LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF
Friday, June 12, 1992
The House met at 10 a.m.
MATTER OF PRIVILEGE
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Second Opposition House Leader): Mr. Speaker, I would like to rise on a matter of privilege.
Beauchesne's points out that it should be raised at the earliest possible time and should be dealt with by a motion that gives the power of this House to impose reparation or apply a remedy.
Mr. Speaker, something has occurred over the last week that causes great concern for myself and my caucus colleagues, in fact, something that I believe would be of concern to everyone inside this Chamber.
It is in respect to the rules that govern this House, something that all of us have a role to ensure that they are in fact maintained to the best of our abilities.
Last Monday during private members' hour, I had stood up and asked to have a quorum count. This is what the quorum count read, and the Clerk read it, that Mr. Manness was here, Mr. Cummings was here, Mr. Ernst was here, Mr. Laurendeau was here, Mrs. McIntosh was here, Mr. Reimer was here, Mr. Lamoureux‑‑myself‑‑and Mr. Martindale.
Mr. Speaker, that added up to eight. If you add yourself in, that gave nine. Well, because of the circumstances surrounding it, I did not question it at the time when you said that there was a quorum here, because shortly after or during the Clerk calling the names a couple other members had entered the House, even though I understand that they should not have been allowed to enter the House.
Well, Mr. Speaker, you had decided that in fact a quorum was in the House. Because of that decision, I did not feel it was appropriate because I did not know what it was that you had based it on and had planned on talking to you about it.
What causes me to rise today on a matter of privilege is, yesterday the Minister of Finance (Mr. Manness) stood in his place and asked for quorum. I read from the on‑line from the Legislative Library, those that were present: Mr. Manness, Mr. Cummings, Mr. Neufeld, Mr. Lamoureux, Ms. Friesen, Mr. Santos, Mr. Martindale, Mr. Edwards. Then, Mr. Speaker, you yourself pointed out at that time, you have eight plus the Speaker, makes nine, there is no quorum present due to the lack of quorum.
It goes on to say, an honourable member rose for a point of order, and that honourable member was myself, because I wanted to point it out at that time but, unfortunately, I was not able to bring it to light then, which brings me to why I am bringing it forward now, Mr. Speaker.
It is in fact the earliest possible time I
have to bring it to this Chamber. What I
believe is necessary, Mr. Speaker, is that we need to have that particular rule
clarified. Is the quorum the count that
the Clerk gives, and should those individuals who came in possibly during or
right after the count have been included in the quorum as that happened?
[interjection! Well, the member for
It is very important that the rules be consistent and, because of that inconsistency, the member for St. James (Mr. Edwards), who was addressing a very serious issue, was not allowed to finish his grievance. At no fault of his own, the member for St. James‑‑
Some Honourable Members: Oh, oh.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The honourable Minister of Health (Mr. Orchard) is having great difficulty in hearing this. This is a very serious matter.
Mr. Lamoureux: Mr. Speaker, what we are calling into question is the rules. The Minister of Health might have some opinions and might want to try to justify some of the government's actions toward the defending of the minister, but that is another issue that will be dealt with no doubt in the future some time.
The issue that we have before us is a very serious one and, I would suggest, Mr. Speaker, should be dealt with in a very quick fashion because we do not know when another quorum could be called.
Having said that, I wanted to move, seconded
by the member for
Doug Martindale (Acting Opposition House Leader): Mr.
Speaker, I note that the member for
There are a number of problems with this as a matter of privilege. One is it was not the first opportunity. I think the member should have raised it when Votes and Proceedings were published or when Hansard was published. His problem was really with what may have been an error on Monday, rather than what happened yesterday.
However, it seems that both the government and the Liberals are wont to call a quorum. We will let them do that. We would rather get out of here and end the session in June rather than in July or August, because the public has the right to present briefs at committees and to follow the proceedings of the Legislature, and that will not happen if we are here until August. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Hon. Clayton Manness (Government House Leader): Mr. Speaker, I am going to have a hard time following that act. The acting House leader from the opposition party makes some very good points.
I, too, agree that this should be raised as a
point of order and should have been raised as a point of order. It should have been raised as a point of
order indeed at the time at which, if in the mind of the member for
Certainly Monday indeed was the proper
time. The rule is very clear. The rule does not say nine; the rule does not
say eight; the rule says 10. Even the
So the rule is very clear, and I think the member had every opportunity on Monday, if he sensed there was an injustice, to rise at that time on a point of order.
What is obvious is that the Liberal Party is bankrupt of issues and, of course, they will try and disturb the proceedings of this House on every opportunity as the vast majority is trying to work to an orderly wind‑down of this House.
Mr. Speaker, yesterday it was a grievance of the Liberal Party. It is their responsibility to have members from their party in support of that grievance. It is not incumbent upon the government to have in place all the members of this Legislature. It is incumbent upon the Liberals to have members in their seats to support their own grievance. If they fail to do so, they have nowhere to look but at themselves for their lack of support.
So this should be dealt as a point of order, in my view.
Mr. Speaker: I would like to thank all honourable members for their advice on this matter. Indeed, I will take this matter under advisement, peruse Hansard to find out what all members have said, and I will come back to the House with a ruling.
Ms. Jean Friesen (Wolseley): Mr. Speaker, I would like to present the petition of Fran Watson, Doreen Fines, Pat Vancaeyzeele and others requesting the government to consider restoring the former full funding of $700,000 to fight Dutch elm disease.
PRESENTING REPORTS BY STANDING AND SPECIAL COMMITTEES
Mr. Jack Penner (Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Public Utilities and Natural Resources): I would like to present the Seventh Report of the Standing Committee on Public Utilities and Natural Resources.
Mr. Clerk (William Remnant): Your Standing Committee on Public Utilities and Natural Resources presents the following as its Seventh Report.
Your committee met on Thursday, June 11, 1992,
at 10 a.m. in Room 255 of the
Mr. Derek Smith, President and Chief Executive Officer, and Mr. Al Ahoff, Vice‑President Finance and Administration, provided such information as was requested with respect to the Annual Report and business of the Manitoba Liquor Control Commission.
Your committee has considered the Annual Report of the Manitoba Liquor Control Commission for the year ended March 31, 1991, and has adopted the same as presented.
All of which is respectfully submitted.
Mr. Penner: I move, seconded by the honourable member for La Verendrye (Mr. Sveinson), that the report of the committee be received.
Motion agreed to.
Mrs. Shirley Render (Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections): Mr. Speaker, I beg to present the First Report on the Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections.
Mr. Clerk: Your Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections presents the following as its First Report.
Your committee met on Thursday, June 11, 1992,
at 10 a.m. in Room 254 of the
Your committee adopted at its June 11, 1992, meeting the following recommendation:
THAT The Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections recommends that
this committee will advertise extensively within
B) that the dates of the hearings will be established by an all‑party consensus, and
C) that the said committee report back to the Legislative Assembly not later than June 30, 1993.
Your committee reports that it has considered the operations of and matters pertaining to the Freedom of Information Act.
All of which is respectfully submitted.
Mrs. Render: I move, seconded by the honourable member for Niakwa (Mr. Reimer), that the report of the committee be received.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Rosemary Vodrey (Minister of Education and Training): Mr. Speaker, I have a statement for the House.
I rise today to share with the House details on an urgent matter concerning the withdrawal of federal government support under the Post‑Secondary Student Support Program for Status Indians enrolled in the university and college ACCESS programs at the time of the expiry of the Northern Development Agreement.
The ACCESS programs are special post‑secondary
initiatives funded by the
As the members of the Assembly are undoubtedly aware, the NDA expired in March, 1990. During the following two years, we reached agreements to ensure the federal government met its responsibility to provide eligible Status students with financial support for regular tuition costs, living expenses and books, thus enabling those students enrolled in ACCESS programs at the time of the expiry of the NDA to continue their studies.
This fiscal year, however, the federal
government has chosen to abrogate its responsibilities to the 96 continuing
Status students who were enrolled in the ACCESS programs prior to the expiry of
the NDA. I cannot state too strongly,
Mr. Speaker, that the federal government's unwillingness to accept funding responsibility
for certain Status Indians in post‑secondary ACCESS programs is
unacceptable to the
Our government and I firmly believe that the
federal government must honour its commitment to the 96 Status students enrolled
under the Northern Development Agreement.
The federal government's refusal to do so is contrary to federal constitutional
responsibilities also confirmed in the Indian Act and by precedent. Our government is legitimately concerned
about federal efforts at offloading their financial responsibilities onto
The federal government's recent unilateral decision to withdraw from long‑standing arrangements for social assistance payments for off‑reserve Status Indians is another example of its unwillingness to meet its financial responsibilities. We recognize the importance of the unique education and training opportunities offered by the ACCESS programs and are firm in our commitment to see the ongoing students through to the completion of their studies.
Consequently, and despite the federal
government's decision to effectively abandon its responsibility for these
Status Indian students, the
In order to do this, our government will spend $1.1 million to cover these students' costs this year. Since the expiry of the Northern Development Agreement, the federal post‑secondary student support program contributions to direct education funding covered tuition costs only, or about 20 percent of the total education costs for Status students enrolled in ACCESS programs. The province covered the remaining 80 percent of education expenses, including academic, tutorial, counselling and program supports, approximately $8,000 per year, per student.
As well, the province has maintained its financial support to the ACCESS programs above historical net provincial expenditure levels. This will allow us, not only to support the continuing Status students I have spoken of but also to allow a new intake of students this year.
The federal government's unwillingness to meet its obligations to the 96 students is unconscionable. I have requested an urgent meeting with the federal minister responsible, the Honourable Tom Siddon, and my staff and I will continue to press this matter with him in pursuit of a fair and just resolution.
Ms. Jean Friesen (Wolseley): I welcome today the statement of the Minister of Education. What I cannot understand is why we have waited two years for this kind of statement, this kind of recognition, awakening on the part of this government of the way in which the federal government, their federal Tories, their allies, have treated aboriginal people of this province.
We have raised this question, I would think,
on a weekly basis in this House; issues of the absence of an aboriginal strategy
on the part of this government, the difficulties faced by the people who are
looking at the CP station, the withdrawal of funds from the Core Area training
programs. Everywhere you turn in
I want to again draw the attention of the
members of this House, I think, to the success of the ACCESS programs. This is not just one amongst many educational
programs, but it is a program which has won international recognition. It has given
We should, everyone in
So I regret, I think, very, very deeply the
silence I have heard from this government over the past two years on the way in
which their federal allies have abandoned aboriginal people and aboriginal
programs. I am delighted to see that this
minister is finally going to pick up the phone, is finally, after two years of
urging on our part, going to have a meeting with the Minister of Indian Affairs
on this. I cannot understand why it has
taken so long for one Tory minister to call another and to deal with this
program which is affecting so many people in
I want to point out to members of this House that although some of the aboriginal ACCESS programs will continue, they are continuing at a very much diminished level. The minister has spoken of an intake that will continue, but let us just look at the medicine program, Mr. Speaker.
