Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The House met at 1:30 p.m.

Mr. Speaker: O Eternal and Almighty God, from Whom all power and wisdom come, we are assembled here before Thee to frame such laws as may tend to the welfare and prosperity of our province. Grant, O merciful God, we pray Thee, that we may desire only that which is in accordance with Thy will, that we may seek it with wisdom and know it with certainty and accomplish it perfectly for the glory and honour of Thy name and for the welfare of all our people. Amen.

      Good afternoon, everyone. Please be seated.


Mr. Speaker: Introduction of bills?


Mr. Speaker: Seeing no bills, we'll move on to petitions

Tabor Home–Construction Delays

Mr. Cameron Friesen (Morden-Winkler): Mr. Speaker, I wish to present the following petition to the Legislative Assembly.

The background to this petition is as follows:

(1) Morden's population has grown nearly 20 per cent in five years.

(2) Twenty-three per cent of Morden's popu­lation is over the age of 65.

(3) The community worked for years to get the provincial government's commitment to build a new personal-care home, and as a result, construction of the new Tabor Home was finally promised in 2010.

(4) The Minister of Health initially indicated that construction of the new Tabor Home would commence in 2013.

(5) The Minister of Health subsequently broke   her promise and delayed construction until spring 2014.

(6) The Minister of Health broke that promise as well, delaying construction again until fall 2014.

(7) In March of 2014, the Minister of Health broke her promise yet again, once more delaying construction of Tabor Home until 2015.

(8) Too many seniors continue to live out their final days and months in facilities far from home and family because of a shortage of personal-care-home beds in the area.

We petition the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba as follows:

To urge the provincial government to stop breaking their promises, stop the delays and keep their commitment to proceed with the construction of Tabor Home in 2014.

And this petition is signed by H. Sawatsky, H.    Penner, M. Boulton and many other fine Manitobans.

Mr. Speaker: In keeping with our rule 132(6), when petitions are read they are deemed to have been received by the House.

Provincial Sales Tax Increase–Effects on Manitoba Economy

Mr. Ralph Eichler (Lakeside): Good afternoon, Mr. Speaker. I wish to present the following petition to the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba.

The background to this petition is as follows:

(1) The Premier of Manitoba is on record of calling the idea of a hike in the PST ridiculous.

      (2) Economists calculate the PST hike has cost the average family $437 more in taxes after only six months.

(3) Seventy-five per cent of small businesses in Manitoba agree the provincial taxes are discouraging them from growing their businesses.

(4) The Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association estimates that 1 per cent increase in the PST will result in a loss to the economy of $42 million and threaten hundreds of jobs in that sector.

(5) Partly due to the PST, overall taxes on new   investment in Manitoba recently stood at 26.3    per    cent whereas the Alberta rate was 16.2 per cent and the Ontario rate was 17.9 per cent, according to the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce.

(6) The Manitoba Chambers of Commerce are concerned that the PST hike will make an already uncompetitive tax framework even more unattractive to job creators in the province.

We petition the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba as follows:

(1) To urge the provincial government to reverse the job-killing PST increase.

(2) To urge provincial government to restore the  right of Manitobans to reject or approve any increases to the PST through a referendum.

This petition is submitted on behalf of K.  Eyford, C. McKay, R. Howe and many other fine Manitobans.

Beausejour District Hospital–Weekend and Holiday Physician Availability

Mr. Wayne Ewasko (Lac du Bonnet): I wish to present the following petition to the Legislative Assembly.

And these are the reasons for this petition:

(1) The Beausejour District Hospital is a 30-bed, acute-care facility that serves the communities of Beausejour and Brokenhead.

(2) The hospital and the primary-care centre have had no doctor available on weekends and holidays for many months, jeopardizing the health and livelihoods of those in the Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority, IERHA, region.

(3) During the 2011 election, the provincial government promised to provide every Manitoban with access to a family doctor by 2015.

(4) This promise is far from being realized, and Manitobans are witnessing many emergency rooms limiting services or closing temporarily, with the majority of these reductions taking place in rural Manitoba.

(5) According to the Health Council of Canada, only 25 per cent of doctors in Manitoba reported that their patients had access to care on evenings and weekends.

We petition the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba as follows:

To urge the provincial government and the Minister of Health to ensure that the Beausejour District Hospital and primary-care centre have a primary-care physician available on weekends and holidays to better provide area residents with this essential service.

      This petition is signed by J. Kalinski, J. Stengel, E. Evanko and many, many more fine Manitobans.

Highway 10 North and 3rd Street North in Swan River–Traffic Signals

Mr. Stuart Briese (Agassiz): I wish to present the following petition to the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba.

      And these are the reasons for this petition:

      Local residents have expressed concerns regarding properties located at the intersection of Highway 10 north and 3rd Street North in Swan River, including the Swan Valley Regional high school, Tim Hortons and the Co-op gas bar quadrisect.

      There are no traffic lights or pedestrian crosswalks at this intersection. Students from the high school run across the highway to access Tim Hortons and the Co-op gas bar. When the daycare centre opens, children will need to cross the highway if they wish to access the wellness centre.

      Highway 10 north is a major haul route for farmers and logging trucks, increasing the potential for a collision involving students and/or motorists.

      This intersection is a dangerous corner for motorists, including school buses making left-hand turns onto the highway from either direction, especially in the hours before and after school and at lunchtime.

      The traffic on this highway and at this intersection will only increase in the near future with the opening of the wellness centre and the daycare facility.

      Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation is only offering to provide a painted-line crosswalk with unlit signage but nothing to actually stop the traffic for pedestrian crossing safety. Motorists often disregard a painted-line crosswalk, creating a false sense of security for pedestrians who use them.

* (13:40)

      On October the 3rd, 2013, Winkler mourned the loss of one of their 16-year-old students killed at a crosswalk consisting only of signage.

      We petition to the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba as follows:

      To request that the–that Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation consider installing a set of traffic lights, including pedestrian lights, at the intersection of Highway 10 north and 3rd Street North in Swan River.

      And this petition is signed by M. Kerestes, J.   Langan, A. Petalik and many, many other fine Manitobans.

Mr. Speaker: Are there any further petitions? Seeing none, committee reports?

Tabling of Reports

Hon. James Allum (Acting Minister charged with the administration of The Crown Corporations Public Review and Accountability Act): I'd like to table the 2013 Annual Report for the Crown Corporations Council.

Mr. Speaker: Any further tabling of reports?

Hon. James Allum (Minister of Education and Advanced Learning): I'd like to table the annual report for 2012-2013 for Student Aid.

Mr. Speaker: Any further tabling of reports? Seeing none, ministerial statements?

Introduction of Guests

Mr. Speaker: Prior to oral questions, I have a number of guests I'd like to introduce.

      Seated in the public gallery today we have with us Gord Sparkes, who is the–in the Manitoba Curling Hall of Fame, who is a guest of the honourable Minister of Housing and Community Development (Mr. Bjornson).

      And also seated in the public gallery we have  from Faith Academy middle school, we have 42  grade 6 students under the direction of Joanna Esselink and Cathy Johnson, and this group is located in the constituency of the honourable Minister of Mineral Resources (Mr. Chomiak).

      And also seated in the public gallery, from Faraday School we have 40 grades 4 and 5 students under the direction of Mr. Paul Vernaus, and this   group is located in the constituency of the honourable Minister of Children and Youth Opportunities (Mr. Chief).

      On behalf of all honourable members, we welcome all of you here this afternoon.

      And also, prior to the start of oral questions, if I can beg the indulgence of the members, this is the last shift for our page Rory Henry before he leaves the Chamber. And Rory graduates from Kelvin High School this year and plans on attending the University of Manitoba next year for either history or political science, and he also wants to pursue a law degree, and Rory's average this year was 85 per cent. Rory participated in soccer and was named the MVP for his team.

      Also joining us here this afternoon we have, not from this year but from last year's group of pages, we have Lauren Hadaller, and Lauren has come to fill in when this year's pages are busy with their exams, and she has completed her first year of university at the University of Ottawa in international development.

      So thank you, Lauren, for also filling in when we need you here. Thank you very much for your help, and we wish you well, Rory, in your future. Thank you to all our pages.

Oral Questions

Mr. Speaker: Now, oral questions.

Infrastructure Spending

Government Record

Mr. Brian Pallister (Leader of the Official Opposition): Well, the government's breaking their promises on tax hikes and numerous other things has made integrity and being able to rely on the word of   NDP government representatives the issue, and certainly never has this been more evident than in the case of the category of infrastructure spending.

      Now, for the kids in the gallery, they should understand that a budget, when a government presents a budget, it's, in a way, it's a promise, isn't   it? It's a promise to spend money in certain ways, and this government hasn't done that. In the past, since this Premier came to power, they've made the promise to spend money on infrastructure and they haven't followed through on it, haven't kept their word. Fact, since they came into power, they've actually, for every $4 they promised to spend on infrastructure, spent less than $3.

      Now, they raised car registration fees, promised to spend that on roads and didn't; raised fuel taxes, promised to spend that on roads and didn't, and then raised the PST, and now they're promising to spend it on roads, and it's natural that Manitobans would doubt whether they'll keep their word.

      Can the Premier confirm that, in respect of his keeping his word or not on infrastructure, that having broken it for the past three years consecutively, he actually is on track to break it again this year?

Hon. Greg Selinger (Premier): Mr. Speaker, the member will note the tabling by the Conference Board of Canada on our infrastructure program. Every dollar that we invest in infrastructure will generate about $1.16 in economic activity, for a total of 58,900 jobs. It will boost the economy by $6.3  billion, boost exports by $5.4 billion, boost retail sales by $1.4 billion, boost housing starts by about 22,100 and boost equipment acquisition by companies in the private sector by about $1.4 billion.

      And the member will also know that we have said if for any reason weather or some unfortunate incident slows down an infrastructure project, that money will be rolled over into the next year's amount and will be carried forward so that there's certainty in the industry.

