister, to $100,000 this year, which is a 7 percent increase this year and a 37 percent increase in the last three years.
How can this minister justify this increase while telling everyone else to hold the line?
Hon. Rosemary Vodrey (Minister of Education and Training): Mr. Speaker, I would like to correct first of all some of the information that the critic has tried to put on the record. In fact, we have increased our funding to the public school system in this province. We have increased our funding to the university system. We have increased our funding to community colleges, and we have increased our commitment to training.
The further issues that he has raised I will be happy to answer for him during the Estimates process.
Mr. Dave Chomiak (Kildonan): Perhaps the minister can tell me therefore why the Department of Education, in the last three years, has increased its expenditures for Executive Support to the minister by 40 percent or $150,000.
Hon. Rosemary Vodrey (Minister of Education and Training): To ensure that my critic understands it, there is a general salary increase necessary; however, the details I will be happy to discuss in Estimates.
Deputy Minister's Salary
Mr. Dave Chomiak
(Kildonan): Mr. Speaker, will the minister have the
courage to limit the increase to her deputy minister at least to the same level
that she has given to public schools in
Hon. Rosemary Vodrey (Minister of Education and Training): Mr. Speaker, I will be more than happy to debate the issue with my honourable friend during the Estimates process.
Health Care System
Deinsurance ‑ Impacted Wisdom Teeth
Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis
Mr. Speaker, in the past, this government has deinsured a number of services under medicare. Today we have learned that this deinsurance has been extended to now cover the removal of impacted teeth under certain circumstances, with new definitions, in hospital when anesthetic services are required.
I would like to know from this minister why this decision was made, what savings he will incur, and what is the impact‑‑
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The question has been put.
Hon. Donald Orchard (Minister of Health): Mr. Speaker, yes, we have had discussions, since approximately June or July of last year, with the providers in terms of the insured removal of asymptomatic impacted wisdom teeth. Those procedures have been undertaken in the past from time to time, without medical necessity, in the hospital at a cost to the system when there was not the medical necessity for utilization of hospital facilities.
The regulations that we have recently passed assure the continuation, Sir, of medically required surgical removal of impacted wisdom teeth so that this service will continue to be available to those Manitobans who require hospitalization for that because of the medical necessity, either of their personal health or the condition of their impacted wisdom teeth.
However, the system will now reflect removal of impacted wisdom teeth where asymptomatic ones will no longer be undertaken in the hospital with medicare coverage.
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: Could the minister please tell this House what consultations he has had with professional groups, the Manitoba Dental Association, the College of Physicians and Surgeons, the anesthetists of this province, as well as consultations with the consumers in Manitoba, particularly the seniors in this province, and what were the results of those deliberations and consultations for this deinsurance move?
Mr. Orchard: Mr. Speaker, before my honourable friend leaves the impression that medically needed removal of impacted wisdom teeth is deinsured, let my honourable friend not spread that falsehood.
Medically required removal in hospital
will still be available and insured under the medicare plan in
Now let me indicate to my honourable friend that we have had discussions around this issue for approximately 10 months with the Dental Association. We have had discussions with the MMA through the anesthetists because that also was part of the discussions.
Mr. Speaker, although my honourable friend may wish to attempt to raise a great consternation about this, I simply say to my honourable friend that the regulations that we have now brought into existence in Manitoba parallel long‑standing regulations in other provinces where only medically necessary removal of impacted wisdom teeth are covered, such provinces as Ontario.
Health Care System
Deinsurance ‑ Impacted Wisdom Teeth
Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis
I would like to ask the Minister responsible for Seniors if he could tell this House if he was consulted about this decision and what impact this will have on seniors' access to our universally high‑quality, accessible medical system.
Hon. Gerald Ducharme (Minister responsible for Seniors): Yes, I was consulted. I think the Minister of Health explained it very well. When there is a health problem, it will be dealt with in the usual manner, and that was very well explained by the Health minister.
Health Care System
Deinsurance ‑ Impacted Wisdom Teeth
Mr. Gulzar Cheema (The Maples): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health.
The minister has signed an Order‑in‑Council,
and it does clearly indicate that some of the services will not be insured.
Those services will not be covered by anesthesia coverage also. As the minister
would know, there is a major case in
The minister should tell us: Has he had enough consultation process to make sure that the procedures which are going to be done because of this Order‑in‑Council are not a serious risk to any given person?
Hon. Donald Orchard (Minister of Health): Mr. Speaker, since my honourable friend has the Order‑in‑Council with the attached regulations, he will find in those regulations a significant amount of underpinning which would define medical circumstances under which impacted wisdom teeth removal would be insured in the hospital system. There are a number of medical circumstances outside of the condition of the teeth, per se, which would qualify and keep that removal of wisdom teeth insured and delivered in the hospital. It is the asymptomatic removal, where there is not a demonstrated medical need for hospitalization, that is not being covered.
I simply say to my honourable friend that the kind of circumstance that happened in Ontario‑‑I cannot prejudge the findings of the inquest‑‑but should that, for instance, have been caused by a medical condition of the patient, I think the regulations that were passed provide the kind of protection so that will not happen in Manitoba.
Mr. Cheema: Mr. Speaker, the issue is the safety of the patient. If the procedures are done, because of this regulation, outside the hospital, it will expose them to unwarranted risk.
Can the minister tell us: Has he had any consultation? Can he table his consultation in this House so that patients can have some sense of relief that everything possible was done before this decision was made?
Mr. Orchard: Mr. Speaker, I have already dealt with the issue of consultation. I will openly say that the MDA did not agree with the final regulation because it does have an impact on practice patterns of some of their membership, and I understand that.
Mr. Speaker, the key issue my honourable friend raised was the assurance of safe care to the patients. We are talking asymptomatic; in other words, no indicated health problem with the wisdom teeth to be removed. In the past, the removal of those teeth, which, if there is no medical problem, has always been the responsibility of the individual to pay either through their private insurance or through their own resources, has from time to time been undertaken in the hospital system, so that the taxpayer pays for it, when there is no medical necessity for that removal to take place in the hospital.
What we are doing is assuring that needed medical removals of impacted wisdom teeth are undertaken in the hospital to assure that patient's safety; others will not be paid for by the taxpayers when there is not the demonstrated medical necessity.
Mr. Cheema: Mr. Speaker, the question still remains the safety of the patient when the patients are going to be served outside the hospital system and with a general anesthesia or any other form of anesthesia that will expose them to unwarranted risk.
The question is: Can the minister tell us how he can assure that such incidents as occurred in Ontario‑‑a very, very major tragic incident, a young boy died. Mr. Speaker, we want the minister to tell us why he has taken such a drastic stand without proper consultation.
Mr. Orchard: First of all, Mr. Speaker, I reject my honourable friend's allegation "without proper consultation." We did have consultation going back to last summer with the Manitoba Dental Association. We agreed to disagree on some parts of the procedure.
Let my honourable friend not mislead the
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Carbon Monoxide Levels
Mr. Jim Maloway (Elmwood): Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health.
As the minister is aware, health concerns due to faulty furnaces are mounting. In fact, many people such as Dan and Linda Welsh, who have suffered headaches, rashes and nausea over the past year, finally were told that they were at acceptable limits of carbon monoxide.
Since the written results are now available and show that they are well over the acceptable limits, can the minister investigate why the testing in this particular case took so long and why they were told wrongly on Friday that they had nothing to worry about?
Hon. Donald Orchard (Minister of Health): Mr. Speaker, without accepting some of the preamble and allegations, I will investigate the role that my ministry had in this issue. The primary role has been undertaken through the Department of Labour, and I will provide my honourable friend with as much information as I can.
Mr. Maloway: Mr. Speaker, I just received a message a minute ago that in Landmark a furnace was shut down, and it had very high, top‑level carbon monoxide figures.
My question to the minister is: Are people whose furnaces are being condemned, such as this person in Landmark, being told to immediately take blood tests? How many other cases of carbon monoxide poisoning that exceed acceptable limits has this minister's department heard from in the past month?
Mr. Orchard: Mr. Speaker, I am, as you might expect, unable to respond to the last‑minute information of a furnace in Landmark that my honourable friend refers to.
However, Mr. Speaker, I think quite
possibly what my honourable friend is trying to accomplish is a greater public
awareness of the issue of the gas furnaces, apparently made by one manufacturer
I think, if my honourable friend is trying to raise public awareness of individuals in Manitoba who have those furnaces, that brand of furnace, that they ought to investigate and access whatever resources available to investigate, I suggest, Sir, that my honourable friend is serving the public of Manitoba well because certainly that is what we have been trying to do on this side of the House.
Mr. Maloway: Mr. Speaker, if the minister would simply check with the member for La Verendrye (Mr. Sveinson), who sits right behind him, he would tell him that he was informed last Friday of the situation in Landmark‑‑
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Question, please.
Faulty Heat Exchangers
Mr. Jim Maloway (Elmwood): Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary, since I am not getting answers from this minister, is to the Acting Minister of Labour.
I would like to ask the Acting Minister of Labour: How many brands of furnaces, other than Flame‑Master, have been found to have cracked heat exchangers?
Hon. Glen Cummings (Acting Minister of Labour): Mr. Speaker, as acting minister, I will take that question as notice, and I am sure that the minister will be more than willing to respond with any information.
Federal Trade Tribunal
Mr. Reg Alcock (Osborne): Mr. Speaker, to the Acting Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism, as a result of an unequal application of federal tax policy, three Winnipeg cabinetmakers have been denied over half a million dollars in rebates which other cabinetmakers in this country have been paid.
The federal Trade Tribunal has ruled in favour of these three cabinetmakers, but still the federal government is refusing to rebate the funds to them.
I would like to ask the Acting Minister of
Industry, Trade and Tourism whether or not they have made any representations
on behalf of these three businesses in
Hon. Jim Ernst (Acting Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism): Mr. Speaker, I am not aware of the specifics of the matter, but I will certainly take that information back to the minister and have him provide an answer in due course.
Federal Trade Tribunal
Mr. Reg Alcock (Osborne): Mr. Speaker, perhaps I could ask the Premier the same question.
Has the Premier or his office made any
representations on behalf of these three
Hon. Gary Filmon (Premier): Mr. Speaker, that matter, I know, has been reviewed by a number of people in this government. It is a matter that has been referred to the Department of Finance, with respect to looking at the decision that was made by that tribunal and in attempting to determine whether or not there is a role to be played by this government. To my knowledge, no decision has been made on that matter.
Mr. Alcock: Mr. Speaker, is it possible to let these people know when a decision will be made? Can the Premier tell us when his government will come to some sort of decision, or whether or not they are prepared to assist these three people who, it has now been proven, are out over half a million dollars?
Mr. Filmon: When the review has been completed, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. George Hickes (Point Douglas): Mr. Speaker, we hear in this Chamber the rhetoric and the discussions about seniors, how important their programs are and how committed the government is to help the seniors and on and on and on.
Hon. Jim Ernst (Minister of Housing): Mr. Speaker, first of all let me correct the record. The lounge was not destroyed. There was an arson that took place at that building. The ceiling of the lounge was destroyed. The ceiling has not yet been replaced.
When the matter was brought to my attention about a week ago, I made significant inquiries in my department as to why it has not been repaired, and I concur with the honourable member, it should have been.
Mr. George Hickes (Point Douglas): Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the next question to the Minister responsible for Seniors.
I think that is the same minister who deindexed the 55 Plus; now he has the opportunity to stand up for the seniors and get something done because the lounge is very, very important to the seniors.
Will he now consult with the minister to get immediate action?
Hon. Gerald Ducharme (Minister responsible for Seniors): To the member who did not deindex the pension plan over there, for over 10 years they did not increase the 55 Plus.
To the member, there goes to show, it was this Premier of this province who established the Seniors Directorate. I consulted with the member from Housing in consultation with the Powers seniors home. It is because of that that the minister has answered that it will be repaired, and he has asked his staff to quickly do that.
Mr. George Hickes (Point Douglas): Mr. Speaker, my third question is to the same Minister responsible for Seniors.
Security is a great concern for all
Hon. Gerald Ducharme (Minister responsible for Seniors): Mr. Speaker, I have toured blocks, seniors accommodations throughout the province, and there are different security problems throughout that area. I will continue to review all those blocks.
Mr. Speaker, there are 20,000 units throughout the province to review.
Mr. Gregory Dewar (Selkirk): My questions are for the Minister responsible for Decentralization.
In the past two budgets, this government has cut over 25 Civil Service jobs in Selkirk with the closure of the school of nursing and the Human Resources Opportunity Centre. Fortunately, we were able to stop plans to move 25 Highways jobs from Selkirk to Beausejour. Unfortunately, it now appears that the government is once again considering such a move.
Will the Minister responsible for Decentralization (Mr. Downey) assure this House that he will forcibly argue with his cabinet colleagues to stop Selkirk from losing any more Civil Service jobs?
Hon. Leonard Derkach
(Minister of Rural Development): Mr.
Speaker, I would have to say that to this point in time, this government has
decentralized somewhere in the neighbourhood of 500 Civil Service positions to
various rural locations in
Mr. Speaker, let me say that it is up to each and every department to assess the requirements for staffing within their departments, and those decisions have to be made by those departments. Where possible, we are trying to accommodate communities with decentralization moves. There are still over 100 positions that have to be decentralized, and certainly we will be working as diligently as we can to ensure that our commitment is maintained.
Mr. Gregory Dewar (Selkirk): My question is for the Minister of Highways.
Is Selkirk going to lose 25 Highways jobs to Beausejour?
Hon. Albert Driedger (Minister of Highways and Transportation): Mr. Speaker, within my department, for the past four years, we have had ongoing reviews of how we deliver our highway program through the province, and that is a continuing process that is going on right now. I cannot give the member an indication whether there is going to be any changes in Selkirk at this time or not.
I want to indicate that we are looking at regionalizing to some degree. We are looking at the concept of regionalizing to be able to deliver a better service to Manitobans.
Mr. Gregory Dewar (Selkirk): My final question is for the Minister responsible for Decentralization (Mr. Downey).
Can the minister indicate how many jobs he has moved to Selkirk to replace all the jobs that his government has taken from the community?
Hon. Leonard Derkach (Minister of Rural Development): Mr. Speaker, I do not have the specific numbers for each and every community at my fingertips, but indeed that is information I can research, and I will be happy to get back to the member.
Mr. Speaker: Time for Oral Questions has expired.
Mr. Speaker: I have a ruling for the House.
On Wednesday, April 8, 1992, during debate on Bill 45, a point of order was raised by the honourable member for Portage la Prairie (Mr. Connery) alleging that the opposition House leader, the member for Thompson (Mr. Ashton), had stated and I quote, "we are having biased chairing in this House" in reference to the Chair. The point of order was taken under advisement by the Deputy Speaker.
I have reviewed Hansard and find that the
words, and I quote, "It goes too far when we have biased chairing. I will challenge biased chairing." do
appear in Hansard, but the words are not attributed to a particular honourable
member. In past cases of points of order
being raised when words are spoken by a person not in possession of the floor
and not attributed to a particular member, Speakers have indicated they are
unable to rule on the matter. The point
of order raised by the honourable member for
However, with respect to the immediately preceding events, I wish to caution all members and, in this case in particular, the honourable member for Thompson (Mr. Ashton) that once a ruling is made by a presiding officer, no member should question the ruling. In a point of order immediately preceding the one just referenced on April 8, the member for Thompson stated on the record regarding the Deputy Speaker's ruling on relevance, and I quote: "the Deputy Speaker is in error...the member is in order."
I do not wish to have a repeat of such a comment in this Chamber. To quote Beauchesne's, and I quote: "The Presiding Officer, while but a servant of the House, is entitled on all occasions to be treated with the greatest attention and respect by the individual members because the office embodies the power, dignity and honour of the House itself," and I quote: "the actions of the Speaker cannot be criticized incidentally in debate or upon any form of proceeding."
Mr. Steve Ashton (Opposition House Leader): Mr. Speaker, in regard to this particular matter, I would just like to indicate that certainly I and members on this side and in fact any member of the Legislature certainly does have the right to challenge a Speaker's ruling.
If my comments were seen as any way reflecting on the Chair or on the Deputy Speaker, I apologize for that, and I hope that in the future we can proceed accordingly.
Mr. Speaker: I appreciate the remarks of the honourable member for Thompson.
TABLING OF REPORTS
Hon. Leonard Derkach (Minister of Rural Development): Mr. Speaker, may I have leave of the House to revert back to tabling of reports?
Mr. Speaker: Does the honourable Minister of Rural Development have leave to revert back to ministerial statements and tabling of reports?
Some Honourable Members: Leave.
Mr. Speaker: Leave. It is agreed.
Mr. Derkach: Mr. Speaker, I would like to table the Annual Report for the Manitoba Water Services Board.
Mr. Marcel Laurendeau (St. Norbert): Mr. Speaker, may I have leave for a nonpolitical statement?
Mr. Speaker: Does the honourable member for St. Norbert have leave to make a nonpolitical statement?
Some Honourable Members: Leave.
Mr. Laurendeau: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to
rise today to congratulate one of the cornerstones of
Great‑West Life Assurance Company
started up in
The current President and CEO, John Green,
sees nothing but expanding horizons in the company's future, as new fields are
pursued and their hold on older fields are solidified. Great‑West Life
benefits from its central location in
Mr. Speaker, on behalf of all Manitobans,
I would like to thank the staff and management of Great‑West Life for
their ongoing contributions to the quality of life within our city's
communities. With companies like Great‑West
Life acting as ambassadors and beacons for the business community of
Mr. Speaker, congratulations to Great‑West Life on their first 100 years, and the city of Winnipeg looks forward to another 100 years. Thank you. * (1420)
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Hon. James McCrae (Acting Government House Leader): Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the honourable Minister of Finance (Mr. Manness), that Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair and the House resolve itself into a committee to consider of the Supply to be granted to Her Majesty.
Motion agreed to, and the House resolved
itself into a committee to consider of the Supply to be granted to Her Majesty
with the honourable member for St. Norbert (Mr. Laurendeau) in the Chair for
the Department of Health; and the honourable member for
COMMITTEE OF SUPPLY
Mr. Deputy Chairperson (Marcel Laurendeau): Order, please. Will the Committee of Supply please come to order.
This afternoon this section of the Committee of Supply, meeting in Room 255, will resume consideration of the Estimates of Health.
When the committee last sat, it had been considering item 2.(b) Health Promotion, Protection, and Disease Prevention, on page 83.
Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis
I would like to know from the minister, and we are still all trying to understand what the Order‑in‑Council released today means, if he could tell us how many cases of removal of impacted teeth or wisdom teeth are we talking about that have not been necessary for medical reasons, and on what basis has the minister made that determination, and what kind of savings are we talking about?
Hon. Donald Orchard (Minister of Health): Our estimate that we have is between 1,200 and 1,600 procedures on an annual basis. The potential impact that we expect as a reduction in the amount of money that the taxpayers will pay is about $500,000.
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: Is the minister saying that between 1,200 and 1,600 procedures are done that are in hospital, under anesthetic, that are not really required, have not been referred to begin with, and that the cost of all those is about half a million dollars, and that is a total saving for the taxpayers of Manitoba?
Mr. Orchard: Investigating this issue, the indication is that asymptomatic wisdom teeth removal in hospitals where the procedure does not have to be done in the hospital, there is no medical justification for it, amounts to between 1,200 and 1,600 per year, and that the estimated cost to the medicare program is $550,000. That is why I used the figure, say, a half a million dollars.
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: Mr. Deputy Chairperson, could the minister indicate if he looked at other options for dealing with this issue, that being the unnecessary referral of this procedure to hospitals? Was there not another way to get at the heart of the problem rather than deinsure from our medicare system a particular service?
Mr. Orchard: Well, Mr. Deputy Chairperson, not that I want to get into a big fight with my honourable friend, but we did not deinsure any service. What we have done is continue to provide insured service provision and coverage for medically necessary removal of wisdom teeth. That has been in place for many, many years. What we did in the regulations is to make the best effort we can to prevent the taxpayers paying for nonmedically required hospital use, taxpayer paid, removal of asymptomatic wisdom teeth. There has not been any procedure deinsured. It is impacted wisdom tooth removal, where medically required, is still an insured service in the hospital system. Where for reasons that one can only speculate about, a number of procedures estimated to be between 1,200 and 1,600 of asymptomatic wisdom teeth removal were undertaken in the hospital inappropriately, because there was not the medical necessity to have that procedure done in the hospital, there was no medical requirement.
What was the driving force, I think, without question was the fact that if it was done in the hospital, the taxpayers would pay for it rather than the individual. But there was no medical necessity to have it there. I think all of us agree we ought to use our hospitals for medically required procedures, and that is what we will continue to do with this new regulation around impacted wisdom teeth. There has been no deinsurance of the removal of impacted wisdom teeth where medically necessary.
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: There is a concern that underlies all of this and that is the question of, regardless of what savings, how many people are you putting at risk. It gets to the question: Is the minister confident that no patient will be put at risk?
In fact, by going from the system of simple statement of a service being covered under medicare to a long list of circumstances under which the procedure would be done or covered under medicare does create some gray area. It is not all cut and dried. I think the overriding concern is‑‑
Mr. Orchard: Whose overriding concern?
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: Okay, let me clarify. The minister says whose overriding concern? My overriding concern, and I think some of the concerns expressed by the member for The Maples (Mr. Cheema), and I will let him speak for himself in a moment‑‑one concern that has been expressed is when it is not cut and dried and you are operating in a gray area, how does one ensure that patients are not put at risk and all the savings in the world, will that be a sufficient answer if one person needlessly dies in a dental office because they did not have the benefit of full anesthetic coverage in a hospital?
Mr. Orchard: If my honourable friend wants‑‑and it might be helpful for those people who read Hansard, for me to read the conditions under which‑‑I know you have them, but my honourable friend is saying what if someone might die from the removal of an asymptomatic wisdom tooth. If a person died from the asymptomatic removal of a wisdom tooth, I guess I would have to ask why was that asymptomatic tooth being removed in the first place. I mean, if the danger is in the procedure, then surely my honourable friend would want to have the assurance for the patients being recommended this procedure that it is necessary to be done.
You know as well as I do that removal of wisdom teeth has become, not a routinely recommended procedure, but a procedure that is often offered to individual Manitobans. We insure that procedure where there is a medical requirement for removal.
Just to clarify the depth around which that means, here is the definition of an impacted tooth‑‑
Mr. Deputy Chairperson: Order, please.
Point of Order
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: I appreciate the minister wanting to go over this‑‑
Mr. Deputy Chairperson: Order, please. Is the honourable member bringing forward a point of order?
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: Yes, I raised a sincere question. I am not trying to be confrontational. I am simply suggesting, we have the list in front of us the minister is about to read that was an Order‑in‑Council tabled, so I did not ask for the information. I appreciate his response, and I would be prepared on that basis to go on and try to ask another question to get at some of my concerns. I would be quite happy to indicate, when I have asked these questions and the minister has answered them to say that maybe our concerns are unjustified. I am trying to get to that point.
Mr. Deputy Chairperson: The honourable member does not have a point of order. It is a dispute over the facts.
* * *
Mr. Orchard: I am not going to read the whole regulation. I just want to say here are the definitions, because this is important in understanding the issue. An impacted tooth is: (a) a tooth that is completely or partially unerupted and positioned against another tooth, bone, or soft tissue so that further eruption is unlikely; or, (b) fails to move into position and function within a reasonable length of time.