That program for admitting aboriginal students in premedical programs and into the actual professional medical programs is cut in half, so whereas you could have, two years ago, graduated five aboriginal doctors in Manitoba‑‑a small province, but one which is making an impression upon aboriginal health and aboriginal communities through that‑‑when you can only have an intake of two students into that program, your chances of graduating those five aboriginal students every year, as we had anticipated, are very, very much diminished.
So I am angry, I think, at the unconscionable action of this government over the past two years. I welcome their action today, and I wish we had seen it two years ago.
Mr. Reg Alcock (Osborne): Mr. Speaker, I would like to use a phrase often used by the Minister of Finance (Mr. Manness) and suggest that it is "passing strange" that at a time in this country when we are debating the devolution of powers to the native leadership in this country, that we are not supporting qualified aboriginal candidates to take advantage of post‑secondary education.
Now, I want to congratulate the Minister of
Education and Training (Mrs. Vodrey) today.
I think she has learned something from the experience of the Minister of
Family Services (Mr. Gilleshammer). I
was the critic for Family Services when the Minister of Family Services rose on
a very similar issue. At that time I
said, and I believe the member of the New Democratic Caucus said, that we would
support the Minister of Family Services in this battle with
Now the nice thing about this particular announcement, and the very positive thing about this announcement is the minister is not going to allow these students in existing programs to be disrupted. If I understand this statement today correctly, she is not going to allow the program to come to an end, but will ensure that there will still be intake into this program.
So while I concur with some of the statements of the member for Wolseley (Ms. Friesen), I do think that this is a much more positive step than was taken the last time we discussed this issue of the federal government withdrawal from this province. I think the minister should be congratulated for at least that small step. Thank you.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
Bill 100‑The Pension Plan Acts Amendment Act
Hon. Darren Praznik (Minister responsible for and charged with the administration of The Civil Service Superannuation Act): Mr. Speaker, I would move, seconded by the honourable Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Enns), that Bill 100, The Pension Plan Acts Amendment Act; Loi modifiant les lois sur les regimes de retraite, be introduced and that the same be now 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, and I would like to table the recommendation.
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 morning from the Onanole Elementary and the Bertram E. Glavin Schools forty‑two Grades 5 and 6 students. These schools are located in the constituencies of the honourable Minister of Family Services (Mr. Gilleshammer) and the honourable Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Doer), respectively.
Also with us this morning from the
On behalf of all honourable members, I welcome you here this morning.
ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Mr. Gary Doer (Leader of the Opposition): Mr. Speaker, over the course of this dispute with the federal government there have been two Ministers of Education, but there has been one Minister of Federal/Provincial Relations, and that has been the Premier.
In 1988, 1989, 1990 and 1991, we were asking questions of the First Minister on this issue in this House. In fact, in 1988 and 1989, the Premier gave us advice not to even ask him and give him any advice about how to deal with the federal government on this issue, because not only would he get as much as what was received before in these federal‑provincial programs, but he would exceed the limits that were achieved by former governments in terms of programs such as ACCESS.
The member for Wolseley (Ms. Friesen) and the member for Osborne (Mr. Alcock) have articulated the strong, strong success of these programs. Last year, we had aboriginal doctors graduating, and many of us attended their graduation ceremonies, people from the North graduating as doctors returning to the North in their own communities. We know examples of teachers, of social workers, of nurses and even engineers, Mr. Speaker, who have now been trained under this program.
The Premier has met on a number of occasions throughout this dispute with the Prime Minister. I would ask the Premier: Has he ever raised this issue with the Prime Minister? What results did he receive from the Prime Minister on this very important issue?
Hon. Gary Filmon (Premier): Mr. Speaker, after responding to that speech, I am tempted to take the adjournment so that I can deal with it at greater length in the future.
I might say that I have raised this issue time
and time and time again. I have raised
it with the Prime Minister. I have raised
it with ministers of the federal government from
Mr. Doer: Mr. Speaker, can the Premier advise the House what reasons the Prime Minister, the Conservative Prime Minister, has given the Premier of Manitoba for not following through on the federal‑provincial funding of this program and for not following through on what has been deemed by people internationally as one of the finest programs in the world in terms of training people and access for people in our province?
I know we had a dispute in the late '70s which
was resolved by
Mr. Filmon: Mr. Speaker, I do not know why the federal government pulled the plug on this program, and none of the reasons I was given I consider to be valid or reasonable.
Mr. Gary Doer (Leader of the Opposition): Mr. Speaker, I would ask the Premier to get involved himself in this dispute in the most public way with the Prime Minister. They have unilaterally made a decision. It has obviously been made by cabinet at the highest level which is chaired by the Prime Minister. The Premier has raised it privately with the Prime Minister. He has confirmed that publicly.
I would ask this government: What action will they take besides the meeting with Tom Siddon who announced the decision? What further action will this Premier take to ensure those fundings for this program? Will he be looking at public condemnation of the Prime Minister of this country? Will he be looking at court action if he says it is contrary to the Constitution? What action, specifically, will this Premier take with his federal government colleagues to get this issue resolved? It is a priority for this province. We must succeed in this dispute with the federal government.
Hon. Gary Filmon (Premier): Mr. Speaker, we are in a very complex time with the whole issue of where funding for aboriginals will be paid to and on what basis will funding for aboriginals take place as part of the overall transition to self‑government.
It is the federal government's belief that ultimately they will supply the funding directly to First Nations, and First Nations will then be responsible for allocating funding under programs such as this. In that transition time, what that leaves are some students who were started under the former federal‑provincial cost‑sharing agreement and who no longer are able to access the funds because funding is being put in directly to the First Nations by the federal government.
That is the purpose that we are putting into the interim funding, the additional funding, to ensure that those students who began previously will be able to carry through to graduation, because we believe that all of these programs, the ACCESS funding, have resulted in positive effects on behalf of students, aboriginal students, have resulted in them getting university education in various professional faculties.
It is because of our strong, firm commitment to the aboriginal people and these programs that we have put in this additional funding.
Urban Aboriginal Strategy
Ms. Jean Friesen (Wolseley): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier.
I want to ask him why, in spite of two announcements in throne speeches, in spite of over $400,000 spent in studies, in spite of community consultations, in spite of Memorandums of Understanding circulated in the city, has there been no action from his government on an urban aboriginal strategy?
Hon. Gary Filmon (Premier): Mr. Speaker, I will take that question as notice on behalf of the minister responsible for Native Affairs.
Ms. Friesen: It was in the throne speech. I do not understand why the Premier cannot answer‑‑
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The honourable First Minister took that one for the honourable Minister of Northern and Native Affairs (Mr. Downey).
Jean Friesen (Wolseley): My supplementary question is to the Minister
of Urban Affairs, who refused to conduct any investigation into aboriginal
issues in the city of
I want to ask him now: Will he investigate the impact of the withdrawal
of federal funds, both in the Core Area Initiative and in the education field,
on the training and education prospects of aboriginal people in the city of
Hon. Jim Ernst (Minister of Urban Affairs): Mr. Speaker, first of all, I think the Minister of Education (Mrs. Vodrey), this morning, very well outlined the position of this government with respect to withdrawal of federal funding from educational processes.
Mr. Speaker, with respect to the Core Area
Initiative, the member full well knows that we have been in a negotiation mode for
the better part of a year attempting to find an appropriate agreement to
provide for the needs of those people in the core area of
As I told her before, and I will explain it
again to her today, we are not prepared to sign an agreement simply for the sake
of signing an agreement. We want the
best possible agreement that provides the best possible opportunities for our people
Urban Aboriginal Medical Program
Ms. Jean Friesen (Wolseley): My final supplementary is for the Minister of Health.
I want to ask him if he has examined the
impact of the reduction by half of the urban aboriginal medical programs, the impact
this will have upon northern, native communities and upon the aboriginal
medical systems in the city of
Hon. Donald Orchard (Minister of Health): Mr. Speaker, I do not have that information. I will attempt to provide the same.
Grade 10 Curriculum Changes
Mrs. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Second Opposition): Mr. Speaker, after being contacted by a number of teachers, I raised in Estimates in May of this year the issue of curriculum changes being made to Grade 10.
On May 4, I asked the Minister of Education (Mrs. Vodrey) why the decision had been made to do away with English 100 and English 101 and English 104, and to create one English program, which quite frankly, as far as I can detect as an educator, is going to be a mush program. They are going to do the same thing with geography. They are going to do the same thing with history, but they are not going to do the same thing with mathematics and science, because they recognize that different learning abilities must be taught to youngsters in Grade 10.
I asked the minister why she understood that there were different abilities for math and science but she did not understand that there were different learning abilities for English and social studies students. Her answer was, Mr. Speaker, that she had achieved a consensus.
Will the minister explain today why it is very clear that she has not reached a consensus, that a number of principals across this province are questioning why she has taken the step that she has taken?
Rosemary Vodrey (Minister of Education and Training): I think
it is, first of all, important to say this was not a unilateral decision. This was a decision that came on the recommendation
of the advisory committee on the implementation of the Answering The Challenge
document. That particular advisory committee
had also very carefully spoken with the field and then had, as a group of
representative educators‑‑and I will remind the member that the
advisory committee is made up of representatives from Manitoba Teachers'
Mr. Speaker, I will also tell the member that as a department we have not received any communication from the field specifically discussing this as an issue of concern at this time.
Mrs. Carstairs: But George Wall, a past president of the Manitoba Association of School Superintendents, has indicated that this change has sparked controversy within the education system.
In light of this controversy, will the
minister now go back to the drawing table and speak with principals like Maxine
Mrs. Vodrey: I think it is very important for the member to note that this particular decision will be piloted in some schools across the province over this coming year, and we do expect to have feedback directly from those people who are implementing this process before a final step is taken.
There will be an opportunity‑‑again, I stress that‑‑to have the continued feedback from the education community as they test and implement this particular decision.
Mrs. Carstairs: There is only one reason to pilot a program, and that is because you think that program will be superior to the program that you are presently offering. These principals and teachers are saying it will be inferior.
Will she now evaluate the program before it is piloted, before children are given a lack of quality education in the fields of social studies and language arts at the Grade 10 level?
Mrs. Vodrey: The article the member refers to certainly expresses that there are principals and there are educators who are completely in favour of this decision. Perhaps the member has not had the opportunity to speak to those people. Perhaps the member has also not had the opportunity to review the literature that supports this particular decision or perhaps to review the issues which we did raise in Estimates, those issues raised in Estimates which said that these particular curriculums can be differentiated within the classroom.
I have said to her, the program will be piloted, and we will look for feedback during that pilot year.