      Industry has said they think this is the best program in Canada. They think it allows them to mount the equipment and the employees to do the jobs, and it will create good jobs for Manitobans, Mr. Speaker, while building our infrastructure and doing it in such a way that we have a stronger economy going forward.

Mr. Pallister: Well, you know, the heavy construction industry had to decommission a lot of their work on the basis of previous promises the government made and didn't follow through on, so I don't think they're really getting fooled again, Mr. Speaker.

      And Manitobans won't get fooled again either on the issue of this Premier's tendency to overpromise and underdeliver. It's becoming kind of a broken record, Mr. Speaker.

      Promising the 59 overpass for the fourth time doesn't get it built. He promised it many times. He promised it again recently with an entourage of ribbon-cutting MLAs by his side, but did he deliver on his past promises? No, he did not. Will he deliver again in the future? We'll have to wait and see.

      Standing on a dike with the member for Thompson (Mr. Ashton) and promising that they would compensate flood victims and then not following through is another fine example. Did they deliver on their promise, Mr. Speaker? They did not. They failed miserably.

      So despite the PR campaigns that the government chooses to engage in, they don't seem to  be able to follow through, and now ambulance off‑load times have increased by 29 per cent in three years.

      Why can't they keep their promise, Mr. Speaker? Why would Manitobans believe they would keep any promise when they've broken so many over the last number of years?

Mr. Selinger: Mr. Speaker, the members have opposed our budget, which puts forward good infrastructure and good jobs for Manitoba.

      I want to draw the Leader of the Opposition attention to a statement recently put out by the former Bank of Canada governor David Dodge, and what does he say? He's saying–he says we outline a few areas of policy action for governments. An important initiative would be to intensify investment in infrastructure such as ports, roads and transit systems. This would enhance productivity, growth and cost competitiveness in the business sector and open up new markets for Canadian exports. This is   the right time to invest in infrastructure for both  governments and businesses, in view of the prevailing low interest rates.

      That's what he says. That's what we're doing. The members opposite want to put Manitoba into the deep-freeze with cuts and no growth in the economy, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Pallister: Well, holy huff and puff, Mr. Speaker. For four consecutive years, this Premier underinvests in the very thing he now claims is    important to build our economy. What a miserable  failure of a record. Unbelievable, quoting David   Dodge on the importance of infrastructure, something we've advocated in this House consistently for years and years. Alleluia to David Dodge.

      Mr. Speaker, $1.9 billion underinvested in infrastructure in his first four years as Premier, and now, wow, Lazarus, he's come to conversion. It's about infrastructure today. Actually, it isn't at all for him. It's actually about baiting and switching. It's about promising Manitobans he'll invest money in a place he never has and doesn't intend to now.

      Now, the fact of the matter is his whole case and the case of his Cabinet as they went door to door in the last election was that Manitobans came first and they wouldn't raise taxes. Now they're saying jacking up taxes is good for those same Manitobans because thirty-seven, -six or -five MLAs are better qualified to build the economy than the people of Manitoba. We disagree. We continue to disagree. We will continue to disagree. Our faith is in Manitobans.

      Why doesn't this Premier trust Manitobans to build their own economy?

Mr. Selinger: Mr. Speaker, if that question was a road, it'd be one of the longest roads in Manitoba for sure. The only difference is if it was his road, it wouldn't be paved. If it was our road, it would be paved and we'd have good jobs for Manitobans.

* (13:50)

      Mr. Speaker, here's the facts. When the member opposite was in government, they raised the gas tax and they cut the highways budget. That's their record.

      The trendline over the last four years–and we discussed this in Estimates; I provided him with the documentation of it. The trendline over the last four years has been a steady increase in infrastructure investment in Manitoba; record investments in flood  protection–Brandon, Assiniboine valley, Lake Manitoba, Lake St. Martin–we're proceeding with protecting communities from floods; roads all over Manitoba, roads are being improved, No. 10, No. 1  Highway, No. 59 Highway, number–Highway No. 75, the Perimeter.

      All of these investments are moving forward in Manitoba. This will improve trade. This will improve businesses. People will be able to get goods to market.

      We're investing in CentrePort, strategic infra­structure. Rail, roads and railway will be able to have access to that centre as we become an internal port for all of North America.

      We're investing. They want to cut, Mr. Speaker.

Tax Increases

Business Community

Mrs. Heather Stefanson (Tuxedo): Despite the negative business environment created by this tax‑and-spend NDP government, Mr. Speaker, Manitoba businesses have persevered and should be commended for their efforts to grow our economy here in Manitoba. These businesses are doing well, not because of this NDP government policies but in spite of them.

      Imagine how much better our economy could be with a government who respects business, Mr. Speaker, who respects families and who sees that more money in their pockets is the real creator of jobs in our economy, not the NDP government.

      Will the Minister for Jobs and the Economy just admit that her high-tax-and-spend policies are having a negative impact on businesses in this province, Mr. people–Mr. Speaker?

Hon. Theresa Oswald (Minister of Jobs and the Economy): Yes, well, not actually, Mr. Speaker. I   can say to the member opposite that what we believe in on this side of the House is developing partnerships with our businesses and our industries.

      We know that when Price Industries came to us with the opportunity to expand their business here–175 highly skilled jobs–and sought input from us through a MIOP loan and also through investment in  training, we said yes to that. Members opposite called it a photo op but then, a little bit later when they realized the error of their ways, commended Price Industries but didn't really mention that there was a true partnership.

      The Canadian Tire Cloud Nine centre was a partnership on investing in interactive digital media, Mr. Speaker, and on training.

      We believe in our Manitoba businesses, absolutely, which is why we want to be partners with them to grow the Manitoba economy.

Employment Rates

Mrs. Stefanson: And what did Mr. Price say? That Manitoba is a tough place to do business.

      Mr. Speaker, since the NDP government implemented their PST hike, 5,900 fewer people are employed in Manitoba, the highest drop in the employment rate in Canada.

      Even a recent report released by RBC said, and I quote, more disappointing is the deepening declines in employment in the first quarter of this year, end quote.

      Mr. Speaker, will the Minister for Jobs and the Economy just admit that her high-tax-and-spend policies are holding the Manitoba economy back from its true potential?

Ms. Oswald: Well, Mr. Speaker, this question is quite a revelation, coming from the member opposite, who, during Committee of Supply, was in abject denial that an economic downturn ever occurred. People on that side of the House actually, for several weeks, tried to purport that there was no economic downturn.

      Mr. Speaker, we know that there was, and we know that industries in Manitoba worked very hard, often in partnership with government, to stay the course and, indeed, grow their industries. What we also know is that the economic recovery is fragile, and that is why we have to continue to invest, not only in these businesses and partnerships but in training, so that we can have our young people have the skills that they need to engage in these industries.

      It's about investment. It's not, for example, about taking $500 million out of a budget in one year and thinking everything's going to be fine.

Economic Impact

Mrs. Stefanson: Mr. Speaker, we on this side of the House praise local businesses for their hard work and dedication towards building our economy here in Manitoba.

      The NDP government's burdening regulatory initiatives, coupled with their high-tax policies, Mr. Speaker, have made it more and more difficult for these businesses to expand locally. And that's why, in many of the cases, they are choosing to expand in other provinces and even out of country. This is shown through the deepening declines in the employment in the first quarter of this year, as outlined in the RBC report.

      Will the Minister for Jobs and the Economy just admit that her high-tax-and-spend policies are holding the Manitoba economy back from reaching its true potential?

Ms. Oswald: Well, Mr. Speaker, I've said to the   member before: Price Industries expanding, Canadian Tire expanding, MTS expanding, Seasons of Tuxedo–she can ride her bike to the new mall, for heaven's sakes–SkipTheDishes announcing their headquarters.

      What's becoming clear to me, Mr. Speaker, is that, yes, the members opposite will say that they praise businesses in Manitoba, but they'll tax them at 9 per cent. We will bring that small-business tax down to zero. Just like they will say they support antibullying and they'll wear their pink ties, but they'll vote against gay and lesbian kids. Just like they say they support workplace health and safety and go to the Day of Mourning walk and then come right back into the House and vote against workplace health and safety legislation. Shame on them.

Mining Industry

Manitoba Ranking

Mr. Cliff Cullen (Spruce Woods): Mining is a very important industry here in Manitoba and, certainly, we should commend those industries here that are facing many challenges.

      Investment in this sector will go to whichever jurisdiction is most attractive and, Mr. Speaker, the latest survey of mining companies rank Manitoba 26th, and that's down from a high of No. 1 not too long ago.

      This ranking has a direct relationship to government policy, and clearly NDP policies, or lack of NDP policies, is having a negative impact on this industry.

      Why does the NDP continue to ignore this very important sector of Manitoba's economy?

Hon. Dave Chomiak (Minister of Mineral Resources): I think what the member fails to realize,  unfortunately, but that's not unexpected from members opposite, Mr. Speaker, what he fails to realize is that we have opened in the past two years the largest mine in Manitoba history at Snow Lake, the largest mine, employing hundreds of people.

      We've also opened Reed Lake, which also employed 100 people. That's in Manitoba. That's in the North. That's outside of Winnipeg, Mr. Speaker. I know members opposite don't pay a lot of attention to the North. They don't realize that Vale has hired over 100 First Nations people.

      But it is actually–probably some of the highest number of people working in mining and the oil   industry than any other time in Manitoba's history, and we're very proud of those people, those high-end jobs, and we intend with our incentives–that members opposite are opposed to–to have even more jobs in Manitoba.

Policy Direction

Mr. Cullen: Mr. Speaker, the mining companies don't share the minister's enthusiasm, because we've gone from No. 1 to No. 26 under their watch.

      Not only that, Mr. Speaker, but we're losing our share of the exploration dollars as well. Under this government, we've gone from a 5.6 per cent share of the Canadian market down to 2.4 per cent of that.

