Monday, April 27, 1992
The House met at 1:30 p.m.
Mr. Gregory Dewar (Selkirk): Mr. Speaker, I beg to present the petition of Bob Kuz, Lucille Hiebert, Paul Beaudet and others requesting the Minister of Family Services (Mr. Gilleshammer) to consider a one‑year moratorium on the closure of Human Resources Opportunity Centre in Selkirk.
Mr. Speaker: I have reviewed the petition of the honourable member for The Pas (Mr. Lathlin), 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
THAT the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry was launched in April of 1988 to conduct an examination of the relationship between the justice system and aboriginal people; and
The AJI delivered its report in August of 1991 and concluded that the justice system has been a massive failure for aboriginal people; and
The AJI report endorsed the inherent right of aboriginal self‑government and the right of aboriginal communities to establish an aboriginal justice system; and
The Canadian Bar Association, The Law
Reform Commission of
On January 28, 1992, five months after releasing the report, the provincial government announced it was not prepared to proceed with the majority of the recommendations; and
Despite the All‑Party Task Force Report which endorsed aboriginal self‑government, the provincial government now rejects a separate and parallel justice system, an Aboriginal Justice Commission and many other key recommendations which are solely within provincial jurisdiction.
WHEREFORE your petitioners humbly pray
that the Legislature of the
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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. 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.
TABLING OF REPORTS
Hon. Eric Stefanson
(Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism): Mr. Speaker, I have two reports to
table: The Annual Report of the
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
Bill 79‑The Highways Protection and Consequential Amendments Act
Hon. Albert Driedger (Minister of Highways and Transportation): Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the Minister of Health (Mr. Orchard), that Bill 79, The Highways Protection and Consequential Amendments Act (Loi sur la protection des voies publiques et apportant des modifications correlatives a d'autres lois), be introduced and that the same now be received and read a first time. His Honour the Lieutenant‑Governor having been advised of the contents of this bill recommends it to the House. I would like to table the message from the Lieutenant‑Governor as well.
Motion agreed to.
Introduction of Guests
Mr. Speaker: Prior to Oral Questions, may I direct the attention of honourable members to the gallery, where we have with us this afternoon, from the Kirkness Adult Learning Centre, 18 students. They are under the direction of Laurel Johnson. This school is located in the constituency of the honourable member for Broadway (Mr. Santos).
On behalf of all honourable members, I welcome you here this afternoon.
ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Federal Drug Patent Law
Mr. Gary Doer (Leader of
the Opposition): Mr. Speaker, we on this side are pleased to
see the announcement of the Apotex facility here in
In 1987 we had a resolution before this Legislature dealing with drug patent laws or the compulsory licensing laws of the country. This Legislature was called upon to vote against the federal Conservative government in terms of the provision they were providing a drug patent law for the American multinational corporations and for the protection of consumers, our health care participants, and for the protection of the generic drug industry.
Today the head or the president of the corporation very clearly called on all members of all political parties to join together to oppose the federal Conservative government's position on the drug patent law and drug licensing provisions, Mr. Speaker, and called upon all of us to protect the generic drug industry in this country for people in health care and for the benefit of drug companies like Apotex that is locating in this province.
I would ask the acting Premier: Will he change the government's position on
the drug patent law, Mr. Speaker, and will they now join with the president of
Apotex to oppose the federal government's position on compulsory licensing in
Hon. Donald Orchard
(Minister of Health): Mr. Speaker, not that I want to indicate to
my honourable friend that in his question preamble, from 1987 to 1992, he has
mixed apples with oranges, the resolution in 1987 and the subsequent
legislation led to the investment decision by Apotex in
Mr. Speaker, I want to tell my honourable
friend that the First Minister (Mr. Filmon) has raised it at First Ministers'
conferences. I have raised it with the
Health minister at a conference personally, and my honourable friend the
Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism (Mr. Stefanson) has likewise raised it
with his federal counterparts because we share the concerns that were expressed
today about a change in process that is successful and working for
Mr. Doer: I would refer the members back to many of
their own speeches in 1987 in this Chamber.
They refused to support consumer groups, health
Mr. Speaker, I would ask the acting Premier: Could he table any communication the government has with the Prime Minister changing the provincial Conservative government's position now to be in support of the generic drug companies in this province and in this country and in support of the provisions that were in the 1969 legislation which the president of Apotex is asking us to support in his announcement here today?
Mr. Orchard: Mr. Speaker, my honourable friend again is
trying to confuse the issue and trying to put the New Democrats on the leading
edge of protection of generic drug manufacturing in
While they are applauding that attempt, which is not accurate, maybe they ought to talk to their Health critic and stop her from defending the profit making of the pharmaceutical drug companies that she has been doing for the last three months in this Chamber, a typical flip‑flop by the NDP when it is convenient to have two different policies to appeal to people at different times of the week or even the day.
Mr. Speaker, we have consistently, with
the federal government, supported the generic licensing potential, the
protection provided to the name‑brand pharmaceutical manufacturers, which
has led to the growth of the generic drug manufacturing industry in
What my honourable friend is trying to do is mix apples and oranges and flip‑flop policy again.
Mr. Doer: First of all, Mr. Speaker, I am absolutely delighted that this Conservative government has flip‑flopped on their position on drug patent laws. Whatever kind of provision or rhetoric they want to use to justify it, I do not care. We are happy that they have changed their position, and we are happy that they are now claiming to be fighting the federal Conservative government that is now trying to extend their 1992 announcement, the generic drug provisions that have put our generic drug industry in jeopardy.
I would ask the Deputy Premier (Mr. Downey): Can he specifically outline what communication the government has had? Have they raised this with the Prime Minister? Have they raised that with other First Ministers at the meeting? Does he have written communication to indicate their change now to oppose the federal Conservative Party extension of the drug patent law in this country?
Mr. Orchard: Mr. Speaker, I would be pleased if my honourable friend would now speak to the critic that sits beside him to get her off the case of defending multinationals and pillaging our Pharmacare system.
Mr. Speaker, in 1987, the issue was Bill C‑22,
and no one is saying to change that, so do not let my honourable friend try to
mislead the people of
Not only has the Premier (Mr. Filmon) raised it at the First Ministers' meeting, the January 14, 1992, further extension of patent rights which we disagree with, the Finance minister (Mr. Manness) has raised it directly with the Honourable Mr. Wilson. My colleague the Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism (Mr. Stefanson) has raised it with his colleagues, and I have raised it, Sir, with the Minister of Health federally because it is not an appropriate change.
The current system is envisioned in C‑22;
1987 is appropriate, leading to investment, leading to diversification in the
economic basis of western
Federal Drug Patent Law
Impact on Labour Force
Mr. Jerry Storie (Flin Flon): More members of the Chamber could have been at the Apotex ceremony this morning and watched the public spanking of three Tory cabinet ministers, including the Premier (Mr. Filmon), over the Conservative drug policy which this government supported.
Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism. Dr. Sherman indicated very clearly that the implications of Mr. Wilson's unilateral decision with respect to the elimination of compulsory licensing would mean the end of the generic drug industry.
Can the minister indicate what steps he has taken or his department has taken to identify how many jobs that may cost Manitobans or the industry we are supposedly nurturing?
Hon. Eric Stefanson
(Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism): Firstly, Mr. Speaker, as is becoming the
pattern far too often, I have to correct the honourable member's preamble. I was at that announcement, and there was
nothing but accolades from Dr. Sherman and Apotex as it relates to the job of
Dr. Sherman knows very well, as the opposition party should know, that we have continually supported the system as it currently exists with compulsory licensing. I have supported it at Trade ministers' meetings. I have written Michael Wilson back on March 20 of this year outlining very clearly our support for the current system and why we support the current system in terms of what it does to health care costs here in our province and the incredible investment opportunity it presents.
So I would suggest to the honourable member that he talk directly to Dr. Sherman and get his facts right for a change when he comes into the House.
Mr. Storie: The Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism did not answer the question about how many jobs it is going to cost.
Mr. Speaker: Question, please.
Federal Drug Patent Law
Impact on Drug Costs
Mr. Jerry Storie (Flin Flon): My subsequent question is to the Minister of Health, I guess.
Hon. Donald Orchard (Minister of Health): Mr. Speaker, that is not an answer that can be precisely determined, but if the federal government, in their February 14, 1992, announcement carries on the past, it will lead to higher drug prices.
That is why, Sir, we have opposed that move at all stages that we can in this government, from the Premier (Mr. Filmon), the Finance minister (Mr. Manness), Industry, Trade and Tourism, myself. We have been consistent. We have not tried to mix apples and oranges.
Talk about Bill C‑22, 1987, which is
leading to investment in the generic industry in
Mr. Jerry Storie (Flin
Flon): Mr. Speaker, Dr. Sherman said it was going to
cost us jobs and cost the Pharmacare system and the people of
Can the Minister of Health tell us what he
is going to do, other than bluster in this Legislature, to protect medicare,
protect the generic drug industry and create jobs in
Hon. Donald Orchard
(Minister of Health): The first thing I am
going to attempt to do at all times is not fall victim to what I call the NDP
Leader's disease, and you know what that is, Sir. It is mixing apples and
oranges and attempting to create a false impression amongst the people of
Mr. Speaker, we have consistently made the
case ever since Michael Wilson, on January 14, announced formally what we were
concerned about and made our objections to that change in policy by Mike Wilson
as proposed for the GATT negotiations, because we believe it inappropriate for
the Canadian context, for the
School Closure Guidelines
Mrs. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Second Opposition): Mr. Speaker, before I begin my question, I want to thank the Minister responsible for Seniors (Mr. Ducharme) for having delivered to me a Manitoba Senior Citizens' Handbook, obviously as a direct result of my having turned 50 yesterday.
Mr. Speaker, last year many rural
Manitobans and indeed those who came from rural
Well, last week, Mr. Speaker, I was in
Will the Minister of Education now review the school closure guidelines? Will she inform school divisions throughout this province that not just the letter of those guidelines, but the spirit of the guidelines is to be followed?
Hon. Rosemary Vodrey
(Minister of Education and Training): I am very
concerned, as is this side of the House, about schools which may need to be
closed in rural
Transportation Policy Review
Mrs. Sharon Carstairs
(Leader of the Second Opposition): It is
recommended in the
Will the minister now review her transportation policy and inform the Seine River School Division that this is an unacceptable transportation policy for elementary school children?
Hon. Rosemary Vodrey (Minister of Education and Training): As I said a moment ago, wherever these issues and these specific concerns arise across the province, I am more than happy to talk about the specific situation with the school division and concerned families from that division.
Mrs. Sharon Carstairs
(Leader of the Second Opposition): Talking is not going to
solve the problem for these children.
The tragedy is that if these children could go to the nearby school,
they could go to one 15 minutes away; only it happens to be in Piney,
Will the minister now admit that we need
to have a review of school division boundaries in the
Hon. Rosemary Vodrey
(Minister of Education and Training): We will not be doing a
review of school boundaries at this time because, as I made very clear when I
made the announcement, the education system in
Grain Export Licence Removal
Mr. John Plohman
(Dauphin): Mr. Speaker, the Wheat Board and orderly
marketing system have been under growing pressure from a wide variety of
sources from such predictable sources as U.S.‑based grain companies to
such unlikely sources as former Liberal minister Otto Lang and shockingly even
the Conservative minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board, Charlie
Mayer. He attacks that which he is
empowered and entrusted to protect, Mr. Speaker, through such actions as
abolishing oats from the Wheat Board, removing the two‑price wheat system
and now, the most shocking of all by the federal Conservatives, the removal of
the export licences for grain moving to the
I ask the Deputy Premier: Can he explain to this House whether he
agrees with his federal cousins in
Hon. James Downey (Deputy Premier): Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member that the federal government, over the past few years, has done more for western Canadian agriculture in supporting than any previous government in the history of this country.
As it relates to the trade that has
developed between the
I, Mr. Speaker, can assure you that this government will do everything we can to make sure that the farmer is put in the best position possible to maximize the benefits for the price which they receive as well as maintaining the integrity of the marketing system that has been put in place in this country.
Mr. John Plohman
(Dauphin): Mr. Speaker, will this Deputy Premier table
any correspondence that he or his Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Findlay) or
indeed his Premier (Mr. Filmon) have had with the federal ministers Mayer,
McKnight, Jelinek or any other ministers on this issue, asking for the
immediate reinstatement of the export licence for grain moving to the
Hon. James Downey (Deputy Premier): Mr. Speaker, I have no correspondence personally. I will ask the Minister of Agriculture to respond to that question in detail when he is able to do so.
As far as the government's position is concerned in dealing with the export of products, it is a position that we have taken that we have to maximize our export opportunities. As far as the information the member is bringing to this Legislature, I am sure there will be a further response from the Minister of Agriculture.
Mr. John Plohman
(Dauphin): Mr. Speaker, is this
Deputy Premier now saying in this House that he is supporting the removal of
the authority of the Wheat Board for grain going to the
Hon. James Downey (Deputy Premier): No, it is not, Mr. Speaker.
Council on Nursing Education Status
Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis (St. Johns): Mr. Speaker, last week in Estimates, I questioned the Minister of Health on the status of the Ministerial Council on Nursing Education, a body that is less than two years old. The minister said then that there had been no change in status except for the resignation of the chair, Professor Trevor Anderson. Now it appears in fact that this council has been disbanded and its activities suspended until some unknown date in the future.
I would like to ask the Minister of Health if he would like to have this opportunity now to correct the record to eliminate this false information on the record and explain the status of the Council on Nursing Education.
Hon. Donald Orchard (Minister of Health): Mr. Speaker, my honourable friend had one thing right. The chairman of the nursing council had tendered his resignation, and I had discussions with him very recently about that. That is about the only thing that is accurate, Sir.
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: Mr. Speaker, would the minister then explain the February 17 minutes of this council, which indicate, and I quote: The chair stated that the Deputy Minister of Health had proposed a moratorium on council's activities and had announced his intentions that the Ministerial Council on Nursing Education suspend its activity for some months.
Mr. Orchard: That is significantly different than my honourable friend's allegation that the whole council has been disbanded and thrown to the wind. Get your facts straight when you come to Question Period with these allegations, these rumours and this fearmongering.
Yes, without a chairperson, Sir, the activities of the council are suspended until we find a new chairperson. I will even go further, my honourable friend. Should we get into the discussion of the LPN nursing issue, we will have new members on the council and a replacement of some members to put a focus on LPN nursing. Will my honourable friend say then, oh, we are disbanding the old council? Of course, she will.
Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis
Hon. Donald Orchard
(Minister of Health): Mr. Speaker, I do not
have to correct the record. He had an
interim report which we have accepted, Sir, and that is all that my honourable
friend should be concerned about, because the collaborative program at the
Health Sciences Centre accepted students last fall, will graduate students in
baccalaureate‑prepared nursing in collaboration between the
Retail Trade Sector
Mr. Reg Alcock
(Osborne): Mr. Speaker, last Friday, when I asked the
Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism (Mr. Stefanson) why
Mr. Speaker, if we had today the same proportion of retail sales in this country that we had in 1988, despite the recession, there would be some $300 million more retail activity in this province in this year than there currently is. I would like to ask the Minister of Finance why, after four years of his program, this situation exists. Why has his program failed so significantly?
Hon. Clayton Manness
(Minister of Finance): Mr. Speaker, I
refute the preamble of the member, at least the facts behind it. I just point
out to him the press articles as recently as last week indeed where
As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, I think
the member would be glad to hear I just had an opportunity to look at the early
forecast for the month of April and once again, sales, actual sales are far
beyond those that had been forecast.
Might I point out that the forecasted levels certainly were in a range
acceptable or comparable to all other provinces across
Sales are occurring in our province, yes,
in a fashion that maybe is not as robust as we would like to see, but let me
say, Mr. Speaker, vis‑a‑vis other provinces in
Mr. Alcock: Well, Mr. Speaker, Statistics Canada says that
the minister is wrong. We fell further
than the rest of the country. We lost a
greater proportion of the share than
Mr. Manness: Mr. Speaker, they are not failing. Again, the growth for
I say to the member, obviously he is wanting to look selectively at some activity over the last several years. I am forecasting what is happening over the last several months. I am here to tell you, Mr. Speaker, and anybody who wants to listen that we are holding vis‑a‑vis other provinces.
Mr. Alcock: Mr. Speaker, sales are up one month to another. Year to year, we are down some $300 million. There would be $317 million more retail activity in this province if we had just held constant. We have not; we have lost badly. I would like the Minister of Finance to explain why we have lost that $300 million in retail activity in this province.
Mr. Manness: Well, Mr. Speaker, not accepting the member's figures at all, in case he is not aware, the national economy is in recession, has been for the best part of two years. That is well known.
Mr. Speaker, we have also, in the
Mr. Alcock: Wrong, Clayton.
Mr. Manness: Well, the member says,
"wrong." The member seems to
be so right at everything he says, in his own mind at least, but I say to him,
Mr. Speaker, revenues in
Core Area Initiative Program
Ms. Jean Friesen
(Wolseley): Mr. Speaker, for two years, two Tory
governments have jeopardized
I would like to ask the Minister of Urban Affairs: Has he investigated the impact of those lost two years on the absolute economic decline of the city and on the lost opportunity costs for both the city and the province, and will he table that report?
Hon. Jim Ernst (Minister of Urban Affairs): Mr. Speaker, the member for Wolseley, in referring to Core Area Initiative programming, should well know that in fact the program was extended for a year in order to ensure that the money that was allocated in the original program was spent and those programs were carried out, those people were employed and those people were trained. All of those things would not have happened had that program not been extended for that additional year.
Ms. Friesen: Will the minister confirm that the decline of
capital investment and the loss of training opportunities as a result of the
ending of core area funds two years ago have played a significant role in the
comparatively poor economic performance of
Mr. Ernst: Mr. Speaker, I find it quite surprising that the member for Wolseley would try and translate an economic recession that is at least North American if not worldwide into a reduction in programming in the core area for which she is wrong. That program, the training programs for Core Area Initiative, are ongoing today.
Ms. Friesen: Will the minister confirm that the federal
government's contribution to the new urban agreement consists of a repackaging
of existing programs representing no new money from a federal government whose
entire economic strategy has been to transfer more than a thousand
Mr. Ernst: Mr. Speaker, as I have indicated to the House
on several occasions previously and to the member on more occasions than that,
we are still in discussions with our two partners with respect to the potential
for a new agreement for
Off-Reserve Status Indians
Mr. Steve Ashton (Thompson): Mr. Speaker, the jurisdictional dispute involving social assistance for treaty Indians is continuing. The federal government says it will not pay. The provincial government says it will not pay. Now cities such as Thompson are deciding that if they have to pick up the burden, they may not pay either, leaving the aboriginal people who are on social assistance being the victims.
I ask one straightforward question to the Minister of Family Services, and this is on behalf of those individuals. Will he assure them that the province will not sit idly by and see a situation develop whereby they will lose what little they have in terms of social assistance?
Hon. Harold Gilleshammer (Minister of Family Services): The question of the jurisdiction for the paying of social allowances is one that we have been dealing with for over a year. Our position on this has not changed. It is the obligation and the responsibility of the federal government to pay for the social allowances for status Indians off reserve. We are currently working with MAUM and UMM officials who support us in this initiative, and we are asking the federal government to live up to that responsibility that they have maintained for decades.
Mr. Ashton: In supplementary, Mr. Speaker, and once again on behalf of those individuals: What assurance will the minister give to the aboriginal people who once again are being caught in these kinds of jurisdictional disputes, that they will not lose what little they have? These are social assistance recipients. What assurance can he give those aboriginal people?
Mr. Gilleshammer: Mr. Speaker, when we last met with the
aboriginal leadership, they were onside with the
Off-Reserve Status Indians
Mr. Steve Ashton (Thompson): Indeed, Mr. Speaker, we can argue about who is going to take what side, but I ask a question. I will perhaps ask it as a follow‑up to the Minister of Native Affairs.
What assurance will he give that these people will not be cut off social assistance, or are we going to have to rely on the same government that also has lost the Northern Development Agreement for northern Manitobans, which is a lousy record of dealing with the federal government? Are these aboriginal people going to be the next victims, Mr. Speaker?
Hon. James Downey (Minister responsible for
Native Affairs): Mr. Speaker, I
would not want to abuse the rules of the Legislature and take several minutes
to point out the proactive and the initiatives that have been started in
On the question of making sure that there are payments, my colleague the Minister of Family Services, municipal governments and ourselves have been working very hard to make sure the federal government lives up to their responsibility. Maybe the member for Thompson would put his position forward on the record as to where his party stands. Do they support us, or do they not?
Child Care Workers Salary
Ms. Becky Barrett (
The turnover rate for
In light of these abysmal salary levels and very high turnover rates, why has this government, through its fee restructuring program of last spring, eliminated the Salary Enhancement Grant for child care workers in daycare?
Hon. Harold Gilleshammer
(Minister of Family Services): Mr.
Speaker, the honourable member likes to bring forward examples from
The report that the honourable member
refers to was a national report dealing with the wages of daycare workers. I would point out that only
Ms. Barrett: Second out of 10 when even the first out of 10 is 50 percent of‑‑
Mr. Speaker: Question, please.
Private Child Care Centres
Ms. Becky Barrett (
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The question has been put.
Hon. Harold Gilleshammer (Minister of Family Services): Mr. Speaker, the vision of our government is that people should have a choice of what level and kind of daycare they wish to access.
I point out that the member for
Child Care Workers
Salary Enhancement Grants
Ms. Becky Barrett (Wellington): Mr. Speaker, why is the provincial government cutting its support programs for child care workers' salaries through the elimination of the Salary Enhancement Grant and other elements of the fee restructuring program when the Manitoba Child Care Association and several‑‑
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The question has been put.
