Monday, June 14, 1993

The House met at 1:30 p.m.


Mr. Clerk (William Remnant):  I must advise the House of the fact that Mr. Speaker is not available, and I would therefore, in accordance with the statutes, call upon the Deputy Speaker to take the Chair.

(Mrs. Louise Dacquay, Deputy Speaker, in the Chair)








Mr. Jerry Storie (Flin Flon):  Madam Deputy Speaker, I beg to present the petition of Isabel Acheson, John Pelletier, Loreen Stevens and others requesting the Minister of Health (Mr. Orchard) consider restoring the Children's Dental Program to the level it was prior to the 1993‑94 budget.




Madam Deputy Speaker:  I have reviewed the petition (Ms. Cerilli), and it complies with the rules and the practices of the House.  Is it the pleasure of the House to have the petition read? (agreed)

Mr. Clerk (William Remnant):  The petition of the undersigned citizens of the province of Manitoba humbly sheweth that:

      WHEREAS Manitoba has the highest rate of child poverty in the country; and

      WHEREAS over 55,000 children depend upon the Children's Dental Program; and

      WHEREAS several studies have pointed out the cost savings of preventative and treatment health care programs such as the Children's Dental Program; and

      WHEREAS the Children's Dental Program has been in effect for 17 years and has been recognized as extremely cost‑effective and critical for many families in isolated communities; and

      WHEREAS the provincial government did not consult the users of the program or the providers before announcing plans to eliminate 44 of the 49 dentists, nurses and assistants providing this service; and

      WHEREAS preventative health care is an essential component of health care reform.

      WHEREFORE your petitioners humbly pray that the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba may be pleased to request the Minister of Health (Mr. Orchard) consider restoring the Children's Dental Program to the level it was prior to the 1993‑94 budget.

Madam Deputy Speaker:  I have reviewed the petition (Mr. Maloway).  It complies with the rules and the practices of the House.  Is it the will of the House to have the petition read? (agreed)

Mr. Clerk:  The petition of the undersigned citizens of the province of Manitoba humbly sheweth that:

      WHEREAS Manitoba has the highest rate of child poverty in the country; and

      WHEREAS over 55,000 children depend upon the Children's Dental Program; and

      WHEREAS several studies have pointed out the cost savings of preventative and treatment health care programs such as the Children's Dental Program; and

      WHEREAS the Children's Dental Program has been in effect for 17 years and has been recognized as extremely cost‑effective and critical for many families in isolated communities; and

      WHEREAS the provincial government did not consult the users of the program or the providers before announcing plans to eliminate 44 of the 49 dentists, nurses and assistants providing this service; and

      WHEREAS preventative health care is an essential component of health care reform.

      WHEREFORE your petitioners humbly pray that the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba may be pleased to request the Minister of Health (Mr. Orchard) consider restoring the Children's Dental Program to the level it was prior to the 1993‑94 budget.

* * *

* (1335)

(Mr. Speaker in the Chair)

Mr. Speaker:  I have reviewed the petition of the honourable member (Mr. Ashton).  It complies with the privileges and the practices of the House and complies with the rules.  Is it the will of the House to have the petition read? (agreed)

Mr. Clerk:  The petition of the undersigned citizens of the province of Manitoba humbly sheweth that:

      WHEREAS the state of Highway 391 is becoming increasingly unsafe; and

      WHEREAS due to the poor condition of the road there have been numerous accidents; and

      WHEREAS the condition of the road between Thompson and Nelson House is not only making travel dangerous but costly due to frequent damage to vehicles; and

      WHEREAS this road is of vital importance to residents who must use the road.

      WHEREFORE your petitioners humbly pray that the Legislature of the Province of Manitoba may be pleased to request that the government of Manitoba consider reviewing the state of Highway 391 with a view towards improving the condition and safety of the road.

* * *

Mr. Speaker:  I have reviewed the petition of the honourable member (Mr. Chomiak).  It complies with the privileges and the practices of the House and complies with the rules.  Is it the will of the House to have the petition read? (agreed)

Mr. Clerk:  The petition of the undersigned citizens of the province of Manitoba humbly sheweth that:

      WHEREAS Manitoba has the highest rate of child poverty in the country; and

      WHEREAS over 55,000 children depend upon the Children's Dental Program; and

      WHEREAS several studies have pointed out the cost savings of preventative and treatment health care programs such as the Children's Dental Program; and

      WHEREAS the Children's Dental Program has been in effect for 17 years and has been recognized as extremely cost‑effective and critical for many families in isolated communities; and

      WHEREAS the provincial government did not consult the users of the program or the providers before announcing plans to eliminate 44 of the 49 dentists, nurses and assistants providing this service; and

      WHEREAS preventative health care is an essential component of health care reform.

      WHEREFORE your petitioners humbly pray that the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba may be pleased to request the Minister of Health (Mr. Orchard) consider restoring the Children's Dental Program to the level it was prior to the 1993‑94 budget.




Mrs. Louise Dacquay (Chairperson of Committees):  Mr. Speaker, the Committee of Supply has considered certain resolutions, directs me to report progress and asks leave to sit again.

      I move, seconded by the honourable member for La Verendrye (Mr. Sveinson), that the report of the committee be received.

Motion agreed to.

Mr. Jack Reimer (Acting Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Law Amendments):  Mr. Speaker, I beg to present the First Report of the Committee on Law Amendments.

Mr. Clerk (William Remnant):  Your Standing Committee on Law Amendments presents the following as its First Report.

      Your committee met on Wednesday, June 9, 1993, at 7 p.m. in Room 255 of the Legislative Building to consider bills referred.

      Your committee has considered:

      Bill 6‑‑The Real Property Amendment Act; Loi modifiant la Loi sur les biens reels

       and has agreed to report the same with the following amendments:


      THAT clause 2(b) of the bill be struck out and the following substituted:

      (b) by adding "and takes effect from the day the instrument is assigned a serial number" after "district registrar".


      THAT the proposed subsection 52(3.1), as set out in subsection 3(2) of the bill, be amended by striking out "presented for registration or entered in the data storage system," and substituting "assigned a serial number,".


      THAT Section 5 of the bill be struck out and the following substituted:

      5    Subsection 72(4) is amended by striking out "exercisingthe function of a notary public or having jurisdictionor authority as a notary public in Canada, (hereinafterreferred to as an officer) that officer" andsubstituting ", referred to in subsection (5) as anofficer, the officer".

      Your committee has also considered:

      Bill 7‑‑The Builders' Liens Amendment Act; Loi modifiant la Loi sur le privilege du constructeur

       and has agreed to report the same without amendment.

      Your committee has also considered:

      Bill 8‑‑The Insurance Amendment Act; Loi modifiant la Loi sur les assurances

       and has agreed to report the same with the following amendment:


      THAT the English version of Section 7 of Bill 8 be amended by striking out "of" where it occurs for the second time.

      Your committee has also considered:

      Bill 12‑‑The International Trusts Act; Loi sur les fiducies internationales

      Bill 19‑‑The Court of Queen's Bench Amendment and Consequential Amendments Act; Loi modifiant la Loi sur la Cour du Banc de la Reine et apportant des modifications correlatives a d'autres loi

       and has agreed to report the same without amendment.

      All of which is respectfully submitted.

Mr. Reimer:  Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the honourable member for Portage la Prairie (Mr. Pallister), that the report of the committee be received.

Motion agreed to.




Bill 43‑The Manitoba Lotteries Foundation Amendment

and Consequential Amendments Act


Hon. Linda McIntosh (Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs):  Mr. Speaker, I move (on behalf of the honourable Minister of Culture, Heritage and Citizenship (Mrs. Mitchelson)), seconded by the honourable Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Findlay), that Bill 43, The Manitoba Lotteries Foundation Amendment and Consequential Amendments Act; Loi modifiant la Loi sur la Fondation manitobaine des loteries et apportant des modifications correlatives a une autre loi, be introduced and that the same be now received and read a first time.

Motion agreed to.

* (1340)


Introduction of Guests


Mr. Speaker:  Prior to Oral Questions, may I direct the attention of honourable members to the gallery, where we have with us this afternoon from the Robert Smith School fifty Grade 5 students under the direction of Ms. Carlotta Kulpak and Mr. George Peters.  This school is located in the constituency of the honourable member for Selkirk (Mr. Dewar).

      On behalf of all honourable members, I would like to welcome you here this afternoon.




Barley Marketing



Mr. Gary Doer (Leader of the Opposition):  Mr. Speaker, my question is to the First Minister (Mr. Filmon).

      Mr. Speaker, we were visiting some of the rural communities over the weekend as the Premier was in Ottawa electing the new Leader of the Conservative Party.  Many producers in rural Manitoba, as I am sure the Premier is well aware, are extremely concerned about the unilateral ways in which Charlie Mayer and the federal government are changing the policies on agriculture in Canada, unilateral action and arbitrary action that seem quite opposite to the comments made by the Prime Minister‑designate, with the talk about inclusiveness and empowerment of people and a different style of decision making.

      Many producers are saying they should have the ultimate say on whether there will be changes to the Wheat Board in terms of barley.  There should be a plebiscite, something that has been said before by producers.

      Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Premier (Mr. Filmon): Will he be calling on the Prime Minister‑designate to have a plebiscite to determine the manner in which we are going to be dealing with barley, as many farm groups have stated, or is it going to be business as usual in terms of the unilateral action of Charlie Mayer, as reported by the former Prime Minister in the country?

Hon. Glen Findlay (Minister of Agriculture):  Mr. Speaker, the member has asked that question before in the House.  I think farmers do want an opportunity to choose what they do in running their business.  Whether the Wheat Board is selling in the United States or whether it is somebody they choose to do the marketing for them, that is their choice.  I think that is a fair and reasonable way to do business.  The Wheat Board, I know, will be able to compete very well in the private sector.

      In addition to that, one of the member's colleagues attended the Gate to Plate Conference in February in Portage, and farmers talked about value‑added diversification and more emphasis on marketing and returning more value to the farm gate.  They talked about those issues, and they said we need to be freed up, have an opportunity to earn a living from the marketplace by ourselves, and we look for the opportunity to do our sales from the farm gate to wherever we want to sell it.

      Mr. Speaker, this opportunity is there.  If the member is worried about a plebiscite, there will probably be one before the end of the year called the federal election.

Mr. Doer:  Mr. Speaker, anybody living in Manitoba should remember past elections where the media has called a majority government or a minority government before the votes have even been counted in western Canada, before the votes have even been counted in Manitoba.

      Western Canadian producers whom we listened to over the weekend and have been listening to for the last number of months want to have a direct say in their marketing board and not have it determined by 95 seats in Ontario and 78 seats in Quebec, which has traditionally happened in western Canada.


Barley Marketing

Premier's Position


Mr. Gary Doer (Leader of the Opposition):  I read the text of Kim Campbell's speech today.  There was absolutely no reference to agriculture.  She is talking about a different way of doing business.

      Over the same weekend, Brian White has been critical of Charlie Mayer in dealing with unilateral actions.  He says it is unacceptable for the federal government to be dealing with these changes in this way, on both the Crow rate and the changes on orderly marketing of barley in the Wheat Board.

      I would like to ask the Premier:  Will he be taking a position at the First Ministers' meeting with the new Prime Minister‑designate to have a plebiscite for western Canadian producers?  Will he be taking a new style of inclusive politics to that First Ministers' meeting, or is it going to be business as usual with Charlie Mayer and the same kind of action for producers as we had with Brian Mulroney with Kim Campbell, Mr. Speaker?

Hon. Gary Filmon (Premier):  Mr. Speaker, if the member opposite read the entire text of the speech, he will know that there was no reference to fishing.  There was no reference to forestry. There was no reference to mining.  There was no reference to oil.  There was no reference to many things.

      Obviously, there was discussion about the big picture, about the future, about Canada's challenges and Canada's opportunities, but I know that is something New Democrats are not aware of. They rarely can see the big picture and they rarely can get into those kinds of major‑issue discussions, but that is okay.

      Mr. Speaker, yes, indeed, I will always seek an opportunity to talk about consensus, to talk about bringing all parts of the country together, and will indeed look forward to an opportunity to co‑operate with my fellow Premiers as well as the new Prime Minister and look for common solutions that meet our needs and our problems throughout all of the regions of Canada.

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Mr. Doer:  Mr. Speaker, I guess only the Canadian people will ultimately decide whether the Prime Minister‑designate was talking about the big picture or whether that in fact was the last picture in terms of the Mulroney policies.

      I was disappointed the Premier did not tell us whether there would be a new change in terms of involving western Canadian producers on some of these very important issues.


Barley Marketing

Government Position


Mr. Gary Doer (Leader of the Opposition):  Again, Mr. Speaker, Brian White goes on to say over the weekend that he was absolutely shocked that he and other federal Conservative M.P.s were received by Charlie Mayer‑‑‑in terms of the treatment they received from Charlie Mayer.  It was brutally frank.  It was not a productive meeting.  We came out of the meeting, with our own federal Minister of Agriculture, absolutely shell‑shocked because he was not willing to wait and discuss this issue with farmers and the people.

      I would like to ask the Premier (Mr. Filmon):  What position will the Premier be taking to the First Ministers' meeting on the method of payment that has major implications for producers?  It has major implications for railways.  It has major implications for communities in rural Manitoba.  It has implications for all kinds of issues dealing with our western Canadian economy.

      What position will the Premier take to that meeting on that very important industry for Manitoba?

Hon. Glen Findlay (Minister of Agriculture):  Mr. Speaker, the transportation question of method of payment has been around western Canada for a long, long time.

      The Crow benefit was put in place for the benefit of western Canada in 1897.  Farmers have talked about the reason why it is in place, whether the money that goes to offset the cost of transporting should come to them or should go to the railroads.

      Mr. Speaker, there has been a lot of discussion on the topic.  Some people obviously identify that the development of the livestock industry is going to be inhibited by maintaining the present method of payment and that changing the method of payment will increase the opportunity to diversify and value‑add on farms in rural Manitoba.

      I have a lot of confidence in the panel chairman that has been appointed by Mr. Mayer‑‑Dr. Ed Tyrchniewicz, a graduate of the University of Manitoba, now the Dean of Agriculture at the University of Alberta.

      Mr. Speaker, many other good western Canadian and eastern Canadian citizens will be appointed to that panel.  They will analyze the information that is at hand and determine a course of action that will be good for the further development of western Canada.


Firearms Control Pellet Guns


Ms. Becky Barrett (Wellington):  Mr. Speaker, recently the rates of violent crime in the city of Winnipeg and the province of Manitoba, violent crime and criminal activity, especially by young people, have increased at a very alarming rate.  In some cases, it appears that youth gangs and other activities have gotten completely out of hand, including a most frightening, recent example of a fourteen‑year‑old girl who was hit in the leg with a pellet gun.

      I would like to know what the provincial government's policy is on the use and acquisition of pellet guns in the province of Manitoba?

Hon. James McCrae (Minister of Justice and Attorney General): Mr. Speaker, we here in Manitoba have strong concerns, as reflected in the views stated to us by members of the public, about violence in general and youth violence in particular. There has indeed been an escalation in the level of and frequency of violent offences being committed in Manitoba.  That is why recently at the meeting of Attorneys General in Quebec City, Manitoba and Alberta raised very forcefully the issue of a review of the Young Offenders Act.

      We were able to achieve another review‑‑the last one was back in 1989‑‑of all aspects of the Young Offenders Act.  Manitoba also pressed for an earlier meeting to follow the one we just had, rather than waiting a full year.  The consensus at that meeting was that we would meet again in the fall, after the review of the Young Offenders Act is complete, to look at amendments to that.

      But we ought, also, Mr. Speaker, to look beyond just the Young Offenders Act, because that is only one part of the picture when we are dealing with young offenders, and perhaps I can deal with that further in response to the next question.

* (1350)

Ms. Barrett:  I appreciate the information and the update on the Young Offenders Act, but given the fact that the Young Offenders Act and the Criminal Code in the province of Manitoba deal right now with offences after they have occurred, I would like to ask the minister what his government is prepared to do, what steps he is prepared to take immediately to remove pellet guns from the hands of young people, which has a potentially harmful, if not fatal, impact.

      What immediate steps is he prepared to take provincially to deal with this explosive issue?

Mr. McCrae:  Manitoba is a key player, Mr. Speaker, in national discussions on crime prevention issues.  At a recent conference dealing with crime prevention in our country, we studied a report put out by Dr. Bob Horner, an M.P. in Ottawa, who put out an all‑party report that flowed from the Standing Committee on Justice & Solicitor General.  It sets out a national strategy for dealing with crime prevention.

      The honourable member wants me to respond directly to the question about pellet guns and, you know, Mr. Speaker, pellet guns are one dangerous item, as are kitchen knives, as are guns, as are slingshots, as are various utensils, if I may call them that.  When they are used in the wrong way and by the wrong people, they become dangerous weapons.

      Any young offender accused of a crime, and that crime has included the use of an article like that, is dealt with very seriously indeed by my department and hopefully by the judiciary.

Ms. Barrett:  Mr. Speaker, what assurances can this government give to the people of Manitoba that they will in effect do anything about this particular issue of pellet guns, when six months ago the City of Winnipeg and this opposition asked the Minister of Justice to investigate the possibility immediately of having knives be unacceptable and illegal when carried in public?  That was six months ago.  We have heard nothing from this minister.

      How long is it going to take for this minister to do something about this particular issue, and who is going to‑‑

Mr. Speaker:  Order, please.  The honourable member has put her question.

Mr. McCrae:  In asking her question about this, the honourable member fails to take note that before this government came into power in 1988, no government before us took serious stands on issues related to violence in our society.  It is honourable members on this side of the House who have made the reduction and elimination of violence in our society a high, high priority for us as a government.

      I could talk chapter and verse all afternoon, Mr. Speaker, about measures this government has brought forward to deal with violence in our society.  The honourable member sometimes misses the point because we have significant gun control measures in Canada now which are the envy of law enforcement agencies south of the border, for example, yet we still have offences committed with the use of firearms.

      That is very bothersome, so I think the time has to come when we deal very seriously with those people who would do those kinds of things.  That is precisely what we are doing here in Manitoba.


Federal-Provincial Relations

Transfer Payments


Mr. Paul Edwards (Leader of the Second Opposition):  Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier.

      Now that that other leadership race is over, the Premier this morning has heralded in a new dawn, he says, a new dawn in relations between our government and the federal government.

      I want to ask the Premier, taking him at his word on this very important occasion where we are rebuilding this relationship, what assurances he received from Ms. Campbell before signing on to her camp.

      It is now over and she has been successful.  Presumably, he had some criteria which he based his choice on.  My question for the Premier‑‑for instance, an urgent matter for her was reduction of the deficit. (interjection) Surely the Premier did not just jump on the bandwagon of the perceived frontrunner.  He must have had some criteria.  He must have gotten some assurances from her in his position as the Premier of Manitoba.

      My question for the Premier:  Did he receive assurances, for instance, that this province would not be penalized in a further reduction of transfer payments given that Ms. Campbell has indicated she wants no deficit within the next five years?  Can the Premier tell us, did he get a commitment from her with respect to any further reduction of transfer payments to this province?

* (1355)

Hon. Gary Filmon (Premier):  I would think that a question that talks about party politics and federal issues, Mr. Speaker, is totally out of order.  It is a very silly question, and for somebody who has been in a leadership race, I would like to see the written commitments he made to the 810 people who voted for him.  If he is willing to table those, I will answer that question.

Mr. Edwards:  Ms. Campbell is the Prime Minister‑elect of this country.  This is the Premier.  He was on TV yesterday, schmoozing with her.

      I am asking him, in this new relationship, this new dawn, what commitments has he received that this province will be treated fairly?  He said in December of 1992 that he was absolutely disgusted.  He said he unloaded a litany of complaints about this province's complaints with the federal government.

      What will the new era bring for our province?  Did he receive any commitments when he was there from the new Prime Minister with respect to transfer payments to this province, which is a matter of very serious interest to all Manitobans?  Did he receive any commitments that this would not be the way that this new Prime Minister seeks to balance the books?

An Honourable Member:  No‑schmooze Paul.

Mr. Filmon:  I think all the schmoozes are in that party, Mr. Speaker.

      I think the member opposite has his tongue firmly planted in his cheek when he asks these questions.

      Mr. Speaker, we are talking about party politics here in Question Period.  This may‑‑(interjection)

      Mr. Speaker, the member opposite will get a chance to judge the wisdom of my choice as an individual member of my party for the leadership of the party during the forthcoming election.  He may be very concerned, as I noted most of his federal colleagues were, about the selection of Ms. Campbell, because I am sure she represents a tremendous threat to them.

      When I see Sheila Copps and Michael Kirby there tearing her down, I know exactly what is going to happen.  They are scared silly that, of course, they are going to lose the next federal election.  The member opposite will have a chance to join with Mr. Chretien and the tired old bunch to see whether he can help them form a government.

Mr. Edwards:  Let me just say, for very partisan reasons I am just thrilled that Ms. Campbell won the election yesterday, Mr. Speaker.


ACCESS Programs


Mr. Paul Edwards (Leader of the Second Opposition):  My final question is for the Premier.

      Just 10 days ago, the Minister of Education (Mrs. Vodrey) complained on the record that the federal government had unfairly changed the way that ACCESS grants were to flow in Manitoba, costing this province $1.1 million.  That is a very recent unfair action by the federal government, in the words of his Minister of Education.

      Can Manitobans now expect, in the new era of fairness and the new dawn of relations, that will be reversed and that type of punishment to this province in the past, as the minister has called it, will cease?

* (1400)

Hon. Gary Filmon (Premier):  Mr. Speaker, the new Prime Minister of Canada is an individual who is committed to the inclusiveness of the political process and decision making within the federal government.  She is committed to the kind of consultative and broadly based discussion when she arrives at the policies and the decisions of her government that I think will be healthy for this country in future.

      I am sure, whether it is the Minister of Education or any other member of our government, they will be able to contact the new Prime Minister and to make their views known and to involve her in discussions that are of concern to Manitobans.  I believe that in the long run, her election will, indeed, be an opportunity to build some bridges and gain a greater awareness of Manitoba issues and a greater acknowledgement of things that are important to our region in Canada.


Northern Freight Assistance Program



Mr. Jerry Storie (Flin Flon):  Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Acting Minister of Natural Resources or perhaps to the Deputy Premier and Minister of Northern Affairs.

      In South Indian Lake, approximately 100 fishermen have been idled as a result of the crisis in whitefish prices and the difficulties this part of the industry is experiencing.  Hundreds of fisherman across the province, Mr. Speaker, have been idled.

      Mr. Speaker, this current crisis affects the income of literally hundreds of families in northern Manitoba.  It also affects the entitlement, the unemployment insurance entitlement, of fishermen because they are not out on the lakes.

      My question to the Minister of Northern Affairs is:  Can he explain to this Legislature and to the fishermen in northern Manitoba and the communities they represent why this government has refused to take this matter seriously and take this crisis seriously and meet with the fishermen to find a way to address the problem, which may include reinstating the entitlements under the northern fishermen's freight subsidy program?

Hon. James Downey (Minister of Northern Affairs):  Mr. Speaker, let me assure the member that this government takes very seriously all the concerns of the people of the North and all of Manitoba as it relates to their job opportunities, their income and any difficulties they may have.

      The specifics of the question, Mr. Speaker, I will take on behalf of the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Enns).


Fisheries Amendment Act



Mr. Jerry Storie (Flin Flon):  Mr. Speaker, on a related question, this government has introduced legislation which will allow for the sale of fishing quota.

      My question to the Minister of Northern Affairs and the Minister responsible for Native Affairs is whether this government can tell the Legislature and the people of northern Manitoba which communities, which fishermen's associations, which political organizations representing bands in northern Manitoba had been consulted prior to the introduction of this legislation.

Hon. James Downey (Minister of Northern Affairs):  Mr. Speaker, I will again take that question as notice for the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Enns).

Mr. Storie:  This is the Deputy Premier and the Minister responsible for Northern Affairs.  Mr. Speaker, this government is about to sell out the birthright from northern fishermen, northern communities, and he has not consulted.




Mr. Jerry Storie (Flin Flon):  Mr. Speaker, my question is:  Will the minister then request the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Enns) or the Premier (Mr. Filmon) to suspend this legislation, withdraw this legislation, until community fishermen's associations and fishermen have a chance to understand the repercussions of this legislation on their livelihood and their future?

Hon. James Downey (Minister of Northern Affairs):  Mr. Speaker, let me, at the outset, say that the Minister of Natural Resources and this government have worked extremely well with the northern communities in relationship to co‑management agreements, in relationship to the proper use of resources, and I will take the question as notice as it relates to the specifics of which he has asked.


Health Care System

 Kidney Dialysis Services


Mr. Dave Chomiak (Kildonan):  Mr. Speaker, on June 1, when the member for Brandon raised in this House concerns that a major problem was occurring with dialysis and the waiting for dialysis, the minister dismissed it.

      Now, reports in the media, Mr. Speaker, and a letter from the heads of the program at St. Boniface Hospital and Health Sciences Centre indicate there is a serious problem.

      Can the minister assure this House that alternatives are in place to reassure the families and the patients who are undergoing this very traumatic experience, Mr. Speaker, that they will not be dislocated and they will not suffer the repercussions of this government's actions?

Hon. Donald Orchard (Minister of Health):  Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my honourable friend's question.  I appreciate it because I do not think there have been too many areas of program within the hospital system in which we have dedicated more initiative in an attempt to provide more service than in the dialysis program.

      Over the past two to three years, despite that fairly substantial increase in resources as well as locations in which dialysis is available closer to home for Manitobans, we from time to time, despite best efforts of the system, run into circumstances unpredictable in terms of new patients having to access that service.

      Mr. Speaker, when that happens, we attempt as best we can to provide the service as close to home as possible, but there are circumstances from time to time that do require stable dialysis patients to visit another centre in the province that may not be at capacity, and those I think are fairly reasonable requests to make on a temporary basis.

      However, Sir, the concern about having to uproot their families, et cetera, and move out of province is not something that any Manitoban on dialysis should have concern about having to do, as may well be voiced in concern over the program.

Mr. Chomiak:  Mr. Speaker, that is the same response the minister gave on June 1.

      I will ask the minister:  Will he assure this House that proper arrangements will be put in place for these patients in Brandon and Winnipeg and other centres in Manitoba, so they do not have to go hundreds of kilometres in order to receive treatment?  Can he put those services in place to assure that will not happen?

Mr. Orchard:  Well, Mr. Speaker, to help my honourable friend understand the sincerity of the commitment we have made to dialysis in the province, maybe I might share with my honourable friend a recent clipping from the Portage Daily Graphic.  The headline is:  New dialysis unit a blessing for kidney patients.

      This is an example of the expansion under this government that I have mentioned.

      The member for Thompson (Mr. Ashton) I know would have in his files similar headlines from the Thompson newspaper which had‑‑(interjection) Well, Mr. Speaker, my honourable friend is not exactly accurate with some of his comments from the seat. The expansion of the program in Thompson took substantial commitment of operating budget, as does kidney dialysis wherever it is in the province.

      This Portage unit has relieved pressure.  However, Sir, we still have temporary circumstances where even despite increased capacity, we are near the capacity of the system.  In those cases, we attempt to use our resources, our expanding resources, to provide service in the least discomforting and dislocating circumstances possible, recognizing the stress that dialysis does represent to families.

Mr. Chomiak:  Mr. Speaker, the minister's response is quite unfortunate.

      My final supplementary to the minister:  Will the minister assure this House that this problem will not keep recurring insofar as last year there were clawbacks and cuts to the hospitals?  This year, hospitals are facing more than $20‑million cuts in their budgets, and that will directly impact on programs like this.

      Will this minister give us assurances this year that this will not happen again, that there will not be longer waiting lists still because of the $20‑million cuts in hospital budgets?