      Now the RBC report that just came out shows that mining output in Manitoba actually dropped 11 per cent last year. Clearly, the lack of government policy and direction is hampering the industry, Mr. Speaker.

      When will this government take real and proactive action to help this industry out?

Mr. Chomiak: Let me explain something to the member opposite. One of the largest finds in recent Manitoba history was the Lalor find, which had a lot of exploration went into it. That went from a find–a find–of exploration to the largest mine in Manitoba history, Mr. Speaker. That's what's gone up.

      Let me talk–let me table for the member the prospectives from Carlisle gold, Mr. Speaker, which looked at Manitoba, chose Manitoba as a favourable venture, said that 50 per cent of its costs were–50 per cent of its costs was energies and then put a list of all of the costs of energy versus any other jurisdiction in the world. And you know what, in addition to being better than any other province in the country, the only place in the world that has cheaper energy is a place called Kuwait.

Mr. Cullen: Mr. Speaker, lots of talk from the minister but very little action.

      Now, Mr. Speaker, we do have the mineral resources. We're ranked 10th in the world in terms of resources, but our policy puts us down to 26th. We're just not attractive.

      It's the policies and lack of policies of this government is holding the industry back, Mr. Speaker. We've got delays in permitting, we've got a lack of environmental policy, a lack of a consultation process and the highest provincial sales tax of any province in Canada on mining activities. This all results in the 11 per cent downturn in production in Manitoba.

      When will the NDP get their act together?

* (14:00)

Mr. Chomiak: Mr. Speaker, the member's just plain wrong. Members opposite have some gumption talking about the environment; they're so far from the environment that I'm surprised that he can mention it.

      You know, Mr. Speaker, we've doubled the assessment credits for the mining exploration tax this year. We increased the incentive by 30 per cent this year. We were recognized at the Toronto world conference as having the best mining incentives in the world this year in Toronto. So the member ought to look at all of the standards.

      And to talk about environment when they oppose transmission going to the mining industry, to going to the oil industry, they want to stop it in its tracks. You'll stop the Manitoba economy in its tracks if we let you do it, Mr. Speaker.

Manitoba Hydro Rates

Future Increases

Mr. Ralph Eichler (Lakeside): Mr. Speaker, hydro rates increased 8 per cent over the 13-month period ending May the 1st, 2013, taking $90 million out of Manitoba families. Then on May the 1st of this year,  hydro rates were hiked another 2.75 per cent, taking  another $35 million out of the pockets of Manitobans. That's a 10.75 per cent rate increase since April of 2012.

      Can the minister explain why he feels additional $125 million taken out of Manitobans' own rate hikes is better spent at the Cabinet table than the family table?

Hon. Dave Chomiak (Acting Minister responsible for Manitoba Hydro): I know that the only credibility members give to anyone in this province is the Saskatchewan government.

      Let me read from the presentation the Saskatchewan Power Corporation made to their PUB: Provinces that are able to generate most of  their electricity through hydro power have the lowest electricity rates in Canada. Manitoba has the   capability of generating lower cost electricity through the use of extensive hydro generation, and that rates in Manitoba are–quote, for the member for–are heavily subsidized by substantial export earnings.

      That's from Saskatchewan, the province you adore, saying about Manitoba Hydro.

Mr. Eichler: Mr. Speaker, independent observers are concerned about the possibility of 20 cents per kilowatt, which is more than three times the current level, tripling the rates that Manitobans cannot afford.

      Mr. Speaker, this NDP government has already taken an additional $125 million out of the pockets of Manitobans since April of 2012 at a rate of 10.75 per cent.

      Will this minister, will this government commit to no further rate hikes for Manitoba families, who are the real owners of Manitoba Hydro? Will they stop it before they go out of control, Mr. Speaker?

Mr. Chomiak: Mr. Speaker, to the member for Lakeside, I'd like to say, we do that–I would like members opposite to commit to two things: first, that they won't privatize Manitoba Hydro should they unfortunately come to power, and secondly, are they going to repute their standing that they want to have market rates for hydro, which would double hydro rates instantly and would put us on par with Ontario and Saskatchewan and Alberta, who have rates substantially higher than us?

      And will they commit to continue to build Manitoba Hydro so we can keep the rates the lowest? Are they going to freeze it in the dark and not have the access to electricity like they did in the past?

Mr. Eichler: Mr. Speaker, this comes from a government that cannot be trusted. The real owners of Manitoba Hydro are the people of Manitoba. It's time they start listening.

      Individuals, groups and organizations are speaking out. The Consumers' Association of Canada said, and I quote, there is significant evidence to conclude that rate increases at double the rate of inflation are lively to adverse consumers in the wrong way.

      Mr. Speaker, will this government act in the   interest of all concerned Manitoba ratepayers? Will   they commit to not raising those rates on hard‑working Manitobans? They deserve an answer. Will they listen to the consumers, the real owners of Manitoba Hydro, the people of Manitoba?

Mr. Chomiak: Mr. Speaker, it's because we put in place in this Legislature a bill that mandates and independently confirms that we will have the lowest hydro, the lowest insurance and the lowest heating rates in all of Canada. And if he won't listen to us, how can he understand that the people who own SaskPower have a 5 per cent increase and 5 per cent every year for the next three years or the people in  BC, who own BC Hydro, have rates increased by 23 per cent since 2009?

      We have the lowest rates in the country, and if we keep on our plan to build hydro, to create jobs, to develop in the North, we will continue to have the lowest rates in the country. We're a hydro province.

      Alberta's developing its energy. Saskatchewan's renewing its coal and buying hydro from us. Ontario's a mess. Quebec's helling–selling hydro. The Maritimes are growing there. [interjection] It's a mess ever since Harris privatized it, Mr. Speaker. The Tories privatized hydro. That's what Hugh McFadyen put on his website. That's the problem in Ontario.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The honourable minister's time has elapsed.

Lake Manitoba/Lake St. Martin

Operation of Emergency Outlet

Mr. Reg Helwer (Brandon West): Mr. Speaker, past responses from the Minister for Infrastructure and Transportation in this House may have created a false sense of security for farmers, ranchers, property owners and First Nations around Lake Manitoba.

      On May 29th, the minister said about opening the emergency outlet on Lake St. Martin, quote, we've asked for federal approvals, end quote. On June 2nd, the minister said, quote, as of last week we gave notice to the federal government that if we reach flood stage on Lake St. Martin we wish to operate the emergency outlet, and that is prudent management, end quote. Mr. Speaker, today the minister announced, quote, we are going to be asking for expedited approval, end quote.

      Did the minister mislead this House on May  29th and June 2nd, or is that just prudent management?

Hon. Steve Ashton (Minister responsible for Emergency Measures): The member opposite wouldn't know prudent 'floodge' management–or members opposite wouldn't know prudent flood management if they tripped over it, Mr. Speaker. I mind people that their leader supported a member of his caucus blocking the operation of the Portage Diversion and joked–or at least I hope it was a joke–about flooding people in the city of Winnipeg.

      I point out, Mr. Speaker, that we built the outlet in 2011; we built it on an emergency basis. Last year we approached the federal government and we asked that we–that they give consideration for us to be able to operate at certain levels. They said it would have to be done on a case-by-case basis when we have an emergency situation, that is, when we have flooding.

      A number of weeks ago it was clear that we were starting to get close to flood stage. We communicated with the relevant federal officials, and as of today, we have given a formal application to operate the outlet.

      Mr. Speaker, that is prudent flood management.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The honourable minister's time has elapsed.

Mr. Helwer: Mr. Speaker, this NDP government does not learn from past mistakes.

      Lake Manitoba is 813.3 feet to the–due to the government's mismanagement of the Shellmouth Dam and the Portage Diversion, and, in fact, one of the gauges on the lake has not been operating for several days. In addition, they try to give people a   false sense of security by putting misleading statements on the record, and now today the minister said he'd asked for federal approval to open the channel. Obviously, we can't trust anything said by this minister or this government.

      Time and time again, Manitobans have been let  down by this government's mismanagement of our   waterways and lake levels. Unfortunately for residents in western Manitoba in the Interlake, this has been a daily struggle for quite some time.

      Can the minister tell us what he thinks is the truth today?

Mr. Ashton: Well, Mr. Speaker, if the member opposite wants to find out more of what inappropriate flood management is, I'd suggest it's quitting in preparing for a major flood and then going off and quitting to run in the federal election. And, of course, I'm talking about the Leader of the Opposition.

      I'd also probably suggest, Mr. Speaker, he might want to ask the Leader of the Opposition what he did when he was EMO minister, what flood works he constructed, because on this side of the House we built the floodway expansion, we have finished dikes that protect the Red River Valley, we built the emergency outlet.

      And the members opposite can talk all they want, but we have done the prudent thing and we're working with the federal government to get it operating to protect the people around that lake. That's prudent flood management.

Mr. Helwer: The minister told this House that the application for approved use of the emergency channel was already well under way on May 29th and on June 2nd, and when we reached out to the  federal government to see that this was indeed true   last week, they indicated that the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, Transport Canada, Fisheries and Oceans and Aboriginal and Northern Affairs had not been contacted by the minister nor his department. I don't know, what, did the telegram not go through?

      Mr. Speaker, why has this government lied to Manitobans? Why has this minister misled the House?

Mr. Ashton: Well, Mr. Speaker, I don't know what era the member is from, but we don't communicate by telegram in this government.

      Mr. Speaker, a number of weeks ago our senior staff picked up the phone and phoned the relevant departments. By the way, I'm not sure why he would've even bothered phoning Transport Canada; we're not talking about moving cars or trucks, we're about moving water.

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      So we contacted DFO and AANDC. They said we need to get to flood stage before we can operate it. And, Mr. Speaker, we've been working with the federal government.

      So I want to stress again, prudent flood management issue: built the work–we did it in 2011. You work with the federal government to operate it,  not the kind of rhetoric we're seeing from the members opposite.