Hon. Harold Gilleshammer
(Minister of Family Services): Mr.
Speaker, we are continuing our dialogue with many of the advocacy groups in the
daycare community. As I indicated to the
member, we support a variety of daycare services throughout the
If she is making the point that daycare
salaries are a national problem, it is a problem that all provinces are looking
at. I can tell you that
Mr. Doug Martindale (Burrows): Mr. Speaker, since Winnipeg Housing Authority is now part of the Manitoba Housing Authority and therefore under the direct responsibility of the Minister of Housing, can the Minister of Housing tell the House and the tenants on Fife Street what he is doing today to ensure that proper repairs are made to the recreation centre so that it can be used again as it was intended, to help the children of that public housing as soon as possible?
Hon. Jim Ernst (Minister of Housing): Mr. Speaker, I can advise that last week the Winnipeg Regional Housing Authority had the roof repaired at that building at a cost of $175. They inspected it on Thursday, April 23. It was not leaking. Subsequent to that, a further leak developed. We have now employed a consultant to look at replacement of the roof, and that decision should be taken very shortly.
Mr. Doug Martindale (Burrows): Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the Minister of Housing for his very straightforward answer on Friday in answer to one of my questions, but I would like him to expand and tell the House: What proof do we have that he has conveyed his opinions in the strongest possible terms to the federal Minister of Housing or Minister of Finance about cutbacks to the co‑op housing program? Would he table correspondence with the federal minister?
Hon. Jim Ernst (Minister
of Housing): Mr. Speaker, as the
member knows, as a matter of fact because I have explained it to him, the
Council of Ministers of Housing from
Our current chair, who happens to be the
Impact on Labour Force
Mr. Doug Martindale
(Burrows): Mr. Speaker, will the
Minister of Housing for
Hon. Jim Ernst (Minister of Housing): Well, Mr. Speaker, for the moment at least, no jobs have been lost. We are hopeful that after discussions on a national basis with all Ministers of Housing from every province and territory in this country, our offer to the federal government for them to reprioritize existing funding in order to meet those requirements and for our agreement to undertake a review of our methods of operation, things like the Manitoba Housing Authority can save $3 million in operations. That will translate into a lot of new units for people if we can accomplish that right across the country.
Mr. Speaker: Time for Oral Questions has expired.
Mr. Marcel Laurendeau (St. Norbert): May I have leave for a nonpolitical statement, Mr. Speaker? [Agreed]
Mr. Laurendeau: Mr. Speaker, I am extremely proud today to rise to congratulate a young gentleman from the riding of St. Norbert.
Mr. Speaker, David Hohl fulfilled a dream
that I am sure most of us would give our eyeteeth for. David was selected to represent
David first became interested in wrestling
when he was introduced to the sport at
Throughout his career, Mr. Speaker, as a wrestler, David Hohl has always put in the effort and concentration needed to excel in his weight class. In 1986, he won the Espoir Cup, the world junior event, in the 74 kilogram class. Since moving up to the 82 kilogram class in 1988, he managed to hold his own and to qualify for the Olympic team.
Canadians and Manitobans can be assured that in David Hohl, they have a medal contender and a great competitor. I am sure that all young men and women on the Canadian team will be great ambassadors for their country and turn in their best performance ever.
Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the members of
this House and all Canadians, I would like to extend my best wishes for medal
success for David Hohl and the rest of
* * *
Mr. Steve Ashton (Thompson): Might I have leave to make a nonpolitical statement? [Agreed]
Mr. Ashton: This past weekend, R.D. Parker Collegiate from
Thompson did extremely well at an international music festival in
In fact, I would like to extend my
congratulations to the 55 students involved in doing so well at the Knotts
Berry Farm Heritage Festival and also to Bob Miller, the director of the music
program, Mr. Speaker. As a former
graduate of R.D. Parker Collegiate, I have watched with interest in subsequent
years, not having had the opportunity in my day of participating in the kind of
music program that exists currently. I
have seen how excellent a job the program has done and through such dedicated
work of individuals such as Bob Miller.
The fact that two Thompson bands could go to
* * *
Mrs. Shirley Render (St. Vital): Mr. Speaker, do I have leave to make a nonpolitical statement? [Agreed]
As many of you know, April is dental health month, and taking a regular look at the health of your teeth and gums is one of the five points which make up the five‑point prevention plan advocated by the Manitoba Dental Association.
I would very much like to commend the Manitoba Dental Association, as part of the dental health month this year, for holding for the very first time ever on Saturday, just this Saturday past, April 25‑‑the faculty of dentistry at 790 Bannatyne held a free dental clinic for all Manitobans. General dentists, specialists and their dental teams were available throughout the whole day for consultations, relief of pain and instruction in oral health care, and also in cleaning and fillings and repair.
Again, Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the government, and I am sure all of my colleagues here in the government, congratulations to the Manitoba Dental Association for taking this very innovative and practical approach to dental health care.
* * *
Hon. Donald Orchard (Minister of Health): I wonder if I might have leave for a nonpolitical statement. [Agreed]
Mr. Speaker, this nonpolitical announcement would have been more appropriate Friday morning, on the morning after a tremendous win by the Winkler Flyers, a Manitoba Junior Hockey League team, but we, for some reason, did not get to nonpolitical statements Friday morning, Sir.
Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to
congratulate the Winkler Flyers of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League, a team
which is in my constituency, for becoming the first
The Flyers defeated the Melfort Mustangs three to one Thursday night in Winkler to win the best of seven series, four games to one. This virtual sweep of the series shows how strong the Winkler team has become in the 13 seasons they have competed in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League.
They have won the league championship for two years in a row, and this year coach Peter Derksen led the team to an impressive first place finish of 42 wins, five losses and a tie, setting a new league record, Sir.
Jamie Penner, a native of Winkler had 54 goals and 84 assists for this season, making him top scorer, and goalie Robin Cook had a league record goals‑against average of 2.67. Truly, Mr. Speaker, an excellent accomplishment.
As I mentioned, the Flyers now advance to
the Centennial Cup that begins this Friday in
In conclusion, I would again congratulate the Winkler Flyers for winning the Anavet Cup Thursday night and wish them, along with St. James Canadians, best of luck in the Centennial Cup. I know all members of the House will join me in wishing the Winkler Flyers success in that they become the Canadian champions, Sir. Thank you very much.
Mr. George Hickes (Point Douglas): I move, seconded by the member for Swan River (Ms. Wowchuk), that the composition of the Standing Committee on Public Utilities and Natural Resources be amended as follows: The member for Selkirk (Mr. Dewar) for the member for Burrows (Mr. Martindale); the member for Brandon East (Mr. Leonard Evans) for the member for Transcona (Mr. Reid) for Tuesday, April 28, 1992 at 10 a.m. [Agreed]
I move, seconded by the member for
Mr. Edward Helwer (Gimli): I move, seconded by the member for Niakwa (Mr. Reimer), that the composition of the Standing Committee on Economic Development be amended as follows: the member for Charleswood (Mr. Ernst) for the member for Emerson (Mr. Penner); the member for Steinbach (Mr. Driedger) for the member for Niakwa (Mr. Reimer). [Agreed]
I move, seconded by the member for Niakwa, that the composition of the Standing Committee on Public Utilities and Natural Resources be amended as follows: the member for Emerson (Mr. Penner) for the member for Fort Garry (Mrs. Vodrey); the member for Springfield (Mr. Findlay) for the member for Kirkfield Park (Mr. Stefanson); the member for St. Norbert (Mr. Laurendeau) for the member for Turtle Mountain (Mr. Rose); the member for La Verendrye (Mr. Sveinson) for the member for Lakeside (Mr. Enns); the member for Sturgeon Creek (Mr. McAlpine) for the member for Steinbach (Mr. Driedger). [Agreed]
Hon. Clayton Manness (Government House Leader): Mr. Speaker, before I move the Supply motion that will take us into Estimates, I would like to serve notice and ask for an opportunity, if possible, to rearrange the Estimates program for tonight.
Mr. Speaker, I only do so because one of the government ministers cannot be in attendance this evening. I would ask that the deputy House leader, over the next half hour, try to find whether or not there can be a fill‑in department to sit tonight in some of the areas as yet unreviewed; and if indeed there is that finding of a department, that we be allowed, at five o'clock, to report that to the House without going through the Supply motion again so that indeed we can sit tonight at eight o'clock, only if there is an agreement amongst the three parties that some other department may act as a stand‑in at eight o'clock.
Mr. Reg Alcock (Acting Second Opposition House Leader): As I understand the request that the Government House Leader has made, he is simply serving notice that he will be coming back to ask for leave to make such a change. Is that correct? He is not asking for any leave at this point?
Mr. Manness: Yes, in essence, the member is correct. If indeed we cannot find agreement amongst the three parties to find a department that can stand in, then obviously there will not be leave.
Mr. Speaker: We will ascertain at five o'clock whether or not there is leave.
Mr. Manness: I would ask, Mr. Speaker, whether there is a willingness to waive private members' hour.
Mr. Speaker: Is it the will of the House to waive private members' hour? Is there leave?
Some Honourable Members: No.
Mr. Speaker: No? Leave is denied.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Hon. Clayton Manness (Government House Leader): Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the Minister of Justice (Mr. McCrae), 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 Seine River (Mrs. Dacquay) in the Chair for the Department of Education and Training.
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 the Department of Health.
When the committee last sat, it had been considering item 2.(b) Health Promotion, Protection, and Disease Prevention, on page 83. Shall the item pass?
Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis (St. Johns): Mr. Deputy Chairperson, with respect to the Manitoba Association for Childbirth and Family Education which has been cut off from all provincial funding, an issue we discussed in the House on Friday, I am wondering if the minister could give us some information pursuant to his answer, which was that some of the needs met by this association would be met in the field, in the regions.
I would like to simply know, in the case of a 16‑year‑old girl at Seven Oaks Youth Centre who is pregnant and goes into labour, who will provide the labour companion support for such an individual?
Hon. Donald Orchard (Minister of Health): Mr. Deputy Chairperson, I would obviously not have an answer to that, and I do not think my honourable friend would want me to be bringing, would not expect‑‑how would I put it nicely to my honourable friend? Surely my honourable friend would not expect me to be able to answer that question of the one individual at Seven Oaks Centre surrounding that individual's access of the health care system.
Ms. Wasylycia‑Leis: Mr. Deputy Chairperson, obviously we are not dealing with a specific individual. We are dealing with a type of situation for which I am sure there are, have been and will be many other examples. I was asking about who, within existing services, would someone call if they wanted a labour companion for a 16‑year‑old girl going into labour who has been at the Seven Oaks Youth Centre.
Let me ask, while the minister is
searching for that answer, in the case of young street kids who suddenly go
into labour and have no family supports, who they turn to for labour companion
support? In the case of abused women who
are in a situation where they have no one to turn to and need a labour companion,
who do they turn to? Who do aboriginal
women coming in from isolated communities with no family here in the city of
Could the minister tell us, so that we can advise people who call as to where they can turn to for such support now that the association that appeared to be providing that kind of resource, help and support is no longer going to be able to do so.
Mr. Orchard: First of all, when my honourable friend indicates when people call the NDP and the opposition for those kinds of answers, I wonder if my honourable friend might refer them to the ministry, so that they can get as good advice as the ministry can provide through no doubt a number of areas. So the first thing my honourable friend could do with these people who are phoning her personally, or her caucus, she might refer those individuals on to the professionals in Healthy Public Policy area, and we will be glad to seek details of what their individual circumstances are and to provide them with appropriate advice.
St. Boniface Hospital has a labour companion program, for instance, and Planned Parenthood certainly has volunteers who can assist in circumstances such as my honourable friend first brought up. That might be a solution that my honourable friend could be referring to the individual she first referenced.
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: Mr. Deputy Chairperson, just in terms of clarification, as I understand it, the St. Boniface Hospital has its own program, but in fact uses the services of this association as much if not more than some other associations. Planned Parenthood, does not‑‑and I have done a fairly thorough analysis of the different organizations and what is provided‑‑duplicate services provided in this area from the Manitoba Association for Childbirth and Family Education.
I think what we are dealing with here is a series of needs that will not be met as a result of the cancellation of all provincial funding to the Manitoba Association for Childbirth and Family Education. I would like to know, from the minister, how that gap will be filled, where people can turn to on a general basis for things like labour companion support.
That is very fine for the minister to suggest, when we have individual cases, we refer them to his department. I would like to know on a general basis, so that we are not just reactive in responding to constituency cases, we are advising the community generally where they can turn to for such supports.
I am wondering, what do we now say, who can we now say provides, for example, labour companion support for women in particularly difficult, unique, isolated circumstances for which there is no other organization meeting that need and for which there is no group to provide support or assistance?
Mr. Orchard: Mr. Deputy Chairperson, my honourable friend
might know and be aware then, if she has done her substantive research, the
Mr. Deputy Chairperson, within the ministry of Health, we have public health nurses who provide that kind of support or advice in terms of seeking support. There are other organizations, not the least of which, Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood, you might recall, provided new immigrant expecting mothers with translation services in terms of their accessing of the system. That continues. Youville Clinic provides support to new mothers.
So, Mr. Deputy Chairperson, my honourable friend, no doubt, believes that this service must continue. That has been the whole case of her focus in questioning because there are no other alternatives. That is not the case. There are other alternatives and other alternatives will grow to meet needs. What we are talking about here is an attempt, by government, because we do not have unlimited resources, as much as possible, to provide more complete services from a number of remaining institutions. That means some changes in the current access of services.
Now, again, my honourable friend would make the case that the Manitoba Association for Childbirth and Family Education, without the support from the provincial government, will no longer exist. Well, that may or may not be, but they certainly have the option of approaching other funding sources and achieving a continuation of their service.
I simply want to indicate to my honourable friend that it would be inappropriate for her to conclude that there currently are not, nor will there be in the future, services for individuals such as my honourable friend has brought up as examples. Those services currently are accessible and there is certainly capacity and ability within the remaining system to provide them and to develop them, if necessary.
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: Rather than prolong this debate or get into a debate around this issue, I would just simply ask a few questions pertaining to the basic criteria around the program. Could the minister simply provide for us a list of clients, not by name but by category, who will be affected by the withdrawal of funding to this association? I asked that based on the department's own letter to the association indicating that there will be some clients affected.
Could the minister indicate if it can be justified that no other organization or capacity within government is able to pick up some of the services provided with this association, that reconsideration will be given for some form of funding and, finally, that if the minister has some concerns with this association and the delivery of services, that the minister indicate what those difficulties are and how the organization could improve its service delivery to meet those concerns of the department.
Mr. Orchard: Mr. Deputy Chairperson, we will attempt to provide as much of the information as requested as we are able. We will try to get that as quickly as possible.
I have indicated to my honourable friend that in today's environment of funding, I realize that my honourable friend is of the philosophical belief, as New Democrats in opposition are, that you simply carry on, provide all the money and more that everybody wants and you do not make choices in prioritization. Well, I have indicated that rather than cut back a small amount from everybody's funded grant, we attempted to prioritize our grants to areas where we believed there were alternate services either currently available or readily developable and this is one of them.
Now the easy decision I suppose would be
the decision my honourable friend is advocating of continuing the support,
borrowing the money to do so or cutting a program elsewhere in the department
to do so or cutting another program of government or going out and borrowing
the money so future generations will pay for it‑‑not the current
generation‑‑or raise taxes, all of which are responses
traditionally used by New Democrats in the past and maybe now. It is hard to say. We will not know until Thursday of this week
as to what
Now, my honourable friend finds that
unacceptable. I would not expect her to
agree. My honourable friend never agrees
with decisions of this government, but the test will be a New Democratic
government, should it ever come back into the
Then when they got into government, they
all of a sudden one by one started sloughing those old opposition obligations
and commitments to the people of
We do not believe that we have left, bereft of service, a group of Manitobans. We do believe that there are current alternatives to the service and certainly the ability to build on current service alternatives to serve these people.
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: Mr. Deputy Chairperson, the minister can put his own interpretation on my questioning, but he cannot ignore the fact that what we have been asking for all along is simply explanations for some of these decisions and some indication that they were based on objective analysis and that certainly that we would have a more fruitful debate if we could understand this cutback in a broader framework, and if the minister could have explained in some detail what the problems were with this association, or if there was significant duplication of services, but we have not really been able to ascertain that.
(Mr. Jack Reimer, Acting Deputy Chairperson, in the Chair)
Rather than prolong this, I would simply indicate that on this side of the House, we do value the importance of community‑based groups if one is moving from a more institutional hospital‑driven system to a more cost‑effective community‑based system. So we start from that basis.
Secondly, we would look at funding for such efforts on the basis of objective analysis and appreciation for the contribution of that particular organization to meeting the needs in our society, which in the long run not only meets the needs of important groups of people, but also takes some stress and pressure off the hospital‑based system.
Let me just ask if the minister could give any advice in terms of this association, the Association for Childbirth and Family Education, if there are areas that it should be fine‑tuning, improving, working on and if there is some way it could reapproach the government for some assistance. Are there other areas that it could turn to in the provincial government, given that this whole area of childbirth and family education is a provincial health responsibility? Could, for example, this organization seek funding from the Health Services Development Fund if it could demonstrate the provision of a community‑based service that in fact took some pressure off the hospital end of the health care spectrum?
Mr. Orchard: Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson, I think some of those discussions have already taken place.
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: Could the minister indicate what lines within the Department of Health the minister has referred this organization to for consideration in terms of provincial funding?
Mr. Orchard: I think discussions have taken place through Women's Health.
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: If time permitted, I would certainly like to pursue more detailed answers from the minister, but obviously the Minister of Health may feel that time permits, but we have used a considerable amount of time of the overall Estimates allotment. In the interests of keeping agreements, we will try to keep Health Estimates down to a generally agreed upon period of time.
Let me ask a further question about the
cross‑cultural counselling unit that we talked about last week which also
ties in to this Association for Childbirth and Family Education, since the
common denominator appears to be serving our ethnocultural community's
The minister indicated that the major reason for not considering funding for this particular program was that they only heard about the request four weeks before the end of the core area money running out. By all accounts, well‑documented accounts, this program, the cross‑cultural counselling unit began discussions with the Department of Health, specifically Mental Health Services division, since the fall of 1991. I would like to ask the minister, what constitutes contact with the department, and what happened to the deliberations between the counselling unit and the Manitoba Health Services branch?
Mr. Orchard: I do not have my briefing notes in front of me from approximately the 20th of March or thereabouts in the House, but at the time the issue was raised, I was informed by my staff that they were asked to participate in a request for funding meeting, approximately four weeks prior to that. That was when my ministry was asked formally for dollars in this current year's budget.
My honourable friend appears to be saying that is not accurate, and thereby calling into question the advice that I received from my senior people in the mental health division. I guess I have some concerns about my honourable friend's approach in this regard. I am indicating the answer I gave toward the end of March is consistent with the advice I got from my senior people in the ministry of Health.
If my honourable friend is saying that answer was inaccurate, she is saying that the advice that I received on the issue from my senior management staff is inaccurate. I do not take that lightly, because my staff are not in the habit of presenting me with incorrect briefing information.
If my honourable friend has got some cute little game around the issue that she wants to draw out this afternoon, just please get to the point, indicate what was said, when it was said, if it goes back to last fall as my honourable friend is trying to allege that the issue of funding for this goes back to last fall, because that is not the indication that my staff had given to me four weeks or so before my answer in the House toward the end of March.
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: Clearly, this is a sensitive area for the minister. I think that‑‑[interjection]
Mr. Orchard: Yes, it is when you call my staff "liars."
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson, thank you, I appreciate the Minister of Health coming to order and calming down a bit. His shrill response on matters of this nature today does not give those observing any sense of confidence in terms of the minister's responses.
What is clear, Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson, is that this issue first came to light in February 1992, when funding ran out, Core Area funding ran out for the cross‑cultural unit. That is when the questions were posed in the House.
However, Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson, it is clear by all accounts that negotiations had been going on between the cross‑cultural counselling unit and the Department of Health, specifically the Mental Health Services branch, for a considerable period before that, a period much longer than the four weeks that the minister suggests was the case.
The minister suggested that if I dare make these suggestions and point this out, then I am suggesting members of his senior staff are not telling the truth. Well, I am not here to point fingers at anyone except the Minister of Health, who is wont to not put all the information on the record and to dance around questions. I am here to suggest today that, in fact, by the minister's statements he is suggesting that the chairperson of the Mount Carmel Clinic Board is not telling the truth, who has clearly documented and included in letters that negotiations had been going on since the fall of 1991.
I would hope that the Minister of Health is not about to suggest that volunteers using their time and energy and resources to meet the needs, and very important needs, of inner‑city residents and people in our communities is not telling the truth. I would hope that he would get away from this business about feeling there is some hidden agenda, and somebody is out to get the minister and simply do what is decent and honourable and clear up the record and indicate when did discussions begin. When did the department first learn about the needs of this program?
When did discussions take place, and would he stop using, as an excuse, the suggestion that the organization did not have its act together and did not come to the minister until four weeks before funding ran out? That is a disservice to the community, a disservice to the volunteers and a disservice to the Mount Carmel Clinic.
Mr. Orchard: Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson, it is my
honourable friend who is getting shrill in her frustration with having a
direction that she can put on the table in terms of a direction that a New
Democratic Party in
Well, Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson, with all due respect to my honourable friend, that was not the information that I was provided by that very same division. That was not the information that I provided to the House, because that was not the information that was provided to me by my Mental Health Division.