Mr. Orchard:  Mr. Speaker, I know I must have not heard my honourable friend correctly when he said it was unfortunate in my answer when I referred to expanded capacity in Portage la Prairie to serve dialysis patients in the Central Plains region of Manitoba so they do not load the Winnipeg system or the Brandon system.

      I hope my honourable friend did not consider that to be unfortunate, because that is exactly, if my honourable friend thinks about it, what he is requesting this government to do to attempt to provide meaningful and improved access to dialysis.

      Mr. Speaker, let me share with my honourable friend a couple of circumstances.  This year, we have undertaken 34 transplantations for kidney dialysis patients.  That is a higher rate than we have ever achieved in a similar period of time in any calendar year.  That takes people off dialysis, but, still, despite that and despite the increased capacity that the Portage unit represents, serving six or eight people, I believe, we still have this problem where the capacity of the system is being strained.

      Mr. Speaker, we are working within a number of initiatives, including a recent round table discussion on the whole issue of dialysis and nephrology, as far as improvement of management of the system and services, what we can do within the system to make it work more effectively for those who need care.

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Health Care System

Kidney Dialysis Services


Ms. Avis Gray (Crescentwood):  Mr. Speaker, as we heard today in the House, there are certainly grave concerns about the Manitoba dialysis treatment program.  The Minister of Health has been involved with the health care reform for the past year.  With the myriad of committees that have been working over that time, I would ask the minister if in fact an analysis of the dialysis treatment program was conducted over the past year with an anticipation of the increased number of dialysis patients that there would be.

      Could he tell us, with that analysis, if it was done, did his department put some plans into place so we would not be in the situation that we are today, where in fact some patients may have to receive treatment away from their home community or out of province?

Hon. Donald Orchard (Minister of Health):  Again, Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my honourable friend's question, because in direct response to this dialysis initiative‑‑which I might say we have been very supportive of, even from opposition.  It was the encouragement of my colleague the Deputy Premier in opposition who finally got staffing budget so the dialysis machines that were purchased by the Kidney Foundation for Brandon General Hospital could serve residents in Brandon and the southwest corner.

      We have been working and urging resolution of dialysis closer to home for the last seven or eight years with some substantial success, Sir.  The Thompson initiative is certainly helpful to those residents who had to dislocate from northern Manitoba to Winnipeg.  The new unit at Portage la Prairie does that.

      Mr. Speaker, in reference to my honourable friend's question about an analysis, yes, this year a round table was held on nephrology and on kidney dialysis to see how we can manage the resource within the system in a more appropriate fashion to serve those Manitobans needing this type of care in a better fashion.

Ms. Gray:  Mr. Speaker, if the Minister of Health could tell this House if in fact there was discussion and there were some decisions made on how this problem can best be managed, could he then tell the House, what is the solution, what his department decided as far as management, because obviously there is a problem and there are people who will have to go elsewhere for their treatment?

Mr. Orchard:  Yes, my honourable friend makes the point that there is inconvenience in the system.  That is correct.

      Surely my honourable friend from the Liberal Party would concede, that for the individual in Portage la Prairie who instead of driving to Winnipeg to receive dialysis, having it in Portage la Prairie closer to home, where the husband drops her off at work in the morning and picks her up at noon on the way home for lunch, is a much more convenient initiative for the individual.  That is what we have been working on.

      In addition to that, Mr. Speaker, we are expanding in the very near future, it is hoped.  You do not do this instantly or overnight, but we have very active plans to increase the number of patients who can be served in Brandon.

      In addition to that, Sir, we are investigating the possibility of increasing the capacity, for instance, at Morden, where the dialysis unit has been in operation for several years.

Ms. Gray:  With all of these suggestions the Minister of Health (Mr. Orchard) has proposed, can he tell this House and then tell Manitobans, when can we expect some of these suggestions he has mentioned put into place so that in fact we alleviate some of the concerns of dialysis patients?

Mr. Orchard:  Well, Mr. Speaker, I would have appreciated that question on May 18 when the Portage Graphic indicated the expansion in Portage la Prairie.

      My honourable friend could have asked the question in somewhat laudatory terms of coming to grips with the problem and establishing a new centre with new capacity to serve people closer to home.  I know my honourable friend could have thanked the government on behalf of northern Manitobans, because I do not think the member for Thompson (Mr. Ashton) was quite laudatory about the expansion and the bringing of a brand‑new program to northern Manitoba and Thompson.

      Mr. Speaker, this issue will constantly be before us, Sir, because it is a program that has been growing and growing and growing despite best efforts of transplantation, despite increased budgets, significantly increased budgets over the last five years and significantly increased capacity to carry on the program.


Clearwater Lake Nursery

Government Support


Mr. Oscar Lathlin (The Pas):  My question is directed to the Minister of Northern Affairs.

      Mr. Speaker, over the past three years, we have asked many questions concerning the government's plan for Clearwater Lake Nursery in The Pas, but, unfortunately, for the people in The Pas and area, we have received very few answers.

      Again, today, I would like to ask the Minister of Northern Affairs, given that the nursery in The Pas, which employed as many as 40 people most summers in an area where more jobs are needed‑‑why did this minister and this government not support the nursery?  Where is this new growth the government was talking about last week here in the House, or is that new growth happening in Hadashville?

Hon. James Downey (Minister of Northern Affairs):  Mr. Speaker, the specifics fall under the Department of Natural Resources, but I would say though that when we took over office from the previous administration, which he found favour to join, there was something like 90 percent unemployment in many of the northern and remote communities.

      This government has taken action on the resolve of the Northern Flood difficulties, putting monies into those communities, creating economic opportunities for the communities.

      As it relates to the Clearwater nursery, I will take the specific of that as notice for my colleague.

Mr. Lathlin:  My second question is again to the Minister of Northern Affairs.

      Since over 30 people work there most summers, I want to ask the minister whether the job implications for The Pas and area were taken into consideration when the decision was being made to quietly close the nursery without even warning the community?

Mr. Downey:  Mr. Speaker, unlike the previous administration and their management of the Manfor cutting operation, the changeover to Repap and the replanting of trees which was going neglected under the previous administration, we have taken action for major replanting programs.  In fact, in committee the other night, we identified a major replanting operation with the Moose Lake community.

      Again, as it relates to the Clearwater nursery, I will take that question as notice.


Point of Order


Mr. Steve Ashton (Opposition House Leader):  Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, Beauchesne's Citation 417 states very clearly that:  "Answers to questions should be as brief as possible, deal with the matter raised and should not provoke debate."

      Mr. Speaker, I would suggest to you, if the minister does not know the answer to the question and is taking the question as notice, all he has to do is stand up and say, I take the question as notice.

      We do not need the debate and irrelevancy we just heard from the minister, and we ask that you call the minister to order.

Mr. Speaker:  On the point of order raised, I had no idea the honourable minister was taking the question as notice, and I believe this question actually has two answers now.

      The honourable minister has attempted to answer it and according to the honourable opposition House leader, who said, should deal with the matter raised and should not provoke debate, I believe the honourable opposition House leader is quite correct, that the honourable minister was attempting to provoke debate, was not dealing with the matter raised, and I would bring the honourable member to order.

* * *

Mr. Lathlin:  Mr. Speaker, would the minister explain to the House here just exactly how it is that it is more efficient to throw more than 30 people out of work in The Pas and ship seedlings from the South to the North?  Should trees cut in the North not come from seedlings that are grown in the North?

Mr. Downey:  Mr. Speaker, without taking objection to the comments you made, the member has asked me to explain something, and I do not believe I have time in the answer.

      Let me say, Mr. Speaker, as it relates to seedling operations, under this Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Enns) and this government, there have been major seedling contracts left with the band at Portage la Prairie which started up a nursery in a private way, giving job opportunities for aboriginal people in Portage la Prairie outside of government operation, employing the people whom he continues to speak on behalf of.

      Again, we are interested and extremely anxious to see everyone with a job opportunity in this province, wherever it is, and particularly as it relates to the aboriginal community.  We have worked very hard in that area.

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Assiniboine River Diversion

Water Conservation Plan


Ms. Marianne Cerilli (Radisson):  Mr. Speaker, this government claims to support and to have a commitment to sustainable development, yet it continues to support the unsustainable use of water.  The Minister of Environment in Estimates admitted that not having a water conservation program before the diversion of the Assiniboine was a mistake and was not a sustainable effort.

      Can the minister tell the House why there was no program for water conservation in place before this government accepted the proposal for the Assiniboine diversion?

Hon. Glen Cummings (Minister of Environment):  The member chooses to misrepresent the situation that surrounds the‑‑you do not like that word, Mr. Speaker?  Let me withdraw that word‑‑

Mr. Speaker:  I would like to thank the honourable minister.

Mr. Cummings:  ‑‑and indicate that I am appalled that the member would choose to reflect on this program in such a way that makes it look like there is not a lot of work being done in putting together the needed development plans that surround that river, so they know what they are doing in terms of the water retention and the demands along the river, because there are a lot of demands that are traditional uses of that river that are all part of the consideration going before the commission, Mr. Speaker.

      I can tell you the member is doing a disservice to reflect on the work that is going on out there right now in the way she has.

Ms. Cerilli:  Mr. Speaker, the number of demands is the reason why we are asking for a basin‑wide review.

      My question to the minister though was, why was there no conservation program in place to this area before the proposal was accepted for the Assiniboine diversion?

Mr. Cummings:  Mr. Speaker, I would be a little curious what the member is referring to when she says no conservation plans in the area.  The sustainability of the uses on that river is of a primary concern.  If she is saying that we should go back and maybe do something about the diversion that protects this city from the ravages of spring floods, I hope that is not the kind of thing she has in mind.

Mr. Speaker:  Time for Oral Questions has expired.


Committee Changes


Mr. George Hickes (Point Douglas):  I move, seconded by the member for Swan River (Ms. Wowchuk), that the composition of the Standing Committee on Municipal Affairs be amended as follows: Wolseley (Ms. Friesen) for Radisson (Ms. Cerilli); Elmwood (Mr. Maloway) for St. Johns (Ms. Wasylycia‑Leis), for Tuesday, June 15, for 10 a.m.

      I move, seconded by the member for Swan River (Ms. Wowchuk), that the composition of the Standing Committee on Economic Development be amended as follows:  Thompson (Mr. Ashton) for Wolseley (Ms. Friesen); Flin Flon (Mr. Storie) for The Pas (Mr. Lathlin), for Tuesday, June 15, for 10 a.m.

      I move, seconded by the member for Swan River (Ms. Wowchuk), that the composition of the Standing Committee on Economic Development be amended as follows:  Swan River (Ms. Wowchuk) for Point Douglas (Mr. Hickes); Selkirk (Mr. Dewar) for Thompson (Mr. Ashton), for Tuesday, June 15, for 7 p.m.

Motion agreed to.

 Mr. Neil Gaudry (St. Boniface):  I move, seconded by the member for Inkster (Mr. Lamoureux), that the composition of the Standing Committee on Economic Development be amended as follows:  Inkster (Mr. Lamoureux) for St. Boniface (Mr. Gaudry).

      I move, seconded by the member for Inkster (Mr. Lamoureux), that the composition on the Standing Committee on Municipal Affairs be amended as follows:  Crescentwood (Ms. Gray) for Inkster (Mr. Lamoureux).

 Motion agreed to.



Hon. Darren Praznik (Deputy Government House Leader):  Mr. Speaker, I would move, seconded by the honourable Minister of Urban Affairs (Mr. Ernst), that Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair and that this House resolve itself into a Committee to consider of the Supply to be granted to Her Majesty.

Motion presented.

Mr. Praznik:  Pardon me, Mr. Speaker, but may I ask as well if you could canvass the House to see if there is a willingness to waive private members' hour?

Mr. Speaker:  Is it the will of the House to waive private members' hour?

Some Honourable Members:  No.

Mr. Speaker:  No.  Leave is denied.

Motion agreed to, and the House resolved itself into a committee to consider of the Supply to be granted to Her Majesty with the honourable member for St. Norbert (Mr. Laurendeau) in the Chair for the Department of Education and Training; and the honourable member for Seine River (Mrs. Dacquay) in the Chair for the Department of Health.




(Concurrent Sections)




The Acting Deputy Chairperson (Jack Reimer):  Will the Committee of Supply please come to order.

      This afternoon, this session of Committee of Supply, meeting in Room 255, will resume consideration of the Estimates of Education and Training.

      When the committee last sat it had considered item 4.(c)(1) on page 39 of the Estimates book.  Shall the item pass?

Hon. Rosemary Vodrey (Minister of Education and Training):  Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson, when we were last together the member for Dauphin (Mr. Plohman) asked for some statistics on the Churchill Northern Studies Centre, the year, the number of full‑time staff and the number of students at that time.  I would like to table that.

Ms. Jean Friesen (Wolseley):  Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson, I want to ask some general questions about what fuelled the government's decision to transfer to a loans‑only policy.

      I wonder if the minister could tell us about the growth in demand for student assistance over the past‑‑well, whatever is reasonable to provide, about the last three or four years, whatever is available from her staff here at the moment.  What percentage increase has there been in the applications for student aid?

Mrs. Vodrey:  Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson, from 1986 to 1993, the increase of assistance to post‑secondary students is $4,874,700 or 72 percent.  The average yearly expenditure increase is 12 percent.  That is for the Manitoba Student Financial Assistance.

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      In the member's broader question, the issue was, what was taken into consideration in the decision of changing from the bursary to the loans program?  One of the things that we had to look at was the amount of money that was available.  By continuing to put more and more funds into it and to provide a bursary, there still was only so much money available to provide assistance.

      By moving to the loans program, we now do not have to look at in any way limiting the number of students who would receive Manitoba Financial Assistance or limiting the amount to enable more students.  In this way, students who have the required need and who meet the criteria would be able to access the money that they need.

Ms. Friesen:  I appreciate that information, but it was not, of course, the question I asked.

      The question I asked was, what was the percentage increase in applications over the last few years?  We are talking about an issue of need.  The issue of increase in amount of money spent would perhaps also reflect the increase in fees, particularly at universities over that period of years, and also, of course, the increase in costs and cost of living, of rent, bus fares, bus passes, that kind of thing, on which some of these elements of bursaries were based.

      So what I was looking at was the question of the increased percentage of people who were applying.

Mrs. Vodrey:  Mr. Acting Deputy Chair, certainly I did take into consideration all of the issues that the member asked about and had hoped that she had made reference to.  We certainly are aware of all of those issues and certainly consider them.  With that in consideration, that is why I provided for the member the increase in the amount of money, the percentage increase in the amount of money that had been given into that particular program, and I thought that would help the member if she understood the support that was being provided to post‑secondary students.

      In terms of the question she has just asked, there has been an increase on the Canada Student Loan year over year of approximately 3 percent per year over the past four years.  From '91‑92 to '92‑93 in the applications for the bursary loan rebate, there was an increase of 15 percent.  Now, the increase may be due to students applying earlier for this assistance than in previous years, and we will get the percentage of actual bursary loan rebates granted from that increase in application.  We are just working on the figures.

Ms. Friesen:  Does the minister want to wait until those are ready?  I will ask another question perhaps then while we are waiting.

      There are a number of programs across the country which, under bursaries and student financial assistance, make special cases and have special programs for students with disabilities.

      I wonder if the minister, under this program or any other program, has considered special bursary relief, loan rebates or some kind of program which would take account of the extra costs that disabled students face and also their greater difficulty in finding employment after graduation.

Mrs. Vodrey:  I just would like to answer the member's previous question first.  I had told her that the number of applications for Manitoba bursaries and Manitoba student financial assistance had gone up about 15 percent.

      In terms of the actual awards year over year, I can tell her for the last four years:  '89‑90, the actual awards went up 9.5 percent; '90‑91, they went up 15.2 percent; '91‑92 to '92‑93, they went up 18.7 percent.  I beg your pardon, that would be from three years; four years, year over year.  The total, over those years, then, the increase is 49.7 percent.

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      Then the member has asked about any assistance that Manitoba might provide for students with disabilities.  We do provide a category of study assistance for students with disabilities. This assistance is available to full‑ and part‑time post‑secondary students and is designed to provide support for the extra services that disabled students require which are not covered by other support programs.

      Approximately 23 students per year have qualified, and the amount varies because sometimes students have asked for support for things such as a hearing aid, and in other cases, they have required assistance for the purchase of special typewriters or other equipment to help them in their studies.

Ms. Friesen:  Is there any special consideration for disabled students after graduation, taking into account the greater difficulty they have in finding jobs?

Mrs. Vodrey:  In terms of the Canada Student Loan, there has not been any special considerations made, and in the area of Manitoba Student Financial Assistance, in our new program, we have not made any special assistance at the moment, although I will remind the member, as we discussed the last time, we were sitting on this issue that Manitoba does provide the six‑month period in which we continue to pay the interest, whereas Canada has said that it will be moving to remove that period.

Ms. Friesen:  I recognize the distinction the minister is making, but I am also looking at programs in Ontario and British Columbia, for example, where the employment market for disabled people is recognized in the provincial student programs, and there is interest relief and loan relief in some cases for the disabled or handicapped category of students.

      I wanted to know, did the minister consider this in her new loan program?  From the sound of it, it is as though it has been rejected, but I wonder if it was considered and rejected and for what reasons.

Mrs. Vodrey:  Well, at this time, in looking at the first year of operation coming up for our Manitoba Student Financial Assistance and our change into the loans‑only program, we looked at the amount of money that we have available to service the loans, and so we will be looking in the first year at the costs to Manitobans in terms of the new program.

      What the member has said is a point to, I would say, be considered again as we look at the situation that we find ourselves in, in the following year and following the first year of the program.

Ms. Friesen:  Is the minister suggesting then that there will be a formal review, an informal review, any reports tabled, and what is anticipated at the end of this first year of the program?

Mrs. Vodrey:  We will be looking at an internal review of our program because we would like to, first of all, look very carefully at it in its first year of operation.  We also will be looking for any changes which might occur under the Canada Student Loans Program.  We have been waiting for some time for any changes to be announced and particularly changes in the area of benefits.

      When we receive any information on what Canada has determined that they will do, obviously we will want to, in addition, look at our program because our program is the second stage following the Canada Student Loans.

      So, for two reasons we would be looking internally:  one, completing the first year as we will go into the first year of operation, and then, two, if Canada should make any changes to the Canada Student Loans Program.

Ms. Friesen:  Those changes to the Canada Student Loans Program are creating, and deservedly so, a great deal of anxiety among students and educational institutions.  We have talked about this before.  The Canada Student Loan, essentially, their regulations are the gatekeepers of this program.  They are setting the guidelines by which people in Manitoba can apply for any kind of assistance.

      There are two rumours that are particularly disturbing.  One is the move to 80 percent course enrollment before any applications can be accepted.  Manitoba, as the minister knows, has the highest rate of any province of students in employment, what students sometimes think is part‑time employment but which seems to me to be far too frequently full‑time employment, and they try and fit their courses and their programs around that.

      I think Manitoba should have very deep concerns about this. So that is one area that I draw the minister's attention to.  The second is the long‑standing rumour that this federal government, that this Conservative Party, is going to turn over the entire student loan program to the banks, or to a bank.  And a third rumour, none of these are necessarily compatible, but certainly a third rumour is that they are going to turn it over to the provinces with no further funding.

      So each of those is very disturbing for educational institutions.  Some of them have particular import for students in Manitoba, and I wonder if the minister can tell us what the deadlines are by which we might know when these decisions are going to be made.

      Are we looking at changes that are going to be made before the next academic year?  Are we looking at changes by the end of the next fiscal year?  Has the minister got any sense of that kind of timetable?

Mrs. Vodrey:  As the member has said, these are rumours, and therefore I cannot provide her with any more information on the rumour.  In the area of time line, Canada has not provided a time frame for us.  As I said when we discussed this last, I have met with the new federal minister responsible and had asked the federal minister if there was any information to come forward, and she said that things were under consideration, but that no time frame has been given.

Mr. Jerry Storie (Flin Flon):  I have a number of questions that I want to raise with the minister dealing with this section and particularly relating it to the students in the BUNTEP program.

      I had a chance last week to meet with a group of some 27 students that are in the BUNTEP program in Lynn Lake, and I can tell the minister that one of their ongoing concerns was the continuing changes in support and assistance available to BUNTEP students generally and a concern about the commitment to the BUNTEP program in particular.

      My first question, I guess, relates to the allowance that the BUNTEP program offers the seven students in Lynn Lake that are being supported by the BUNTEP program.

      It is my understanding that originally the province was providing significant support and that as of this year the allowances were reduced some $3,000.  I am wondering whether the minister can share with us any sort of analysis that was done that would have justified reducing the support to this particular group of students.

* (1500)

      I do not know whether the minister has had a chance to visit with some of the people who are involved in the BUNTEP program. I do not know if she has had a chance, for example, to visit Lynn Lake and to meet with the students that are enrolled in the new BUNTEP program there, but I can assure her that there is certainly an interesting mix of students.

      I had a chance to have those students share their particular circumstances with me and for the many single parents, for the many individuals for whom this is a last chance, the people who have, because of the circumstances in Lynn Lake, basically sold everything they have had and attempted to make this their last opportunity for an education.  I certainly came away with an understanding of why they are concerned.

      I guess my first question is, what justified the reduction of that $3,000 in students' allowance?

Mrs. Vodrey:  Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson, as the member said, he was out last week and we passed this line last week.  This line of questioning falls under the ACCESS programming.  We did have some thorough discussion, which is all recorded in Hansard, around the ACCESS grants and around the amount of funding available and about how much each student is eligible for.

Mr. Storie:  Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson, we are under the Student Financial Assistance, and I understand that the people who have had this reduction‑‑well, the minister is shaking her head.  I hope that some day she will genuinely develop a concern for the students who are involved in programs like BUNTEP.  It is easy to say, well, I am sorry, we passed that last week.  That is not good enough for the people in Lynn Lake.


Point of Order


Mrs. Vodrey:  On a point of order, Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson.  The member was travelling in Manitoba last week and missed the opportunity to ask the questions.  The questions were asked last week.  The questions were covered.  The answers are recorded in Hansard.  I think those answers certainly record a genuine concern on behalf of students.  In fact, we spent quite a few hours discussing this particular area.

The Acting Deputy Chairperson (Mr. Reimer):  The minister did not have a point of order, but I would ask the committee if there is a willingness to revert to that line.

Mr. Storie:  On a point of order, Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson. This section is Student Financial Assistance, and if the minister does not understand what this branch does, perhaps I will read it into the record for her.  It says‑‑

The Acting Deputy Chairperson (Mr. Reimer):  I would point out that the member for Flin Flon did not have a point of order.

* * *

The Acting Deputy Chairperson (Mr. Reimer):  I would ask the committee whether there is a willingness to revert to item 4.(b) Access Programs.

Mr. Storie:  With all due respect, Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson, I want to read to you and to the committee the objectives of this branch.  Student Financial Assistance Objectives:  To increase, through the administration of the Canada Student Loans Program and the Manitoba Student Financial Assistance Program, post‑secondary educational opportunities for Manitobans.

      If the minister would have been kind enough to wait until the second part of the question, she would have understood that I am relating this cutback in support to the BUNTEP students through the BUNTEP program, to the Manitoba Student Financial Assistance Program.  I am asking the minister to justify transferring what was support to individual students back into a loan that the government may or may not make individual‑‑(interjection) If I may continue to ask the question that is directly related to this particular item in the Estimates process, and that is the Manitoba Student Financial Assistance Program.

      My question was, how, what evidence, what process did the minister use to justify eliminating a $3,090 allowance provided through the BUNTEP program and turn it into a loan program that may or may not fit the needs of these students?

Mrs. Vodrey:  The questions were answered last week when the line was covered.  There was a full explanation.  The member might like to refer to Hansard.


Point of Order


Hon. James Downey (Minister of Northern Affairs):  I think it is obvious that the minister has answered the question a week ago, dealt with this line in the Estimates book, and we should proceed to carry on with the Estimates that are before us.

      The minister has every right to not respond at this time.  It is a matter of having dealt with an issue and not reverting back.  We will never get through the Estimates of any of the government departments if we keep going back and forth and not proceeding in an orderly manner.

The Acting Deputy Chairperson (Mr. Reimer):  The honourable minister did not have a point of order.

Hon. Gerald Ducharme (Minister of Government Services):  On a point of order, I was also here when it was being discussed.  We go to great expense in Hansard to record everything that happened previously, and I suggest to the member that he go back and read those particular questions that were in during that discussion.

The Acting Deputy Chairperson (Mr. Reimer):  The Minister of Government Services did not have a point of order.

* * *

Mr. Storie:  Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson, with all due respect, this is the Student Financial Assistance line in the Estimates. It deals with the Manitoba Student Financial Assistance Program.

      My question was, why did the minister cut back on the student assistance available through the BUNTEP program by some $3,000, and why are students now being told to apply through the Student Financial Assistance Program when that may not in fact suit their needs?  This is an additional burden.  It is a reduction in support and what was the basis?  What informational basis was used for that reduction in support?

Mrs. Vodrey:  Again, I can say to the member that all of the issues relating to BUNTEP were covered under the appropriation before this.  They were covered under the ACCESS program.

      The member asks about any reductions which had taken place to some students in that area.  I discussed the numbers fully.  I discussed the reasoning fully in the last week when we covered that particular line.

Mr. Storie:  Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson, I can tell the minister that the students in Lynn Lake would like some explanation as to why they, in particular, this unit, which is the latest BUNTEP program, were mistreated.

      When the BUNTEP program first started, the concept was to provide support for those people who would not otherwise have an opportunity for an education.  This particular branch, the Student Financial Assistance branch, is supposed to be that branch which provides that alternative for these people.

      The fact of the matter is this government has slashed and hacked at every educational program in the province.  They took $16 million out of the public school system.  They have cut the Manitoba Student Bursary.  They have cut the Student Social Allowances Program.  They have cut ACCESS programs by 11.2 percent.  They have cut support to students in the BUNTEP program and similar programs, and you will understand if the students in Lynn Lake are a little uneasy about the government's ultimate plans when it comes to these programs.

      These were exceptional programs.  They have been around for 20 years.  The Student Social Allowances Program is perhaps the best example.  The government did absolutely no homework on the efficacy of that program, and it looks like there are going to do the same thing to the BUNTEP students.

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      All BUNTEP students after 1991 have had their allowances cut.  The government originally told BUNTEP students that existing students in the program would have their benefits and their allowances grandfathered.  The government has now reneged on that promise.

      So you will understand why the current students, the students that began only a few months ago in Leaf Rapids, or Lynn Lake, I should say, are concerned about the government's commitment to the program.

      I am concerned because as it stands now, the BUNTEP program is only supporting seven of the 27 students in the program.  If the students do not come with other resources, with other financial resources, support from other areas, there are going to be fewer and fewer people who can take advantage of the opportunity that these programs present.

      My question was related to the government's decision to cut $3,000 of support and apparently ask students to apply under Student Financial Assistance Program.  My question is, is the minister guaranteeing that these loans will be available?  Is the minister going to ensure that after these loans have been made available they can be supported by the students themselves?  Are there going to be no special considerations for the circumstances that these people find themselves in?

Mrs. Vodrey:  Mr. Acting Deputy Chair, again, the answers that the member is seeking are all fully answered in Hansard from last week, but let me also tell him, I do not know whom he spoke to at Lynn Lake.  There were no students at Lynn Lake who were under the grandfather clause.

Mr. Storie:  I did not say they were students.  I realize that the students in Lynn Lake have all been cut.  They were not grandfathered at all.  It is only after 1991 that students were grandfathered‑‑a one‑year period.

Mrs. Vodrey:  I do not think the member is really displaying any understanding of what has occurred.

      There were some students who were grandfathered.  Of 712 students, it was a small number of students who were grandfathered.  He somehow leaves on the record an impression that there were more, that it was all students.

      In fact, there was an unequal number, but I would refer him to Hansard.  The issue was fully discussed in Hansard last week.