Surgical removal of those impacted teeth including hospital costs is an insured service, so when I said to my honourable friend earlier that we did not deinsure anything‑‑I will begin again. Surgical removal of impacted teeth including hospital costs is an insured service when performed by a certified oral or maxillofacial surgeon or a licensed dentist if the following conditions are met:
(a) the practitioner provides a statement and supporting information, including X‑rays where appropriate, acceptable to the commission that the procedure is a dental necessity and that
(i) hospital facilities are required for the properperformance of the procedure, or
(ii) a pre‑existing medical condition requires in‑hospitalmonitoring of the insured person during the peri‑operativeperiod; and
(b) the commission approves the procedure in writing before it is performed.
There is a very definitive criteria where medical necessity, when established, leaves the impacted removal procedure an insured service. I just say to my honourable friend that under 2(1)(a)(ii) the pre‑existing medical condition is the extensive medical conditions which take the next two and half pages so that the practitioners understand conditions under which they can readily make the in‑hospital insured provision of this service available to their clients so that we will not have a circumstance of a medically required procedure not being undertaken in the hospital. But there is a process to go through because‑‑and I do not think anyone argues about this‑‑there were a number of asymptomatic wisdom teeth removals done in the hospital system to avoid the requirement of personal payment.
Now that is not using our medical system for medically required services and that is what this regulation narrows the criterion around, to assure that we are paying for medically required removal of symptomatic wisdom teeth under conditions described and advanced in substantial detail in the regulation.
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: Let me ask how this would impact on a couple of specific areas and then pass it over to the member for Maples (Mr. Cheema) who I am sure with his medical background will have much more intelligent questions than I on this matter.
I am concerned about two groups of people: Senior citizens where there may not be a history of any of these medical conditions, cardiovascular, respiratory, et cetera, but because of their age and the fact that such a major dental service or exercise might have in terms of shock and trauma to a senior citizen. I think that does get into a gray area then in terms of a practitioner justifying whether something should be covered or not in hospital, or provided or not in hospital. That is one issue.
The other is with respect to northerners who will have now a further obstacle to access to a necessary service since once a service is no longer covered, however the minister wants to define it, because some parts of removal of impacted teeth will not be covered, they will not have access to the Northern Transportation program, clearly creating impediments to this operation, this service, this medical exercise which could result in secondary infections, could result in problems down the road, could result in much steeper costs for taxpayers down the road. I think that is a legitimate concern and I would ask on both fronts.
Mr. Orchard: Mr. Deputy Chairperson, my honourable friend used some interesting language. With seniors, she said major surgery. If that major surgery is major surgery, it can be proven under these regulations that it should be done in the hospital and will be covered. If, for instance, the senior with this major surgery in determining whether a procedure is a dental necessity under Clause (1)(a), the commission shall consider whether
(a) there is a significant risk to the insured person's oral health resulting from: (i) infection; (ii) a nonrestorable carious lesion, (iii) a cyst, (iv) a tumour, (v) destruction of adjacent teeth and bone, (vi) local pain that is continuous, such as it impairs the insured person's functioning, or (vii) other criteria that the commission considers appropriate; or (b) that the procedure is necessary for the safe completion of another insured oral surgical procedure, including fracture treatment and osteotomy.
If it is a major surgery for a senior, as my honourable friend says, and is going to compromise their health care, it is an insured service. If it is asymptomatic, where they are having them removed because there is no pain because the dentist said, well, you know, maybe we should take a look at that and remove them, it will not be.
But you know what the decision will be then? If they are not paining and they are not causing a problem, the senior will probably decide, I do not need them removed. There is no pain, I do not have to worry about infection, I do not have a cyst or a tumor. There is nothing really the matter. It just was recommended they be removed. They will not be removed then, because many people walk around with wisdom teeth, many people, without any problem. But I want to tell you that from time to time, it has been recommended they be removed, and sometimes that removal is done in the hospital, no medical necessity and no endangerment to the patient. These regulations assure that where there is a medical necessity, it will be undertaken.
Now, my honourable friend describes northerners because they want to work in some great problem for northern Manitobans. If it is a necessary service, it will be covered. They will access Northern Patient Transportation services. If it is not medically necessary, they are the same as any other Manitoban in that it will not be covered.
I realize and I fully admit that after the consultation we did with the Manitoba Dental Association, we agreed not to agree on this regulation. I accept that because this affects the method of practice of some dentists. I am not wanting to get into any kind of a fight or anything like that, but anytime you remove access to a free medical service, naturally, you are going to have people say that we do not agree to this.
I accept that, but I have the responsibility under constant pressure from my honourable friend to spend more money on what she considers to be medically necessary areas of health care service delivery. I have a responsibility to make sure those resources are available in as much quantity as possible which means from time to time I have to take a look, as previous governments have done, on where insured services are not medically necessary. Where there is clear indication of that and we can change the regulation without compromising the quality of care, the safety of care, the delivery of necessary care to patients, then we ought to remove that nonmedical cost to the taxpayers.
I mean it only makes sense because those
are resources that we can use on medically required procedures in the system,
and I just want to point out in completing the answer, New Brunswick has never
had impacted teeth removal as an insured service. We were unique in that we had it fairly wide
open, and under any circumstances, they are not covered in
So it is not as if we are out of step with every other provincial jurisdiction. I just say to my honourable friend that in crafting this regulation, and this was back and forth with the MDA, we tried as much as possible to clearly lay out patient conditions under which hospital removal would be beneficial in that you would not be compromising the outcome for the patient.
We have written those in and we think we have quite a complete list of patient conditions and circumstances under which the procedure will be covered, but where it is asymptomatic and it cannot be demonstrated as a health need, we are not going to dedicate taxpayer resource for that, and that is estimated to apply in about 1,200 to 1,600 cases for a total cost of over $500,000, but for a rough figure, a half million dollars. I think we have done a quite responsible job of trying to assure that the medical necessity is still covered.
Mr. Gulzar Cheema (The Maples): Mr. Deputy Chairperson, I have a concern as regards the safety of the whole thing, because it is very well explained in terms of what is a necessity and what is not a necessity. The minister knows that we have only five licensed facilities where the outpatient procedures can be done. If one of these procedures are being done in the outpatient, for example in the dentist's office, if the patient will get into trouble even if the person is perfectly healthy, you do not have a standby anesthesia, you do not have the facility approved for all these procedures, there is a great risk.
We have a case in
Can the minister tell us how these procedures are being done in other provinces? Are they doing it in a dentist's office all the time, and if they are doing it, then can he provide us the information from that point of view? Also what were the views of the Manitoba Dental Association in terms of the safety of patients?
Mr. Orchard: Mr. Deputy Chairperson, let me try that
because my honourable friend's issue is slightly different than the general
issue that was raised by the member for
We had an anomaly in that impacted wisdom teeth removal in a dentist's office, the removal being paid for by the patient. The anomaly was that we would insure the anesthetic services for that. We did not do that for any other, for instance, noninsured plastic surgeries or anything else.
The second part of this regulation is that in the case where a patient is in a dentist's office, is paying for the removal, or has a private dental plan, of impacted wisdom teeth in a dentist's office, this regulation will no longer allow the commission to pay for the anesthetic services. That will be paid for by the patient or the insurer. That is the issue my honourable friend was coming to.
Again I simply say to my honourable friend nothing has changed in the way that the decision would be made to do this in a dentist's office versus a hospital. I mean right now, under the circumstance that I am describing for my honourable friend, I have chosen to have my wisdom teeth removed in a hospital and have it covered by my dental plan. I have had the ability to go under general anesthetic rather than local because it was paid for by MHSC, by the insured services plan.
Now it will not be covered by insured service. My insurance company is going to have to pick it up, or if I was paying it out of pocket, I would have to pay the additional $100 or thereabouts out of pocket. I mean whether that happened with this regulation in place or before, I am still taking the risk of local anesthetic in a dentist's office without the backup. I mean nothing has changed. That is why the regulations are crafted to try and list pre‑existing medical conditions which is 2(3) wherein the physical condition of an individual would lead one to have that procedure undertaken in a hospital under general anesthesia with the backup that hospitals can provide.
Mr. Cheema: Mr. Deputy Chairperson, I have no disagreement with what the minister said until the last word. The issue here is going to come that when those services are not going to be insured, as you have said, whether in the office or the hospital, there comes the question of safety.
I want to make sure from our point of view that the patient's safety is kept up to the utmost importance. That can only be done if the regulations that were followed before are going to be followed now. That is why we want to know what the MDA said on the issue, how they are going to provide the standby anesthesia in terms of how are they going to be continuing to provide these services in a similar quality care fashion that they were doing when they were paid, or are they going to do it in a different way? That is the issue. I just hope that I make myself very clear.
The issue is the safety of the patient
because somebody will go to a dentist's office or any office, and if you are
getting a procedure done, even if you are perfectly healthy, you can get
anaphylactic shot. It has happened in
We just want the minister to be aware of that, be cautious and make sure the dental body will follow the regulations they were following before when they were paid by the MHSC. That is the issue because that way, we are securing the safety of the patient.
Mr. Orchard: All I can say to my honourable friend is that if the procedure for the individual that my honourable friend has hypothetically described, that there is a potential compromise or there is a compromise of his or her health from this procedure because of a medical condition, then that case can be made, and it will continue to be done in the hospital. But where there is no medical condition or condition of the teeth themselves which requires that hospitalization, it will be done in the private office, in the dentist's office.
Now, let me tell my honourable friend that then it becomes very much a question of choice. I mean, if you are not in pain, I mean, with your teeth aching all the time, you might not choose to go ahead with the removal of impacted wisdom teeth. Currently, today, under the circumstance, if you were able to access the system this way, and a number did, you would have the recommendation to remove your wisdom teeth. It could be suggested they could book you into the hospital and have it done three weeks from now, and you would agree to it because it is of no cost‑‑okay, maybe I should get them removed. But all of a sudden, if you know that you have to pay for this yourself, and you did not have aching teeth and you did not have an X‑ray showing you that this is the reason why is has to be taken out, you might decide to leave them in.
Let me tell you, there is always risk whenever you do anything under general anesthesia. There is always a risk to general anesthesia, so if now we are getting into the issue that the choice the consumer is going to make is to not remove their wisdom teeth, maybe that is a very good choice because we have not exposed them to any risk then, whereas now, by having it accessible within the hospital, and not for medical reasons but for payment reasons, we are putting the person under general anesthetic, that itself, by itself, can be a risk. If anything, by putting more informed consumer choice in place, we are probably reducing the risk. We are not going to have them go through unnecessary removal.
The Manitoba Dental Association‑‑we did not end up having agreement on the regulations as crafted, and I will stand corrected on Monday, but I am not aware of any medical reason that the MDA brought up which was not included in the regulations because we did make some changes at their suggestion.
Mr. Cheema: Mr. Deputy Chairperson, the simple question here is that the procedure, those which are going to be done now, whether they are small numbers or large numbers, that depends upon the individual choice, but if those procedures are going to be carried out in dentists' offices, we want to make sure the safety precautions, the anesthesia coverage and the anesthesia backup is the same as it was done before when they were paid by the Manitoba Health Services insurance.
That is our point of view. We want to make sure the patient's safety is of the utmost importance and kept with the best of the ability and within the same principles as they were applied before when they were being paid by the provincial government. That is what we are simply asking. There is no way that we are going to question in terms of the dental extraction only on the basis of nonmedical reasons. I think those things are gone a long time ago. It should have been done a long time ago. That is not the issue.
I just want the minister to discuss this issue with the MDA and ask them, and for his own protection and from the government's point of view, they want to make sure that those procedures are followed the same way they were done before.
That is my concern, and I want to make sure that our views are known because something could go wrong, and then the minister can simply say that we made sure and we were very careful. We made sure through the Manitoba Dental Association that the same procedures, same precautions and same guidelines still apply, even though services are not covered by the Health Services insurance.
I think that can only be done by the
Mr. Orchard: Mr. Deputy Chairperson, I think that this assurance has been part of the regulation drafting, but with the abundance of caution that I like to approach these issues with, I am going to have staff review my honourable friend's comments to make sure that we are satisfied we have not missed some item because, I mean, we are not perfect.
My honourable friend suggested a circumstance under reversal of sterilization last year that was appropriately incorporated that was not originally in the regulations, so I take my honourable friend's caution and will undertake review to make sure that we can offer that assurance.
Mr. Cheema: Mr. Deputy Chairperson, I have just a final comment. I think it is extremely important, because the associations have their own views and government has its own views. The basic thing is, we want to make sure that the patient's safety is kept in mind, specifically when we have only a total of five clinics, private surgical clinics‑‑two are eye and three are other general procedures where oral maxillary surgery is being done.
Those are very approved clinics. The MDA and the college have full control, and they make sure that everything is done in the best possible way. In the same way, we want to make sure that when services are not covered by the taxpayer, they should be honoured the same way they were done before.
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: I have just one last question on this whole issue. What will be the process for medical practitioners getting authorization that removal of impacted teeth would be covered? Will practitioners need to get preclearance?
Mr. Orchard: Yes. As I indicated in 2(1) of the regulation, Clause (b) says, the commission approves the procedure in writing before it is performed‑‑basis the criteria I read out, you know, the information including X‑rays, et cetera. Then, the second criteria‑‑preexisting medical condition of the individual requiring an in‑hospital procedure, and then those will be reviewed and the commission will approve.
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: Thank you. I appreciate that clarification.
Is the minister contemplating any other changes to services covered under The Health Services Insurance Act?
Mr. Orchard: Yes, there are other discussions that we have ongoing and hope to conclude, again, around the area of medical necessity, and I cannot be any more clear.
I will tell my honourable friend that this is an ongoing process. As we find our resources‑‑the more demand on the resources than we are able to meet, we are going to be looking very diligently at the whole fee schedule and a number of procedures that have been included as a matter of habit for many years and some new ones, to assure that we are getting necessary, positive medical benefit from them. Where we are not, we are going to enter into discussions with the provider group on ways of removal of that.
It is an ongoing process. This one is the major change that we have made this year. The half‑million‑dollar impact to the dentists is fairly significant.
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: One other matter that I raised earlier, and it has to do with the change in the per diem rates for personal care homes. I searched high and low for regulations that would have covered that period between 1989 and the present and was not able to find anything.
I am just wondering if at some point the minister could table for us the copies of the regulations that made those per diem changes between February 1989 and May 1992.
Mr. Orchard: The information that we had just prior to the Estimates was not the right year or something like that, and the staff are just trying to get the regulation that was passed a year ago because we are all quite sure that we passed one. I mean, it is the only way we can increase the charges, otherwise, we might have ourselves quite a little quandary here.
Mr. Cheema: Mr. Deputy Chairperson, while we are on this topic of deinsurance of some of these services, can the minister get us also a copy from other provinces for services they had deinsured for the last few years? Last year, when we had some deinsurance here in terms of some of these skin lesions and then we went into redefining of some of the things, I talked to the assessors at the Manitoba Health Services Commission. They were very co‑operative, but we were not able to get to the clear definition of so many things.
I think it would be good if we could get a list from all provinces that will make not only our lives easier, probably the minister's life will be a lot easier so that comparison is available to make sure that those services are how we will provide those services in Manitoba.
Mr. Orchard: Look, I try to bring myself up to date because, like for instance, in this one of asymptomatic wisdom teeth removal. When this came up as an option for discussion, I asked the question, what do other provinces do, how was it handled, et cetera, et cetera?
I found on investigation that as I
indicated earlier on, we were probably as generous as any province in the
removal of wisdom teeth. The regulation
we are putting in place now makes us quite consistent with most other provinces
in terms of our restrictions but still more generous than a number of other
provinces, because I think
So there is not always consistency across the system, but I know my honourable friend probably has as good a press‑clipping file as I do, probably better, but I know that the Ontario ministry right now is considering, because they do insure psychoanalysis there and they are considering deinsurance, not just simply clarifying that we are not paying for it in Manitoba as we did last year, but they are looking at tattoo removal and some other procedures.
So every plan is doing their investigation
right now, and wherever I can I would be pleased to provide my honourable
friend from The Maples (Mr. Cheema) and my honourable friend from
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: I would like the record to show that the
Minister of Health (Mr. Orchard) for
An Honourable Member: In
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: In Ontario, sure, which he suggested that Ontario was looking at the same step that was undertaken in Manitoba last year, a step that the minister was adamantly described in terms that was not a move of deinsurance. So I think the agenda is clear, the record should indicate that the minister has finally admitted that that was deinsurance, and what we are talking about with all of these things is deinsurance, and I think the debate should stay on whether it is good, bad or indifferent.
Let me ask a question relating to both the ties into deinsurance of medical services and this whole area of Health Promotion, Protection and Disease Prevention, and that is the‑‑and I will use another "de" word that the minister will not like‑‑and that is the delisting of certain drugs under Pharmacare for people who have either very serious chronic illnesses or terminal diseases, and ask the minister for the complete list of drugs that have been removed from Pharmacare coverage that were previously covered under the provision and entitled from the Department of Health and Welfare federally under the emergency drug release program? I am not sure I have got all those words correct, but I think the minister knows what I mean and I am wondering if he could give us the complete list of drugs impacted by that Order‑in‑Council of the end of 1991.
Mr. Orchard: Mr. Deputy Chairperson, I know my honourable friend just loves to have what she perceives to be little victories. She gets so few of them. But when I described Ontario, I said Ontario is considering deinsurance of psychoanalysis because in Ontario it is an insured service right now, contrary to the fact that we clarified the fact that it was not an insured service in Manitoba.
My honourable friend, I realize she likes
these little victories, but I guess maybe if "deinsurance" is what my
honourable friend wants to call things, that is fine because it has happened
for 20 years in
That is why Western Clinic started up; that is why Western Clinic operates and has operated for about seven or eight years to do plastic surgery that was insured until about '83, and it was deinsured in '83. These things happen because all of us have to assure the medical necessity. That is the kind of debate that I will get on with my honourable friend, any stage of the way.
Now, let me just see what I have got here; 1991, here we are. By golly, this is signed. Order‑in‑Council No. 317, on the matters of state‑‑I can read it? The regulations set out in Schedule A be approved, dated 20 March 1991, and the regulation was to do with: "A personal care home may make an authorized charge to an insured person of $23.25 per day effective May 1, 1991, $23.80 per day effective August 1, 1991, $24.35 per day effective November 1, 1991, and $24.90 per day effective February 1, 1992."
So that Order‑in‑Council was passed 20 March 1991. That is the year where the per diem increase was greater than before because of the GST rebate, because we factored in the GST rebate into our per diem. So I do not know why that would not have been available because normally these are always tabled.
Then, of course, the Order‑in‑Council 337, this year, April 8, 1992: my honourable friend has that one. Now, I think my honourable friend, though, pointed out where‑‑oh, no, no. You see, I did not realize what my honourable friend was referring to.
My honourable friend was referring to Manitoba Health Services Insurance regulation, Manitoba Regulation 506/88R. That is the regulation which empowers the levying of the per diems, I believe, but is not the actual regulation which sets the rates per year.
So I think that is where the confusion came in. It is an annual thing that we do and we attempt to do it in March‑April, effective May 1, one month after the quarterly pension increase. For 1991, it was Order‑in‑Council No. 317. I will give my honourable friend this copy because I do not need it anymore.
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: I would like to thank the minister for that information. That certainly helps clarify, for me, the process around per diem rates for personal care homes.
Okay, now, I was just going to reference the second issue I had raised for the minister, if the minister could provide us with a list of the drugs that are now no longer covered as a result of the change in the December 31, or December something, 1991, Order‑in‑Council which basically removed coverage of drugs previously covered under the Emergency Release Program out of Ottawa.
Mr. Orchard: Mr. Deputy Chairperson, I will have that information, for sure, when we get into the Pharmacare line. If I can have it before that, I will.
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: The minister knows my concern with respect particularly to clarythromycin. I am just wondering if the minister can give us any more information now around the number of people who are using and need clarythromycin in Manitoba, what the savings will be for this government by not covering it under Pharmacare, and if there is any reconsideration at all with the committee that the minister has referenced in the past around setting of rates and regulations under the Pharmacare program to reinstate clarythromycin.
Mr. Orchard: We know of one individual who currently was receiving the clarythromycin as a benefit under the Pharmacare program, but I am not aware of whether there is more than one. I know of one. That individual has communicated directly with my office.
Here is the issue. I have explained this time and time again but‑‑the issue is not this individual's circumstance. The issue is the principle behind drug companies, and these are the name brand manufacturers. They go through a process of clinical trials, et cetera, and after the drug is approved in effectiveness, it is safe, et cetera, they apply for a notice of compliance which then through federal Food and Drug certifies that the drug is eligible for use, that it is safe, that it meets medical needs. It is at that stage of the game that governments, and I will just deal with this government, makes the decision as to whether to include it as a pharmaceutical for which Pharmacare coverage is available.
The issue has been in the past that until notice of compliance had been achieved, the name brand manufacturers would continue to make the pharmaceutical available free of charge until the notice of compliance came in and they start charging for it.
It is my understanding that, historically, that has always been sort of the practice pattern of the drug companies, because bear in mind that, with the exception of Canada, the world has offered them, what is it, 15 years or 20 years patent protection on new pharmaceutical releases, so to introduce the drug, it was not a major financial inhibition to these companies to provide it free of charge to those people who were, say, on the clinical trials, found to be benefitting from it, and for a chronic disease would continue the provision until it was insured.
That changed with the disease AIDS. AIDS, being a terminal disease, there being a
lot of compassion around AIDS and the utilization of AZT as a drug of treatment
for AIDS, there was a significant demand for that because many people suffering
from AIDS, from the final stages of HIV infection, were being prescribed the
drug. The manufacturer charged for the
drug and depending on where in
This year, when we passed our regulation effective January 1 for the yearly changes to the Pharmacare program of eligible and drugs that were taken off the eligibility list for a number of reasons‑‑this process, I reiterate to you, Mr. Deputy Chairperson, is undertaken by the pharmacy review committee; in other words, pharmacists on a volunteer basis review the list and suggest additions and deletions, et cetera. But the policy was established this year that until a notice of compliance has been granted to the new drug, we would not cover that new drug under the Pharmacare program.
There were a number of those drugs currently being prescribed, and I cannot tell my honourable friend how many, but clarythromycin was one that before the notice of compliance, compassionate grounds again in terms of the individual suffering from AIDS, we did pick up the cost of that drug.
We changed the policy because we are on a wave of a significant number of new drugs. There is concurrence across Canada for people operating similar drug plans that we should try to consistently make the decision not to pay for a pharmaceutical until the notice of compliance has been granted, the reason being that with a plethora of new drugs coming in, some of them at $5 and $6 and $7 and $10 and $18 and $25 per tablet, we will be overwhelmed with costs for drugs for which there is no notice of compliance and for which the tradition has been that the supplier, the manufacturer, would supply them free of charge until that was granted.
This change of policy is a difficult one for this individual. I will fully admit that. I have every compassion for him, but the principle is what we are trying to establish so that the brand name manufacturers, the multinationals in the pharmaceutical business know the rules of the game hopefully right across Canada so that they will not start using the compassion that all of us have for individuals suffering from chronic disease to begin charging for a pharmaceutical for which they are going to have 15 and 20 years of exclusive patent protection and substantial profits therefrom before the notice of compliance comes through.
It was the principle that I think was very appropriate that we established. That principle has not been applied in the past 15, 18 years since Pharmacare came in because the issue had not emerged, and the potential for numbers of new pharmaceuticals for which that policy would have application would not seem to be a problem. It was not a problem until AZT and AIDS, and that was the watershed pharmaceutical, the watershed disease condition.
We intend to be firm on this because we believe that the name brand manufacturer can provide that pharmaceutical, which costs, I am told, from $180 to $360 per month, free of charge until notice of compliance comes in later on this year. No doubt we are going to have a wrestling match with the company in between.