Now, to make this issue come to a reasonable conclusion, I would suggest to my honourable friend that we wait with patience until my mental health line comes up. When I have those individuals here who provided me with the information that I shared with my honourable friend in the House, then my honourable friend can make these same accusations that they were wrong, that they were in full discussion about funding last fall, or whatever my honourable friend's allegation is, but, Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson, I have to tell you that I am getting just a wee tad disappointed in my honourable friend's approach.
My honourable friend's approach has nothing to do with the system of health care. My honourable friend's approach has everything to do with trying to pick up on every issue, whether it be one of action of government, of inaction of government, generally, without any placement or any recognition of how it can fit within the system of health care.
I have explained to my honourable friend
the background to the decision of reduction of the grant to the Manitoba
Association for Childbirth and Family Education. She disagrees with it. She believes we should provide the
money. Well, that is fine. The challenge will be whether New Democrats
in the future, should they ever reach government, would do that. I suggest they would not, because
Now, my honourable friend is not satisfied with my answer that there are alternate services available. Well, you know in terms of labour companions in 1990‑91, I am told that the Manitoba Association for Childbirth and Family Education provided 38 such labour companions for immigrant‑refugee people. It is also indicated to me that the capability is there for that service to be picked up by Planned Parenthood of Manitoba. I am informed that there were seven native labour companions provided. I am given the assurance that this can be picked up elsewhere in the system. I mean, it is not as if we are talking about literally thousands or tens of thousands of people. We are talking about 38 over a period of one year.
I know my honourable friend does not agree with everything we do, but we do not do things knee jerk. There is potential for alternative service delivery in the system. It will not be as perfect tomorrow or today as it has been in the past, if this association is not there, but there is nothing preventing the system from growing in to backfill through existing organizations and programs the kind of service to 38 immigrant‑refugee women in childbirth or seven native women in childbirth. Other alternatives can and do exist and will be utilized, and that is the background under which we made the decision.
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson, whether we are on this line or the mental health line or any line, I will continue to ask the minister for his answers pertaining to information provided to this committee and to the Chamber. It is the minister who is accountable, and he cannot continually try to blame someone else, blame staff, blame a committee, blame whoever, but never take full responsibility for decisions that he makes and words that he puts on records.
Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson, it may be a small matter for the Minister of Health to be dealing with inconsistencies and inaccurate information being presented to this committee and to this House, but those are not small matters for us or for any of the community organizations who are really the scapegoats of this minister's tendency to look for someone else to blame and avoid taking responsibility.
I am not going to go on about these issues this afternoon, Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson. We went through this last year when the question about funding for the Immigrant‑Refugee Health program under Planned Parenthood came before us, the minister then tried to suggest that that project could not be considered for funding at that time because of the lateness of the hour that this organization got its request to the minister and to the department. We learned very quickly that was not the case, that we were dealing with a long trail of paper and meetings and requests, and that the minister was dead wrong in suggesting that this organization had not come to the government as quickly as it should have with respect to a funding request.
We now know it is the case for the cross‑cultural counselling unit. Not much we can achieve by pursuing this line of discussion except for the record to show that the minister has not been straightforward with situations revolving around such important projects serving women, our ethnocultural communities, newcomers to this province and so on.
Let me ask on a separate matter. Could the minister indicate the impact of the elimination of the grant to the St. John Ambulance organization?
Mr. Orchard: Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson, you know, I really appreciate my honourable friend's sincerity at trying to approach the Estimates correcting where she believes, in her humble opinion, information that has not been properly brought to the Chamber. I really accept my honourable friend's caution and I hope it represents a little bit of a conversion in her own style, because you only have to go back two and a half weeks ago in the Chamber where you had my honourable friend standing up and saying that we sat on a report in government on anesthesiology for eight months and on the 30th of March slapped it on the hospitals and forced them to make decisions, all of which was absolutely false, but my honourable friend never ever, ever mentioned that.
She was caught with false information in the House. The report came on the 24th of March, the meeting was held on the 30th of March. Government never directed the hospitals to do anything. My honourable friend was absolutely wrong and presented false, misleading information in the House, but she did not recant, retract, apologize or anything.
That contrasts rather dramatically with the
next day, her bench mate who sits behind her, the critic for Family Services,
came there with an incorrect bunch of information about how quickly a child
received service when he was wandering on the street in diapers on a cold
Has my honourable friend ever done that when she has come to the House with these wild and woolly and yelling and shouting accusations that she is wont to do all the time, when she has false information and presents it wrong in the house? Have we ever heard any recanting of that? No. But in my honourable friend's pious approach to Estimates this Monday she says, well, every time we get said something said wrong or that we think is wrong or that we want to believe is wrong we are going to draw up the minister to it. Fine, carry on, but look in the mirror.
Point of Order
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: Yes, I think, on a point of order, the minister has just suggested that I have been putting false information on the record. Now, Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson, I believe by our parliamentary rules there is reason here to question whether or not the minister should not be withdrawing some of his remarks because, in fact, we are dealing with a situation for which there is a clear dispute about the facts.
I stand by my facts and I trust and believe the words of anesthesiologists in this province who know and have reported to me very well when the report by the two outside consultants from Ottawa and British Columbia was completed and when another consultant was hired to fix up that report, Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson. I stand by my facts. If the minister wants to dispute those facts, he is entitled to but he has no business suggesting that the information I have brought to this House is false and he should withdraw those remarks.
The Acting Deputy Chairperson (Mr. Reimer): I should point out to all honourable members that the use of unparliamentary language at times can border on interpretation, and the record would clearly indicate that there should be caution in all addressings of answers and questions. I would just caution all members of the implications of choosing their words in asking and answering questions.
* * *
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: I am waiting for the answer.
(Mr. Deputy Chairperson in the Chair)
Mr. Orchard: I accept my honourable friend's interpretation of how she presented what she believed was factual information, which was not factual information, yet my honourable friend insists on defending her record. Well, that is all right. That is fine. That means that if somebody comes to you with wrong information like the nurse who came to this microphone at the debate the three of us were at and described the circumstances around her discharge from hospital which was wrong, you accept that as fact because the nurse said it. Well, that does not make it true. I am indicating to you that I do not have the luxury of repeating falsehoods in this House or in this Estimates process, and neither should my honourable friend.
St. John Ambulance has been provided with a grant over the years in order to offset the training costs of Manitoba Health's nonprofessional staff in rural areas primarily which required them to access the service. That grant has been discontinued, and it is expected now that, in part or in whole, it will be made up by payment of registration fees.
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: It is interesting that when someone else relies on information that is contrary to the minister's interpretation of the world, that is not telling the truth and that is lying, but when we come to this Chamber with clear evidence from reputable sources in writing indicating that the minister had not presented the information in full or had misled‑‑and I do not know, Mr. Deputy Chairperson, if that is a proper word‑‑had certainly not presented the situation as it appeared in documentation‑‑if I have said anything unparliamentary, I will withdraw it. I did not mean to do that. I am not trying to suggest that.
All I am trying to say is that it is interesting that even when we have documentation showing that the situation is not as the minister presented it, the issues are not as the minister described them, the minister still is able to suggest that this is not his problem, that is not his doing, he is not responsible and that someone else‑‑in this case, it is the chairperson of the longest standing community‑based clinic in the province of Manitoba‑‑who is not telling the truth, or it is a well‑known anesthesiologist in this province, or it could be a nurse, but interestingly, Mr. Deputy Chairperson, when it is not according to the picture that the minister wants to present to the world, then it is someone else's wrongdoing.
Let me get on with some of the other organizations that have found their grants reduced. There is a reduction in the grant, I believe, to the Village Clinic for its AIDS information line, and I am wondering if the minister could explain that reduction.
Mr. Orchard: The grant reflects cost of utilization.
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: Could the minister explain what that means?
Mr. Orchard: The budget was for a given level of utilization. That utilization was not achieved, so the budget that was projected was not required. We do not pay for services that were not accessed.
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: Is the minister saying that there was less uptake in terms of calls to the AIDS information line for information about AIDS?
Mr. Orchard: Mr. Deputy Chairperson, that is the reason for the reduced actual support.
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: I will certainly be looking into that further. I find it hard to understand that there would be fewer calls in a year when there has been more concerns, more news stories, more issues around the whole AIDS disease than at any other point in our history.
I find it interesting that the minister is suggesting less utilization of an AIDS information line at a time when every other such program, line, clinic on this continent has found an increase in requests for information due to some fairly well‑known reports about people with AIDS. So I will certainly come back to that at some point.
Could the minister provide us with information about the Street LINKS program which is now without provincial funding?
Mr. Orchard: Mr. Deputy Chairperson, let us go back to Village Clinic. Their actual expenditure last year was $62,600. That was below what was budgeted. We expect this year that they will have $63,800, an increase over what they actually spent last year, not a decrease, as my honourable friend is alleging, but we are projecting an increase.
Last year's utilization, I believe, was budgeted for circa $75,000 or thereabouts, but their actual expenditure that they could claim expenses for services provided was $62,600, and this year's budget reflects a slight increase over that. I realize my honourable friend will not accept that as any kind of logic.
Now Street LINKS, Mr. Deputy Chairperson,
we dealt with Street LINKS and the circumstances under which we are curtailing
the support to the City of
(Mr. Jack Reimer, Acting Deputy Chairperson, in the Chair)
Their criticism 15 years ago was that there was no consistency in funding. There would be bridge funding, pilot funding, pilot project funding and there was no consistency, and when the funding was over from government A or level of government A, the program had to then go into remission or dissolution and then be, if able, re‑established with funding from a new source. Their suggestion 15 years ago was for government to attempt to come around the issue, understand who the service providers are, where there is commonality of purpose and where government can make a better use of the existing resource from all sources to focus on the problem.
We think that is good advice, and we want to move in that regard. That means making better use of substantial dollars that come from the provincial government, the City of Winnipeg, the federal government, Core Area Initiative, Winnipeg Foundation, the United Way and often through private fundraising of various dimensions, all focused on organizations attempting to resolve problems amongst target population groups in the core area.
I happen to believe‑‑and I think the figures I used, and I am not sure whether it is 97 or 96 different organizations serve the core area's varying needs, some of them with certainly a lot of commonality, some with diversity.
Surely it is incumbent, as the Social Planning Council, I think, has come to the conclusion, that government ought to take a look at the plethora of organizations delivering programs, at the overall commitment of taxpayer dollars, be it municipal, provincial or federal and certainly charitably‑raised dollars to United Way and certainly foundation dollars, like Winnipeg Foundation, and attempt to provide an overall focus on program delivery which avoids the potential for duplication of services, so that agencies with close to common purposes may well have to be collapsed into one delivery agency with one program, instead of paralleling administration and service delivery vehicles in a number of streams.
Within government, and this is what I tried to explain to my honourable friend on Friday morning, we have brought together such functions within the ministry of Health as Administration and Finance, and in joining those programs, we have had staff layoffs which have ensued, which have saved the budget but which have not compromised the services, and when we are doing that in government because we do not have the spare dollars to carry on every method of governing that we inherited, so we are saying to all of our funded agencies and institutions, likewise, look at areas where you have common approach, common opportunity to combine your resources to deliver your services, and we are going to get around this issue with Street LINKS in that fashion.
You know what, I will make a prediction to my honourable friend that we will end up with a better ability to deliver services within the existing budget and be able to deliver better services, more focused and more outcome oriented than the current plethora of funding through a multitude of agencies.
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: Could the minister indicate when and under what organizational level of government the target group served by the Street LINKS program will have their needs addressed?
Mr. Orchard: No, Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson, I cannot, but I will repeat the answer I gave on Thursday of last week, seeing as how we have unlimited time.
I indicated that in discussions with the
chair of my ministerial advisory council on AIDS that this was a challenge,
because they discussed the issue of the discontinuation of funding from the
provincial government to the City of
My advisory committee happens to believe that this has been a reasonably effective program and they believe it has merit, but I think it is also fair to say that my committee members understand the challenge that government has faced today because they are taxpayers, they are program deliverers who are on my AIDS Advisory Committee. They know that government does not have a pot of gold that they can dip into or a money tree they can pick from, so they are interested in streamlining and co‑ordinating service as best they can within government and its funded agencies.
When I discussed with the chairperson,
last week I believe it was, the potential of having my AIDS Advisory Committee
which has membership including the City of
When I talked this concept over with the chair of the committee, he believed that his sense of the advisory committee membership would be that they would undertake such an overview of government on this particular target program or this particular disease entity with a great deal of dedication and knowledge and come to some probably pretty reasonable recommendations from government. We are exploring that, and at the next advisory committee meeting, it will certainly be an agenda item for discussion.
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: I am wondering if the minister could tell us, and I may have missed this last week, what this new initiative is as listed on page 33 of the detailed Estimates? It is a $250,000 initiative?
Mr. Orchard: Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson, that is the amount of money that we envision to have at our disposal to bring, if you will, a healthy public policy approach to youth, drug and alcohol service provision across the province.
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: Just a couple of questions on immunization. I
am wondering if‑‑there were reports recently in our media here in
Mr. Orchard: Yes, the immunization program that my honourable friend is referring to is immunization against haemophilus influenza type B. Apparently this influenza type B is a cause of meningitis in very young children. There are apparently three, I think it is three, manufacturers who have vaccines that are available. They are apparently complementary to, is the appropriate phraseology, to the current DPT immunization and can be undertaken as young as two months.
It is our intention to launch midsummer this immunization program starting at infants two months old. We have made the decision‑‑I guess this is not privileged information‑‑to utilize the Connaught Laboratories vaccine because it is more economical than the others and requires only a single injection which we think is much more comfortable to the infants that will be receiving the immunization.
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: On a separate issue, I am wondering what is the policy of this government with respect to current proposals being made for immunization against hepatitis B?
Mr. Orchard: I do not have that right now. We will have to check with‑‑there has not been a recommendation that has come from the professionals within the ministry to undertake such an immunization program.
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: I would appreciate a follow‑up to that, and if the minister could let us know his response to the national advisory committee on immunization which apparently has recommended some sort of a mass vaccination program against hepatitis B.
(Mr. Deputy Chairperson in the Chair)
I believe that position has been endorsed, I may have it wrong, Mr. Deputy Chairperson, let me seek clarification on where this more recent request for universal immunization against hepatitis B program has come from, since I had understood some of this was coming from the national advisory committee on immunization and the Canadian Paediatrics Society. I could be wrong, and I am certainly willing to get as much information as I can on what it means.
Mr. Orchard: My honourable friend might possibly be confusing HIB which is haemophilus influenza type B vaccination versus hepatitis type B vaccination. HIB is influenza type B and that is, I think, the recommendation that has been made within the last six months and which we are embarking upon, as I indicated.
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: I am still looking for more clarification. I
am reading from a Canadian Diseases Weekly report that indicates that the
National Advisory Committee on Immunization has concluded that to achieve
significant control of hepatitis B in
Mr. Orchard: I will have to get detail on that. I have not had any recommendation to undertake that.
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: One other question on a separate matter and that has to do with Lyme disease. I want to ask again about a specific individual whom the minister will be familiar with, Elizabeth Wood, who has been raising concerns for months and months about her own situation and that of her daughter, Lizzie. I am still trying to understand this issue and seek clarification and wondering if the minister could give us an update with respect to her situation, whether or not he believes that all the necessary diagnostic testing has been done and whether or not the evidence is so conclusive that Elizabeth Wood and her daughter cannot be treated for Lyme disease.
Mr. Orchard: Mr. Deputy Chairperson, I am making an assumption here; my honourable friend can correct me if I am wrong. Do you have the permission of this individual to be discussing their medical circumstances in this committee?
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: Mr. Deputy Chairperson, I have the permission of this individual to raise it wherever I can on whatever basis. If the minister would like to deal with this issue separately, that is fine. I am asking the general issue as it relates to this individual case. This person has been very much a lone voice around the whole issue, and I am wondering if the minister is comfortable that we have in place totally reliable diagnostic testing to be able to determine if Lyme disease is generated anywhere in Manitoba. Is it present in any Manitobans?
Mr. Orchard: Mr. Deputy Chairperson, my honourable friend one time asked my personal opinion. I will give her the opinion that I have come to based on professional advice, because in terms of Lyme disease, as with other disease entities, I am unable to have a personal opinion. I can only offer to my honourable friend professional opinion which comes from the best professional advice that I can access. I hope my honourable friend is not expecting a personal opinion.
I will try to give my honourable friend a
full and complete answer on this. Lyme
disease is a multistage, multiorgan disease that can mimic many other
diseases. The only diagnostic feature is
erythema migrans, a characteristic rash which develops in up to two‑thirds
of infected individuals within a few weeks of infection. Delayed effects of Lyme disease are not
specific. Lyme disease is caused by a bacterium which is carried and transmitted
by the deer tick, Ixodes dammini.
Specific diagnosis of Lyme disease is very difficult because the
laboratory blood tests presently available cannot distinguish the infectious
agent, Borrelia burgdorferi from other bacteria. Many persons in
Recently an international workshop on Lyme
disease was sponsored by the Laboratory Centre for Disease Control, Health and
Number two, the field studies which have
been done by Dr. Galloway, Entomology Department,
Number three, when Lyme disease is common,
as it is in the northeastern
Number four, the blood tests for Lyme
disease are very inaccurate when used to test persons who likely do not have
Lyme disease, i.e., most Manitobans. In
that case, most positive tests will be positive because other bacteria share
the same chemical structure as Borrelia.
It is recommended that testing not be carried out unless the patient has
been to an area such as
Now, those four recommendations recently
emanated from an international workshop on Lyme disease sponsored by the
Laboratory Centre for Disease Control, Health and Welfare
Currently, we have this action underway. In light of the above, Manitoba Health will continue to emphasize the general wisdom of avoiding tick bites. Summary of the workshop and an information sheet have been distributed to all physicians to ensure that they are aware of the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease, the recommendations regarding laboratory testing, and their recommended treatments.
In addition, public health agencies will follow up reports of erythema migans to determine whether a particular area of the province may have become infested with the deer tick. We need to monitor, of course, for clinical cases of Lyme disease for ticks and for the vector Borrelia burgdorferi as required.
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: I do not really pretend to know enough about the medical properties and scientific terminologies around Lyme disease to get into the detail of the kind of statement that the minister just read into the record.
I am wondering if he can give us some indication, if he believes that we have all the proper diagnostic methods to be able to say definitively whether or not Elizabeth Wood and her daughter do not have Lyme disease. I simply asked that based on a June 1991 statement from Manitoba Health which stated, and I quote: It is anticipated that the limitations of current methodologies will be overcome by new and emerging diagnostic methods that will greatly improve the reliability of diagnostic testing.
So I am just wondering if that could be a factor in terms of the current ongoing concerns of Elizabeth Wood. What progress is being made to improve diagnosis of Lyme disease?
Mr. Orchard: Mr. Deputy Chairperson, as I understand the
disease, where the deer tick is prevalent, the first symptom is, of course, the
concentric infection around the bite site and that, with knowledge of
physicians and individuals in
It is my further understanding that, at that stage of the game, I think there is a fairly routine course of pharmaceutical that is utilized and is effective at mitigating almost all of the effects of potential Lyme disease.
The difficulty that you have after that
initial bite and the concentric rings, which is your best indicator, is, as I
have read in here point No. 4, which came from the international workshop on
Lyme disease sponsored by the Laboratory Centre for Disease Control, Health and
Welfare Canada and the Canadian Infectious Diseases Society, and that being
that the blood tests for Lyme disease are very inaccurate when used to test
persons who likely do not have Lyme disease, i.e., most Manitobans. In that case most positive tests will be
positive because other bacteria share the same chemical structure as Borrelia,
and it is recommending that testing not be carried out unless the patient has
been to an area such as
So that what as I understand the experts are saying is that after the fact‑‑a month, three months, four months or several years after the fact‑‑of potential infection with Lyme disease it is most difficult to make that definitive diagnosis because of the inability to accurately detect the presence of Borrelia burgdorfere. Well, that is the difficulty as I understand that the Wood family has in that they sincerely believe that Lyme disease is the problem. The difficulty is, medicine as modern as we have, it is unable to confirm that without question, and that has led to the concern that this individual has.
Therefore the action plan of the
Secondly, we are continuing through another initiative through the Department of Entomology to do the survey to see whether we have the deer tick as compared to the common wood tick, and should we have the presence of the deer tick in Manitoba, and particular emphasis being on the southeastern regions of the province, that will alert us to the potential that we may have a problem with Lyme disease in Manitoba. So I think the ministry has taken this issue exceptionally seriously. I know I have, and that information pamphlet has been developed and distributed with as much precaution around it and as much information and public education around it as we can undertake.
Mr. Gulzar Cheema (The Maples): Mr. Deputy Chairperson, it was very interesting to hear two politicians talking about medical diseases, and certainly both of them have done quite well.
I have the same concern as the member for
Mr. Orchard: Mr. Deputy Chairperson, as long as this is the same individual, and I believe it is, members of my staff have been, I cannot say how recently but certainly on a regular basis‑‑I will put it this way, not an infrequent basis, were meeting with this individual and providing as much advice and guidance as we could around how to access the service and how to access professional advice and diagnosis.
I think, and I believe I am accurate in this, I believe the diagnosis has been inconclusive in this family's case. Again, I am not going to read the reasons behind it, because I think my honourable friend would understand the difficulty they have, after the fact, of assuring clearly that it is, in fact, Lyme disease, and the bacterial agent is the one that causes Lyme disease. That is why this was a very unfortunate situation.
I do not what else we can do within the ministry or within government to try and assist this individual. Because of the concerns that individual has expressed about the disease and her lack of knowledge, I think it is fair to say that we took a number of proactive steps to try and inform the general public, physicians, and care providers.