Mr. Storie:  Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson, I do not have to refer to Hansard to know that the minister did not provide one shred of objective evidence to suggest that this program was going to be enhanced by the government's cutting student allowances‑‑not one shred of evidence.

      If the minister can now put on record what objective evidence she has to suggest that this kind of cutting and slashing is going to benefit BUNTEP students, then I would be pleased to hear it.

Mrs. Vodrey:  The questions were fully answered last week.

Mr. Storie:  According to the people who asked the question, this minister has not answered fully a question since the Estimates began.

      Certainly, the people taking the BUNTEP program in Lynn Lake will be pleased to know that the minister has refused to answer any questions relative to their concerns.


Point of Order


 Mrs. Vodrey:  On a point of order, Mr. Acting Deputy Chair, there has not been a refusal.  I have referred the member to exactly where he can find the answer.  The question was fully answered last week.

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Mr. Storie:  Unfortunately, the students in the Lynn Lake BUNTEP centre only met with me last week, and their concerns are obviously different from most other BUNTEP students, given the fact that this BUNTEP centre is the latest and the only one that has opened since 1991.

      The students want to know the justification for eliminating $3,000 in support; that is what they want to know.

Mrs. Vodrey:  I have checked with the staff.  Again, to remind the member, he has spoken again about Lynn Lake; he is talking about students who are experiencing reduction in the ACCESS program.  I am told that those students did not receive a reduction.  They were not students there who were grandfathered.

Mr. Storie:  The fact of the matter is that they received a lower level of allowance.  They were not grandfathered, because grandfathering occurred after 1991.  This is the only BUNTEP centre that has begun since 1991.  The students in Lynn Lake understand that perfectly.  They want an explanation for why the lower level of assistance.

      Well, perhaps the minister would care to repeat it for the benefit of the students in Lynn Lake who asked this specific question.

      Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson, I guess perhaps we need to discuss the principles that underline the assistance that the province provides.  It seems to me that, since this government and particularly this minister assumed responsibility, what we have seen is a continuing reduction in the means for students to get financial assistance to pursue their education.

      I am wondering whether the government, the minster has considered any alternative ways of financing programs, such as BUNTEP, than the few that are currently proposed, which is the Canada Student Loans and the Manitoban Student Financial Assistance Program.

Mrs. Vodrey:  As I discussed last week, the funding available to students through the ACCESS programs and the total amount of money which would be available under a series of categories provides a student with up to $10,600 on an average.  It can be more than that, in fact.  Following that, students may then apply for the Canada Student Loan, which, again, is supplementary; and then following that, students may also apply for Student Financial Assistance from Manitoba; and then the most neediest students may also apply for the bursary program from Manitoba. So there are three additional levels of support that are available to students.

      The member speaks about the BUNTEP program in particular, a program which leads students to a professional degree, a professional end to their course of study, and that is similar in the supplementary supports to all other students in Manitoba. What the BUNTEP students receive in addition is the support of the ACCESS, and they receive that right up front, and the amount, as I have said, can be as much on average as $10,600.  That is more than other students would receive.

      Other students, all students in Manitoba do not have the ability to access those ACCESS funds.  Then those students, following that, have the opportunity as all other students in Manitoba to access the other three levels.

Mr. Storie:  Perhaps the minister can explain why, when I contacted the BUNTEP office, I was told that a single‑parent student with two children would be entitled to approximately $284 per month.

Mrs. Vodrey:  Mr. Acting Deputy Chair, again, we discussed the details of the amount of money available under different situations when we discussed the ACCESS programs last week.  The line has been passed.

Mr. Storie:  I understand the government's, including the former Minister of Education's, sense of urgency in getting this issue behind them.  They have been undermining the opportunities of students in the province for five years, and this minister, unfortunately, is left holding the bag.

      Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson, the bottom line is fewer and fewer students are seeing support from the provincial government.  The BUNTEP program that I established in Cranberry Portage when I was Minister of Education worked very well.  I cannot take responsibility for the Lynn Lake Centre.  The fact is, of course, the government of the day watched the community collapse before they saw fit to establish a BUNTEP center in Lynn Lake.  I can tell the Minister of Rural Development (Mr. Derkach) that while we were in government and I was minister, the community of Lynn Lake was approximately 2,000 people.  It is approximately 450 today.

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      The minister rushes in to defend the indefensible.  The fact is there are fewer and fewer students who are getting the kind of support they feel they need.  This is not coming from me.  This is coming from the students in Lynn Lake themselves, who are concerned about the longevity of this program and the government's commitment to it and concerned about their own ability to continue to attend.  Whether the minister wants to deal with the issue today or not, or whether she wants to refer me to some discussion she has had previously, the fact of the matter remains that a single‑parent student collects $284 from the program as sponsored by BUNTEP.

      Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson, the concern that was expressed to me was that a number of these people are going to be forced back onto welfare, going to be forced out of the program.  The question is, what does the minister propose to ensure that these students succeed as they want to do, as their communities want them to do?

Mrs. Vodrey:  Again, I can tell the member in Hansard of Tuesday, June 8, 1:30, Hansard No. 78, on page No. 3973, we began the discussion of the ACCESS programs, so the member might be interested in reviewing the discussion that took place and following that, I would just remind the member that in terms of an allowance‑‑perhaps his memory of what is provided for the ACCESS programs has slipped somewhat, because he may not have remembered all of the areas which are covered in the ACCESS programs, including tuition, including rent subsidy.

      None of those things have changed in the grants that are given.  All that has changed is the grandfathered amount, and then following that‑‑and I have given him the number as I gave to the members who were present in the Estimates of the Department of Education last week, the amount of funds available, and I have explained also that students up to‑‑there are 712 students currently enrolled in the ACCESS program, so students on average are able to access totally in the amount of $10,600.  That includes things such as tuition.  Following that, as all other students, they are also able to access other funding, and I would remind the member, too, there are also students studying in a professional program.

Mr. Storie:  Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson, when the program began, the concept was that individuals with limited means, with limited access to post‑secondary education opportunities, disadvantaged by distance from educational centres, by remoteness, by culture, by economic circumstance would be given an opportunity.

      When this government took over, the vast majority of BUNTEP students were sponsored by the BUNTEP program.  They did not require additional loan support, first of all, because they could not foresee the possibility of that type of assistance being useful.  Right now, in the Lynn Lake BUNTEP Centre, there are 27 students.  The province is now supporting seven.

      The question is, is this government heading towards a situation where it has no responsibility, where dozens and dozens of students who would have liked to have had the opportunity are going to be denied, while others who are more fortunate, who are being sponsored by bands and other agencies, take over_  What is going to happen to those people from small communities with limited resources who need the exceptional support that these programs have offered?  Is the government simply washing its hands of 20 students in the Lynn Lake case?  Perhaps dozens of other students, who would like to apply but for whom assistance is not going to be available, what should they do?  Forty at Winnipeg Ed, I am told.

Mrs. Vodrey:  The line has been passed.

Mr. Storie:  Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson, the minister keeps repeating the line has been passed.  Can we answer the question for the people in Lynn Lake?  What are they expected to do if they cannot continue because of the limited support they are getting from the province, and from the cutbacks in the program?

Mrs. Vodrey:  As I have said, the students who are in post‑secondary programs in Manitoba are able to apply for supplementary support, first to the Canada Student Loans program, following the Canada Student Loans to the Manitoba Student Financial Assistance Program and then the Manitoba bursaries, as all post‑secondary students in Manitoba are entitled to apply.

Mr. Storie:  The minister has referenced the fact that some 600 Manitoba students, it is estimated, will receive Manitoba bursaries this year.  I am wondering whether the minister can indicate whether the BUNTEP ACCESS students are given priority in terms of that very limited number of supports.

Mrs. Vodrey:  Mr. Acting Deputy Chair, under the Student Financial Assistance line, as we discussed last week also, we certainly provide a priority in terms of the processing, but those students do fall under the same criterion as other students in Manitoba, and where there is need, we look to support the need.

Mr. Storie:  I guess the question is, where is the recognition that this program was designed specifically to support people in exceptional circumstances, that it is not simply a question of their immediate financial need, that in fact, it is a question of their life experiences, their concern over amassing debt for educational opportunities.  This program has never been treated, as the minister seems to want to suggest is now the case, like every other program.

      This has been an exceptional program, and the needs of the students are exceptional.  I am wondering whether the minister can indicate whether she met with students in the BUNTEP and the ACCESS programs prior to deciding that these changes were going to be practical in terms of those programs.

Mrs. Vodrey:  As the member looks back on the line that has been passed, he will see that the government's commitment is $9.9 million.  We have talked also, when we looked at that line, as he will see when he refers to three days of Hansards for that line, that we have also had an intake of new students as well.  He would have to refer to Hansard to the number of students covered in that particular intake.

      However, we did talk about the importance of that program, the government's commitment to that program.  What I am saying to the member is that it was fully discussed over a period of three days, and he is certainly able to look at that.  I think he will find all the answers that he is looking for.  Following that, when we look at this particular line under Student Financial Assistance, the additional support which students might require is available to those students under this particular line we are talking about now, Manitoba Student Financial Assistance.

Mr. Storie:  My question was whether the minister would consider students under this program as a priority.  My suggestion is that the minister do so, that for these students in particular, because of their background, in many cases their disadvantaged, in one way or another, background, they be given special consideration in terms of the relatively limited number of people who are going to get the Manitoba bursary anyway.

      It seems that the government is losing sight of the goal of the program in its desire to create equity.  The minister talks about, well, they will be treated like everyone else; that was never the point of the program.  They, in many cases, come from isolated communities, require additional support, and that is what the program was providing.

      The minister acknowledged that there are only seven people who are supported by the BUNTEP program.  We are missing a generation of people who want this additional training, who would be willing and able to come, had the program criteria not been changed continually by the government.

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Mrs. Vodrey:  Our government's commitment to these students has been recorded in the past week under the discussions that we have had. (interjection) I hear the member for Wolseley (Ms. Friesen) saying that students will love that.

      If the member does care to look up the information which has been fully discussed and passed by the members of his caucus, then I think he will see the information which he is looking for.

Mr. Storie:  Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson, I know that the minister has put a significant number of words on the record, but just so the record is clear, let us say the government's record when it comes to education is fairly clear and not that commendable, I think.  The fact is that government has cut Student Financial Assistance by 7.3 percent in this budget.  They have cut the Manitoba student bursary program entirely.  They have cut the Student Social Allowances Program.  They have cut ACCESS by 11.2 percent.  They have cut funding to school divisions by 16 percent.  They have introduced a bill that limits the authority of school divisions.  They have increased funding to private schools, of which there are none in northern Manitoba.  That is the record.

Mrs. Vodrey:  For the member for Flin Flon, I hope he is able to hear this particular answer on behalf of ACCESS students.  I would remind him that ACCESS students' maximum amount of funding under the ACCESS program is $16,000; Canada Student Loan, $5,040; Manitoba Government Loan, $5,040; Manitoba Government Bursary, $5,040.  The maximum amount of funding where students have need is $31,120.

Ms. Friesen:  Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson, could the minister tell us how many people received the maximum funding?

Mrs. Vodrey:  Numbers of students receiving the maximum Canada Student Loan, 9,951.  Students receiving the maximum‑‑and this is last year's figures‑‑Manitoba Government Bursaries, 1,065.  The number receiving the maximum government grant and loan rebate, the third level of assistance last year, was 204 students.  In terms of the number of students receiving the maximum ACCESS, we do not have that number available.

Ms. Friesen:  The issue I was after was, of course, when the minister was saying that ACCESS students will be eligible for over $30,000 under all of these programs, so the question I was asking was how many ACCESS students have received that. Obviously, we cannot answer that because it is a new program.  So what is the estimate of how many students will be receiving that $30,000 that she spoke of?  It would seem to me that the number she has given‑‑certainly it would be less than 204.

An Honourable Member:  You cannot answer that question, you do not know until they apply.

Ms. Friesen:  Well, then you cannot boast about it, can you?

Mrs. Vodrey:  Mr. Acting Deputy Chair, I am not able to tell the member, of those 204 students who received the maximum at the third level, how many of those students are ACCESS students, again, because we have passed that line with that information.

Ms. Friesen:  So the estimate then of $30,000 being available for ACCESS students is an estimate of potential, and the minister does not have an estimated number of the ACCESS students, or former ACCESS students, who will be applying for that and who will be eligible.

Mrs. Vodrey:  Mr. Acting Deputy Chair, again, that number is a possible number.  A student may have a need so great that they may access over $31,000 in a single year.  However, there are many variations to their particular circumstances.

      As I have said, and I did put this on the record last week, where a student in the ACCESS program has extremely high need, then from the ACCESS program alone, they may be able to acquire approximately $16,000.  That $16,000 would then be looked at as students apply for the Canada Student Loan and also carry on applying through the other levels, their need in each case.

      I believe that is what we have been speaking about today, is the way any student might receive money from any of the supplementary programs would be based on the needs assessment and the needs evaluation according to a criterion.  The criterion is what establishes, again, the sense of predictability for students.

Ms. Friesen:  But I suppose we can at least establish that there will be fewer than 600 students across Manitoba who will be eligible for the $30,000, since the minister has a cap of 600 students on that third level.

Mrs. Vodrey:  Mr. Acting Deputy Chair, the 600 students was an estimate of students who may receive the bursary.  The member has been asking how many might be ACCESS students, and we have to wait till we see what the applications are and what the level of need is.  So the projection was, though, total in the Student Financial area, that there would probably be in the area of 600 students who would qualify for the third level.

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Ms. Friesen:  We were speaking earlier of the policies which exist in other provinces for particular consideration for loan repayment relief for students with disabilities, and I understand what the minister said, at the moment she has no policy in this area on this, that is, in the transition to loans; and that she will review it at the end of the year.  Other provinces also have similar loan rebate relief for aboriginal students, and, in the case of Ontario as well, for other types of students, including Franco‑Ontarian students.  Has the minister given any consideration to targeting other particular disadvantaged groups in Manitoba in terms of payment relief and rebates?

Mrs. Vodrey:  As I said to the member, this is the first year of the program coming up.  We will have a look at the costs of the program coming up.  We will have a look at the students accessing the program coming up, and I have said that we will have a look at issues as they pertain to the program.  I have told her that we will be looking at that in the coming year.

Ms. Friesen:  Well, I find this rather surprising.  This is not reinventing the wheel.  These are programs which exist in other provinces that do have loan programs, and here we are in the middle of June.  What is it?  Well, six to eight weeks away from the beginning of registration for post‑secondary institutions. The minister has not yet met with credit unions.  She does not yet have an agreement with the Royal Bank.  She does not have an agreement with the bankers in general.  She has not looked at the question of students with disabilities.  She has not looked at the question of priority for aboriginal or other students who have greater difficulty in finding employment.

      It seems to me that this is a program in process, and that it has been hurriedly arranged as a result of program‑‑what should I say‑‑as a result of the government's determination to slash its budget rather than upon the needs of Manitoba students.

Mrs. Vodrey:  Mr. Acting Deputy Chair, the member is wrong.  She cites a whole list of issues.  They were not correct.  I have told her about the interim agreement with the Royal Bank, and so she puts a whole list of issues forward.  I would remind her that when considerations were made‑‑and I have told her today of the increasing amount of money that this government has put into Student Financial Assistance over the past three to four years. It has increased at a very large rate, most recently at 18 percent, and so we wanted to make sure that students in Manitoba could continue to access the funds that they required in order to complete their post‑secondary education.

      Had we made no changes to the loan program, we would have had to look at, perhaps, with the amount of money available, having students receive funds on a first‑come, first‑served basis.  That would have meant some students would receive no funding.  Or we would have had to look at limiting very strongly how much money could be made available as the second and third supplementary step.  The member herself might have rather made that particular choice.

      We made a choice on behalf of Manitoba students to make sure that they could continue to access the amount of money that they were able to in past years and also deal with the current fiscal situation of the province.  We did not want to leave students out of the process, as the other two options would have.  Perhaps those would have been the options the member would have chosen.

Ms. Friesen:  Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson, those options that the minister is speaking about, I remember that she did use those options in Question Period in response to one of my questions. This struck me as very odd, a very unusual response to a question since it was not close to anything I had ever suggested or discussed.  I puzzled about that for some time.

      It seems to me that since those discussions are not coming from the opposition, they must be coming from the minister's own caucus, the minister's own colleagues.  I can understand why the minister believes that her solution is perhaps the most palliative of all the ones that she is suggesting, but she should not try and put those suggestions into the mouth of the opposition.

      Could I continue, Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson, with some questions about the alternatives, because what we have here is a program which has been planned very quickly and put into place very hastily that the options that are there in other programs across the country either have not been considered or have been considered and rejected for various reasons.  If they have, then I am always interested in hearing the minister put the reasons on the record.

      One of the ones that I found interesting in my look at programs across the country is the Ontario program for interest relief for students who earn in the region of $20,000 and a graduated relief program for those who are in between $20,000 and $35,000 on graduation.  That seems to me to be looking certainly at the realities of the job market for young people, including those who have graduated from post‑secondary institutions and for whom certainly the job market is better than those who have only a high school graduation, but certainly it is by no means guaranteed even within the first five to eight years, I would say now, of graduation that they can find jobs that use the information or use the education that they have received.

      I suppose the minister watched, like others did, the video shown by Patrick Boyer at the Conservative Convention.  I unfortunately missed it.  I only read about it in the Globe, I think it was, this morning, and I believe it began with a student selling flowers on the streets of Toronto, a student who had a $40,000 debt.  I think if there was perhaps one moment that would speak to the students whom I have talked to and the people in post‑secondary education I have talked to, that moment of the student essentially making little more, if that, of minimum wage and trying to pay off a $40,000 debt is a very striking image and an interesting one for Mr. Boyer to choose.

      A number of questions I think come out of that.  One is, I want to ask the minister, did she consider in her planning of this program, which to me gives every appearance of a very hastily planned program, did she consider a similar program to Ontario for rebate for students who are not at the average industrial wage, shall we say, in their immediate years after graduation?  My second question is, what does the minister consider to be an appropriate debt load when her counsellors are speaking to these students, when we are looking at the transition from high school to university, and the minister's policies are being put into effect by counsellors in the high schools, what kind of guidance are we suggesting to students that they look at for their debt load?

      Is $40,000 something that the minister would consider appropriate, say at the end of a four‑year program?  What would be considered appropriate?  Is it advisable for students, in the minister's mind, to take one year out of school to repay the debt and then go back again?  What kind of life path is the minister essentially advising for those students who are increasingly finding themselves with $30,000, $40,000 debts, and in the case of some students I know who locked in their debts, through no fault of their own, at interest rates of 12 percent and more and who are now in very low‑paying jobs and are essentially finding themselves on a treadmill of only being able to pay off the interest?

      I am wondering what kind of advice the minister has, since she has made the decision to move to a largely loans‑only program and is essentially suggesting to Manitoba students that if you do not have a family who can pay for you, if you cannot find a summer job, if you cannot find work during the school year, and now you are only going to be allowed to take 20 percent of your time in that, you essentially are going to run up debts.  What debt load do we expect Manitoba students to accumulate?  What is reasonable to expect in this economy?

Mrs. Vodrey:  Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson, let me start by the range of ideas which have been expressed by a number of people in terms of options.

      The member does not seem to think any of the options would have been suggested by her particular party.  It seems to stand to reason that her party would blissfully carry on spending money and continue to increase the debt for Manitobans, so those people who wish to study would virtually have nothing when they came out.  Certainly our children would have nothing because the debt and the deficit would be so large, they would not have any hope. It is not hard to come up with an endless number of ways to spend money, which the member would like to do, not hard at all.

      However, what this government has had to do is make a number of decisions which were difficult decisions to make but which we believe would still provide students with the funds that were required, so those students could attend post‑secondary programs.  They vary in length, the programs that students take, as the member may know.  She refers primarily to university programs, and I have attempted over the course of the Estimates to remind her that students also take a number of other kinds of programs, as well, which are considered post‑secondary programs.

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      The member has asked about a video which was shown by one of the candidates for the Progressive Conservative leadership campaign.  It is interesting that she was interested in that particular video and interested in the leadership of our party, as well.

      Yes, I did see the video.  I also read the same article that the member read this morning.  The member refers to a very specific instance that individual chose to reference.

      I have no way to speak about that individual's circumstance. I do not know the individual.  As the member may know, Patrick Boyer comes from Ontario, NDP Ontario, and I presume he chose the individuals for his video from his home area of Etobicoke South‑Centre, I believe it is.

      So she might like to have some opportunity to speak to her colleagues in Ontario about the debt load that that student would be carrying‑‑that student that the member references of a $40,000 debt load, and she might ask her colleagues in Ontario what they plan to do about that particular student.  I do not know the person, but I presume that is where Patrick Boyer found that individual.

      The member asks in terms of our government's plan; I am much more able to speak about our government's plan than what is happening in Ontario, though we all are watching Ontario with interest.  This government has made sure that we have the six‑month period, the interest‑free period in which to support students.

      I have also told the member that, because of our seriousness in this area, we will have a look at the program over the course of the year.  We will look at the students who are applying; we will look at a number of issues; and we also, as I have said to the member, have been waiting for the Government of Canada to announce what changes that they will be making to the Canada Student Loan.

      The kinds of changes that the Government of Canada will make to the Canada Student Loan will then be very important as all provinces look at their own student financial assistance, because Canada is looking at the needs assessment, Canada is looking at a number of different areas.  The member has referred to them as rumours, or rumours that she has heard in particular, well, we are waiting till we hear definitely from Canada what those changes will be.  Then, when we hear them, we will have an opportunity to look at what additional needs of students in Manitoba might be.

Ms. Friesen:  The minister makes reference to Ontario, and, yes, indeed, I have been making a number of references to Ontario, and the way in which Ontario, at least, has tried to make some mitigation of conditions for students.

      One of them, which I specifically asked the minister about, was whether she had considered any interest‑relief program for students who, after graduation, were making in the region of $19,000‑$20,000, which Ontario has.  Ontario also has moved to a partial mitigation, a partial relief of interest payments for those who are making between $20,000 and $35,000 a year on graduation.  So it would be interesting to compare that, and the minister's one relief area, which is the provision of a six‑month time period after the ending of school and the beginning of the requirement to repay loans.

      I did also mention the Ontario program to target the heavy debt which is incurred by students who come from rural areas, who might be Franco‑Ontarian, who are aboriginal, and who are handicapped, for whom there are special provisions for relief payment and debt payment in the Ontario program.

      Again, what I am suggesting to the minister is that there are different ways of looking at these kinds of student financial loan programs, but they appear not to have been considered by this government.  I wondered if they had, and had been rejected, and if so, for what reasons.  So I think that Ontario, although it has moved to a loan program, certainly has tried to look at conditions of the greatest need.  I am surprised that Manitoba has presumably either not looked at or rejected the Ontario proposals.

      Of course, the third thing that Ontario did, which I think is significant, and which I have raised in the House a number of times in private members' resolutions last year and this year, is that Ontario put over $2.5 million into work study programs at the universities, because of course that is the other side of student loan issues.

      Student loans began in the 1960s when there was a reasonable expectation of students and their families that money could be earned during the summers and that money could also be earned, to some extent, by part‑time work during the winter.  Both of those conditions are very, very different now for students in the 1990s.  I am sure that we will see that when we look at the employment rates for students at the end of this summer.  Those kinds of summer jobs that would pay the fees basically of students simply have gone, because students now have to support themselves during the summer.  Their fees have gone up and continue to go up, and the summer jobs are not there in the same number, either from the federal government, from the provincial government or from private enterprise in Manitoba in particular.

      So I thought the minister's answer was really not very helpful.  I was specifically asking her about different kinds of programs in other provinces.  British Columbia, for example, does have a rebate program for certain types of students, a loan rebate program.  Again, I ask the minister has she considered these kinds of targeted programs which I would have thought would have fit to some extent with the Tory party's determination to reduce open programs and to prefer instead targeted programs?

      Has she looked at these?  Has she made any consideration of them, or was this simply a determination to cut a line and to reduce it, as we know by about 1997‑98 there will be about $2 million or $3 million left in this line without, it seems to us, any kind of consideration of the broader social needs?

Mrs. Vodrey:  Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson, I have provided the member with our reasoning for moving to this particular program. I have also told her that we will have a look at the students who are applying and that we will be having a look at our program this year.  However, we are also hopeful that we will hear from the Government of Canada regarding the Canada Student Loan, which then will have perhaps some impact on our Manitoba Student Financial Assistance and allow us then to make other kinds of changes as well.

Ms. Friesen:  The answer then, I assume, is that the minister did not look at any of these mitigating factors and proceeded on the basis of the desire to reduce a line.

Mrs. Vodrey:  Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson, as I explained to the member, our goal was to make sure that students in Manitoba had access to the funds that they needed in order to continue studying and that we made a change to make sure that those students would have the money available.  Had we not made this change, perhaps the other kinds of changes that the member wondered whether they came from her caucus or not, those other two changes of limiting the amount of money or of limiting the number of students on a first‑come, first‑served basis, we rejected those ideas.

Ms. Friesen:  Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson, could the minister then answer my other question as to what, in her view and in her policy, is a reasonable debt load for students to carry?

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Mrs. Vodrey:  It is very difficult to talk about that issue specifically, because we have to have some idea of the personal circumstances of each individual student.  The member is asking me to make some kind of a judgment around the amount of money that might be acceptable to those individual students and without giving any indication of program or other kinds of supports available.

Ms. Friesen:  One assumes that students taking a student loan have very few supports.  Does the minister think that the amount of student loan carried by students should have any relationship to the industrial wage?  Should it have any relationship to the anticipation of the employment levels, in particular professional areas?  For example, we see the number of teachers declining in Manitoba.  Should there be any relationship between the debt load carried by those who are going through education and the absence of teaching jobs on graduation?  Should there be a recognition as there is British Columbia that a debt load over a certain amount carried over a year is, in fact, rebated?  I think Ontario is looking at a similar program?

Mrs. Vodrey:  As I have said to the member earlier, we have determined our program based on the need of the student.  The need of the student has been a prime consideration.  Manitoba has been very active in the whole area of needs assessment.  Perhaps the member now is suggesting that the amount of money students are able to access should be limited based on what faculty or program or short‑training program they might be in, and, if she is suggesting that kind of limiting based on what a student is studying, I have to say that it surprises me.  We have based our program on need.

Ms. Friesen:  I do not know whether the minister chose to misunderstand, but I think what I said was quite clear.  I asked her what she considered, as a Minister of Education, as a reasonable debt load for a student to carry.  She chose not to answer that.

      The second part of that that I asked was, had she essentially considered some of the programs that there are in British Columbia, for example, and which, I believe, Ontario is following?  When a student reaches a certain debt load in their program, the amount beyond that‑‑and they are essentially establishing a yearly amount, $5,000 to $6,000, for example, I believe in the case of Ontario‑‑is then rebated.

      The issue is very much one of need, one of need for students who are in programs, one of need which is related to their ability to find employment afterwards and that varies according to the kind of program they are in.  Has the minister given any consideration in her planning of these programs, the loan program, of the various ways in which student needs in Manitoba can be taken into account?

Mrs. Vodrey:  I have explained that our prime consideration was need.  The member continues to reference what is occurring in other provinces, but she references only a very small portion, one individual point of each of the programs in other provinces. She seems to want us to not really‑‑not to put on the record on behalf of those provinces that she seems to be so familiar with what their whole programs are.  I would say that it is perhaps misleading, one might say, to just use a single point of what occurs in another province and to somehow assume that then a student might get the same kind of benefits and perhaps more.

      What I am saying to the member is that we have looked at the amount of money based on need, and that I have told her we will be looking at this program in its first year of operation.  We will be looking at many aspects of the program, and we felt that the most important area‑‑I can say it again for the 10th time or more‑‑was to make sure that students were able to access funding so that they could continue or enter into their program of study.

Ms. Friesen:  Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson, for the minister to say that what I am putting on the record is misleading, I think, is unwise.  I have asked specific questions about specific mitigating elements that other provinces deal with.