My honourable friend will counter and say, well, just for this one case, make the exception. I agree. I have every compassion to want to do that, but the difficulty in doing that is, if you make a policy decision and then the first time that is questioned because of compassionate grounds and you back away from it, no name brand manufacturer is going to take you seriously. If they see that government is going to cave in to the political pressure put on them by opposition parties, they are not going to supply them free of charge as, I submit, they should until their notice of compliance comes in.
I accept my honourable friend's concern over this individual, this condition and this drug, but I simply caution my honourable friend, it is the principle that we have to adhere to because I do not want to be using taxpayer dollars to fatten the bank accounts of brand name pharmaceutical manufacturers in advance of the granting of notice of compliance for which they will have 15 and plus years of exclusive supply at substantial profit of that pharmaceutical.
It is the principle that I am enunciating, and I think it is well founded. I think my honourable friend, were she in government, would never change that principle.
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: I am not at all disagreeing with the principle
that the minister enunciates, but the fact of the matter is that with respect
to this one drug, and there may be others, I do not know, with respect to
clarythromycin, we are dealing with a drug that was never provided free by the
company, Abbott Drugs, that this government was paying for until the change by
Order‑in‑Council, so it had been covered. So in fact what we are dealing with is a
change in practice, a change in policy.
I think that constitutes unique circumstances that require a different
approach. Thirdly, it is a drug that had
been approved through the emergency drug release program from
We are not talking about every new drug
that comes on the market. We are talking
about drugs that have gone through some process, some steps to prove effectiveness. I would assume
I would ask the minister on the basis of
those three criteria or those three developments that clarythromycin was never
provided free, period; that the government had in fact been paying for this
drug; and, three, that some effectiveness had been demonstrated and therefore
it had been released under the emergency release program through
Mr. Orchard: Mr. Deputy Chairperson, all of those circumstances were known around this particular pharmaceutical and will be the circumstances around future ones. Again, the emergency release status by the federal government was narrowed to AIDS, a terminal disease. Where the thought patterns are, I think I can say this is what the thought pattern is, that because it is a terminal disease, there is no cure for AIDS, that you provide drugs on an emergency release basis, because how can you make the person's medical condition worse? I mean, it is a terminal condition. That is the whole genesis of this issue where it started with AZT.
Now in this case, my understanding is that the expectation is that clarythromycin will be granted a notice of compliance later this year. It is not as if it is not in the very near future to be there. AZT does not enjoy that same kind of status, and we continue to pay AZT, but clarythromycin has a notice of compliance coming up. Now, if we use my honourable friend's argument, I want to tell you that you will be in the same argument with chemotherapy, new chemotherapy pharmaceuticals for terminally ill people suffering from cancer. You will have the same compassionate argument.
The principle then becomes, sir, that do you, because you have a terminal condition and compassion for the individual, compromise a policy whereby you have the taxpayers pick up the costs before notice of compliance to very, very wealthy multinationals. Now I am no doggone socialist, but I cannot understand somebody from the New Democratic Party wanting to have the taxpayers bail out and provide the compassion of the taxpayers to the major name brand pharmaceutical manufacturers who are using human suffering to charge for drugs before notice of compliance is there.
My stand is that those multinationals have sufficient resources when notice of compliance is in place. They have 15 years of unbelievable profits from these new releases. The least they can do in human compassion is have those drugs supplied free of charge to appropriate recipients until notice of compliance comes in, and I intend to be firm on that.
I know my honourable friend, her heart is
in the right place, but, by golly, I cannot understand the philosophical
attachment which appears to be emanating from that of wanting to replace
taxpayer compassion with multinational compassion. I mean, they have more money than the
I realize the circumstance my honourable friend puts on these preconditions, but I will tell you, you are going to make the same argument for any number of drugs. When you make that argument on new released drugs, just remember you are arguing to enhance the financial position of multinational pharmaceutical name brand manufacturers, and you are asking the taxpayers of Manitoba who I submit will offer from time to time that they pay quite enough taxes for quite few enough services, you are asking them to bail out multinationals. That is not a policy that I agree to.
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: Mr. Deputy Chairperson, I think the minister is missing some of the points that I have been trying to raise around this issue. In my mind, if the government had been paying for coverage of certain drugs, where there was definite effectiveness and some clinical tests to prove help in these cases, then I think it is only a question of fairness and justice and decency for the government to continue providing coverage for those drugs.
I am not arguing that for all the new drugs coming out that the minister not put in place some mechanism to acknowledge the fact that there are so many new drugs coming out, and that we cannot afford to simply, every time a company comes along and suggests it is effective in the case of a terminal disease, to cover it, but we are talking about some drugs, I presume, I do not know how many, some drugs that the government had been covering, where there was some effectiveness and some demonstrated clinical benefit. Clarythromycin clearly falls in that category.
So it is not a question of supporting drug companies, and it is not a question of favouring multinational corporations or the profit margins of multinational drug companies. It is a question‑‑in fact, what we are saying is we do not believe that terminal patients, people dying from AIDS or cancer or any other disease, should be charity cases of multinational drug companies, that in fact the government has a role to play there in ensuring that they live out their lives with some decency and dignity.
Rather than pursue the argument, let me just simply perhaps ask if I think we can deal with this issue on a more intelligent basis. If the minister is willing to provide the list of drugs that had been previously covered under Pharmacare, that are now not covered under Pharmacare because of that change in regulation, and if the minister could provide the list with as much information as he can about those drugs, for example, perhaps the number of people covered, if possible, or the amount of money expended before the change was made, I think that would help us put this all in some context and debate it on a more reasoned basis.
Mr. Orchard: Mr. Deputy Chairperson, I indicated to my honourable friend that I would attempt to provide that as soon as possible, and for certain we will have it by the time we get to the Pharmacare line.
My honourable friend does not have a monopoly on compassion. Let me tell you that when you deal with the major business entities that develop name‑brand drugs, you are dealing with people who are in the profit‑making business, and they do very, very well at it. My honourable friend is allying herself on the basis of one individual circumstance by saying that, you know, government should give this consideration.
Well, that is a compassionate argument,
but in doing that you are opening yourself to allowing multinationals in the
development of drugs with lifesaving or quality of life mitigating qualities
for terminally ill individuals, be it AIDS today or cancer tomorrow or some
other terminal disease, you are saying to them, Manitoba is wide open to
provide this drug and the NDP in opposition, on a compassionate basis, will
insist government pay for it. This is a
lucrative market, this
I say to you that despite the obvious concern all of us have about enhancing the quality of life of any individual suffering from terminal illness, we have obligations also to assure that the policies we put in place force some of that compassion on those who also can afford it, i.e., the brand name pharmaceutical manufacturers. This would not compromise the bottom line of Abbott Laboratories one iota. I mean this would not do anything to affect their international performance profit‑wise. I do not know what their cost of manufacturing clarythromycin is, but if the retail is $180, it could be $10.
I mean that is what we are talking about, and until that receives a notice of compliance, I have to say to you that as difficult as it is when you introduce that principle, because you are going to catch some people mainstream, if you bow to the compassionate argument on that one, you do not stand a hope in staying your ground and making multinationals stop the policy that they appear to be going on of charging for these drugs prior to notice of compliance.
I simply say to my honourable friend, she
has no monopoly on compassion, but I suggest to you that I do not have any
compassion for multinational pharmaceutical manufacturers in wanting the
I do not think that my honourable friend‑‑and
I will just say this straight out‑‑if government was to change
tomorrow, I think the New Democrats would agree with this policy and stick to
their guns and try to get the money out of Abbott Laboratories in this case
rather than the taxpayers of
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: Mr. Deputy Chairperson, I do not believe for one moment that a New Democratic Party government today would‑‑without having first made that arrangement with a company like Abbott drug company for providing that drug free‑‑have cut people off, people dying with AIDS, would have cut people off a drug that has clearly made a difference in their lives.
This is not a question of having a monopoly on human compassion. It is a question of a policy that was in place and was benefitting some people and making a difference.
I am suggesting to the minister that it would only make sense from a policy point of view, and from a fairness point of view, to say, okay, here is the new policy. From here on in, this is how it is going to work, but we are not going to go back in time and cut off people who have received some benefit from a particular drug and who now may not be able to receive that benefit.
Let me ask, I guess we are on, as part of Health Promotion, Protection, and Disease Prevention, the whole area of AIDS, and the minister has, I believe, an advisory committee on AIDS, if he could provide us with the names of that committee and tell us a bit about what advice he is getting generally on the whole area of AIDS and what activities are underway.
Mr. Orchard: The chair of the committee is Mr. Bill Gardner, Jr. We have as members of the committee Dr. Chapman‑Smith, Ms. Joan Anderton, Mr. Fabian, Mr. Peel, Ms. Bodner, Mr. Landry, Ms. Lorraine Thompson and Rev. Ian MacDonald.
I am not certain but I think there is a new individual on the committee who attended her first meeting last week. There is one more individual on the committee, and I am lost for the name right now.
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: Could the minister indicate how often the committee meets and what the general purpose of the committee is, what kind of information or advice the minister has requested, and what the plans are in the future for the committee?
Mr. Orchard: Mr. Deputy Chairperson, yes, the committee meets, I think, bimonthly. I forgot, the secretary to the committee is Pat Matusko from Health.
Basically, the committee is reviewing AIDS and the relevant reports, research and information that is available from other provinces, other jurisdictions, other countries, to sort of be a window on the AIDS situation nationally and internationally and to provide guidance to government in terms of where we can change or undertake different approaches in work with staff. Most of the thoughts of the committee are implemented as matter of, I suppose, policy or activity by staff, and they are not the kind of thing‑‑although maybe we should‑‑they are not the kind of recommendations, or they are not the kind of suggestions that lead to public announcement around the suggestions they make.
The biggest strength, I think, in terms of
the AIDS Committee, is in its diversity of membership. We have both rural and urban people on the
committee, and we have people from a diversity of approach to the AIDS
issue. Joan Anderton, of course, is the
chief public health nurse for the City of
I think with our approach to AIDS we are probably positioned as well, with as good advice as any province, for trying to manage information around and programs dedicated to AIDS. We have not undertaken an advertising program now for over‑‑two years, I guess, was the last one. That advertising program was successful, but it was general, and what we have attempted to do, I think it is fair to say, over the last two years is target some of our information and some of our program initiatives to high‑risk groups. We think that is probably a more important use of scarce resource than the across‑the‑board television‑radio advertising that we undertook in the last major advertising campaign.
I will let my honourable friend ask questions.
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: I just have one more before‑‑I know that the member for The Maples (Mr. Cheema) would like to ask some questions. I just want to comment really.
I believe the other person that the minister was trying to think of in terms of the committee is Lara Laramee, if I am not mistaken, an aboriginal woman who I know quite well. I think she has an excellent contribution. I would just end at this point by saying that I hope that the minister uses this committee on an active basis and addresses the growing and serious nature of this whole issue of AIDS.
Mr. Orchard: I take my honourable friend's advice seriously, and the individual identified, that is correct. Her first meeting was the most recent one that the committee met, and the chairman indicated to me that he is very enthused, that he believes that she is going to be a very, very good member on the committee because she is bringing a unique perspective of knowledge. Also, the aboriginal community is one of the target areas. We have participated in a conference in The Pas. So we have valued in the past, and we will value the advice of this individual.
Mr. Cheema: Mr. Deputy Chairperson, I was listening to some
extent to the comment about the AIDS campaign, and so I want to take care of
some of the questions and things which were done in the last year of the
campaign has been quite successful. I
just want not to repeat those things that the member for
My question here is on page 83 of the book, that the External Agencies' funding was reduced by $1,000. Can the minister tell us why that funding was decreased and in what areas the funding was reduced?
Mr. Orchard: We reduced our funding commitment to funded agencies this year by a total of $207,000 year over year. We reduced our funding by $207,000 year over year. I will give you the areas where we have reduced, rather than taking across‑the‑board slight reduction, we targeted our reductions. They are arguable naturally as to whether they are appropriate, but we reduced our annual contribution to the Manitoba Society for Seniors by $10,000.
We reduced our provincial contribution to the Canadian Council on Smoking and Health by $4,400. We reduced a contribution to the Winnipeg School Division No. 1 by $45,000. We reduced our support grant to the Manitoba Association for Childbirth and Family Education by $23,500. We reduced our grant support to St. John Ambulance Council by $35,300. We reduced our‑‑okay, we did not reduce, we had a two‑year funding commitment in conjunction with the City of Winnipeg Health Department for Street LINKS. That was $100,000 per year. The funding for that will terminate mid‑year, I think August. The Canadian Diabetes Association is reduced by $1,200 in terms of support that we have given them in the past.
The largest decrease is our decision to
not continue funding in conjunction with City of
Recently we have received a report from the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg. Their observation, and they made this observation I guess 10 or 12 years ago to government, that we are not providing a consistent approach in government to services to highly at‑risk kids, street kids in particular. The Social Planning Council made the observation, they made it to the previous administration and it is legitimate, that, for instance, an organization will commence a project and they will seek start‑up funding, let us say, from Winnipeg Foundation or the United Way or maybe Core Area Initiative or the City of Winnipeg or maybe directly from the provincial government or the federal government. It is temporary funding. The project gets underway, the project may or may not be a valuable one or a good one because there has been no evaluation generally in the past attached to some of these initiatives.
The point the Social Planning Council makes is that some of the programs that were good were terminated because no one picked up the funding after the temporary introduction of funding. I will tell you this government is perplexed with that, because again‑‑and we are part of it this year with a two‑year funding commitment with the City of Winnipeg on Street LINKS. We are discontinuing that funding. Again, it is a stop‑and‑start kind of a program.
The member for
We have identified‑‑is it 97 agencies in the core area?‑‑delivering in excess of 150‑some programs with a whole range of funding from different ministries in the provincial government, federal government, the Core Area Initiative, funding of which is terminating, from Winnipeg Foundation, United Way. I mean, there is a whole plethora of sources of funding for a whole series of programs in the core area.
I find that frustrating, because I tend to be‑‑maybe pragmatic is the word, I do not know; but I ask myself, do we need 90‑plus agencies delivering often what can be certainly, to a degree, unique programming, but certainly often cases some parallel program delivery? Government does not have a handle on that. This is not a new phenomenon; this has been going on‑‑every government has probably been challenged with this kind of a circumstance.
With the Street LINKS, and particularly
with the high‑risk, sex‑trade youth who are involved with this, my
sense of it‑‑and I have discussed this with the chairman of the
AIDS committee‑‑is to turn over to them this issue, based on the
Social Planning Council's observation and try to narrow it, because you are not
going to deal with the whole range of programs provided to youth and children
from the agencies‑‑but to try to narrow their focus to assess what
other agencies may well be providing some service. We are funding POWER through
So we have to get our minds around the global funding. I submit that, if we take and develop an inventory of how much funding is going into those areas through 90‑plus organizations, from three levels of government, volunteer fundraising, some other free‑standing organizations, I do not think we will come to the conclusion that resource is the problem. Utilization of resource and co‑ordination of resource are the problems.
I talked over that challenge with the
chairman of the AIDS Advisory Committee and gave him the background. Again, as I mentioned to my honourable friend
I would welcome a recommendation like that, because I think you can see potentially a significant advantage to the target recipient. If we are funding several administrations in several different organizations, that money is not reaching the individual in need. In general, we recognize the difficulty this curtailment of support to Street LINKS is going to cause, but that it is not the end of the issue is what I am saying. It is a funding issue that we have made a decision on today, but the program and the approach to the policy is very much in the development stage, I think it is fair to say.
Mr. Cheema: Mr. Deputy Chairperson, the minister knows that I have been advocating for the evaluation process as of '88, and I think it is very essential that you do not have the services supplied by four different individual organizations for the same purpose. First of all, they are competing for the same dollar, and, secondly, there is disorganization at certain levels. Basically, whether clients get the services, that still remains unknown.
That is why I have difficulty sometimes
understanding why sometimes the City of
I was just saying that similar situations arise when people are getting funding from three sources. When the sources run out, then they have no place to go, because somebody will say, go to person A or B or C. By that time it is too late, and that is the example with the Mount Carmel Clinic, the cross‑cultural unit.
The program was started initially on a voluntary basis. They did a good job, they were saving money, they got the funding on the basis from the Core Area program. Now the program is in place, but right now they do not have a funding process. It is very frustrating for them, but certainly because they raised the expectation of the community, they have put their own family‑structure based on what kind of jobs they are going to have, it is very complicated for them.
It is difficult for the governments, because you do not have a clear‑cut policy in terms of whether you fund any program. There should be clear‑cut guidelines on what is going to happen and who is going to do it in one or two or three years. There has to be some permanency and ongoing evaluation.
That had been lacking. That is why it is so tragic to see that we are spending so much money, but there is so much disorganization. When we see cuts here and there, it gives us and other people the wrong impression that something is going to fall apart, but in essence that may or may not be true. Once you examine the whole thing, you come to a conclusion that probably that should have been done from Day One so that the co‑ordination is taking place.
That is why when I look at the Orders‑in‑Council and how the external agencies are getting funding, I always raise the issue in my own mind, is there anybody co‑ordinating all the funding through the various departments, at what level the funding is being provided, what services they are providing, what is the outcome and, ultimately, how many actual dollars are being spent in the service delivery? Is it simply to put in an office? I am just giving a hypothetical example.
I think we have to make sure the services are delivered to the needy patients and the other people who will need the services. I would like to know whether we have a process in the Department of Health. Who is taking care of those things?
Mr. Orchard: Mr. Deputy Chairperson, I am going to shock my staff. Sue Hicks and Tammy Mattern were supposed to do this for me two years ago, and they did not deliver. I say that in jest.
This issue is one that I have talked to Sue Hicks about because, I mean, I share a frustration. Every time one of these organizations has their funding run out from United Way or wherever, they end up on the government's doorstep, often mine, and I am justifying not giving funding to something I have never funded before.
I cannot respond as to the effectiveness, to the relative placement of how this organization, the service they are providing is different or parallels or is the same as another organization.
So I say to my honourable friend that we are attempting to understand, because within government we know of organizations that access funding from two to three, maybe even four different ministries. All of us get sort of played one against the other, I think it is fair to say.
It is a task which I would like to have completed but, at the same time, we have staff very much committed to delivery of program and service and reform of the health care system, and we have not been able, and I say this quite honestly, to dedicate the time to get around that issue as government.
Our staff, our senior management are all committed to the ongoing programming and the changes to programming that we are proposing, and we have not put that kind of commitment.
I tell my honourable friend though that we hope to have some greater sense around it by this fall, because I think we are going to advance the opportunity to try to do that government inventory of funding and then as much as possible to extend that to the funding sources from other levels of government and other sources like United Way or Winnipeg Foundation, et cetera.
Hopefully, we will be able to come around the program and funding issue in a much more co‑ordinated approach. My honourable friend mentioned the key word of evaluation. I mean, we went through quite a period of time because POWER's funding essentially disappeared approximately a year ago, I guess, or a little better, and we were asked immediately to pick up the funding. We declined until we could put in a process with the delivery organization of evaluation so that we would be able to clearly demonstrate that those were dollars reasonably well spent.
We have got that process, we think, in place now, and that ought to be able to guide us at the end of the funding period of time to tell us whether this program is indeed working, delivering effective service delivery or change of lifestyle and other indicators in there, and that it is, in fact, a good investment to contain costs in the health care system.
So my honourable friend is bang on when he identifies this as a problem. I will openly admit it has not been an area that we have been able to easily get a handle on and put some more focus to it, but I simply say to my honourable friend that is a situation that is not going to exist indefinitely. We are going to try to get our minds around this, as government, over the summer period of time.
Mr. Cheema: The reason I am raising it again, I think that this year it is going to be even more important than before because with the health care reform when the patients are going to be more in their community, all these groups are going to come for a variety of services and a variety of proposals. So I think there has to be clear‑cut guidelines how those services are going to be provided so that duplication of services does not take place and, above all, that there are clear guidelines and clear principles stated by the government to provide those services.
Then I think that should depend upon the geographic area and also the type of clientele they have and how they are going to communicate with the local professionals. If each and every organization goes their own way, we are not going to be successful. It is going to be total chaos and failure, then one can blame each other. As long as the department would have clear guidelines, then you can ask them to be responsible.
I am not saying they are not responsible, because they do not have the right information or they do not know what else is going on in the other parts of the community or how these changes are going to come. So it is so very essential that we have a good look at the whole process and put it into place. For the opposition it is a good issue.
When you raise an issue in the House, they are cutting the external agencies. I did raise the question, and the Premier (Mr. Filmon) said, ask the minister when he comes back. When you look at these numbers only, it will look very bad that the public health policies are not being given the right kind of dollar figures, but when you look at the whole figure, then you come to a different conclusion.
So many things are wrong in the process it is difficult to make a right judgment. So I would like the minister to set up clearer guidelines and make sure. That is also, as I said, part of the public education campaign, because when you are educating this many individuals about the policy of this government, this will help us in the long run because they are the ones that are going to either make or break the system.
Mr. Orchard: I accept my honourable friend's advice on that because this is an area once again that is not narrowed only to Health. I mean, we cross departments in this government with the support of some of these agencies and some of the groups.
You know, I should not introduce a new topic, but I will. My honourable friend and I have debated the issue of speech language pathology. Well, I know there are needs that are going unmet for preschool children, and at the same time, our school system has a significantly higher ability to deliver services starting at Kindergarten and on. Logic would drive you to using that resource with a much earlier intervention like we are doing with audiology. But I have to tell you that is a kind of an interesting debate to get around, because not only are we just dealing department to department in government, but we are dealing with school divisions as funded agencies and by hospitals as funded agencies.
You almost think some days that it is an impossible issue to do what is right, because I think clearly the resource that we are spending in that area, as I mentioned, speech language pathology, could achieve a significantly increased benefit if we had the ability to, magically, if you will, refocus it to the appropriate need. But that requires a heck of a lot of internal discussion, and quite frankly, the time schedule and the workload of government and cabinet disallows enough opportunity for that kind of Healthy Public Policy type thinking.
That will always be with government because we are always dealing with yesterday's issue, it seems, and do not have the luxury from time to time of doing the advanced thinking that we need to do.
Mr. Cheema: Mr. Deputy Chairperson, can the minister find
out for us the amount per capita we spend on external agencies funding in
Mr. Orchard: You mean as the ministry of Health?
Mr. Cheema: Yes, as a ministry.
Mr. Orchard: All I can do is indicate that our spending projections are just a little over $10.5 million for this year. I cannot give you a relative placement because of how that compares to other provinces because other provinces might not fund some of the organizations we fund, and might fund others. [interjection] Yes, that is right, too. My ADM reminds me that it might be a different department that would fund certain programs in other provinces. So I do not know how‑‑like, if I knew what my honourable friend was getting to, I might be able to help him with the answer.
Mr. Cheema: Mr. Deputy Chairperson, the reason I ask this question is because I think ultimately, when the community component is going to come into Manitoba in a major form, then we want to compare to the rest of the country how we are spending our money, as compared to Ontario, Saskatchewan or British Columbia. This is going to be part of the community component. In essence, the external agency will play a good role. So I think it would be a good idea for the agencies also to know how much money they are getting as compared to the other provinces, and for us to know how much money we are giving on a per capita basis on a national average. That is why I was raising those issues, to get the information.
(Mr. Bob Rose, Acting Deputy Chairperson, in the Chair)
Mr. Orchard: Okay, and you know what? I think that is almost an impossible task, I will say to my honourable friend, because I have been reminded that these are agencies, freestanding agencies that we fund for a whole range of service provision including research. Okay?