Mr. Cheema: Mr. Deputy Chairperson, certainly I will convey to this individual about the discussion which took place over here, because she has been to my office and, I am sure, a lot of other offices. She has been working quite hard, and as far as I can understand, she is still not convinced that her problems have been solved.
Some of the problems are not within the
Department of Health, they are outside the jurisdiction. They are probably the
My next issue is very important. I would like the minister to address this issue in terms of‑‑what is the policy of this administration in terms of making public or having a policy in terms of the AIDS carrier, either the health care providers who have AIDS virus or have a terminal illness? What are the directions the minister has given to the various regulating bodies, how they would like to see the issue resolved?
As far as I can tell, right now across this nation each and every province is really working hard on the issue. When you go to each and every group, they have a different viewpoint on how to tackle the whole issue with AIDS, the ethics, and also how long the professional can work in a given setting, what are the rules and regulations. Things are changing very fast.
There are other groups who are concerned that you cannot just be emotional about the issue and not tackle the problem and not come up with a clear‑cut policy. That has certainly put many professionals under the microscope, and certainly sometimes there have been problems in terms of how long a person should be functioning in a given capacity as a health care provider.
The second issue is, when the patients are
admitted in a given institution whether the staff who is providing them care,
they should know that this person has such‑and‑such problem. I do not think those issues are resolved in
I think there has to be some policy directions, and I am not expecting a yes‑or‑no answer because it is very difficult. It probably will take some time and may change in the future, how we will deal with this issue.
Mr. Orchard: Mr. Deputy Chairperson, I think my honourable friend probably recognizes that there are two issues here. There is the professional care deliverer issue. In other words, where a professional care deliverer, and of course the most recent example being the one of, I believe, a dentist‑‑how their respective associations deal with individual members as caregivers of that professional association, how they deal with HIV infection and continuation of provision of care.
Then, of course, the second issue, the issue that has come up from time to time and, I submit to my honourable friend, will continue to come up, the issue of what is the obligation for care providers to know of the potential infection status of one of their patients. I mean there are the two issues.
This gets exceptionally complex, and it comes right back to the original premise which was quite hotly debated at the time of maintenance of confidentiality around the identity of those individuals who have been infected with the HIV. The decision was made, and I think this is with a few exceptions in the free world, that the health care system ought to provide absolute confidentiality around the individual who is carrying the AIDS virus. The reason for that being that discrimination is possible and any number of other activities‑‑or any other reactions, I guess is fair to say‑‑by society at large or in the workplace or any number of areas, that if people who were identified were subjected to that kind of potential reaction that they would probably not seek knowledge around their infection or whether they carried the infection.
In the conclusion that was come to in terms of today's environment of discussion was that it was more valuable to have the individuals undergo the testing to determine whether they were in fact infected so that then with counselling and with advice from professionals they could guide their professional conduct if they were a professional care deliverer, or they could guide their personal conduct if they were an individual accessing various services of government.
Now, I will openly admit to my honourable friend that is very much a system based on trust, but in terms of the professional side‑‑and let us deal with that one first‑‑my ministry has undertaken discussions, well, I suppose ever since AIDS became an issue, over the last number of months for sure with professional associations around some of the complex discussions they are going to, because I think it is fair to say that the current practice is certainly being debated very vigorously in physician associations at the college level and the dental associations across Canada, and nursing and other care providers as well.
Again, their discussions are balanced by that delicate balance, in this case of the right of the public to know versus how do you assure a system where people will freely seek to be tested for the presence of the virus and do so knowing that should they be positive in terms of the virus, that they will not become instantly ostracized from their work or their contribution to society or their activities as a citizen.
I suspect that over the next couple of years we will deal with that issue in a very reasoned fashion. I cannot state where those professional associations might conclude in terms of policy identification, but I think they are providing more and more counselling and more and more direction and more and more moral suasion on their individual members, that when they become identified positive that they take absolutely extraordinary precaution if they continue to practise in care delivery, that they do not pass that infection to their patients inadvertently. That has led to, I think, quite a debate.
The issue was really brought front and
centre with the tragic portrayal in
You know I am simply not competent, nor if I were competent and knowledgeable, I would not be able to comment on the specifics around that issue except to say in general that it was absolutely tragic. But, by happening‑‑this is very difficult to say‑‑but by the fact that it happened and had the kind of publicity around it, I think it sent a bolt of shock through all professional organizations that they had better handle this in a most professional manner internally, and brought the whole issue back for informed discussion again. So, as difficult as this is to say, I think that young woman did not die in vain through that very unfortunate infection through a professional caregiver, or at least that seems to be the circumstance in that case. I am confident that the professional associations will develop appropriate policies to assure safe care delivery through their professional deliberations.
On the patient's side, that one is really an extremely difficult one. I have no magic answer on that one, because I tell you I understand completely the concern of caregivers. Particularly, let us use the example of people working in emergency, coming in with seriously injured individuals, and they are under absolute constraints to deliver care to that individual. They certainly do not have the luxury, the time, of doing a blood test to determine whether the person might be HIV positive. So that has led us in a universal way to bring in precautions such as rubber gloving and masking and other initiatives which have not compromised the ability of the professional to give responsive care and emergency care, but has provided the greatest degree of protection from accidental infection as possible.
I ask rhetorically the question: Should we consider that caregivers have the right to know that an individual carries the virus when admitted as a patient in the hospital? The question becomes esoteric with full‑blown AIDS patients because they are generally admitted with those kinds of identification of disease. The much more difficult is the asymptomatic virus carrier who has infectious capability but yet is there for‑‑maybe admitted to hospital for accident or routine health reasons not AIDS specific.
It gets us right into that issue of confidentiality, and I guess, rhetorically again, should we attempt to protect the caregivers by having the individual's identity made known? How can we assure confidentiality within the system, and how can we assure that that is not compromised? I think that is the reason why the current policy remains, because I do not think anybody has come around from people with AIDS groups to professionals to ordinary citizens, if you will‑‑has come around with how to deal with that issue in an informed manner. So it is a long answer.
I can just assure my honourable friend that the ministry and this area of the ministry are working with the professional groups on a regular basis to try to come to grips with their challenge on how to handle caregivers who are HIV positive. Then the second issue is a more general one, which comes right across the board that we are working with other associations, not narrowed to professional groups.
Mr. Cheema: Mr. Deputy Chairperson, I think the minister's answer is quite in line with the problem faced by everyone, specifically including even the professional organizations, the patients' groups, and the advocacy groups‑‑all of them are debating this issue. As I said, the issue is being debated in all the provinces. The basic question comes in terms of the patient's right and what are the health care professionals' rights.
The question is simply being asked, if you would let an individual's identification be known if they have HIV positive status, then are you making them go underground, not to tell? That may have a negative impact. But the professionals are saying at the same time‑‑I am just giving an example, and I hope those are not taken into something that is my sort of opinion. They are saying that if a patient goes to hospital, if you have hepatitis B positive, if you have tuberculosis, you are put into isolation, and the professional staff knows that such‑and‑such person has those things, then they can take all the precautions. If that is being done for HIV status positive patients, then I am not aware of that.
That issue is going to come because nurses, especially when they are providing the services in those units, I will tell you very frankly they have raised the issue with me. I think it is a real concern because if somebody, for example, is on a casual shift, six to eight hours, comes once or twice a week and is in contact with a patient, you are taking all the precautions, but in a hospital setting where the blood contact is possible within given circumstances, I think those issues are a real concern. As far as I understand, each and every hospital does have a policy in terms of general policy, but whether they have a special policy on how to deal with certain situations, I think it is time to explore those things because it is going to be a problem eventually.
The second issue which is again a very practical one, individuals are asking: How often can you test a person? If you are testing a person today, and in six months time the person comes to hospital, are you going to test him again? The status could change at any given time, so it is a very, very difficult problem, but I am sure this problem is not going to go away. Somehow the solution has to be found, but it will not be satisfactory to anyone's satisfaction because it is going to be very tough.
The issue in the states is more explosive because of the numbers of the HIV positive status in that country. But, here at least, there is more public awareness. There are a lot of different things that are happening. I just want to go back over why I think this is an important discussion. Nobody thought 10 years ago‑‑blood transfusions were supposed to monitor those things, and the individuals who got infected through that channel are very upset, and they should be.
That is why now or in future there have to be some policies. There the question comes of ethics and how do you balance your patients' rights versus the right of society at large? How are you going to balance that approach as the issues are going to come? So, as far as the organizations are concerned, I have gone into this issue in great detail with the case that happened in Manitoba‑‑there was a lot of controversy with that case‑‑whether the patient should have been notified at the first stage or the last stage.
I do not want to go into the personal thing here, but I think the important thing is that the Manitoba Dental Association has a very, very strict policy, one of the most clearly defined policies in this whole nation, and they sent it to their organization at the end of October. I am sure that the minister must have received a copy of the guidelines. They are monitoring those things very, very carefully. I think that profession still probably has to do more than the others because of the nature of the exposure of the treatment things being done by the Dental Association. I must say they are doing the best.
What I would like to see there is some continuation of the process from the minister's department in terms of putting all those professional groups in a committee where the ethics and issues of AIDS can be discussed on a regular basis, so that one person knows what is happening on the other side of the issue, so there can be a continuous process of developing a long‑term policy, at least, if not trying to achieve a goal at this time, at least establish guidelines which can be reviewed from time to time. Even though the ministry as such is not legally responsible to protect those things, the ministry is not responsible for it legally to do that because it is the responsibility of the various licensing bodies. But when things are not very clear, ultimately the issue comes back to the government and, in a moral sense, I think the problem will be theirs.
I just want to express that those are the real concerns and they are not going to be very easily answered. There are a lot of difficult situations where individual circumstances are more‑‑some are more careful than others, some patients are more forthcoming than others, and that happens with each and every illness. AIDS probably has more problems than anything else in the world right now. The fear with the public cases in the States, where two or three of their major stars have the illness, has given more insight to the whole problem.
I do not think in
I would be very interested that the
minister should watch‑‑there are going to be some major
announcements out of
Also, we should have a uniform policy in each and every hospital. Let us have one policy which will at least meet the guidelines by your department because you are providing the funding and you are basically responsible in the long run. I think those issues must be discussed and other issues in terms of education and the Street program which was funded‑‑the efficacy has to be evaluated. I have no difficulty as long as it can be proven either way whether it is effective or not effective. That has to be based on the facts, not on the basis of creating one or two positions just for the sake of having somebody there, if it is not efficient, if it is not very productive.
I just wanted to say those things from our
caucus' point of view. They are very
important issues when you are trying to balance the individual's rights with
the rights of society and stuff. I just
wanted to express that we should continue to watch what is happening in
So, I think, it is very tough. At least we have been lucky in
Mr. Orchard: Well, you know, my honourable friend, made a point‑‑I just checked with my ADM. We work with the individual professional groups, but we do not think we have ever had necessarily all of them, or a representative from all of the professional groups, around the issue at one time.
I think that is a pretty valuable suggestion from my honourable friend. I think we will pursue that because it is a changing dynamic and the opportunity to share knowledge around a common issue from a number of professional disciplines' perspectives could be most valuable to each of them and certainly to us.
I am going to take my honourable friend's suggestion, and as soon as we can arrange it, to try and bring such a professional group representation meeting together to update each other and ourselves as government with what is going on. Again, I do not think anyone has got a perfect answer to the problem, and anything that you see leads you to maintain and support as much of an education and awareness program so that you keep the debate around AIDS and HIV as a debate based on factual information. I think, clearly, years back there were a lot of concerns about the issue because it was new, and there was a lot of hesitation.
I read a very interesting book called The
Band Played On. It talks about the blood
system in the
We have tried diligently within the ministry. We have staff resource specifically working on AIDS in as complete a fashion as possible with all groups from professionals through to people with AIDS. We are trying to work always from the best information base that we can and make that available as widely as possible so that we continue to have what I think is a degree of reasonable success in preventing a significant spread of the infection.
Mr. Cheema: As I said when I started to talk about this issue, it is very important from the long‑term point of view, and it is very important from our point of view, because specifically we have not shied away from talking about the issue, even as opposition MLAs.
Sometimes for us it would be easier to sit
back and say everything is rotten, and the government should be doing this or
that. But this issue has come twice,
Mr. Deputy Chairperson, I just wanted to ask the minister in terms of the issue on immunization. We were discussing the haemophilus influenzae vaccine. I also met with one or two of the company individuals, I think they were, when they were talking to the minister at the same time. I also met with Dr. Armstrong when we went to see them at the MMA's board of directors' meeting just to hear their views, and that was one of the things they brought up. We told them the government was talking about the issue, and certainly that was the reason we did not bring up in the House anything, we thought, rather than let you do the whole process and we knew that was going to come.
I think the cost was effective, I think some companies would charge maybe $20, some maybe a little higher than that, probably my figures may not be correct. I think that will be positive. I think there was the question of also the number of vaccines plus the timing plus the cost. As long as a factor is the cost efficience, it would save a lot of visits, a lot of risks for the infants, and I think that would be positive. I am sure the MMA's section on pediatrics as well as the other health care professionals, parents would be very happy. I would say that in my area at least a few called me. I would not say a lot, but a few parents were concerned. We told them that it is coming so we did not want to put an obstacle in the way of getting those things done. So I think that would be good if it can even start by June or July.
The next question is in terms of the immunization status. We have this program where we have the central data of immunization. Now there are some practical problems as far as I can see that sometimes in the school system the public health is doing immunization and most of the time physicians are doing it. So it may be a lot of wastage of resources, I think, if the public health people can simply go to a patient's physician and it would save a lot of hassles.
It has been seen a few times that the patient would get the immunization, the booster dose, and come to the office and the physician would simply ask, you do not have it? You may have a different parent with that person and you get another shot. That has happened in certain circumstances. So just to avoid any duplication, it would be a good idea to set a system where the immunization can be provided. If it is cost efficient through the school system, so be it. If it is effective through the physician's office, the family practitioners, it can be done. So I just wanted to know how those things can be improved upon or the minister can ask the ADM whether they have experienced such difficulties in the past.
(Mr. Bob Rose, Acting Deputy Chairperson, in the Chair)
Mr. Orchard: Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson, I just want to clarify. All immunizations my honourable friend is talking about are HIV.
Mr. Cheema: No, all immunizations.
Mr. Orchard: Oh, all. Okay.
My understanding is that both public health and physicians offer comparable immunization programs. To avoid the kind of duplication or the double immunization that my honourable friend refers to, the registry is to provide that kind of check and balance and either public health or physicians can access the central registry to determine the status of immunization for any individual to avoid the duplication.
That is why that particular system‑‑and I am searching for the name right now‑‑MIMS, the Manitoba Immunization Monitoring System is viewed and I think continues to be viewed as one of the best in Canada right now in terms of its ability to keep track of the immunization records of individuals, children‑‑school age and otherwise‑‑and to have that record to be accessed by appropriate care providers so that you do not have the duplication within the system.
Mr. Cheema: Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson, I still think there is some problem, probably maybe in the communications through the Department of Public Health to the physicians. I think it can be improved if they can be communicated through a bulletin that if they want immediate access for example for a person A or B, you want to find what their status is or if they are changing physicians or if they are changing the school. We are experiencing that problem that somebody from the core area would, for example, move to The Maples area, have two doctors and you get a new physician and that is happening. So I think if some arrangements can be made to make sure there is no duplication, it would save a lot of money and also a lot of hassles in both ways.
My next question is how much are we spending on this program total MIMS by year? It is MIMS, so that the Hansard staff will know.
Mr. Orchard: What we will do, if we cannot provide that this morning, because it is all part of the line budget and part of the systems budget, but what we will try to do is give you a best estimate of what the cost will be, and it will be pretty accurate.
I am interested about my honourable friend's observation about a child moving from school division to school division, because really that was the envisionment behind the MIMS system in the first place, that just that kind of circumstance would be avoided because of the central maintenance of immunization records.
Now, if my honourable friend has some examples where maybe that has not worked as well as envisioned, I would appreciate him passing that on so that we can find out the reason why and make any remedy that may be necessary because the operation of the system was designed to avoid the circumstance he points out. No system is going to be perfect 100 percent of time, but we only know to make improvements when we know what some of the potential problems might be.
We will try to provide a rough dollar figure on the MIMS system either later this afternoon or else this evening.
Mr. Cheema: I can certainly look into my own situation and provide some examples, but I think if the ADM were to ask the department to look into that, for example, if the child is a six‑ or seven‑year old changing his school, going from the core area to a suburb, how does he communicate in terms of whether they are given a specific record to take home so that they know what immunization was already done because something may be done in the school or a physician may be doing his own. So there is some problem there.
I think it can be sorted out. I just want the minister to maybe ask the ADM to look into that issue. It may be a larger problem than I can anticipate. I think it could be because of the mobility of so many new families moving into the suburbs. People have said that I had my needle in a doctor's office, but then I went to the school system and again got a needle. Then he went to a third school and went to a fourth doctor and you still have the same problem, so there is certainly a chance for duplication of services.
My next question is going to be in terms
of a very specific issue. The minister
made the statement in terms of, its not the immunization, but about the
mammograms. A statement was made. I got a letter in the mail today and I will
certainly pass it on to the minister tomorrow, that in our area, in the north
end, there is a clinic on
I do not know the policy, how the
government decides which area should have the application approved because I
think that is the way it should be. You
have to have approval so that somebody does not come and set up a system, so I
am sure that the member for
I think this group has a meeting with the Health Services Commission sometime the first week of May, and they have asked for our help to look into the issue on a very nonpolitical basis. They have gone to all the MLAs in the area and all the elected officials so I will certainly share the information.
It will make life a lot easier for people
of the north end because now, I guess, most of them have to come downtown or‑‑I
think the one approved mammogram facility is at the
Mr. Orchard: Look, I am always open to suggestions from my honourable friends. I operate a very open ministry. Upon occasion though, we might not agree with the recommendations and therein we get, maybe, into less pleasant circumstances.
In terms of mammography, apparently next week Dr. MacEwan and the committee are meeting around the issue. There is a formal process of application and approval for diagnostic imagery equipment within the hospitals and, of course, for operation within private clinics as well.
Now the issue becomes, in my humble opinion, the issue that the advisory committee laid out in the report that I tabled back about a month and a half ago now, information around informed choice.
I will be very blunt. You watch some of the cable television, direct feed from some of the American stations, and‑‑what is it, 35 years old?‑‑the advertising is recommending women go in for regular mammography which, I think, is basically the message.
Anything that the professional group
studying the issue in
The video that we have envisioned around mammography, the script is being developed now and will come back maybe by mid‑May for, you know, sign‑off or whatever you want to call it within the ministry, so that we assure our message is consistent.
I want to tell you that about three weeks ago, I guess, I got on CBC Radio. It was on the issue of medical review committee disclosure of names. The first caller that I had that was an independent caller was a physician who I know quite well. I mean, I had a lot of previous association with this particular individual. We came to an agreement not to agree around mammography, because his position was that we were endangering the lives of women, in his humble opinion, by denying them access even at 40 or younger to the mammography diagnostic process.
We agreed to disagree, because he did not understand the direction of the policy. We are not denying that to any woman. What we are saying is that in terms of a screening program, no, the advice is that for now there is inconclusive evidence. So the committee has said, do not undertake a screening program in mammography at this time.
They may well recommend a year from now to undertake it with given conditions attached. I do not know, I cannot prejudge what future advice will be. Clearly the committee recognized the value of diagnostic mammography as an early detection tool for breast cancer in women and from that have developed sort of the information background of physicians which indicates in part, that if there is a family history, then that woman is a logical candidate for a diagnostic mammography.
The physician that I got into the discussion with on CBC Radio was very blunt. He believed that was an infringement on his right to practise, to have all of his women patients regularly imaged with diagnostic mammography. We agreed to disagree, because the evidence does not point to that being a necessary diagnostic investigation for prevention of disease.
There is where we are going to, with some
professionals, run into a disagreement on practice patterns. But it is not me on a whim that is developing
those guidelines. I mean, we have put
some of the most professional experts around the issue that were available in
I will put their expertise against their
counterparts anywhere in
Mr. Cheema: Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson, I was certainly not questioning the procedures. I was simply advocating the need for a facility approved for such a procedure if required by the physician or by the person, based on medical facts, and I think that is a request this group is making. I certainly would pass it on to the minister, and I would certainly like to offer our support on that project based on the facts. There is no approved facility in that area. It is something that, I think, probably will be‑‑not probably, but will be helpful.
I just wanted to pass it on to the member
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson, I think we are probably ready to pass a couple of lines, and move over to Healthy Child Development.
The Acting Deputy Chairperson (Mr. Rose): On page 83, item 2.(b) Health Promotion, Protection, and Disease Prevention: subsection (1) Salaries $1,670,800‑‑pass; (2) Other Expenditures $6,127,400‑‑pass; (3) External Agencies $759,400‑‑pass.
Item 2.(c) Women's Health: Provides program planning and development to improve and maintain the health status of women. (1) Salaries $381,300‑‑pass; (2) Other Expenditures $521,200‑‑pass; (3) External Agencies $557,800‑‑pass.
Item 2.(d) Healthy Child Development: Provides program planning and development to improve and maintain the health status of children.
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson, could the minister indicate who the manager is or who is occupying the managerial position in this section?
Mr. Orchard: Joan Bickford, Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson.
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: Under what section is the dental program, and who is in charge of the dental program?
Mr. Orchard: Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson, the children's dental health program is under Healthy Child Development, in these Estimates.
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson, who is in charge of the children's dental program?
Mr. Orchard: Rhonda Plett.