      Yes, I am more familiar with British Columbia and Ontario than I am with other provinces.  I assume the minister has her staff here, and I assume that when the minister and her staff did develop this particular program‑‑it is a dramatic change in Manitoba policy‑‑they did look at other provinces, and they did look at the way in which particular needs, which are not unfamiliar to this province‑‑the needs of aboriginal students, the needs of handicapped students, the needs of students who come from rural areas‑‑that all of those needs are very similar across the country, that she would have looked for ways of targeting. This would not have been, it would seem to me, at loggerheads with any kind of conservative principles which she might uphold. (interjection)

      Yes, as the member for Dauphin (Mr. Plohman) says, it would have indicated planning; it would have indicated an understanding of what is happening in the rest of Canada and the way in which other provinces have dealt with this particular issue.

      To say what I am putting on record‑‑that is, the interest relief program, the loan rebate program in Ontario and British Columbia, the program for work study in the universities and colleges of Ontario‑‑it seems to me what I am putting on record are programs based upon principles, principles which affect students in Manitoba and which one would have expected, anyone would have expected, any government in Manitoba of whatever political stripe to have looked at when they made a transition from a bursary program to a loan program.  So the issues here are ones of understanding the needs of Manitobans, of understanding the educational financing picture across Canada, and the ability of this government to plan for the needs of Manitobans.

Mrs. Vodrey:  Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson, the member has asked for consideration for the people of Manitoba.  She says she is more familiar with British Columbia, and there was one other province that she also felt that she was more familiar with.

      I can tell her I am the most familiar with the province of Manitoba.  It is looking to meet the needs of students in Manitoba that we have moved to this program.  The kinds of debt load that the students will have at the end of a program are based on, again, the length of the program and the assessed needs level of the students.

      As I have said from the very beginning, those students who are the most disadvantaged, we make sure that they are eligible for the nonrepayable study assistance.  Manitoba does have that third level of bursary.

      For students who are aboriginal, the member has spoken about targeted funds available for targeted groups of students, in her words, and she does, I think, know‑‑perhaps maybe I could let her know about in Manitoba‑‑that we have the Prince of Wales and Princess Anne scholarship.  There are also some special bursaries for handicapped students, and we have also spoken about some of those for those students.  The member also has referenced rural areas.  The member may know, in Manitoba we do not count farm assets when we are looking at the assets side for the eligibility for Canada Student Loan.  Again, in the rural area, the parents' assets, net worth, including farm net worth, are not considered in the determination of expected parental contribution.

Ms. Friesen:  But the issue that I was addressing was change. The Prince of Wales programs and the way in which rural assets are determined is not an issue in the change that is happening in this department.

      Yes, those have remained standard, but what the minister has done is move from a bursary program to a loan program, and that is going to have a very long‑term influence upon the kind of students who will think about university or college or further education in some way as part of their possible experience.

      Again, I have tried to get from the minister some estimate of what she will be suggesting to students through her Skills For Independent Living program, for example.  What will be a reasonable debt load for students in particular circumstances?

      I have looked for ways in which the new policies and the new programs had mitigating elements, mitigating factors, for students across Manitoba who have particular needs, and I find the minister's responses are‑‑well, they are both predictable and repetitive.

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      It seems to me that she could at least acknowledge that they did not look at these elements of other programs.  They did not look at what other provinces were doing, but they simply took one line, slashed it, said everybody is going to be treated the same and they are all going to go into debt, a debt that could be crippling for many students and which will also, I think in the long run, be limiting for the kind of population which we will see in post‑secondary education institutions in Manitoba.

      That, in terms of provincial institutions and provincial programs, of course, is the real tragedy here.  People who, for the past five or 10 years, might have thought of themselves as possibly having the opportunity for post‑secondary education will now look at their brothers and sisters coming out of universities and colleges with large debt loads‑‑$40,000, we do not know if that is an average or less than average or what we expect at the end of a Manitoba four‑year program or two‑year program‑‑and simply will say, well, no, that is not for me; I am going to have to reduce my expectations.

      It will have nothing to do with ability, have nothing to do with their ability to contribute to Manitoba.  It will simply have to do with whether they have the money in their own family and whether in fact they decide that they can take on a $40,000 to $50,000 debt load which some students may choose to do.  Those who have families and have other obligations certainly are going to be very, very reluctant, I would think, to take on that particular kind of burden.

      I am looking, from the minister's perspective, for some indication of thinking about what this could do to the Manitoba economy and to Manitoba society, and I see no indication that the minister has looked at the longer‑term economic implications of this.

      We have an economic framework policy which talks about inclusiveness.  It seems to me that this program is in the long run not going to be an inclusive program.  We are already seeing, in terms of the ACCESS programs, an exclusive kind of program, one that is ensuring that the vast majority of students who are accepted into those ACCESS programs must find funding in some other way.

      So it is the trend.  It is the reasons for this kind of program‑‑the absence of planning, the reluctance to look at any other province's experience, and it seems to me, the long‑term impact of this on Manitoba, I think.  I would like to have seen some indication that the minister had given it some thought and had some kind of evidence she could put on the record of the impact of the transition to loan programs on Canadian and Manitoba students.

Mrs. Vodrey:  Mr. Acting Deputy Chair, we have been talking about the member's familiarity with programs from other provinces, and I wanted to make sure in the course of this discussion that she was also familiar with the Manitoba program and all of the parts of the program that Manitoba students may take part in.

      I would also remind her that decisions had to be made on behalf of all Manitobans and how much debt all Manitobans can continue to support.  So in making some of these difficult decisions, we tried to make decisions on behalf of Manitobans. However, those decisions were inclusive.  They made sure that students had access to funds needed for post‑secondary.

      In addition to that, I would just tell her, on behalf of aboriginal students whom she has spoken about, we paid $140,000 at $200 per student for the Prince of Wales and Princess Anne awards.  There were 1,100 students who received them.

Ms. Friesen:  Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson, could the minister tell us what the loan default rate has been in Manitoba?

Mrs. Vodrey:  Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson, the information on the Canada Student Loan and the default rate comes from the Auditor General of Canada.  The Auditor General has indicated that one in six recipients defaults on their Canada Student Loans.

      The Secretary of State currently has the information and is analyzing the data in that area by province.  They will be providing the information back to the Province of Manitoba, more detailed information on the default.

Ms. Friesen:  When will they be providing that, because I understand other provinces already know that?

Mrs. Vodrey:  Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson, if the member says other provinces know that, I would say she is perhaps right.  Our information says that is very surprising, but on behalf of Manitoba when our department checked just last week, they were not able to provide Manitoba with that information at this time.

Ms. Friesen:  Does this section of the department still maintain the Brandon office, and what is the cost of that office?

(Mr. Marcel Laurendeau, Deputy Chairperson, in the Chair)

Mrs. Vodrey:  Mr. Deputy Chairperson, we do continue to support the Brandon office.  The budget for that office is $100,700.  It is operated by five staff.

Ms. Friesen:  What proportion of student assistance applications come through the Brandon office?  I understand that is the only regional office.  Am I right?

Mrs. Vodrey:  Brandon is the regional office, and 15 percent of the applications come from the Brandon office.

Ms. Friesen:  Mr. Deputy Chairperson, will the minister's review at the end of this current fiscal year include the operations of the Brandon office?

Mrs. Vodrey:  The member perhaps has not quite understood what will be reviewed.  We have not said for the Manitoba Student Financial Assistance that we would be reviewing the office operations.  I have spoken about the fact that we would be reviewing the program.

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Ms. Friesen:  Mr. Deputy Chair, I think it was‑‑I do not know the date exactly, but I believe it was in this current calendar year‑‑that Status students won, if that is the right word, the right to be considered for Manitoba student bursaries.

      Does the minister have a particular policy paper on that, or is there a letter which particularly addresses that change in policy or a confirmation of practice?

Mrs. Vodrey:  In terms of how that opportunity was provided, the member speaks about winning.  The opportunity was provided by a decision of this government to ensure the eligibility of aboriginal students for Manitoba Student Financial Assistance.

Ms. Friesen:  I am sure the minister understands that for many aboriginal students this was not a clear‑cut policy, certainly at least in the last two years that I am familiar with.  So what I was asking the minister is, when was that policy confirmed if indeed it was a policy before?  When was it confirmed, and what is the written document that does that.

Mrs. Vodrey:  The eligibility was a decision that has been made by this government recently, and the eligibility for that funding will begin as of June 1.

Ms. Friesen:  Mr. Deputy Chairperson, when was that eligibility confirmed and through what means?

Mrs. Vodrey:  It was a decision of government, and it has been confirmed recently.

Ms. Friesen:  How was it confirmed?  Was it confirmed in a letter?  Was it confirmed in a regulation?  Was it confirmed in a letter to bands?  How was it confirmed?

Mrs. Vodrey:  The students, as they apply for the Canada Student Loan, when they have a need greater than the Canada Student Loan, then are able to be processed into the Manitoba Student Financial Assistance, its being the second level.

Ms. Friesen:  My question was, when was that policy confirmed, and in what way was it confirmed?

Mrs. Vodrey:  The policy was confirmed as a decision of government.  The decision of government is now being acted upon by the Manitoba Student Financial Assistance Branch.  As students, as I said, make application, their applications are processed.

Ms. Friesen:  When was that policy made by government?

Mrs. Vodrey:  Recently.

Ms. Friesen:  Mr. Deputy Chairperson, I thought I was asking questions which were relatively simple about the date and method of communicating a particular policy.  I am very confused as to why the minister seems unable to answer this question.  When was it made?  Perhaps a month would help.

Hon. Linda McIntosh (Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs):  What time of the day, Rosemary, 10:30‑‑

Ms. Friesen:  Well, the Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs (Mrs. McIntosh) wants to suggest that I am asking about the time of the day, and that is just silliness.  I am asking for a general indication of when this policy was made.  Which month was it made in?

Mrs. McIntosh:  She does not want to know the day as she said she did.  She just wants to‑‑


Point of Order


Mr. Deputy Chairperson:  Order, please.  Could I ask the honourable members not to get into debate across the table.  The honourable member for Wolseley is asking a question.

* * *

Ms. Friesen:  Could the minister tell us which month this policy was made?

Mrs. Vodrey:  The policy was made recently, as I said, and the member is very interested in the details of government process. The policy was‑‑well, the member says yes, she is, and I know she is, and she has not had the opportunity to sit in government. That seems to be, I suppose, the basis of some of her questions to find out more.

      As I have said, the policy was made recently.  I can tell her if this will help her any:  it was made in May.  She has asked for an approximate‑‑that would be the approximate.  The department is now processing.  It is the second level of support that aboriginal students are eligible for; however, we also will make sure that letters go to bands over the signature of the deputy minister.  Those letters are in progress, but I want the member to know that for those students who are eligible, we are not waiting for those letters to go out.  In fact, we are beginning to process applications now.

Ms. Friesen:  Mr. Deputy Chairperson, so after asking several times, the minister is able to say that the policy was established in May, that it has been conveyed to her officials who do establish the relationships with the students who apply, and she has conveyed it to the bands and others who would be interested.

* (1630)

      I cannot understand why the minister could not have said that in the beginning and why that has to be accompanied with the patronizing comments that she seems to think it needs.  I really do not understand.

      So I want to ask the minister why this policy was established after the government moved to change its policy to a primarily loan policy rather than a bursary policy.

Mrs. Vodrey:  Mr. Deputy Chairperson, the member continues, in the process of these Estimates, to address very personal comments to me as minister and attempts a series of characterizations through those very personal comments.  I would just like to say on the record that I am not sure what those personal comments and judgments she is making have to do with the discussion of the Department of Education and Training's Estimates.

      However, in terms of the question she has asked, let me provide her with that factual answer.  There was no relation between the two decisions.

Ms. Friesen:  Mr. Deputy Chairperson, could the minister tell us when the decision was made, in which month the decision was made, to move to a primarily loan program?

Mrs. Vodrey:  Mr. Deputy Chairperson, a number of decisions are arrived at through the normal process of government review, also through the process of Estimates.  I can tell the member that the date, which is important to Manitobans, is the date, of course, at which that information of the change was made known, and that Manitobans were given some information about any changes and also when the changes would come into effect.  That would be the date that affects Manitobans.

Ms. Friesen:  Mr. Deputy Chairperson, the reason for my line of questioning‑‑I am sure the minister is aware‑‑is that there is a perception amongst many Manitobans who are affected by this policy that for a number of years there was a great deal of confusion, shall we say, about whether Status students were eligible for Manitoba programs.  I certainly handled a number of cases through my own constituency where that was the case.

      It seems that now, as of May, we do have a standard program which says that Status students are eligible for Manitoba programs.  There remains, I think, quite reasonably in people's minds, the belief that the government only changed its program when it knew that it was moving to a loan program and it was able essentially to confirm for Status students that they could in fact be eligible for Manitoba programs, but they would only be eligible for loan programs.

      Am I right, in interpreting the minister's comments of the last few questions, that this was not in the minister's mind, that this was not the policy of the government, or was it indeed a policy of the government to say, yes, we are moving to a loan program, and at that time we will confirm that Status students will be eligible for our programs?

Mrs. Vodrey:  Mr. Deputy Chair, let me remind the member, as it perhaps has slipped her mind, that it was the policy of her government to not allow aboriginal students access to the Manitoba Student Financial Assistance Program.

      The policy of this government has been, in a recent decision, to make sure that aboriginal students may access that funding.

      I have also explained to her that the two decisions were not connected decisions.  We made a decision to make sure that Manitoba's aboriginal students had access to Student Financial Assistance, and we made a decision regarding how students might access that financial assistance based on a number of other decisions which we have discussed during the course of these Estimates.  The two decisions were not connected.

Ms. Friesen:  Mr. Deputy Chair, were any Status students given or eligible for Manitoba student assistance before May?

Mrs. Vodrey:  Mr. Deputy Chair, before that time, students were eligible for the Prince of Wales, Princess Anne scholarship bursaries.

Ms. Friesen:  Mr. Deputy Chair, so before May, they were only eligible for those special programs which were already targeted at aboriginal students.  They were not eligible in the same way that other students were for Manitoba student assistance.  In May, they become eligible and in May the government moves to a loan program.  It seems to me a reasonable assumption in the minds of the public that those two events are connected‑‑(interjection)


Point of Order


Mrs. McIntosh:  On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Chairperson, the question was asked and answered and I do not understand this.  Do we have postamble commentary on the responses that are given allowed?

Mr. Deputy Chairperson:  Order, please.  The honourable member does not have a point of order.  It is a dispute over the facts.

* * *

Mr. Deputy Chairperson:  On a point of order?

Mrs. McIntosh:  No, it was not a point of order.  It was a question for clarification as to the rules.  Do we allow postamble commentary on the questions in committee?

Mr. Deputy Chairperson:  The honourable member has 30 minutes to ask her question, and she can take that full 30 minutes as she feels.

Mrs. Vodrey:  Mr. Deputy Chair, I believe I have answered the question.  I explained that this government made the decision to make sure that aboriginal students were eligible for the second level of support through Manitoba Student Financial Assistance, which, as under the previous government which the member is a member of that party, they were not eligible in the past.  She is attempting to put together a cause and effect.  I am not sure, that seems to be a cause and effect from her mind.

      I have explained to her that the two decisions are not connected.  I can go back over some of the reasons why we looked at moving to the loans program, guaranteed Manitoba loans program, but I know that we have covered those in the past several hours of discussions on this line.

Ms. Friesen:  Mr. Deputy Chair, I move, seconded by the member for Thompson (Mr. Ashton), that this committee condemn the Minister of Education (Mrs. Vodrey) for her failure to plan adequately for students in need before cutting the Manitoba bursary program.

Mr. Deputy Chairperson:  Order, please.  I am going to take this under advisement, and I will return it to the committee in just a little while.


Point of Order

Mr. Steve Ashton (Opposition House Leader):  Just on a point of order, Mr. Deputy Chairperson, it would seem to me, since the motion has been moved, the appropriate thing would be to give the Chair a couple of minutes to check whether it is in order, and we can perhaps resume at that point in time.

Mr. Deputy Chairperson:  Order, please.  I have already advised the committee that I have taken it under advisement and I will return to the committee when I have had an opportunity to research it.  So, if you continue on with your line of questioning, we will carry on.

Mr. John Plohman (Dauphin):  It seems to me that the appropriate thing to do, if you are going to allow speaking to that particular motion, fine.  Otherwise, we should be taking a recess and allowing the Chair to deal with the decision so that we can get on with it.

      We have completed this line in the Estimates, and unless we can move onto the next line without passing this one, then we can ask some questions on the appeal board, which is the next section.  If that is what the Deputy Chairperson wants us to do, we would do that.

Hon. Glen Cummings (Minister of Environment):  Mr. Deputy Chairperson, I was inquiring if the member for Dauphin (Mr. Plohman) was making a point of order.  It seems to me that you could usefully make some significant time benefits by asking some questions while we are waiting for you to make a ruling on the motion.  It is a debatable motion when it gets back here, so let us have questions, and we will debate the motion when it comes back.

* (1640)

Mr. Ashton:  The difficulty here, you have a motion on a particular line.  What the member for Dauphin is suggesting is that we can move to another line if we hold this line open.  We can ask questions on another line.  However, it would seem to be a bit difficult if we end up waiting until the matter is resolved in terms of the motion.  Yet, we do not have some clarity as to which line we are on.

      So I would suggest we move on to the next line item, hold this open, hold the vote after we have had the motion dealt with by the Chair and any subsequent debates or votes.

Mr. Deputy Chairperson:  I would like to thank all of the honourable members for their advice on this matter.  As I have stated, I will be taking this matter under advisement, and as soon as I have my ruling, I will bring the ruling forward.

      If it is the will of the committee to move onto the next line, that is up to the committee and not the Chair to decide. It is up to the committee to make that decision.

* * *

Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Inkster):  Mr. Deputy Chairperson, I do have a couple of questions on this particular line, and this might be the most opportune time to ask them while we are waiting for you to make some sort of a ruling.

      What I was hoping to get from the minister‑‑and hopefully she has access to the actual numbers.  If not, maybe she can make some form of a commitment to getting back to me in a relatively short time period, the numbers.

      In terms of the Manitoba Student Financial Assistance Program and the Canada Student Loans and other assistant programs that are available and made reference to the ACCESS, what I am most interested in is the number of individuals that are in fact making application or receiving benefits and the average amount that they are receiving in terms of a bursary, in terms of a loan and so forth, and not just for this particular year.  What I am more interested in doing is to try to figure out whether or not we have a higher number or a higher percentage of students that are benefiting from the government's programs that are there to ensure that individuals do have access to our post‑secondary institutions.

(Mr. Jack Reimer, Acting Deputy Chairperson, in the Chair)


Mrs. Vodrey:  Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson, I did provide this information a little earlier in the afternoon.  I am not sure if the member took down the information at that time, but as I have said, is the member‑‑I can certainly provide it in percentage form as well as real numbers.

      In '89‑90, now this is the applications area, the applications were 13,995 for the Canada Student Loan, and the actual awards were 11,791.

      In '90‑91, the applications were 14,431; Canada Student Loan awards were 11,930.  That is an increase of 3.1 percent in applications and 1.2 percent in awards.

      In '91‑92, the number of applications were 14,790; the number of awards were 12,141.  The percentage increase for the applications, year over year, was 2.5 percent.  The percentage of awards was 1.7 percent.

      In '92‑93, the applications were 15,284, and the number of Canada Student Loan awards were 12,879.  Year over year, the percentage increase for applications was 3.3 percent, and the increase in awards was 6.1 percent, year over year, in that '91‑92, '92‑93.

      In the applications for the Manitoba bursary in 1989‑90, the number of applications was 4,716, and the number of awards was 2,994.  In '90‑91, the number of applications was 4,563, and the number of awards was 3,277.  In that year, there was a percentage decrease of applications of 3.3 percent, and an increase in awards of 9.5 percent; '91‑92, there were 5,043 applications received and there were 3,776 awards given.  That is a percentage increase of 10.5 percent in the applications and 15.2 percent in the area of awards.  In 1992‑93, the number of applications was 5,812, and the number of awards was 4,483.  That is a percentage increase of 15.2 percent in the applications and 18.7 percent in the awards.

      The previous third level of support then was the Manitoba government grant; that was a third level.  In the year '89‑90, there were 172 applications and 140 awards; 1990‑91, there were 212 applications, and there were 166 awards.  That is a percentage increase of 23.3 percent in applications and 18.6 percent in awards.

      In 1991‑92, the number of applications was 318, the number of awards was 239.  That is a percentage increase of 50 percent in applications and 44 percent in awards.  In '92‑93, there were 801 applications, and there were 595 awards.  That is a percentage increase of 152 percent in applications and 149 percent in awards.

Mr. Lamoureux:  To pick up on the very last one:  For the government grant, '92‑93, why is it that there would have been such a substantial increase?  Where does that come from?

Mrs. Vodrey:  As we have discussed, there have not been changes to the Canada Student Loan for several years, and because there has not been a change in the weekly loan limit, or in the needs assessment area, either one, then there has been no increase in the amount of award money available through that particular award.

      So for students, they have then sought a next level of assistance and this being the third level of assistance.  That is why in our discussion this afternoon, we have been speaking about the need for Canada to make clear whatever changes that they wish to make because that will certainly affect then our whole system which is supplementary to the Canada Student Loan system.

Mr. Lamoureux:  We noticed that there is a steady increase in terms of number of applications, number of individuals being awarded.  Does the minister, again, have the actual, not necessarily percentage, the medium of how much money is actually being given, whether it is a loan or a bursary, for those particular years?  Again, she does not have to read them in.  I am just more so interested in having those sorts of figures.  Is it safe to assume that drop, that medium has been dropping down?

* (1650)

Mrs. Vodrey:  The member has asked in average numbers what the amount of funding would be.  The average Canada Student Loan award is $3,274, and the average government bursary award is $2,193.  The average loan rebate award is $1,125, and the average government grant would be, I am informed, very similar to the government bursary, which is $2,193.

Mr. Lamoureux:  Mr. Acting Deputy Chairperson, one of the things that I know I personally would look at, and the purpose of having government assistance, is to ensure that other individuals that do not necessarily have the income have the opportunity to go to post‑secondary institutions.

       (Mr. Deputy Chairperson in the Chair)

      I am wondering if the minister has anything that does tracking in terms of are we seeing a higher percentage, you know, of the lower income individuals attending our post‑secondary institutions, or has there been a decrease, increase?  Is there anything in place that tracks that sort of a stat?

Mrs. Vodrey:  Mr. Deputy Chair, in the course of the afternoon, we have spoken about students being eligible based on need as well as on length of program.  Length of program may help to establish need, and we have talked about increasing numbers being able to access those programs.


Chairperson's Ruling


Mr. Deputy Chairperson:  Order, please.  At this time I have reviewed the motion, and it is in order.

      It has been moved by the honourable member for Wolseley (Ms. Friesen), seconded by the member for Thompson (Mr. Ashton), that this committee condemn the Minister of Education for her failure to plan adequately for students in need before cutting the Manitoba bursary program.


Point of Order


Mr. Lamoureux:  On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Chairperson, I would be happy to continue on just my line of questioning.  I believe the member for Thompson (Mr. Ashton) has to be here, because if he is a seconder he should be here in his seat.  So I will continue to question?

Mr. Deputy Chairperson:  Order, please.  The honourable member does not have a point of order.  It is not necessary for the member to be here because you do not need a seconder for a motion in Committee of Supply.

* * *

Mrs. Vodrey:  Mr. Deputy Chair, I would take a few moments to speak on this motion because, as I have explained during the course of our discussion, we certainly have provided for a way to assist Manitoba students.

      I have explained during the course of the afternoon, first of all, a recognition of the needs of Manitoba students and our supports towards Manitoba students.  I am aware though, and we spoke when we began, at the very beginning, I spoke about the Canada Student Loan Program and the Canada Student Loan Program, we have been hearing, is prepared to and is looking at some changes.

      I have also spoken, in the course of this Estimates, about a meeting I had in Ottawa with other ministers of Education from across Canada, with the former Secretary of State, regarding potential changes to the Canada Student Loan.  That meeting took place approximately a year ago March and we have not yet heard from the Government of Canada exactly what those changes may be‑‑(interjection)

      The member for Dauphin (Mr. Plohman) seems to have not understood that the people who took part in that meeting were Education ministers from across Canada, and he may like to know that as there is no federal minister of Education, then issues which relate to education are looked at by ministers across Canada through the Council of Ministers of Education.

      Through the Council of Ministers, we then each had an opportunity to bring forward concerns of our particular province, and I brought forward issues as they relate to Manitobans and concerns that were raised to me by students and by institutions.

      In addition to that meeting, I have also met with the new Secretary of State who has not been able to provide, on behalf of Canada, a date when the new programs will be specifically instituted.

      Manitoba has not stood still in this area.  Manitoba has taken a very active role in terms of the needs assessment area, in particular, because we need to have an accurate picture of what a student's needs might be.  Those needs need to be reflective of the needs that are 1993 needs, not needs that flow from 1985 or a need's assessment which is in fact perhaps quite a lot older and maybe not reflective accurately of exactly what is happening today.

      We are looking forward to those changes, as are other provinces across Canada, because when those changes come forward, we will then be able to look at our program in the light of what the Government of Canada will be providing and then we will be able to perhaps make other kinds of decisions, as well, on behalf of Manitobans.

      What we have done on behalf of Manitobans though in terms of our planning is, especially in view of the increasing statistics and numbers that I have been providing, to say that where there is, Manitobans can provide only a certain amount of money which would be available as a third supplementary amount of money.


Point of Order


Mr. Deputy Chairperson:  Order, please.  Could I ask the honourable members wanting to carry on a conversation to do so outside in the hallways so I could hear the honourable minister? I am having problems hearing her, just like you are having trouble hearing me.

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       Mrs. Vodrey:  Mr. Deputy Chair, as I was saying, we have to look very carefully at the needs, and we also have to look at the fact that it would be a third level of support in that students are required to provide some basis of ability to help themselves in an area of post‑secondary education, and then Canada Student Loan becomes a supplementary support.

      The Canada Student Loan describes itself as a supplementary support.  Then Manitoba's Student Financial Assistance provides the next supplementary step in terms of support to those students.  So, as we look for the changes for the federal government, that will influence what happens in the area for Manitobans.

      But, as I was saying, Manitobans can only provide a certain amount of money from our tax base, and we wanted to make sure that students were able to access the funds that they needed so that they could go on to a training or a program of study which would be of benefit to them in the future, benefit to them intrinsically and benefit to them in terms of a job market.

      In order to ensure that would occur, Manitoba decided to move to the Manitoba Student Loan Program because that would ensure that there were funds available for students as they needed them and qualified for them.

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      As I have said, we could have made other decisions had we dealt with the amount of money, and it is a finite amount of money that we had available.  If we did that, it would be limiting to students.  It would either limit students to a first‑come, first‑served basis.  Those who applied first would be able to acquire the money that was available; those who did not get their applications in or whose course of studies started at a different point in the year would not be able to access funds. We thought that was wrong, and so we moved to a program which allowed students to access the funds that they needed.

      Secondly, we could have made another kind of choice.  The choice could have been that we would have reduced the amount of money that was available to students, and we felt that was not appropriate either, based on need, because our program is based on need.

Mr. Deputy Chairperson:  Order, please.  The time is now 5 p.m., and time for private members' hour.  I am interrupting the proceedings of the committee.  The Committee of Supply will resume considerations at 8 p.m.  Thank you.




Madam Chairperson (Louise Dacquay):  Order please.  Will the Committee of Supply please come to order.  This section of the Committee of Supply is dealing with the Estimates for the Department of Health.  We are on item 1.(b), page 77 in the Estimates manual.

      Would the minister's staff please enter the Chamber?