Health Care System Reform
Judy Wasylycia-Leis (
That proposal includes, Mr. Speaker, 17
psychiatric beds which now brings the total of proposed bed cuts in the city of
I want to ask the Minister of Health: Since this memo dated June 8 from the senior vice‑president of nursing at Health Sciences Centre says this plan is partially decided, for the sake of dealing with uncertainty among patients and fear among hundreds of staff at Health Sciences Centre, what has been decided by the Minister of Health? What is the plan? Would he clear the air and give all Manitobans details of his health care reform?
Hon. Donald Orchard (Minister of Health): Mr. Speaker, as I indicated to my honourable friend where she indicated a proposal in the St. Boniface allocation of their 115‑bed reduction and a proposal from the Health Sciences Centre outlining a similar initiative in terms of their planning process, it is now June 12, Sir, and what is in process is exactly the analysis that my honourable friend has urged upon me in the past, to assure that the proposals meet with the agenda.
They can only do that through the vehicle of
analysis of those proposals within the ministry of Health, and furthermore, Sir,
to have the wider discussions with the
That process is ongoing right now and will reach a logical conclusion.
Wasylycia-Leis: Let me ask the minister then, Mr. Speaker, since
it was on May 6, just about one month ago, that the minister told us the only
proposal on the table in terms of psychiatric bed cuts was the 20 beds at
Mr. Orchard: Mr. Speaker, when I made that response to my honourable friend on May 6, that was correct.
Mr. Speaker, government will be announcing the
decision in terms of the Misericordia recommendation from the
Now, Sir, as I have indicated to my honourable friend, both teaching hospitals, in attempting to analyze needs within their facilities, are proposing to government certain categories of beds that they believe can be retired from service without compromise of quality patient care delivery.
Mr. Speaker, I cannot tell my honourable friend whether government will accept all of the proposals as written, or whether after the consultation process that I have described to my honourable friend, we will suggest changes to, in co‑operation and consultation with, the two hospitals.
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: I want to ask the minister‑‑and this is not a facetious question. I want to know, is there really a plan, or is this, in actuality, a shell game where 17 psychiatric beds are being closed at the Health Sciences Centre and then transferred to meet this new, huge, expensive building, the psych services building?
Is there anything real in terms of this reform, or is it really just moving the boxes around?
Orchard: Mr. Speaker, most reasoned observers of
health care believe that the process in
Workers Compensation Board
Mr. Daryl Reid (Transcona): Mr. Speaker, the widow of the deceased claimant has spoken of the WCB threats and intimidation of her husband. I would like to show from a direct quote by the deceased claimant: Workers Comp do most of their damage by phone for two years. Every time I talked with my adjudicator, they stated there was a letter in the mail cutting off my benefits. The reasons were many and ridiculous.
My question is for the Minister responsible for the Workers Compensation Board. Does the minister condone this action on the part of the Workers Compensation Board, where they use threats to intimidate the claimants of the Workers Compensation Board?
Hon. Darren Praznik (Minister responsible for and charged with the administration of The Workers Compensation Act): Mr. Speaker, the member for Transcona is well aware that in this particular matter, an inquest before a provincial judge has now been ordered and that all aspects of the file, including information that he alleges here today, will be brought forward for review by a provincial judge.
I would just tell the member for Transcona, continually he tends to bring information forward that is not quite accurate to this House, which troubles me somewhat. I hope it is simply because he does not have his facts straight.
I know yesterday in Question Period, in raising this matter, he indicated that an official of the board had indicated to the widow that she did not have to file another claim. Since this is not a matter on an open file, I can table this letter today from the board's solicitor‑‑whom I understand is no stranger to members opposite‑‑Mr. Scramstad, which clearly indicates the member's assertions in this House were not accurate.
Point of Order
Mr. Reid: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, that is a direct affront to the widow of the claimant‑‑
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The honourable member does not have a point of order. Order, please. The honourable member for Transcona did not have a point of order.
* * *
Mr. Speaker: The honourable member for Transcona, with his supplementary question, please.
Mr. Reid: Will this minister responsible for the Workers Compensation Board investigate the intimidation as shown by the deceased's statement: WCB says they will give me a small pension, not enough to live on; what will we do then?
Mr. Praznik: Mr. Speaker, as I have told the member, there will be ample opportunity before a provincial judge, with the evidence provided under oath, for this to happen.
But I would remind the honourable member that in this particular case, which is on the public record to date, that the gentleman in question was receiving full benefits, special additional compensation, that the PPD, or the Permanent Partial Disability rating would have by itself resulted in a small pension, but the individual was receiving the special additional compensation, the full rate.
From the information that is already on the public record, I understand that was the case and was to continue. So the facts again do not support the member's accusation.
Mr. Reid: It was retroactive increases, Mr. Speaker. Six weeks after the deceased‑‑
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Reid: Will this minister investigate the use of threats and intimidation on claimants by the WCB, and will the minister put a stop immediately to this policy?
Mr. Praznik: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate very fully that the workers compensation legislation and the general benefits scheme is a very complex one, but I would advise the member for Transcona to go and do a little work on appreciating that scheme. He seems to imply that the Permanent Partial Disability rating would have affected that individual's pension.
If he does some work, he will find out that the special additional compensation brought it up to its full amount. All of the matters that he raised will come out in the inquest before a provincial judge. If there is in fact truth to the allegations that he raises, then appropriate action will be taken.
Conawapa Dam Project
Environmental Panel Report
Mr. Paul Edwards (St. James): My question is for the Minister of Environment.
After years of pressure by environmentalists and members of this party, Manitoba Hydro and indeed the New Democratic Party have experienced conversions of sorts on the road to Conawapa, Mr. Speaker, with respect to doing a full and thorough environmental impact assessment prior to the construction.
Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Environment has been on notice for three months that this expanded process will require further time.
My question is for the Minister of Environment. Can the Minister of Environment tell the House what the new time frame will be for the report from the joint environmental panel investigating Conawapa, given that he has been advised now for three months that it will require sufficient increased time than was originally predicted?
Hon. Glen Cummings (Minister of Environment): Well, Mr. Speaker, I am not going to succumb to the bait that the member wants to raise and insert myself into a political debate when this is in fact an environmental debate.
That fact is, Mr. Speaker, the process has begun, the panel is operating, dealing with scoping issues, and we will allow them to proceed without political interference from me or him.
Edwards: My question for the minister again: Will the minister assure the House that any
deadlines will be flexible, allowing for the full environmental data‑gathering
process to occur, and that the main concern will be to get that data and to do
that job, rather than have the fictitious deadlines set by this government when
they built penalty clauses into the deal with
Mr. Cummings: Mr. Speaker, the public debate is proceeding with the panel. There are cases being made by various individuals who want unlimited and massive extensions to the time. There are others who take a different view, that the work can be done in a more concise and practical manner, and the panel will deal with those issues.
I have a great deal of confidence in the competence of those panel members, that they will weigh the issues that are before them, weigh them with the knowledge that they have‑‑that is why they are on that panel‑‑and that they will make decisions around those subjects that will be in the best interests of environmental concerns, but the time frame will proceed in a reasonable and practical manner. I am not going to get involved in political wrangling over it.
Mr. Paul Edwards (St. James): Mr. Speaker, this is the very minister who did get involved and said he capped intervener funding at a million dollars after the panel was trying to do its work.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The honourable member for St. James, kindly put your question now, please.
Mr. Edwards: I have one final question for the minister, Mr. Speaker. Will he be expanding the monies available for the interveners in this process, given that it is now going to be a much more substantial study, that it is now going to be‑‑[interjection!
Point of Order
Mr. Edwards: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, the Premier (Mr. Filmon) from his seat has cast an allegation that I am somehow speaking for my own benefit again. The Premier repeatedly makes that aspersion.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The honourable member for St. James did not have a point of order there.
* * *
Mr. Speaker: The honourable member for St. James, kindly put your question now, please.
Mr. Edwards: I have a final question for the Minister of Environment.
Will the minister commit today to expand the
funds available, which will be necessary to do the full job, and look into the full
impacts including the entire
Hon. Glen Cummings (Minister of Environment): Mr. Speaker, the member makes a rather unfair comment when he talks about capping of any intervener funding. The participant assistance committee made a recommendation which was for the prescoping, which was about a quarter of what I had indicated was available.
There will be a second round of opportunity for participants to apply to the advisory committee for funding. They will make their decision based on what are in the guidelines that the panel puts forward. Again, he wants to interject a political element into a decision‑making process.
Secondly, Mr. Speaker, the process has to be
reasonable. It has to proceed in a
reasonable and practical sense, and we will put our faith in the panelists to
make the decision in the best interests of
Bob Rose (
The fisheries are a very important part of southwestern
But this optimism was tempered somewhat, Mr.
Speaker, by a recent article in the
He goes on to say: He insists that the province is abandoning
its commitment to southwestern
I would like to ask the honourable minister,
Mr. Speaker: Is the province committing
to it? Is it abandoning its commitment to
Harry Enns (Minister of Natural Resources): Mr. Speaker, I want to
thank the honourable member for the question because it, of course,
demonstrates‑‑and I understand the process. The question was asked in this House for that
headline. I wanted to be accurate in my
reply and took it as notice. The member
for Brandon's (Mr. Leonard Evans) suggestion that the Fisheries branch was closing
What is happening in
The three Fisheries officers currently working
Grade 10 Curriculum Changes
Mr. Dave Chomiak (Kildonan): Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Education.
I am not an expert on curriculum, nor are members in this House, but I am concerned by the larger question that the minister does not appear to be listening. I heard the concerns of the community. I raised it in Estimates. The Liberal Party Leader (Mrs. Carstairs) heard the concerns in the community. She raised it in Estimates. I am very concerned that the minister has indicated today that she has not heard the concerns regarding this curriculum policy.
My question to the minister is: Who is she listening to, if anybody?
Hon. Rosemary Vodrey (Minister of Education and Training): I certainly remember discussing this in Estimates with the two members opposite, and I have explained in the House today that I have not received any written communication from any members who have taken issue with this particular decision.
I am listening to and I have received advice
from the advisory committee, which is representative of the Manitoba Teachers'
Thirdly, Mr. Speaker, and a very important point is, this program will be piloted this year, and with the pilot program we will have the opportunity not just for speculation, but for true feedback from those people who are applying this particular decision.
Mr. Chomiak: My supplementary is to the same minister.
In light of the circumstances surrounding this, will the minister reconsider this approach and at least come back to this House justifying the changes that she is implementing in light of the concerns raised by the very respected members of the community, not to mention the concerns that we had raised in Estimates?
Mrs. Vodrey: Well, again, I have to say to the member that I did receive recommendations from the advisory council, and that particular council also looked at the research relating to the potential of presenting a core curriculum at Senior 1 and Senior 2, and the effects on students.
That research tends to support this particular decision. However, what I have said to the member is, I will be monitoring and looking very carefully at the implementation at those schools that choose to pilot this particular program.
Child Guidance Clinic
Mr. Dave Chomiak (Kildonan): My final supplementary is to the same minister.