      And if he wants, I might email him some of the   background information. I don't know about telegram; I don't even think we have telegrams anymore, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker: I thank the honourable member.

      I want to remind all honourable members that we have guests with us in the gallery today and we have folks that are watching through their televisions or perhaps their computers, and we want to make sure that we leave a good impression of our activities here in the Chamber.

      You would almost think that there was a full moon. Oh, wait a minute, I think there is today. Members are–apparently had a chance, I think, ample opportunity here to vent some steam through the process of question period.

      So I'm asking for your co-operation, just keep the level down a little bit so I can both hear the questions and the answers.

      Now, the honourable member for Charleswood.

Non-Emergency ER Services

Elimination of Scheduled Visits

Mrs. Myrna Driedger (Charleswood): Mr. Speaker, hospital ERs are supposed to treat patients in need of emergency care. However, this NDP government is allowing ERs to work as doctors' offices and see patients who are sent there for scheduled appointments for routine care.

      Ten years ago, an emergency task force recommended that scheduled ER visits be stopped as soon as possible, that that is not a good practice for incoming ER patients.

      So I'd like to ask the Minister of Health to tell us   why she continues to allow this abuse and inefficiency 10 years after a recommendation was made to stop the practice of scheduled visits in ERs.

Hon. Erin Selby (Minister of Health): Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the question, but I did want to, actually, refer to some erroneous facts that she put on the record the other day.

      Mr. Speaker, contrary to the fear mongering of opposition, we actually have more nurses working in Winnipeg ERs. This is something she raised the other day, accusing ERs of not having enough staff. But I can tell them is–the member that there are 407 registered nursing positions in our ERs; 359 of those are filled. This is the highest number of RNs we've had working in ERs in our history. In fact, there are 55 more nursing positions in Winnipeg ERs than there were just in 2009.

      So, of course, this member likes to cherry-pick, but cherry-pick all she wants, there are more nurses working in Manitoba ERs than when she was in government.

Mrs. Driedger: Mr. Speaker, despite the rhetoric from this Minister of Health, patients are following through the cracks in our busy ERs. Patients are stuck in waiting rooms for hours and hours on end, and ambulances can't off-load their patients in a timely manner; they're stuck in the parking lots because they can't get into the ERs.

      Yet scheduled visits are still taking up time and space in the ERs, and they are contributing to the  problem. Last year, over 11,000 non-emergency appointments were scheduled for appointments in Winnipeg ERs. That is absolutely mind-boggling, considering that this practice was supposed to end 10 years ago, and the previous minister said she was going to end it.

      So I'd like to ask this Minister of Health: How could this government be so incompetent in their mishandling of this issue?

Ms. Selby: Mr. Speaker, emergency rooms are for emergencies, and that's what we want to see there.

      I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, and I can tell the member that scheduled ER visits make up less than 5 per cent of the visits to the ER, and the WRHA has been working hard to reduce those numbers as well.

      There are some things that still do happen in the   ER. There are things like abnormal lab values, removing staples or sutures, but we've certainly moved a long way of having many procedures that used to be done in the ER moved into different areas, such as having administration of IV antibiotics moved into Lions Place and ACCESS Transcona, as well as making sure that wound recovery is delivered in the community, as well as the Pan Am Clinic doing cast checks.

      We're moving in the right direction. We'll keep working on it.

Mrs. Driedger: Mr. Speaker, this Minister of Health has absolutely no credibility with that answer, and she doesn't know what she's talking about.

      This is a colossal failure of the NDP government. Eleven thousand scheduled visits last year should not have happened. They've had 10 years to fix this and they have failed miserably.

      And, Mr. Speaker, no excuse is good enough from this Minister of Health. No emergency patient should be stuck in waiting rooms for hours and hours waiting to get into an ER, and the ambulances shouldn't be stacked up waiting to off-load patients. This is incompetence at a most colossal level.

      Can the Minister of Health please tell us why her government has dropped the ball so seriously on this issue and puts patients at risk?

Ms. Selby: Well, once again we see this member fear mongering, Mr. Speaker.

      Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, but perhaps she couldn't hear over the noise, that scheduled visits make up less than 5 per cent of total ER visits. There are still some procedures being done there, although we're working to decrease that and move those procedures into other areas in the community. The WRHA has worked hard to see an 18 per cent decrease in those scheduled ER visits and will keep working on it.

      But again this member will continue to scare people, to make them think they can't get good care when they can, Mr. Speaker. And as a front-line physician in the WRHA, who said it best, I think, wrote in the Winnipeg 'fress'–Free Press, that the Tory health clinic demonstrates either a profound ignorance of health-care delivery or a disturbing proclivity for fear mongering.

Low-Income Manitobans

Need for Tax Reform

Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Mr. Speaker, Manitoba's NDP has said they're concerned about those who are poor and those who are on low incomes.

      But the graph I table shows that Manitoba has by far the highest marginal tax rate for individuals with a taxable income of $9,000 in a year. Indeed, in six of 10 provinces these individuals pay no tax at all. Manitoba should be the same.

      Manitoba needs real progressive tax reform to lighten the burden of our province's most vulnerable people. Instead, the Premier (Mr. Selinger) on CJOB today defended the NDP's current regressive tax system, saying that helping those on low incomes was dangerous.

      Why is this NDP government claiming to help those on low incomes while actually doing the opposite?

Hon. Theresa Oswald (Minister of Jobs and the Economy): I thank the member for the question because I believe that a good many members of this House believe very deeply in ensuring that we find multiple ways to send people out of poverty and into sustainable employment and, indeed, into acquiring a good income.

      Indeed, I think it's important to always be reviewing tax regimes and so forth to ensure that those with lowest incomes are in fact in the most beneficial position. But, Mr. Speaker, I would also say that ensuring that other benefits, like Rent Assist that we put forward in this year's budget, ensuring that there's access to affordable high-quality daycare, ensuring, in fact, that minimum wage is raised every year.

      It takes a comprehensive approach, Mr. Speaker, not a single-minded approach. The comprehensive approach is the one that we're taking.

Mr. Gerrard: I ask, Mr. Speaker, that the minister focuses on the needs of everyday hard-working Manitobans.

      Mr. Speaker, as I table, for those hard-working Manitobans who have a taxable annual income of $31,500, they have to pay the third highest marginal tax rate in Canada. And, indeed, at 12 and three quarter per cent, it's more than double the tax rate for workers at a similar taxable income in Ontario.

      Mr. Speaker, why is it that hard-working Manitobans are being burdened with such high tax rates by this NDP government?

Ms. Oswald: I wonder if the member opposite was really thinking about hard-working Manitobans and, indeed, Canadians when he clawed back the National Child Benefit. One would wonder about that just a little bit.

      But further, Mr. Speaker, as I said previously, it's critically important to keep an eye, as the member  says, on tax rates, but it is equally critically important to ensure that we maintain access to publicly funded universal health care, which is in peril under the Tories in this province.

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      It's also critically important, Mr. Speaker, that we have a fair and equitable Pharmacare program that doesn't discriminate based on one's illness or one's age. It's critically important, for example, that we provide access to free cancer drugs, and, once again, it's important that we provide an increase to our minimum wage each and every year, as we have.

      A comprehensive approach is needed, a community approach is needed, Mr. Speaker, and that's the one we're taking.

Mr. Gerrard: Mr. Speaker, again, let's focus on hard-working Manitobans.

      Mr. Speaker, I table yet another graph showing that hard-working Manitobans with a taxable income of $70,000, this NDP government burdens them with the second highest marginal tax rate in all of Canada.

      Manitoba's low- and middle-income earners, the majority of Manitobans, have higher comparative tax rates than most other provinces.

      Will the minister tell these Manitobans why she and her NDP government have such a bias against people in Manitoba on low and middle incomes?

Ms. Oswald: Well, Mr. Speaker, if by bias he means that we're working every single year to improve lives for those people living in poverty, guilty as charged, yes.

      Mr. Speaker, by ensuring, once again, that we have an affordable Pharmacare program where those living with low incomes do not pay a deductible, by ensuring that we raise minimum wage every year, by ensuring, perhaps most importantly, that we   take those that are on employment and income assistance and provide them with opportunities to acquire sustainable employment, to provide training, because the best way out of poverty is a good job.

      Mr. Speaker, we are absolutely focused, in partnership with our community organizations, to lift people out of poverty. There are a variety of paths to that goal, and we're going to explore every single one.

Towards Sustainable Drainage

Surface Water Management Strategy

Mr. Tom Nevakshonoff (Interlake): Mr. Speaker, I believe it was Mark Twain who once said that water ain't for drinking, it's for fighting over. Sadly, that is often the case, as we usually have too much of it or too little. To achieve peace across our land, we must have a balance between the various users, and this is where the role of government comes into play.

      Earlier today, Mr. Speaker, I witnessed the historic announcement of Manitoba's surface water strategy, and I ask the Minister of Conservation and Water Stewardship to give the details to members of the Assembly and to the viewing public.

      Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Hon. Gord Mackintosh (Minister of Conservation and Water Stewardship): Great question–great question. I never used to believe that full moon thing, Mr. Speaker.

      Mr. Speaker, I was pleased to join the Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation (Mr. Ashton) today in announcing Manitoba's first Surface Water Management Strategy coupled with a proposal for Manitobans called Towards Sustainable Drainage and accompanied by a $320-million investment over   the next five years from the $5.5-billion infrastructure investment by the Province, and I thank the minister for that participation.

      But, Mr. Speaker, I also, at this time, in addition to tabling the two documents that we asked for feedback from Manitobans from by the end of December, I want to thank Keystone Agricultural Producers, Ducks Unlimited, the Association of Manitoba Municipalities, the Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation and the Conservation Districts of Manitoba for coming together and making sure that we have a made-in-Manitoba approach that addresses flood, drought and the challenges of Lake Winnipeg. I thank those partners.

Mr. Speaker: Yes, the honourable member for Agassiz–before I recognize the honourable member for Agassiz (Mr. Briese), was the honourable Minister of Conservation and Water Stewardship tabling a document?