Mr. Dave Chomiak (Kildonan):  Madam Chairperson, we discussed in some length the minister's blue book and other aspects of the minister's plan.  The minister was to provide us with statistical data on bed closures and bed details.  One area that I wanted to ask the minister about was the plan to still close another additional 200 beds at the city hospitals.  I am wondering if the minister can advise the Chamber and the committee what the status is on those particular closures.

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Hon. Donald Orchard (Minister of Health):  Madam Chair, the status of the investigation around a further downsizing in the urban hospital bed complement of 200 is ongoing and is part of the continuing committee work and task force work on the various program areas that have been discussed in the last‑‑what?‑‑three days or four days that we have been at Health Estimates.

      As the pattern of implementing these changes will remain consistent, should we have any announcements around agreed‑upon closures that we think are manageable within the system‑‑let me indicate again what I believe by manageable.  Where beds can be retired from service without compromising access and volume of procedure being done, we will, after careful consideration and consultation within the department with the various members of the Urban Hospital Council, agree to those proposed closures, and as they are announced and agreed to, Madam Chair, we of course will provide information on them and give my friend the kind of information and assurance that he wishes.

      But if my honourable friend is asking when we might expect some announcements, I would indicate to my honourable friend that it would be over the course of this fiscal year as reports are completed and recommendations analyzed and agreed to.  Should they involve retirement from service of additional acute care beds, as I said, announcements would be forthcoming.

Mr. Chomiak:  Madam Chairperson, this may not be, necessarily, a fair question so‑‑maybe the member for Portage (Mr. Pallister) can listen as well and make a calculation.  It is just that it is a quote from the minister during last Estimates, and I just want to get his opinion on this.  On page 1570 he talked about 36 percent of rural admissions, that is the least complex admissions being made to St. Boniface Hospital, as justification for a rejigging of the admission guidelines as well as the requirements at hospitals.  Does the minister have an update on that particular situation with respect to admissions at St. Boniface Hospital?

Mr. Orchard:  Madam Chairperson, I do not know whether rejigging is the appropriate language to use in talking about shifts and changes in the health care system, but nevertheless, my honourable friend, I know what he is attempting to ask here, and maybe rejigging is not the appropriate phraseology, but I think the question itself has merit or the essence of the question has merit.

      Madam Chairperson, that statistic my honourable friend will find about midway through the Health Action Plan, and it is reflective of I believe, pneumonia and pleurisy at our two teaching hospitals‑‑no, that is another set of statistics that are part of the Health Action Plan.  Basically they have the same essence behind them.

      We are‑‑and I will give my honourable friend a little bit of background.  Our health care system as being‑‑the part of our health care system that is, of course, the acute care sector, which is the hospitals, being our major single largest expenditure in the entire $1.8 billion‑plus expenditures.  Our hospital system is by far the largest single line at well over $930 million, I guess it is now.  I have not got the numbers right in front of me.  We will get to that in due course.  It requires some pretty interesting investigation in terms of what services can be provided where, and the issue, if I can be so direct, is to determine in essence what health care service, what support does the individual need, and having established that, where might that service be provided as close to home as possible in as patient friendly a way as possible.

      Now, that answer builds on two important principles.  First of all a utilization of existing capacity within our acute care system, and that is where the admissions of the least complexity out of rural and northern Manitoba to our two teaching hospitals is an important equation.

      In the chart my honourable friend refers to I think it is interesting to note that complexity of care ranges on a used scale.  This is not one we invented.  This is a standard comparison scale.  It goes from one to 100, with 100 being the most complex.  In terms of complexity, I suppose, very long, complex neurosurgery or heart surgeries would be at the upper range, and simple pneumonias and other medical needs would be towards the bottom of the scale of one to 10 possibly.

      It is interesting to note that most of our hospitals, and I think it is fair to say this, most of our acute care hospitals that we fund in Manitoba have the ability to handle the least complex care, the one to 10 patient rating category.

      The observation is made there that if Health Sciences Centre and St. Boniface, as our primary hospitals delivering tertiary level care, pardon me, if they are still having patients access those hospitals from rural and northern Manitoba with very low complexity‑of‑care requirements, should we not investigate why, and should we not make initiatives and efforts to assure that capacity that exists in rural and northern Manitoba is utilized for those care needs?

      So that is the first principle that is being built in there, and I think my honourable friend can see two benefits flowing from that.  First of all, you reduce the inpatient demand at Health Sciences Centre, St. Boniface and other Winnipeg hospitals if you achieve the same thing.  Secondly, you utilize underutilized capacity in most cases in rural and northern Manitoba and you provide the care closer to home for that individual, which is an underpinning goal of every initiative we attempt to undertake.

      Now, there is an overriding benefit which is outside of the patient's benefits or care benefit, the care equation, if you will, and that is that often you can provide those services at considerably less cost to the system.

      The average cost, as my honourable friend well knows, decreased from tertiary down to our rural and northern hospitals, but it is not just an issue of taking the per diem cost and saying, well, if you save 10 days of admission at Health Sciences Centre or St. Boniface, for instance, and those are undertaken at Thompson General Hospital, let us say, that you should be able to take $775 a day, 10 days, and take it out of the Health Sciences Centre budget.

      Well, that is not exactly the way the system is able to organize and manage, but the principle clearly is there that providing those patient services in an underutilized ward in rural or northern Manitoba will add very little incremental cost to that hospital's budget in rural and northern Manitoba.

      Now, how do we achieve the savings on the other side of the equation, on the urban hospital?  It is in removing that inappropriately used bed capacity at Health Sciences Centre, St. Boniface.  That of course is why we, in the first year of the proposal, downsized both of those institutions to the tune of 264 beds.  That was our method of reducing their global budget and reinvesting that money elsewhere in the system.

      The question still remains, can we undertake more of that within our existing hospital configuration?  Clearly, I think yes, we can.  Clearly, I think we can manage care delivery in a better fashion and provide more of those services in underutilized acute care hospitals in rural and northern Manitoba.

      I want to indicate to my honourable friend that in doing so, the budgetary increase in those respective rural and northern hospitals will be very minimal, almost undetectable in some cases, because if you are taking a ward, and let us use figures from a 50 percent occupancy to a 54 percent occupancy by looking after that individual in a rural or northern hospital versus a Winnipeg one, the costs of providing that care are basically a few more meals a day and maybe some medical supplies.  They are not significant in terms of the overall global budget of that institution.  But if you utilize that capacity in a more appropriate fashion, are able to downsize your expensive capacity, the system provides the care and has budgetary integrity, can save incremental costs in the more expensive acute care service delivery areas of Winnipeg and Brandon.  That is the direction we are trying to hit.

      The second area we are trying to determine, and this is very much under active discussion with ideas being shared, I think, on a fairly regular basis.  My first proposal was to provide those services within the existing system.  The second proposal is then to analyze sort of the "what ifs."  What if this level of service was provided ex‑Winnipeg, ex‑Brandon, and rural and northern hospital facilities?  What additional patient needs could you look after with some additional program support or new program support or different budgetary support?

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      That very much is under investigation as we attempt to have our rural facilities collaborate between communities and between service facilities in a given geographic area, so that they can come to us with ideas for rationalization within a number of hospitals and service facilities, and as well, give us some ideas on what service enhancements would be possible with what commitment of either personnel or a resource or budget and where could we find reallocation opportunities within the global budget of $1.8 billion.

      That second phase is the one that is certainly inviting innovative ideas from our rural and northern caregivers and will facilitate further movement beyond the fundamental movement that I indicated in the first part of my answer.

Mr. Chomiak:  Madam Chairperson, we talked briefly previously about nursing education and some matters related to nursing education.  Can the minister advise whether his Council on Nursing Education is still in existence?  If it is, can he provide us with a list of who is on the council and what its mandate is at this point?

Mr. Orchard:  Madam Chairperson, I presume my honourable friend is referring to the nursing council that was chaired by Professor Anderson some time ago.  No, the committee has not had an active role for approximately 15 months now or 18 months.

Mr. Chomiak:  Madam Chairperson, does the minister envision any major changes to nursing education in the next 18 months to two years?

Mr. Orchard:  Yes, Madam Chair.

Mr. Chomiak:  Madam Chairperson, can the minister outline what those changes will be?

Mr. Orchard:  Madam Chair, without wanting to limit the scope of the debate, I think my honourable friend is probably quite familiar with some of the initiatives in terms of the collaborative training program between the University of Manitoba and the Health Sciences Centre in terms of the collaborative baccalaureate program.

      There was even a wider envisioned expansion of the collaborative baccalaureate programs.  Those are under discussion because we have to be very, very cognizant of meeting reasonable training goals for the marketplace.  It would be, I think, imprudent fiscally and not very appropriate to create educational opportunities and capacity for educational opportunities without having some larger sense as to the career opportunities that would be available post completion of those educational opportunities.  The baccalaureate discussions are ongoing and have been for several years with some movement but not certainly a complete understanding of direction to take us into the year 2000 yet established.

      There is certainly a lot of discussions around the educational and professional future with the licensed practical nursing education program.  As I indicated to my honourable friend, I think, Thursday last, there is a June 28 report coming out that has been independently commissioned by the Manitoba Association of Licensed Practical Nurses, and I think that may well assist us in crafting a plan for the future there.

      My honourable friend would be, I think, quite familiar with initiatives ongoing.  My honourable friend was not here, but I think it was three years ago that we consolidated the schools of psychiatric nursing that were operating at Selkirk and Brandon to a single school in Brandon and at the same time undertook a fairly sophisticated investigation as to the opportunities in terms of registered psychiatric nursing and their role in a changing and reforming mental health system with greater emphasis on noninstitutional and community‑based care.  That investigation is ongoing as we speak in terms of a study funded with support of funding from the Health Services Development Fund to the Registered Psychiatric Nurses' Association of Manitoba, and they are looking at the educational opportunities and the preparation requirements for psychiatric nurses in Manitoba.

      When my honourable friend asks, is there going to be changes over the next couple of years, yes, I would suspect there will be changes that reflect all three areas that I have just discussed with my honourable friend.  Those will prevent‑‑I think that, as we see better information in terms of employer survey as to what they think the need for a professionally trained nursing staff is five years down the road, we will be able to better focus on the educational requirements as well as have a better sense, hopefully, of the capacity we have to build into our education system to meet best projections as to what future need is.

      Very much those are under discussion and, hopefully, over the course of this calendar year, this fiscal year, we will see some maturing conclusions as to where government ought to head in a number of areas where they have been under significant discussion without a solution that would be advanced at this stage of the game.

Mr. Chomiak:  Does the minister have any projections on a five‑ or 10‑year basis as to the requirements for RNs, LPNs, registered psychiatric nurses and aides and the like?

      Does the minister have any projections on a five‑ or 10‑year scale for the requirements for those various job categories?

Mr. Orchard:  Madam Chair, that is the issue that we discussed, I think, Thursday last in terms of the employer survey.  If I recall correctly, we were going to provide, and I do not think we have it today or else it would be with me, provide my honourable friend with a summation of those employers who gave us a five‑year projection.  Our survey was not complete.  I shared those numbers of those facilities reporting with my honourable friend the other day.  The difficulty was that we did not have the five‑year‑out projections from some of our major nursing employers, some of our larger facilities.

      I am not pointing fingers of blame.  This is a very difficult thing for them to come and give a projection on because we are, let us face it, into a changing environment in nursing and acute care service provision right across the length and breadth of Canada.  For someone to sit down today‑‑it has always been an imprecise science to try and predict the skills requirements, and I think my honourable friend would acknowledge that, in that with nursing and with education, to a degree, we have been at peaks and valleys in terms of numbers of graduates.  From time to time, we have had to have crisis recruitment, et cetera, into our training schools.

      We would like to avoid that.  We are trying to focus as much knowledge and experience around the issue as we can, but appreciate, and I think my honourable friend would appreciate this, the institutions themselves, the senior management in our major hospitals will have a somewhat difficult time to give us a projection into the future that even they can be assured is going to be accurate, because that is a fairly difficult projection to make today in a changing environment.  It has always been difficult to make, and that is why we have had sort of peaks and valleys in our training capacity.

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      The one thing that I want to indicate to my honourable friend is that he might recall‑‑I have to search back.  I think this was in 1989‑‑or was this 1990 that we did the advertising campaign in co‑operation and collaboration with MARN, with the Manitoba Association of Registered Nurses?.  It was either the spring of '89 or the spring of '90, but I think it was '89, because all of the discussion at that time was around an impending nursing shortage.  My honourable friend was not in the House, but I know there were questions about difficulty to recruit and retain in northern Manitoba.

      As a result of that, we put a very aggressive, and I have to say to my honourable friend, successful television advertising campaign which focused in on mature students in particular to consider nursing as a second career, if you will.  We had a number of individuals make the decision that they would enroll in nursing.  Subsequent to, and I have to get my years right, the 1991 strike in January, it was 1991, shortly thereafter, we did not have a shortage of nurses.

      I am not saying the two were linked, but I think, clearly, in the build up to the negotiations in 1991, there were maybe some overzealous statements in terms of shortage of nursing professionals in the province, and without a reasonable mechanism to see whether that was right or wrong, we decided professionally with MARN to run this advertising campaign.  Post the 1991 strike, there were virtually no vacancies unfilled anywhere in the province, and within a short period of time, within a two or three‑month period of time.

      I have to tell my honourable friend that one of the more difficult discussions I had was at the Pro Show over at the faculty of medicine, where we had all our institutions from rural and northern Manitoba who choose to attend in really boostering their communities in terms of recruitment for physicians, nurses, pharmacists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and other health professionals to attract them into jobs in their community.  I ran into a young woman who had left a career, and had a young family at home, to upgrade her skills by going into nursing training.  She was graduating within six months and pointed out to me that she considered the advice and the advertising campaign to be inappropriate because she was not facing very buoyant job prospects at the time.

      I had to say, yes, that is right.  Had we had the 20‑20 vision in hindsight, we probably would not have been as aggressive as we were with MARN in terms of that educational recruitment campaign, because it was successful.  It sent the right signal, but unfortunately on maybe the wrong information that the system had at the time.  That is why this is such a tenuous and difficult area to try to put some clarity around, in terms of where we should be creating educational opportunities, what they should be and in what student capacity numbers.

      It is very, very challenging to come up with an approach that five years from now we can look back and say well, yes, we were right on.  Chances are we have not been too successful in the past, and we are trying to get as many of the stakeholders around that discussion so that we have a better sense, not a purely educational sense, not a purely professional sense, not a purely departmental sense, but as much as we can get a system‑wide sense of where we ought to go in that regard of educational opportunities for nursing.

Mr. Chomiak:  Can the minister indicate whether or not the Anderson report was made public?  Was it tabled?

Mr. Orchard:  Madam Chair, I do not know whether it was or not.

Mr. Chomiak:  Part of the mandate, of course, of the Anderson review was to look at just these numbers and the projections and the training requirements, et cetera.  That was part of the mandate of that particular report.  I have not seen that report so I am not at all certain whether it was tabled or not. Clearly, the mandate of the report was to look at just those issues.  I am wondering whether it did or did not, and if the minister perhaps could table at least that portion of the report dealing with the projected roles, requirements and the five‑ and ten‑year projections for nursing services that were called for in the terms of reference of that report.

Mr. Orchard:  Madam Chair, I will attempt to accede to my honourable friend's request, but there were two basic recommendations, as I recall it, and that was for a collaborative program at Health Sciences Centre as well as St. Boniface, and I believe the Health Sciences Centre collaborative program was subsequently initiated.

      My honourable friend might recall that, as they initiated the collaborative baccalaureate program, the Health Sciences Centre decided to not accept students into the diploma registered nursing program for fall of 1992, and that was based on‑‑and again, I have to indicate to my honourable friend that some of the projections that were even contained in the Anderson report in shorter order than one would expect turned out to be not necessarily accurate, given current circumstances, because at the time the collaborative program was decided to proceed at Health Sciences Centre, as I say, the diploma course entry was curtailed for the fall of '92 because there were at that time clear indications that there was an oversupply of nurses, and that was the circumstance that I alluded to in my preceding answer.

      We went from a circumstance in possibly spring of 1990, when I reflect on it now, with an advertising campaign to encourage students into nursing, to one year later having virtually no vacancies anywhere in the province and a lot of new graduating nurses looking for employment and able at best to probably secure part‑time work, part‑time and casual shifts in order to get their foot in the door of nursing recruitment to some of our major institutions.

Mr. Chomiak:  Madam Chairperson, I wonder if the minister could outline for us what the status is of the central purchases review as well as the study of the reported central kitchen facilities that were being proposed by the urban hospitals.

Mr. Orchard:  Yes.

Mr. Chomiak:  I wonder if the minister might outline what the status is for members of the committee of both of those particular reviews.

Mr. Orchard:  Madam Chair, I will attempt to have staff put together a current status report.  They do not have that at their disposal.

Mr. Chomiak:  I did not quite catch the minister.  I assume he is going to table the status or he is going to provide us with a verbal update as to the status?

Mr. Orchard:  Yes, I will make that attempt.

Mr. Chomiak:  Madam Chairperson, is the minister indicating he will table the report or is the minister indicating that he will provide us with a verbal update?

Mr. Orchard:  Madam Chair, I do not have the completed report, and I will provide my honourable friend with as much current information as I can receive from the department.

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Mr. Chomiak:  Just returning to the Connie Curran matter for a second‑‑the member for Crescentwood (Ms. Gray) takes me literally‑‑returning to the Connie Curran matter for a few brief moments, at least from my part.

      We spent a fair amount of time on this issue, and I never did receive any kind of assurance from the minister as to how we will be able to calibrate, how we will be able to measure at the end of the day one year from now whether or not the 45 to 65 reported savings have been achieved.  How will we know?  How will we be provided with information in this House that those savings have been achieved?

Mr. Orchard:  They will be part of the budgetary process that both those two institutions will be going through as they always have gone through.

Ms. Avis Gray (Crescentwood):  Madam Chairperson, I will begin and ask a couple of mundane questions, and I hope they have not been asked before as I have been perusing the Hansard.  Just very quickly, if the minister could tell us under Executive Support, Professional/Technical SYs, there are four SYs.  Could the minister indicate who those people are and why there has been an increase of expenditure from '92‑93, '93‑94.  Did you ask that already? (interjection) Sorry.

Mr. Orchard:  Well, that is not a mundane question.  That is a very appropriate one.  It was asked, I forget by whom, but of course it was answered fully and completely.

      It is 1.(b) that my honourable friend is referring to in terms of the Estimates book.  Yes.  Those are support staff in the deputy minister's office, I believe, and mine.  Oh, yes, it was the Professional/Technical.  That line increased year over year because of some reclassifications in the Professional/Technical staff.

Ms. Gray:  Can the minister tell us, the four positions, what the classifications were and what they were reclassified to or what was the nature of the reclassification, and if the minister could also indicate what the names of the classifications are, because I am not necessarily familiar with the abbreviated forms of classifications.

Mr. Orchard:  Our major reclassification there was‑‑this is the area in which we are providing the SY for our senior nursing consultant that we are in the process of recruitment to fill.  We reclassified that position or that SY from an Administrative Officer 1 to a Senior Officer 1.  Then the secretary to the deputy minister, I have nothing further than from an AYD to an Administrative Officer 2, and then one of the secretaries in the deputy's office was reclassified from an Administrative Secretary 3 to the AYD.  One went from an AYD to an AO2, and the other went from an AY3 to an AYD. That is all there was.

      I was incorrect when I said four were reclassified; three were reclassified.

Ms. Gray:  Madam Chair, can the minister tell me, the senior nursing consultant position, is there still a vacancy in that position?  I understand that that position is a new position.  It was announced, it must have been, over a year ago.  Can the minister tell us when the expectation is that someone will fill that position, and is there going to be a bulletin or competition for it?

Mr. Orchard:  Madam Chair, yes, it has taken a significant amount of time to fill this position.  The current SY that we have slotted is a vacant SY.  We have bulletined the position.  I would attempt to provide my honourable friend with the bulletin, not that I am reflecting on the fortunes of my honourable friend's newly led party, but you may be interested.

Ms. Gray:  Madam Chair, can the minister tell us, what qualifications is the minister looking at in this position? Secondly, why will this position report directly to the deputy minister?

Mr. Orchard:  I think the bulletin, if we can provide that maybe this evening, will do as much to explain the job envisionment or the role of senior nursing consultant.  Reporting directly to the deputy minister was a decision we made to assure that there was‑‑how would I put it?‑‑in no other word than that we take this issue seriously in terms of having a reporting structure to the deputy minister.

      We have been challenged, and my honourable friend probably listened to the discussion with the official opposition critic earlier this afternoon.  We have been sent some wrong signals, and we have sent some wrong signals, as a ministry, in terms of nursing, the education requirements, the class size, et cetera, the skills requirement.

      It is an issue that we believe needs a great deal of intellect focused around it, not simply from within ministry, as has been the tendency in the past, but to have stakeholders around the issue.  One of the roles that the senior nursing consultant would undertake is a lead role in that issue.

Ms. Gray:  Madam Chair, can the minister tell us how this position fits into the overall organizational structure of his department?  What is the role of this particular position, and which other positions will this particular position be working very closely with?  How does it fit into the overall structure?

Mr. Orchard:  The senior nursing adviser will be working with the ADM of Healthy Public Policy in terms of initiatives in community health.  She will be working with Long Term Care because nursing professionals are certainly an important component of caregiver in long‑term care, and indeed with the Hospital sector in terms of ongoing relationships with them.  So the individual will have a facilitating role and an information‑gathering role from a number of the separate areas of the ministry.

Ms. Gray:  Madam Chair, if the position is just about to be bulletined, I am assuming there has not been a competition to date, can the minister tell us why it has taken so long or why there has been such a lengthy vacancy in this seemingly crucial position?

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Mr. Orchard:  We were challenged to come up with a job description.  I say this partially in jest‑‑I have said it in jest to some of the professional nursing associations when they have posed the same question:  To have a nursing adviser who would have credibility across the system and would not be viewed as being maybe focused on one area of nursing, you almost have to have someone who started working for the candy stripers, became a nurse's aide, took an LPN course, and then went for diploma nursing and upgraded to baccalaureate and has a master's now, so that no one can say you do not care about my area of nursing.

      I will be very direct, and I have said this to nurses and their professional associations:  Internal politics in nursing are very, very interesting politics, and to come up with a‑‑there is always a missing element in a job description one might put forward.  Some base has not been touched.  It was a difficult initiative to write the job description and to do the appropriate bulletin.

      We had a number of initiatives around nursing that also were paralleled and probably caused some delay, a delay of a couple of months in terms of the recruitment initiative.  The reclassification:  once we got into determining the calibre of individual that we should appropriately attempt to recruit, we find that in today's market that we needed to have a reclassification on the job.  I think my honourable friend understands that from time to time the classification can be a more lengthy process than one would envision.

      So there were a series of reasons for the time lag, but clearly we are on track now and we hope to have interviews, and I think, are we not targeting about within two months to have the process complete?  Is that not what we indicated last week?  Yes.

Ms. Gray:  Madam Chair, in the minister's comments about the difficulties in developing a position description, it sounded like the minister had done some‑‑or that someone had done some draft position descriptions, and perhaps they were circulated to a number of organizations or advisers outside of the department. I may be making an assumption here, but can the minister tell us, who is responsible for developing the position description, and did he test this position description with individuals from MARN or other organizations given that it has taken this long to develop an appropriate one?

Mr. Orchard:  Yes, Madam Chair, and of course, seeking that kind of input did take a little more time as well, but it was not the sole reason for having a lag time here, that the reclassification I think was part of it.  We did do consultation with nursing to see what an appropriate job description, et cetera, ought to be.

Ms. Gray:  Is the minister prepared to table the position description of this particular position for members of the House?

Mr. Orchard:  I indicated to my honourable friend that I would provide her with that information.

Ms. Gray:  I apologize, I did not hear the minister make that comment and I thank him for providing us with a position description.

      Actually, I have a question on Other Expenditures which I do not know if the minister would consider answering even though we are actually still on Salaries.  I noticed in the Estimates under Other Operating, $52 million.  I am wondering if the minister could tell us what types of expenditures come under Other Operating?  It is a question on Other Expenditures, (b)(2).

Mr. Orchard:  This Other Operating covers, for instance, travel and accommodation, meals cost for myself and for the deputy minister when we are on ministerial business.  There is allowance for publication and then there is another category in there and if you want to know what is in the other, I will have to get a greater breakdown of the other under Other Operating expenses.

      But what we are budgeting is a decrease in the other category and we are budgeting a level budget for the hotel/meals for the deputy, myself‑‑and one other individual in the deputy's office from time to time would access this line‑‑no.  Okay, that is just the deputy and I then.

Ms. Gray:  Madam Chair, I would move to a few more general questions in the area of the health reform.  I would ask the minister really to get some insight into how he has perceived his health reform process to date, that if the minister had to begin the health reform process tomorrow, what changes would he make to the process; if he had to do it again tomorrow, are there things that he would have done differently?

Mr. Orchard:  We discussed this at fairly significant length in an earlier day where we dealt with the Estimates, but given circumstances, I think if I could revisit the whole issue I would try to compress four years into three years and maybe commence the process a year ahead of time.  We are already a year ahead of other provinces by and large and some were up to a year and a half ahead, but I think the times would make it‑‑if I could revisit an aspect of it, it would be to try and advance the time schedule by a year if we could so do that.  I have to tell my honourable friend that there will be constant discussions around the issue of health care reform.  It does not matter whether you are in Manitoba or any other province.

      I mean, we want to go into some details.  You know, I have a black book, and all you have to do is, you can go to any province in Canada and you can, and I say this in jest, but it is absolutely accurate.  Here is the headline:  Opposition slams latest health care cuts.  You could change The Leader‑Post, Regina, and put the Winnipeg Free Press up there.  I am not saying that as criticism of the Winnipeg Free Press, but right across Canada this process of change is ongoing in very significant fashion, and I guess the challenge to the dilemma that I face is that there is an absolute impossible environment of ever putting any of the changes that are positive to the system before the public.  I mean, that just does not happen.

      There is not a forum that is usable.  Any of the successes are just accepted:  That is what you did for me yesterday, but what are you going to do for me today, type of thing, and I am not saying that in a critical fashion of the system.

      That is the reality of the health care system.  The changes that are good are implemented with satisfaction, with no impact, et cetera, but even those, you will always find someone who is willing to comment about the process being inadequate, about the process, you know, not including them.

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      I mean, you are unfortunately just going to have to live with some of that criticism, because the one thing that is apparent to me as I visit with colleagues and as I visit with people in the Manitoba health care system who have knowledge of the process in our neighbouring provinces because of their professional organization attachment or their affiliation as a CEO with CEOs in other provinces, our process has more integrity in Manitoba than the other provinces.  I am rather proud of that because that is because there is a substantial understanding, first, and commitment to, secondly, change in Manitoba where some of our key players and stakeholders are very much bought into the need for change and the process that we are trying to embark upon with that change in Manitoba.

      I pointed out, and we got into quite a lengthy debate with the member for Kildonan, I think, on the first or the second day of Estimates, where we got into the pediatric consolidation of the Children's Hospital pediatric consolidation.

      I appreciate that there were a couple of people, individuals who were professionals‑‑one was a physician‑‑making some pretty dire predictions about the change.  Those dire predictions, I say to you, have not materialized.

      The process of change has been relatively smooth, and some of the concerns expressed, I think, were maybe concerns expressed because of a personal practice observation rather than a system‑wide observation.  That is understandable.  I mean that is completely understandable.

      We recognized those, and we listened to those concerns, but we react to them where they have identified flaws in the proposed change.  I have to say that there have not been those kinds of flaws identified.  So we can talk about the process of reform, and it can be criticized that the process has flaws.

      Well, I will not argue with that.  No process of change is going to be a perfect one.  No process of change will be without change itself.  I mean that is what reform is all about.  An agenda direction that you may have established and embarked upon a year ago could be changed quite significantly after a year's experience and refocused.  That is the nature of change and reform.