Will the minister also monitor and assist, if
necessary, the changes that are happening to the Child Guidance Clinic in the city
Will she monitor that situation, because the
effect of the breakup of the Child Guidance Clinic could have a very wide‑ranging
effect on the delivery of special needs services to the children in the city of
Hon. Rosemary Vodrey (Minister of Education and Training): Mr. Speaker, I have said in this House, over several opportunities to answer this question, that the decision to opt into the Child Guidance Clinic model is one that is a local matter.
Now, the issue of local decision making has been the subject of debate in this House for several days, and the member seems to be requesting something, an interference with the specific local decision making.
Point of Order
Mr. Chomiak: On a point of order, the minister is casting aspersions on my character. There is a quantum of difference between phoning a school board and trying to pressure them to do something‑‑
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The honourable member does not have a point of order.
Marianne Cerilli (Radisson): Mr. Speaker, the Manitoba
Intercultural Council had a review in 1988, as was reported in the
My question for the minister is: What is the reason for this review, and why are these reasons only coming to light as the minister is tabling the act on multiculturalism?
Hon. Bonnie Mitchelson (Minister responsible for Multiculturalism): Mr. Speaker, I know that the Manitoba Intercultural Council has just sent out a news release this morning, and it says MIC welcomes the act and the review. I will quote: The Manitoba Intercultural Council welcomes the introduction of The Multiculturalism Act tabled in the Legislature for first reading on Monday, June 8.
Mr. Speaker, I will not read the whole news release. I am sure members of the media and possibly members of the opposition have copies of it. In fact, they indicate in this news release that they had asked government in the past to do an independent review because MIC has been in operation for 10 years, and there may be some changes that are required.
Ms. Cerilli: Mr. Speaker, this is an organization that is on the ropes.
I will read from the same press release, and I would ask the minister, how does she respond to‑‑and I quote from the press release: There is concern expressed that the review of MIC is taking place after The Multiculturalism Act is already tabled. Some feel that this is a piecemeal approach that will not allow for a comprehensive look at all aspects of the government's multiculturalism initiative‑‑
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The honourable member has put her question.
Mrs. Mitchelson: There are some concerns expressed in MIC's comments, but I do want to indicate to you that there are many, many Manitobans from the ethnocultural communities that have different opinions than are stated or expressed here.
Many of them have indicated to me through our major consultation process that in fact we are proceeding in the right direction. They want a multiculturalism act today, Mr. Speaker.
Ms. Cerilli: Mr. Speaker, they want a comprehensive act that has some‑‑
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. This is not a time for debate. The honourable member for Radisson, kindly put your question now, please.
Cerilli: For the same minister, why is the minister
not living up to her commitment in 1990 when she said: It‑‑referring to review of
legislation and development in multiculturalism‑‑should be done in
a manner, when we are looking at multiculturalism in the
Mrs. Mitchelson: As a result of the community wanting a multiculturalism act, and as a result of many within the community having some concerns over the role, mandate and structure of the Manitoba Intercultural Council, Mr. Speaker, it could not be included in the act.
Mr. Speaker, we will continue to consult and to work with the community. I would ask members of this Legislature to go ahead with debate on this piece of legislation, get it to committee and let members of the community come out and speak and give us their indication of support.
Doug Martindale (Burrows): Mr. Speaker, one in 10 adults in
Many of those who are unemployed are low‑income seniors, and they are eligible for the shelter allowance for seniors. Regrettably, the Minister of Housing does not know how many low‑income seniors are eligible.
Will the Minister of Housing now agree to find out how many seniors are eligible for SAFER?
Jim Ernst (Minister of Housing): Mr. Speaker, the SAFER program
has been in effect for 10 or 12 years or more, that brought in by the
The program, Mr. Speaker, is widely distributed in terms of information. People are aware of the benefits of the program. Seniors organizations, social agencies, all kinds of groups, are well aware of the information related to the SAFER program.
Mr. Speaker, a simple call to the department will let anyone know what the benefits are and if they are eligible.
Mr. Doug Martindale (Burrows): Will the Minister of Housing publicize the SAFER program, using every possible means, so that many more seniors will be aware that they are eligible for SAFER?
Hon. Jim Ernst (Minister of Housing): Mr. Speaker, we had this discussion during the Estimates process on Monday evening, and I think maybe my honourable friend for Burrows has a learning disability, because I explained‑‑
Point of Order
Mr. Gary Doer (Leader of the Opposition): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, all members should respect all members of society, including people who have learning disorders. A mental health or any other possible ailment like that should be treated with the utmost respect, and it should not be part of the partisan debate in this House.
We should debate substance, not personalities.
Mr. Speaker: The honourable member does not have a point of order. The honourable minister, to finish his response.
* * *
Mr. Ernst: Mr. Speaker, then let me suggest that my honourable friend has great difficulty in understanding the fact that I think on four or five occasions during that process in Estimates, I indicated I would review that matter.
I do not know how many more times I need to tell him that I will take the matter under advisement, look into it and see what potential opportunities exist.
Mr. Speaker: Time for Oral Questions has expired.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Hon. Clayton Manness (Government House Leader): Mr. Speaker, would you call Bill 49?
DEBATE ON SECOND
Bill 49‑The Environment Amendment Act
Mr. Speaker: On the proposed motion of the honourable Minister of Environment (Mr. Cummings), Bill 49, The Environment Amendment Act; Loi modifiant la Loi sur l'environnement, standing in the name of the honourable member for Radisson.
Ms. Marianne Cerilli (Radisson): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand and put some comments on the record to another government amendment to The Environment Act. This is a very technical amendment. It has a lot of problems with language, as a number of other amendments that have come before the House from this government related to Environment and Natural Resources matters. We are concerned, because it is another amendment that is going to expedite development and is going to make it easier, as did The Wildlife Act last session, for development to go ahead.
It is going to make it easier for appeals to licences to be sent through or not dealt with seriously, and it is going to bring in changes to the staging of licences, staging of the issuing of environment licences.
The legislation that we have already in the province already allows for the staging of licences, of environment licences, and we would welcome conditions being brought in so that alterations and staging of licences would be subjected to some type of conditions. The problem with this legislation is that it does this inconsistently. The licences are being given in stages in smaller and smaller parts, but only the conditions proposed in this legislation apply to the small segments that are being allowed for with this legislation. It is a concern that the conditions for amending licences and allowing for licences to be issued in stages should be for all stages.
The other real problem with the legislation is that these conditions open the door for the development to proceed in a piecemeal fashion and that there be some momentum gained with proposed developments. There could be a situation where a licence is given for one stage of development that does not have very much of an environmental impact but is very intensive and expensive. This is going to make it very difficult for government, especially this government as we have seen previously, to pull away from that development to then have another stage for a licence reviewed. That stage may have very large environmental impact, but it will be after a large amount of investment into the development which has already been licensed, and it would be very difficult for arguments to be made and for the proposed developments to be turned back or to be discontinued.
It does not make any sense at all to be
creating legislation at this time that is going to allow for developments to
proceed as we have seen with Rafferty‑Alameda, we have seen with the
As I was saying, part of the concern for this bill is that the conditions for amending licences and for staging licences, the conditions are not strong enough that they even encourage this piecemeal approach to the development of projects in that province. One of the largest concerns is that the condition of the licence is that the environmental impacts do not have to be mitigable. The wording of these conditions allows that negative impacts in the environment could be known, but they would not necessarily have to be mitigated.
(Mrs. Louise Dacquay, Deputy Speaker, in the Chair)
There are concerns with this bill that it is not, as the notes on the bill suggest, going to clarify the alteration process for environmental licence, since there are words in the legislation that are used in different places and have different meanings. We will be proposing some minor amendments that I hope the government will look at seriously that will deal with those problems.
There has also been a major proposal from a review done by the Manitoba Bar Association that deals with the specific wording that I have referred to, and I am encouraged that the minister has reviewed that proposal and will give it some serious consideration and will, indeed, make some amendments that will not allow for appealed licences to have an easier‑‑to end‑run the system basically and make it easier for licences that are appealed to not be reviewed properly.
The final comments that I will make have to deal with the other amendments to the Clean Environment Commission, that they are changing the quorum for the Clean Environment Commission. I would just like to say that the Clean Environment Commission's integrity is of concern because of the way the Clean Environment Commission on the one hand is being, some would even say manipulated, because we have seen with the Ducks Unlimited project in this province where certain studies were withheld from the review of the Clean Environment Commission on that process.
We have seen with the Abitibi‑Price recommendations how they have been ignored by the government, and now we have currently with Conawapa, the Clean Environment Commission, where they are going to be proposing, or it looks like they will be proposing, that a proper environmental review that is going to look at the cumulative impacts is going to take much longer than maybe provided for by the penalties on the deal for Conawapa.
All of these make us question the seriousness of the Clean Environment Commission taken by the government if amending the quorum is, in some ways, again, treating the Clean Environment Commission and the whole environmental impact process as simply a hurdle, that they want to make it easier for them to deal with the Clean Environment Commission.
We often hear that we now have to have, as legislation indicates, environmental impact assessments, and that is supposed to give the public and all of us some confidence that the environment is going to be protected, but we have some concern that the Clean Environment Commission, given all the responsibility that it has for ensuring that a proper assessment does take place, is not being taken seriously and is not being left to be truly an independent body.
With that, Madam Deputy Speaker, I will conclude my remarks on Bill 49, and we are prepared to move it to committee. I know there will be some interesting and, as I have said, rather technical but thorough presentations on this bill. I would welcome the amendments that I know that the Bar Association is going to be looking at.
I encourage the government to seriously look at strengthening this amendment to The Environment Act, so it will indeed make the staging of licence a more fair process and one that will ensure that the environment is going to be protected and not going to allow for more expeditious development as we are concerned that this bill does currently now. Thank you.
Madam Deputy Speaker: Is the House ready for the question? The question before the House is second reading of Bill 49. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion? All those in favour, please say yea‑‑
Hon. Clayton Manness (Government House Leader): Question, please.
Madam Deputy Speaker: The honourable government House leader wishes the question repeated?
Mr. Manness: Yes.
Madam Deputy Speaker: The Deputy Speaker asked if the House was ready for the question. The response was yes. Then the question was posed as the second reading of Bill 49: Is the House ready to adopt the motion?
All those in favour, please say yea.
Some Honourable Members: Yea.
Madam Deputy Speaker: All those opposed, please say nay.
Some Honourable Members: Nay.
Madam Deputy Speaker: In my opinion, the Yeas have it.
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Second Opposition House Leader): Madam Deputy Speaker, may I have Yeas and Nays, please?
Madam Deputy Speaker: A recorded vote has been requested. Call in the members.
(Mr. Speaker in the Chair)
Mr. Speaker: The question before the House is second reading of Bill 49, The Environment Amendment Act; Loi modifiant la Loi sur l'environnement.