Mr. Mackintosh: Yes, Mr. Speaker, as–on a point of order, then. Yes, I had indicated in the course of my answer to the question that I would be tabling the two documents for proposal. [interjection]

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Order, please.

Mr. Mackintosh: Well, if I could just cut through  everything, Mr. Speaker, I would like, by leave, to table the two documents, a proposal for Surface Water Management Strategy and Towards Sustainable Drainage, for the members of this House and for their edification. Thank you.

Mr. Speaker: Is there leave for the honourable minister to table the two documents for honourable members? [Agreed]

      Documents are tabled. Now, the honourable member for Agassiz.

Mr. Stuart Briese (Agassiz): Excuse me, Mr. Speaker, are we still on questions, or are we on members' statements?

Mr. Speaker: I stand corrected, and I thank my honourable friend for reminding me that the clock has expired for question period. I appreciate the guidance.

Members' Statements

Mr. Speaker: We're now on to members' statements.  The honourable member for Agassiz, with a statement.

National Day of Reconciliation

Mr. Stuart Briese (Agassiz): Mr. Speaker, today I rise in this House to recognize the National Day of Reconciliation in Canada.

      Today, June 11th, we remember, with all other Canadians, the impact residential schools had on Aboriginal children across the country. Today is a day to acknowledge a painful history, to build peace through understanding and to commit to moving forward collectively.

      Like elsewhere, here in Manitoba innocent children and youth were taken away from their culture, their ancestral language and their caring, loving families and placed in residential schools where many of them were discouraged, punished and abused and forced to adopt a life they knew nothing of.

      It took many years for us as a nation to acknowledge what really happened in the residential schools. After numerous reconciliation attempts, June 11th, 2008, marked a significant turning point in our nation's history when our Prime Minister and   all other political parties in the House of Commons formally apologized to all those who were traumatized by the residential school experience.

      Following this, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was established in the city of Winnipeg to learn as completely as possible the truth about what happened in Canadian residential schools and to inform the Canadian public about their findings.

      Today I would like to commend the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and Justice Murray Sinclair have accomplished so far. Over a span of seven years, they have listened to hundreds of First Nations, Inuit and Metis across Canada and documented their experiences.

      Mr. Speaker, through ongoing individual and collective processes, survivor engagement and public contributions, the commission has helped move us forward on a path toward reconciliation. We are proud of all the significant work they have done so far, and we look forward to seeing the work they will continue to do in the year to come.

      Mr. Speaker, Justice Murray Sinclair says that reconciliation is about forging and maintaining respectful relationships. There are no shortcuts.

      Together we will continue to work together to repair the damage done by the residential schools. Together we will never forget the trauma of the past. We know it is only through working together in the spirit of humility and mutual understanding that reconciliation can occur.

      Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Manitoba Curling Hall of Fame

Hon. Peter Bjornson (Minister of Housing and Community Development): Mr. Speaker, I would like to recognize the astounding accomplishments of this year's inductees to Manitoba's Curling Hall of Fame. Achievements such as these would not have been possible without great dedication to the sport, and these elite athletes have put in many hours of hard work, which have led them to this prestigious honour.

      Mr. Speaker, even though curling was first played in Scotland hundreds of years ago, it has since become Canada's game. People of all ages play this amazing game at various competitive levels. Curling is at the heart of many Manitoba communities, where friends and neighbours rally together to cheer on players at local bonspiels or international competitions. Curling has become an important part of Manitoba's history, and it's–what makes it more special is that Manitoba rocks at it.

      Within Canada, Manitoba's winning curling track record is second to none. I am proud to say that we produce the best curlers in the country. History has shown that whoever wins the provincial curling championships tends to go on to win the nationals as well.

      I would like to recognize three very special Hall  of Fame inductees this year from the Gimli area.  First in 2004 inductee Petersfield's Gord Sparkes, who's joining us in the gallery today. He curled competitively from 1964 to 1979. During that time, he was a finalist in the 1964 junior men's championship, the 1972 mixed and the 1975 British Consols, and this year he was inducted into the Hall of Fame as part of the 1979 Canadian championship team.

* (14:30)

      Also, this year Gimli's Hans Wuthrich was inducted as a builder, a word-class icemaker. He joins the ranks with his wife, Patti Vande Wuthrich, in the province's Curling Hall of Fame. Patti was inducted for the second time as part of the 1978   Canadian ladies' championship team. This couple has done amazing things for Manitoba curling over the years and exemplify top performance in the sport.

      Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask all members to join me in congratulating these Gimli constituency curling hall of famers, as well as all the curling athletes in our great province.

      Hurry hard and thank you, Mr. Speaker.

École Edward-Schreyer School Varsity Cheerleading Squad

Mr. Wayne Ewasko (Lac du Bonnet): I rise in the House today to honour and congratulate the École Edward-Schreyer School cheerleaders on their trip to compete in the world high school cheerleading championship in Orlando, Florida, this past February.

      Mr. Speaker, it is no surprise that the EESS cheerleading squad were chosen by the Manitoba Association of Cheerleading to represent rural Manitoba at this world competition, as they were provincial champions last year and have a sterling reputation as one of the best cheerleading squads Manitoba has to offer. This is largely due to the dedication and commitment of their coach, Elena Spence.

      The EESS cheerleading squad has definitely earned their right to compete at a national level. It was one thing to be selected to compete, but they also had to pay their way. In the two and a half months prior to the trip, the team managed to raise more than $30,000 by seeking sponsors and hosting a number of fundraising events in our community, all this while practising five days a week and attending to their studies.

      During their week in Florida, the EESS cheerleaders, like most Manitobans, were enticed by Disney and all the attractions that the venue had to offer. However, keeping in mind the reason they were there, they remained focused on the competition and carefully balanced their practice time with other activities.

      During day 1 of the competition, the EESS cheer squad performed their routine at the ESPN centre in Disney in front of approximately 10,000 spectators and fellow competitors. An abundance of nerves and excitement overwhelmed, and even though they performed well as a team, they knew they could do better. Determined to show what this cheerleading team from small-town Beausejour, Manitoba, was made of, on the final day of competition, the EESS  cheerleading squad delivered a championship performance and proudly placed fifth in their category at the world championship.

      The level of commitment and enthusiasm that the EESS cheerleaders put forth in order to attend the world competition in Florida is truly inspiring, and I commend their dedication and volunteerism not only to make this trip happen but in all their team endeavours.

      I would like to thank the École Edward-Schreyer School cheerleading squad and their coaches for being true ambassadors for our wonderful province by showing their spirit, compassion and integrity during their national competition. You have made Manitobans very proud and we wish you continued success.

      Congratulations, team, on behalf of the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba.

      Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I ask leave to table the list of team members.

Mr. Speaker: Is there leave to table the list of names the honourable member referenced in his member statement? [Agreed]

Kelly Bekeris

Hon. Theresa Oswald (Minister of Jobs and the Economy): It's my pleasure to rise in the House today to pay tribute to an exemplary Manitoba educator, Ms. Kelly Bekeris. Kelly will be retiring at the end of June, and it's my privilege to put a few words on the record to commend Kelly for her excellent service.

      Kelly began her teaching career in Ontario but made a swift transition to rural Manitoba just one year later. Kelly taught in Richer and Lorette, and during that time she enthralled students with the depth of her knowledge of language and literature, not to mention her quick wit and deeply entrenched sense of social justice.

      It was after this period I first got to know Kelly. We worked together marking grade 12 provincial English exams, and, in doing so, we spent long hours debating and advocating for Manitoba students. It was an intense but memorable experience wherein we learned not only new pedagogical points of view, but, indeed, about each other. I learned of Kelly's passion for poetry and drama but also about her love for raising chickens. That she could work Hamlet, Margaret Atwood, Leonard Cohen and chickens into the same narrative was always particularly amazing to me.

      When I made the difficult decision to leave my teaching position at Glenlawn, I felt anxious on many levels. When it became clear that Kelly agreed to accept the vacant job, I was excited and relieved but a little sad, too, that I would not have a chance to work in the same department with her.

      Kelly's tenure at Glenlawn has proven to be exciting for her and for the students privileged to be in her class. She excels at challenging the students who fancy themselves already at the top of their game while, at the same time, supporting those who need her care and guidance most.

      I know Glenlawn Collegiate will miss Kelly Bekeris terribly, but we all share the view that she has more than earned the right to spend time with her husband, Andrew Shchudlo, and to hang out at will with her beloved Lauren, Sarah, Andre and Nikolai.

      I wish you all the best in your retirement, Kelly, where once again reading will just be for fun.

Accountability of Government

Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Mr. Speaker, this session has highlighted the lack of credibility and accountability of Manitoba's NDP government.

      Three years ago, the NDPs said the whole concept of raising the PST was ridiculous; a year ago they were the champions of the ridiculous and they  raised the PST. Three years ago, this NDP government said it would deliver it a multi-year funding arrangement for universities; after one year, they reneged on this promise. And this year they decided the whole idea they championed in 2011 was ridiculous, so they brought in legislation to erase it from the books. In 2012, this government brought in an annual budget just to throw it out the window as they gleefully spent a hundred million more than they budgeted. They did this again 2013, marking the 14th ridiculous year in a row of overspending and being unaccountable in keeping their budget commitments.

      Mr. Speaker, we're living in a province with ongoing crises because of this government. We have a crisis in child care; too many Manitoba children start their lives at the wrong end of a long waiting list. We have a crisis in Child and Family Services; 10 times as many children are in care as in most jurisdictions. We've a crisis in health care; the government is spending millions of public dollars to pay fines for its own poor performance, instead of for improving health care. We have a crisis in education; PISA scores are plummeting. The Lake Winnipeg crisis is continued and only today, after 14  years, has the government started to address it. After 14 years of mismanagement, we have an infrastructure crisis with more potholes than ever. Manitoba has a crisis and an NDP government that lacks credibility and accountability.