      But the end goal, as identified in the Health Action Plan and as reinforced in a number of subsequent studies, still has integrity.  No one has said it is the wrong thing to do.

      So what I tried to get with my honourable friend the member for Kildonan, the official opposition, the NDP's Health critic, I said, okay, you can legitimately observe that there may be flaws in the process, but after that let us talk about the policy that is in place.  Let us talk about the program change, and let us talk about whether that has integrity in the health care system. If it does, then sure, let us argue about the process by which we made the change.

      But on the other hand, if you believe the change is inappropriate, then tell me how you would make it different. Tell me how you would reverse that decision.  Let the system know where you are coming from because we have to move beyond a focus on criticism of the process and start talking about what the change is.  If there is fundamental disagreement about what the change is, then let us get that on the table, let us debate that, let us investigate whether counterarguments present a better process.

      Now, the member for Kildonan never said whether he was not in favour of the consolidated in Children's Hospital process.  He would not answer that question.  I am going to paraphrase for my honourable friend the member for Maples (Mr. Cheema).  I think he indicated that change was not a bad change.  I am not putting words in his mouth or anything, but I do not think he found anything from a policy standpoint inappropriate with the change.

       (Mr. Ben Sveinson, Acting Chairperson, in the Chair)

      So process is constantly maturing in terms of our reform, but if I had to change two things, I would try to advance it by a year.  I think in retrospect maybe we could have advanced it by a year if we had done certain things a little bit differently.

      Certainly, if that was possible to table that document a year previous, on May 14 of '91, instead of '92 I would have done it because we would have been well on the way to change in Manitoba.  That would have been very, very good for the integrity of the health care system.

      But in terms of underpinning principles and overall goals and directions, very few of the central themes would be changed.  I think I would have to refer my honourable friend to discussions around this issue that I had with the member for Maples (Mr. Cheema) because organizations, large and small, broad and narrow, still generally support those principles and have continued to support those principles embodied in the agenda for change in The Action Plan.

Ms. Gray:  The question I had asked the minister was:  If he had to begin the health reform process again, what would he do differently?  In his lengthy answer, he did talk about time frame as one.  He would certainly change the time frame, fair enough.

      He also spent quite a bit of time talking about a concern about criticism of the process.  Be that as it may, I am not asking the question to be critical of this minister or this government necessarily.

      I think it is very important that any governments or any departments have an opportunity to analyze processes and what they have done so far so that in fact, when they continue on with reform, they can make changes or modify as they go along.  The minister did indicate that, yes, the process had flaws.

      I would imagine as well that the staff have a number of suggestions as to what could be done differently or what they might have done differently and what then they would do differently as they continue along in the process.

      I would simply ask the minister‑‑and certainly for the record, which I am sure the minister knows, we do support the principles of the health care reform.  There is no question about that, but perhaps the minister could indicate for us what some of the flaws have been so far and what steps he or his department have taken to perhaps correct those flaws as they are continually refining the process as they move along in the health care reform.

Mr. Orchard:  I know my honourable friend was not being critical in posing the question, and I did not intend my answer to be defensive in any fashion.  If it was, I certainly did not intend it as such.

      How has the process been changed?  Sometimes bringing in people with a different focus in terms of the issue has been part of the process of change.  The whole issue of attempting to seek input and decision making is in the process of change.

      We had, as I mentioned earlier on, a retreat some eight, ten weeks ago maybe‑‑April 30th it was‑‑where we brought in, really, the key stakeholders right across the system, about 100, 110 people, along with a lot of our departmental staff that were involved in the health care reform program, and a number of the investigative committees presented their status reports.

      Now, that process of the retreat, it had its advantages; it had disadvantages.  That is being refined because it also has a good forum to get the stakeholders around the issues to come with suggestions around an understanding of complex shifts and decisions that we are going to have to make as a ministry, as a health care delivery system.

      So even the process of the retreat, which was the first that has ever been really held, is being revamped in terms of how we approach it for the next one, because we intend to have follow‑ups.  That was the intention from square 1.  That process will change internally, if we are able to do it.

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      I make this observation because there have been occasions when I have been over to the reform office and to other parts of the ministry where, rather than have a bunch of staff come over to brief me, I go over to the office.  I mean, they are putting in significant hours.  These briefings I have had are always in the evening, and there are always 8, 10, 12, 14 staff in a reform office there, and sometimes these briefings will go on past ten o'clock and that staff is still there.

      If there is one potential flaw in the whole process of reform is we are really getting significant commitment from staff in time and in work effort to bring this around.  If I could, in some fashion, bring on more expertise to focus on the issue, I think that would be helpful.  Of course, we have done it in part, I mean, we have seconded a couple of people to come in from outside the department, from other areas of the department to focus on reform.

      I will give my honourable friend another broad sort of wish list if we could do it.  I will tell you that this is applicable across government as well.  It is not just narrowed to an issue of importance to the ministry.  We have been pretty successful in developing the Health Action Plan by really using players within the ministry, within the system in Manitoba, but we have not been shy about accessing experts from outside the province and even in the United States.

      We have had the likes of Dr. Philip Lee from San Francisco. He was adviser to former President Johnson, I think as an assistant secretary of health.  Now he has resumed a pretty key role with the Clinton administration.  We have used his expertise at the Centre for Health Policy and Evaluation board, the same thing with Dr. Jack Wennberg from Dartmouth‑Hitchcock, same thing with Dr. Fraser Mustard, Morris Barer, a number of individuals, Robert Evans, David Naylor, John Crosbie.  These people have all come to the province and brought expertise with them.  We find that to be quite effective because it puts a perspective of expertise on issues that enables us to maybe come to some conclusions a little quicker.

      Each and every one of those initiatives is a commitment (a) of time, of staff, but (b) a commitment of resource, because when you bring someone in from Toronto to look at waiting lists or emergency medicine and you pay costs, you pay travel and you pay time, but within our limited resources we have, I think, invested fairly wisely in having experts come in to help our experts create better solutions.  I think that is a good way for government to proceed.

      I guess one of the challenges is to identify who those potential people are and to be able to utilize them.  That is an issue that I am going to try and raise either formally or informally at the Health ministers' meeting this fall, because I think, if we are serious nationally about bringing together good ideas around health care reform, all of us have pockets of expertise in our respective provinces.

      Let me give you an example.  When I say we bring experts into Manitoba, I would venture to say now that, as a province of one million, we probably have our people called upon to make presentations more than any other Ministry of Health in Canada I think right now, maybe not in absolute numbers, but certainly in relative numbers.  I mean, when we are a population of one million, I think we have really had a lot of interest in what we are doing and a lot of credibility attached to the people that are carrying out the change agenda in Manitoba.

      The Centre for Health Policy and Evaluation is the specific example I give my honourable friend.  When I go to ministers' meetings, I will generally have one or two of their newest studies that they have released.  I will take those to our meetings, and they are on the table for a half an hour at best. They are very, very well‑sought‑after documents, because they have such good science and integrity behind them.

      Subsequent to that, we have had a number of provinces‑‑and Alberta has been in, I believe Ontario has been in and two or three other provinces have been in, B.C., to take a look at the structure and the capability of our Centre for Health Policy and Evaluation and I think respectively are creating a similar organization in their province, but we are trying to have them focus on an area of health care where we do not have the expertise so we do not parallel and reinvent the wheel province by province.  I think that is very helpful.  If we could develop a greater sophistication around that nationally so that we had the ability to access and share more of our investigative reports, province by province, I think it would be very helpful in speeding the process change.

      I will be very direct with my honourable friend, because I think my honourable friend has not been around for more years than my other honourable friend from the New Democrats who would understand the politics behind it.  I mean, there are some initiatives and investigations each province is undertaking that they are reluctant to share with another government, because they never know for sure whether it will end up on the floor of their respective Legislature taken out of context a week later.  I mean I am as sensitive to that.  I have been around long enough to be sensitive to that as well.

An Honourable Member:  You have been here longer than both of us put together.

Mr. Orchard:  Yes, well, if you add it up, yes.

      I think Canadians and the nation are wanting us to get beyond that if we can.

      I will just close my brief comment here by saying, I appreciate what my honourable friend has said because the critic for the Liberals has also said that they support and recognize the need for change.  They are not going to be without their criticism of the process, but they recognize the need for change.  That is appreciated.  I tell my honourable friend, that is unique in probably Canada.  It is unique in this Chamber, because the New Democrats do not support the process and they are trying to derail it at every opportunity.

      Yet, in provinces that are governed by New Democrats they are not taking the same kind of process.  It is that kind of narrowness in approach that can founder the health care system and makes ministers of different political stripes, Liberal in New Brunswick or Conservative in Alberta or New Democrat in British Columbia, unwilling to really roll up their sleeves and share some pretty contentious issues and solutions.  It thwarts progressive change across the province.

      I can understand the dynamics behind it because my colleague, for instance, in Ontario no doubt will go to her Legislature and have a Conservative opposition come at her in the same fashion that my honourable friend from Kildonan comes at me for doing exactly the same thing, because that is the nature of the beast, and it makes everybody just a little bit nervous.

      We have achieved I think a remarkable degree of candor and forthrightness at our ministers' meetings, particularly our ex officio ones where we do not have the formal translation, et cetera.  That is where we have really good discussion sessions. I hope that if we could do nothing else we build upon that process, because I think it is healthy.

Ms. Gray:  Mr. Acting Chairperson, I am wondering if the minister could tell us‑‑and he alluded to it in his comments‑‑how the health reform process has impacted on the ongoing service delivery, whether that service delivery would be in the hospitals or in the community.  Could he give us some information as to what the impact has been on the ongoing service delivery?  He did allude to the fact of long hours that staff have spent working, and I certainly do not doubt that.

      I am wondering how his department has been able to manage this new health care reform and been able to manage the health care reform and come up with new ideas and implement health care reform, which I am sure is almost a full‑time job on the part of people who could be involved with that.  What have they put in place to manage that health care reform as well as ensuring that of course the day‑to‑day service delivery, whether it is in the hospital or whether it is in the community, still occurs?

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Mr. Orchard:  Well, let me deal with the hospital side, or the institutional side, first.  Of course, we do not have the direct hands‑on there.  I think it is fair to say that in almost every one of the institutions that in a significant way are undertaking change, their staff are putting in the same kind of additional hours and are putting that extra effort in.

      We are fairly confident that at our hospital level, the various programs have been maintained in terms of level of activity, even though there have been fairly significant budgetary reductions.  The maintenance of the service provision with less budget consumption have been accomplished through some fairly difficult decisions at the hospitals, but they have been in terms of management of resource, not curtailment of service delivery.

      Within the ministry, yes, we have staff who are in some areas wearing distinctly two hats, a very significant commitment at ADM level, for instance, in terms of reform process as well as the day‑to‑day administration of the delivery activities that they may well be responsible for.  Quite frankly, the commitment and level of responsibility goes right down throughout the department.

      Maybe my honourable friend can correct me on this, but I think there is a pretty fair commitment at all levels of staff within the ministry to really move and change with the times. They see quite an interesting time, not a time without its concerns, but nevertheless I think they have been making, doing the extra effort to assure that if they have to wear two hats, reform as well as regular administrative and program duties, that they are doing that and giving us the assurance that they are maintaining a commitment to quality service.

Ms. Gray:  Can the minister tell us specifically, are there any changes in procedures or changes in the way the department does business?  I do not mean necessarily in regard to changes in criteria for delivery of service, but any administrative changes or anything that is done differently in the ministry to assist with not only the ongoing delivery of the service, but this management of the health care reform, for instance any differences in regulations or how staffing submissions are processed in the department as opposed to in other departments.

Mr. Orchard:  There have been some administrative changes.  I think the most prominent one, of course, is the establishment of the reform office under the secondment of Bernard Blais as ADM, but in terms of some of the process, I am reminded that the Associate Deputy Minister and the Assistant Deputy Minister of Finance had left at their level of responsibility certain sign‑off procedures that were formerly done only by the deputy minister, so there has been a vesting down in terms of decision‑making authority, if that is the kind of issue my honourable friend is getting at.

Ms. Gray:  Can the minister tell us, is there a staffing freeze on right now in the department?  I ask that question because I do not know.  Is there any kind of staffing freeze, or what is the process for filling positions currently?

Mr. Orchard:  Yes, there is a staffing freeze on, but it has exceptions to it in terms of key delivery areas.  Public health nursing, Continuing Care are two of the program areas where the recruitment process is‑‑it is not immediate.  This does not happen in our recruiting process, but that is another issue. There is an ability to recruit quickly, but we have to provide justification for the nondirect caregiving areas, as all departments do, in terms of recruitment into a support area position or even a director level position to assure that we have to have this non‑service‑delivery area vacancy filled to maintain the ongoing programming of the department.

      I guess that is‑‑what?  Is that the fifth year that freeze is in place or the fourth year?  It has been on for quite a while. We have tried to work a process through Treasury Board where we have some greater flexibility in two areas, mental health reform being one of them, because there are some broad goals to be accomplished there that we have some greater flexibility in terms of program movement, where we are moving from institution, establishing community.  It is unusual for government to double fund something; my honourable friend is aware of that.  So the advance of the community‑based service prior to the downsizing of the institution, we have some greater flexibility there.

      In general, we must comply with requirements around staffing and justification of filling vacancies similar to every other department.

Ms. Gray:  Mr. Acting Chairperson, I am sorry I did not quite hear part of the minister's answer, but did he indicate that Administrative Support positions, i.e., clerical, who would be supporting public health, and home care, mental health, are they part of the exemption?

Mr. Orchard:  Mr. Acting Chairman, in part.  There is not a blanket.  If they are essential to a program delivery area, they have an exemption, but if they are not‑‑there is a series of services that are considered essential, and recruitment into those areas is not under the same kind of constraint and, I might add, potential delay, that the nonessential service delivery areas of the ministry are in terms of authority to recruit being sought and given.

Ms. Gray:  Can the minister tell us, would not all of the Administrative Support positions in regional services that support mental health home care sitter be considered essential? Because, of course, if those positions are not filled, then those deliverers of services, i.e., public health nurses, et cetera, cannot do their job.

Mr. Orchard:  Well, in part, but I cannot give my honourable friend a blanket yes or a blanket no, because there is flexibility within the management of those regional offices to share staff, and they have to do that just during a normal vacancy even if it is a protected position.  You do not instantly fill a position the day the incumbent leaves the job.

      I cannot give my honourable friend any more specifics in terms of how it works.  If my honourable friend had some specific questions I would seek and tell her whether yes, no or maybe.

Ms. Gray:  Mr. Acting Chairperson, I do not have specific questions or a specific position that I am referring to.  These are general questions, but perhaps the minister could assist me in understanding his answer by explaining what he means by "in part."

Mr. Orchard:  Well, that is where I get into my honourable friend's question.  I cannot tell you which part until I know what part you want to ask about, and then I can give you whether it is in part yes or in part no.

Ms. Gray:  Well, perhaps if I take a couple of examples of SYs then, can the minister tell us, for those in Administrative Support positions that directly support home care case co‑ordinators, directly support public health nurses, directly support mental health workers, are those SYs, if I can use the term, "fast‑tracked"?  Are they given the same type of priority for filling as would a home care case co‑ordinator or a public health nurse position be given?

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Mr. Orchard:  Mr. Acting Chairperson, I will attempt to provide that information this evening.

Ms. Gray:  Can the minister tell us‑‑he has indicated the management of health care reform and his ministry attempting to do that along with the ongoing delivery of service.  Can he tell us if there was or if there is an analysis that his department has done in regard to the workweek reduction and what the impact of that workweek reduction will be on delivery of service within his department?

Mr. Orchard:  In terms of the service delivery, we are not expecting the service delivery to be diminished.  All of the proposals to manage the reduced workweek in the service delivery areas are very sensitive to maintenance of the service delivery levels.

      In terms of the nondirect service delivery, yes, there will be‑‑my department is no exception, myself included.  We are taking the 10 days off without pay.  It is, one could say, inappropriate that these people who are working diligently‑‑and I recognize that and acknowledge that‑‑do not think much of a reward of 10 days off without pay, and I think that is fair to say.

      But I think also there is a general recognition across the system that that is a much better alternative than coming to all departments and saying, then if you cannot achieve it through 10 days off without pay then achieve it through direct staff reductions.  I think that would be much more compromising of the process of change, because there we would have individuals no longer with the ministry who might have had roles to play in the reform, whereas with the 10 days off, it is just that, 10 days off without pay, but the individual still maintains that role in terms of providing support to reform and any other initiative the ministry undertakes.

Ms. Gray:  Mr. Acting Chairperson, the minister referred in his answer to nondirect positions and gave himself and some of his staff as an example.

      Can the minister tell us which programs being delivered within his department are considered direct service, and in fact, if I can read between the lines, will not be part of the workweek reduction, or are all positions going to be part of that workweek reduction, and if that is the case, what contingency plan is being put in place to ensure that the service is delivered on those Fridays or Mondays when staff are off?

Mr. Orchard:  Well, just that.  In the areas that my honourable friend identified, for example, our contingency plans, our managers have some assurance that they can maintain delivery of service in all areas.  There is always a contingency plan for emergency services and in the other areas of the ministry, the 10 days off will apply.

Ms. Gray:  Can the minister tell us, will his staff, any staff at the directorate levels, are they considered nondirect service and will all of those staff be taking time off during the summer?

      Can the minister also indicate to us, in regard to service delivery of home care, mental health, public health and home economics, are those services considered essential or nonessential?

Mr. Orchard:  Yes, to the first question, and I will have to provide the information to the latter.

Ms. Gray:  Can the minister tell us, and if he is going to provide the information to the latter, I do not know if he is able to answer this question, but if there are some contingency plans that will be put in place, does he have information as to what those contingency plans are in regard to those services that will not be running in full during those particular days off?

Mr. Orchard:  I think my honourable friend would appreciate they are tailor‑made, if that is the word to use, depending on the program area.  There are individuals who will maintain, well, I guess, in essence 24‑hour emergency service on call or be the contact point for 24‑hour emergency service, not dissimilar to weekend, that we have now.  We have some program areas where there is the ability to, on an emergency basis, seek remedy.

Ms. Gray:  Mr. Acting Chairperson, I am not sure if this is a question the minister can answer in terms of where we are at in Estimates under Executive Support, but in regard to these days off, is this considered a layoff for staff, or a leave of absence without pay, or what exactly are these days considered?

Mr. Orchard:  Ten days off without pay is what they are considered.  These are not layoffs, Mr. Acting Chairperson. These are, within the collective agreement, the opportunity to exercise 10 days without pay and reinforced with the legislation that will be part of the session's diligence and work.

Ms. Gray:  I do not necessarily expect the minister to have these details now but perhaps when we get into Human Resources.  I am wondering if the minister will be able to provide us with information as to what the stand‑by pay is for staff on those days off and particularly the differences, should there be any, between the various classifications, i.e., medical officers of Health and field staff.

Mr. Orchard:  We will attempt to put that together.  We may not have that for this evening, though.

Mr. Chomiak:  Mr. Acting Chairperson, can the minister advise me whether or not it is on this line of the appropriation that deals with the Canadian Blood Agency, or is that dealt with under 1.(c)?

Mr. Orchard:  Mr. Acting Chairperson, my Assistant Deputy Minister of Finance is our nominee to the Canadian Blood Agency. The costs of our participation in that agency, as well as through support of purchase of blood products, of course, is in the Hospital line.  So whatever my friend wants to pursue today, I have Mr. Anderson here.

Mr. Chomiak:  Mr. Acting Chairperson, I am just more concerned at some general questions in terms of when the next meeting will take place and what the situation is with respect to the fractionation plant, the issue that I had raised with the minister in Question Period about a month ago.

Mr. Orchard:  The next meeting is in September.  In terms of the fractionation plant, when my honourable friend posed that question, I think, possibly‑‑and I am speculating here‑‑my honourable friend might have read an account where approval had been given, or at least that was the news report that approval was given, to Red Cross to do the joint venture with Miles Laboratories to do the joint venture in blood fractionation. That wire copy report was not accurate.

      There was no approval given at the May meeting of the agency.  The presentation was given, and I think it was the unanimous decision of the agency not to give approval to Red Cross and their two proponents, Red Cross and their partner in the proposal, Miles Laboratories, to move ahead with a fractionation plant.  There was no approval given and the agency that is representing all provinces indicated that they would not be giving approval for fractionation at this time.

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Mr. Chomiak:  Mr. Acting Chairperson, the member for The Maples (Mr. Cheema) discussed at length the issue of compensation for hemophiliacs and the minister responded and I will not duplicate time in this committee by going over that territory again.  The minister said there is another meeting of the Canadian Blood Agency in September.  Is that where the minister is intending to meet with his fellow ministers to make the decision concerning compensation or is it another ministers' or deputy ministers' meeting where that decision is being made?

Mr. Orchard:  The fall ministers' meeting or the annual ministers' meeting is in September of this year and a number of my colleagues wanted to discuss again the issue of compensation for hemophiliacs infected with HIV from the blood supply in the mid‑'80s.  It is at the ministers' meeting that that issue will be discussed again.  It was at the ministers' meeting, I guess, three years ago that the issue was first discussed and subsequently reported to the ministers.  It will be again the ministers' meeting that we will discuss the issue.

Mr. Chomiak:  Has the government of Manitoba taken a specific position or stand with respect to the inquiry that is being urged that the federal government has concurred with with respect to the blood supply and the tainting of the blood supply that had occurred within the last decade?  Can the minister outline for us the Province of Manitoba's position?

(Madam Chairperson in the Chair)

Mr. Orchard:  Madam Chairperson, we have no difficulties with the inquiry that has been acceded to, as I understand it, by the federal minister.  I guess the only observation we would make is that if we can‑‑I think everyone wants not to have a prolonged investigation but rather to attempt to put a report before the federal minister as quickly as possible which might make any number of suggestions including the management of the Canadian blood system.

      I think it is fair to say that recent initiatives, the Canadian Blood Agency being one of them, is an attempt by all provinces to manage the system better.  If there are still improvements, I do not think and I do not have any right or any authority to speak for other ministers across Canada, but I do not think any ministers in Canada would object to an investigation, an inquiry coming up with reasoned recommendations on how to make the system work better, to provide assurance of product quality amongst other things, as well as to assure that the system is affordable over the long term.  We have had no difficulty with the federal government acceding to the inquiry as recommended by the parliamentary committee, and I believe is agreed to by the federal minister.

Madam Chairperson:  1.(b)(1) Salaries $529,000‑‑pass; 1.(b)(2) Other Expenditures $167,100‑‑pass.

      1.(c) Evaluation and Audit Secretariat (1) Salaries $717,300‑‑shall the item pass?

Mr. Chomiak:  The expected results of the program indicated the program evaluation reports.  I am wondering if the minister has or can table for us some of the program evaluation audits or reports that have been carried out in this particular area in the Department of Health recently?

Mr. Orchard:  Madam Chairperson, I can indicate to my honourable friend the areas of activity, but we do not table the audit reports publicly.  They are available to the Provincial Auditor and senior management within the ministry for ongoing decision making, so if I can‑‑I mean, I do not know how useful it would be for me to go through the Activity Identification.  I think that would be an inappropriate consumption of time, however, given the freshness of the day and how anxious we all are to sit here and listen attentively, because we have had very relaxing weekends with lots of sleep, I could do that.

Mr. Chomiak:  I missed the minister's last couple of statements. Somehow it came to me garbled.  I wonder if the minister might repeat it.

Mr. Orchard:  No.

Mr. Chomiak:  I am wondering if the minister can outline for me the list of the last 10 audits carried out by this branch?

Mr. Orchard:  Yes.

Madam Chairperson:  1.(c)(1) Evaluation and Audit Secretariat (1) Salaries $717,300‑‑pass; (c)(2) Other Expenditures $238,200‑‑pass.

      (d) Finance and Administration (1) Salaries.

Ms. Gray:  I have a question on this section.  Can the Minister of Health tell us where the Winnipeg region's space plan is at?

Mr. Orchard:  We will try to get my honourable friend an update, say for eight o'clock tonight, on that issue.

Ms. Gray:  Madam Chairperson, I thank the minister for getting that information for this evening.

      Can the minister tell us, in this particular section Finance and Administration, has there been an amalgamation of the hospital administration all in terms of their financial staff with this section?  I know that there were some committees that were established in relation to looking at hospitals and budgets, but does that have any relationship to this particular section of the department?

Mr. Orchard:  Madam Chairperson, I am advised no, it does not.

Ms. Gray:  Madam Chairperson, can the minister tell us in the Finance and Administration section, does this have any relationship, this particular section‑‑it must have, looking at the number of SYs that are here‑‑with what was formerly MHSC? Has this been an amalgamation?

Mr. Orchard:  Yes, Madam Chairperson, the Finance and Administration is staffed and funded in 21.1(d) and represents the amalgamation between what was formerly Administration and Finance with the Manitoba Health Services Commission, as well as Administration and Finance within the Department of Health and is now the ministry Finance and Administration executive function. Mr. Anderson, who was responsible for Finance and Administration with Manitoba Health Services Commission prior to the legislative change and the incorporation, is now the ADM for the Department of Health as well as the responsibilities for what formerly was the Manitoba Health Services Commission.

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Ms. Gray:  Madam Chairperson, can the minister tell us why library services is under Finance and Administration?

Mr. Orchard:  Would "because" be sufficient?

Ms. Gray:  No.

Mr. Orchard:  I am advised that this is the absolute best place to have the library in the ministry, because it supports Administration and Finance activities throughout the length and breadth of the ministry, and it is just the most appropriate place to have it.

Ms. Gray:  Madam Chairperson, can the minister tell us, under Objectives it says, to provide library services, is that just specific library services to this section?  This is not the entire library services of the Department of Health, is it?

Mr. Orchard:  Madam Chair, I am advised that this is the library support services that are at 880 Portage and is as my honourable friend describes.

Ms. Gray:  Madam Chairperson, can the minister tell us if Finance and Admin has done any analysis or made any suggestions about the ability to be more efficient in the area of space, vehicles, et cetera, if in fact they would not have to go through the Department of Government Services as middle people to get the job done?

Mr. Orchard:  Madam Chair, I think that is the most interesting topic because I am going to share a little discussion that I have had with individuals that we will not mention for fear of further repercussion.  I say that with tongue in cheek.

      Yes, I have.  I have had those discussions, and I have received that kind of advice from senior members of the ministry, the advice being not solely focused on Government Services and the relationship with them, but rather on the Treasury Board approval process that all departments and ministries go through. The simple observation made by this individual, who has substantive years of experience within the ministry in Admin and Finance, was that once the budget is established, give us the ability to manage that budget.  If we do not manage it appropriately, our jobs are on the line, is the bottom line in management.

      Really, I think that is probably one of the flaws in government in terms of our whole process of administrative accountability around the financial projections and the integrity of the budget.  I would have no difficulty in vesting that sort of authority as described and suggested, but we are not quite reform oriented enough internal to government to do that.  I think there may be some legitimate reasons in terms of concerns that the Provincial Auditor might have, et cetera.

      Clearly, I think a goal over the next number of years of government, irrespective of this Ministry of Health, is to maybe streamline our paper flow in terms of budgetary approval.  It is a system that, I think, fairly observed probably needs a rethink in today's environment to streamline the process.  You have always got to have that delicate balance of maintaining as much managerial freedom and vesting of responsibility with the difference in public service compared to private service, because basically the suggestion as made is private sector in terms of its orientation.  I mean you strike a budget for me and if I manage the budget appropriately, fine, I am around next year.  If I do not, then replace me with someone who can manage the budget.

      There are two differences in terms of bringing that management style.  Firstly, it is not quite as easily said as done in terms of replacing an individual in the civil service. My honourable friend is more cognizant of that than most because, I think, you have probably seen the process being protracted or cumbersome.  Secondly, we are not a private sector, we are responsible to the taxpayers of Manitoba for how we expend several billions of dollars across all departments.  So that we will probably never have the responsibility/process that is probably prevalent in the private sector, but that does not say that we maybe cannot improve our process here, to save steps, to save time, to save resource in terms of our administration.