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: What is the total‑‑it is hard to pull out of this the overall information provided‑‑cost to government and to the taxpayers for the children's dental health program? Could the minister give us the figure currently for the children's dental health program?
Mr. Orchard: Yes, Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson, we will dig that out right now.
Look, I will tell you what, rather than waste time, because we are having difficulty digging this specific question up, let us provide that answer and we can revert back if we do not have it before five o'clock, we can revert back tonight for discussion around the issue, so we can pull accurate information together and then move on, rather than not having committee consider other issues.
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: Just before we go on, I have just conferred with the member for The Maples and we were discussing how far we thought we might get this afternoon and this evening. It is our feeling that it might be certainly within the realm of possibility that we get to the lines of Continuing Care and Mental Health Services so the minister could perhaps give some thought to staff in terms of those two areas.
While we are on other business, one of the lines that comes up very soon is Capital Planning and I had asked the minister earlier if he could provide us with the capital estimates at that time. I am wondering if he can give us some indication of that.
Mr. Orchard: No, if we get to that line today, I will not be able to. That is not where the capital estimates‑‑I would attempt to discuss them. I would have discussed those under the commission. This function here is the interrogation of the planning function for the whole ministry and not where we have budget allocation or anything like that.
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: I appreciate that, however, as I indicated previously, I think there is some overlap in terms of capital planning and details of capital expenditures. I would then ask if the minister could give us some assurances that he could table those estimates by tomorrow?
Mr. Orchard: I can give my honourable friend assurance that they cannot be.
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: Could the minister tell us when he would be able to table the capital estimates?
Mr. Orchard: I am going to give my honourable friend a nonspecific answer on that. We will have the capital estimates available for full debate, but it will not be tonight if we reach Capital Planning on the next page of the Estimates, nor will it be tomorrow. But I cannot tell my honourable friend after that how much more quickly it might be.
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: Well, Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson, this is certainly somewhat disconcerting when the minster knows there is generally an agreement among parties to debate Estimates for the Department of Health for approximately 40 hours. He knows that this afternoon we are about 32, he should be ready to provide the information at this point.
We could be at hospitals and capital estimates in short order. He does not know when we will get to capital estimates. I would suggest that the minister has some responsibility to provide us with a little bit of advance notification of those capital estimates, not the way it was done last year with capital estimates being thrown across the way in the dying minutes of our committee's work. I do not think that is so unreasonable, just to simply have a little bit of time to review and study before we get into capital estimates.
I will not pursue that further at this point but I hope the minister would see fit to find a way to table those Estimates at least tomorrow. He has had lots of indication about when we might get to capital estimates and out of courtesy he could provide it to us with a little bit of time to review them before we get to the actual line.
On health and child development, could the minister indicate what was the change that caused the agreed‑to spending under grants of last year of $75,000 to drop to actual expenditure of $4,000? What $71,000 was not spent?
Mr. Orchard: The reduction of $4,400 was the reduction in grant, as I indicated to my honourable friend, to the Canadian Council on Smoking. That took it down from $75,000 to $71,000.
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: Sorry, that was not my point. I will refer the minister to under Other Expenditures, a grant under the Adjusted Vote, 1991‑92 of $4,000, which is also the estimate for the fiscal year we are now dealing with. The adjusted for grants for 1992 was $75,000, so the estimate we were debating last year for the '91‑92 fiscal year was $75,000. The actual expenditure according to this book is $4,000. Where did the minister or this government not spend $71,000?
Mr. Orchard: Are you saying that if you go to page 37 in the Detailed Estimates, is that where you are?‑‑and you go over on the left‑hand side, Adjusted Vote, and there is $4,000, whereas last year on the right‑hand side of last year's Supplement, it had total grants of $75,000‑‑
Two areas, one of them, as I explained, the $4,400 Canadian Council on Smoking grant from last year was discontinued, and the Winnipeg School Division $45,000 grant to the Child Guidance Clinic was discontinued, and the balance, I am told, is made up of grant reductions resulting from reducing the children's dental health program from a maximum of age 14 to a maximum of age 12. That made up the balance of, that would be $49,400, that made up approximately $21,600 or thereabouts.
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: That would mean that this government did not spend those grants in the 1991‑92 fiscal year, because that is the Adjusted Vote for that fiscal year, and I am assuming that‑‑
Mr. Orchard: She is correct. The children's dental grants should be the only Adjusted Vote reduction on the left‑hand side of the page. The $45,000 and $4,400 were expended last year and should be reflected in addition to the $4,000 in that column. Now, what we have to try to find out is where we put it, because it is accounted for in the Adjusted Vote. If we have made an error here I apologize on behalf of the ministry, because we did not know we were going to be in Estimates as quickly as we did, so this could be an error that slipped through, but there should be a reflection here of an additional $49,400 in the Adjusted Vote, so that it should not read $4,000 but $53,400, I think.
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: Could the minister give me clarification then on the $49,400 that should still be here in terms of, after not having spent the remainder on children's dental grants, which children's dental grants were not expended after being approved last year?
Mr. Orchard: I am going to go by speculation, but I think our grants on the children's dental health program were Swampy Cree and Churchill. We made direct grants to them for service provision, and when the service provision was reduced from 14 to age 12, we reduced the grant. So that accounts for the Adjusted Vote grant reduction that ought to appear there.
Last year, we in fact provided $45,000 to the Child Guidance Clinic, as well as $4,400 to the Canadian Council on Smoking. So those should have appeared in the Adjusted Vote in addition to the $4,000, but they will not be provided this year, hence, the $4,000 on the right‑hand side of the page is accurate.
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: Well, I am still going to need some further clarification because, unless I am way off base, I would have assumed that last year when we were debating Estimates which had already taken into account the change in the children's dental health program that the estimate of $75,000 for grants for the year ending March 31, 1992, would have taken into account changes to the dental health program.
Mr. Orchard: Well, again, I will stand corrected because this gets into that miracle area of the department, Admin and Finance, where I am not going to speak. I believe that the program announcement as approved in the budget, reflected a year over reduction in the grants which, in other words, the print estimate last year reflected‑‑I do not think reflected the reduction in grants to those two, Swampy Cree Tribal Council and to Churchill, but were not in fact provided because of the announcement in the budget and in the Adjusted Vote were reflected as not having been undertaken or been undertaken but at a reduced rate.
The other $45,000 and $4,400 were granted, should have been in the Adjusted Vote, but the decision this year is not to continue with them and so the $4,000 on the right‑hand side is accurate.
Ms. Wasylycia‑Leis: While we are on those numbers, could the minister just indicate the reduction in terms of the Canadian Council on Smoking and Health and why it happened and what it means and what is the impact?
Mr. Orchard: The grant is $4,400 to the Canadian Council on
Smoking and basically it was just a decision that we made. We have a pretty significant initiative
throughout the ministry with Smoke Free Grad 2000 and a number of other
initiatives that we think are putting
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: Back on the children's dental health program, could the minister indicate how many children were removed from the program after the 14‑year‑old upper limit was changed to age 12?
Mr. Orchard: I do not think we had projections last year. Now, whether we have those definitive, it will be a bit of a moving target because not every year do you have the same number changing from 12 to 13. We can give you accurate information this evening on the numbers. I have the information on the children's dental health program. It is $3,723,000 that we anticipate or that we budgeted for in terms of salary and operating.
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: Could the minister give us a breakdown of that in terms of dollars that go to dentists in the private sector? Is it administered through the Manitoba Dental Association and the amount that is through the public health side?
Mr. Orchard: I am advised that it stayed consistent at 50‑50. The change that we made of levelling the service to age 12 had equal application across the board because, I think, if my memory serves me correctly, Portage and Thompson were offering this service until age 12 and other school divisions were offering it until age 14. The breakdown of Manitoba Dental Association versus in‑house program delivery in the balance of the school divisions was roughly 50‑50, and we did not change one program from dentist to in‑house or vice‑versa. All we did was universally bring down the maximum age to age 12.
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: I assume that in the descriptive part on page 36, where it is indicated that 40,000 children will receive dental treatment, is the number after the 13 and 14 year‑olds were removed from the program. Does the minister have any idea, or should I look it up myself, in terms of what that figure was prior to that change in the program?
Mr. Orchard: It looks like we were serving just over 50,000 children and that the leveling of the age to 12 removed 10,000 children in rural and northern Manitoba who were obviously age 13 and age 14.
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: If my math is correct, that would appear to me then about a 20 percent reduction in the program. Could the minister indicate if a 20 percent saving in dollars was incurred as a result of that change in the program?
Mr. Orchard: No, the saving would have been roughly half of that, so roughly 13, 14 percent.
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: Could the minister, either now or after we come back this evening, indicate where that saving shows up in terms of our Estimates?
Mr. Orchard: I think last year we budgeted over $4 million for the program or‑‑no, I am wrong. At full complement to age 14, I think we had an estimate on the program at one time of roughly $4 million. You have to appreciate that this year's estimate of $3,723,000 involves a salary increase for the same service provision. You would have to factor out salary increases and any supply costs and the other expenditures to level your comparable cost to when it was delivered at 50,000 children versus 40,000 children today.
Roughly, the savings were right about the half million dollars in the year that the decision to level the service was made. That saving naturally is not the half million this year, because our costs have gone up in the balance of the system by salary and supply.
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: I am having a little difficulty finding where the savings are. I am wondering‑‑and that is the way it is simply because the broad nature of the lines. If I looked just year over year in terms of the overall spending for this area there is hardly a change. I am wondering if the minister could provide some more information, give us the dollar amount of savings as a result of the elimination of the 10,000 children from the program.
Mr. Orchard: Yes, we will provide that hopefully this evening when we resume.
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: I am wondering if the minister has an impact study of the change in this policy in the removal of 10,000 children from the children's dental health program? Can he give us any information about the results of this decision?
Mr. Orchard: Well, appreciate that when we made this decision to remove the treatment side, we kept in place the very substantial preventative programs that were part and parcel of the program. It appears as if the success of those prevention programs has made this removal of service to 13, 14‑year‑olds occur with what appears to be minimal impact on the oral health of those individuals, because of the success of the prevention and education programs that have continued and were a significant part of the whole children's dental health program.
The Acting Deputy Chairperson (Mr. Rose): The time is now 5 p.m. and time for private members' hour. I am interrupting proceedings of the committee. The Committee of Supply will resume consideration at 8 p.m.
EDUCATION AND TRAINING
Madam Chairperson (Louise Dacquay): This section of the Committee of Supply is dealing with the Estimates for the Department of Education and Training. We are on line 1.(b) Executive Support: (1) Salaries $412,100.
Would the minister's staff please enter the Chamber.
Mrs. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Second Opposition): I just want to make a comment. Do not wait at any time for me to begin Estimates. As the Leader, I am often pulled out for another function, and do not want to delay the process, so if I am not here just begin, please.
Madam Chairperson: Thank you. We did that in the interest of fairness because we generally need representation from all three parties.
Item 1.(b)(1) Salaries $412,100.
Mr. Dave Chomiak (Kildonan): I have several more questions in this line of the Estimates. I noted last year with respect to the Communications portion, under Other Expenditures which had risen from $20,000 to $37,000, that the former minister indicated that one of the reasons for the major increase was due to the fact that he was a rural member.
I note that the appropriation again this
year is $37,000, and I am just wondering if they could break down for us why it
is $37,000. Why, since there is now a
change of minister, was this appropriation not appropriately lowered if, in
fact, one of the reasons for the increase in the first instance was because the
former minister was located in rural
Hon. Rosemary Vodrey (Minister of Education and Training): The increase in the Communications area was an effort to provide a decrease in the transportation area, and the communication expenses for telephone, for fax, postage, advertising and courier have increased over the four‑year period from $16,400 in 1989‑90 to $37,000 or $20,600. This was part of an effort to decrease transportation and related travel costs. Since 1989‑90, transportation costs and other operating costs have dropped from $78,000 to $45,800 or $32,200.
Madam Chairperson, while I am speaking, I have two items to table this afternoon. The first is some figures, the four‑year comparison of the Executive Support budget, which had been raised the last time we were in Estimates discussing this. The second item to table is one that was requested again the last time we were sitting in Estimates, and this is a list of the staff persons and position in the office of the Department of Education and Training, both for the minister's office and the deputy minister's office.
Mr. Chomiak: I thank the minister for providing those responses to the queries during the last session in which we met.
I will have a question or two on the particular charts that have been provided to us. In the interim, however, I wanted to ask the minister about her education committee on finance. The question is, whether the minister still has one and who composes that committee?
Mrs. Vodrey: May I remind the honourable member that the issues relating to this Schools' Finance Branch, which is Appropriation 16‑2‑‑that information falls under that particular appropriation, and would he be willing to wait until we are discussing that particular appropriation in detail.
Mr. Chomiak: I am now looking at one of the handouts and one of the tabled documents that was provided to us by the minister which indicates that salaries have increased for the four‑year period from $327 to $412 and that operating costs have decreased accordingly, which seems to indicate that salaries have increased by approximately 30 percent for the staff years, for the nine staff individuals that comprise that section of the department.
I am wondering if my figures serve to be correct then. Can the minister indicate what the deputy minister's salary was for '89‑90?
Mrs. Vodrey: We are advised by the Civil Service that that information is privileged information within the department, but that my deputy's salary range has always been within the range for deputy ministers in this government and that he has not received, at any time, a salary that is different or out of line with the salary ranges for deputy ministers.
Mr. Chomiak: At no time has it ever been claimed on this side of the House and no time has that accusation ever been made that, in fact, the deputy minister's salary is inappropriate or out of range in comparison to the other deputy ministers' salaries.
The only point that has been made by members on this side of the House with respect to the deputy minister's salary is that, according to the Estimates book and the information tabled in 1989‑90, the deputy minister's salary was $73,000 at the manager level's salary. The range, the target, the estimate made by the department in that year was $73,000. The target and range made this year is $100,000. All we are trying to do is confirm in fact whether or not that is the case.
Mrs. Vodrey: Madam Chairperson, just historically, my deputy began at the bottom of the Senior Officer 7 classification. At that time it was estimated in 1989‑90 that someone of a Senior Officer 7 in a lower portioned category would be about $73,000. There was then a review of salaries and classification of all deputy ministers, and the Deputy Minister for Education then moved into a Senior Officer 8 category. It is estimated for 1992‑93 that the salary range will be in and around $100,000.
Mr. Chomiak: Madam Chairperson, can the minister indicate briefly for me what the job description of the program analyst in the office of the deputy minister entails?
Mrs. Vodrey: Madam Chairperson, the job description for the program analyst in the deputy minister's office is to review incoming documents and correspondence; to provide a commentary; to assist the deputy and, in place of the deputy, to carry out some routine administrative business‑‑carrying out routine phone calls, for instance‑‑and to assist in the daily work of the department.
That individual does not, however, supervise program or staff nor act as an administrator for program or staff.
Mr. Chomiak: Madam Chairperson, professional fees in this area have risen from $4,000 to $6,000. Can the minister please outline for us what those professional fees entail?
Mrs. Vodrey: Madam Chairperson, the Department of Education has been looking at moving into the '90s and attempting to deal with some of the issues that, I think, are important in management and administration at this time and also in strategic planning for the department.
So professional fees are those fees paid to individuals who have assisted the department in department‑wide planning, planning such as the strategic plan, and also for planning in the area of total quality management.
Mr. Chomiak: Will the minister be prepared to table a list of those individuals and the fees paid to them?
Mrs. Vodrey: In the year '92‑93, we have not expended any monies so far this year. In the year '91‑92, if the honourable member would like, we will be happy to provide him at a later date, as soon as possible, with a list of those individuals who provided those kinds of services for us in the '91‑92 year.
Mr. Chomiak: I thank the minister for that response. Last year the former minister during the last Estimates process tabled a document under Executive Support for the out‑of‑province travel for both the minister and the deputy minister. I wonder if the minister would be willing to table such a document for this Estimates year?
Mrs. Vodrey: Yes, we would be prepared to table that. We do not have it with us at this time, but we will certainly table it for you.
Madam Chairperson: Item 1.(b) Executive Support: (1) Salaries $412,100‑‑pass; (2) Other Expenditures $116,600‑‑pass.
1.(c) Planning, Research and Policy Co‑ordination.
Mr. Chomiak: Last session during the Estimates process the minister tabled the list of the branch's major initiatives and projects dated April 1990 to March 1991. I wonder if the minister would be prepared to provide us with an update of those particular initiatives and any new ones that have been entered into since the last Estimates process.
Mrs. Vodrey: Madam Chairperson, as an update, let me start with the department's strategic planning. This branch is responsible for co‑ordinating the department's planning operations, and all planning processes are initiated by Planning, Research and Policy Co‑ordination Branch. Also the operational, the midterm and the strategic plans are co‑ordinated through Planning, Research and Policy Co‑ordination Branch.
Some of the major initiatives currently being implemented by the department, the high school reform known as Answering the Challenge, the review of The Public Schools Act, issues relating to college governance, the governance of Francophone schools, Workforce 2000.
Strategic planning is a very critical process by which these future challenges are fulfilled. The strategic planning processes include: a careful analysis of the changes in the education environment; the development of an annual strategic planning document, which establishes a department‑wide corporate direction; preparation of division and branch operational and midterm plans; preparation of biannual status reports; and continued development and implementation of reporting practices. There is a continued commitment to strengthening departmental planning and to implementing initiatives and activities.
Secondly, a co‑ordination of
departmental initiatives and information flow.
That is another major initiative of the Planning, Research and Policy Co‑ordination
Branch. The department has recently
experienced a sharp increase in the need for co‑ordinated and central
information, and this is needed then to enhance planning, policy and decision
making. Some of the specific activities
in this area include: the analysis and
the synthesis of major department policies; the synthesis of projects and
activities of the Council of Ministers of Education,
Thirdly, Planning, Research and Policy Co‑ordination has been involved in the legislative reform process. The legislative reform process was a public consultation process. It is now in its analytical stage, and PR and PC has responsibility to provide the panel with an objective analysis of what the public has said. The analysis is in the process of being completed, and we expect it to be completed, certainly this spring. The panel's report, we expect to have presented to the minister in June.
To give you a little more information on
the legislative reform process, the panel itself conducted 29 public hearings
The Planning, Research and Policy Co‑ordination Branch is therefore providing the clerical and the analytical support to the panel, and the submissions are being analyzed on an issue‑by‑issue basis, and structured by the type of presenters. The issues raised by the public, which were not included in the consultation process are also being analyzed. I think that is very important, so that those people who took the time to come out and present believe that none of the issues which they raised have been lost. Upon receipt of the report, the department then will look at developing an implementation of strategy.
Another major initiative or a fourth major initiative is that of sustainable development. Sustainable development is an entire provincial government thrust, and Planning, Research and Policy Co‑ordination Branch is co‑ordinating the department's activities in the area of sustainable development. PR and PC, in consultation with department divisions, is preparing a departmental strategic plan on sustainable development.
At this point, Kindergarten to Senior 4
actions have consisted of including the concept of sustainable development in
Human Geography 300 and 301, the Skills for Independent Living program, and the
K‑9 interim science guides.
Related concepts are also identified in science, in social studies and
other curriculum guides. Work has been
done to identify, to select and to develop publications in other
resources. In‑services have been
carried out on sustainable development with some
At the post‑secondary level, the
community colleges are working to incorporate sustainable development.
Departmental efforts are focussing on continued efforts to address the implications of sustainable development for education with our partners in education, improved co‑ordination of departmental activities, and participation in province‑wide and government‑wide strategy development initiatives. The future action relating to this is to ensure continued progress on specific actions and initiatives, and PR and PC is developing, in consultation with the department divisions, a departmental strategic plan on sustainable development.
In addition, we also have ongoing a fifth major initiative, a participation on the national statistical committees. As a means of co‑operating with other provinces and national agencies, for example, Statistics Canada, CMEC, the Council of Ministers of Education Canada, the PR and PC staff represent Manitoba Education and Training.
Again, this branch has been named as the department's liaison with agencies outside of the province which ask for information and statistics. The branch co‑ordinates the collection of such information from appropriate divisions across the department. All departmental data released to Statistics Canada, the Council of Ministers of Education again is co‑ordinated through Planning, Research and Policy Co‑ordination Branch. A staff member from Planning, Research and Policy Co‑ordination represents Manitoba Education, as I said, on two CMEC committees, program liaison committee and the publication advisory committee on elementary and secondary education.
In the future we look forward to their continued participation in those areas. Just as an update as well, the Planning, Research and Policy Co‑ordination Branch has completed the Human Resource Development Policy, which was developed in order to enhance department efficiency and to ensure more responsive, skilled and competent Civil Service, and PR and PC prepared guidelines related to professional development of employees.
I wonder if that has answered the question at this point.
Mr. Chomiak: I have some specifics I would like to ask. Last year the PR and PC committee prepared a background paper on school division boundaries review which was an internal document. Insofar as the minister has indicated there will be no boundary review, I wonder if the minister might be prepared to table that document for the information of the assembly in this House.
Mrs. Vodrey: That document the member mentioned in his question is an internal document. It was prepared for cabinet and for government, and at this point there is not going to be a school boundaries review. So at this point I would think it would not be useful.
Mr. Chomiak: Madam Chairperson, I will beg to differ, but I want to turn to another subject which is the high school graduation trends analysis that was in progress during the last Estimates period. I am wondering if the minister can update us as to what the status is of that particular study. That is the high school graduation trends study.
Mrs. Vodrey: Madam Chairperson, the high school graduate trend analysis was an historical trend analysis of Manitoba high school graduates, and the analysis was to include an examination of graduation rates over the past five years, the progression of graduates into post‑secondary institutions, high school academic performance with first‑year university performance, and graduate satisfaction with high school education.