But when we move to Continuing Care we have got a several million dollar contract with an outside agency, VON, that may not be replicated, for instance, in other provinces and very much that is a community‑base support service.
So, I do not think‑‑like, I will tell my honourable friend, I think I would have trouble having staff pull together all of our outside agency funding, and I think it would be a near impossible task to try to put that into context of comparability to other provinces. I just do not think it could be done.
Mr. Cheema: Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson, that is fine, I was just trying to get information. I think eventually, we may need that in the long run to make sure that even though each and every province may have the different names, but still the funding goes through external agencies, either through the Department of Health or Community Services or Family Services or Education. But still, the money is given to the agencies who do some of the work.
My next question is in terms of the cross‑cultural unit at Mount Carmel Clinic, and I just want to know that because the minister has had about two and a half months or so. When the questions were raised then by the member for Point Douglas (Mr. Hickes) about the issue of funding, and I think, I am not sure whether I wrote the letter to the minister or not, but I also met with some of the officials from there, the person who is delivering the services, and they were hoping that some funding will come.
We discussed why they are in trouble, because of so many procedures and so many pitfalls in the system. The question here now is whether there is going to be any possibility of getting any funding from the provincial government, especially when the deputy minister of Mental Health Services has met with the organization, and I think they had a good look at the whole program. They were, as far as I know, quite impressed with how cost efficient this program is. So I would like to know whether any progress has been made on this particular issue.
Mr. Orchard: No, Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson, I am unable to report any progress. I think that, when the issue came up, we had about four or five weeks of notice, and it was after the Estimates process. We had never supported that project before. I think most of their funding‑‑I cannot even recall from memory where‑‑
An Honourable Member: Core Area.
Mr. Orchard: It was Core Area? Yes. The funding was Core Area, and we could not fit that into this year's funding commitment. I think it is fair to say that we have an ongoing interest, but whether we can accede or comply with the funding request‑‑I would have to be very direct with my honourable friend and say, we cannot right now. Now whether that is precluded into the future‑‑I am not closing the door, but, again, it gets us into the issue of effective resource utilization.
You might recall in terms of other language issues, and I have had my Multicultural Health Advisory Committee coming around the issue of the Planned Parenthood program versus‑‑again inheriting that one, basically if you will. If the value of the program in the context of resources, et cetera, if the right ingredients come together, certainly we would consider that program, but I cannot make any commitment as to whether it would be a successful recipient of funding in the near future. I simply cannot make that commitment.
Mr. Cheema: Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson, I would like the minister to know that, as far as I have the information, this program is the only one which provides services in many languages, and an inner‑city program specifically dealing with cross‑cultural mental health issues. If the minister would have somebody to read the proposal and read the various evaluations they have done, and the number of clients they have served, and the number of volunteer organizations that help‑‑and that goes with all the organizations; I am not saying this one is more special than the others. But this may fit into‑‑I should not say "may"‑‑this will probably fit into the community component of Manitoba Health Services, and specifically in terms of when the minister's deputy minister, Mr. Reg Toews, has shown great interest in this organization.
So I would again encourage the minister to take some personal interest and see if that would be the case at least sometime this year, or he could try to maybe visit the clinic and see the number of clients they are serving. Even if you say, for example, take 20 clients a week‑‑that is a minimum number‑‑if you multiply it by $16, that is about $320. So $320 per week for four weeks is about $1,200. That is the money they are even saving in a basic primary health care service. If you multiply it by 12 months, it is a lot of money, and by that time they will get an interpreter. If they go to a doctor's office, to a hospital, it will cost them more money, no question.
Money is already being saved, but it is a difficult circumstance for them to prove to their government in real dollars, because the services they provide‑‑if I was seeing them or some other doctor was seeing them in their office, we would be charging for 8, 5 or 9 number, that is at least minimum $15.80 or $15.75. So they are subsidizing services, no question about that, especially in an area which has a population of various ethnic groups and new Canadians, the refugee program, and the people who have taken the pain to train themselves, get the training. I think it will send a positive message within the very limited number of dollars to get the best possible services.
I think the minister's multicultural advisory committee may have its own views, but I think sometimes the committee may not look at each and every proposal if it does not suit their own political philosophy or their own way of thinking. So I would say that I would rather have the Assistant Deputy Minister of Mental Health Services look at this proposal, rather than the special multicultural committee which has many other issues to have a look at.
So I think that this is a very valid proposal from their point of view, cost efficient. In a way, many organizations are helping, but there has to be some principle or guidelines attached. We would not like to have the money thrown away. It would just have to be how much money will be given so that next year there will not be an extra bill attached, or the third year, an extra bill attached. Those things have to be clarified from Day One, so that no government gets into a situation where every year they have to fund an extra way.
I think that is a good issue, and it is a good issue for the minister because that is what he actually wants. He wants people to deliver services from their own point of view, try to minimize some of the cost, not only cost in the medical services, social services. There is a lot of cost. If they end up using the counselling from other sources, it is costing government money anyway. So $58,000 they were asking, and if the government thinks that they are going to give them less, so be it, but there should be some point of starting a positive relationship with those other organizations, and I am trying to continue to build their case because I have seen the proposal. When I saw the number, it was very impressive.
The people have been working very hard, and they did not want to make it a political issue. They were the first ones to come to me, and I discussed with them, I said, give me a chance to explain to the minister. Then I talked to the member for Point Douglas (Mr. Hickes) also and I gave him whatever information I had, and then he discussed with them, and he raised the issue in a very positive way.
So I hope that the minister would take those things into consideration and ask his Assistant Deputy Minister, Mr. Toews, to have a good look at the issue and not only just rely upon the medical advisory committee, which has done good work, but they may have a lot of other things to do. So rather than leaving it at the end, I would like to see some positive statement, and that will send a good signal from the minister's point of view.
Mr. Orchard: I always accept my honourable friend's good advice.
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: Let me just ask a couple of follow‑up questions on this particular program. In the House, when questioned, the minister has suggested that this is the whole‑‑[interjection] and I am not trying, just to the member for The Maples, I am not trying to get in on this so I can say that we raised it first, nyah nyah nyah. I think it is important that it be raised, period. I appreciate the efforts for the member for The Maples on this program in bringing it to the attention of the government.
I wanted to raise some questions around the minister's response in the House, where he seemed to indicate that this kind of program fell more in the area of immigration than it did in health care. He indicated that he would be pursuing funding with the federal government because and I quote: " . . . as part of immigration policy, I believe there could well be a joint role that we could consider."
I would like to ask the minister if he does not see this first and foremost as a health initiative, as a mental health program that is attempting to meet the needs of our multicultural communities?
Mr. Orchard: Yes.
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: That is encouraging. The minister says, yes. I am glad to see that he sees it as a health problem. I would ask in that context then: At what point is the minister looking at addressing the funding requirements for this program? What kind of information does he need? How does it fit into the overall community‑based mental health reform initiative of this government?
Mr. Orchard: Well, I cannot answer the latter. My suspicion would be that it is probably appropriate. Whether it is the next best dollar spent in the community, I cannot answer that, because that kind of relative evaluation has not been done. Whether there are comparable programs offered by other funded agencies that could continue with this service, I cannot answer that either.
The justification, I mean, this is just another $58,000. I assure my honourable friend that in the regular process of developing Estimates, we have many just‑another‑$58,000 requests. They come in and are given due consideration through the Estimates process. Where we can accede to those requests, we do so. I just want to remind my honourable friend that approximately four or five weeks before the termination of funding, not from the Ministry of Health, we were asked to come in with some emergency funding. We were unable to accede to that.
We had our budget process in place. We had made reductions to other funded agencies as part of the tougher decisions we have had to make this year versus other years. We simply did not have the dollars, on an emergency basis or a very quick‑response basis, to provide, to continue the support that this initiative required. There is a discussion‑and‑planning process; there is a planning process and an evaluation and a consideration process that we attempt to apply with some consistency to determine what new programs, if any, we are able to fund in a given year.
In terms of the reform process of mental health, bear in mind that we are asking for as much input from our regional councils as we can get to make that transition of funding in institution to community. They are in the process of developing and offering to us some reasoned suggestions as to where our first initiatives and priorities ought to be. This may well be one of them but, as of today, it has not received that kind of favourable endorsation. One of the things that we will no doubt attempt to ascertain with ongoing discussions is the ongoing need, et cetera, for such a program.
Bear in mind, if I recall from being down
at Mount Carmel Clinic and meeting some of the providers, a lot of the clients
were new Canadians who were refugees from
I think it is fair to say that there is a
significantly improved political climate in
All of those things have to be balanced because, certainly, in an ideal world with no constraints on government whatsoever, we would fund every request, but that is not the reality of government today. Government has to make its funding decisions based on a balance of information and in a process of consideration that is not able to be acceded to on four‑weeks notice as the request was made on this particular program.
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: I do not want to get into a debate or an argument with the minister, since we have been keeping things fairly calm and noncombative for the last couple of days, which is quite a switch from our previous more than 20 hours at this round of Estimates.
However, I think when we come to something like this cross‑cultural counselling unit in the mental health field, I think the minister has to listen to his own words. He is the one who has been talking about reducing beds on the institutional side, moving away from costly facilities to community‑based programs, moving the dollar with the patient, finding more cost‑effective ways for delivering health care. Those are the promises and words and rhetoric of the minister and this government.
For four years now, this minister has been talking about mental health reform and moving and shifting dollars from the institutional side to the community side. After four years, I would have thought and many others would have thought that we would see that shift in real dollars, that it would show up in our Estimates book, that there would be some evidence that this transition was being made. However, to this day we still have yet to see that kind of shift.
Now when we have a specific program in trouble that meets the very real need at the community‑based side, will save dollars, as the member for The Maples (Mr. Cheema) said, in terms of the acute, more expensive side of our health care delivery system, no matter what the situation was regarding its request to government when it came to government, the lateness of the hour, I think the minister still has to take such a request seriously and place it in the context of the overall direction and promises made.
What the minister has just said does not really hold much water when we are looking at the request before government from this particular program and this particular organization. It is in serious trouble. It may not be around by the time the minister feels that enough time has passed for it to be considered or it fits into the schedule and timetable of this government. It may be more costly in the long run than to reinvent the wheel and start all over again and put in place such a program.
It does not wash for the minister to say
that, and I know he only said this in terms of part of the mandate of the
group, but to suggest that the issues of trauma and of the impact of torture
and other harsh realities from the homeland and those issues needing to be dealt
with in Canada, that is only part of the mandate, only part of the reason for
this organization and this program to be in existence. It is there primarily and in an overall sense
in terms of helping new Canadians, newcomers to
So regardless of the background of the individual, of the newcomer, regardless of the political circumstances in the country from whence the newcomer came, regardless of the economic, political, social repression that that individual faced in the homeland, there still is the trauma and the trial and the tribulation of adjusting to a new country with a new language, new cultures, new food, new ways of community living and so on.
So there still is a question, no matter which way you look at this whole issue and what emphasis you give this program, a need for a community‑based mental health program that addresses the need to be culturally sensitive and based on a cross‑cultural model.
I would repeat what we have asked the minister to do in the House, and that is to treat this program and this request before the government with some urgency and consistent with the general principles it has enunciated in the past around health care reform, and ask if the minister would once again, if he would treat this as a fairly urgent request and move it up on his priority list and see if some funding can be found to be directed to the program in short order, so that it will not end up closing its doors entirely because it cannot keep operating on the basis of volunteer labour.
Mr. Orchard: Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson, my honourable friend went across quite a few program lines in her description of need. She started out by saying that you know there will be a greater demand on the formal health care system. That was not the exact words, but that was the essence of my honourable friend's statement. That I do not think my honourable friend can demonstrate, because she also said, "maybe." With all due respect, that is exactly the kind of analysis that we are trying to undertake before we bring in funding to a program.
My honourable friend knows full well having been in government that, once you start funding a program, it exists forever. The moment you ever try to take away a program that no longer has need, the people who are delivering that program will kick up the damndest fuss and point out all kinds of need, so on the need side that is exactly what we are trying to identify across the health care system.
My honourable friend is saying there is accessibility. Quite frankly, we do not have the ability to approve or disapprove that, neither does my honourable friend, so we are going to fund on speculation. The case I made was that bear in mind the genesis of this program. Refugees from countries torn by civil war, repressive governments, Communist‑backed insurgents, right‑wing, U.S.‑backed governments, the whole gamut, people being tortured, that does not exist today. This program was providing counselling around mental illness.
Now, when I pointed that out to her, my honourable friend said: But it is important because newcomers from that area are still adjusting to a new environment. Well, I do not believe that my honourable friend is asking for the Department of Health to fund a newcomer adjustment program when there is not a medical need. This was meeting a medical need of mental health problems when it was first set in.
Now my honourable friend has done the
quantum leap saying: But there may still be people coming from
I say to my honourable friend that there is a substantial community in place and the social adjustment of newcomers from now on is a reasonable expectation that the community itself would undertake, not the Department of Health through funding. Medical needs, yes, we take a look at that, but social adjustment for new immigrants is not a role, has not been a role, and will not be a role of the ministry of Health, as my honourable friend has turned this issue to now.
I say to my honourable friend that, yes, we intend to move as much as we can towards provision of services in the community, all health services including mental health services, but there has not been the analysis on outcome and effectiveness done on this particular program which leads us to conclude in government that curtailment of this program will lead to another 2,549 patient days of admissions in our institutions delivering mental health services.
I mean that analysis has not been done, and that is why I caution my honourable friend when she says that there will be other demands placed on the system. That may well be, but there is no analysis on that. We do not fund that kind of speculation. This is always into the problem where government is asked at the last minute to pick up a program that someone else has funded‑‑with no analysis. If it was a good program, why did the original funding‑‑why was it curtailed?
We are putting in new program funding with a strong evaluation component, so that we can make a determination at the end of one, two or three years, whether to continue funding that program based on solid analysis. I will tell you straight out, some of the programs we started, if their analysis does not show justification there will not be continued funding. They will not have delivered the expectations of more economical or better health service delivery, therefore they will not become part of the base‑line funding of the ministry, that same criteria we attempt to provide in terms of analysis for requests of new program funding.
(Mr. Deputy Chairperson in the Chair)
You can make the case that this is a very valuable program, but I will guarantee you that the next United Way or Winnipeg Foundation or core area program that is being curtailed in funding somewhere in the core area or close to your constituencies, you will stand up and say, fund this one too because it is critically important. That may be a good political initiative but whether it is an accurate analysis of the need and the outcome of delivery, I cannot answer. Until we can give that kind of a determination, I cannot accede to funding.
Furthermore, maybe, and the challenge is always there for these organizations to take a look and see whether areas of funding they receive can be reprioritized to meet this need if it is greater than one of a lesser need, because there are only so many global dollars to go around. If individuals determine in their community that need (e) is greater than need (a) they have the perfect right and ability to come to government and say, let us reallocate this funding; we can do a better job with reallocated funding.
Because anybody who makes the case that
government anywhere in
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: Mr. Deputy Chairperson, the minister questioned my perspective when I suggested that, in fact, the point of funding programs in the mental health field or the health field was to avoid sickness, to avoid ill health. I thought that is where the minister was coming from all along when he talked about more cost‑effective, community‑based, preventative, Healthy Public Policy focus.
My emphasis in my question was to suggest to this minister that in that context, given the fact that the cross‑cultural counselling unit located at Mount Carmel Clinic is designed to address problems of newcomers so they do not become mentally ill, so they do not become sick, which does mean steeper costs down the road for taxpayers for our health care system in the long run.
If the minister does not accept it from me or my suggestions or my interpretation of what this program means and can mean, then maybe he will listen to the words of the board of Mount Carmel Clinic when they outline the benefits of this program and talk about how factors such as language, cultural difference and previous traumatic life events, mistrust of authority, unfamiliarity with health social services, education and the legal system are all significant stressors which may precipitate and have precipitated problems in mental health. Those are not my words. Those are the words from the Mount Carmel Clinic, which is very much concerned about the future of this program and believes that it has established its credibility, has proven its worth and deserves to be funded.
All we are asking today of the minister is
not to on the spot guarantee long‑term funding for this program. We are simply asking him and have asked all
along for the minister to fund this program on an interim basis between the end
of its Core Area grant and the beginning of its
That is all we are asking the minister, if he would agree to some interim funding while he does the evaluation, while he does attempt to determine how it fits into the overall objectives of this government on mental health and health in general.
Mr. Orchard: Mr. Deputy Chairperson, my honourable friend is asking that we consider funding, and my honourable friend says that is not permanent funding and guaranteed‑forever funding, but if we provided two months funding and then curtailed it, my honourable friend would be on my case saying, you cut funding. We never had the responsibility to fund in the first place. We do not make those funding considerations on the spur of the moment on issues as they come to us, organization by organization.
Now I will put a challenge.
That is not the approach my honourable friend is taking. She simply wants us to toss more money in. Well, we do not have more dollars to put in on four weeks notice. I am sorry. As valuable as my honourable friend perceives the program to be, regardless in distancing myself, I am not saying it is valuable or invaluable. I am simply saying the process of government does not allow that kind of funding on four weeks notice.
What is allowed within the global funding
of institutions like Mount Carmel Clinic is that if this is deemed to be an extremely
high priority, they have the flexibility to approach us and reallocate from
internal budget and make the funding available out of their global budget. That is an option that is there, but I do not
know whether that prioritization amongst all of their programs has been done by
Mount Carmel Clinic. I cannot honestly
answer that. I think it is an
appropriate question, since my honourable friend is lobbying so strenuously for
this particular program, to ask
Mr. Deputy Chairperson: Order, please. It is now five o'clock and time for private members' hour. Committee rise.
EDUCATION AND TRAINING
Madam Chairperson (Louise Dacquay): Order, please. Will the Committee of Supply please come to order. This section of the Committee of Supply will be dealing with the Estimates for the Department of Education. We will begin with opening remarks from the Minister of Education.
Hon. Rosemary Vodrey (Minister of Education and Training): Madam Chairperson, I am pleased to introduce the Department of Education and Training's Estimates for the 1992‑93 fiscal year.
Since being appointed Minister of Education and Training several months ago, I have been working hard and I have been listening to Manitobans' views about their education system. As the minister and as a Manitoban, I am gratified by the interest Manitobans have shown with regard to all facets of the education system, and I am encouraged by their concern for and understanding of the issues and the challenges that face the education system in our province.
In responding to these issues and meeting the challenges, we‑‑that is government, the private sector, students, teachers, school administrators, school boards, colleges and universities‑‑must develop strong structures and processes that will take Manitobans into the next century.
I, along with many Manitobans, envision a system that is based on a partnership approach with a partnership made up of educators and learners, administrators, government, business and private citizens. Our government is fully committed to the philosophy of partnership and the responsibilities and the rewards that accompany this philosophy.
I have been very proud of the staff in my department for their contribution to partnership with Manitobans, for the past year has been a very busy one for Manitoba Education and Training and the staff has risen to the challenges facing them. I would like to take a moment to mention a few of the staff members in the Department of Education and Training who have done exceptional work and have been recognized through awards.
Mr. Devron Gaber, Director of the Literacy
Office, was awarded the Association of Canadian Community Colleges/Xerox
Leadership Award for his work in literacy.
Dr. Joan McLaren, Director of Co‑op Education at
Betty Seidel, Head, Curriculum and Reference Services, Instructional Resources Branch, and John Tooth, Director, received the "Special Services Award for 1992" from the Winnipeg region of the Canadian Mental Health Association in recognition of the library's assistance in providing work experience placements and employment for participants in the CMHA's employment dimensions project.
The Student Support Branch, formerly the inner‑city branch, received the "Celebrate Literacy Award" from the International Reading Association and the Reading Council of Greater Winnipeg for exemplary service in the promotion of literacy.
I believe that these awards are evidence of some of the good work we are doing. I would also like to state how proud I am of all the other staff who have worked very hard this past year to make good things happen in education. With all of the divisions of this department working together, we have been able to create a mood of optimism within the department. I believe this is being transmitted to all partners in the education community through the consultative and facilitative efforts of staff.
We have worked hard with members of the
education community to deliver the best possible education. I believe we have very good educational
We recognize that Manitobans want to play an active role in our education system through public consultation and partnership. My department has introduced a number of innovative and creative initiatives which are based on public consultation and participation. During my remarks, I will refer to these programs in more detail to underscore their commitment.
Manitobans realize we each have a role and a responsibility to play in educating our citizens, and our government is working hard to ensure that we meet our education and training responsibilities and that Manitobans are prepared to meet the challenges of a dynamic global environment.
My department's strategic plan highlights the importance of global competitiveness and Manitobans' ability to compete. The emergence of a highly competitive and integrated global economy, rapid technological innovation and an expanding knowledge base have major consequences for the work force. Economic indicators predict a continued increase in jobs that are knowledge intensive rather than labour intensive. Employers demand highly skilled and adaptable workers who have the ability to upgrade the existing skills and to develop new ones, workers who can help create and participate in a climate that encourages entrepreneurship, innovation and economic growth and who can understand and participate fully in the complex dynamics of a competitive global environment.
Today more than ever the key to
My personal experience with our educational system is based on front‑line service delivery. That is where we must concentrate our energies and our resources. That is where we have concentrated our energies and resources for the 1992‑93 fiscal year.
My department's mission is to ensure high‑quality
education and training programs for Manitobans, to enable them to develop their
individual potential and to contribute to the economic, social and the cultural
In keeping with our commitment to this
mission and the delivery of front‑line, classroom‑based services,
we have strengthened a number of programs and services and, even in this time
of fiscal restraint, have introduced several new initiatives which will enhance
Manitoba Education and Training's opportunities here in
The introduction of the new School Finance Program by the former minister in November 1991 was a major step in this undertaking. With the introduction of this formula, we have firmly established a pedagogical, front‑line education delivery so vital to education in our schools.
I would like to thank the staff and the
external members of the Education Finance Advisory Committee who helped to
develop this formula. From those I have
spoken to, it is working quite well. I
believe a large part of the success is the result of tying program and finance
together, something that has not been done previously. By outlining a foundation level of education,
we can better determine where expenditures should be going. Through the
continued effort of program and finance working together, I believe our new
model will continue to evolve into a very effective way of financing education
We all recognize that we are operating in an environment of limited financial resources. Furthermore, we also recognize that, given the current climate, government revenues are not expected to increase dramatically. The critical challenge facing our education system is to continue to provide quality education and education‑related services and programs to Manitobans while, at the same time, living within our means.
The Schools Finance Program enables us to do just that. The new funding program was developed by my department after lengthy consultation with many members of the education community including parents, trustees, teachers and school officials. The fundamental objective of the new funding program is to provide financial support to each of the school divisions in a way that takes into account both the educational needs of the students and the financial resources of each school division.
The introduction of the Schools Finance Program is aimed at ensuring greater fairness for taxpayers and equity among schools. I know the members are aware that the old formula was unfair to schools and to taxpayers alike. It should also be known that during the 1991‑92 school year no divisions were funded in accordance with the old funding formula.
In developing the new formula, our challenge was to develop a model which would restore fairness and equity to education financing.
We have taken a clear course based on the funding of certain specific education activities. We have chosen a pedagogical base as our funding model, one which meets the demands and the needs of our students. Notwithstanding the classroom demands, the formula is also respectful of and takes into account local autonomy.
The new approach is based on five guiding
principles: access to quality education
by all students in
Funding is now linked to a foundation level of education in the classroom, ensuring that we protect the quality of education in our schools.
In January, I was pleased to announce an
increase of $23.6 million, or 3 percent in provincial funding for the school
divisions for the 1992‑93 school year.