Ms. Gray:  The minister raises an interesting issue in terms of government efficiency and the ability of government to deliver service.  I know that this same issue is being raised with the Minister of Family Services (Mr. Gilleshammer) in the Family Services Estimates and the Minister of Education (Mrs. Vodrey) in the Education Estimates, and certainly from the minister's colleagues in Education and Family Services, and also from the minister here today.

      I certainly hear the fact that, yes, there is a recognition that it is a concern, and, yes, it is something that government should be looking at, and it can happen overnight.  I think I certainly recognize that, and I am sure other members of this Legislature do as well.  But I would ask the minister then, given that there seems to be this concern and a recognition of difficulties and problems in terms of how efficient are we as governments in delivering our services, is this issue on the cabinet agenda?

Mr. Orchard:  Well, Madam Chairperson, first of all, I am not at liberty, as my honourable friend will appreciate, to discuss what is on the cabinet agenda, and so I will not respond to that part of the question.

      But let me indicate to my honourable friend, when my honourable friend indicates and paraphrases my response as recognizing that there are difficulties or there are problems, I am indicating that we are seeking ways in which we can improve process.  No process, whether it is the current one‑‑and it has been streamlined to a degree since we have come in‑‑is without need of a constant investigation and review.

* (1630)

      In terms of internalizing efficiencies within how we operate in government, yes, that is a topic that this ministry and other ministries, and I think it is fair to say the government in general, are attempting to develop the streamlining of processes. I think my honourable friend can appreciate that movement there is fairly slow.

      But let me just give my honourable friend a simple example. In earlier questions in finance and administration, I mean, one of the things we did was, we brought the two areas of the department together, the Department of Health and the Manitoba Health Services Commission.  In doing that consolidation, there were a number of staff reductions because of duplication across the two areas of administration.

      We find that there are other benefits of having that amalgamation of the commission and the department.  In terms of program areas and a better understanding of program goals as ministry goals, as goals beyond the narrowed funding line of hospitals or personal care homes or public health or mental health.  The consolidation of the two, as completed in the last 12, 14 months, I think, has been beneficial in streamlining our process internally.

      I do not think I say this with any fear of being contradicted; I think it has enabled us to move more quickly on the whole health reform issue because there is an understanding across program, administrative and departmental lines of what the larger departmental goals are for the province.  That was only accomplished‑‑well, that is an overstatement saying "only accomplished."  That better opportunity to facilitate change in the reform and action plan was certainly assisted by having a consolidation of commission and ministry.

Ms. Gray:  The minister said he is not about to tell me what is on the cabinet agenda, and I can appreciate that.  Perhaps that was an unfortunate choice of words, but I do recall‑‑I do not have the throne speech in front of me, but I believe this government spoke about, in the throne speech, reform and restructure of government.  I would assume that in fact that is common knowledge across Manitoba, that this is something this government wants to do.

      Can the minister tell us then what process is in place within his government, not necessarily just his department, to look at the restructuring of government and any type of reform?

Mr. Orchard:  Madam Chairperson, I think my honourable friend, if she thinks about it, I have already in part answered that question within the Ministry of Health in terms of some of the initiatives that we have taken.  In terms of attempting to develop‑‑and the main benefit of our consolidation within the Ministry of Health of the commission and the department was the advantage of having the program familiarity shared across program lines so that goals for health are better understood, better focused on, better acceded to.

      Let me move that up a second step.  In terms of our Estimates development process, we have the Human Services envelope, if you will, involving the Ministries of Health, Family Services, Education, Justice and Labour and has been chaired by the Deputy Minister of Labour in trying to establish envelope goals in terms of the Human Services Committee so that we attempt, not always perfectly, I will fully admit, to understand decision making, budget and program wise, across several ministries.

      There are three other envelopes of funding that also deal in a similar fashion with differing areas of the government and the ministries.  From the Healthy Public Policy perspective, certainly the Human Services Committee of Cabinet offers an opportunity for the deputy ministers to expedite discussions around program collaboration between departments.

      I say again, we are not as sophisticated as we can be.  We are not as perfect in the process as we will be, but we are certainly moving very definitively towards a more informed process of change across government working in collaboration with other ministries.

Ms. Gray:  Madam Chairperson, I give the minister credit for being consistent with his other two colleagues the Minister of Education (Mrs. Vodrey) and the Minister of Family Services (Mr. Gilleshammer) because they were about as vague in their response about what the government was actually doing in regard to government restructuring as he is.

      Be that as it may, I know the minister likes to use the example of the amalgamation of Finance and Administration.  With the MHSC and the other part of the department, I am wondering if the minister could tell us, other than reduction of SYs as a result of that amalgamation, what other achievable results or efficiencies have occurred as a result of that amalgamation?

Mr. Orchard:  I think it is fair to say that the Admin and Finance with fewer people, which translates into less commitment of resource, is undertaking their responsibilities at least as effectively as they did before.  I mean that is the achievable.

Ms. Gray:  Is the minister assured that in fact the delivery of those kinds of services in Finance and Administration is being done as efficiently now with the amalgamation as it was before?

      Before the minister gets up to answer this question, I have to say, I am not asking the question because I have this zinger example that is going to prove him wrong.  I want to know if in fact there has been any evaluation of the amalgamation and if in fact we are doing as good a job now with the amalgamation as we were before.

Mr. Orchard:  I was not expecting a zinger or anything because usually I get a little sense of the zingers coming and you try to take the z out of the zingers, but anyway, no, let me answer the question in this context.  There has not been identified to me any difficulties in the amalgamation, and as I say, the Admin and Finance division is operating at least as effectively as it did before with fewer staff, just for example, a single payroll system where two payroll systems were in place before and a single accounting system where there were two accounting systems in place before.

      So I think it clearly has made us more effective with less resource.  In today's environment of government, I think that is what taxpayers from sea to sea are asking governments to attempt to do, because remember, I can say without any equivocation that this consolidation and the subsequent administrative savings has not, and I repeat, not, diminished the service capability and health care delivery to Manitobans.

      It has used less resource, and if I can be so blunt, I mean, these were difficult decisions when we made them two years ago, because some of the people whose jobs were eliminated with the amalgamation were long‑standing employees of the ministry, and it was not an easy decision to have those positions, hence those individuals, no longer with the ministry, particularly if they could not be redeployed.

      But, you know, I cannot put it in more succinct terms other than if we had maintained the old structure, I mean there might have been upwards of $200,000 or $300,000 that we would not be putting into dialysis today or another number of other program areas because we have to seek every efficiency that we can within our administrative structure of government.  Because a dollar wasted in an administrative function in government or direct funded agencies such as hospitals, personal care homes, health centres, a dollar wasted in administrative function or inefficient process within those global budgets or within the ministry is a dollar that is‑‑it follows that is a dollar that is taken away from care giving.

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      So I think all of us who are on the goal that, you know, we want to be as effective as we can in providing those services so that there are as many dollars available for those services as we can glean from government operation.

Ms. Gray:  I am pleased to hear that the minister, and I know he has certainly stated this in the last number of years, believes in the importance of saving every possible dollar and putting those dollars towards service delivery.  I am wondering if the minister, just a technical question, could tell the committee, do the assistant deputy ministers in the Department of Health still spend time approving carry‑over of vacation days for staff throughout the department?  Would you know the answer?

Mr. Orchard:  Madam Chairperson, I am advised that ADMs still do that and make their recommendations as to approval of same to the deputy minister.

Ms. Gray:  Can the minister tell us why assistant deputy ministers, who get paid a good salary to hopefully do policy development and look at the overall direction of government or their particular sections of the department, why they spend time going through individual names of staff to determine whether in fact there should be approval for a vacation carry‑over?

Mr. Orchard:  Well, I really cannot.

Ms. Gray:  I bring this question up, and I am sure the minister cannot.  Is he prepared to look at this?  It is to me just one example of many procedures that are in place now within government, and I am not being critical necessarily of this government, I am talking about governments in general.  These are probably systems that have been ongoing for the last 10 years when the other government was in power.

      But to me to have an assistant deputy minister not just in Health, in other departments as well, spend their time going through the names of staff and deciding which staff should have approval for vacation carry‑over is absolutely a ridiculous, ludicrous, waste of time on their part.

      In fact some of them do not just look at it and rubber‑stamp it.  They send it back three and four times to the regions so that the regions have to take their staff time to send back ridiculous justifications as to why these staff should carry over their vacation when in fact, providing the manager is following the collective agreement and the employing authority can ensure that, in fact, the service will be delivered and will be maintained should those staff carry over their vacation, why does not the assistant deputy minister really care or why should an assistant deputy minister really care?

      I am just wondering if some of these procedures‑‑and that is only one I give as an example‑‑at some point could be looked at because I think if there were some efficiencies in this area, maybe in the overall scheme of things in terms of how government saves money, it may not be a lot of dollars, but it certainly might increase staff productivity at a regional level and at least increase staff morale.

Mr. Orchard:  Madam Chairperson, I thank my honourable friend for that suggestion.  I do not have an answer, but I certainly accept what my honourable friend is saying.  I will advance her comments to my deputy to seek an answer for that, because it has application, as my honourable friend says, not only to the Ministry of Health, but to every department.

      I may be very blunt with my honourable friend.  I appreciate the suggestion, because my honourable friend might recall when we were in‑‑I do not know how we got to it, but I think it was in one of our committees.  It ended up that the issue was untendered contracts.  We ended up with a reporting structure where, and I forget what legislation we were bringing in, but at committee stage when we were a minority government and my honourable friend was part of that official opposition in those days, brought in an amendment that required reporting of contracts, under $5,000, was it?  There was a figure like that, at any rate.

      The way the doggone regulation got written is that there has to be a report every two weeks.  I go through my sign book and there are all these reports which say nil, untendered contracts. Every time I would send them back and say, why do we not just develop a system where it says here is an untendered contract and send it in, because that is all you want to know.  You do not want to know if there is none, but yet we set up this crazy process by the committee meeting of reporting biweekly untendered contracts, including a nil report.

An Honourable Member:  Let us change that.

Mr. Orchard:  Well, I know.

      This is where I and the Finance minister have had some discussions about this.  I have to admit‑‑I should not confess these kinds of things because it will impact on solidarity and it will be viewed, and it will probably be front page on the Winnipeg Free Press tomorrow that the Minister of Health and Finance minister in fisticuffs over a process that he refuses to change, but I have made the suggestion to him.  Change the regulation.

      All people want to know is if there is an untendered contract, what is it for, to whom and for how much money.

An Honourable Member:  Speak of the devil.

Mr. Orchard:  Is this not unbelievable?

An Honourable Member:  Do not say anything.

Mr. Orchard:  No, we are going to go right back to square 1. Could I take the time of the committee and go back to square 1? The question was posed here about administrative procedure, and I am informed by my honourable friend the member for Crescentwood that we have a process in government where assistant deputy ministers check through individual staffing's vacation time, and sign it back and it shuffles paper back and forth.

      I give the analogy of how for about two years now I have been sending the Finance minister nasty notes about why we have to sign off untendered contracts nil instead of just changing it to untendered contracts, what they are, to whom, and whatnot, and then we stop killing all these trees and abusing the environment.  I know now that we have this issue on the floor in this committee where we can make decisions that count, that my honourable friend the New Democrat, my honourable friend the Liberal and I will force this change at the earliest opportunity with full co‑operation from our respective caucuses.

Mr. Chomiak:  Madam Chairperson, I concur with the comments of the minister and the member for Crescentwood (Ms. Gray).  Most of these procedures do not go back 10 years.  I dare say they go back to the '50s in terms of a lot of The Financial Administration Act provisions that have been put in and frankly‑‑(interjection) Yes, this particular provision‑‑we are talking about a philosophical matter in general.

      The minister, within this particular area, indicates that there is the processing of 48,000 payment vouchers annually.  Can the minister outline for me what those 48,000 payment vouchers refer to?

Mr. Orchard:  Madam Chairperson, I am informed that is to be able to pay our bills in the ministry.

Mr. Chomiak:  The reason I asked the question was last year it was 50,000 payment vouchers, and I was just curious as to where the 4 percent decrease in bills paid by the department might be?

Mr. Orchard:  This is part of the ongoing efficiencies that this government is able to achieve.

Mr. Chomiak:  The minister cited increased efficiencies in terms of cross and intradepartmental co‑ordination.  It has been something that we have raised on this side of the House consistently for the last several years, and the minister only need talk about the audiology program and what happened in terms of the poor communication between the Department of Health and the Winnipeg School Division and the Department of Education and the lack of contact between those two agencies with respect to that.

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      We only need to discuss the medical rehab program and the pilot project initiated by the nurses from medical rehab to go into Winnipeg School Division No. 1 and provide training to special needs and paraprofessionals.

      I am wondering if the minister might outline specifically, with respect to that particular program, what the status is, because the minister in Question Period indicated we would be receiving a response in several weeks to that program when the program was cut at the end of the last fiscal year.

Mr. Orchard:  Yes, Madam Chairperson.

Mr. Chomiak:  When can we expect an announcement from the minister with respect to the program to train paraprofessionals in the school divisions.  There was a pilot project launched by some nurses on a part‑time basis from the medical rehab.  They did an innovative program, four nurses on a half‑time basis who launched a program that was well received and well accepted. They made a proposal to the government for continuing the program.

      As I understand it, at the time when I questioned the minister in the House on this matter, the minister indicated that the government was going to respond in several weeks.  That was several months ago.  I am wondering if the minister might outline when we might receive a response and what program will be put in place to carry out this service?

Mr. Orchard:  Madam Chairperson, not that I want to correct my honourable friend, but you know my honourable friend said that the solution was training of paraprofessionals.  That may be a component of the recommendations that come to us from the interdepartmental committee that is collaborating along in attempting to work through to a solution.

      Madam Chairperson, I do not want my honourable friend to leave the impression that that is the proffered or the preferred solution by including it in a preamble to his question.  There are discussions that are ongoing within the ministry to try to achieve a resolution to this area of program.

      I simply say to my honourable friend that I will attempt‑‑well, I may not be able to do it for this evening, but I will attempt to give my honourable friend an answer as to the expected timing of a report with, I would suspect, recommendations.  I am being slightly hesitant here because of course this committee is not reporting to me.  My ministry is part of it.  I will attempt to get some further information for my honourable friend's edification.

Madam Chairperson:  Item 1.(d) Finance and Administration (1) Salaries $2,312,400‑‑pass; (2) Other Expenditures $1,634,100‑‑pass.

      1.(e) Human Resources (1) Salaries $958,400.

Mr. Chomiak:  Madam Chairperson, the department identifies 475 permanent and temporary employees recruited to fill vacant positions.  Last year, the Estimates identified approximately 650 or 675.  I assume the decreased number of positions to be filled is a function of the basic downsizing.

      I am wondering if the minister can give me a general outline of the 475 positions, generally, where they see those positions being filled and whether there are any new positions, and I am saying new positions other than those that are being filled by replacement.

      In other words, are there new positions being filled in terms of that component of 475?  What generally is the rough idea of the component parts of the 475 positions?

Mr. Orchard:  Several noes.  The downsizing that my honourable friend alludes to is not what is happening here.

Mr. Chomiak:  Madam Chairperson, last year the department identified 650 positions to be filled.  This year they are identifying 475.  This year the budget is decreased.  Is the minister saying there are more people working for less, or is the minister saying something else?  It is clear that there are going to be fewer positions based on that fact.

Mr. Orchard:  Madam Chairperson, I want my honourable friend to understand that we do not go out recruiting people to fill vacancies if there are no vacancies.  My honourable friend seems to think that we should maintain the level of recruitment at 650 as it was last year, whether there is a need or not.  I am saying to my honourable friend, I do not think my honourable friend really is suggesting that.  I think my honourable friend has maybe not thought his questions through very well in this area.

      My honourable friend alludes to downsizing in the Ministry of Health as causing this problem.  That is not the case.  I think my honourable friend, at least from this ministry's perspective, would have to concede that there are fewer changeover of staff, there are fewer people voluntarily leaving their positions and that job security is an issue.  People are tending to probably stay longer at their job, and as they stay longer at their job, fewer vacancies are traded, hence you need to recruit fewer people to fill those vacancies.

      To answer my honourable friend's question, over the period of years, yes, we have fewer staff working in the Ministry of Health, and this year with the 10 days unpaid leave, they will be working for less money than last year, with the exception of those who qualify for an increment which my honourable friend knows is not affected by the 10 days unpaid leave.

Mr. Chomiak:  Madam Chairperson, so the minister indicated there are fewer people working in the department this year.  He just said it in his statement so I accept that statement, so that certainly implies to me downsizing.  Did he not say that, or is the minister saying he did not say that?

Mr. Orchard:  Madam Chair, about 15 minutes ago in answer to the member for Crescentwood, I indicated that in the amalgamation of Admininstration and Finance, we downsized.  Yes, if my honourable friend goes back to the total SY count over a five‑year period of time, you will find fewer SYs in the Ministry of Health.  It has been downsized.  Government has been downsized.

      Surely my honourable friend is not suggesting that we go out and recruit 650 permanent and temporary people this year because we did it last year.  I mean, you recruit to vacancies, you recruit to need.  If we can anticipate that this year 475 will be the goals of recruitment, permanent and temporary, surely my honourable friend is not suggesting we should have put 650 in because we will go out and recruit people to nonexistent jobs.

      I mean, the economy is changing.  People are staying in their jobs longer, and if they stay in their jobs longer they do not leave and create vacancies that are filled with this process that is identified here.  Yes, the ministry is downsized.  Government is downsized, and we are maintaining the level of service delivery.  As I said to my honourable friend, and I know my honourable friend was listening, that allows us to put resource into dialysis, resource into needs in the health care service provision menu.

      Now, I have to take from my honourable friend's questioning that he would prefer us to spend money on administration and cut it out of direct program and care to people.  That is not what we are doing.

Madam Chairperson:  Order, please.  The hour being 5 p.m., time for private members' hour.  Committee rise.

      Call in the Speaker.

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Mr. Speaker:  The hour being 5 p.m., it is time for Private Members' Business.




Res. 33‑Joint Municipal-Provincial Capital Projects


Mr. Leonard Evans (Brandon East):  Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the member for Burrows (Mr. Martindale), that

      WHEREAS the unemployment rate averaged 9.8 percent during the first nine months of 1992, the highest level of unemployment recorded since the Great Depression; and

      WHEREAS there is no indication of a significant improvement in the unemployment rate forecasted for 1993; and

      WHEREAS this unacceptably high unemployment rate has occurred in spite of substantial reduction of the labour force; and

      WHEREAS the provincial government has failed to take any direct action to fight the recession; and

      WHEREAS there is a serious need for improved municipal infrastructure throughout Manitoba, including water and sewer lines, local roads and sidewalks.

      THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba urge the provincial government to consider the advisability of implementing a provincial‑municipal infrastructure program whereby the province would provide a significant share of the cost of approved municipal works undertaken with the next 18 months.

Motion presented.

Mr. Leonard Evans:  Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak on this particular motion because of my concern of the continual high levels of unemployment in this province and the need for the provincial government in Manitoba to do something about it.

      When we propose, as we do in this resolution, a joint municipal‑provincial capital work scheme, what we are proposing is a classic approach to fighting unemployment, an approach that was used very successfully in the Great Depression of the 1930s both by the United States government under Franklin Delano Roosevelt and also by the federal Government of Canada and indeed by some of the provinces at that time.

      Indeed, many of the important buildings we have in this city, for instance, arose out of the public works projects of the Government of Canada in the 1930s, many important buildings, the auditorium building, which is now the provincial library, Archives building.  I know of major federal buildings in the city.  There are highways around the city as well and throughout the province that were also a result of federal public works projects that were engaged in to create employment and to fight the Depression.

      I note, when I prepared this resolution some time back, that we recorded a very high level of unemployment, and I regret to note, Mr. Speaker, that high level was 9.6 the first nine months.  I see that is what the year ended up with, an average of 9.6 percent for the year 1992.  That is the highest we have had in the past decade, 9.6.

      These are figures I am taking from the Manitoba Labour Market Information Bulletin published by the Department of Education and Training.  Of course, these are actually Statistics Canada numbers that they have put into this bulletin.  So these are official statistics showing the highest level we have had in the past decade, higher than we had in the recession of '83, '84 as well.

      At the present time we are still looking at a very high unemployment rate.  It is still running on a seasonably adjusted basis at 9.6 in May of 1993.  So there is absolutely no question that we have a very unsatisfactory, high level of unemployment that we have to do something about.

      We have over 50,000 people in this province who are seeking jobs, and the sad fact of it is, many of these are young people who have never really had an opportunity to get into the workforce and to become a productive member of society doing what they could do, and that is using their skills, their talents, their energy, their abilities to produce goods and services that we would all benefit by.

      The fact of the matter also is that municipal governments in this province are short of cash to engage in a lot of worthwhile municipal projects that they would like to proceed with.  In fact, that is true of urban municipalities across this country. They have a long, long list, billions and billions of dollars of projects that are worthwhile, that are necessary, that are helpful, that they would like to engage in but they simply do not have the financial wherewithal to do so.

      That is true also of the City of Winnipeg, the City of Brandon and other municipalities in the province of Manitoba who would indeed engage in some very worthwhile projects whether it be local roads, whether it be necessary sewage improvements for environmental reasons, whether it be water systems, whether it be bridges, whether it be particular municipal buildings, whatever.

      These are necessary facilities that these municipalities in Manitoba would like to construct, would like to put in place, but are limited because of their financial situation.

      So we are suggesting this resolution, Mr. Speaker, that the government could be of assistance by bringing forward a program of incentive to municipalities whereby we would, as a provincial government, pay a portion of the capital work.  This would provide an incentive and allow these municipalities to bring forward these needed public works and engage in them at this time, with the thought that this would therefore stimulate the economy, provide work, provide jobs, stimulate the business sector and therefore, hopefully with the ripple effect, with the multiplier effect, provide additional jobs that are badly needed in the economy so that we all benefit thereby.

      This idea, of course, is an old idea.  It is an idea, as I was saying, certainly used effectively in the 1930s but it was also a program that was undertaken, I know, when I was first in government with the Schreyer administration.  I had the privilege of serving in the cabinet at that time, and I know we had a Manitoba Special Municipal Loans Fund that was introduced in 1972, and it ran for various years.  But it made it possible for municipalities to build recreation centres, arenas, bridges and enabled them to pave roads, upgrade senior citizen centres and various other much‑needed municipal infrastructure.

      There are all kinds of ways of scheduling these programs, of designing them.  There is no one specific way that it has to be engaged in, but we had a procedure whereby, if the municipality engaged in these projects during the winter, we would give 100 percent labour forgiveness of the project and 50 percent in the summer and in this way also offset some of the seasonal unemployment that we had suffered, as we do in the province, as well as the cyclical unemployment.

      The fact is, Mr. Speaker, that program assisted municipalities enormously.  This was also engaged in to some extent in the Pawley administration as well.  So this is a true way of getting people to work, to produce goods and services that we need and that we benefit from.

      I notice, Mr. Speaker, that the Province of Ontario has a comprehensive public investment approach.  In fact, they have put out a report entitled Public Investment for Economic Renewal.  It came out in February of 1993, and they have made an excellent case for stepping up public investment in order to bring about economic renewal.

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      If I could refer to parts of this report, they state in the report that the government is seeking to make capital investments as strategic as possible, high‑impact investments that act as catalysts for change.  They do this by changing the fundamental characteristics or performance of infrastructure systems for the purpose of achieving important public policy goals.

      The government of Ontario's goal, as they stated in the document, is for strategic capital investment to promote economic renewal, investments that have a long‑term positive impact on productivity.  For the most part, they involve capital investments that help restructure the economy towards higher value‑added activities and help make the private sector more productive and more efficient.

      Strategic investments can certainly help anticipate changes in the economy and help develop new ways of doing things and open up new economic and social opportunities.  I think that this government should show some imagination and some leadership and assist the municipalities and encourage the municipalities to make these strategic investments.

      It could be in various areas.  It could be in transportation, as I mentioned, roads, bridges.  It could be in environmental infrastructure, especially sewage lines.  It could be in community development, it could include telecommunications and knowledge‑creating facilities.  There is no end of areas where you could make strategic investments.  With the combination of this investment strategy and hopefully the stimulus that this will give to the private sector, we will see more economic growth in this province.

      There has to be a will, Mr. Speaker.  There has to be a determination, a plan, if you will, a plan of action on the part of the government to bring this about, but the Ontario government has made this commitment and is engaged in this massive enhancement of public works, as I said, with the objective of increasing the efficiency of infrastructure systems in order to bring about a higher level of economic growth.

      They point out very clearly that the availability of good quality water and adequate sewage capacity has already emerged as important constraints on the ability of many American municipalities to attract and retain manufacturing investment. They make it very clear that investment in water and sewer facilities will help meet both environmental and economic renewal priorities.

      So, Mr. Speaker, we see the Province of Ontario, therefore, with a comprehensive plan of public investment for economic renewal.  What we are doing through this resolution is appealing to this government to follow suit, to help stimulate the economy to create the necessary jobs but also to improve our infrastructure to enable a greater degree of economic growth.

      So you are achieving two things.  You will be reducing unemployment.  Secondly, you will be stimulating the economy, and thirdly, you will be putting in place an improved infrastructure which should enhance economic development.  Further, I would point out, you would even be relieving, to some extent, the burden on property taxpayers, of course, who finance municipal activities.  To that extent, you will be helping municipal finance.

      Mr. Speaker, I know the usual answer we get from the government is, well, we do not have enough money.  We want to restrain and want to cut back.  I want to take this opportunity to appeal to the Minister of Finance (Mr. Manness) to give consideration to going after the Bank of Canada to have some assistance, because it is in the Bank of Canada Act.  There is enabling resolution or a section of the Bank of Canada Act which allows it to finance provincial debt, if necessary.

An Honourable Member:  Finance provincial debt.

Mr. Leonard Evans:  Yes.  It can buy provincial government‑‑(interjection) and no more printing money than selling your debt to somebody else.  The Bank of Canada has the ability to buy provincial bonds if it so chooses, but the point I am making is that it would enable provinces to engage in capital investment at a lower interest rate burden.

An Honourable Member:  It sounds like the Social Credit.

Mr. Leonard Evans:  Well, Mr. Speaker, it may sound like that to the Minister of Finance (Mr. Manness), but it is much more comprehensive, much more sophisticated than that, and there indeed‑‑(interjection) You know, I find it so remarkable that the Minister of Finance is so negative on this, because this is a solution to help provinces to fight the economic recession, if he would only listen and think about it.

An Honourable Member:  Who pays the interest?

Mr. Leonard Evans:  The interest is paid by whomever buys the bonds.  In this case, it will be the provincial governments who will pay the interest, but it will be at a lower rate than they would get by attempting to sell their bonds on the private market.  Mr. Speaker, that is perfectly legal.  It is constitutional, and it can be done.  It will help to create jobs.  It will create more economic activity, and it will help the business sector.  It will help all of us.  We will all benefit by it.

      Mr. Speaker, there is a lot of information about how the central banks can be activated to stimulate the economy, but that is beyond this particular resolution.  At some point, some other opportunity, I would like to be able to speak on this subject, because that is the solution to the major economic recession that we continually face in this country.  I appreciate it is beyond the ability of any one single province, but if provinces worked together and addressed unemployment and recession and made that a priority, then I suggest we could then see there is some economic growth and we could then begin to bring down the rate of unemployment and put Canadians and put Manitobans who desperately want to work, to work in useful jobs, something that we will all benefit by.