      Mr. Speaker, Liberals will continue to fight the uphill battle with this government to rebuild our province. We will continue to fight for accountability and transparency because Manitoba needs to leave behind this unaccountable, unreliable and, to use their own term, ridiculous NDP government. In fact, they should resign.

* * *

Mr. Wayne Ewasko (Lac du Bonnet): Mr. Speaker, I rise to just correct the record. Earlier on I'd like–I'd actually, like, instead of tabling the list of the École Edward-Schreyer School cheer squad, what I would like to do is to submit the list so that it could be recorded in Hansard.

      I ask leave for that.

Mr. Speaker: Is there leave for the honourable member for Lac du Bonnet to have the list of the team names he mentioned in his member's statement included in the Hansard proceedings of today instead of tabled? [Agreed]

EESS Varsity Cheer Squad: Holly Webber, Vicky Michaluk, Sarah Graham, Rachelle Johnson, Shana Spas, Mallory Vigier, Melissa Fedorchuk, Alyssa Jaculak, Nicole Fedorchuk, Sydney Gesell, Kiley Gmiterek, Sydney Compton, Jenna Dillman, Rahel Muster, Kate Read, Colleen Ans, Ashley Ravestein, Tawnya Kowal.

Mr. Speaker: Thank the honourable members.


Mr. Speaker: Now, grievances.

      The honourable member for Arthur-Virden, on a grievance.

Mr. Doyle Piwniuk (Arthur-Virden): Mr. Speaker, I rise today on the grievance to bring attention to the flooded devastation affected many communities in the southwest Manitoba. Many of them are a dire straits and some of the cases have declared state of emergencies because of the situation has continued to get worsen. Even after reaching out to this government, these communities continue to be ignored and forgotten. They are being left to fend for themselves while government ministers and the NDP members who are only an hour away–drive away, do not even come out to see and witness the devastation of my constituency.

      The Minister of Agriculture, the Minister of Conservation–is Water Stewardship and even the Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation (Mr. Ashton), who is directly responsible for the EMO, has refused to answer of the plea of assistance.

      My colleagues and myself had toured some of   the flooded areas and that have been hit the hardest in the southwest corner of the province, including communities of Pierson, Melita, Reston and Deloraine areas. The communities of Pierson, Melita, Lyleton and Tilston, less than 10 per cent of   the cropland has been seeded in this growing season.  With the crop insurance deadline quickly approaching, much of the land under water means that a large percentage of cropland will not be seeded this year. For some of these communities, this is the  fifth consecutive year without a crop. This is affecting many large–farm families; particularly hard hit is young farmers who have a very difficulty for extending credit and cash flow to continue their farming operations.

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      With a number of local business owners in these communities and the business owners who are–expressed concerns about the impact of the flooding of these local economies, if farmers cannot produce crop to market, businesses in these communities will suffer and this is going to be a lasting effect in business community in this region.

      The municipal officials of Reston and Pierson advise that the oil industry has suspended its operations due to excess standing water on the lease sites. The Province of Manitoba will feel the impact of lost revenue normally derived from both agriculture and oil industry revenues of this region.

      As I stated earlier this week, the RM municipality of Edward council met, determining that a state of emergency exists within the boundaries of the RM. Persistent rain and drainage upstream of the Souris watershed has caused the roads to become eroded or even, in some cases, impassable.

      Pastures and feedlots are under water, which are–threaten their livestock operations. As well, access to home is becoming an issue. Evacuation measures are being prepared, and affected families at risk from the flooding that have been notified that they soon may be fleeing from their homes.

      The RM of Edward has passed a resolution to halt heavy hauling activities both in the agriculture and oil industries, which, in some agriculture activities, are being approved on a case-by-case basis. But this is not only agriculture and oil industries who's–are being affected.

      Mr. Speaker, school buses are unable to drive on  normal routes, forcing alternative arrangements for   transportation of children, and it's doubtful whether  the emergency medical vehicles could even successfully reach and transport patients.

      The RM of Edward's CAO, Lisa Pierce, has requested on behalf of the residents, farmers, businesses in the area, help or advises how to deal with this, as tensions are extremely high out here.

      During the town meeting with the RM of Edward ratepayers on June 7th, we brought forward concerns about washed-out roads. One of the local   residents stated in the meeting, it's a daily conversation, how are we're going to get out?

      Mr. Speaker, today I rise to represent the ratepayers, the residents and the farmers and the business people who live in the southwest corner of this province, to give them a voice during this extremely difficult time.

      Mr. Speaker, where was the Minister of Agriculture? Where was the Minister of Water Stewardship, the Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation (Mr. Ashton), and the minister of mineral and resources? Well, he was in Brandon at announcement, and he was so close to Pierson yet he ignored the need. Where was this Premier (Mr. Selinger) in this case too? Where is the leadership in this government?

      Well, thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker: Are there any further grievances?



Mr. Speaker: Seeing none, orders of the day, government business.

House Business

Hon. Andrew Swan (Government House Leader): Could you first canvass the House to see if there is leave to commence sitting tomorrow morning at 9:30  a.m. instead of 10 a.m., with the understanding that we'll move into concurrence from 9:30 a.m. until 11 a.m., and then on to private members' resolutions?

Mr. Speaker: Is there leave of the House to sit at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow, with concurrence to run from 9:30 a.m. 'til 11 a.m., and to be followed by private members' hour from 11 'til 12 noon? [Agreed]

Mr. Swan: Could you canvass the House to see if there's leave of the House to defer all requested recorded votes on concurrence and third reading motions today until 5 o'clock, when all such deferred recorded votes would take place one after the other until completed, that the House not to rise until such–all such deferred votes are dealt with?

Mr. Speaker: Is there leave of the House to defer all requested recorded votes on concurrence and third reading motions until 5 p.m. today, when all such deferred recorded votes would take place one after the other until completed, with the House not to rise until all such deferred votes are dealt with? [Agreed]

Mr. Swan: Mr. Speaker, could you call report stage amendments on Bill 52, followed by concurrence and third readings of the following bills: Bill 203, Bill 60, Bill 66, Bill 74, Bill 56, Bill 61, Bill 68, Bill 54 and Bill 65.

Mr. Speaker: We'll be dealing with bills in the following order, starting with report stage of Bill 52, followed by concurrence and third readings of bills 203, Bill 60, 66, 74, 56, 61, 68, 54 and Bill 65.

Report Stage Amendments

Bill 52–The Non-Smokers Health Protection Amendment Act
(Prohibitions on Flavoured Tobacco and Other Amendments)

Mr. Speaker: Starting with report stage on Bill 52, The Non-Smokers Health Protection Amendment Act (Prohibitions on Flavoured Tobacco and Other Amendments).

Mr. Cliff Graydon (Emerson): Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the member for Brandon West (Mr. Helwer),

THAT Bill 52 be amended in Clause 2(1) in part of the proposed definition "flavoured tobacco product" after clause (c), as amended at Committee, by striking out, in brackets or in exclamation mark "or a menthol tobacco product" and submitting ", a menthol tobacco product, or a cigar that is excluded from this definition by regulation".

Mr. Speaker: It's been moved by the honourable member for Emerson, seconded by the honourable member for Brandon West,

THAT Bill 52 be amended in Clause 2(1) in the part of the proposed definition "flavored tobacco product" after clause (c), as–

Some Honourable Members: Dispense.

Mr. Speaker: Dispense?

      Is it the pleasure of the House to consider the amendment as is printed? [Agreed]  

THAT Bill 52 be amended in Clause 2(1) in the part of the proposed definition "flavoured tobacco product" after clause (c), as amended at Committee, by striking out "or a menthol tobacco product" and substituting ", a menthol tobacco product, or a cigar that is excluded from this definition by regulation".

Mr. Graydon: Mr. Speaker, I'm proud to stand in the Legislature and support the intention of the bill, and I know that may surprise some people. But, Mr. Speaker, we on this side of the House recognize that promoting the healthiest children and youth in our province is fundamental. But there's a bit of a side effect to this bill and it was an unintentional side effect and, in some cases, it just doesn't go far enough, but one of the things that it does do is that this bill does not go far enough when it comes to protecting the cultural and ceremonial traditions that a variety of cultures and religious practices.

      It also is true that Aboriginal ceremonies and  practices included the sacred use of tobacco, but do–but so do some Middle Eastern, Asian and 'indignious' groups. And, Mr. Speaker, the bill would  make it impossible for those to purchase those  tobaccos in the province of Manitoba. Also, there is some collateral damage to the companies–tobacconist companies in the province of Manitoba that would, if the bill goes through in its current form, would end up driving these companies out of the province of Manitoba and we would lose the employment of a number of people in the province, and some of these are old companies in our province. They're willing to abide by the laws of this province, and this amendment would make it possible for them to stay in the province.

      So I would expect and would certainly ask for the support of both sides of the House for this amendment. Thank you.

Hon. Sharon Blady (Minister of Healthy Living and Seniors): Mr. Speaker, and while I do appreciate the support that the member opposite will be providing to this bill, I can assure members of this House that Bill 52 already gives broad–government broad regulatory ability to exempt certain products and we have been clear that the intent is to target products that are clearly aimed at kids, and that the business concerns that he indicates have actually been addressed, in consultation with the specific merchants. And they are quite comfortable with the legislation as it stands and, as to the cultural aspects, that was again dealt with in committee and again reflects a larger regulatory aspect that is–has to do with the broader base of the legislation.

      So we will not be accepting this and subsequent amendments and we hope that all members support this bill. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker: Is there any further debate on the amendment?

An Honourable Member: Question.

Mr. Speaker: Is the House prepared to adopt the amendment?

Some Honourable Members: Yes.

Some Honourable Members: No.

Mr. Speaker: I hear a no.

Voice Vote

Mr. Speaker: All those in favour of the amendment will please signify by saying aye.

Some Honourable Members: Aye.

Mr. Speaker: All those opposed to the amendment will please signify by saying nay.