I believe this is a very significant amount considering the limited
resources available to the province. I
think it is even more significant when we look at the way NDP governments in
Since the announcement was made, I and my staff have had the opportunity to meet with the representatives of many school divisions and to discuss the new formula as it relates to the specific needs of each division and school.
As a result of these meetings, our government has approved additional phase‑in funding of over $8 million in support of divisions affected by the change in the funding formula. This benefited all divisions facing a 0.5 mill increase or greater as a result of the new program, 17 divisions in total.
I also announced in January that effective this year the provincial government will provide much needed financial relief to residential property owners. The one mill reduction in educational support levy will save residential property owners $10.6 million this year. The combined effects of this funding resulted in an appropriation increase of over 6 percent to our financial support to schools.
We will continue to meet with and to work closely with school divisions and schools to ensure that the Schools Finance Program meets our students' educational needs.
I want to stress, as I have on other occasions, that the Schools Finance Program is an evolving model designed to adapt to changing conditions. As we see the first year of the implementation through, we will be able to determine more easily what changes, if any, need to be made.
During the 1992 fiscal year my department will also continue with the review and the reform of The Public Schools Act which began last year. The report on legislative reform, which I expect to receive this summer, is another undertaking that will affect the future direction of education in this province.
The Public Schools Act was last reformed
in 1980. The review of the existing
legislation has been undertaken with an eye to major reform. I would like to note that this is the first
time that public hearings on education legislation reform have been held in
The response to the initial stages of this
process has been incredible. Originally,
a series of 20 public meetings were planned.
The public interest in this issue led to a total of 29 hearings being
held in 20
Once I have received the report, I will begin an internal review of the findings in order to assess any impact on budgetary requirements, any conflicts with other legislation, existing legislative provisions and other considerations. It is my hope that once this internal review is completed, we will be in a position to address the reports, all of the recommendations and take the next step toward major legislative reform.
My department has also recently begun to
work on the legislative process necessary for the establishment of a
Francophone school board in
While the court established the right of
Francophone school governance, the court did not direct the provinces on how
the ruling should be implemented. As a
result, the Manitoba Task Force on Governance of Francophone Schools was established
to advise our government on the implementation of the court order. Based on
The election of regional councils and school boards will take place in the fall of the same year. The transfer of responsibility for students is scheduled for September, 1994.
Over the next year, my department will continue to work toward the implementation of francophone school governance ensuring jurisprudential compliance with the 1990 Supreme Court decision and constitutional compliance with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Earlier in my remarks, I made brief mention of Education and Training's strategic plan. We are now entering year two of this plan and many of the new initiatives and programs undertaken by my department's Post‑Secondary, Adult and Continuing Education and Training division addressed the issues outlined in the plan.
Manitobans must have the skills and the abilities to meet and to exceed the challenges of the global marketplace. We must continue to support and to encourage post‑secondary adult education and retraining opportunities. We must concentrate on enhancing our skills and improving our ability to compete.
Our government and my department are
committed to providing long‑term solutions which respond to Manitobans'
education and training needs. Only with
a skilled work force can
To meet this challenge my department is
involved in numerous activities related to the enhancement and the development
of our existing labour force. Our
Workforce 2000 program encourages greater participation by the private sector in
Our competitive advantages are threatened
partly as a result of the low level of training undertaken by the private
sector. The partnership that we have established with
We have established a focused approach to human resource planning with the facilitation of an important component of the Workforce 2000, industry‑wide, human resource planning in key sectors, and by providing training incentives to small‑ and medium‑sized businesses. In addition, payroll tax refunds are provided to manufacturing employers involved in training their existing work force. Over 1,500 workers have been trained through Workforce 2000 training initiatives in the first seven months of operation. I should note that we anticipate the training of a further 11,000 Manitobans, based on the approval of payroll tax refunds.
As a result of the popularity of Workforce
In recognition of
In addition to the $6‑million
aerospace agreement with the federal government, which I have just mentioned,
Manitobans will soon be completing federal‑provincial negotiations on a
new labour force development agreement.
This agreement will contribute to the strengthening of the
As part of our government's ongoing
activities in strengthening the
After the years of NDP mismanagement of our college system, we had a lot of work to do. The colleges had stagnated and their programs were not as relevant as they should have been. This was in large part the reason for the low profile of our colleges when the NDP were in power. As we are now starting to turn this around, I am very proud of the new and expanded programming which we are now offering. The review resulted in a redirection of programming towards curriculum and programs which address and meet the demands of students and the labour market. College programs were evaluated, based on enrollment levels, graduation rates, job placements, projected demands for graduates, as well as program cost and effectiveness.
Consequently, we have developed and
established college programming that is in keeping with labour market
realities: enhanced technology and business management programs, computer
training courses, aerospace technology programs. Expanded training options within rural and
In 1992‑93 we are proposing an additional $2.5 million to expand college programming with an eye to further contributing to the economic development of our province through the training of an additional 640 students. Our government has recognized the need for community colleges to have greater flexibility, responsiveness and accountability in order to meet the demands of our new, dynamic, technology‑based environment. Currently, colleges are direct arms of the government. This structure does not provide them with the flexibility required to meet present and future challenges.
In consultation with the private sector,
the government has moved toward a system of board governance which is based on
accountability and flexibility. Since
The Colleges Act was passed in July 1991, an implementation plan has been
prepared and is currently being reviewed by our government. Two hundred and fifty thousand dollars has
been earmarked to support the move towards board governance of
In addition to emphasis on improved and
enhanced community college program and services, my department will very soon
establish a review of university education.
Twenty years has elapsed since the last review on post‑secondary
There are major issues arising from these changes which must be addressed. The financing of higher education, the relationships of universities to governments, social agencies, business and industry, the labour market and other sectors of the educational system, the development of a capacity for innovation and adaptivity, adaptability and improvement of the quality of university education are among some of the issues which will be addressed during the universities review.
We will undertake this review to ensure universities enhance their participation in social, cultural and economic development of our province. I anticipate the establishment of the review commission in the near future, and I look forward to the review process consultations and to receiving the commission's findings.
I was very pleased to be able to announce
a 2.4 percent increase in university operating funds this budget year. When we compare ourselves to the rest of
In 1991‑92, my department increased
funding for student financial assistance to well over $10 million. I am pleased that we have been able to again
increase financial assistance by an additional $615,000. This is money that goes directly to
I should also note that I and my staff will continue to press the federal government for much needed changes in the federal student loan program. I have recently met with the Secretary of State on this matter, and I will continue to pursue improvements to the federal aid program.
In addition to increased financial support to post‑secondary students, my department's Program Development and Support Services division has recently established a Student Support branch to aid at‑risk students enrolled in Manitoba's elementary and secondary schools. This division has also taken a bold and innovative step with regard to curriculum development, child care and distance education.
I would now like to highlight some of this division's activities for 1992‑93. The Student Support branch was established this past February in order to consolidate the departmental services to students at risk throughout the province. Our concern for at‑risk students has led to the amalgamation of the former Inner City branch with the Regional Services unit. This move, along with the restructuring and reassignment of existing departmental staff, has enabled us to better serve the field in this area.
Similarly, at‑risk grants to school
divisions have been increased by 30 percent in order to expand programs at the
school level for schools with high concentrations of students at risk.
Collaboration with divisions and schools will be undertaken to develop programs
that have a positive impact on schools' success with students at risk. The focus of this new branch includes the
development of classroom instructional strategies, assistance in the
implementation of curriculum for at‑risk students, staff development
activities, parent involvement and school organization and environment. We have also focused financial and program
development resources on educational programs operated by Children's Home of
I and my staff are very proud of the
Student Support Branch. The establishment of the branch mandate and activities
to address leadership and programming for at‑risk students makes our
commitment to these young Manitobans unique in
The Curriculum Services Branch has also
undertaken a number of initiatives which address the changing needs of students
in our world. In the coming year the
Skills for Independent Living Program will be piloted in
I would also like to highlight the branch's move to integrate the concepts of sustainable development into the K‑to‑12 curriculum. The principles of sustainable development which are based on the balance of the environment, economic activity and the health of society have been blended into the study of science and social studies and will also be a component of the new Skills for Independent Living Program.
My department, through its Child Care and Development Branch, has also taken a leadership role with regard to special needs. During the past two years my department has been active in assisting school divisions with the implementation of the special needs guidelines. The implementation is going very well, and school divisions continue to prepare and submit annual division action plans. These action plans are proving to be very significant in that they require school divisions to identify in writing their beliefs and practices with regard to programs for special needs students. I should also note that as a result of the new Schools Finance Program special needs funding has increased by 40 percent as part of the Schools Finance Program's categorical funding base.
I am also pleased to report that as a
result of co‑operative and collaborative effort on the part of
publishers, authors, school divisions, trustees, Manitoba teachers, my
department's Educational Resources Branch and the Canadian Reprography
Collective, also known as CANCOPY, have recently entered into Manitoba's first
copyright licence agreement. This
Before concluding my remarks about the Program Development and Support Services Division, I would also like to highlight some of the activities of the Distance Education and Technology Branch. Historically, this branch has provided leadership in the development of distance education in the province. Emerging technologies have led a number of schools to explore the use of fibre optic telephone lines to carry two‑way, audio‑video classroom programs between schools.
My department has created a technology task force on the distance education needs which has recently begun its consultative process. This process will result in the preparation of a plan and the development of a policy to address distance education needs from Kindergarten through to post‑secondary institutions.
Based on the task force report, school funding will be reviewed to enable funding for pilot projects which will further explore the use of interactive video technology. I also intend that this report assist in the determination of department policy and funding support regarding the role of provincially operated distance education delivery systems. These are the local‑school‑divisions‑based networks. I believe that it is indeed an exciting prospect to use new technologies to enhance and to improve the educational opportunities in the classrooms of our schools.
I should remind my colleagues that
I should also note that
The Manitoba Satellite Network will continue to lead the way in using television and satellite technology interactively permitting remote students and their instructors to interact freely during instruction.
Other provinces have traditionally used
television and video technology in a broadcast‑only mode. I am pleased to note that these provinces
have begun to adopt the interactive instructional mode that we in
The Independent Study Program is another
program that gives Manitobans access to education and training. Last fall, the Independent Study Program
successfully moved to Winkler, underscoring our government's commitment to
decentralization and to the improved delivery of educational services. The reorganization of this program has led to
enhanced independent study services. We
have established a tutorial program which offers in‑person service at the
My department has also recently established regional supervisors to provide assistance to schools and to school divisions regarding distance education and independent study in order to get input on ways to improve and to enhance the program. Our government recognizes the importance of an effective and responsive educational system to the long‑term economic and personal well‑being of Manitobans. The emphasis my department has placed on distance education, new technologies and independent study is in direct response to this understanding and this belief.
Many improvements have been made to
The course that I have outlined for 1992‑93 is based on the delivery of quality education and training opportunities for all Manitobans. I have outlined major initiatives in elementary and high school education, advanced training, retraining and skills development and university education. I have spoken of the innovative and the creative ways that my department will meet the demands and the needs of students, the labour market and other participants in our educational system.
We will continue to explore new technologies, new systems and models which will enable Manitobans to compete and to succeed in the global marketplace. We will continue to explore, develop and establish partnerships with the private sector, other levels of government, teachers, students, parents, school boards and trustees. We will continue to invite Manitobans to participate in consultation processes and, most importantly, we will listen to them. Manitoba Education and Training has worked hard over the past year and has demonstrated by the initiatives and the programs we have planned for 1992‑93 that we will continue to address Manitobans' education and training needs.
I am proud of the budget that we have established for the Department of Education and Training for the coming year. As the minister, I am confident that the strategy which we have developed will ensure that Manitobans are equipped with the skills they need to compete, to succeed and to prosper.
Madam Chairperson: We will now here from the critic of the official opposition.
Mr. David Chomiak
(Kildonan): Madam Chairperson, we are again embarking on
another Education Estimates session, and I ask the same basic questions that we
asked before. Are we as a society in
Since last Estimates, we have a new minister, and I congratulate her in her elevation to that post. I have no doubt she will apply the energy and good will that I know she has in abundance to the post as Minister of Education. We have also seen a new education funding formula, called the Schools Finance plan, where, as I stated last year, would in many ways amount to the New Foundation program which is a resurrection of the 1960s program that was in place during the Roblin‑Johnson era. It is basically a resurrection of that formula. There is no question that its foundation is in the Foundation program. In fact, the minister made reference to it this morning.
I will have much to say about the funding formula and I will deal with it fairly extensively, I can assure you, in terms of the questions we will have. I do want to comment just briefly and generally on the program. First, the minister made reference to the fact no school divisions were on the old formula. I will accept that, but I will indicate to the minister what I have indicated over and over again. Any new formula that took four years to create and requires a two‑year phase‑in must be fundamentally flawed. Imagine, a new formula put in place requires a two‑year phase‑in.
Secondly, the formula has been changed at least four or five times since the final formula. We had a final formula; a final, final formula; a final, final formula. I give the minister credit for changing the formula, but again it indicates something fundamentally wrong underlying the formula.
We have no boundaries review, Madam Chairperson. After much kite flying and a commitment from the previous minister, the new minister has reversed ground on the boundaries review.
We have a move towards a form of Francophone governance. I truly believe the jury is still out and that there will be a very difficult implementation process indeed involved in that particular move.
We are also in the midst‑‑and I should mention it because I did tour the province fairly extensively to talk with groups in education. We do note, Madam Chairperson, that almost every comment, the newspapers and on the media, there is a constant reference towards the education system largely and usually in a negative sense, and I just want to indicate that the system is a fairly good one in this province and in this country. I think we have to talk. I congratulate the minister. I think she made mention of‑‑there are very positive aspects of this system that we should not lose sight of. It is easy for me as a critic, and for we as critics, to tend to focus on the negative, but there are very, very positive aspects of our education system, and people time and time again indicated that to me. I hope that we can all keep that it mind.
In my opening remarks I hope to take a balanced approach to the education system, and I hope I will contribute to the debate, not just be critical. My comments will be divided into two major themes. Firstly, I will outline what I believe are some of the major shortcomings of this administration, regardless of who the minister is, and I will also outline some of the thoughts that my party has towards education and towards the improvement of education, which would help not only the children, but all of the society of Manitoba.
I am going to start out with a few comments and quotes from the former minister to put this into context. I am going to quote from May 7, 1991, where the minister said, and I quote: The responsibility for delivering the educational programming is within the jurisdiction of the school division.
The same minister May 7, 1991, at page 1776 also said, and I quote: It is up to the school divisions to examine their priorities in terms of the types of programs they want to deliver to the students within their jurisdiction. School board members will have to reflect the wishes of the community in terms of programs that they set.
Madam Chairperson, there is nothing
inherently wrong with the comments of the minister except that when you
confine, constrain and contract the resources available to those school
divisions, the result is that priorities and decisions left available to those decision
makers are very small indeed, and they have no choice but to cut programs. They have no option in terms of their
priorities but to do the things that have occurred as a result of the
constraining action posed on them by the provincial government. More importantly, the inequities that exist
are further exasperated with increasing disparity. We have seen that particularly in rural and
Last year hundreds of programs and hundreds of positions were cut. This year the 1 to 3 percent increase will not even make up for the natural rate of inflation. Last year zero, this year 3, up to 3 in fact. It is not actually 3, I think it more around 2.7, but nonetheless it does not make up for the drastic cuts they were making last year.
The other disturbing aspect of this government's position is the lack of leadership in the Department of Education. I attribute this in large extent to not very good administrative practices and no sense of vision or direction by the department.
The High School Review went badly and is still in great danger in terms of its implementation. The five‑year strategic plan which is probably being revised did not lay out any kind of appropriate funding models and does not provide any real vision or direction in terms of the Department of Education.
Part of the dilemma is that the minister does not have or does not utilize data and does not have material upon which to make her decisions. Do we know why students drop out? We have set up a branch. Terrific. The minister said in her speech, we have set up a branch while other provinces have programs. I would rather have programs than a branch. But regardless, to whom are those programs directed? Why are those programs being put into place? We do not know in this province. We do not have any data in this province. How can we plan when we do not know the basis upon which we are devising these policies?
I think that is one of the major problems with this department. Does the government have any idea what direction it is going? I think not, and part of it is a lack of base material upon which it makes its decisions.
Some school divisions, sensing this, have put in place a process of developing their own data. I know that for a fact, and I am sure the minister is aware of it. Maybe she should tap into it. I will say much more on this in the appropriate aspect of the Estimates.
There used to be a sense in Education that if a division or a school required resources they could go centrally to the Department of Education to obtain those pooled resources. They could get support in curriculum and professional services. This has largely been offloaded onto the school divisions now, and the offloads have hurt those that can least afford it, the rural divisions and those that are not so large. The consequences are obviously increased unfairness.
No aspect of education has suffered more from this government than its education financing. I have asked the questions dozens and dozens of times, and we have not gotten very appropriate answers. After four years and five budgets, the goal of this government in my opinion is clear. I think it is deliberate in design. That is, if you are wealthy enough and if you live in the right spot, you will have access to good quality education. If not, you will not.
Special needs or exceptional students are only funded at less than 50 percent of the actual cost. Why do special needs students have to be funded by the local division, and everyone else gets funded at the less than 70 percent that other students get funded? Is that fair? Does that make sense?
Total operating support for public schools is only about a 2 percent increase relative to the comparative increase last year. The department has put in a phase‑in program as well as a provincial treasury replacement of $10.7 million to replace one residential mill of the provincial levy. It does not represent any new or added revenue. It does not represent any new or added revenue to education. Funds from one pocket go to another pocket. I do not disagree with the concept of reducing the mill rate, Madam Chairperson. But the fact is, no new funds are actually going in in terms of the mill replacement. I will have more to say about that later.
I want to advise the minister that we are concerned that a number of trends that are already occurring will only get worse, and that we are opposed to the unit funding which will result in a loss of teaching positions and will put us back in the situation where we were in the '70s, where we will have authorized and unauthorized teachers, where divisions will be forced to pick up the costs of teachers for programs and, if they cannot pick up the cost, the teachers will be gone.
We do not have any equalization despite constant questions from this side of the House for a proper equalization formula. In the funding model, we do not have an equalization formula. That is probably one of the key aspects of the inherent unfairness of the funding formula. We have a supplemental formula. I do not quite understand it. No one, I think, understands it. It has changed. It appears to me to be somewhat arbitrary, but I will wait to see what the minister's specific comments are on it. But we do not have a form of fair equalization that redistributes the funds around the province.
I am very concerned about the horrendous consequences that will occur to school divisions after the two‑year phase‑in period ends. I might note that the minister's education advisory committee talked about a four‑year phase‑in period. The report that was never released‑‑that I had to release because the minister promised to release it and did not release it‑‑called for a four‑year phase‑in period. We put a two‑year phase‑in period; we do not know what the consequences are going to be after that period.
The boundary review, much touted by the previous minister, has come and gone. We welcome the minister's backing off of that program, frankly, because we do not trust this administration to do a review fairly. But many of the problems still remain, such as: the horrendous anomalies of transportation around the province; the issue of interdivisional transfers and the fees associated with those, particularly for those students who are exceptional.
There are many examples of that, Madam Chairperson. Even, in fact, in my own constituency, there is a boundary that runs two streets off the boundary line in Kildonan constituency and students have to be bussed for French immersion to Churchill. It does not make a lot of sense, and the costs associated with it do not make sense.
How best to spend money wisely? I mean, the fundamental point still exists, that we do have a school division in this city that is about 1,200 students, and another school division is about 30,000 students.
Co‑ordination of services, Madam Chairperson, I will have much to say on this later. But we note that Manitoba Health has advised that a health grant will no longer be made available to Winnipeg School Division No. 1 for . . . services provided by the Child Guidance Clinic, Madam Chairperson.
This, like many trends in the loss of services, is not the way the province should be going. Where is the response from this minister, or any minister, called for last year by MAST, MTS and MASBO and MASS, to begin the process of co‑ordination of government departments in their approach to dealing with children? This government, I believe, still functions basically in a 1960s mode, and it has to change.
Two other brief areas of great concern we have on this side of the House, Madam Chairperson, are taxes and what we have called the GFT, the horrendous offload onto school divisions, special levy of $300 million this year, all‑time high, and the fact that information disappears into the bowels of the department.
I noted the minister said that she is going to receive the report that she was supposed to receive on April 10, I might add according to the previous schedule. She is going to now receive the report on the education legislation review sometime in the summer and then it is going to be reviewed interdepartmentally.
We heard the same thing for years on the government Finance report that was never revealed publicly. Information has a habit of disappearing into the bowels of the Department of Education and never reappearing or appearing in some kind of strange or different form than it initially went in. We have concerns about that.
I want to turn to some other aspects of
Education and point out that obviously there is a challenge ahead of us as a
society and as a province, particularly in light of the fundamental structural
changes in our society. In
I think that principle is being eroded by
this administration but nonetheless I still think that there are some common
goals we all have, and the common goals are fairness and equity in the
system. That means a child, a man or
woman who lives in Flin Flon, the inner core of the city of
Fairness, as well, Madam Chairperson, must be approached not only to the provision of Education services but to the method in which those services are funded basically through the taxation system, and a serious look must be taken at that.
In that context I want to touch on five major themes that we in the New Democratic Party fundamentally believe in. First, the policy dimensions pertaining to public education involve a wide array of values: some competing, some contradictory. A foremost guiding principle to be upheld by the provincial government when conflicting values or perspectives are encountered will be to favour the educational interest of children. The prevalent value in the education policy of our party will be that educational equality in the form of equitable access to educational programs and services.
This statement, so simple, has not been followed. It should be a credo and should be embodied in the revised Education act. It should be a credo and embodied in the funding model. It should be the touchstone in the very foundation of this strategic plan.
A second thing to be developed within an emerging education policy is the need to shift emphasis in a delivery of education by the public sector from costly remediation to more cost‑effective prevention. The scope of education cost to be borne by the public sector can be modified by the earliest possible intervention in the life of a young child, particularly in relation to special learning needs.
The objective of a reform service delivery model for education should be to provide children with the appropriate educational services they require when they are a certain age, at that age, not five or 10 years late. I often use the Fram Oil commercial, Madam Chairperson, to make this point. You pay me now or you pay me later. Just diverging for a second, I can tell you that I used to see that when I practised law. Perhaps early intervention would have prevented a lot of these children and people becoming involved in the criminal system at 45 bucks an hour for a legal aid lawyer, and the cost of incarceration, et cetera.
This leads into a third theme of enhanced service delivery co‑ordination involving education and child development. All agree that we must move in this direction. The minister has a study on her desk still with no response. The request from the organization was that a response be delivered by December 31, 1991. As far as I am aware there still has been no response to that particular proposal.
Madam Chairperson, I rarely cite the former Social Credit government of B.C., but they have even gone further than this jurisdiction in terms of interdepartmental delivery of programs and services to children. [interjection] Yes, even they have developed a protocol system that is far beyond what we have in this province for co‑ordination of services, and I spent a fair bit of time with the minister in the last Estimates dealing with that particular issue. I would hope that the minister would have new information for me this time. We do have protocols existing in this province. I think there is at least one in effect that deals with children after the age of 21, I believe, in terms of education and the co‑ordination between various departments. But the point nonetheless is we have to develop much further this system.
Fourthly, the minister must move on
exceptional children. The green book was a good start, and I have stated on many,
many occasions that it was a good start, but it was only a start. I want to just cite at this point some
information and data that I received from a province‑‑it is always
referenced by members opposite‑‑and that is
Firstly, the educational objectives should clearly identify the educational objectives in an opening statement entitled Beliefs About Children. Secondly, they make a commitment towards integration in relation to education by the provincial government. Thirdly, they describe the co‑ordination by the provincial government ministries of service delivery to school children; and fourthly, a section on provincial funding which is recognized as the prerequisite to the meaningful development of educational equity.