A STANDING VOTE was taken, the result being as follows:
Connery, Cummings, Dacquay, Derkach, Driedger, Ducharme, Enns, Ernst, Filmon, Gilleshammer, Helwer, Manness, McAlpine, McIntosh, Mitchelson, Neufeld, Orchard, Penner, Praznik, Reimer, Render, Rose, Stefanson, Sveinson, Vodrey.
Alcock, Barrett, Carstairs, Cerilli, Cheema,
Chomiak, Dewar, Doer, Edwards, Evans (Interlake), Friesen, Hickes, Lamoureux, Maloway,
Mr. Clerk (William Remnant): Yeas 25, Nays 17.
Mr. Speaker: The motion is accordingly carried.
Mr. Neil Gaudry (St. Boniface): Mr. Speaker, I just want to put on the record that I was paired with the member for St. Norbert (Mr. Laurendeau), and if I had voted, I would have voted against.
* * *
Mr. Manness: Would you call Bill 84, Mr. Speaker?
Bill 84‑The Residential Tenancies Amendment Act (2)
Mr. Speaker: On the proposed motion of the honourable Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs (Mrs. McIntosh), Bill 84, The Residential Tenancies Amendment Act (2); Loi no 2 modifiant la Loi sur la location a usage d'habitation, standing in the name of the honourable member for Burrows (Mr. Martindale).
Mr. Doug Martindale (Burrows): I am pleased to rise to speak on this amendment. I would like to address three concerns: One is the proclamation of The Residential Tenancies Act, itself; secondly, the amendment bill; and thirdly, the regulations.
As the minister well knows, we on this side have been concerned and concerned on behalf of thousands of tenants, and I would say even concerned on behalf of landlords, because we believe that this is basically good legislation. As the minister knows, this process began with her predecessors and the NDP government and that we believe it is a fair bill which addresses a number of concerns which we think will be of benefit to both landlords and tenants.
However, we are still waiting for proclamation. It was passed on December 14, 1990, and the minister's predecessors promised a certain timetable for introduction. Both of her predecessors promised a certain timetable for proclamation. Now this minister has promised a timetable for proclamation, which I believe she said was late spring, early summer. Now, in Estimates, that is being pushed back just a little bit, and once again, we have more delay. However, we hope that this will be proclaimed before the House adjourns, so that we can have a look at the regulations and see whether the regulations do what the intent of the bill says they should do.
Mr. Speaker, I read the minister's speech on introduction of second reading, and the minister claims that the amendments are in keeping with the particular section. I do not have any particular concern with these amendments. It appears that the minister has probably been lobbied by her landlord friends and has listened to her landlords, and the result is this friendly amendment for landlords, whereby she has given them a greater latitude or greater opportunity to put security deposits in a variety of instruments.
I am not even sure that I understand what is meant by allowing them to put up a bond with the department and allowing for different kinds of financial instruments; however, that is a technical part of the bill and, at this stage, we are only debating the bill in principle.
So I will look forward to committee stage when I can ask the minister more questions. I know that the minister will be able to answer the questions and explain it to me more fully, because the minister has been most co‑operative, at least on the amendment‑‑perhaps not on proclamation‑‑but at least on the amendment.
In fact, the minister came over and talked to me. This minister always comes over and talks to her critic. I think that is one of the distinguishing things about this minister. I am not sure whether she does this by way of damage control or is just being helpful in explaining things or trying to get people onside. We should probably give the minister a little bit of credit for the consultation that she does.
So we will get into the technicalities of the amendments in committee stage. I hope that some members of the public come out, mainly to ask the minister where the bill is and why has the bill not been proclaimed? We will see. If we are still stuck here in July or August, I doubt if we will hear from the public. But if it is going to go to committee soon, then I hope the public are there. We are prepared to send this to committee today because I am the first and last speaker on this amendment, and we are going to pass it.
Finally, Mr. Speaker, I said I would talk about the regulations very, very briefly. We have had concerns about the regulations since The Residential Tenancies Act was first introduced. In fact, it was first introduced as Bill 42 under the previous government. We noticed that there were changes between Bill 42 and Bill 13, and when we asked the minister at that time, he said, well, wait until you see the amendments. So I said, on December 13, 1990, you are asking us to trust you. That was in effect what the minister was saying: trust us, it will be in the amendments. It will be in the regulations, I am sorry. We are waiting with great interest to see what is in the regulations and see if the regulations are in keeping with the spirit of the bill. With those few remarks, we are prepared to pass this to committee.
Kevin Lamoureux (
Speaker: It has been moved by the honourable member
Some Honourable Members: No.
Mr. Speaker: No, leave.
Mr. Lamoureux: Mr. Speaker, I find it somewhat unfortunate that leave would not be given, but I have had the opportunity to speak on residential housing in the past, and I have seen the government in terms of how it has failed on numerous occasions.
I must remind the government that the
government had made commitments to the public of
Mr. Speaker, when I was the Housing critic, I had the opportunity to go over the then‑legislation, the legislation that was being proposed from the now‑Minister of Government Services (Mr. Ducharme). He had us come up into his office and explained what it is that that legislation was hoping to do. We expressed at that time a lot of the concerns that we had. One of those concerns was the mandatory condition report, something that I will get to a bit further down.
But, Mr. Speaker, the then‑minister put in a lot of effort, a lot of hard work in order to bring forward legislation that he felt was, in fact, something that should have been passed. He had consulted with numerous groups, had given indication to us that they would be receptive to amendments, to friendly amendments and so forth, operated in a very co‑operative fashion.
Unfortunately, and for many of the members of this Chamber, we can all recall what in fact really took place. What took place was that the Premier (Mr. Filmon) because of pressure from landlords decided that it was necessary to withdraw that piece of legislation from the session. We found that that was most inappropriate and very unfortunate, because not only did I, myself, as the then‑critic for Housing put a lot of effort in trying to reach out and talk both to representatives of the tenants, representatives of landlords, we consulted with the recommendations that were commissioned from the government, some 139 recommendations. We did exhaustive consultations with all areas of the public, if you will, who were going to have an impact on that then‑proposed piece of legislation.
Mr. Speaker, to some degree, the then‑minister also met with a large number of individuals and interest groups and so forth. I know that when the Premier decided to pull that legislation, the then‑Minister of Housing, the now‑Minister of Government Services (Mr. Ducharme) was very disappointed. He was very disappointed, disappointed enough that he had said that this was going to be a priority in the next session. It will be the top priority of the next session. It will be one of the first bills.
You know, Mr. Speaker, I believed the minister when he had told me that, primarily because I know of some of the work that he did even though he and I disagreed on some of the changes that we were proposing. We had the election that took place and in fact after the election we saw new legislation come in. That legislation was quite different than the legislation that the former minister was proposing.
I have to question as to why this government is‑‑
Hon. Harry Enns (Minister of Natural Resources): I wonder if the honourable member would permit a question.
Mr. Lamoureux: I do not have unlimited time on this particular bill, but if you are willing to take away that time from the 40 minutes that I am normally allotted, I would be more than happy to allow the minister to ask a question. [interjection! Leave has been given? If there is leave, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Is there leave to extend the honourable member's time?
Some Honourable Members: No.
Speaker: No, okay.
The honourable member for
Lamoureux: Well, Mr. Speaker, I find it amazing on two points,
and I am going to answer the question specifically to the minister. Before I do that, again, I suggest to the
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Point of Order
Ms. Becky Barrett (Wellington): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, it is precisely because the member for Burrows (Mr. Martindale), not only before he was elected, but since he has been elected, has spoken out so admirably and eloquently for the residents and tenants of this province that we want to get this bill into committee so the public can hear about it.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The honourable member does not have a point of order. That is clearly a dispute over the facts.
* * *
Mr. Reg Alcock (Osborne): Mr. Speaker, I would point out that today is the first time that the critic for the New Democratic Party spoke on this bill, and I would ask the House, do we not have the same right to speak on a bill?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The honourable member does not have a point of order.
* * *
Mr. Lamoureux: Mr. Speaker, I am not going to talk about the irresponsibility of the member for Wellington (Ms. Barrett) and the NDP on this particular issue, but I want to answer the Minister of Natural Resources' (Mr. Enns) question that he managed to put on the record, and that is, why am I standing here today and not allowing the bill to be passed? [interjection! Well, the Housing critic, too, would like the opportunity to speak on it, but the NDP and the government want to see it passed today.
Keep in mind, and this goes to the question, the bill itself was introduced on June 3. That is when the minister spoke on this piece of legislation. She might get away with believing that the NDP will be irresponsible on this issue because they want to get out of the Chamber, they want a summer holiday. Well, we have a responsibility to speak, to air our concerns. We have serious concerns about a number of pieces of legislation.
Point of Order
Martindale: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, we want to send
this to committee so people can speak to this if they want to, so that we can
pass it to the benefit of all landlords and tenants in
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The honourable member does not have a point of order.
* * *
Mr. Lamoureux: Well, Mr. Speaker, I only wish that the member for Burrows, who has had a change of attitude on how this Chamber is run, unfortunately, will only think about the types of things that the New Democratic Party is saying. I must say that I am very disappointed, very disappointed. One would expect that the official opposition would take a more responsible approach to dealing with legislation.
I have a right as a member to speak to this piece of legislation. I have had, as the former critic, a sincere interest in this area. I have the right to be able to speak to this bill, and if the NDP want to see it go to committee, I can assure them that it will go to committee. We are not going to prevent the bill from going to committee.
There is only one party in this House that has
consistently tried to filibuster this Chamber, and that was when Jay Cowan was here
on final offer selection. So maybe some
of these current members should go and start talking to Jay Cowan and talk
about what actual filibustering is as opposed to legitimate concerns that we
have. So stop thinking about your summer
holidays, and start thinking about the people of
Speaker: Order, please. I would remind the honourable member for
Mr. Lamoureux: Mr. Speaker, getting back, after the point of orders being raised, to the issue that we have before us‑‑and that is in regard to landlord and tenant affairs‑‑it is very important that there is follow‑up to what happens inside this Chamber. [interjection! To the Minister of Highways, no, it is not in my mind, because this government has still not proclaimed legislation that was passed regarding the landlord and tenant affairs. So things have occurred inside this Chamber, dealing with the residential act, and there has been absolutely no follow‑up with this government. I have an opportunity to remind this government that it has a responsibility that once it makes a decision inside this Chamber, it should keep up to what it is that it is proposing to do.
Mr. Speaker, I still have a concern with respect to the mandatory condition reports. At the time, when we saw the major piece of legislation before us, the then‑Minister of Housing disagreed with myself and felt that it would cause problems. Well, as I did then, I believe now that it would go a long way to making Landlord and Tenant Affairs that much more easier if we had mandatory condition reports. I even set out, on behalf of the Liberal Party, a process in which we could see the mandatory condition report. I remind the member for Burrows (Mr. Martindale), at least when he was not a member of the New Democratic Party inside this Chamber, he supported the mandatory condition report. I hope that he still does and that in fact the NDP party supports the mandatory condition report.