Some Honourable Members: Nay.

Mr. Speaker: In the opinion of the Chair, the Nays have it.

Mr. Kelvin Goertzen (Official Opposition House Leader): Division.

Mr. Speaker: On division.

* * *

Mr. Speaker: So we'll now proceed to the next amendment.

* (14:50)

Mr. Graydon: I move, seconded by the member for Brandon West (Mr. Helwer),

THAT Bill 52 be amended in Clause 3 by adding "to a tobacconist shop prescribed by the regulations or"    after "does not apply" in the proposed subsection 6.5(2).

Mr. Speaker: It's been moved by the honourable member for Emerson (Mr. Graydon), seconded by the honourable member for Brandon West,

THAT Bill 52 be amended in Clause 3 by adding "to a tobacconist shop prescribed by the regulations or"

An Honourable Member: Dispense.

Mr. Speaker: Dispense.

      The amendment is in order.

Mr. Graydon: Again, I want to reiterate that there is a side effect to the bill as it now stands, and what we've heard from the minister is that she'll be willing to address this in regulation, but, at the same time, we could address it here today in the House with unanimous consent of all members in the House and then, Mr. Speaker, we would know what we're talking about. But, when we're talking about in regulation that perhaps she may bring in at some time, there's no guarantee that it is going to do what this amendment would say it does have to do.

      And so, Mr. Speaker, I'm suggesting that the devil's in the details when you go into regulation. Today is an opportunity to put something that's clear, concise on the record so that all would know what we're talking about.

      Thank you very much.

Ms. Blady: As I said previously, Bill 52 already gives government broad regulatory ability to exempt certain products, and, again, we have been clear that the intent is to target products that are clearly marketed towards kids. So, again, we will not be accepting these amendments but do look forward to the support of all members on this bill.

      Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker: Is there any further debate on the amendment?

      Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the amendment?

Some Honourable Members: Yes.

Some Honourable Members: No.

Mr. Speaker: I hear a no.

Voice Vote

Mr. Speaker: All those in favour of the amendment will please signify by saying aye.

Some Honourable Members: Aye.

Mr. Speaker: All those opposed to the amendment will please signify by saying nay.

Some Honourable Members: Nay.

Mr. Speaker: In the opinion of the Chair, the Nays have it.

Mr. Goertzen: On division, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker: On division.

Concurrence and Third Readings

Bill 203–The Nurse Practitioner Day Act

Mr. Speaker: Okay, we'll now proceed to call bill–for concurrence and third reading, Bill 203, The Nurse Practitioner Day Act.

Ms. Deanne Crothers (St. James): I moved, seconded by the MLA for Selkirk, that Bill 203, The Nurse Practitioner Day Act; Loi sur la Journée des infirmières practiciennes, reported from the Standing Committee on Social and Economic Development, be concurred in and be now read for a third time and passed.

Motion presented.

Mr. Speaker: Any debate?

Ms. Crothers: Sorry about that.

      I'm happy to again rise to speak to Bill 203, The Nurse Practitioner Day Act, and as I've said before in the House, in regards to nurse practitioners, their approach to health care is a holistic one, so whether they are seeing an elderly patient who needs advice on managing their diabetes, they may discover at that meeting that the elderly patient requires some home-care support on a weekly basis and be able to help connect them to that kind of service.

       Or they may be meeting with family who is coming in to have their vaccinations or flu shots given and then, after speaking with the parent, recognize that one of the children who has ADHD might need to have their medication adjusted.

      They may be meeting with someone who comes in with a persistent health concern and they're able to order necessary diagnostic tests which could include X-rays, ultrasounds and lab tests, and we've expanded that to include MRIs, serving patients and saving them from having to make an extra visit to a doctor to confirm the need for the benefit of an MRI. They do all of these things and they look at the whole situation that the patient lives with to try and make their quality of life as positive as possible and as healthy as possible.

      Now, nurse practitioners are helping to provide faster, more convenient access to quality health care, and they're offering more choice for patients and families through all of the services that they are  well‑trained to do. Families who want timely access to high-quality health care–which is why our government's focused on training, recruiting and retaining more nurse practitioners, and they also reduce pressure on physicians' time by allowing them to take on more patients and helping us meet our commitment that every Manitoban can access a family doctor by 2015.

      The role of nurse practitioners has expanded, taking the pressure off the medical system and is making the system more efficient overall as a result. Nurse practitioners offer vital care for people, and I think that they also provide the time for patients to be able to come in and talk about what else is going on in their lives so that they can make sure they're addressing all of their health concerns. And on this side of the House we believe that nurses are the backbone of health care, offering high-quality care, offering comfort and reassurance to patients and their families when they need it. That's why we're continuing to grow our nurse practitioner workforce through recruitment and training, adding three additional seats to the University of Manitoba master's program just last year, and this is part of our commitment to double the number of nurse practitioner training seats.

      We recognize that the job that nurses do is vital. We certainly appreciate it, and this act recognizes the critical role that nurse practitioners, in particular, play in Manitoba's medical system, and it celebrates their contributions with a commemorative day which would be held on November 18th of every year. I think this is well deserved, and I certainly hope that we'll have the full support of the House in moving this bill forward.

      Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

Mrs. Myrna Driedger (Charleswood): I'm very honoured to be able to say that we stand here in support of this legislation. Certainly, there is a very prominent role that nurse practitioners can play in our health-care system. There is enough work for everybody. There is a very strong role for nurse practitioners to fill.

      Certainly, with the need for care out there, we see there is a great opportunity to properly utilize nurse practitioners in various environments, and a lot of potential still, I think, as everybody becomes more familiar with what nurse practitioners can do. We certainly know they are very qualified in their training. They're very qualified in their ability to provide care. They can do a number of things that a general nurse would not be able to do. They can do almost as much as doctors, about 80 per cent of what a doctor can do. They don't purport to be doctors. They don't want to be doctors. They're very happy in the role of providing care as a nurse practitioner.

      And certainly we have been very supportive of  nurse practitioners right from the beginning. We see a strong opportunity and role for them in Manitoba's health-care system and, particularly as we go forward, I think we need to have a stronger support for them in terms of what they can do in the community and with primary health care.

      I think there are some challenges in primary health care that we are not seeing addressed. Certainly nurse practitioners can help to fill that void. They alone may not be an answer, we–be the answer, but certainly they will be one of the solutions to the challenges that face us. And, as our demographic is getting older and we're seeing this bubble of older people for the next number of decades, there certainly is going to be a lot of work for a lot of people, and there's lots of opportunity, I think, here to be very innovative in how we utilize the practice of a nurse practitioner.

* (15:00)

      So we look forward to seeing this legislation enacted and to also give the opportunity for an increased awareness for what nurse practitioners do. There still is a lot of unknowns out there to a lot of people about who nurse practitioners are and what they do, and I think a day like this will help to move that forward and help to educate the public about the   role of the nurse practitioner. Once people understand the role and see the opportunities there, I think this is going to be something that the public will certainly embrace.

      I know a former colleague of mine actually did use the services of a nurse practitioner for his illnesses, and he was very pleased with the kind of care that he received in that office.

      So we look forward to this legislation moving forward and look forward to this opportunity to recognize, you know, in more ways the role that nurse practitioners can play in Manitoba.

      Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): I want to salute the efforts of nurse practitioners in our province. They do an outstanding job and make a major contribution to health care in our province. And I'm pleased that we will have a nurse practitioner day, November the 18th, and I'm a strong supporter of this bill.

      I look forward to it moving forward and to celebrating nurse practitioner day with nurse practitioners and many others this coming November.

Mr. Speaker: Is there any further debate on Bill 203?

An Honourable Member: Question.

Mr. Speaker: Question before the House is concurrence and third reading of Bill 203, The Nurse Practitioner Day Act.

      Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion? [Agreed]

Bill 60–The Restorative Justice Act

Mr. Speaker: Now proceed under concurrence at third readings to call Bill 60, The Restorative Justice Act. 

Hon. Andrew Swan (Government House Leader): I move, seconded by the Minister of Labour and Immigration (Ms. Braun), that Bill 60, The Restorative Justice Act; Loi sur la justice réparatrice, reported from the Standing Committee on Justice, be concurred in and be now read for a third time and passed.

Motion presented.

Hon. Andrew Swan (Minister of Justice and Attorney General): I'm proud to introduce this bill for third reading today. This bill will provide our framework to further develop restorative justice programs across Manitoba.

      While Manitoba is recognized as a leader nationally in opportunities for restorative justice, we know that there's more that can be done, more opportunities both in terms of the breadth of restorative justice opportunities across the province as well as the depth of cases that can perhaps be handled by alternative measures.

      This bill will allow more cases to be handled in  the community outside of the traditional court process, freeing up court resources for cases more pressing to public safety.

      Although I did mention this at second reading and at committee as well, I think it's important for every member of this Legislature to recognize that restorative justice processes have actually been used by Aboriginal people in Manitoba for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. And, perhaps, by this bill we're just catching up with some of the very good traditional practices that have existed.

      This bill will also set up an advisory council which will continue to focus and improve restorative justice programs across the province. We will use the expertise within government but also the expertise from people outside of government who are committed to restorative justice and committed to seeing it expand across the province.

      We know that there are gaps right now in restorative justice. Some communities have more capacity than others to provide those alternatives, and we'll try to find more ways for more communities in Manitoba to be able to offer this healing process outside of the traditional system.

      We also know that, moving forward, we will want to measure the success of restorative justice programs. Of course, the best measure is more cases being diverted; we think that's good. But we believe this advisory council will have some good ideas as well on how best we can measure the effectiveness of these programs.

      Of course, Mr. Speaker, restorative justice focuses on repairing a harm caused by criminal actions while holding an offender responsible for his or her actions and to seek a resolution that affords healing, reparation and reintegration.