We have issued a policy paper. We have some vague guidelines. I have said for a long time that is a good start, but at the time of this policy paper release, the minister spoke of the next step in developing an equitable process, and that was to be the introduction of special education regulations. Three years have elapsed. Where are the regulations?
Fifth, and finally, Madam Chairperson, let us talk about education in this province. I note in a very positive sense that the minister indicated that they will listen. I think it is time to open up the doors and the windows of the education discussion to the public. I think we have to go back to the public to develop the emerging consensus about what we should be doing in education, how we should be going. We should not just discuss the negative aspects. We have to talk about the positive aspects that have occurred in this province, in this country. Let us consult. Let us build this consensus, and we do not have to get caught up in previous structural models, or previous systems that have been put in place, but let us open up the process. Let us have input. Let us involve the public because, quite frankly, in my own opinion it is probably the single most important initiative that we could do for our children and for our children's children.
With those comments, I will close, Madam Chairperson. I will be dealing far more extensively with some of these major points during the Estimates process.
Madam Chairperson: We will now hear from the critic for the Second Opposition party, the honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.
Mrs. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Second Opposition): Madam Chairperson, I am delighted to participate in this debate in Education, although I did not anticipate that I would be here doing this, to give the minister a little bit of background and, first of all, to welcome her as the minister, and, quite frankly, to indicate as I indicated to her privately that my questions will be of a very general nature in this session. I know that it takes some time to learn the details of any government department.
I think it would be a great waste of everybody's time for her to have to refer to staff constantly, which I know she is going to have to do simply because she has not had the time to learn her department in the detail which I will expect her to know next year. As a good teacher, I will have expected her to have learned her lessons well as a result of this year's experience and will provide much more detailed questioning for her the next time we do this. Meanwhile I will write to her office with any specific questions I have that require the kind of very specific detailed answers.
I also want to say that I have a great number of friends in the education field as I am sure the minister is aware. The reports to date are very positive about the new Minister of Education. The reaction is that she is consultative and she does listen. Whether she will be able to change things in any significant way remains to be seen because she really has not had that opportunity. There is a feeling among those whom I have spoken with that they are prepared to give her a chance. I think that is significant and hopefully it will bode well for the process of education in the province.
I began by saying I did not expect to be
here and, quite frankly, if the previous Minister of Education had still been
the Minister of Education I would not be here, because I was tired of banging
my head against a brick wall. Education
is a very important aspect of my life.
As the minister knows, I taught school for many years. I taught in almost every system we have in
this province, in private schools, in public schools and in Catholic schools,
so I have an experience which takes me not only to two different provinces but
also to one state in the
When I make a contribution to the Estimates process, I try to make that contribution not based on partisanship but based on what I see is a legitimate need within the educational community. Since that was not respected by the previous minister, I only have to hope that this minister will indeed at least listen‑‑if she does not agree I can accept that‑‑but at least listen to the contribution that I have to make in a field that is‑‑as I know social work has been to her‑‑a passion for much of my life.
There are a number of things that I am,
however, very concerned about. First and
foremost, I think what we have to do in the
If we continue to allow 30 percent of them to fall between the cracks and not to graduate from high school, if we continue to deny them the opportunity to go on to post‑secondary educational institutions, then they will not be able to become the taxpayers of the future, upon which, I might add, the 57 of us sitting in this Chamber depend. If our pension plans and our health care system and our quality of life is going to have any viability whatsoever, it is in our best interest to invest in our young people of today.
If we could change the mentality of education to one where it is clearly seen as an investment, then I think we would find that the resources, whether those resources were in the private sector or in the public sector, would free up much more easily, rather than to say the mentality at the present that this is a service that we give to young people.
I am very disappointed that the minister has made the decision that she is going to cancel the boundaries review. There are indeed a number of issues going on within the educational field, but most of them, I would suggest to the minister, impact upon the effect of the number of boundaries that we have. Whether we are talking about funding formulas, whether we are talking about high school review, whether we are talking about French governance, whether we are speaking about a new Public Schools Act, many of those must take place within a context and the only context we have in the province of Manitoba for the delivery of all of those programs is schools divisions. By restricting the school division review process which is some 40 years overdue, I might suggest, I think that we are going backward.
The minister indicated the need and her
desire very shortly to announce a college review. I was interested in her arguments for such a
college review, because the arguments are exactly the same ones I would make
for the need for a boundary division review.
I also find it interesting that letters as late as the 18th of February
were written by the Premier of this province to the Manitoba Teachers' Society
indicating they were going to proceed.
So the decision was made I think very precipitously and very quickly to
halt a process which I think is fundamental to the future direction of
education in the
Like the critic for the New Democratic Party, I am also concerned about the funding formula. I think it has many inadequacies. I think the minister may believe it was a consultative process, indeed it was not. The consultation that took place came up with a report, but that report was not the report that eventually became the funding formula. The funding formula came from the top down to the committee. The committee then accepted the report of the cabinet, one presumes, and sent it back up again. But the committee itself, who had been working on a funding formula, had in fact not prepared the document that is presently before us.
I am concerned also about the whole reform
of curriculum education in the
There are many studies being done now about the effect of whole language which is essentially the way we teach language arts in the province of Manitoba, not all of them very flattering to a whole language concept, many of which say that whole language works extremely well for bright children, but then any reading program, generally speaking, works well for very bright children. Many very bright children, quite frankly, are not taught to read by teachers. They teach themselves to read.
So whether they are taught to read by whole language or whether they are taught to read by the old phonics method is, quite frankly, irrelevant. What we are now learning is that for the less academically strong student, that the lack of phonics education and language arts may impact very severely on their ability to write and spell into the future. I have a number of articles that I am prepared to share with the minister, because I think that is the kind of sharing that at this point is valid between all members of this Legislature.
I am also concerned about the French governance issue, and I would like to put two suggestions before the minister. I asked the Premier (Mr. Filmon) who had reviewed the proposal, and he informed me that it had been reviewed by the Constitutional Law Branch of the government itself.
Well, with the greatest respect to the Constitutional Law Branch of this government, I think it is fair to say that if the government wants a position, then the Constitutional Law Branch will give them a position. It does not matter on what particular issue they want that. It is like getting a legal opinion. If I want a legal opinion and I want to direct a lawyer to give me that legal opinion, I can tell him what I want. Invariably, believe it or not, that opinion will come back just as I instructed it to be given.
That is why, with some amusement, we can get a legal opinion on Hydro, quite frankly, which is contrary to the government's legal opinion on Hydro. They are both valid, legal opinions. Which one is more valid? Who knows, because we have not been able to see the government's legal opinion, we have only been able to see our own. The same is true in referring something to the Constitutional Law Branch of government.
I think that there are two things that the minister could do with respect to French governance. I think that first and foremost it could be referred without any qualifications to a constitutional authority outside of this government and ask them to review it. I would do that because I think it would be a tragedy for this province for us to go through a process and then find out that process was unconstitutional.
The second, which is more cumbersome and more expensive, would be to in fact take the program and send it back to the Supreme Court and ask the Supreme Court in a reference if it was within their understanding of their Alberta judgment. If that was the position put, and they said yes it was, then we would have some strength in knowing that we were proceeding down the road correctly.
Neither of these options may be acceptable, but I think the real tragedy would be, if we do proceed with this process only to discover that it is unacceptable. Certainly, I know the minister is aware that the Societe franco‑manitobaine and the Francophone parents association have come up with legal opinions which say it does not meet the needs of the constitutional recommendations of the Supreme Court of Canada.
I ask the minister to take note of that and to look at a couple of alternative ways in which she could assure herself and the government that we are proceeding in the right direction.
The quality of education in
There are also some very evident examples of children falling through the cracks. What is not clear is why they are. Is it poor teaching? That we do not know. Is it lack of funding? That we do not know. One of the reasons we do not know that is that we have not put sufficient time and energy into the evaluation of programs and curriculums.
The testing, which is going to go on nation‑wide, and which I am now delighted that Ontario has agreed to participate in, I think will give us a base line. I think we have to be very careful as to what we do with the testing results.
Testing results, if they are used to evaluate teachers, are rarely valid because, if I am given a group of very bright children, I do not have to be a particularly gifted teacher in order for those children to do extremely well.
On the other hand, if I am given a class of students who come from very disadvantaged backgrounds, I may be a brilliant teacher and still not have a great deal of success. So the reality is that to use testing as a means to evaluate teachers lacks a certain validity.
On the other hand, we must have benchmarks. We must have some idea in our society what we think is a valid amount of learning for a first‑grader to know, for a second‑grader to know.
We have a new policy that has just been
To me, that is all too often what we do in education. We go from one pendulum swing to the other pendulum swing without realizing that there were strengths and weaknesses. We should address the weaknesses but at the same time we should not do away with the strengths.
To have a formal form of testing process that can identify for each and every one of us the problems, the difficulties I think is valid. To use it to do something which I think is invalid, obviously I do not support.
I am not going to get into a mention here of the post‑secondary education and training initiatives, because as the minister is aware, both the critic for the New Democratic Party (Mr. Chomiak) and myself will be replaced at that point by critics who are now specializing on post‑secondary education and training.
I think that is a direction that I would like to see the government go. I am on the record in the Family Services minister's Estimates, and the minister knows that I think that we have to separate K to 12 and even nursery to 12 into one branch of government and training and post‑secondary education in another so both will get equal amounts of time and attention.
The minister I believe is now fully aware of the drains on her time of a K‑to‑12 system and the limited time that is left over for the other aspects of her department. I hope that the government will move toward that same kind of rationalization in the future.
Finally, I would like to indicate that I have a grave concern about the lack of co‑ordination of what is going on between three primary departments although other departments impinge as well on our K‑to‑12 students.
We know that more and more health services, more and more social family services are being dealt with within the educational context. Whether we are ensuring that our children have nutrition programs within the school setting, whether we are looking at before‑school child care or after‑school child care, whether we are looking at the health needs of the special needs child, whether we are looking at occupational therapy or physiotherapy within the school setting, what we have done is to expect our school system to absorb more and more and more service direction for all of these areas‑‑at the same time.
There has not been the appropriate
distribution of funding for those services within the school setting. That is leading to a major crisis. We have watched the percentage of the
provincial budget for education actually decline. I am not talking about dollars, I am talking
percentage. Not so many years ago
education received 19 percent of all monies expended by the province. They are now sitting at about 17
percent. In addition, we have watched
the erosion of the provincial contribution to education so that the last
figures that I saw were that it was some 68 percent of the costs of education
It used to be 78 percent. Howard Pawley, in 1986, in that election campaign, promised it would go to 90 percent of all costs. Well, by the time he had left office, it in fact decreased from 80 down to about 77 and that slide has continued ever since.
That does not bode well. I have heard the previous minister say, throwing money at the system, you know, will not solve all the problems. There is no question about that. Throwing money at the system will not solve all the problems, but the reality is the money is being spent. Where it is being spent and where it is coming from is not based on a taxpayer's ability to pay.
We know that the municipal taxpayer pays tax on the value of his or her property. There is very little allowance made for the fact that the senior citizen may be living on a fixed income, and while that property may have increased dramatically in value, the individual paying those taxes may not have seen a comparable level of income. So the inequity of establishing a school system in the province based on a property tax value, and depending more and more and more upon that property tax value to fund it, is creating very serious inequities.
Nobody likes income taxes. Certainly nobody likes to see them go up, but if I had my choice as to whether my property tax would go up, or whether my income tax would go up, I would much prefer to see my income tax go up. Because I know that my income tax is based on my ability to pay, and my property tax is not based on my ability to pay.
So with those remarks, I welcome the
opportunity to dialogue with the minister, in hopefully a positive way, about
the future of education in the
Madam Chairperson: I would remind members of the committee that debate on the Minister's Salary, item 1.(a) on page 38 will be deferred until all other items in the Estimates of this department have been passed.
At this time I would invite the minister's staff to enter the Chamber.
I would like to introduce John Carlyle, who is the Deputy Minister of Education and Training; Dominique Bloy, who is the Assistant Deputy Minister of Administration and Finance; Tom Thompson; who is the Director of the Finance Branch; and John Didyk, who is Executive Director of Planning and Research.
Mr. Chomiak: Just for my own information purposes, I wonder if the minister can indicate if any of the staff who are presently appearing in their present positions are new appointments to or new elevations to new positions at the Department of Education.
Mrs. Vodrey: Yes, Dominique Bloy, who is now the Assistant Deputy Minister of Administration and Finance, became Assistant Deputy Minister on January 14, and she moved into that position by competition.
Mr. Chomiak: Replacing Mr. Leo LeTourneau, who was acting Assistant Deputy Minister of Administration and Finance?
Mrs. Vodrey: Yes, he was in that position in an acting capacity, as the other person before him had left.
Mr. Chomiak: Madam Chairperson, on September 5, 1991, the Deputy Minister, Mr. Carlyle, as is usual practice, provided a memo to superintendents, school division district principals, remote school districts, et cetera, outlining the staff, the recent staff changes at the executive level of the Department of Education.
I am advised that at one time it was common practice at the Department of Education to provide the critics in the respective areas with at least copies of memos of this kind. I am wondering if the minister will consider reimplementing the practice of providing the critics with copies of memos of that kind, of major changes to staff and major developments in the department.
Mrs. Vodrey: Yes, I will certainly consider doing that.
Mr. Chomiak: I thank the minister for those comments.
The minister will note, no doubt, that during Question Period I raised the matter of the salary increases to the deputy minister. I wonder if she can confirm that this year's expenditures in terms of the salary for the deputy minister is increased to $100,000 from last year's figure of $92,900.
Mrs. Vodrey: Madam Chairperson, I am advised, on the advice of the Civil Service as well, that we do not really reveal the salaries. They are a matter of privileged information.
However, I can confirm that the deputy minister is at a Senior Officer 8 classification and that he received the merit increases last year and also the negotiated increase of 3 percent.
Mr. Chomiak: Madam Chairperson, I beg to differ with the comments of the minister, because the Supplementary Estimates are public knowledge, and, in fact, these salary levels are printed in the Supplementary Estimates. I wonder if the minister can advise me as to whether or not these figures are inaccurate then.
Mrs. Vodrey: Madam Chairperson, I am advised that salaries for individuals are not listed in the Estimates, that they are only a total.
Again, I would remind him that the deputy is at a Senior Officer 8 classification, and certainly the salary range for that classification is available.
Mr. Chomiak: Madam Chairperson, in other words, the salary level for Senior Officer 8, deputy minister level is $100,000.
I wonder if the minister can indicate the criterion factors as to why the salary levels were increased by in excess of 7 percent, in fact, 7.6 percent this year for the deputy minister, in light of the Minister of Finance's comments in the budget of belt‑tightening and in light of the less than 3 percent grants to the public schools in the province of Manitoba this year.
Mrs. Vodrey: I am advised that $100,000 is the estimate, that the Senior Officer 8 salary range is $87,870 to an upper range of $106,102. The deputy falls in that range, and that range is reached within six steps. I am also advised that the criterion for increase is the increase on each anniversary year. At each anniversary date per year there is an eligibility for merit increases, and the other increase was negotiated by the MGEA.
Mr. Chomiak: Will the minister consider our suggestion made in Question Period, which she indicated she would respond to during Estimates, to limit the increase to the deputy minister for important symbolic reasons? I want to add at this point this is no reflection on the calibre or the integrity of the present incumbent in the office, but, for very important symbolic reasons, will she limit the increase for the deputy minister because she has it within her power and her authority, as I understand it, to limit the increase to the 2.7 level that has been allocated for the public schools in the province of Manitoba this year?
Mrs. Vodrey: The deputy received a negotiated salary increase, and I have discussed at this point with the member how that is arrived at and what the formula is. The process of allocating funds to school is not by collective agreement, and so the two matters are somewhat different.
Mr. Chomiak: Madam Chairperson, can the minister outline who are the parties that negotiate the agreement, the collective agreement that the deputy minister entered into?
Mrs. Vodrey: Madam Chairperson, negotiation is done by the Manitoba Government Employees' Association with the government. The deputy minister, as a civil servant, then receives the negotiated amount.
Mr. Chomiak: Is the minister implying that the deputy minister is in scope of the collective agreement?
Mrs. Vodrey: Madam Chairperson, no, the deputy minister is not in scope of the collective agreement, but when the negotiated amount is set it has become a salary framework for government.
Mr. Chomiak: Madam Chairperson, how did the deputy minister, therefore, receive an increment this year of approximately $4,000 from last year if the salary increments were frozen last year as a result of Bill 70?
Mrs. Vodrey: Madam Chairperson, I am advised that the freeze does not affect '92‑93.
Mr. Chomiak: I am aware of that, but I note that between '91‑92 and '92‑93, the salary went from $88,000 to $92,900. In other words, the previous year, the period for which Bill 70 was in effect, the deputy minister's salary went from $88,000 to $92,900. I can indicate to the minister I am referring to the previous year's Estimates books and I am referring to the fact that the '90‑91 versus the '91‑92 vote was $88,000 to $92,000, which is an increase of $4,900.
Mrs. Vodrey: I just would like to remind the honourable member that my deputy falls into the same category as all other deputies in terms of his increases, and that he received a merit increase in that time. The $4,000‑‑he will have to provide me with a little more information on where he gets those figures.
Mr. Chomiak: Is the minister asking me to provide her with more information, where I get the figures‑‑the last year's Estimate book indicated that‑‑and I will accept the minister's answer. If the minister is saying the deputy minister went from $88,000 to $92,900 based on merit increases, I will accept that if that is the minister's answer.
Mrs. Vodrey: Madam Chairperson, I will be happy to have an additional look at this and provide you with anything further that might help the next time we are together.
Mr. Chomiak: I will thank the minister for that, and I will just point out page 27 of last year's supplementary Estimates book has the figure $88,000 and then the increase to $92,000, but if the minister will subsequently provide me with it, I will accept that in terms of moving the process on and determining the issue.
Another concern voiced today by members on this side of the House was the overall increase in Executive Support, not only this year over last year, but since this government has been in power there has been approximately close to a 50 percent increase in Executive Support to the minister with the same nine staff positions available.
I am wondering if the minister can outline for me what in fact this indicates.
Mrs. Vodrey: Madam Chairperson, I would like to tell the honourable member that every employee did receive the same negotiated increase and eligibility for merit increase. The deputy, for the first year in that position, was seconded and therefore was paid out of operating expenses. When he was no longer seconded and became a civil servant he was then paid out of salary. So that may account for some of the changes.
Mr. Chomiak: Madam Chairperson, that in fact will account for approximately 10 percent of the changes, because the deputy minister's salary had a $15,000 increase 1988‑89 through 1989‑90, according to the Estimates book, from $73,000 to $88,000, and that accounts for 10 percent.
The rest is not all accounted in salaries and the natural revolution, because we know that in fact Communications has doubled in the Executive Support Division. Communications has doubled since 1988‑89 in that division, despite the fact that the government supposedly has centralized communications in another area of government.
I wonder if the minister might comment on the doubling of the communication costs in that period of time, because that is relevant.
Mrs. Vodrey: Madam Chairperson, I would just like to remind the honourable member that there are no more staff this year than last year, but he would like to go back several years. So in that case I will be happy to provide him at a later date with the answers to the questions that he has asked.
Mr. Chomiak: Madam Chairperson, I will point out to the minister that the same nine staff positions were existent at that period of time as they are existent today. So there has been no increase or decrease for that matter in staff in terms of Executive Support.
So the increases are salary‑‑correct‑‑as well as communications, transportation, et cetera, and my question for the minister to refer back to is specifically the Communications component.
Of the nine staff positions presently in existence, can the minister indicate what changes have occurred for those nine staff positions in terms of personnel between this year and last year, and if there have been changes, whether those changes have been via competition and who the incumbents are presently?
Mrs. Vodrey: Madam Chairperson, I would just like to ask for a clarification. Is the member asking about the nine Executive Support staff or Communications department?
Mr. Chomiak: I am asking about the nine Executive Support staff.
Mrs. Vodrey: Madam Chairperson, the new people in those SY positions, one is myself as minister and then we have a secretary to the minister who was reassigned and then, thirdly, we have the EA to the minister and that is not filled through a Civil Service competition.
Mr. Chomiak: Can the minister outline for me the names and positions of the other six SYs?
Mrs. Vodrey: First of all, it seems I am not one of the nine. I just wanted to clarify that.
I am happy to tell the member who the other SYs are. The name is Angele Kirouac, secretary to the minister; Linda Coomb, secretary to the minister; John Carlyle, who is the deputy minister; Viviane Misurka, who is the secretary to the deputy minister; Diana Saaid, secretary to the deputy minister; and Pat Lavoie, program analyst.
Mr. Chomiak: For my own clarification, we have the deputy minister, we have two secretaries to the minister, we have two secretaries to the deputy minister, we have a program analyst, we have an EA to the minister and there are still two more SY positions not accounted for in the minister's comments.
Mrs. Vodrey: I am sorry. I thought the member had asked for those whom I had not previously named, but let me clarify for him; I had named previously Rosalie Prawdzik, secretary to the minister, who was the reassigned person; Jim Mickelson, who is the special assistant to the minister; and I had named previously Anna Marie Roberecki who is the executive assistant to the minister.
Mr. Chomiak: That means the minister has two EAs.
Mrs. Vodrey: One EA, Anna Marie Roberecki; one SA, Jim Mickelson.
Mr. Chomiak: I wonder if the minister might just table a list. It would certainly make it much simpler. Perhaps I am slow at copying, but can the minister table a list that she has?
Mrs. Vodrey: I will be happy to table one of those lists tomorrow. I do not have a list available to table with me at this time.
Mr. Chomiak: I appreciate that, so I could perhaps return to it tomorrow. I just want to ask one quick question on this again. According to my notes, therefore, the minister has two secretaries and the deputy minister has two secretaries. Is that correct?
Mrs. Vodrey: Madam Chairperson, no. There are three secretaries in the minister's office and two secretaries in the deputy's office.
Mr. Chomiak: So, in fact, I believe I am able to put it together to account for five secretaries, an EA, a special assistant, a deputy minister, and a program analyst. Is that correct?
Mrs. Vodrey: That is correct.
Mr. Chomiak: Can the minister indicate whether those job titles‑‑that is, the five secretaries, the EA, the special assistant, the program analyst, the deputy minister‑‑if any of those job titles have changed since last year?
Mrs. Vodrey: No, the titles have not changed.
Mr. Chomiak: Can the minister outline for me her philosophy of the role of the deputy minister?
Mrs. Vodrey: Madam Chairperson, deputy ministers are the chief administrative officers of the department and they work under the direction, or they work subject to the approval, of the minister. As chief administrative officer the deputy is responsible for the day‑to‑day operations of the department and to carry out the policies set by government. A deputy minister also provides information to the minister and advice to the minister. The deputy minister also acts as a liaison with the community as well and assists in the consultation with the community, both the education community and the wider community, and will also report some matters occurring in the field to the minister. The deputy may also carry out meetings on behalf of the minister, and in general carries through the administrative role, the management part.
Mr. Chomiak: Can the minister outline her philosophy of when the minister should be represented by the deputy minister at events and when the minister should not be represented by the deputy minister at events?
Mrs. Vodrey: By and large we do not always know the nature of events that we are asked to attend sometimes until we actually arrive and we find out that perhaps they may be different than the invitation had stated, but by and large the deputy would attend events in which there were perhaps technical matters for discussion. They might attend events to discuss initiatives and the working of the Department of Education. The deputy would likely not attend events in which he was asked to account for government policy or speak of future policy development, but those events in which some technical expertise was required or again a full discussion of initiatives and the working of the department, then those would be appropriate.