We did not try previously because we were concerned that the government initially was not even concerned whatsoever about bringing any form of changes to the landlord and tenant relations. The reason why I say that is because, shortly after the '88 election, the Premier (Mr. Filmon) said that any changes will be put on the back burner in regard to the residential tenancy bill. That was going to be put on the back burner. That is the reason why we felt that it was necessary, a number of years ago, to bring forward a private member's bill that was caucused and had the support, I believe, not only of our party but also, at least I was led to believe, of the then‑NDP party.
I know that when the Minister of Housing spoke on it, he felt that in fact these were some very legitimate concerns but unfortunately felt that he would not be able to implement them. Well, given what happened, given how the bill was ultimately pulled, the bill that the then‑Minister of Housing was trying to pass was pulled, Mr. Speaker, one has to question whether or not the government, through the Premier alone, was the one that really objected to the mandatory condition reports.
Mr. Speaker, we have some legislation now that could quite possibly take into consideration those condition reports. So I suggest to the minister, before we go into committee, that she seriously consider what was being said‑‑and there are many words on the record. All one needs to do is look at the Estimates, to look at the debate on the Liberal bills that were proposed when we were in a minority government, and you will find why it is necessary to have that component in any sort of rent regulations or Landlord and Tenant Affairs, that it is definitely in their best interests.
Mr. Speaker, one might ask in terms of why it is that I would want to reflect on what has happened. The reason for that is, now we have a bill that purports to do some things that in fact we support.
Mr. Speaker, the concern that we have is what prevents this government, in particular the Premier (Mr. Filmon) from, once it has been passed, preventing this bill to become the law, if you will. Now, I acknowledge the proclamation on the bill, and I am concerned that the intent of this government is, at least through this particular minister, once again being sincere. I think that it is incumbent upon all of us when we are addressing this bill and whoever addresses this bill‑‑and I can indicate that we will be voting in favour of this bill‑‑but it is incumbent upon all of us inside this Chamber to ask the reason why it is that other legislation that was passed by this Chamber has been dragged along.
Mr. Speaker, I can only hope that in fact that will occur and would ask the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Enns) to be patient, because as I have pointed out when the minister was maybe not listening that the bill itself was introduced on June 3. How many times has the bill been called? How many times has this bill been called since June 3? It is not a question of filibustering. It is a legitimate concern I am sure that the government wants to hear not only what one party believes, or two parties, that in fact all three parties positions are on this particular piece of legislation.
That is why I say that on Bill 64, when it does go to committee that we will be voting in favour of it. That this bill does‑‑I am sorry, Mr. Speaker‑‑84. My apologies, I think the government House leader (Mr. Manness) thought I was talking about 64, and I guess I alluded to Bill 64, but I stand corrected. I meant to say Bill 84. I just guess I am looking forward to debating Bill 64 and Bill 98, two bills that I hope to continue to speak on. I have spoken on Bill 64, to the member for Burrows (Mr. Martindale). The member for Burrows should be patient.
Mr. Speaker, the landlord and tenant relation is very, very important. What we do is we hear from the public and, hopefully, when it does go to committee that we will have some input from the landlords and from tenant representatives, where we will see the concerns not only expressed about this specific bill but the principles of the bill, the principles being the landlord and tenants relations.
When we start talking about tenant and landlord relations‑‑for the members who are on that committee‑‑it is much more broad than the clauses that are put forward in this bill, as everyone knows, that it includes legislation that was passed but not proclaimed from this government. Mr. Speaker, I could cite numerous cases that I have had personally regarding Landlord and Tenant Affairs.
We had talked about one of the major problems that were facing tenants and landlords with respect to slum landlords. That was one of the concerns that has been addressed during the previous debate that we need to be able to do what we can that is in the best interests of both landlord and tenant. Even though there was a small minority who felt that the then‑legislation was going too far, we felt as the government under the leadership that was demonstrated to some degree from the now‑Minister of Government Services that the issue had to be addressed. He attempted sincerely to address that issue through legislation.
Mr. Speaker, I think that gave a lot of expectations to Manitobans, in particular to tenants, and to even be more specific, to those tenants who were living in slum homes. It even made individuals who are landlords maintain and provide a service to the tenants. Far too often, what happens is a few bad apples, and I emphasize a few, will spoil the whole basket. These landlords and tenants interests were best served by having this type, this basic principle put into the legislation. I had thought that everyone had agreed to it, but I am not too sure if in fact today everyone agrees to it because of the lack, the inaction of this government.
I wanted to stress some disappointment because, as I say, this is a bill which we did not receive any notice whatsoever from the government in terms of them calling and not allowing us to adjourn debate whatsoever.
The government House leader (Mr. Manness) gave absolutely no indication. I know that the member for The Maples (Mr. Cheema) is wanting to adjourn debate on this bill as the Housing critic for the Liberal Party. I only trust that he will be allowed to adjourn debate given that this bill was introduced on the third and failing that, it should be noted that what the government is really doing is invoking a mild form of closure.
Mr. Speaker, this is a new step for the government. I have only been here for four years, but I can honestly say that this is the first time I have seen the government‑‑I have seen the opposition invoke the question, the NDP opposition‑‑but the first time where the government has decided to force a bill through this Chamber without any sort of advance notice to the House leader. I find that unfortunate, and I hope that is not a sign of things to come, because there are other major pieces of legislation that warrant debate.
Mr. Speaker, this bill, as I tried to demonstrate to the members of this Chamber, warrants that debate because we have had 139 recommendations. As I say, I am going to conclude my remarks by saying that we support this bill; we want the bill to go to committee. I would only hope that we will have another opportunity to be able to speak to this bill, but if the government fails to do that, we will allow it to go to committee.
Gulzar Cheema (The Maples): Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the member
Motion agreed to.
Bill 88‑The Homesteads, Marital Property Amendment
and Consequential Amendments Act
Mr. Speaker: On the proposed motion of the honourable Minister of Justice (Mr. McCrae), Bill 88, The Homesteads, Marital Property Amendment and Consequential Amendments Act; Loi sur la propriete familiale, modifiant la Loi sur les biens matrimoniaux et apportant des modifications correlatives a d'autres lois, standing in the name of the honourable member for Wellington (Ms. Barrett).
Becky Barrett (
In this House, as I have stated before and other members have, there are many times when we are opposed in principle to legislation that the government brings in. However, at least on the first reading of Bill 88, we are in support of the changes that this bill is making. Mr. Speaker, we will be taking it to committee, and I will close my brief remarks at that time.
Kevin Lamoureux (
Mr. Speaker: Is the House ready for the question? The question before the House is second reading of Bill 88, The Homesteads, Marital Property Amendment and Consequential Amendments Act; Loi sur la propriete familiale, modifiant la Loi sur les biens matrimoniaux et apportant des modifications correlatives a d'autres lois. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
Some Honourable Members: Agreed.
Mr. Speaker: That is agreed. Agreed and so ordered.
* * *
Hon. Clayton Manness (Government House Leader): Mr. Speaker, if you will call Bill 89, please.
Bill 89‑The Family Maintenance Amendment Act
Mr. Speaker: On the proposed motion of the honourable Minister of Justice (Mr. McCrae), Bill 89, The Family Maintenance Amendment Act; Loi modifiant la Loi sur l'obligation alimentaire, standing in the name of the honourable member for Wellington.
Becky Barrett (
Mr. Speaker, in principle, The Family Maintenance Amendment Act does some very important things. It particularly allows for the increased protection under the judicial system for women who have been threatened and abused by people who they have brought before the judicial system. It simplifies peoples‑‑and I use the word women in this context, because the vast majority of the people who were affected by this legislation in the past have been women.
The Family Maintenance Amendment Act allows for women to access, far more expeditiously and easily, the justice system by making the need for a lawyer and the preparation of written material far less onerous. It goes on to make it possible for applicants to go to designated magistrates without a lawyer and at no cost, to ask for a nonmolestation order quickly and informally.
A question that I would have and will be raising in the committee hearings is just to make sure that the judicial system and its designated magistrates are enough in number to allow, in actuality, that quickness and that ease of access to be undertaken when the legislation is proclaimed. There are many pieces of legislation on the books that are excellent in principle but that do not have the resources adequate to enable the legislation to, in effect, be able to act as well as it could.
The other major part of this legislation is that it stiffens the penalties for individuals who violate the nonmolestation orders and prohibition orders, doubling those penalties. We, again, applaud the Justice minister for bringing in this very necessary legislation.
With those remarks, Mr. Speaker, I am prepared, on behalf of our caucus, to pass this bill through to committee.
Mr. Paul Edwards (St. James): Mr. Speaker, I rise with pleasure today to speak on Bill 88, The Homesteads, Marital Property‑‑
Mr. Speaker: Order, please‑‑89.
Mr. Edwards: I am sorry. Mr. Speaker, the comments I have on both Bills 87 and 88, let me just say as a matter of record that we want those to go to committee. We understand that there are points to be raised, but we will let them go to committee.
With respect to the bill before the House, my friend has made comments about the concerns in this area, the concerns generally in the community. We, of course, want to see the level of payments maintained at an equitable rate which allows people to provide for their families after the family unit has been broken up. It is always a tragedy, Mr. Speaker, to have families break up. It is particularly tragic when there are children involved, young children involved. I am sure today's society and most in this Chamber are certainly aware of personal circumstances in which friends or family have gone through these very trying, very difficult times when a family is breaking down.
We want to provide as much as possible, I think, as legislators, for the ongoing ability of both family units‑‑the two that are created‑‑to maintain a level of income which allows them to not have the necessity of financial stress add to the emotional stress and burden of a family breaking up. Children are extremely vulnerable in these circumstances and, unfortunately, all too often get caught in the middle. One only has to go to the Family Division court any day of the week to see the children who get caught in these marital breakups.
Mr. Speaker, the financial stress which is often caused to the parent who takes the children is untenable and is not supportable. We must be vigilant in forcing him or her who has the income, who has the assets, to provide for the children of the marriage. As the Justice critic for the last number of years‑‑and I am sure my friends in the New Democratic caucus can attest to this as well‑‑this is an area that we hear constantly about in terms of people having problems with the breakup of a family and in dealing with the courts. They are constantly writing us and complaining that they feel they have been dealt with unfairly, they feel that they have not been heard by the court.
Consistently, I must say that in many of the circumstances, what is really happening is that people are finding that courts cannot satisfactorily settle or solve the emotional trauma that they become involved in in a marriage. That is true. Courts will never be able to satisfy people who come to court bitter about the breakup of their marriage. Mr. Speaker, courts just cannot do that. My advice to people who are going through this difficulty is, if at all possible, avoid court because it will not be a satisfying experience in any way, shape or form. No matter what comes out of it, the courts are really to be seen as the last resort in dealing with the breakup of a marriage.
Mr. Speaker, almost anyone, I am sure, who has had to go through domestic litigation in the Family Court can attest to that. It is not a satisfying experience for anyone. Everyone loses when these things have to go to court. It does cost money to go to court.