The components of the program were to include a data analysis and student surveys. We did expect some cost to be incurred through travel and the survey implementation and analysis and also consultation.
Mr. Chomiak: Is the study complete, and can the minister table it?
Mrs. Vodrey: Madam Chairperson, the project is not yet completed.
Mr. Chomiak: Madam Chairperson, can the minister table any
information that she has for her use that would give us some idea as to the dropout
rate for students in the
Mrs. Vodrey: Madam Chairperson, the department is very aware that there is a difficulty in the area of young people dropping out, and we as a government are certainly concerned about young people who are not able to complete their high school program.
The number of dropouts varies across the province. It is lower in some areas, and it is higher in others. The department has obtained this information through a close consultation with the field and also major educational organizations such as MASS and MAST and MTS.
The department is also working in
consultation with other provinces, through the CMEC and also Statistics Canada,
on issues such as student dropouts. The
department is proud to report that at the national level
Many schools and also many school
The traditional dropout rate calculation does not seem to be appropriate in today's educational setting for a number of reasons. The most common method to calculate is to take the number of Grade 12 graduates and put that number over the number of Grade 9 enrollment four years earlier and multiply by 100, but that is not a very sensitive measure because the number of Grade 12 grads on the top does not account for those young people who, by chance, have moved away from the province.
So over the past number of years there has been an increase in the number of high school students also who attend school part time, and thus they get delayed in graduating, and therefore the number become somewhat skewed. These students, because they are not a part of the graduating class, could artificially inflate a calculated rate.
I would also like to speak just for a moment on the Statistics Canada survey which my honourable friend raised last week. That survey did not quote dropout rates. If one reads the report you will find that it is saying, and this is a quote: Of all the 20‑year‑olds in the sample including graduates, continuing students and dropouts, 23.5 percent said they had left school at some time in their school career.
We know that the number of high school
dropouts is higher than we as a department and we as a government and certainly
I as minister would like to see, but the point is that the department is taking
initiatives to address the problem. We
are not just studying it, we are not just looking at the numbers and looking
for ways to calculate the numbers, but we are also looking at an action plan
which directly relates to the people of
Mr. Chomiak: I thank the minister for that response, and I am very happy to see the department actually had an opportunity to review what is in fact the school leaver's survey which was sponsored by Statistics Canada, which to this point in time is the best analysis that I have ever seen of school departures, of school leavers in the province of Manitoba, because all of the information that has ever been given in this House with respect to dropout rates has been extrapolations of federal figures.
Having said that, I am again asking the minister: Can the minister provide this House with an analysis, with the data upon which the initiatives are being undertaken by this government? I do not have any faith or confidence that the department is necessarily addressing the concerns of students who drop out or leave school, or leave school for a short period of time and return to school unless we have some understanding of what database and on upon which basis we are making these decisions that this department and branch has been set up.
I would very much like to see that if the department has set up a branch and number of programs, what is the empirical basis, what is the factual basis upon which those programs are going to be proceeded with by that department? In other words, what is the data? Can the minister table it in this House?
Mrs. Vodrey: Madam Chairperson, the department recognizes the need for data and information to act as an important basis for decision making, and the department does have many sources of data that have been utilized by senior managers for many years.
I will just give the honourable member a couple of examples for his information: The first, a comprehensive professional school personnel file, a teacher data file which contains both demographic and program information on certified personnel across the province; secondly, student achievement records file which contains information on all high school students, and that information would be Grades 10 to 12, at this point, related to the courses that they successfully complete each year and the grade achieved; thirdly, high school student graduate file which aggregates student graduate counts by school, by gender and by age; fourthly, the Financial Reporting and Accounting in Manitoba Education and Training system, the FRAME, which contains statistical and financial data for Manitoba's public school system, for example, student enrollments, pupil‑teacher ratios, budgets, operating capital, financial analysis, assessment and levies; and, five, comprehensive student and teacher data related to Francais, French immersion and basic French program; and, six, student information related to special grants, for example, special needs. The new Student Support branch does have considerable information relating to grants for students at risk.
The department is very aware that we do live in an informational society where there is a need for more information and also for accessibility to be made easier. In order to improve our data and information capabilities, the department has been analyzing and co‑ordinating its data information needs through our Management Information Systems branch, and a related database with comprehensive information is in the planning stage. Also, the department has been enhancing and expanding its distance education and communication capabilities, and that becomes important so that it allows communication between divisions, and allows communication between those divisions themselves and also within the department.
My deputy informs me that he also sits on the CESC, which is the Canadian Education Statistics Council, which is a shared creation between the CMEC, Council of Ministers of Education, and Statistics Canada. He also chairs the national program liaison committee, which reports to that CESC. Both of these functions do assist in the creation of new data for use in the school systems.
Mr. Chomiak: I can sum up, I believe, what the minister indicated in two sentences. Firstly, the ongoing collection of data has been something that has been ongoing for four years with still no final solution; and secondly, you do not have the data on dropouts, which is why school divisions are being forced to expend resources and energy in order to obtain that data so that they can adjust their programs and their systems to deal with it. Is that not the case?
Mrs. Vodrey: I do not agree with the honourable member because there certainly has been an effort over the past few years, and certainly a renewed effort with the Student Support branch, to deal with the statistics, and certainly an effort to plan and conceptualize methods to get even better statistics.
But his question about the school divisions, I am surprised that he would not believe that school divisions themselves might be interested in their local areas and their very local issues for which they would like to gather data. I am very pleased that schools and school divisions have been able to look at this issue and are also able to talk to each other about this issue, and to, we hope, develop better and better ideas to be shared across this province. I certainly hope that he is not suggesting that many heads should not be working at this very difficult issue.
Mr. Chomiak: No, in fact, they are forced to do it, Madam Chairperson, because the leadership is lacking, void, zero, at the departmental level in terms of providing the data upon which to make those decisions. School divisions are forced to gather that data. The department has developed a branch and, supposedly, programs. The minister has made at least half a dozen statements about the development of a branch, but they do not know what data and upon which basis they are developing the programs to deal with the dropout rates. Of course, the divisions want to know, but they are getting absolutely no leadership from this department with respect to the development of programs to deal with matters of that kind.
If the minister has the data, why does the
minister not simply table the data and we can get on to other aspects of the
Estimates? Let us see the data on
dropout rates in the
Mrs. Vodrey: Madam Chairperson, I wonder if my honourable friend was listening when I went through the six methods in which we attempt to gather data from a comprehensive range of areas to look at the school leavers in the province of Manitoba, and that having looked at that, this province is the only province in Canada to establish a branch, a Student Support branch, to offer leadership.
I think that the establishment of the branch is a very clear indication of the concern that this government has regarding both the statistical information and also the anecdotal information that people bring forward and talk about in terms of cases across Manitoba, individual people across Manitoba, and may also remind my honourable friend this is an area of leadership, particularly the establishment of the Student Support branch, and no other province has yet a fully integrated data collection system. I think this is important to create information on K‑12, but we have at least taken, I think, a very strong step in the creation of our Student Support branch.
Mr. Chomiak: Madam Chairperson, we are probably the only province that does not have that data in that the ministry does not have access to that data and will not admit that it does not have access to that data.
My supplementary question to the minister
is: In October '91 in
I am wondering if any similar initiative
has been suggested by this department.
In addition, can the minister advise if she has any kind of
understanding on a division‑by‑division basis as to what the
utilization of computer technology is in the classroom in the
Mrs. Vodrey: Madam Chairperson, in the first part of my honourable friend's comments, he is absolutely wrong.
To the second question, in terms of the computer technology in the classroom, that falls in an appropriation under the PDSS section in the Distance Education section and the appropriation is 16‑3(g).
Mr. Chomiak: Perhaps the minister missed the point. I am not asking how many computers are in rural Manitoba, what the state of technology is vis‑a‑vis the distribution of material from the central location of the Department of Education, centrally from the Department of Education to other school divisions. I am asking if the minister has any idea as to what the extent of computer hardware, software and technology is being utilized in the classroom and in the schools and whether any initiative has been undertaken in order to find that out.
Mrs. Vodrey: Madam Chairperson, the Management Information Services or MIS, which is Appropriation 16‑1(f), is sending out a survey for an inventory, and we will be expecting back some of the information which my honourable friend has questioned.
Mr. Chomiak: I thank the minister for that response.
Last year the minister indicated $60,000 was set aside for the panel on education reform. I am wondering what has been set aside this year. As I understand it, from the minister's announcement, the panel on education reform originally targeted $150,000, and I am just wondering what the status of that $150,000 is and how much has been targeted for this year by way of expenditure.
Mrs. Vodrey: For '92‑93 we are estimating about $115,000.
Mr. Chomiak: With respect to that panel on education reform, I just noted from the minister's initial comments in this area that the report is now being reviewed by her PR and PC committee or will soon be reviewed or will be run through the PR and PC committee. I remind the minister that the same process took place on the education finance committee model, and we subsequently found out that there were certain items in the mandate of that committee that were changed and altered. I will be dealing with that quite extensively later on in the Estimates process.
There have been grave concerns expressed to me by people in the education community that what was reflected in public opinion does not translate into the documents that become public from reviews of this kind. People always cite the High School Review, and people now cite the Education Committee Finance Report, and I am wondering if the minister might comment on that.
Mrs. Vodrey: I believe that I said that the role of the Planning, Research and Policy Co‑ordination Branch at this point was to assist the legislative reform process in the analyzing and the synthesizing of the data on an issue‑by‑issue basis. They will provide some staff support in the writing of the report.
Mrs. Carstairs: I would like to begin with a number of questions on strategic plans. I will go in the order that the minister gave them, because perhaps that is the way they are gathered in her book.
To begin with, first of all, the high school reform. I have a copy of a letter which the minister sent out to superintendents of schools, chairpersons of school boards, and principals of schools 9‑12, dated February 27, 1992, with respect to the implementation of the high school reform process. In that, she outlines the differentiation between general and core curriculum, and the movement towards a greater level of specialization.
I do not see any changes for Grade 9, because there always was a general core curriculum, to my knowledge. For Grade 9 there was no differentiation, but in Grade 10 there certainly was. That seems to have disappeared. There does not seem to be a differentiation, for example, between English 100 and English 101, History 100 and History 101, and Geography 100 and Geography 101. This concerns me because one of the reasons, in my experience, why students drop out of high school is because of the lack of relevance of the material being taught to them.
One of the things that you can do within a Geography 101 vis‑a‑vis the Geography 100, which is the purely academic wing, is to provide that relevant material. I am wondering on what pedagogical grounds they have made the decision to go to a core curriculum for those subjects, but not for math and science.
Mrs. Vodrey: Madam Chairperson, there is an advisory committee that has been working on the implementation of the High School Review, and that advisory committee is made up of representatives from educational organizations and also staff.
That committee offered advice to me, and I accepted their advice. They made their decision based on pedagogical reasons. Simply, what they suggested to me was that the areas of math and science are more complicated and more complex, and that some differentiation should begin in the Senior 2 level, to be followed by a more full differentiation in Senior 3 and Senior 4.
It was their belief that in some of the other subjects, which have been named, that those subjects could be accommodated by individual teachers offering a differentiation to their students through the current program. I do have further information based on the pedagogical reasons and further information.
I have that under the Appropriation 16‑3(b). I will be happy to discuss that further at that time if that is suitable.
Mrs. Carstairs: I am more prepared to wait until then, and we can get into that particular thing. But I am disturbed that, and perhaps because I am a social studies teacher, they would refer to science and mathematics as being a more complex curriculum, and therefore needing more individualized instruction per unit, if you will, for those two subjects.
My experience, and I give it to the minister for what it is worth, is that when you differentiate in a classroom of that nature, and you say to a group of tenth‑graders: you will write this report because I know you are academically talented, and you can do that.
I say to another student: you will write this report because, in essence, I do not think you are academically talented. The brighter student will say, why do I have to work harder than the less capable student for the same grade?
That happens over and over and over again. One of the things that you avoid by, in fact, having the 100 and the 101 curriculum and clearly differentiating, even when they are taught in the same room as is often done in rural schools and has been done for years, is that there is an expectation in the youngster taking 100 that in order to get that 100 credit, they will be expected to work harder than the student who is going to get the 101 credit. By merging the two together, you have, in fact, eliminated that expectation and I think may cause some backlash in terms of the students not wanting to put forward an optimum effort.
Mrs. Vodrey: I would like to thank the honourable member for her good comments. Those are one set of comments that had also been considered by the advisory committee and I will be happy to talk further about them.
Mrs. Carstairs: I would like to move now into the school division boundary review, the item that is no longer in the review process but certainly was in the review process up until the 18th of February. I use the 18th of February date because that is the date in which the Premier (Mr. Filmon) of the province wrote to the Manitoba Teachers' Society and said it was still uppermost in the objectives of the Department of Education.
Some four weeks later it was tossed out. The rationale which has been given by the minister, which is a very busy framework already in place between high school review and the review of The Public Schools Act, and the reform that went along with that, the French governance issue. Nothing was new from the time that the minister of the day told us we were going to proceed, when it was in the Speech from the Throne in December, when the Premier wrote his letter. How come? Let us have a frank discussion as to why the government changed its mind.
Mrs. Vodrey: The decision was made when we were able to look very closely at the impact of some of the initiatives which, as you have stated, were currently in the process and we had just begun to look at the impact of the new ed finance formula and school divisions were attempting to deal with that formula which, I know, we will discuss further. But, to make the point, it was a very complicated formula and was really taking a great deal of time and effort from the school divisions to learn to accommodate to the new formula in its first year. We also were looking at the results of the Legislative Reform Committee and the fact that they had received a much greater response from the province and from the people of this province in terms of the issues raised for them.
So, when we looked carefully at the effects of what was currently in process, and in terms of the Francophone governance initiative, we knew that we would be in the process of an announcement shortly and that that was something which needed to be done according to the courts, that if we were to look at assisting in terms of helping all of the initiatives have their very best opportunity to be successful, and having school divisions also have the opportunity to be most successful for the initiatives in place. Then a decision was made, and the decision was made by discussion with school divisions and with both the superintendents and all of the particular stakeholders within education, and looking and talking with them about the effects.
So this was no longer a projected effect of what was going on. We were now looking at what the true effects were and how much can actually go on in a school division and within a school. A decision was made at that time to postpone indefinitely the school boundaries review.
Mrs. Carstairs: I do not want to put words in the minister's mouth, so I may have misunderstood. I want to be clear about that. Is the minister saying that she actually had discussions with the Manitoba Association of School Trustees and the Manitoba Association of School Superintendents about cancelling the boundary review?
Mrs. Vodrey: Madam Chairperson, no, I did not have specific discussions about cancelling the review with any of the stakeholder groups in education.
Mrs. Carstairs: I have a letter which was written to the Premier (Mr. Filmon) on the 27th of March from The Manitoba Teachers' Society indicating their strong objection to the abandonment of the school division boundary process. Was there any indication either before or after from the Manitoba Association of School Trustees with respect to the decision about cancelling the boundary review?
Mrs. Vodrey: Madam Chairperson, we have received a great deal of correspondence, and I will check immediately with my office for an answer to your question.
Mrs. Carstairs: In response to a question which I asked in Question Period this afternoon, the minister indicated that there was nothing to prevent school divisions from working out agreements with one another with regard to the transfer of students.
The minister, I am sure, is aware that when a program is not offered in a school division, that transfer becomes somewhat easy, more difficult when there is a payment involved. For example, there was funding provided by the Transcona‑Springfield School Division for students who were availing themselves of an International Baccalaureate Program in the River East School Division.
Transcona‑Springfield has now cancelled that funding. They will not their students go unless the parents are prepared to pick up that funding. We also have indications‑‑I mean I have letters here, one in particular of a parent who could not even get them to allow a child to be moved within a school division, let alone across division boundaries.
I would like to let the minister know that while ideally that may be the case, in practical terms it does not happen. It does not happen because the funding goes with the child, and school divisions are very jealous of maintaining that funding.
I will give you just a simple example of a youngster who was in grade nine in St. Norbert‑Seine River School Division. His mother, on social assistance, moved across the Perimeter. The child was then supposed to be going to the Fort Garry School Division.
We had written a math curriculum for this particular youngster. He had one year left, there was no way the child was going to have to pay $600, in 1984 dollars, to go to the Fort Garry School Division. Well, the mother, on social assistance, does not have $600 to allow her child to go that school division.
It was, quite frankly, settled very simply by my delivering a cheque for $60 and saying that they would arrive every 10 months to pay for this child to go to the school division. Miracle of miracles, once a teacher interferes, school divisions can make decisions. It is quite amazing. They then decided that yes, after all, this youngster could stay.
But I think you have to realize that that kind of boundary decision just is not made, even in the best interests of the children, unless there is an inordinate pressure placed upon them. That kind of pressure is not possible, under most circumstances.
So, while I recognize that the minister was not wrong in her answer today, saying that yes, school divisions can, in fact, make those gentleman/gentlewomen's agreements with one another, they do not do it. I wonder what the minister is going to do to facilitate that agreement in order for it to take place more often, so that the best interests of children are guaranteed in that she has agreed to cancel the boundary of school divisions, which at least would have brought this to mind and forced some of this, I think, public debate on this issue.
Mrs. Vodrey: I recognize that in 1984, which was the example given, that perhaps now in 1992 there has come to be within school divisions an even greater concern about how schools are going to continue to operate and offer the programming. There is now creative discussion about shared services and shared facilities going on between divisions. It is not hugely prevalent yet, but there is some discussion. There is in fact some precedent over the past 25 years where schools and school communities with school divisions have come to some creative decisions and solutions.
The issue is being examined by the Legislative Review Committee right now, and one of the areas which may interest the member is in the area called rights‑‑rights of parents and rights of students. I will be looking forward to their recommendations around that rights issue. This may be a matter which can be looked at, not only through school boundaries review, but in other areas as well such as the rights area of the Legislative Review Committee.
Our government has said, and I as minister said it, at this point there are other issues which need to be dealt with outside of the school boundaries review and need to be settled first, but I will remind her that the review has not been cancelled. It has been deferred. It has been deferred indefinitely at this point, but it has not been cancelled. What we are recommending to school divisions is that they then look at these kinds of creative discussions, and that we also look to the reporting of the Legislative Review Committee.
Mrs. Carstairs: Madam Chairperson, but in political lingo, "deferred" certainly means not to be done in the mandate of this government and not until after the next election, so for all intents and purposes it has been cancelled.
The incident I used specifically with
Mrs. Vodrey: Madam Chairperson, I would just like to remind the honourable member that school divisions are autonomous, and that there is evidence of their voluntary co‑operation, and we would prefer them to continue in their voluntary co‑operation and also encourage that voluntary co‑operation. Also, we do have, as I stated in my last answer, the Legislative Reform Panel who will be reporting, and one of the issues that they will be offering recommendations on is in the area of rights, rights of the students and rights of the parents on behalf of their children. There are examples right now where this kind of co‑operation is in place, co‑operation through distance education, co‑operation through vocational education, co‑operation through transportation. So at this point I would like to encourage the school divisions, recommend to the school divisions, as I did on the day of the announcement, that certainly they are encouraged to explore ways which between them will assist them in the creative problem‑solving for this issue.
Mrs. Carstairs: Well, it is true, they are autonomous. They get less and less of their funding from the provincial government and more and more from the local taxpayer, so presumably they are becoming more and more autonomous and less arm's length. But the reality is The Public Schools Act is an act of this Legislature and is administered by this minister, and it administrates and sets in place the educational curriculum and standards for education throughout the province.
If there is a breakdown between two school divisions, there is no recourse. One of the issues that could well have been dealt with by a boundary review would be how to facilitate that process. The minister has encouraged them to work co‑operatively together.
I want to know what process she is going to put in place to make that voluntary co‑operation easier and perhaps a mediation panel that can sit down with the two school divisions and at this point make it possible for a child to receive the highest quality education.
Mrs. Vodrey: Madam Chairperson, first, I would just like to say, in terms of the funding of the public school system, this government has increased its funding to the public school system this year. So I think that speaks for a commitment to education in this province.
In terms of the mechanism to encourage some of the sharing, first of all, there is one formal mechanism which property owners or school divisions may use, and that is the Board of Reference. If a school division or a property owner wishes to join another school division, there is a mechanism in place for that.
Secondly, there is an informal method that the department has actually used quite effectively in school divisions, where the administrative branch provides, through phone calls or personal visits, direct assistance to school divisions who are dealing with some of these very complicated matters.
Thirdly, I come back to the Legislative
Reform Panel which is dealing with the powers of the minister and the powers of
the school divisions and trustees.
Through some of their input then we will be looking very carefully at how
the people of
Mrs. Carstairs: I will certainly refer the
I would like to move on now to the French governance issue. I made some comments with respect to the French governance issue in my opening remarks, and those essentially are the issues that I want to deal with now.
Can the minister tell us exactly what legal opinion she got from the constitutional law branch with respect to the proposal which she has announced?
Mrs. Vodrey: First of all, in the matter of the legal opinion, at this point we are not sure if there is going to be a court challenge regarding what has been put forward, and in that case we are advised to not then put forward our legal opinion at this point until we find out if there will be a resolution other than court for the governance matter.
Also, just as a point for further information, I do have more information on the Francophone governance matter under the BEF section, BEF appropriation which is XVI 4, if that is helpful.
Mrs. Carstairs: The reason I raised it here is that the minister specifically raised it as one of the issues which this particular branch was examining. I took careful notes when she listed strategic plans. One of those she listed was French governance. That is the reason I raised it at this particular point in time, and I would assume it is the policy and research branch that would specifically be looking after issues such as the legality of this particular issue and not the Bureau De L'Education Francaise.