Mr. Chomiak: I raise that issue because the previous minister, I believe, broached that particular philosophy as expressed by the minister, and this is no reflection on the deputy minister, who, from my own observations and I suspect other political observers, was put in very uncomfortable situations on occasion by the previous minister in terms of representing government policy and government future initiatives and was put in extremely awkward situations. I can think of several instances. One that comes to mind was a conference where myself and the Leader of the Liberal Party (Mrs. Carstairs) attended to discuss special needs and learning disabilities, and the deputy minister was put in a very difficult situation by the previous minister with respect to representing government policy at that point. I highlight it for the minister's attention, because it is very much a sore point of mine, because the line, I think, should not be crossed and should be avoided at all costs.
By way of explanation, that is the reason that I am raising it here today, because I want to indicate it is very much a sore point of mine, and I think it puts the deputy minister in a very unfortunate and a very difficult situation. That is no reflection on the deputy minister who I think, by the way, handled himself excellently under those circumstances, but did not provide a service to the public who were there at that particular meeting and at several other meetings of that kind to hear government policy and were put in a position where they could not.
So I just want to alert the minister to that difficulty being expressed by myself and others. I do not know if the minister wants to comment, or I could go on to a new question.
Mrs. Vodrey: Madam Chairperson, I have understood what the member has said. However, I know that he would also understand that sometimes there are events when ministers are not able to go. Because the events are of a technical nature and do require some explanation of detailed policy, another elected member is not able to attend in the minister's place. In order to respect the integrity and the effort of individuals who have planned a conference or have planned a meeting, it then becomes very important to have someone there who can speak on the subject with some ability and some understanding. So, though I have understood the point raised, I would also like to add that there certainly are times when, for many reasons, it is not possible for the minister, and then the deputy will attend.
Mr. Chomiak: I thank the minister for those comments, Madam Chairperson, and I am quite certain she is aware of our concerns, and I am quite confident that we will not be put in that situation and the deputy minister will not be put in that very difficult situation in the future.
I would like to ask several questions
along the same lines though, in the same area.
It deals with government policy.
In the past several months there have been two instances where the
deputy minister has been quoted in the paper discussing government policy. I would like the minister to comment what her
philosophy is with respect to the deputy minister commenting on government
policies. I will name the two
instances. The first was the boundaries
review issue, and the deputy minister was quoted in the
I am wondering if the minister can comment, first generally what her philosophy is with respect to matters of policy and the deputy minister's making a statement versus the minister, and also perhaps she could enlighten me on those two particular instances?
Mrs. Vodrey: The quote in the boundaries review‑‑I am sorry, I am not sure exactly which specifically the member is referring to, but I would like to say that my memory of those two issues‑‑and I believe I am thinking of the right ones‑‑in each case the deputy minister did not create policy and he did not attempt to create a policy or speak for government policy.
He was asked for a comment on either an existing situation or, in one case, I think perhaps a hypothetical situation in terms of the boundaries review, and his comment on the school year was a comment to simply discuss that we have a committee reviewing the school calendar. I believe that he was answering factual questions at that time. Now, the interpretation of the listener rests with the listener following that.
Mr. Chomiak: Can the minister outline what her philosophy is with respect to the deputy minister commenting on matters of this guide? Where is the boundary and what is the appropriate role and the appropriate matters upon which and when the deputy minister should be commenting?
Mrs. Vodrey: In my opinion, the deputy would often be called upon to answer questions of a technical nature, as I said, also questions which are of a highly detailed nature, and also of a factual nature. Those factual questions can sometimes range to, "what is government policy?" But there is a difference between that question and the question "what should policy be?" In that case, when it is "what should policy be?" then that is a question which should be answered not by the deputy. "What will policy be?" should not be answered by the deputy.
Mr. Chomiak: Does the department have a regime or a particular protocol in effect in the department when questions would be referred to the minister and when questions would be referred to the deputy minister?
Mrs. Vodrey: In a general sense, those political questions, questions about new initiatives, questions about government policy, or criticisms of government policy, or what may be a new and projected government policy for the most part should not be answered by the deputy. However, where questions become technical, where questions are about existing policy, then those are questions which the deputy may answer.
Mr. Chomiak: The minister indicated that a committee has been set up dealing with the proposal for the 12‑month school year. Can the minister outline what that committee is, who is on it, what it is looking at, what its mandate is, and when it is going to report?
Mrs. Vodrey: I just would like to advise the honourable member I could answer that question now. It is a line of questioning which does fall under XVI Administration 1.(g), and I would be happy to answer it. Also at that time, when we get to that line, in the detail that he may like at that time.
Mr. Chomiak: If the minister would not mind, I am quite curious about this committee, so I would appreciate if she could answer at least in general terms now, so I could have some understanding as to what this committee is that the deputy minister made reference to and the minister made reference to in the House yesterday.
Mrs. Vodrey: The committee was established by government. The purpose was to explore a range of issues relating to the school year, and very specifically some of the issues are: the start‑dates of school, the completion‑dates of the school year, holidays within the school year, the role of the minister in prescribing the number of days, for example, 200 days or 197 days, how the days may be used, and also to look at whether year‑round schooling, being one of the issues, would be viable.
It is being considered in other jurisdictions, and so this was an opportunity to have our committee also look at that as one of their many issues.
The people who are serving on the school year committee: two representatives from the Manitoba Teachers' Society, Terry Clifford and Linda Asper; two representatives from the Manitoba Association of School Trustees, Gail Watson and Myrna Chapman; a representative from the Manitoba Association of School Superintendents, George Wall; a representative from the Manitoba Federation of Independent Schools, Gil Van Humbeck; a representative from the Home & School & Parent‑Teacher Federation of Manitoba, Judy Aiken; two representatives from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, Garth Whyte and Ed Gallos; and two representatives from Manitoba Education and Training, Leo McGinn and David Yeo, who acts in the capacity of secretary.
Mr. Chomiak: I thank the minister for those comments. I want to outline for her why I think it is important that this matter be dealt with at this particular appropriation number because it seems to me that clearly, from the Objectives and Activity Identification that are outlined in the Supplementary Estimates book, this branch of the department is to provide a prioritization policy direction, et cetera, to the minister.
What I would next like to isolate from the minister is if she could outline for me, therefore, the sort of top five priorities of her department, and whether or not this particular matter is one of those five.
Mrs. Vodrey: Madam Chairperson, I would just like to say to the honourable member that the Department of Education and Training is a very large department, and it would be very difficult to isolate five issues alone even on the Kindergarten to 12 side of the department. In addition to Kindergarten to 12, or K to 12, we also have issues within the post‑secondary and training part of my department including issues relating to the universities, issues relating to the community colleges, issues relating to training, and that the general priorities of the department are within the strategic plan. We do try to update those each year. So I am wondering if the member would like me to be much more specific than that.
Mr. Chomiak: Madam Chairperson, yes, I would like the minister to be much more specific, because I think that is one of the fundamental flaws of the Department of Education. The Department of Education, both this minister and the previous minister, said on a regular basis, that divisions and all of those responsible for education in Manitoba must set their own priorities and must fall under specific priorities and must develop their own priorities. Ergo‑‑I rarely use that word‑‑ergo, the Department of Education must have a list of priorities, must identify those priorities, must deal with them, must articulate them in order to allow all those involved in the education field to plan their own priorities. Unless the Department of Education does that specifically and concretely, then we will continue to have a scatter‑gun approach to education in this province.
I might add to the minister that it is only last year that the department finally, after much prodding, published a five‑year strategic plan, and we welcomed the publication of that five‑year strategic plan. I would like the minister to specify the major priorities in the K‑to‑12 area for the department.
Mrs. Vodrey: I will be happy to talk about some of the priorities in the Department of Education and Training. First of all the new courses and programs in the K‑to‑12 side, curriculum revisions are underway by way of example in the K‑to‑12 mathematics with an emphasis on skill development. Plans are under way to produce a province‑wide distance education calculus 305 course. We are looking to major improvements in the science curriculum, revisions in the K‑to‑9 program there, a teacher resource package K to 4 and 5 to 8 is under way. We are looking also at again new programs and courses on the K‑to‑12 side; the Skills for Independent Living program, which will be piloted next year in Senior 2; the English language arts program, K to 12, a well‑recognized curriculum emphasizing outcomes in oral and written language skills.
We are looking also at programs in AIDS education, technical and vocational education; we are looking at more options in this area, greater choice for students, expanding partnerships with business and industry and more opportunities for work experience. In the K‑to‑12 side, the department is working closely with MTS and with MAST in establishing an advisory structure that relates specifically to curriculum development and delivery.
Secondly, we are very interested in academic standards on the K‑to‑12 side, and we have several measures and strategies being taken to maintain or to enhance academic strategies and very specifically, Madam Chairperson, the reading assessment in 1992 for Grades 4, 8, and 11 will be tested this year. Manitoba will also participate in the CMEC National School Achievement Indicators Program where 13‑ and 16‑year‑olds are scheduled to be assessed in 1993.
The development of the examinations in mathematics is another way we have demonstrated our concern for academic standard. The assessment unit of the curriculum branch conducts comparison testing to ensure that student skills in writing, in social studies, science, reading, and math are maintained. Testing results indicate that there has not been a major decline over the years in those subject areas. Revisions are currently underway in the mathematics K‑to‑8 area with emphasis, as I said, on skills development and levels of competence.
The third area of priority, and these are not necessarily in a priority, they are in a grouping of concerns, are students at risk. I have spoken this week about some of our initiatives for students at risk. The department participates in the federal Stay in School program. This program includes a national advertising campaign, involvement in the community, specific programs for students and teachers and also some research.
Then, as I have spoken this week, the department has established the student support branch. That was to consolidate departmental services to students at risk throughout the province, and I will remind the member that we are the only province in Canada which has designated a department to work with the issue of students at risk. I think that speaks to our particular commitment to that area.
The department also hosts the Manitoba‑based program for secondary schools funded by the Walter and Duncan Gordon Charitable Foundations. Secondary schools are eligible to participate in the programming and that is aimed at improving greater success for students.
Fourthly, another major concern has been special needs students. This government has increased the funding for special education for special needs students. Manitoba is in the forefront of delivering a comprehensive service delivery program. This program is flexible; it is seen as nonlabeling; it ensures parental input. The ADAP plan ensures accountability and effective planning at the divisional level.
We also have a bilingual and bicultural approach that is being completed at the Manitoba School for the Deaf, recognizing deaf language and culture, a career exploration program at the School for the Deaf. We have increased interdepartmental collaboration, Manitoba guidelines, on reporting a child in need of protection, and the interdepartmental Crisis Resource Committee for children with severe behavioural disorders. As the member mentioned in his opening remarks, the department's special needs policy is recognized by other provinces as most comprehensive and enabling.
We also have concerns on a fifth point around drug education. In 1990, as the member knows, the Premier announced drug education as a major initiative, and there are several programs which are available to schools, Tuning into Health for Grade 7‑9, an interdepartmental health promotion called Smoke Free Grads 2000. The department is represented on the provincial drug awareness committee and Teens Against Drunk Driving, and that certainly also recognizes an area that affects the people of Manitoba.
On the sixth point, we are also very interested in violence issues, and that has been raised to me as minister in the short time that I have been minister. School divisions across the province are concerned about behavioural violence, both among students and also within families, and we have acted on that in terms of provision of in‑service for teachers and parents in dealing with violent behaviour, provision of consultative services to schools. The department has also identified 65 educators who can act as resource persons for teaching youth about anger management.
We have provision of curriculum support document entitled Learning Activities to Prevent Violence Against Women. It is important to note that violence itself is not an isolated phenomenon, and that the department has recognized that no one course or one unit or one afternoon of professional development can fully address it. So the department is addressing violence in a broader context by working more closely with schools to develop positive learning environments through the Student Support branch, providing relevant courses such as Skills for Independent Living, providing formal mechanisms for parental involvement and participation in decision making, providing relevant curriculum support material dealing with violence against women.
Another major initiative and priority within the department is aboriginal education. In that area we are looking at the revision of the K‑to‑12 curriculum guides for Cree, Ojibway and Dakota, provision of aboriginal career awareness days. Intensive in‑services for teachers of aboriginal children in consultation with native people and native education policy is being developed. A task force, and this is on the post‑secondary side, has been set up at Red River Community College to make recommendations about how to serve aboriginal students more effectively.
We have also been, in the area of aboriginal education, concerned about self‑government, and in 1990 the Premier (Mr. Filmon) in the throne speech indicated the government's support for native self‑government. In support of this the department's initiatives include First Nations' representation on department committees to ensure native input on policies and programs, the encouragement of native parent‑community participation in education through workshops that focus on parents as partners in education, decision‑making and community empowerment, support for Children of the Earth aboriginal high school which operates under the joint governance of the Winnipeg School Division and the urban aboriginal advisory council.
The Manitoba Metis Federation is participating in tripartite negotiation around self‑determination with the federal and the provincial government, and their proposal to establish the Louis Riel Institute is one which has been under discussion.
I would also like to comment on our concern No. 8 for sustainable development. Manitoba Education and Training has identified sustainable development as a department‑wide thrust through our strategic direction. Curriculum services is in the process of integrating the principles of sustainable development into all of our existing and developing curricula, and an action plan has been developed to implement sustainable development initially into the K‑to‑12 science, social studies and skills for independent living curriculum. The concept of sustainable development has been introduced in the interim science curriculum guides for kindergarten to Grade 9, and it will be strengthened when the guides are finalized.
A new certificate program will begin in September '93, at Assiniboine College. This is in the post‑secondary side, and this will train students in technologies and materials for the construction of energy resource conserving houses.
Number 9, Madam Chairperson, is women's issues, and we have been very concerned, and some of the action that we have taken is implementation of pay equity at the department and with school divisions. Special programs, for example, video tapes, awareness programs, career counselling, to encourage young women to enroll in the sciences and technology. We have done a monitoring of all curriculum for sexual stereotyping and sexist language, and the skills for independent living course is designed to address women's issues. A video series, parent's guides, reading materials have also been designed to meet the needs of aboriginal women.
The 10th issue is one of affirmative action, and staffing authorizations include affirmative action strategy. We have also looked at the decentralization success. Number 12 is the issue of Francophone governance. Number 13, in terms of priorities, a legislative reform process which I spoke about in my opening remarks, and I expect to hear from that committee by the early summer. Number 14, the new public school education funding formula, and, again, describing that as a dynamic and evolving formula, continuing to work with the advisory committee as well. So those are, I believe, 14 of the initiatives and priorities that have been identified on the K‑to‑12 side, as the member asked.
Madam Chairperson: Order, please. The hour being 5 p.m., and time for private members' hour, committee rise.
Call in the Speaker.
Mrs. Louise Dacquay (Chairperson of Committees): Mr. Speaker, the Committee of Supply has considered certain resolutions, directs me to report progress and asks leave to sit again.
I move, seconded by the honourable member for Emerson (Mr. Penner), that the report of the committee be received.
Motion agreed to.
PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
Mr. Speaker: The hour being 5 p.m., it is time for private members' hour.
DEBATE ON SECOND READINGS‑PUBLIC BILLS
Bill 16‑The Health Care Directives Act
Mr. Speaker: On the proposed motion of the honourable member for The Maples (Mr. Cheema), Bill 16, The Health Care Directives Act; Loi sur les directives en matiere de soins de sante, standing in the name of the honourable Minister of Health (Mr. Orchard). Stand? Is there leave that this matter remain standing? Leave? It is agreed.
Bill 18‑The Franchises Act
Mr. Speaker: On the proposed motion of the honourable member for Elmwood (Mr. Maloway), Bill 18, The Franchises Act; Loi sur les concessions, standing in the name of the honourable member for Sturgeon Creek (Mr. McAlpine). Stand? Is there leave that this matter remain standing? Leave? It is agreed.
* * *
Mr. Speaker: On the proposed motion of the honourable member for The Maples (Mr. Cheema), Bill 27, The Business Practices Amendment Act; Loi modifiant la Loi sur les pratiques commerciales‑‑did I miss 25? I will come back to 25‑‑standing in the name of the honourable member for La Verendrye (Mr. Sveinson).
Prior to recognizing the honourable member for La Verendrye‑‑it appears he is ready to speak on this bill‑‑I had inadvertently missed Bill 25, but I will come back to it‑‑[interjection]
To prevent some confusion, therefore, I will go back to Bill 25.
Mr. Speaker: On the proposed motion of the honourable member for Osborne (Mr. Alcock), Bill 25, The University of Manitoba Amendment Act; Loi modifiant la Loi sur l'Universite du Manitoba, standing in the name of the honourable member for St. Vital (Mrs. Render).
Mrs. Shirley Render (St. Vital): I am happy to put my thoughts on record. At some time or other during most of the Question Periods here in the House, we usually hear members of the opposition accuse or suggest that perhaps this side of the House does not always consult before it implements things.
I find that really very hard to agree with because I really believe that this government's approach is one of consultation and is one of reviewing past practices and discussing the issues with a variety of people before we do make any moves. I guess this is why I do have trouble supporting this particular amendment, because I understand that the member for Osborne did not consult with the president of the Manitoba students' union.
Frankly, when an amendment affecting the students and their role in the administration of the university is being proposed and the member proposing the amendment has not consulted with the president of UMSU, I have great difficulty in supporting this kind of an amendment when this consultation process has not taken place. I think this is actually a rather unilateral approach, and I do not think it is an approach that this government wants to take.
Now knowing the member for Osborne (Mr. Alcock), his background, and knowing that his background is in the field of social services, I find it very surprising that he acted in this particular manner because I think he is usually a very caring person, usually a very thoughtful person. So I guess it was perhaps just an oversight on his part that he did not consult with the president of the Manitoba Students' Union.
Now along those same lines of consulting, in fact that whole question of consulting with appropriate people, I think it is important to remind the honourable member for Osborne that there is a university review coming up. This university review will be very wide in scope. It will encompass a whole variety of issues, of topics, and I think it is important for this government, in fact for all of us here in the House, to do a very intensive kind of preview, of consulting with all varieties of people who are going to be affected with any changes to the university.
Now our Minister of Education (Mrs. Vodrey), as many of you know, her background is as a psychologist working in the field of education, and her practice, her whole approach in anything that she does is one of consulting with all the people who are going to be affected by any particular action that she is going to be undertaking. So I am sure that I perhaps speak for her when I say that likely she would not support a bill when the main people that this bill is going to affect‑‑and I am talking about the students‑‑when the head of the students' union has not even been approached, and this whole concept of the amendment has not been discussed with him.
I understand also that this amendment has not been discussed with the Board of Governors, and secondly, that the Board of Governors does not have a formal position on it.
An Honourable Member: Oh, can you imagine that, Mr. Speaker?
Mrs. Render: Well, just for the member across the way whose hearing I think slipped there for a moment, I understand that the member for Osborne (Mr. Alcock) had also not discussed this proposed amendment with the Board of Governors.
An Honourable Member: No.
Mrs. Render: Yes. So as I say, members, I find it really surprising, the lack of consultation that has taken place by the Liberal Party, because I think the Liberal Party is usually very good about going out and talking with people. So, as I said earlier, I am sure it is just an oversight, but it is an oversight that this side of the House really cannot afford to overlook.
Also, I think it might be interesting to note for the member for Inkster (Mr. Lamoureux), that shortly after this amendment was introduced the special assistant to the Minister of Education (Mrs. Vodrey) spoke to the president of UMSU, and the president indicated that he was quite satisfied with the present appointments, and he also expressed surprise that the bill had been proposed, had been tabled here in the House without his being consulted first.
Maybe this is a good point in time to look at the system that is presently in place. [interjection] Well, do not forget the 20,000 students do have somebody who represents them and that is the president‑‑[interjection] The president of the student's union is a political appointment? I perhaps think that the member is incorrect there.
An Honourable Member: Misinformed.
Mrs. Render: Yes.
Okay, let me just get back to what I was saying. Let me just clarify what is in place right now. At the University of Manitoba, as likely many of you know, the students have traditionally been represented at the Board of Governors' level through the Lieutenant‑Governor‑in‑Council appointments, and by convention, two Lieutenant‑Governor‑in‑Council appointments have been reserved for student representation, and the government, this government, has continued the tradition of reserving two spots for students. Presently there are two student representatives on the Board of Governors, and this does appear to be working quite well.
So I think the members opposite can understand why we do not support this bill, because it is the policy and the practice of this government to consult with all the people who are going to be affected by the bill, and, in particular, I think there has to be consultation with the president of the student union. As I mentioned earlier, there is going to be a university review conducted, and this review will be looking at all factors.
I think in fairness to the students, to the administration, to the whole university system, rather than stepping in now and making perhaps an ad hoc kind of decision, I think it is best to look at the whole system and make it work properly.
Now, I just do want to say though that the member for Osborne (Mr. Alcock) has put forward a very interesting proposal, and I am not being negative about it; I am simply suggesting that he has maybe not done all of the homework required. Really, I guess, the bottom line is that it does require much more discussion, and I think it really is quite vital that this matter be discussed in a proper fashion.
Now, I just want to talk a little bit more generally about the University of Manitoba. I do have an interest in the University of Manitoba. When I first attended university my degree‑‑[interjection] Well, some of‑‑
An Honourable Member: That is not that long ago, not that long ago that you were there.
Mrs. Render: Not that long ago. Well, I am afraid it was that long ago that I was there.
Some Honourable Members: No.
Mrs. Render: Yes.
Hon. Harry Enns (Minister of Natural Resources): Just the other year.
Mrs. Render: Just the other year, the Minister of Natural Resources says.
An Honourable Member: Yes, but it seems like only yesterday.
Mrs. Render: Well, it seems like only yesterday that I was
An Honourable Member: I would not have said that.
Mrs. Render: You would not have said that?
So I do have an interest in how the university is administered. I think I can remember some of the people who were on the student council when I was at university. In fact, one of the very key people at United College when I was at United College is one of the key people in the Liberal Party, and that was Lloyd Axworthy. I kid you not.
I feel it is very important that we make sure that the students do have a voice in the administration of the university. I know what happens if they do not.
I think maybe I would just like to conclude my remarks by saying that for this government university education is very important. We believe that education and training is a very important component of revitalizing things here in Manitoba. We have four universities here that I think all of us can be very proud of and, of course, the administration of a university is very important to a university's success.
We all want to make sure that our universities have a high credibility not only here in Canada but throughout North America and throughout the world.
We feel that any changes that are made to the university must be changes that are well thought out, that are discussed with all parties that the change is going to affect and that rather than making a quick change, a quick fix, when there does not seem to be any urgency that it is far, far better to move slowly, to consult with all parties.
When I say all parties, I am not talking political parties, I am talking about all parties at the university. In particular, the students must also be consulted to have their thoughts and their concerns and their comments on record, because it is only in that way are we going to be able to work with the students and work with the administration to make sure that any changes that we make are made in the best possible manner.
Mr. Speaker, I will close by saying, I do not support the amendment, because there has not been proper consultation with the parties involved. I suggest that before any amendment is made that we do review the whole process and that it be done in a very comprehensive fashion. Thank you.
Mr. Jack Reimer (Niakwa): I move, seconded by the member for St. Norbert (Mr. Laurendeau), that debate now be adjourned.
Motion agreed to.
Bill 27‑The Business Practices Amendment Act
Mr. Speaker: On the proposed motion of the honourable member for The Maples (Mr. Cheema), Bill 27, The Business Practices Amendment Act; Loi modifiant la Loi sur les pratiques commerciales, standing in the name of the honourable member for La Verendrye (Mr. Sveinson).