The most unfortunate circumstance is when spouses, one or the other, decide that they are going to go to court to somehow extract a pound of flesh, extract some revenge, and the idea is, well, if I am going to be broke, I am going to make darn sure that my spouse is broke, too. That is the type of attitude which injects itself into domestic disputes all too often. It just means that things get caught up in the courts. Money gets spent. It drags on for years, and who pays the final price?
The final price is paid by the children, Mr. Speaker, the children of the marriage who get caught up in that. They do not understand the motives of revenge and hostility that their parents have for each other. They have no concept of that. All they know is, at the end of the day, they live in a family and in a family unit that has far less resources to satisfy their needs for the things that children need which cost money. They know that; that is what they know. All they know is, the additional financial pressure on the family exacerbates the already difficult situation that they face in trying to deal with their parents now living in two different places, they having perhaps to live in two different places in any given week. It is not a good situation. Financial stress only exacerbates the problem.
We need to provide for a way for maintenance payments to increase as the cost of living increases, as the cost of the child increases. Different children cost different amounts of money at different points in their growing up, Mr. Speaker. Anyone in this House who has children will understand that, that children cost money, but it is a different amount of money at different times.
Sometimes children need special services. They get interested in special things, and it is legitimate that they do that. It is in their interest that they do that, but that costs extra money. We have to have a flexible way to allow the income‑earning spouse to be forced to fluctuate the level of maintenance. That has to be allowed to occur. We have to be flexible and we have to provide a way for people to go quickly back to the courts to have maintenance adjusted.
Mr. Speaker, what has happened, unfortunately, is that the courts have not kept up with the rate of inflation and the real cost of living. What has happened, unfortunately, is that the people in front of the court have all too often been left without sufficient resources to meet the needs of the new family unit.
Now, Mr. Speaker, what this bill does generally and very quickly in the area of practice and procedure is, I think, to streamline the process. I think it allows for a better process, and in particular, as well, the bill deals with the nonmolestation orders which of course are very important.
Mr. Speaker, let me just say on that, as well, that nonmolestation orders are a very important aspect of domestic law. There is no client, there is no litigant, like a domestic litigant, like someone involved in a domestic dispute, because unlike any other area of the law, domestic litigants leave their logic at home. Someone involved in a domestic dispute, someone involved in a struggle, unfortunate as that may be, on the domestic side, generally is bitter, generally is extremely unhappy and does not want to deal rationally with the situation.
Money does not seem to talk, like it does in most cases. Generally people come wanting to settle a financial claim. They are asking for damages. Generally, when you put to them the financial realities, they become logical, money talks‑‑not in domestic situations, Mr. Speaker. It rarely is the most important factor. People become bitter and angry and not wanting to forfeit anything, lest they should be seen as weak. Generally they are unhappy in the extreme at the party on the other side.
Mr. Speaker, the nonmolestation orders are important, because unfortunately, added to the problems that people have, the bitterness they experience with marriage breakups, oftentimes they become violent. That is the worst tragedy, but that also occurs on occasion. So it has become a standard practice to include nonmolestation orders, and this bill goes some ways to dealing with those and to making it clearer of what they are to be about, to making it more expeditious in achieving nonmolestation orders. Anyone who visits the criminal courts and domestic violence courts will also see that a lot of domestic violence comes out of broken homes. It comes out of the feelings of revenge, bitterness, anxiety, which comes from the dissolution of a marriage.
It becomes particularly important to clarify up front with people, when their marriage is breaking up, what the consequences will be of taking the law into their own hands and exerting violence on others. The consequences are not just the nonmolestation orders, but the consequences become criminal in nature, and that is also tragic, Mr. Speaker.
The nonmolestation orders have served a useful purpose in the past. They are not the answer. The answer obviously is to provide for mediation, conciliation services up front for people when they see their marriage starting to dissolve. Mr. Speaker, we have an interesting‑‑[interjection! Well, I am sure the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Enns) will want to hear me move into the next part of my comments on this bill and deal with the mediation and conciliation services in the Family Law branch. I know that the Minister of Natural Resources will want to hear comments on the mediation and conciliation services, which do in fact attempt to head off the kind of difficulty that would require a nonmolestation order.
Those conciliation services do no end of good; it is our position in assisting litigants to avoid lengthy, expensive, bitter court battles in which things like nonmolestation orders become important. Mr. Speaker, we have seen, unfortunately, in our view, this government not enhance that area of the Family Law branch. That is unfortunate. I would like to see mediation and conciliation services offered on a much broader range and to a much greater degree.
We all must be aware that it takes both sides consenting to have any success in mediation or conciliation. One party deciding that they do not want to participate means the end of mediation and conciliation. Mr. Speaker, it is not for every case, because it is only in the cases where the people understand that the real cost of fighting things through the courts, that the real burden will be borne by the children. When people realize that it is amazing how quickly they are willing to go to mediation and conciliation and to talk.
Mr. Speaker, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Mediation and conciliation in my experience works far more often than the people who are going into it think it will. The fact is that people need to be encouraged and told bluntly what the costs will be of litigation. They need to be told bluntly that they should think of their children first and bury the hatchet between themselves, at least for the sake of the children, in the dissolution of their marriage and deal with this rationally. Keep logic onside; they have to be told that up‑front. All too often, of course, it does not register, but it is important that every effort be made at the outset to assist people to coming to an amicable‑‑not happy‑‑but amicable settlement of their assets, of maintenance payments, of the way they are going to live their lives separate and apart. That is so true, particularly true, when children are involved.
Mr. Speaker, we look forward to further discussion on this bill with the minister at committee and indeed on Bills 87 and 88. But we are pleased to see this and those bills referred to committee.
Mr. Speaker: Is the House ready for the question? The question before the House is second reading of Bill 89, The Family Maintenance Amendment Act; Loi modifiant la Loi sur l'obligation alimentaire. Is it the will of the House to adopt the motion?
Some Honourable Members: Agreed.
Mr. Speaker: That is agreed. Agreed and so ordered.
Hon. Clayton Manness (Government House Leader): Mr. Speaker, I think there is a willingness of the House to debate two further bills. I wonder whether or not we can continue to sit until those bills are disposed with, whether there is leave of the House.
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Second Opposition House Leader): That is Bills 73 and 75. There is leave.
Mr. Speaker: Is it the will of the House that the Speaker do not see the clock until we have disposed of Bills 73 and 75? [Agreed!
Mr. Manness: Mr. Speaker, inadvertently I just thought of another way.
Mr. Speaker, will you call Bill 75 followed by 73, or 73 followed by 75? What is the wish?
Some Honourable Members: 73 first.
Mr. Manness: 73 first, followed by 75.
Bill 73‑The Health Care Directives
and Consequential Amendments Act
Mr. Speaker: On the proposed motion of the honourable Minister of Justice (Mr. McCrae), Bill 73, The Health Care Directives and Consequential Amendments Act; Loi sur les directives en matiere de soins de sante et apportant des modifications correlatives a d'autres lois, standing in the name of the honourable member for Thompson (Mr. Ashton).
An Honourable Member: Stand.
Mr. Speaker: Stand. Is there leave? No, leave is denied.
Mr. Dave Chomiak (Kildonan): Mr. Speaker, I rise as our only party spokesperson dealing with Bill 73, and I will indicate at the onset following my remarks, we will be agreeing, voting in favour of having the matter go to committee.
I rise with a good deal of intrepidation on this matter because Bill 73, Mr. Speaker, is a very significant piece of legislation. I can indicate to you that because of its long‑term ramifications and the significance of this particular bill, many members of our caucus were desirous of having an opportunity to discuss this bill publicly, but we have weighed the consequences of drawing the bill out, perhaps not having it had an opportunity to go to committee where the public, whom we are most concerned with in terms of their response to this bill, will have an opportunity. We, therefore, have concluded that I will be the only spokesperson, and we look forward very anxiously to the public's discussion with respect to this bill.
Mr. Speaker, often in this Chamber all matters are important and matters very directly affect many of us. Very rarely is a bill, I think, going to as directly affect many of us in this Chamber on both the personal level and as legislators as Bill 73. I must reiterate and perhaps it is because I have a legal background, but I think not; this is a very significant bill.
It changes fundamentally a particular aspect of dealing with those requiring health care decisions and with health care practitioners very significantly. It is also something, and that is why we on this side of the House feel confident that we can send the matter onto the committee, it has also been widely discussed both privately and publicly with respect to the whole question of, and I will use the generic term, living wills. There has been a Law Reform Commission report, Mr. Speaker, which, at least from my reading and interpretation, has largely been followed in this legislation.
There has been a fair amount of public discussion with respect to this particular bill and its ramifications. Very briefly, we certainly have analyzed it, we have had an extensive discussion in our caucus on it. Quite clearly, it is a very significant piece of legislation. There are basically two major factors with regard to this. It is the whole question of directives, and it is the whole question of proxies and how they relate to medical care decisions, long‑term care and various other very, very difficult questions, questions that generate a tremendous amount of debate. We are looking forward anxiously to discussions from the public, because the issues raised by this are of a long‑term consequence.
As a lawyer, I was approached many times during my active practising profession by individuals who inquired about this kind of decision, this kind of a bill. As a parent and as an individual, I see the ramifications of it every day, have thought about the ramifications of it and did note the comments of the Leader of the Liberal Party (Mrs. Carstairs) in terms of her comments with respect to this bill and her personal circumstances surrounding her involvement in a matter of this kind in which this bill will be affected.
It also, Mr. Speaker, and this is something that we think should be duly noted‑‑the effects of this bill will have a significant effect on mental health legislation and the rights of individuals who may or may not fall under the auspices of that kind of legislation. Even though I realize that there is a notwithstanding clause contained in this bill, the ramifications to those suffering or perhaps who may fall under the jurisdiction of The Mental Health Act, but maybe within the jurisdiction or between the cracks of The Mental Health Act, there will be effects on those individuals, and I can indicate that we have discussed this in our caucus. We will be bringing forward some very positive, what we feel is positive, suggestions that we feel the government and the Liberal Party would probably be prepared to accept with respect to improvements in this bill.
Very rarely am I as concerned‑‑well, we are always concerned, Mr. Speaker‑‑but this will be a very significant hearing process. The representations which we will hear, I think, will have a significant bearing in terms of this bill, although I can indicate that we will in principle support this bill. We support the intention of this bill. We support the direction of the bill. There are some structural changes perhaps. There are some effects as I have already indicated dealing with people who may fall in the area of some forms of disability that may be improved in terms of amendments to this act which we will try to deal with.