The minister surprises me by saying that she is not sure if there is a court challenge. Surely we should be proactive in this and make sure that there is not, if we can possibly avoid it, a court challenge on the program outlined by the government.
In that the Francophone parents I
understand, and I have not seen them, but I was informed that they have in fact
two legal opinions. I understand that
the minister was told at the public meeting that they had two legal opinions
which would indicate that it does not meet the decision laid down in the
Mrs. Vodrey: Just to clarify the work of the Planning, Research and Policy Co‑ordination Branch, they sat on the internal committee which reviewed the Gallant report, but they did not gather data. They did not prepare any legal information, but their role was, again, the review of the Gallant report. In terms of outside council, we have not done so at this point.
Mrs. Carstairs: When we were in the process of translating
laws, statutes, whatever, in the
Mrs. Vodrey: I will just remind the member that there has been a referral by the FPCP, which is still before the courts. So there is, at this moment, still one referral before the court. Secondly, I do have meetings scheduled on our particular model to discuss the participation of interest groups on our particular model. At this point, we are not sure that it is not workable. In fact, meetings are set up to discuss the process of the implementation team, and I am inviting discussion with those groups.
Mrs. Carstairs: I realize that we do not know whether the model is valid or not. That is the point. I think we have to be very cautious about implementing a model that may not be accurate and correct. That is why I have made the two suggestions. I will leave this because I would like to get more into the specifics of her actual model when we do discuss the Bureau de l'education francaise and after I have made my meeting with the Francophone parents.
I would like to move on to the review of The Public Schools Act. The minister indicated that there were, indeed, 29 hearings and 900 presentations, if one considers oral and written presentations that have been made. There has been some criticism, although not a great deal, about the timing of some of the sessions in some of the communities where, quite frankly, people were not able to go during the day and would have liked to have made an oral presentation, but did go ahead and make a mail‑in presentation. I think that was regrettable but not certainly enough to make the process invalid.
Can the minister give us any information as to whether there have been a number of presentations which address the issues of boundary review?
Mrs. Vodrey: At the moment, we are still analyzing the responses to the legislative reform process, but I am informed that there were a few, a very small number to this point, which did address the issue of boundary review. But because the panel was not looking at that issue specifically and it was not part of its mandate, then the numbers were small.
Some of the issues, however, which are of concern for boundary review, some of the related questions which the member has raised today, were issues and they were indirectly, perhaps we will address some of the questions, things such as a quality education, parents' rights, but I have not yet seen the report of the Legislative Reform Panel, so I do not have any further details on that right now.
Mrs. Carstairs: In the Planning, Research and Policy Co‑ordination Branch, there is $160,500 amount for professional fees, which is an increase of $70,500. To what are those professional fees going to be directed?
Mrs. Vodrey: That increase was there to account for some of the expenses related to school boundary review.
Mrs. Carstairs: Well, if we had professional fees in the budget for school boundary review and the budget was tabled, I think, the 7th of March, is the minister now telling the House that it was in fact a decision made over a 10‑day period between the 7th of March and the 17th of March?
Mrs. Vodrey: Madam Chairperson, the preparation of the budget document does take a great deal of time, and it is a very long process. At the time that the school boundary review decision was made the budget process was really well on its way, but I can assure the member that the decision to defer the school boundary review was not a last minute decision, but it was in fact a well considered decision.
Mrs. Carstairs: Well, then I can only assume that the minister would not mind if when we pass her budget we delete $70,500 from it.
My final questions in this area have to do with a comment by the Deputy Minister of Education, and I do not have the quote with me, but I will paraphrase it as best I can. I am sure he will inform me if it is not a correct paraphrase. It had to do with the math and science results which came out a couple of months ago, the international results and the province‑wide results. I was not particularly concerned with the international results because, quite frankly, I think they can be seriously questioned.
I understand that, for example, in
Mrs. Vodrey: The examination is not going on in the Planning, Research and Policy Co‑ordination Branch, but the examination is going on through the PDSS branch and the Curriculum department. The maths consultants are meeting with math teachers across the province to examine our results.
In addition, we are also having a look at other provinces who appeared to fare better. We want to look in a very multifaceted way why they did perhaps appear to fare better than we did and then look at some of the causes. We are trying to look at a wide range of causes. Perhaps it may be the nature of the students, the year in which they wrote and so on.
Mrs. Carstairs: My deputy House leader has just indicated to me that they will be doing Seniors Estimates tonight. I will not speak for the other House leaders, but just so the two critics and the staff may have some advance warning, that would appear to be what is going to happen this evening.
With respect to that then, can the minister tell me if‑‑I lost my train of thought having given you this wonderful announcement. I have gone blank.
We were with a previous critic the other day. He mentioned this school day review or the school year review: Is that being conducted by this department or is it again being done within the Curriculum branch?
Mrs. Vodrey: The school year committee is actually being handled from administration and the budget line is 16‑1(g). It has representation from stakeholders in education such as the Manitoba Teachers' Society, Manitoba Association of School Trustees, Manitoba Association of Superintendents, Manitoba Federation of Independent Schools, the Home & School & Parent‑Teacher Federation of Manitoba, Canadian Federation of Independent Business, and also Manitoba Education and Training.
Mr. Chomiak: I have a few additional questions in this area. Last year during the Estimates process, the minister indicated that there was a special human resources committee of cabinet that dealt with the co‑ordination of activities between various government departments. Insofar as we are into this, we are into the Planning, Research and Policy Co‑ordination aspect of the Estimates, I guess I will ask the minister whether she wishes me to deal with my questions on policy co‑ordination vis‑a‑vis other departments at this part of the appropriation or at some other part of the appropriations?
Mrs. Vodrey: Madam Chairperson, the deputy minister is chairing a deputy's review of this particular matter. It falls under the PDSS section of my Estimates, which is 16‑3.
Mr. Chomiak: Madam Chairperson, I will therefore postpone my questions in this area till that section of the appropriations.
The Leader of the Liberal Party (Mrs. Carstairs) made reference to the whole question of boundaries review, and I just want to echo some of the comments she made and add a few other comments for perhaps review by the minister.
From my vantage point, one of the major areas of concern with respect to the boundaries issue is the special needs student and the movement of a special needs student from one division to another division. I am wondering if the minister is aware of what mechanisms are in place between divisions for the co‑ordination of movement of an exceptional student from one division to another division?
Mrs. Vodrey: Madam Chairperson, I would like to inform the honourable member that school divisions do in fact make these transfers on their own, but their mechanisms have been fairly well developed over the past years. They seem to have good mechanisms by which clinical files are moved, information regarding the young person is also moved. Some of that is done through personal phone calls with teachers and resource teachers and clinicians.
I do have further information available in the PDSS section, and the appropriation is 16‑3(d) and (e).
Mr. Chomiak: Madam Chairperson, I have specific questions in this area as well as specific examples. Therefore, I will deal with those examples and those matters in the appropriate section that the minister wishes me to deal with them.
I just want to echo again the comments that were made previously with respect to the question of boundaries review, and the minister indicated the school divisions are autonomous. I will reiterate the comments of the Leader of the Liberal Party, which I have also made on many occasions myself, that we are in fact‑‑the minister is constitutionally responsible for education in this province. There is a question of leadership. There is a question of co‑ordination, and there is nothing wrong with sitting down with the various groups and individuals involved and providing them, and perhaps discussing with them, and outlining for them, some ideas with respect to co‑ordination that would improve the quality and delivery of education across the province.
There are a variety of areas including transportation, special needs, et cetera, that would well benefit by a more co‑ordinated approach. I will await the minister's comment on that.
Mrs. Vodrey: As a new minister and with the background that I bring to the work that I am doing now, I certainly must tell you that I am very concerned about the sharing of information, particularly with special needs young people, that they achieve the most appropriate placement for both themselves and their families. I really have been very committed in the time that I have been minister to discussion with those people who are particularly interested in special needs and in the other areas of sharing, which I think the member may be referring to.
I thank him for his comments, and I will have a look at it.
Mr. Chomiak: I will have further elaboration on those comments. I thank the minister for her comments.
What additional special projects are being undertaken and at what cost? I am referring to page 25 of the Supplementary Estimates book where footnote 1 says: "Increase is due to additional special projects being undertaken in 1992‑93." I wonder if the minister might outline what those special projects are.
Mrs. Vodrey: To explain the increases in special projects, the main factor is the legislative reform and there are costs associated with fees paid to panel members plus travel and accommodation. There are also other factors that explain the increase in the special project funding. They include first of all the enhancement of information base, and the branch is currently working closely with other branches and stakeholders such as MAST and MTS, school divisions, Council of Ministers of Education and universities to build a more effective database. Such a database includes information on a host of issues, including the enrollment patterns and other demographic trends, trends in education, new developments in educational research. This project calls for a fair amount of travel costs, but the need for enhancing the department's database is important.
Secondly, the implementation of the strategic planning process and the human resource development, and this particular project involves a great deal of meetings with other branches and colleges, and therefore it has resulted in travel and accommodation costs.
Thirdly, the project for adult basic education, and this project involves a comprehensive review of province‑wide programs and services in basic adult education. The cost of this project involves mailing and the printing of surveys.
Finally, the high school graduate trend analysis, and I have talked briefly about what we are looking for that analysis to do, and the costs will be incurred for that related to travel, survey implementation and analysis, and some consultation.
Mr. Chomiak: Madam Chairperson, can the minister indicate when we will see the results of the high school graduate survey?
Mrs. Vodrey: Madam Chairperson, the questionnaire has not yet gone out, but we are looking to have this information at least by the end of this fiscal year.
If I could just take a moment also to table one of the letters which I have received relating to school boundaries review, which I said that I would table. This letter is from the Manitoba Association of School Superintendents.
Mr. Chomiak: Madam Chairperson, I wonder if the minister can outline for me when she anticipates the legislation as a result of the panel on educational reform. I will indicate why I am asking that question: because the plan for the panel on educational reform called for the report to be printed and delivered to the minister by April 10 of this year. We are obviously behind, and the minister has indicated that she anticipates receiving the report in the summertime. That will then back up the legislation, which I had been led to believe by the previous minister and I believe by the minister that legislation would be tabled next spring session, or at least in 1993. I am wondering if the minister can outline for me the potential time lines for that legislation.
Mrs. Vodrey: Madam Chairperson, there is a great deal of
work involved in the legislative reform process, and I just would like to say,
though the honourable member has said we are, in his words, late, I certainly
do not think that he would mean that we should have limited the number of
presentations which we received. In
fact, people of
In that case, it would be very important that we not act hastily, that this is of necessity to be very quality legislation, and therefore it will take the time to draft. We also will want to check out with stakeholders what the recommendations are. So at this point, without giving a definite time, my suggestion is it will be at least one year after the receipt of the report.
Mr. Chomiak: Madam Chairperson, I have to rise to comment about the minister's interpretation of my remarks. The period for public presentation to the panel I believe was not extended, and that is not the reason that the report is necessarily, as I stated, late. In fact, the time line as published by the department indicated that the report would be compiled and finished, I believe, by March 1 and that it would be printed and handed to the minister by April 10. So it is the analytical side of the report, to my observation, that is late and is being prepared.
I just want to therefore ask the minister to confirm two things. She anticipates legislation being brought forward about a year after receipt of the report? Secondly, does she anticipate a white paper or anything along those lines with respect to the report?
Mrs. Vodrey: Madam Chairperson, first of all the lateness again, I would like to say the response to the public hearing process, the response to the mailed‑in reports was extremely high. There was no limitation on the numbers, and in fact the numbers of people who responded and Manitobans who responded was greater than anticipated. It is our belief as a government that those Manitobans should expect that the work that they put forward in bringing their information to this government should really be reviewed in a very fair and a very accurate process of analysis, and that does take time for people to believe that their work has been reasonably considered by this government in the work that we are doing.
Secondly, in regard to the suggestion of a white paper, at this point I have not seen the report and the decision has not been made regarding that. I would like to be fair to the panel, and I would like to see the report.
Mr. Chomiak: Can the minister indicate specifically whether the mandate or the instructions to the panel on education reform have changed in any way since the panel was initially set up?
Mrs. Vodrey: Madam Chairperson, no, they have not changed.
Mr. Chomiak: Can the minister indicate to me whether at any time since she has assumed the portfolio whether she has indicated any direction to that panel?
Mrs. Vodrey: Madam Chairperson, I have, in fact, met with the panel. The purpose of the meeting was, first of all, for us to have met each other face to face and to have taken the time to get to know a little bit about each other. At that time, I asked the panel to tell me a little bit about the process that they had used and to tell me a little bit about how things had gone in their work throughout the province.
I certainly enjoyed that meeting, because
it was very evident to me that all the information that the panel was able to
discuss was really attached to the people of
At that point, I also asked the panel where they were in their process of analysis and synthesis. Having been through that process at least four times myself, twice as a chairperson and twice as a member of a public task force, I am really very well aware of the difficulties and how time consuming that work is. I wanted to let the panel know that I certainly understood the process that they were going through as a panel, and I had an appreciation for the kind of work that they were doing at this point.
Other than that there had been, certainly I am informed from what had been said to them before, no change in direction following that.
Mr. Chomiak: Madam Chairperson, can the minister indicate whether anyone in this section of the department is undertaking any kind of comparative analysis or study of new legislative initiatives in other jurisdictions in other provinces?
Mrs. Vodrey: The planning and research department is in fact offering assistance to the Legislative Reform Panel, and some of that assistance is a review of the literature.
Secondly, they are also undertaking a
comparative analysis on behalf of the Legislative Reform Panel. I am informed that the
Mr. Chomiak: I personally find the
If memory serves me correctly, the bus transportation study is dealt under another item in the appropriations. I am asking direction of the minister whether we deal with it at this point or at some other number under appropriations.
Mrs. Vodrey: That item is dealt with under Administration and Professional Certification and the line is 16‑1(g).
Madam Chairperson: Item 1.(c) Planning, Research and Policy Co‑ordination: (1) Salaries $370,600‑‑pass; (2) Other Expenditures $341,700‑‑pass.
1.(d) Personnel Services: (1) Salaries $334,600‑‑
Mr. Chomiak: Can the minister provide us with a list of all the vacant positions currently in existence at the department?
Mrs. Vodrey: That is a question which we will have to take under advisement and report back.
Mr. Chomiak: Last year, the Department of Education, in the budget, received the second highest level of cuts from the government. Of all departments, only Natural Resources exceeded that. I believe it was, 176.5 positions were cut. I am wondering if it is possible to obtain a listing of the positions that have been cut from the department.
Mrs. Vodrey: I am pleased to let my honourable friend know that this year there have been no layoffs in the Department of Education, but I will take his question under advisement and report back.
Mr. Chomiak: I am wondering if the minister will also‑‑I presume she will take it under advisement‑‑but also if she will provide us with information as to the positions that have been filled at the department in the last 12 months.
Mrs. Vodrey: That is a question I will also take under advisement and I will report back.
Mr. Chomiak: Can the minister indicate to me who is presently staffing the Manitoba Education library's multicultural education resource centre?
Mrs. Vodrey: That information does come under PDSS also, and the appropriation is 16‑3.
Madam Chairperson: (f).
Mrs. Vodrey: 16‑3(f).
Mr. Chomiak: Can the minister outline for me for the status of pay equity at the divisional level across the province?
Mrs. Vodrey: The information regarding pay equity and the divisions currently involved does fall under the Schools' Finance Branch and the appropriation is 16‑2.
Mr. Chomiak: Does it fall under the overall Schools' Finance Branch or the interdepartmentals?
Mrs. Vodrey: Madam Chairperson, the information regarding pay equity and the divisions currently involved, this falls under the Schools' Finance Branch, and the appropriation is 16‑2.
Mr. Chomiak: Does it fall under the overall Schools' Finance Branch or the interdepartmental Schools' Finance Branch?
Mrs. Vodrey: Madam Chairperson, it falls under the Schools' Finance Branch, which is responsible to funding for schools, and the appropriation is 16‑2.
Mrs. Carstairs: With respect to this particular branch, can the minister tell me just what is the status of hiring with respect to the Civil Service Commission?
Mrs. Vodrey: Madam Chairperson, the department is currently operating with a staffing work‑share agreement with the Civil Service Commission. The details of the agreement were developed between the staff of the Civil Service Commission and the personnel staff of the department. The work‑share agreement, again, is between the Civil Service Commission and the deputy minister for the department.
Under the work‑share agreement, the department continues to be responsible for various procedures associated with recruitment and selection of staff. Work‑share differs from staffing delegation in that, under work‑share the department communicates with the Civil Service Commission on each step of the process, and the actual letter of offer prepared within the department is signed by a staff member of the Civil Service Commission.
Mrs. Carstairs: Is it the minister's intention to continue with this mode, or will she be looking towards getting back a full delegation?
Madam Chairperson: Order, please. The hour being 5 p.m. and time for private members' hour, I am interrupting the proceedings. The Committee of Supply will reconvene at 8 p.m. this evening.
Call in the Speaker.
PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
Mr. Speaker: The hour being 5 p.m., time for private members' hour.
Mr. Neil Gaudry (St.
Boniface): I move, seconded by the member for
Res. 16‑Video Lottery Terminals
Mr. Bob Rose (
WHEREAS in an effort to boost the rural
economy, Video Lottery Terminals (VLTs) are in operation throughout rural
WHEREAS the administrative office will be located in a rural community; and
WHEREAS the new VLTs will create a much‑needed source of new revenue through tourist dollars; and
WHEREAS they will also ensure that money
generated in rural
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba encourage the government to continue to develop this and other programs as part of our growing economy.
Mr. Rose: Mr. Speaker, it is certainly a pleasure for me today to introduce this resolution for consideration in the Assembly. I think it is indicative of this government's recognition of the importance of the rural economy to our province and indicative of the recognition that this government has given to that very important concern.
One of the most seriously affected
industries in rural Manitoba, and I know that there are members of the
opposition who will be particularly interested in this, in the last few years
has been our rural hotels where, because of the declining economy in rural
Manitoba through the agricultural economy, but also the declining tourism that
has occurred because of the high Canadian dollar, and the high tax regime that
was left by the former government that has made it very difficult for any
business to operate in Manitoba, the hotels in rural Manitoba have been
seriously affected. It was important, of
course, to give them consideration in an effort to improve the economy of rural
So the effort to introduce the video lottery terminals does not only address that problem of the concerns of the hotels in our rural part of the province, but also moves towards improving tourism.
This forward‑looking initiative was
introduced in July of last year, less than a year ago, Mr. Speaker, by the
minister responsible to‑‑the honourable Minister of Culture,
Heritage and Citizenship (Mrs. Mitchelson).
In less than one year this well‑planned and well‑researched
initiative has revitalized the hotel industry across rural
In Turtle Mountain, for example, in my constituency we have video lottery terminals in Souris, Baldur, Cartwright, La Riviere, Killarney, Minto, Ninette, more in Killarney, in Dunrea, in Pilot Mound and in two locations in Boissevain for a total of, I did not add them all up, Mr. Speaker, but I would suggest there are probably about 50 of these machines located in Turtle Mountain.
I think the impact of the introduction of these machines is perhaps best described by one of the hotel managers in his own words, as he was quoted in the Winnipeg Free Press in early December just shortly after the terminals had been installed in the Souris Motor Inn.
Bob Young, the manager of the Souris Motor Inn was quoted as saying that to begin with it took him about four hours a day to do the book work for the machines when he first got them in mid‑November. Now he has got it down to half an hour a day and is very happy with the not overwhelming, but very positive business the machines are bringing in.
Mr. Gordon goes on to say there is always some activity going on at his six machines. More than half the people who come in, give it a try. It is hard to tell if business has increased, he said, most people playing are not drinking a lot, some have a beer, some have a coffee, but they never leave the game, he says.
I am continuing to quote the hotel manager with personal experience and personal observation. He goes on to say it is pretty hard to lose a lot of money here, and some people are winning up to $100. The machines pay out between 92 and 95 percent of the money in prizes, and the bar owners or hotel owners get 20 percent of the net proceeds. It covers our costs, says Mr. Young, and gives us a small profit. The people do not begrudge putting in money, because the government says it is going into rural economic development, which we badly need, he adds.
I would like to point out that this quote is taken from last December, and the government said last December that money from these VLTs was going to rural economic development, and as we will illustrate in a few moments, Mr. Speaker, that is exactly where it has gone.
Secondly, it must pass a security test with a minimum number that can be installed is two, and the maximum number installed will be based on seating space and the customer traffic. You will notice from the statistics I read a moment ago that some of the present locations will be receiving more machines as they have indicated that there is a use for them.
Now certainly, Mr. Speaker, this has not only helped the rural hotel industry through improved traffic through their doors, but as we move into the summer tourist season it will certainly help the tourist traffic in rural Manitoba, across all of Manitoba as well.
I think we had to recognize when we were introducing the video lottery terminals that tourism is more than just trying to attract new people. We have to recognize that when we are talking about the tourism business that it is a very competitive business and that every jurisdiction is after the scarce tourist dollar. So when we look around us and see other jurisdictions in the northern United States and some of the provinces in Canada introducing these kinds of entertaining games, it became very obvious that if we were to maintain our competition in the tourism business, then we would have to do something similar.
It is a well‑known fact in the business world that if one just stands still one falls far behind, and one has to keep changing and adapting to the times.
In Turtle Mountain again, for example, in my constituency, I can think of the attractions for the tourists that are already there and have been there for a number of years like the swinging bridge in Souris and the rock shop, the agate pit where there is some beautiful jewellery that can be made from the agates that are in the gravel pit.