      So, Mr. Speaker, I am suggesting that the Minister of Finance and the government of Manitoba give this serious consideration, help the municipalities, create work, provide necessary infrastructure that will enhance the rate of economic development in this province.  As I said, there are other provinces; particularly, the Province of Ontario has come out with a paper showing this as a framework that could be followed, a public investment for economic renewal.  Let us do it therefore in this resolution.  If the government takes it seriously, let us do it in co‑operation with the municipalities, as we have done so successfully in the past.

      With those few words, I believe my time is up, half a minute, so I only hope and pray that the Minister of Finance (Mr. Manness) and his colleagues take this matter under serious consideration and do something to fight the economic recession that we have in this province.

      Thank you very much.

Mr. Brian Pallister (Portage la Prairie):  Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to rise on this resolution by the member for Brandon East (Mr. Leonard Evans) and I thank him, in part, for his resolution, although I believe some of the WHEREASes are certainly somewhat flawed.

      The reality of what the member speaks is something that I think we all accept in this House.  The need for co‑operation and partnership between levels of government is something we all attest to.  Certainly, in terms of the municipal infrastructure that the member speaks‑‑for example, the Manitoba Water Services Board has been working since 1972 to facilitate improved co‑operation among various levels of government in terms of infrastructure improvements, assisting not only the municipalities in the provision of water supplies and water planning and sewer infrastructure as well, but also working with the individual business people or farmers in assisting them in dealing with water‑related issues as well.

      It should be noted I think, Mr. Speaker, that the Water Services Board also provides grants for projects which may vary in percentage between zero and 60 percent.  These particular project proposals come, for the most part, from those people who will certainly be closest to the project, and its initiation is by them.

      I think when we talk about partnership, it is important to recognize that the local people in rural Manitoba, in this instance, are more than capable of coming forward with suggestions for water and sewer infrastructure that will benefit their areas.  It is a worthwhile role for our Rural Development department certainly to support them in that effort.

      In terms of the commitment by this government to the municipal infrastructure program, the capital programs for the coming year in terms of municipal water and sewer infrastructure are in four categories:  the municipal water and sewer percentage $2 million; water development $0.4 million; drought proofing over half a million dollars; and as well the federal‑provincial PAMWI agreement of $4.4 million in this year's budget alone.

      There is a considerable financial commitment to the partnerships the member for Brandon East (Mr. Leonard Evans) referred to.  I think it is important to recognize that we are in fact accessing federal dollars and working co‑operatively with the leadership of rural Manitoba in the planning and the strategy around these proposals.  I think it is something we certainly look forward to in terms of a good working relationship with the federal government.

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      With the election of a new leader yesterday, the possibilities are enhanced perhaps that we will be able to do that.  It is important.  We need that support, we need that co‑operation in terms of any of the worthwhile projects that are going to come forward, whether it is initiated by our provincial department or by the municipalities.

      In total, including the federal and local contributions, this year alone, Mr. Speaker, we will be putting towards municipal water and sewer infrastructure activities about $22 million, and that is a significant contribution.  The key, of course, is not simply the capital contribution of the project, but it is the employment opportunities that will ensue from these projects. The estimates this year alone are that we will have over 300 man‑years of construction‑‑I hope that is not a sexist term‑‑but person‑years of employment created in Manitoba.

      This does not refer to the related job opportunities that will be created by such projects.  Certainly there will be possibilities for similar gains in the manufacturing sector and the consulting sector, because certainly with the PAMWI projects there is consulting necessary in the preparation of the projects as they are put forward from the local communities.  Certainly, the possibility of increases in offshoot benefits in the local economies where these projects take place is a very real one.

      In terms of rural Manitoba, we all recognize that having a reliable water and sewer system is essential to economic development in the areas of this province that are nonurban areas.  For sustainability of rural economic development, we need to have those types of improvements and projects in place. Certainly, we share this concern, Mr. Speaker, as your riding and mine are both in rural Manitoba, and they are areas that are very dependent on water and sewer infrastructure and the improvements and maintenance of those projects that we have there to encourage further economic development whether it is expansion of existing businesses or the attracting of new ones.

      In terms of rural Manitoba's economic development, some of the projects that are presently taking place at various stages and being undertaken by the Water Board are in Brandon, where they are upgrading their sewage treatment plant; in Virden where they are improving their water supply line.  Cypress River, I believe, in your riding, Mr. Speaker, is making some considerable improvements to its water supply and distribution, as is the city of Selkirk improving its water supply in terms of upgrading it. Warren, as well, is expanding its lagoon.  Each of these areas in rural Manitoba is benefiting by the focused attention that this government is paying to infrastructure improvements in water and sewer.

      Certainly, the one that is of naturally greatest interest to me is Portage la Prairie.  In Portage la Prairie, we are upgrading our sewage treatment plant.  I had the pleasure of attending the announcement the other day, accompanied by officials from our department and by federal partners in this project, as well as our local mayor and councillors.  They are very pleased and very excited, Mr. Speaker, by this initiative. It is something that most of us, I think, need to appreciate.  We appreciate water most when it is in short supply.

      This has been a constraint to Portage la Prairie's development in the past.  We have been unable to pursue economic development in the area which many would feel is our greatest strength, and that is in the area of wet industry, perhaps vegetable processing and so on, because of the fact that our sewer and water capacity was not such that we could handle greater demands on the system.

      With the announcement just recently of the PAMWI signing and commencement of that project which will take approximately three years to complete and which will result in a contribution of approximately $30 million from federal, provincial and local governments, we will see the removal of a constraint that we have had in our community for a number of years, Mr. Speaker.

      It is a very exciting time in Portage la Prairie.  As you are aware, in terms of losing two of our major employers in Portage la Prairie in recent years.  It has been a time of adjustment in our community and one that I believe the people of Portage la Prairie have responded to with great vigour and enthusiasm.

      Portage la Prairie is a community that, like many in rural Manitoba, desires to have an opportunity presented for its young people to stay and to work in that community.  So it is important to recognize that constraints such as the limits on water and sewer infrastructure in our community are ones which inhibit our ability to retain the young people of our community, such as, well, the Pages in the House today, Mr. Speaker.  Certainly their parents and other parents and members of the community would like to see those two young gentlemen stay in our community and work there.  We would like to see them make a future for themselves in our community  The simple fact is that without job opportunities, they will be unable to do that.

      So in terms of economic development, it is precious and it is important to us in Portage la Prairie, as it is in most of the rural communities, to have the opportunity to attract new business and to see existing businesses expand further.

      In Portage la Prairie we have seen a number of initiatives in recent months which bode well for the future of my community. Certainly several projects have been undertaken which I think are very exciting.

      Our Portage Community Centre project is one which I know a number of people in the community are involved with as volunteers, and certainly volunteerism will be key to the success of any rural Manitoba and Winnipeg success as well in terms of the strengths that people can give to projects which they deem to be worthwhile as opposed to the solution that so often seems to be coming forward from members opposite, Mr. Speaker, which is to throw money at problems.

      What volunteers and volunteer involvement depict is a sincere desire to work towards solutions that do not require the involvement of government necessarily.  Now, this is not to say that government should not be a partner in the process, certainly, but the fact of the matter is that worthwhile projects should be generated by the communities that those projects most relate to.

      Certainly that is true in the case of the Portage Community Centre project.  It is an exciting project which I would invite the members of the House to learn more about.  It is something which, I guess, would be similar in some respects to the Core Area Initiative for Winnipeg, the significance that it had to the city of Winnipeg and perhaps continues to have.

      Portage Community Centre will be a signal to other communities in rural Manitoba that there is a strong will to survive and a strong will to excel, and I am very excited by that project and I am very honoured to be a representative for the people who have given so much time to that project and continue to, Mr. Speaker.

      Other initiatives which members of the House are aware of, I believe‑‑Southport Aerospace Centre is an exciting initiative and a very worthwhile project that is way ahead of schedule in terms of its self‑sufficiency.  The project is on track in terms of its occupancy.  It is not quite self‑sustaining, but the goal initially was to see it be self‑sustaining over a five‑year period, and it is generating a considerable amount of its own funds as we speak.

      In terms of other initiatives locally, the chamber of commerce industry committee has been very active.  They employed until recent months a lobbyist to pursue opportunities in terms of business coming through the community.  CalWest Textiles actually was an exciting new announcement for Portage la Prairie, which has created over 50 new jobs in our community, and it was certainly the result of a co‑operative effort within the community in terms of pursuing its interest in Portage la Prairie.  The Chamber was involved in that as was the City of Portage la Prairie's economic development department.  They are to be congratulated.

      Those two that I mentioned are also strong and contributing members to our local round table, Mr. Speaker.  They have been working together to co‑operatively develop a vision for our future community.  The City of Portage la Prairie has put together a plan or a vision statement for the community, and it is bringing in many individuals and groups in the community to participate in and provide feedback to them on that project.

      These are the types of initiatives that are underway in my own community, Mr. Speaker.  I know they are not at all different or unique from many of the initiatives going on in your own constituency.  I know some of my friends in Treherne, for example, are very, very aggressively involved in pursuing economic development projects for their area and with other communities as well in the province.  We now have over 40 community round tables which are working very effectively towards economic goals for those people of those communities.

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      This is indicative of the type of leadership that I think our government and our province will depend upon in the future.  It will be based at the local level, with the government, provincially, being a full partner and contributing to the support of those groups who choose to exercise their rights and their obligations to volunteer and support the communities which they are a part of.

      In terms of highway infrastructure, I will just briefly comment, Mr. Speaker, that this year over $110 million will be put towards infrastructure costs for highways in this province. That is a significant contribution.

      As I said earlier, much of what is being said by the member for Brandon East (Mr. Leonard Evans) in his resolution is very true and very worthwhile I think.

      I would like to move, seconded by the member for Springfield (Mr. Findlay), an amendment to the resolution, if I might,

      THAT Resolution No. 33 be amended by deleting all of the words following the first "WHEREAS" and replacing them with the following:

      reliable water and sewer systems are essential to the economic development and sustainability of rural Manitoba communities; and

      WHEREAS the Manitoba Water Services Board has been assisting municipalities in the provision of water and sewage infrastructure facilities since 1972; and

      WHEREAS the Manitoba Water Services Board, in conjunction with local and federal governments, anticipate an estimated $22 million worth of capital work, representing 300 man‑years of work being completed in 1992‑93; and

      WHEREAS approximately $170 million is spent in Manitoba annually each year on roads, streets, sidewalks and maintenance.

      THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba continue to support the government's actions and programs for municipal infrastructure.

      Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Motion presented.

Mr. Speaker:  The honourable member's amendment is in order.

Mr. Paul Edwards (Leader of the Second Opposition):  Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise today and speak to this resolution put forward by the member for Brandon East (Mr. Leonard Evans).

      It is an important topic to discuss the need to do something as a government to deal with the unemployment problems that our province is currently facing, but it is also important to recognize that there are large national problems.  However, provincially, we seem unable to deal with the consistent unreasonably high levels of unemployment.

      It is interesting to me that we as a society seem to tolerate these levels of unemployment.  Others around the globe do not.  I think that speaks to a fundamental policy decision that governments make as to whether or not it is acceptable that 10 percent or more of the working population do not have work and are nonemployed or underemployed or simply unemployed.  I think our society needs to make a commitment to not accepting unemployment as a consistent part of our economic agenda for the future.

      I want to speak to the first WHEREAS.  It speaks about the unemployment rate averaging 9.8 percent.  I believe it is probably even higher than that in current months if you factor in some of the newer figures.  Secondly, there is no indication of significant improvement in the unemployment rate forecasted for 1993 and that that unemployment rate is unacceptable.  I certainly agree with that.  It is important to recognize, as the resolution points out, that is despite the net loss of people from this province.

      Now the minister speaks with pride that, well, the number of people who are leaving is going down.  I think it was 9,000 two years ago, and I think it is down to 5,000 or 6,000 for last year.  So that is a big improvement.

      That is still a net outmigration from this province, and that is despite, I believe in 1992, approximately 9,000 people moving into the province.  So I believe it in fact is closer to 14,000 people that have left the province and that is offset by 9,000 coming in through immigration programs.

      The problem with those who were moving in through immigration programs into the province is that‑‑and the problem for rural Manitoba‑‑by and large, those immigrants move to the city of Winnipeg, and a very large proportion of the people who are leaving the province are coming from the rural parts of the province.  So the rural depopulation unfortunately continues.

      So I want to build that into my comments about this resolution, because I think it is important to recognize that in terms of the loss of population in the province, really, we are all suffering in the province, but the rural areas are suffering most.

      There is a depopulation which continues to occur which will continue to threaten the infrastructure in rural Manitoba and the communities that are there.

      I venture to say that in years to come even more of those communities, if the current trends continue, will simply disappear.  Mr. Speaker, with them will go a way of life and a unique society within our provincial community that I think we need to try to salvage, and we need to try to find ways to have economic growth occur in the province and in particular in the rural areas.

      So I have put forward a number of proposals, the Liberal Party has put forward a number of proposals that we think are important to get investment by Manitobans in Manitoba business. That is the key to our future, I believe, Mr. Speaker.  I believe that we will not save the province, as the current government seems to believe, by hitching our cart to a paper deal with a company from Montreal which fell flat.  We will not save the economic future of this province by tying ourselves to a megaproject with the Province of Ontario, which the current government did, and that also fell flat.

      If those projects come along and they are profitable and they are in the best interests of the province, that is good.  Mr. Speaker, they cannot be the sole economic growth agenda of the government.  You cannot tie our futures to people who live outside this province and count on them endlessly to save us with these megaprojects.  It is no way to live, and it is no way to go forward as a province and meet the challenges of the 21st Century.

      We have to solve our own problems if we are going to do it for the long term, and by that I mean for future generations. The way to do that, I believe, Mr. Speaker, is to tap private investment in this province, Manitobans who invest millions and millions and millions of dollars every year, many through pension funds like RRSP donations and others, and keep some of that money here.  Manitobans, many of them, invest a lot of money every year.  The disturbing fact is how little of it stays within our borders.

      Down the road here at Portage Avenue, Investors Group, one of the biggest investment houses in the country, controls $18 billion in private investment.  The whole budget for this province for a year is $5.5 billion and they are controlling $18 billion, not in government funds, in private money.  How much of it stays here?  All Manitobans controlling those funds, how much stays here?  A fraction, Mr. Speaker, a pittance compared to what is invested on the Toronto and New York and Tokyo stock exchanges.

      We can hardly blame them.  They are using the vehicles that are there to maximize profit.  We have a role to play as governments in giving incentives to keep those private dollars here, in Manitoba.  That is why I am proposing things like a prairie stock exchange, vehicles for investment, for Manitobans to invest in Manitoba.

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      The Canadian government offers a subsidy for a private investment in a wholly‑owned Canadian company.  There is nothing stopping us from using tax incentives, not direct grants but incentives, to leverage and to facilitate private investment in our economy by our own people.

      Mr. Speaker, I think that is the key to our economic growth for the long term.  I do not think we can tie ourselves to others from outside of our province to save us, as I believe that the current government wanted to do with some of the megaproject investments that they made.

      Mr. Speaker, it is also interesting that this resolution comes forward today when I am led to believe, and I have not seen the figures, but I am told Statistics Canada has produced the economic gross statistics for the 1992 calendar year.  It is my information that Manitoba's was gauged‑‑this is pre‑inflation factored in‑‑at 1.1 percent.

      I think that is what inflation was.  I believe inflation was approximately 1.1 percent.  So in effect when one factors that in, we have not grown at all.  The national growth rate is 1.4 percent.  We are behind again on the economic growth in this province as compared nationally.  It is another indication, Mr. Speaker, that this province is slipping further and further in its role nationally in the national economy and on the national stage.  Every day when we confront the government with these issues, what do we hear?  Well, this organization or this organization is saying it is going to be better, it is going to be great, we are going to get investment in this economy, we are going to grow.  That is what we hear day in day out, week in week out, month in month out, and year in year out.  That is what we hear.  It is going to be great.

      Well, Mr. Speaker, it is not great.  Economic growth is not occurring in this province at a rate needed to sustain our role in the national economy and to retain and maintain our citizens and, in particular, our young people who need to have an economic future in this country if we are going to retain them.

      The fact is that I have some sympathy with the Minister of Finance (Mr. Manness) when he stands up and says, we have no money to make direct investments of a large scale in the economy.  Those days are gone.  I have some sympathy with that position.  You are right, we have no money because the biggest debt in the history of the province was wrung up last year by this minister, by this government.

      When one takes out the $200 million transferred from the slush fund they created, when one factors in the $100 million which the member for Rossmere very kindly pointed out to the House, you have a deficit of $862 million.  That is the 18th year in a row of a deficit, and that is the largest in the history of the province.  So I have no doubt that we are out of money.

      The key to our success in the future is going to be tapping private investment, and by that I mean Manitobans investing in their own communities and in their own province, and they want to do it.  We have a role to play in facilitating that, and that is why the proposals that I have made in this House, even in the last week to the Premier of the province, are geared towards that.

      Mr. Speaker, getting back to this specific resolution, I note that some months ago the federal government and the provincial government announced their joint plan to spend millions of dollars building roads.  I note that, and I am pleased that some of that money is coming to Manitoba.  Although I also note, and I recall at the time, that the Premier, when Mazankowski's budget came down in late 1992, said it was a disgrace that more money was not left in Manitoba.  They are talking about money for the P.E.I. link.  They are talking about money for all kinds of other things, things in Montreal.  I believe at the time, the Premier was correct and all of us were disappointed and somewhat outraged that Manitoba had been given short shrift again.

      I recall some months ago that the joint plan came out in terms of road building.  We were all happy to see those dollars, but as the head of the Construction Association pointed out, Mr. Lorenc pointed out at the time, it was a lot of sleight of hand because what was given through the federal program was taken away in the provincial highway construction budget.

      Well, in fact, and I‑‑and the Minister of Finance (Mr. Manness) says that, apparently he is denying from his seat that that is the case.  I look forward to his speaking on this bill and to clarifying that situation because at the time, his Minister of Highways and Transportation did not have an answer to correct that view at the time and did not put it forward.

      It is true, Mr. Speaker.  I was at that meeting and that comment came up and it was not‑‑perhaps the Minister of Finance can do a better job than his colleague, but the point is that what was given by the federal government was, in large part, not in whole, but in large part, taken back in the cuts in the provincial budget.

      Well, now it is true.  Now the Minister of Finance is saying it is true.  Well, I mean, first it is false, now it is true. Maybe he does not know his own mind on this, but I do look forward‑‑that will not be anything new‑‑but I do look forward to an opportunity for him to put some comments on the record.

      Of course, we would all like the governments of this country to have endless amounts of money to supplement employment.  I believe that we, in Manitoba, are deserving of our share, obviously, of federal funds and that the province should make a commitment to infrastructure because as we all know, they deteriorate, and if we are not keeping up, it simply means if we are going to maintain these standards, we are going to have to spend more money down the road.

      I do, however, think that on the issue of economic growth, we, as a province, have to focus on things that will give us long‑term ability to provide these essential services which are so costly and which we all in this House have agreed at various times are essential.

      We need to find ways to do that for the long term.  I think that the long‑term answer to that is quite simply to take our future into our own hands and to provide means and vehicles and ways for Manitobans to invest in our own communities and our own businesses.  That is the answer in my view to long‑term economic growth and long‑term ability to employ the many people in this province and to not continue to have them leave.

      Thank you, Mr. Speaker.


Committee Change


Mr. Speaker:  Prior to recognizing the honourable Minister of Finance (Mr. Manness), I will recognize the honourable member for Niakwa with his committee change.

Mr. Jack Reimer (Niakwa):  I move, seconded by the member for St. Vital (Mrs. Render), that the composition of the Standing Committee on Municipal Affairs be amended as follows:  the member fpr St. Norbert (Mr. Laurendeau) for the member for Portage la Prairie (Mr. Pallister).

Motion agreed to.

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 Hon. Clayton Manness (Minister of Finance):  It is a pleasure to rise today and address this resolution.  It has, certainly, some import.

      Let me begin by, first of all, publicly congratulating the member for St. James (Mr. Edwards) in his achieving the leadership of his party.  I wish him well, and I actually wish him and his party partial success.


Point of Order


Mr. Doug Martindale (Burrows):  Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I recognize that there was a problem and that you wanted to recognize a member for a committee change and so your eyes were on that side of the House, but in fact the Minister of Finance and I both stood at the same time, and I believe it is the practice of the House to alternate back and forth.

Mr. Speaker:  On the point of order raised, indeed, I had recognized the honourable member for Niakwa (Mr. Reimer), but I believe at the same time, I had said, prior to recognizing the honourable Minister of Finance, I would recognize the honourable member for Niakwa.

      The honourable member seems to make reference to the fact that the practice is, generally, we attempt to try and rotate from one side of the House to the other.  I attempt to do that. In this case, I had just recognized the member on this side of the House, and indeed, I was just going to the other side of the House.

      Therefore, I have recognized the honourable Minister of Finance.

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Mr. Manness:  Mr. Speaker, again, as I say, I would like to congratulate the member for St. James (Mr. Edwards), and I will come back to his comments in brief order, but first of all on this great day heralding the renewal of our federal party, I would like to talk about some of the important issues of the day, and certainly unemployment is one of the very important issues of the day.

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      I will not recite or again go through the list of capital projects, as my colleague for Portage la Prairie (Mr. Pallister) has done so, but I would only ask members opposite to do one thing.  If they want to talk about infrastructure renewal, if they want to talk about commitment to capital, I will ask them to take all the budgets in the land that have been put down and ask them to divide by the number of people in their provinces, and find one budget anywhere where there is a higher per capita commitment towards capital than in the province of Manitoba.

An Honourable Member:  Are you talking about provincial?

Mr. Manness:  Mr. Speaker, I am talking about provincial, because that is what I am responsible for.  We are in a provincial setting and that is what we are debating today.  So I am saying to the members, nobody has to say to this government that the maintenance and indeed the stimulation of infrastructure is important.  It is very important.  So do not let anybody say that this government does not recognize the importance of employing people and indeed the infrastructural renewal.

      You know, I listened to some of the commentary from the member for Brandon East (Mr. Leonard Evans), and I do not know. I think he is aware.

      But in talking to the federal Minister of Finance, he has told me on several occasions that the G‑7 member companies‑‑pardon me, too tired, Mr. Speaker, from a long convention‑‑nations, that they are totally focused on this unemployment question.  It is the most bedeviling, vexing question in the world economy today‑‑unemployment.  This is not a Manitoba phenomenon, this is not certainly a Canadian phenomenon.  This is happening within the western world, within the economic powers as we have known them traditionally, and they are trying to deal with it because they know that if they do not come up with some change, to begin to see the reduction in these numbers, that there are significant problems that will continue to exist.  So it is known.  We know what the problem is.

An Honourable Member:  Japan is not worried.

Mr. Manness:  Japan is worried too.  Japan is now your biggest imperialist nation.  When we go to China what is happening is that Japan is so afraid of losing their dominance in the world economic market, they are now moving their productive capability into the new frontier where the wage rates are $5 a day, so that they can maintain their economic status.  Through that, of course, ultimately in a generation or leaving a portion of a generation, they are going to have the same unemployment problems that we will, not today, but ultimately they will.

      I am telling you the economic powers of the world are trying to come to grips with this because it is a real problem.  It is a real problem because you have this tremendous adoption of technological change.  With it comes, of course, some economic growth, but ultimately the outcome is the reduction in employment.  So I guess the sure solution is to let us wipe out some technology.  Let us take away some of the advancements, and that would help.

      Then I hear the member for Brandon East talk about the Bank of Canada and the fact that legislative authority for the Bank of Canada to lend money to the provinces at a greatly reduced interest rate so that they can, again, stimulate infrastructure renewal.  I will say to the member that finding cheap‑priced money today is not the problem.  I can go to Japan and find money for 3.5 percent.  By the way, I should announce that the Builder Bonds issue in Manitoba, this is not the final number‑‑(interjection)

An Honourable Member:  Eight hundred sixty‑two, you mean.

Mr. Manness:  Mr. Speaker, 862‑‑that is right.  That is how much came in.  No, it did not but well over $250 million for a new issue‑‑(interjection)

An Honourable Member:  It will not even pay your deficit.

Mr. Manness:  Well, you do not pay your deficit.  You see, now that is the intellect of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Doer).  You do not pay your deficit.  So what he is saying is you did not borrow enough money to pay enough money that you needed to borrow for‑‑(interjection)

An Honourable Member:  What was your target?

Mr. Manness:  Mr. Speaker, 6 percent.  So the question is, and I say to the member for Brandon East (Mr. Leonard Evans), how low should we be able to borrow money, at what low interest rate? Yet, I ask him‑‑it is still debt‑‑who is going to be the beneficiary of this interest, and ultimately who is going to create the money because if it is just a slight of hand where the Bank of Canada is going to print money and print money, then we know ultimately what is going to come from that‑‑inflation.  We know it is inflation.

An Honourable Member:  It does not create some money.

Mr. Manness:  Yes, it does, but it does so in keeping with the general economic growth and the population growth, and it is a very fine tuning.  It is very fine tuned, the creation of the M‑1 money supply, and the member knows that because it cannot be allowed just to explode.  It cannot be allowed to do that‑‑(interjection)

An Honourable Member:   . . . and we are underemployed . . . .

Mr. Manness:  Of course, we have a recession and we are underemployed.  Of course, we are, but the member also must acknowledge that we are overtaxed and the only way that you can hope to pay the interest is if you tax more.

      Now I would like to say something to the member for St. James (Mr. Edwards) because he talked about the Free Press article and I know the Leader of the NDP (Mr. Doer) is in the House and, of course, Mr. McNeill came running down and said, hey, did you know that there is this press release about '92 preliminary forecasts as to the growth of the economy?‑‑(interjection)

An Honourable Member:  We did not print that‑‑Stats Canada.

Mr. Manness:  No, Stats Canada by the way put it out a month and a half ago.  It is old news.

      By the way, the index that it is focused on is the one that nobody ever uses, which is on factor cost, not on market prices which we always use.

      We use the market price, so let me again for the record say to the member, the new Leader of the Liberal Party (Mr. Edwards), of course, who has a reporter call him and say, hey, we are on this series, on this index, we are at eighth place.

      Let me give him the fact that the common estimate of the economic growth had the province in 1992 in fifth place tied with Ontario at 1.8 percent net growth, when the national number was 1.9 percent, at market price.

An Honourable Member:  What are you using in your budget?  You must be using factor cost in the budget.

Mr. Manness:  No, I use market price because that is what all the forecasters use.  That is what the forecasters use.

An Honourable Member:  There are two approaches.

Mr. Manness:  That is right.  I know there are two approaches. You are going to use something that I do not use in the budget, that the forecasters do not use, but because a reporter calls you and uses something that nobody uses, you will use it.  Anyway, be that as it may.

      I listened to the member for St. James (Mr. Edwards) talk about tap the pension funds.  Well, that would be nice.  I heard that today in the airport.  Somebody said, you know we should take some money out of our double RSPs, we should allow for that.  Well, where is that money?  Is it sitting on a shelf? That money is working in the economy today.  So you are going to have to withdraw it from the economy to put it back into the economy.  It does not make a lot of sense.

      The member for St. James really blew it when he said, offer incentives.  Again, check the budgets across the land and over the last four years there has not been a government anywhere that has provided the level of incentive to the taxpayers, to the wealth creators, to those that want to try and contribute to wealth creation, provided as has been in the case of the budgets of this province, and the Liberal Party had voted against them every time.

      I do not care whether it is in the mining industry; I do not care if it is on the investment tax credit side; I do not care if it is on profit taxes associated with small businesses; I do not care if it is on the payroll tax offset, Workforce 2000; the Liberals have voted against it consistently.

      Not a government anywhere else in the land has provided the incentives to try and produce wealth and therefore reduce reduction as compared‑‑

Mr. Speaker:  Order, please.  When this matter is again before the House, the honourable Minister of Finance (Mr. Manness) will have four minutes remaining.

      The hour being 6 p.m., I am leaving the Chair with the understanding that the House will reconvene at 8 p.m. in Committee of Supply.