I, also, in terms of my legal analysis,
anticipate there will be some legal difficulties in terms of the interpretation
of this particular bill and its subsequent evolution. I think we will see some form of litigation
and some evolution of the concept of living wills in
With those brief comments and understanding
the significance of this bill, I can indicate that our party is looking forward
to the public hearings that will take place and for the public's input with
respect to this bill that will touch every single man, woman and child in the
Mr. Speaker: Is the House ready for the question? The question for the House is second reading of Bill 73, The Health Care Directives and Consequential Amendments Act; Loi sur les directives en matiere de soins de sante et apportant des modifications correlatives a d'autres lois. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
An Honourable Member: Agreed.
Mr. Speaker: Agreed and so ordered.
Bill 75‑The Health Services Insurance Amendment
and Consequentia l Amendments Act
Mr. Speaker: On the proposed motion of the honourable Minister of Health (Mr. Orchard), Bill 75 (The Health Services Insurance Amendment and Consequential Amendments Act; Loi modifiant la Loi sur l'assurance‑maladie et apportant des modifications correlatives a d'autres lois), standing in the name of the honourable member for Burrows (Mr. Martindale).
An Honourable Member: Stand.
Mr. Speaker: Stand? Is there leave?
An Honourable Member: No.
Mr. Speaker: No, leave is denied.
Mr. Gulzar Cheema (The Maples): Mr. Speaker, I would like to put a few comments on this Bill 75. This bill represents the policy announcement of 1988 and 1990 by this government and also, I guess, the other provincial parties to combine both the Health Services Commission and Manitoba Health under one organization and to increase accountability and set a system where the co‑ordinator approach for health care can be delivered. I think this bill will do that.
This bill will ensure that there is a balance in the community as well as the institutional care, and that can only be done if you have one body in charge of the whole thing. There are a number of minor parts in this bill which are basically housekeeping and one of the major parts here is Section 85.1(3), the role of the Medical Review Committee.
Mr. Speaker, you and the members of this House
are very well aware of some of the media stories about the allegations of some of
the billing practices of the health care providers. There has been a public debate, but nobody
really knows the full details because it is so much a closed procedure. I think this bill, this amendment will
improve that part, because I think taxpayers have a right to know exactly what
is happening after due process is given to a particular health care provider
and they have gone through everything. I
think eventually the people of
So, Mr. Speaker, we are very pleased to see that the Minister of Health (Mr. Orchard) has addressed that part of the problem, because right now, under the present laws, the Minister of Health has to give anybody's name‑‑he has to resign. So it was a very difficult situation for the Department of Health to continue to not answer the questions from the media. Then the health organizations were under pressure, so each one was ducking the issue. So I think basically it will give us the opportunity here to correct their mistake of the past.
But we will encourage the minister to review the process of the Medical Review Committee in a way which will reflect the current needs of the health care system, because something which was put in place 10 years ago may not be very relevant at this time. We need to review the whole process, and we will encourage the various health care professional groups to come forward with their particular proposals at the committee stage and raise those issues which are very important to them.
Mr. Speaker, too often the information is not conveyed to them, and sometimes it is very late. So we will ask the minister's office to make sure that the Manitoba Medical Association, Medical Review Committee, and other interested parties should come, so that we can even ask some questions. I am sure every member would like to know how we are spending our $1.8 billion, because this is a very important issue in terms of how the money is spent and how our open‑ended system is functioning, and the Medical Review Committee does play a very important role in that aspect.
Mr. Speaker, the other very important thing, but I do not know why‑‑I mean the minister is politically very smart. But one thing they have done, which is very good for the people, is giving authority to Manitoba Health Services Commission. The minister has to give the budget lines every year. So from now on, after this bill passes, he cannot blame the hospitals. They have to tell us so we will be able to have access to any information we want.
Actually, that is a very good process for all
of us, because it is very difficult to blame and put pressure on the hospital boards
and ask them to make tough decisions. I
think the Minister of Health (Mr. Orchard) should make those decisions because
he is finally responsible. So that will
be very helpful. I see it as a very
positive move on the minister's part. It
is politically risky, but it is good for the people of
Mr. Speaker, there are a number of other areas of minor concern we have that we will discuss at the committee stage. Since we are almost at the end of the session, I will be the only one who will be speaking on behalf of my caucus on this bill, at this stage, but will encourage other people to come forward.[interjection!
Specifically, I will encourage the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Enns) to come and sit in the committee and give a piece of his advice. With his 25 years of experience in this House we should also hear other than the Natural Resources.
I do not want to hold members in this House on this beautiful Friday afternoon. Like others, I have also to go for some other work. So I will end my remarks and say again, let us go to committee and hear from the real people who are very much concerned about the issue.
Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis (St. Johns): Mr. Speaker, it is going to be very difficult for me to keep my remarks on this very extensive legislation to a bare minimum; something I will do, or attempt to do, in the interest of seeing this legislation move to committee as quickly as possible for the benefit of public input and for some substantive answers to some very detailed questions that we and others have about this legislation.
Let me indicate at the outset that there are two important issues being addressed by this legislation. One is the amalgamation or the integration of the Department of Health and the Manitoba Health Services Commission. The other is the ability it is entrenching in legislation, the ability of government to disclose the names of doctors who after due process it has been demonstrated that they committed a wrongdoing in terms of the fee schedule and the provisions of the Department of Health, that those names can be disclosed and made public.
I want to say at the outset, Mr. Speaker, that in principle we support these two major changes. Our concerns have to do with the details around the enactment of those two principles and with the lack of consistency between the words of this bill and the reality of this government. Most people in this House will know that that provision in Bill 75, which deals with the amalgamation of the Manitoba Health Services Commission and the Department of Health is long overdue. In fact, the Department of Health has been operating, in a way, illegally for the past year since the amalgamation and integration actually happened last year.
(Mr. Bob Rose, Acting Speaker, in the Chair)
We debated that integration and amalgamation in Estimates. We dealt with a restructured, or the beginnings of a restructured department and we asked then, where is the legislation to back up this major change that requires legislation? A year later we have those changes, and we have some concerns after seeing this document and seeing the details of these legislative proposals.
Let it be known, Mr. Acting Speaker, that we support in concept this move, because it is and can be a very important part of health care reform. That, in fact, is the major reason, as I understand it, for this integration, for this amalgamation. It is to enhance, to contribute to, to help with the whole process of meaningful health care reform. The co‑ordination and provision of an integrated and comprehensive system of health is absolutely essential if we are to achieve the sheer goal of moving our system from a curative‑illness model to a wellness‑prevention community‑based health care system.
The reality does not fit with that underlying principle or premise behind this bill. We have many questions with the restructuring and reorganization in the Department of Health. Why is staff morale so low? Why are well‑qualified, highly‑respected individuals leaving the department? Why, Mr. Acting Speaker, are people being fired one day, under the guise of a restructured department, only for us to learn that down the road the boxes will be shuffled again and the department or parts of it put back the way it was so that a new person can be hired? We have questions. Is this an example or an issue to divert attention away from the real agenda of this government? Is it an attempt to create a vehicle in order to get rid of certain individuals, to consolidate efforts around a particular agenda, to get rid of any voices of concern, of objective advice, voices who question and query a government, as they should, in positions of well‑qualified members of the Civil Service? Is this a question of moving boxes around? Is it a shell game or is this integration real?
Well, Mr. Acting Speaker, it will have to be demonstrated to us that the integration is real, that the reform is real, that the plan will work and work on behalf of the best interests of Manitobans.
It is clear, from this legislation, that there will be an enormous amount of power in the hands of one individual, the Minister of Health (Mr. Orchard). The integration of these two aspects in the Department of Health bring, under one person, tremendous responsibility and power and influence.
I will not get into a debate about the present
minister's method of ministering, but I want to register a concern, that while
this integration is important in terms of health care reform, it has a
downside. Under the wrong person, under
the wrong government, with bad intentions, with bad motives, with hidden
agendas it can be a tool to accomplish a most dangerous destructive plan of
action for the people of
We will be watching this government and the Minister of Health to see how that power and influence is used or abused. We will be holding the minister and this government accountable for the broad‑sweeping provisions of this bill and expecting, from this day forward, a new openness around requests for information on budgets for hospitals, on detailed provisions of our health care institutions, something to which we have been denied access to this date.
So, Mr. Acting Speaker, let the record show that we expect, upon proclamation of this legislation, that the information that we have long been requesting about hospital budgets, about capital expenditures, about long‑term planning initiatives will be forthcoming on a free and open basis.
I raise one final concern that has to do with the entrenchment in law of the Manitoba Health Board. As we read this legislation and we follow previous examples and actions of this minister and this government, we have real concerns about whether or not, as a result of this legislation, there will be a meaningful advisory body to the minister on health policy and particularly on health care reform policy.
Mr. Acting Speaker, I do not see yet, and I am waiting to be proven wrong in committee, a meaningful body, representative of the many multifaceted areas in health care on this board. I do not see a meaningful role for this committee in terms of health care reform. I do not see a check placed upon the minister and this government in terms of decision making. I do not see yet anything more than a patronage body, a place for this government to appoint political pacts. No, I am not making any comment on present membership, although we have raised, as you know, some questions in that regard.
But for the long term and in the future, I want to say, based on the terms of reference, based on the lack of detail around the responsibilities of this committee, we do not see the kind of board that was intended to be a part of any integration, any restructuring of a new Department of Health. All of our work in this area, and members opposite will know that this is an area that was well researched and studied by the previous administration in the dying days of its last government.
Mr. Acting Speaker, it is clear, from all of that research, that integral to any kind of legislative change and a new restructured department was the creation of an advisory board on health policy that would have access to appropriate health planning, expertise within the department, the university, the hospitals and the larger community. It would have significant lay representation. It would reflect many of the different health care needs and issues in our community. It would play a vital role in health care reform, in hospital‑funding formulas, in payments to physicians, in the development of community‑based systems.
We do not have that in this legislation. We have centres of decision making happening outside of the department entirely. We have the Urban Hospital Council over here, we have the advisory health networks over here, we have the rural health council over here, we have a dozen different bodies outside the jurisdiction of this department making the decisions in conjunction with the Minister of Health, and we are concerned on that front. We will be raising questions in that regard and seeking answers.
I will conclude my remarks by saying I look forward to a thorough discussion of this very in‑depth, serious matter at committee. Thank you, Mr. Acting Speaker.
(Mr. Speaker in the Chair)
Mr. Speaker: Is the House ready for the question? The question before the House is the second reading of Bill 75, The Health Services Insurance Amendment and Consequential Amendments Act; Loi modifiant la Loi Sur l'assurance‑maladie et apportant des modifications correlatives a d'autres lois. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion? Agreed?
Some Honourable Members: Agreed.
Mr. Speaker: Agreed and so ordered.
Hon. Clayton Manness (Government House Leader): Mr. Speaker, before you call adjournment, I would like to, on House Business, announce that the Standing Committee on Law Amendments will meet on Thursday, June 18, at 10 a.m. to consider Bills 47, 72, 74, 88 and 89.
Mr. Speaker: I would like to thank the honourable government House leader for that information.
The hour being after 12:30, this House now stands adjourned till 1:30 p.m., Monday.