There are many lakes in
There is also horse racing. Speaking of races, in Wawanesa and Pilot Mound, just last year it was our pleasure as a government to name the North West Mounted Police Boundary Commission Route across southern Manitoba commemorating the trek of the Boundary Commission and also promoting the wagon train that follows that route, more or less, every year.
These are just but a few of the tourist attractions in rural Manitoba in Turtle Mountain, and certainly the video lottery terminals are going to add a great deal and give another opportunity for entertainment as our visitors come this summer.
We have these, as I mentioned, all across
This thrust has also helped rural
Mr. Speaker, it is perhaps a little early to tell about how successful these will be over the long run, but when we look at the fact that they have only been in operation since last fall when the first one went into Brandon and realize that we expect a little over $5 million to be available to directly inject back into the rural economy, it is an indication, of course, that they will be a very successful undertaking.
Just recently the Minister of Rural
Development, the Honourable Len Derkach, announced the REDI program. I spoke earlier of the confidence of the
hotel manager in
First of all, the Development Support Program will obviously go towards projects which are an important part of the Communities Economic Development plan and that clearly show the potential for new economic development and employment opportunities.
Secondly, of course, we have the Feasibility Studies Program where some funds from the REDI program will be made available to that.
Mr. Neil Gaudry (St. Boniface): Are there any results?
Mr. Rose: The honourable member for St. Boniface (Mr. Gaudry) asks if there are any results. Since it has only been in operation a couple of weeks it is perhaps a little early to be able to illustrate concrete results, but I am confident that just as this Video Lottery Terminal program was only introduced last fall, and we are already showing results of $5 million, I am confident within a short time the REDI program will show those kinds of results as well.
In the Feasibility Studies Program, of
course, this will enhance the current Feasibility Studies Program that is
provided and administrated by the Department of Industry, Trade and Tourism,
and it will better serve, I think, the needs of rural
Also there is an Infrastructure Development program, and this I think is obvious to where this will be directed. The grants will be provided to local government and regional or local economic organizations to areas such as energy servicing upgrading, extending or improving sewer and water services, transportation access, waste disposal facilities, telecommunications systems, that sort of thing.
The final major program under the REDI initiative is the MBA Student Consulting Program for rural businesses, and that will consist of some help with accounting and with record‑keeping systems, marketing and feasibility studies. There are many, many people in Manitoba that are interested in becoming self‑employed and starting off some of their own enterprises, but quite often they have had no experience in running a business of their own. Despite the opinion of some members of the House, as expressed when the Grow Bond was first introduced, it is not a case of the people in rural Manitoba not being capable of being able to operate these businesses, but perhaps they do need a little bit of help from trained professional people along the lines of how to operate a business.
Well, I could go on for quite a while
about the advantages of the REDI program.
I think, though, that I should just say that when I was drafting this
resolution I was very, very careful, because I did not want it to appear as if
I was just patting the government on the back or congratulating the government
even though it was very richly deserved.
But I wanted to use this resolution in this Chamber to send a message of
concern to rural
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba encourage the government to continue to develop this and other programs as part of our growing economy.
I am confident that the honourable member
for Interlake (Mr. Clif Evans), and the honourable member for Swan River (Ms.
Wowchuk), and even the honourable member for St. Boniface (Mr. Gaudry)‑‑I
have been particularly impressed with his genuine concern for rural Manitoba in
the last few weeks as evidenced in his carefully researched and carefully
crafted and documented questions to the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Findlay). I can tell that he is concerned and
interested in rural
Mr. Speaker, the Video Lottery Terminal program is accomplishing its goal as a new form of entertainment by creating an economic boost‑‑
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The honourable member's time has expired.
Ms. Rosann Wowchuk (Swan River): Mr. Speaker, we have a resolution here that is supporting economic growth in rural Manitoba, and it would be very difficult to not support a resolution such as this, because anybody who comes from the rural community knows that economic growth is very important, and we would support a resolution that, as I say, addresses the rural economy. All of us who represent the rural communities know what great difficulties we are having right now with economic growth.
But before I get into this resolution, I
have one comment to make on what the member just said about the hotel industry
and his blaming of the previous government for the difficulties the hotel
industry was in. I want to remind the
Also, members of the hotel industry are wondering, since this government is so anxious to support the whole hotel industry, whether or not they are looking at putting some of this money that is raised from the lottery terminals into supporting the hotel industry. I am not sure, we have not heard what the government's position is on that.
Coming back to the resolution on economic
growth, I think that I would just like to reflect on the
For economic growth to happen, as I said, we need support. We need funds that may be allocated from the lottery terminals, but we also need a government commitment that they are prepared to invest dollars. Besides the dollars that are raised from the video lottery terminals, government has to show their commitment, and they have to support by showing leadership and providing resources. That is why I have great difficulty with, on one hand, the government saying they are going to put lottery terminals into the rural community to raise money, but then cutting back on the regional development corporations as they did in the last budget.
These regional development corporations were doing a very good job of helping communities, doing the resource work for communities that had ideas for economic growth. To have that resource taken away from them slaps in the face of the other side saying that you want to put dollars into the community.
The resolution says, and government has said previously, that the lottery terminals will generate new money from tourism. Mr. Speaker, we have questioned that statement from the beginning and I will continue to question that statement. We felt that this would be money raised from the local people rather than from tourism, and in many cases money raised from those people who can least afford it.
We know the history of gambling. Many times it gives false hope to people. They end up gambling because they think they might get that extra money and end up spending the money that should be spent in other ways. The member says that the money is going to be raised from tourism. One of the people who has the lottery terminals at the present time indicates that 99 percent of the money that is raised at his terminals comes from an area within five to 10 miles of his establishment.
Now this is not tourism money, this is local money being raised on the backs, as I said, of those who many times can least afford to pay the money into it. If this is the way the government has chosen to raise funds to support the rural community, I guess we have to live with it, but I do not think we should say that it is money that is going to come from tourism. It is money that is coming from the rural community back into the rural community.
With that it raises the question of how
the funds will be distributed. Many
people have been calling our offices asking about that issue. For example, if the money is raised in the
The other concern is how much money will be distributed. On July 31, the announcement was made that the terminals would generate $5.3 million. However, on April 14, when the minister made the announcement on the distribution of the funds, the amount dropped to $2.4 million. Now, that is a substantial decrease, and you wonder what has happened to this program that got such high promotion that we were going to have $5.3 million, now down to $2.4 million. What has happened? Is it a sign that the money is not coming from tourism as they had anticipated, or is it just a sign of the difficult times that the rural communities are in?
We are told that the funds will be
distributed through the REDI program.
That is one area that I have a concern.
The minister has said that the office will be located in rural
As the amount of funds available is much
less than anticipated, I think that it is very important that these funds be
distributed fairly, and it is very important, as was stressed by the members of
MAUM, that this distribution be done free of political interference. We suggest that an independent body be set
up, for example, with representatives from MAUM, UMM,
I think, Mr. Speaker, that it is very
important that that be done in such a way.
I want to encourage this government to continue in efforts that will
stimulate the growth of rural
I hear the members opposite groaning at the possibility of an amendment, but Mr. Speaker, they have asked us many times for support and advice and with that in mind, that is what we have done here. We are putting forward positive suggestions that will help the government do a fairer distribution of these funds.
Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the member for Selkirk (Mr. Dewar),
THAT the "THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED" clause be deleted and that the following clauses be added after the final "WHEREAS":
WHEREAS it is important that the revenues
from these terminals are spread throughout rural
WHEREAS the Manitoba Association of Urban Municipalities, amongst many others, have recommended that the Rural Economic Development Initiative program fund the program on a nonpartisan basis; and
WHEREAS the REDI program should focus on business development, conservation projects, and tourist developments in the areas of the province with the highest unemployment; and
WHEREAS to accomplish this, representatives from MAUM, UMM, the University of Brandon, and Keewatin Community College could be chosen to act as a neutral body to choose which projects could be funded; and
WHEREAS there is a strong desire in rural
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba encourage the government to consider locating the administrative office of the REDI program in a community with high unemployment that has lost jobs through the government cutbacks of the last three budgets; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Assembly
encourage the government to consider setting up a nonpartisan committee
composed of a representative each from the Manitoba Association of Rural
Municipalities, Manitoba Urban Municipalities Association, the
Hon. James Downey (Minister of Energy and Mines): Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak on the amended resolution, but I may just touch briefly on the resolution as I make my comments.
My first expression is one of
disappointment. The member for
An Honourable Member: Sincere disappointment.
Mr. Downey: Yes, my sincere disappointment. The member for Swan River, who I thought was prepared to co‑operate and work with the government as it comes to helping rural Manitoba, and for her to bring forward this resolution without a more defined and clearly expressed reasoning for not just going ahead and voting for the resolution and adding an amendment and getting on with the support of rural Manitoba, is one that I cannot explain on her behalf, but I may have to; I may have to explain on her behalf to her constituents delay to the passage of a program and the intent of a program to help the constituency.
Mr. Speaker, I guess, the WHEREASes‑‑and I will just go through them, that she has introduced.
WHEREAS it is important that the revenues
from these terminals are spread throughout rural
WHEREAS the Manitoba Association of Urban Municipalities, amongst many others, have recommended that the Rural Economic Development Initiative program fund the program on a nonpartisan basis.
I have not seen any evidence that they
would have accused us or have accused the government of doing it on a partisan
basis. Is she saying that the
Point of Order
Ms. Wowchuk: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, the member for Rural Development has said that I do not have facts to back this statement that I have made. I would‑‑
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The honourable member does not have a point of order. It is a dispute over the facts.
* * *
Mr. Downey: I have serious concern, and I want to point that out, that the member is saying that we, as a government, are doing it on a partisan basis and that the urban municipalities have accused us of that. Well, I think she at least owes the urban municipal organization an apology. I can assure her that it will not be done on a partisan basis. It will be done on a fair and equitable basis as all programs have been delivered by this government. So we cannot support the resolution on the basis of the accusation that the member is bringing forward on behalf of the urban municipalities.
WHEREAS the REDI program should focus on business development, conservation projects and tourist developments in the areas of the province with the highest unemployment. Well, Mr. Speaker, can the member be more helpful? On what basis is she making this reference? Is she talking about large centres, small centres? It is unfortunate that we have unemployment, but she is not very clear on what she is talking about here. She is just saying with areas of unemployment‑‑[interjection] Well, I guess what we are suffering from is the international recessionary times, the difficulties that we have had in agriculture.
We have certainly inherited a very
difficult situation from the previous administration, and I will talk some
about the North. We have seen several
hundreds of millions of dollars spent on northern economic development under
the Northern Development Agreement. When
we got into government we had spent probably close to $300 million and a lot of
the communities, particularly the native communities, were sitting with unemployment
rates of 90 percent. So their answers to
the problems in rural and northern
She has not made herself clear as to what centres she is suggesting that this particular operation should be located. Again, how can she expect a government to make decisions on the kinds of statements that she is putting forward like that? I can assure her that what we are seeing take place through the rural development Grow Bonds and through the REDI programs that we have brought some measures to bear that will turn around the unemployment difficulties throughout rural Manitoba.
That is why I suggested she should have come
straightforward with support of the resolution that was brought forward by the member
Again, she says WHEREAS to accomplish
this, representatives from MAUM, UMM, the
I can assure her though, Mr. Speaker, that
the government in the appointing of the Grow Bond program, that the government
on its representation on all boards and commissions has been fair and balanced
in their appointments to looking after the affairs as it relates to the boards
and commissions for the people of the
How could she question anyway when she has not brought forward any specific examples that we have not done it properly? [interjection] Yes, again, Mr. Speaker, putting forward something that I do not believe could be supported.
WHEREAS there is a strong desire in rural
Again, it would have been helpful if she would again have supported the resolution as it was initially introduced, so we could get on with the job, but she is delaying the getting on with work to support our rural economic activities. So I would hope that she would reconsider in the amending of the resolution, so that we can not be frustrated with the workings of this House but to get on with some positive initiatives that have been introduced by my colleague, the Minister of Rural Development (Mr. Derkach).
Well, there we get to the therefores and THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba encourage the government to consider locating the administrative office of the REDI program in a community with high unemployment that has lost jobs through the government cutbacks of the last three budgets.
Mr. Speaker, I cannot agree with
that. In fact, this government did more
to help our rural economy through decentralization and some other initiatives
that have been brought forward. [interjection] That is right. My colleague the Minister of Labour (Mr.
Praznik) is just bringing forward the fact that the government of
Mr. Speaker, where there were some program
changes, let me explain it is because we were burdened with the expensive government
mistakes of the previous administration under the New Democratic Party, where
there was the spending of $27 million in Saudi Arabia in a telephone
system. How much benefit did that give
to the people of
An Honourable Member: How much was that bridge to Selkirk?
Mr. Downey: That bridge in Selkirk without a road to it
was probably in the neighbourhood of $30 million. That is close to $60 million that was poofed
into the wind, Mr. Speaker, and the people of
Decisions, and I say they were difficult decisions that had to be made with some of the government programming, Mr. Speaker, have not been easy, but we have not done it at the expense of any one rural community. We have diversified, decentralized, and I think are on a path where our rural communities will show some strength as the economy improves.
I will get to the final THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba encourage the government to consider setting up a nonpartisan committee composed of a representative from each of the Manitoba Association of Rural Municipalities‑‑what would make the member think anything else but the fact that we would set up a nonpartisan body, another nonpartisan body, Mr. Speaker, as we have demonstrated in all other areas? What she is again calling for, if she is calling for another bureaucracy, it cannot happen because you use your money up spent on bureaucracy and not helping the communities.
So I cannot support her amendment. I cannot support her amendment because it is
really just delaying getting on with the activities of supporting rural
Again, what she is saying, that all of the decisions should be made by this body, is that what she is saying? That the Executive Council, cabinet and this Legislature should not be responsible for the allocation of funds? Does she want all of the decisions turned over to this body?
Is that what she is suggesting? [interjection] Well, again, I am asking the question as to what her resolution, her amendment to the resolution means. We know what our resolution said. It was straightforward. It said: THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba encourage the government to continue to develop this and other programs as part of our growing economy.
Why could she not have come
straightforward and supported an excellent resolution like this rather than to
try and play politics with rural
Talking about being partisan, Mr. Speaker, she has clearly demonstrated how the New Democratic Party have operated in the past, and how they would operate in the future. They would operate totally on a partisan basis, making decisions as to‑‑I know that the NDP are very partisan or they would have stood right up and supported, without question, this resolution to help get the rural economy growing rather than to play the politics that they are playing with this amended resolution.
So I am extremely disappointed that the member is, first of all, trying to speak on behalf of the urban association, putting in their mouths that they are accusing us of doing the partisan activities that are not in the general interests of all the public. I would ask her if she is prepared to go the next urban association meeting and apologize to them for leaving that inference that they would accuse us of being partisan.
Putting words in their mouth is very, very
dangerous, using a duly elected body in rural
I would hope that she is able to stand and say that these are her thoughts, that they are not just politically driven from the support staff, because I believe we had an excellent resolution. I believe it was one that should have been unanimously supported by all members of the House right like that and get on with the activities of supporting our rural communities. Again, the NDP party could not let it be quite that simple. They had to introduce their partisan views. They had to delay the whole activity that was intended by this resolution. So I am at this time, unless I get some answers from the member for Swan River (Ms. Wowchuk), some answers that further give support to this resolution, I am not able to support the amended resolution, because it causes me no end of difficulty‑‑
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The honourable minister's time has expired. Leave? Does the honourable minister have leave to conclude his remarks? Leave denied.
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (
It has been awhile since I have used the word "hypocrisy," and it is somewhat unparliamentary to say that an individual has some hypocrisy in some of the things that they say, so I will not say it. Mr. Speaker, it was amazing when the Deputy Premier stands and he talks about apolitical, when he stands and he talks about grants. Us, not us. Political? No, not the Conservative caucus, not the Conservative government.
Well, I think you would have to search
many governments, not only in
They talk about the rural bonds program, the Altona office. What does the Deputy Premier do? He appoints his own E.A., Mr. Speaker, to one of the positions. Is that not a political appointment? This minister, the Deputy Premier, had any of the Conservative backbenchers made the same statements, I would not have felt as obligated to stand up and talk about the whole question of patronage, but the Deputy Premier is the one who sits on the EPC for this government, at least rumour has it.
The Deputy Premier is one of the worst individuals. When I go through the OCs, his name is at the bottom of most of them. I can tell you about political patronage and the patronage that I have seen from this particular minister. I do not know how he could possibly stand up today and put on the record the comments that he said. [interjection] The member for St. Norbert (Mr. Laurendeau) wants me to be relevant so I am going to be relevant. I am going to be very relevant in dealing with the resolution itself.
Mr. Speaker, no one questions the need for
rural economic development. No one
questions that, but I will tell you something.
I question the government that does not recognize the importance of
rural development in the sense that, if we did not have the video lottery
terminals, they would not have had the program, that they would not have cared
for what was happening in rural
I made reference to the rural Grow Bond program on many different occasions, and I support the rural Grow Bond. I do not necessarily support how the Deputy Premier has chosen to politicize it, but I do support it.
Mr. Speaker, the video lottery terminals themselves, well, you will find every time the government wants to do something controversial, whether it is the video lotteries, whether it is the casino, that the government likes to tie into something that is very popular.
We all remember when they brought in the casino, they said, well, it is for health care. Who could question, Mr. Speaker? Health care is a No. 1 priority. When they brought in the video lottery terminals, what did they say? They said it was for the rural economy. Who can question the rural economy and trying to get the rural economy moving and shaking?
After all, we know that the Liberal Party's position is very clear. We will do what is necessary in order to try to ensure that we have Bill 51, a bill that has been introduced by the member for The Maples (Mr. Cheema), put into this Legislature, and we hope that the Deputy Premier (Mr. Downey) will speak on that bill. We too would like to see rural economic development and where we have seen positive things like the Hydro bonds. The member for Osborne (Mr. Alcock) has stood up and has given comments to it.
Our caucus is continuously represented by the member for St. Boniface (Mr. Gaudry), who goes out to all the different rural ridings, Mr. Speaker, to ensure that the caucus is kept informed and up to date in terms of what is going on and brings to the table economic development ideas. The member for St. Boniface has made reference to the fact that tourism, something that the resolution deals with, the member for St. Boniface made the suggestion in terms of why do we have it with Industry, Trade and Tourism?
Industry and Trade is busy enough, Mr. Speaker, that we could take tourism away from that particular department and give it a higher profile. We all recognize the importance of tourism.
The government on the issue of gambling
has not really debated it. This is the
first time where it has really come to the Chamber in a resolution form where
the government is willing to address the whole question of gambling. Did the member who introduced the resolution
talk about gambling? Did he tell us what
his constituents thought about gambling?
Has his government that has introduced the program or the casino talked
about gambling and the impact of gambling on the
Mr. Speaker, I like to think that that is a part of the issue. That is an issue. [interjection] The member for St. Norbert (Mr. Laurendeau) wants to know, what is my position on gambling? Well, I would have loved to have had the opportunity to listen to what the people had to say, whether it is in a committee form, an informal committee, caucus representation and so forth.
But the government did not want to talk about that. The government intentionally tried to prevent that debate from occurring. The Deputy Premier (Mr. Downey) asked if I am against the rural development. Mr. Speaker, I am not against rural development. I often wonder if the Deputy Premier is against rural development from some of the actions that he takes, especially when it comes to the actions most recent.
When I see him stand up today and talk, I am not political. Tell me something that I do that is political, the Deputy Premier says. Well, Mr. Speaker, I can tell you, on several occasions where I would argue that the Deputy Premier has been more political than any other member inside this Chamber, even the Premier.
Mr. Speaker, the words that the Deputy Premier said during private members' hour really surprised me, in the sense that I always thought that the Deputy Premier would not take such a flip‑flop or such a change in mind or a change in heart. But, being the nice guy that I am, believing that the Deputy Premier is an honourable man, I believe that he is going to change his ways. We saw the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Enns) change his way on heritage funding. I heard the Deputy Premier say, no, we do not believe in politically appointed boards.
Mr. Speaker, I would suggest to the Deputy Premier that he do what the Minister of Natural Resources did, in the sense of, support the opposition parties on depoliticizing. The amendment, in fairness, makes an attempt to depoliticize what this government, no doubt, will want to politicize, because I look at the individuals who are responsible for the program, the individuals who want to implement.
I think that there is some merit. It might not necessarily be the best way at handing out the monies that are derived from the video machines. But I think that the message is fairly clear, that we have to look at different ways of ensuring that programs that governments come up with, that are supported from all sides of this House, have to be as apolitical as possible.
Mr. Speaker, with those few words, I thank you for the opportunity to put some words on the record. Thank you very much.
Mr. Ben Sveinson (La Verendrye): Mr. Speaker, it is an interesting thing sometimes to sit here and occasionally listen to some of our members from across the way. The other day, I was speaking here, and I spoke somewhat on the negative attitude that is projected from the seats across the way‑‑very negative. If we might just touch on a few things here. [interjection] Well, I am getting to you, just a minute.
I Found it. Nonpartisan, this is it. The words here, nonpartisan, pointing towards people, not necessarily the government, but, in fact, the people who are putting the program forward is what I get out of here. Are you pointing a finger at the people working within this department? Are you‑‑[interjection] That is what I read here. I really think, perhaps‑‑
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. When this matter is again before the House, the honourable member for La Verendrye (Mr. Sveinson) will have 13 minutes remaining.
The hour being 6 p.m., I am leaving the Chair with the understanding that the House will reconvene at 8 p.m. in Committee of Supply.