Mr. Ben Sveinson (La Verendrye): Mr. Speaker, I do hope that everybody in this Assembly gets the feeling that I am somewhat reluctant to get up and speak on this bill. The reasoning is that I really do believe that a lot of consultation and discussion again within the caucus of the Liberal Party was not carried out. That is just my belief.
I do not say that loosely, and especially when I am talking about a member‑‑not a member, but something put forward by the member for The Maples, who usually puts considerable thought into bills or resolutions or even comments that he puts forward. However, I look at this bill, Mr. Speaker, and I have to question it somewhat. First of all, I would like to just kind of talk about it for the reasons put forward of why this bill was put forward.
The first one that I can see possibly is to protect employees who innocently commit an unfair business practice. As it is now, Mr. Speaker, the act tries to balance the interests of all three parties‑‑consumer, the employee and the employer. It does this by enabling consumers to seek redress when they incur losses as a result of an unfair practice. It also holds employers and employees liable for unfair practices. It holds employers liable for unfair practices of their employees, and it enables the courts when determining penalties to consider that an employee or employer did not intend to commit unfair practice and tried to avoid it.
Now considering these provisions and considering that the courts do not generally hold innocent employees liable for their actions, it is unlikely that an employee would be held liable under the act if the courts believed the employee did not intend to commit the unfair practice. The proposed amendment is an attempt to ensure that innocent employees are not held liable under the act. However, as the terms "good faith" and "in the course of employment" are vague, they may be interpreted differently in different courts. Consequently, little or nothing is done to ensure the protection of an innocent employee.
Giving the terms a specific definition could create or would create a risk that some innocent employees will be held liable because their conduct did not quite fall within that definition. Do you understand? Are you listening? [interjection] Good.
The proposed amendment may also be harmful for consumers. The loose wording of the amendment may make it difficult to satisfy a court that an employee acted in bad faith or outside the course of employment, and the consumer may therefore be unable to recover funds obtained by an employee through deception. It creates that back and forth between the employer and employee that has been really moved away from the way the act is set up right now. This could be a problem, particularly in such cases as where employees operate with a high degree of autonomy as in the home improvement work that is done, and where the employer may not be around when the consumer seeks redress.
Rather than relying on vague terms or trying to specify their meaning, it is probably better to leave the act as it is now and let the determination of whether or not an employee is liable to be based on the court's assessment of all circumstances surrounding the case. I gave the honourable member as much credit as I possibly could and now I am trying to discuss with the members here‑‑
An Honourable Member: Actually, you give him too much credit.
Mr. Sveinson: Exactly. Now, let us look at the other reasoning behind putting this forward: to limit the director's authority to refuse to mediate or investigate a complaint. Regarding this part of the amendment, to limit the director's authority to refuse to mediate or investigate, the wording of the proposed amendment infers that the Consumers' Bureau does or would like to frequently refuse to deal with complaints.
There is just something that I would like to read in a quote that I found here. This was, in fact, I believe, put forward by the minister. The Consumers' Bureau has been in operation for over 20 years and 80 percent of the activity it undertakes is mediation, Mr. Speaker. This agency is not prone to refusing to mediate. It indeed stakes its reputation on being able to mediate.
It just brings me back to something that happened to me a number of years back. I had been out moose hunting and I did, in fact, get a beautiful moose, really a beautiful set of horns on him. I took this moose to a butcher shop and I asked him to cut it up and package it for me, you know, nicely so that throughout the winter I can pull out a roast here and there for my friends and relatives when they come over to visit. Moose meat incidentally is absolutely a fantastic feast and some day maybe the member for Inkster (Mr. Lamoureux), if he is nice, I will invite him over.
Getting back to the situation here, I took this meat to a butcher shop and I asked him to package it up for me so I could have it throughout the winter and eat it at my leisure or at our leisure. I get it all done up thinking it is all very nice and I took it home and I put it in the freezer. About two to three months later I go to the freezer to take out a package and I looked at it and there is freezer burn. I checked it closely, and there must have been about a half an inch of freezer burn in this meat.
I do not know if any of you have tried to chew meat that has freezer burn, but believe me it kind of resembles that of a rag.
An Honourable Member: Did you phone up the minister? Did you phone up Gary?
Mr. Sveinson: No, no, I did not.
I took the meat and I went back to the butcher shop. I took this meat and I went back to the butcher shop, and I was very nice. I asked the butcher, the person in charge of the butcher shop, what he could do for me, because this was absolutely unacceptable, and indeed I was looking forward to enjoying that moose meat, I really was. I was looking forward to it.
At any rate, he got quite smart with me and I was taken aback really, because I was not being mean. I was not being at all smart. He said, well, you know, there is nothing I can do for you; it is not my fault. I said, well, just a minute now, understand something. I came in here trying to be nice, trying to give you the opportunity to address this situation, and you turn mean on me and want to push me out of the place. I said, how about if I call the Consumers' Bureau. Well, he said, just a minute, I am sure we can do something for you. I said, well, okay, that sounds better.
Do you know, Mr. Speaker, he in fact replaced every pound of that meat, as it had been weighed before, with beef. Now, I did express my disappointment on the fact that I had wanted moose meat. This happened to be beef. But being a person that is not trying to be smart or nasty, I accepted the meat and took it home, but just mentioning that I might go to the Consumers' Bureau all of a sudden changed it‑‑no, it actually just brought him back to the fact that he should be looking after the situation.
It also shows me that the Consumers' Bureau, in fact, is respected and has done an awful lot of good over the, I believe it is 20 years. What I am trying to say here also is, and getting back to the‑‑
An Honourable Member: You better hurry up, Ben. You are running out of time.
Mr. Sveinson: Could not be.
Getting back to the idea of mediation and how much mediation they actually do is key here. It is indeed that they stake their reputation on mediation and in some cases, like I mentioned and pointed out, you do not even have to get to that point. It is a matter of, okay, and we address the problem. This is far from reality. The bureau tries to resolve all complaints that come before it unless it is clear that the complaint can be better handled under some other law.
As the act is very new, the director's discretion to refuse to mediate or investigate should be left as it is until more experience with the act is gained. Now that is very sensible, I think. If it later appears that the discretion should be limited in some way, the act should be amended at that point, but with more understanding of how it should be amended. Limiting refusals to those complaints the director considers to be invalid would create problems. For example, what the director may consider to be invalid may be considered to be very valid by the consumer who would ultimately determine what is and what is not valid and on what basis. I have to question why one would wish to open up this kind of a situation.
The existing act is not without checks and balances. Consumers can refer a refusal to the deputy minister, the minister and, of course, the Ombudsman. Mr. Speaker, I think the amendment, while well intended possibly, will do little to improve the administration of this act and in fact may create a greater impediment for the director to try to carry out the mandate of that act. I would hope that the honourable member for The Maples (Mr. Cheema) would withdraw this bill with the understanding that a real need is not yet evident.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Marcel Laurendeau
(St. Norbert): Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the
honourable member for
Motion agreed to.
Bill 31‑The Municipal Amendment Act
Mr. Speaker: On the proposed motion of the honourable member for St. Boniface (Mr. Gaudry), Bill 31, The Municipal Amendment Act; Loi modifiant la Loi sur les municipalites, standing in the name of the honourable member for Turtle Mountain (Mr. Rose).
Mr. Bob Rose (
So it is a pleasure for me this afternoon to take advantage of that opportunity on Bill 31, and I say that for two reasons. One I have just expressed, that it is an honour to be able to contribute to the debate on this bill, but it is also an opportunity for me as a relatively newly elected MLA to participate in a discussion on a subject that was discussed before this Chamber just a year ago since the time of the last election.
All of you, of course, I am sure if you reflect back will remember when you first came to this Chamber, that many of the things that were considered the background and the history of those debates and subjects were not something that you were necessarily familiar with. Here is a situation where within less than a year we already have a bill come forward discussing a subject that we discussed less than a year ago.
You will recall that because we did debate in this Chamber and in committee and finally passed an amendment to clarify the already existing legislation, that legislation, as I am sure you are all aware, addresses the residency requirement of anyone seeking office in a municipal jurisdiction. The legislation says that the resident must have residency for six months to be able to allow their name to stand for an officer of the municipal corporation.
However, of course, in recognition of our resort areas in Manitoba, those areas that we all are extremely proud of and like to promote with attraction for tourism as well as an opportunity for all of us to get out and enjoy some of the natural beauty that we have in Manitoba and in recognition of those kinds of resort areas where there are any number of folks who have cabins in the area, the resort areas of Winnipeg Beach, Dunnottar and Victoria Beach, that legislation is an exception to the legislation, if you like, of the requirement of only two months residency to qualify to let their name stand for candidacy for the municipal corporation.
An Honourable Member: A noble venture, too.
Mr. Rose: A very noble venture. The purpose a year ago, when we moved to clarify this legislation, was to, as I say, clarify it because what the legislation said was that residency requirement was two months and no one knew what that meant. Did it mean that over a period of 12 months or 365 days that the individual had to only be in residence for a total of two months or 60 days or, if you take February as an example, only 28 days and another 30 for 58 days? It did cause considerable confusion because no one was quite sure what it meant.
The purpose a year ago, of course, was to clarify what was actually meant by two months of residency. The amendment last year was to add the word "consecutive" to the legislation to say that the requirement was two months consecutive residency to qualify. Now, we are debating a bill, Mr. Speaker, that would in effect repeal that amendment and revert back to simply saying two months. There is an interesting difference I think in the debate because no longer are we clarifying what an amendment meant or what the legislation meant. What we are doing is actually saying that there is only a two‑month requirement. Before there was some confusion.
The movement a year ago was to clarify as to what it actually meant. Now, by going through this action of bringing in a further amendment, and if this amendment passed we would actually be saying that all that is required is a two‑months residency, a cumulative two‑months residency.
I have great difficulty with that, Mr. Speaker. I am not sure how you identify two months cumulative over a year. What does it include? Does it include a cross‑country ski afternoon in the area? Does it include camping, perhaps setting up the tent down in the campground for a few evenings? Does it count going out to open the cottage, maybe just an afternoon to require that.
The honourable member for Niakwa (Mr. Reimer) points out perhaps you would be out picking blueberries and dodging the bear. Does that count? Does that indicate that you are a resident of the area? How do we keep track of this? Is each resident required to keep a diary or a time clock that when they show up in the area, they can say, well, I was here for three hours today and four hours last week and another 12 hours, so that is almost 24 hours. How do you count a day? Is it the 12 hours of daylight at the spring and fall equinox, or is it the eight hours of daylight in the shortest day of the year?
So I think it is very, very difficult, Mr. Speaker, to identify and to keep track of what actually would be two months cumulative residence.
An Honourable Member: You could probably put up a time clock, Bob. You know, the City of Winnipeg is proposing a toll booth to come in and out of Winnipeg. Well, they could put up a toll booth there at camp, and punch in when they come in.
Mr. Rose: There is a suggestion that might alleviate that problem of how to keep track, if there was a toll booth or a time clock set up. When each resident came back they could check in and again check out and keep this on a card, and it could be recorded at the time a municipal election is called, that this particular resident was, on a cumulative, adding all the hours and minutes and actual time that they drove through the area, they might be considered to be residents. [interjection]
I can see, now we are into the subject that there are any number of ideas that might address this problem, but I suggest, Mr. Speaker, that it would take considerable time to choose which would be the best and, as the honourable member for St. Norbert (Mr. Laurendeau) suggests, that we really should study it a little bit longer, and perhaps it could be a jobs fund type of thing that the NDP brought in a decade or so ago, where they were counting flowers along the highway and measuring the streets. At the same time, if their attention was not totally controlled by counting flowers or measuring the streets, they could look up and watch the cars go by and record as to whether this was a resident and mark down as a cumulation of two months residency.
Mr. Speaker, I think that this is a serious problem for the people in these areas and we do not want to treat it too lightly, but I think that we have recognized in the legislation now that the three areas in the province affected do have residents who want to be involved in the local municipal politics. We have recognized that by changing the normal requirement from six months to two months.
I was very interested in the contribution a few days ago to this debate on this bill by the honourable member for Emerson (Mr. Penner) and the honourable member for Gimli (Mr. Helwer). They pointed out the responsibilities that municipal governments have and members of the municipal governments have‑‑the mayors, the reeves, the councillors. They pointed out that these are not things that happen just in a certain period of time, but they are ongoing responsibilities, something that happened year around.
I have not personally had experience with municipal corporations, or at least I have never served as a councillor or a reeve, but both my father and my brother served many long years as both reeves and councillors of our local municipality, so I was certainly able to observe what the demands were on their time.
I particularly recall when I was working on the farm as a young fellow and my father was reeve of the local municipality, it seemed to me that, and perhaps I was wrong about it, every time there was a difficult task or a dirty task or something that required a considerable amount of physical labour on the farm, that when we got up in the morning and we laid out the days work and we would get these very difficult and dirty and hard‑working tasks laid out, my father would suddenly remember that there was a road somewhere or a culvert or a bridge or a welfare problem or a problem with fire prevention in the municipality. It always seemed to be that these problems popped up at the time when there was particularly difficult and hard work to do at home.
You know, sometimes your memory plays tricks on you, and sometimes things were not as you really thought they were when you were growing up. We all remember the terrible storms we used to get when we were small, and the drifts in the yards were always way over our heads, and you do not see that much anymore. The drifts in the yards are over my grandchildren's head, but they are not over my head any more.
My father was reeve of the municipality for 20 years, and I know that in that 20 years the tasks and the responsibilities and the demands on his time were not confined to just a month or two in the summer or the odd day in the winter. They were something that there were demands and responsibilities that were ongoing and actually daily demands.
I think, Mr. Speaker, that surely it is not too much to ask for anyone who wants to serve his community to require that they have two consecutive months of residence. They need that to get a sense of what is going on in the community. They need that to have a sense of what is needed in the community. They need to have that length of time to get some sense of how the residents think, not only the ones that are there for the summer or there for a vacation or there for just the weekends or for summer holidays, but also those people who are permanent residents of the area, by spending a length of time like two months to get that opportunity to get to know every one of the people that will be asking them to serve on their behalf.
In a larger sense, Mr. Speaker, I think this is perhaps a symptom of some of the problems that we have in Canada today. We talk about alienation and the lack of understanding across this great land of ours, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and the different viewpoints and the different ideas and the different ambitions that our residents who are Canadians have from sea to sea. I think it perhaps explains part of the alienation among Canadians, between the Prairies and the Maritimes and the two major provinces in our country, Ontario and Quebec.
So often, particularly in the federal area, but even in the provincial area as well, we hear our local residents say, what happens to our elected people, they seem to disappear, they go to Ottawa and they no longer represent us, they become involved in that milieu that is in Ottawa and they forget what their grassroots are and where they came from. I can say that too provincially, because for those of us who come from rural areas, when the House is in session the demands on our time require us to be here most of the time and we do lose touch with what is going on and what people are actually thinking back home in the rural areas.
So elected people tend to disappear, and that is one of the reasons, Mr. Speaker, why we have these local forms of government like school boards and municipalities and town councils, because they are there and they live there and they stay there and they understand daily what the concerns are of their citizens, what they think and what is needed and how they are there daily to address the problems that arise. We have drainage and garbage and so many municipal problems that are daily problems that need to be addressed by people who are familiar with the area.
I think we must move more in that direction, Mr. Speaker, that we must continue to move towards more local autonomy or at least more local government to allow all our citizens to feel that they are part of the process and to lessen the alienation. Anything less than two months‑‑
Mr. Speaker: The honourable member's time has expired.
Mr. Jack Reimer (Niakwa): Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the member for St. Vital (Mrs. Render), that debate be now adjourned.
Motion agreed to.
Bill 50‑The Beverage Container Act
Mr. Speaker: On the proposed motion of the honourable Leader of the Second Opposition (Mrs. Carstairs), Bill 50, The Beverage Container Act; Loi sur les contenants de boisson, standing in the name of the honourable member for Gimli (Mr. Helwer). Stand?
An Honourable Member: Stand.
Mr. Speaker: Leave? It is agreed.
Bill 51‑The Health Services Insurance Amendment Act
Mr. Speaker: On the proposed motion of the honourable member for The Maples (Mr. Cheema), Bill 51, The Health Services Insurance Amendment Act; Loi modifiant la Loi sur l'assurance‑maladie, standing in the name of the honourable member for St. Norbert (Mr. Laurendeau). Stand?
An Honourable Member: Stand.
Mr. Speaker: Is there leave? Leave. It is agreed.
Bill 54‑The Consumer Protection Amendment Act
Mr. Speaker: On the proposed motion of the honourable member
for Elmwood (Mr. Maloway), Bill 54, The Consumer Protection Amendment Act; Loi
sur la protection du consommateur, standing in the name of the honourable
An Honourable Member: Stand.
Mr. Speaker: Is there leave that this matter remain standing? Leave. It is agreed.
SECOND READINGS‑PUBLIC BILLS
Mr. Speaker: Are we proceeding with Bill 36? No, okay. Are we proceeding with Bill 56? No, okay. Are we proceeding with Bill 66? No, okay.
Bill 77‑The Liquor Control Amendment Act
Mr. George Hickes (Point Douglas): I move, seconded by the member for Radisson (Ms. Cerilli), that Bill 77, The Liquor Control Amendment Act (Loi modifiant la Loi sur la reglementation des alcools), be now read a second time and be referred to a committee of this House.
Mr. Hickes: Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure to
introduce this bill because the people in
Before I get into the bill, I would just like to commend the government for their action on the muscle relaxant problem that we had in the past. The government acted very responsibly and took it off the shelves and now it is only sold through pharmacies. Now, when I walk in the area, visiting constituents and stuff, you do not see the bottles of empty muscle relaxant that I used to see lying around which harmed a lot of people and a lot of lives.
Now, the new problem that we have facing us today is with the Chinese cooking wine. It has 38 percent alcohol content. The purpose of it is not for people to consume as alcohol and to drink. The real purpose is to be used for cooking. The people who use this product for the right purposes should not need be penalized in any way by any changes or amendments to The Liquor Control Act, because the community that uses it in their own homes‑‑probably some of us members here do and also the restaurants. When we talk about introducing it into liquor stores and getting it off the shelves of the corner stores, it is to take the easy access away from the individuals who are abusing this product, who are harming themselves and their families and their children.
(Mr. Marcel Laurendeau, Acting Speaker, in the Chair)
So, Mr. Acting Speaker, when we talk about introducing it into liquor stores, we are not saying introduce it as drinkable alcohol and put the sin tax that applies to alcohol products. That is not the whole purpose of this bill. This bill is to get it off the shelves and list it as cooking wine, which it is meant to be. So if it is to be used in the proper context of cooking and not for consumption, there is no reason to have to tax it as an alcoholic beverage, because that is not the purpose of it.
Some of the members in the community were concerned about that. They were saying, we get it for X number of dollars now, and if it is sold through the liquor stores as an alcohol product, the price is going to go that much higher. I cannot see any reason for that happening because it is not for drinking. It should state right on the bottle that it is a nonpotable product and it is not potable. It would only take a sign stating, for cooking purposes and not for drinking.
The minister had a very good idea, which I thought was an excellent idea, and I hope she will follow through with it, because whatever form it takes for people to have access to this cooking wine for the purposes of cooking, whether it is through a liquor outlet, which we on this side are recommending, but whatever shape it takes, is that they would develop a little sticker, like where you have a Ghostbuster thing where you have no smoking and stuff, and if they had that with, say, a bottle‑‑[interjection] Yes, if they could just stick those to the bottles, then people would identify. Whether they can speak English or read English or not, people understand that all over Canada, what that sign means; it means no.
So if they show that no drinking‑‑when I was in brief conversation with her, I mentioned to her, I thought it was really an excellent idea, and it would not be that costly because if it is out of the liquor stores and you have to stamp the price anyway on them, you just stick these little stickies on them, or even on your sign, you could have a big‑‑you know where it says, cooking wine, and you have one of these big stickers right on there that shows that it is not for drinking purposes.
The reason that the community activists are very, very concerned is because within the last four months we have seen four deaths just related to this one cooking wine that has 38 percent alcohol content and a very, very high content of salt which dehydrates the individuals and they get more thirsty and they drink more of it. The next thing you know, they are upside down in the morgue somewhere.
So that is why the community got very upset. But that is one product, and I fully understand that this is only one tip of the iceberg. Once you get that, if you are able to be successful, if the minister‑‑hopefully she will be able to do it‑‑gets that product off the shelves, the people will find something else. We are dealing with one brand, Chinese cooking wine; next thing could be German cooking wine, it could be a product from Holland or what have you.
That is why we are saying all cooking wines or cooking liquors that contain more than 19 percent alcohol content. If you go back and look at a lot of the people that are facing this very serious problem that we have today, you just look at our whole economy. We have 59,098 people out of work today. That is 59,098 that have no jobs, and a lot of them have no hope. So when you are feeling low and your self‑esteem is low, a lot of times individuals will turn to substance abuse or alcoholism and you have family breakdowns, and on and on and on. The next thing you know, it escalates, and then you will see people that end up on skid row somewhere, whether it is in Main Street of Winnipeg or Vancouver or Toronto or wherever.
A lot of those individuals had not started out that way. A lot of the individuals that you see were very productive individuals. They lost their way somewhere down the path, and a lot of the time it is because they either lost a job or marital breakdown or something happened to them that hurt them very dearly. In order to hide and escape that pain, they started indulging in drugs, and some individuals would start indulging in alcohol and suppress that feeling. Eventually, that would escalate on and on and on until a person would be totally, totally helpless. That is what we see happening.
A lot of those people that you see going into the corner stores or wherever they can access any alcohol product or content, when they wake up in the morning or if they were drinking all night, a lot of them are looking very, very seriously for a drink at seven o'clock, six o'clock in the morning. If there is an appropriate honest business person that is operating a corner store, what have you, the only reason they open at seven o'clock in the morning is to have access to the individuals that need that fix in the morning. That is the only purpose, but this way, if it was in liquor stores, the liquor stores would not normally open until ten or eleven o'clock.
I know, we all know that this is only the tip of the iceberg, like I mentioned. They will find another product, so this way, if they do find another product, I hope, I would strongly recommend to the minister of the MLCC to seriously look at and discuss with her colleagues raising the fines that these individuals face because, under the act right now, unless something is changed or amended, the police cannot lay fines, or it is useless for them to spend $500 to charge an individual that gets fined $50 or $100, and in one day they are open again, because in one morning they make enough profit to pay that fine anyway. That is very discouraging for concerned citizens of Manitoba and the people who work very hard to try and hopefully help these people that have lost their way to overcome the hurdles and get hopefully some treatment or some help in order to turn their lives around and become productive citizens.
Right now they are lost. They do not know where they fit in. If we had a serious fine‑‑Alberta has $15,000. If we had the same, say $15,000 or $25,000, you would only have to fine one or two businesses and the rest would get the message and they would think twice. It is not hard to tell when you are a store owner, someone walking into a store, if they are going to be buying a product, whether it is for cleaning a floor or drinking. It is not that hard to tell. If you have any doubts and if you are scared of a $25,000 or a $15,000 fine, then you explain to that individual. You say, I am not sure you are going to use this product for the way it was meant to be, so I cannot sell it to you, or that individual could say, well, no, I am really using it to clean my floors, or I am cooking‑‑
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Laurendeau): Order, please. When this matter is again before the House, the honourable member for Point Douglas will have five minutes remaining.
The hour being 6 p.m. this House is adjourned and stands adjourned until 10 a.m. tomorrow (Friday).