      And, Mr. Speaker, every study, every report I've   ever seen suggests that restorative justice accomplishes at least two very, very positive things. First of all, it results in a reduction in reoffending, as offenders are required to take responsibility for what they've done, and it requires them to look into the eyes of the community, and, in many cases, where the victim agrees, into the eyes of the victim, and apologize for the harm they've caused and to be part of a restorative solution to make up for what they've done.

      What is equally important, Mr. Speaker, is that a satisfactory restorative justice process does give greater understanding and greater satisfaction to those people who are impacted by crime and makes them recognize that justice can be flexible but it can also achieve greater results.

      So, Mr. Speaker, this bill is part of our government's commitment to an effective and accessible justice system, and I certainly look forward to passing it.

      Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to be able to speak on Bill 60 at third reading. I think the minister used the words catching up; it's taken 14 and a half years to get this bill on the table. We should have had it one of the first bills, and this is clearly should have been a priority going back.

      I've been a supporter of restorative justice for many years. Restorative justice was highlighted in the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry as an area that we needed to move forward on. That was many years ago, Mr. Speaker.

      Mr. Speaker, in 2003, the Youth Criminal Justice Act, federally, which was passed, provided for a much greater use of alternative sentencing. This government spent many years criticizing the Youth Criminal Justice Act, and only now recognizing that, you know, there were some benefit to some of the ideas which were there, and starting to move on the–paying more attention to restorative justice.

      I'm pleased that this government is starting to move in this direction because it's needed in our province. There are Aboriginal traditions upon which we can build, but there are non-Aboriginal traditions on which we can build in this area of restorative justice, and there are good examples that have been   provided many, many times from different jurisdictions over the years of how this has been effective.

      So I look forward to this bill moving forward. I look forward to a much greater and more effective use of restorative justice approaches to address the impact of crimes, the impact on the victim and the impact on the offender, and that is what restorative justice is about. It is about turning the corner on lives of people who have been very severely impacted by  crimes; it's not to diminish the importance or the   significance of the crimes. It is to find a way  of  moving forward, decreasing recidivism, as restorative justice has been shown to do, and paying attention to ways which can allow both the victim and the offender to come through a very trying and difficult circumstance, which was the crime, and work their way into a future which is an improved future for all those involved, and a better way to address and to prevent crimes moving forward into the future. Thank you.

Introduction of Guests

Mr. Speaker: Just prior to recognizing the honourable for Steinbach (Mr. Goertzen), I'd like to draw the attention to honourable members to the public gallery where we have with us today from Pilot Mound School, we have 30 grade 10 and 11 students under the direction of Sheldon Gardiner, and this group is located in the constituency of the honourable member for Midland (Mr. Pedersen).

      On behalf of honourable members, we welcome all of you here this afternoon.

* * *

Mr. Kelvin Goertzen (Steinbach): And a fine MLA they have in the member for Midland (Mr. Pedersen), Mr. Speaker.

      I want to put a few comments on the record regarding The Restorative Justice Act. I take some exception, my friend from River Heights who equated this with the Youth Criminal Justice Act brought in by the Liberals, Mr. Speaker–quite different than an act that under the Youth Criminal Justice Act required that for some very serious crimes by those who are committed under the age of 18 would be required to go to alternative measures. Very different, I think, than this bill where we continue to look at the legislation as something that encourages restorative justice, but that's a very different sort of measure than a legislation that requires very serious offences to be dealt with in ways that we think and still believe aren't measurable to the crime.

* (15:10)

      So I would encourage my friend from River Heights to relook at the bill and not to frame it in the light of the Youth Criminal Justice Act because, certainly, I don't think, if it was, in fact, reflective of the Youth Criminal Justice Act, it wouldn't get much support in this House, from any side of the House, other than, perhaps, from the Liberal member, Mr. Speaker.

      But I do think that the bill, to the extent that it encourages restorative justice for appropriate crimes, and where the victim agrees to be part of a restorative justice measure, that there is value. I know that the former Conservative government under Gary Filmon was, I believe, the first to fund mediation services and saw that as an important tool to deal with criminal actions where there was the agreement between the victim and the individual who had committed the crime.

      I think there are many areas of the province and 'mary' individuals–the minister mentioned the Aboriginal community, and, certainly, I hear from many in the Aboriginal community who, this type of principle is–corresponds to their own history, Mr. Speaker, and that is laudable.

      It also corresponds to many people of faith who have a faith perspective that talks about forgiveness and talks about having something other than a punitive court process. In fact, there are still many people of faith who will avoid the justice system altogether and won't bring somebody in a civil context into the court system because it's not in accordance with their faith.

      So I do know that there are many parts of the province who will be supportive of a restorative justice measure and have always been supportive of it, Mr. Speaker. And we support it for many of those same reasons. It has to be, of course, for the right offender. It has to be for the right offence. And it has to be with the co-operation of the victim.

      We would also encourage this government–because I don't believe the legislation itself will change how often restorative justice measures are used in the province of Manitoba, it will require there to be a change of the culture within the Department of Justice as well. There needs to be support for those prosecutors who are recommending restorative justice. There needs to be an assurance that they have the support of the minister and that there's clear guidelines and clear understanding of where restorative justice should be used, Mr. Speaker.

      I think it's also important to have evidence that backs up the fact that restorative justice, in many ways and in certain circumstances, is better alternative than other justice measures, Mr. Speaker.

      An amendment that I brought forward, and it was rejected at committee, was to have a report done on the recidivism rate for those who have taken a restorative justice measure, as opposed to going through other, more punitive measures, Mr. Speaker. I believe, partly because of the nature of the offender and the offence, but I do believe that we would find that the recidivism rate for those who are in restorative justice is much lower than for those who are going into another form of punishment for the offence that they've created.

      And I believe if we had those statistics, it would  be something that would validate the people working in the Department of Justice to use that in appropriate circumstances. They'd be able to point to that as evidence, as proof, that the restorative justice system is something that should be used in the right circumstances and that it's proven to be valuable, and more valuable, in certain cases and in the right circumstances, than the mainline justice system that we think of in terms of punishment often, Mr. Speaker.

      So I hope that the government will go further than just the bill, because the bill itself I don't think will change a whole lot. I think that there has to be a change in terms of what's happening within the department. Of course, that starts with the Minister of Justice (Mr. Swan). And there needs to be evidence that this is an important way to deal with individuals, Mr. Speaker, and I think that that evidence can certainly be found.

      So I would encourage the government–we will support this legislation–but I would encourage the government to go one step further, Mr. Speaker, to ensure we have that data, to ensure we have that research. And then I think that all of those who are interested in restorative justice measures, whether that's because of a faith perspective they have, whether that's because of a cultural perspective they have or whether they just believe that for some cases it's the right way to deal with situations and you can get a better outcome, that it'll have that support across all of those groups and more. Thank you.

Mr. Speaker: Is there any further debate on Bill 60?

An Honourable Member: Question.

Mr. Speaker: Question before the House is concurrence and third reading of Bill 60, The Restorative Justice Act.

      Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion? [Agreed]

Bill 66–The Statutes Correction and Minor Amendments Act, 2014

Mr. Speaker: We'll now call for concurrence and third reading, Bill 66, The Statutes Correction and Minor Amendments Act, 2014.

Hon. Andrew Swan (Government House Leader): I move, seconded by the Minister for Labour and Immigration, that Bill 66, The Statutes Correction and Minor Amendments Act, 2014; Loi corrective de 2014, reported from the Standing Committee on Justice, be concurred in and be now read for a third time and passed. 

Motion presented.

Hon. Andrew Swan (Minister of Justice and Attorney General): This bill will correct a certain minor drafting, typographical and numbering errors in the statutes of Manitoba. It will ensure that the French translation of statutes is the most consistent, and it will repeal certain obsolete acts.

      I believe that concludes my remarks, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Kelvin Goertzen (Steinbach): Well, Mr. Speaker, I think for the first time in my history in this Legislature–which isn't as long as some, and I could stand to be corrected–but I believe this may be the first time that there's a vote against the minor statute correct amendment act, and I will explain why, and I explained it at committee.

      I have concerns about the fact that the government put, in this particular act, changes to The Elections Act and the elections finances act in particular, Mr. Speaker. I do not believe that any changes, and our party does not believe that any changes, to The Elections Act and the elections finances act should find their way into the minor statutes corrected amendment act.

      Now, I understand the rationale that the government used. They indicated, Mr. Speaker, that they were going back to something that had previously been, and it's something that all of us had believed had been the case. My understanding is that the way the act currently reads now, elections finances act, political parties, associations, leadership contests, do not have to, during the time in between an election year, have to have a disclaimer, the authorized disclaimer, on their advertising. But that is not how it should be. All of us believed that that authorization was necessary, and so all of us have, in fact, been operating under the principle that the authorization has to have been on our constituency ads, on our party ads, on our leadership campaigns where that's been relevant, has to have been there outside of an election period and outside of an election year.

      We believe that should've been the law, and I think everybody has been acting in that way on good faith. Now, apparently, that's not actually how the law read, and so this act brings in changes to ensure that that is, in fact, how the act is read.

      So the minister justified putting the changes in this act because he said it's going back to what we always believed to have been the case and what we wanted to be the case. And that is true, and I take him at his word at that, and we don't object to the change, Mr. Speaker. But it's not a change without significance, even though it was an error in terms of how it has been reading for the last few years, and we've all been operating as though it read as something different.

      The fact is that in law it is a significant change, and I have great concern with changes to the elections and the elections finances act, which we've always treated differently, I think. Well, mostly treated differently in this House because it impacts all of us in our democracy, being put into this act, and I don't like it in there and I expressed that at committee. I would have preferred that it would have gone as a separate amendment to the act, and maybe there are other changes that would have happened.

      I also think that there should be consultation on changes that come through the elections finances act and The Elections Act itself. I know, in my time, when Mr. Doer was the Premier, that was generally the principle he operated under. I had some objections, of course, to some of the pieces of legislation that came forward that changed The Elections Act, and we had some long committee nights over those issues, Mr. Speaker, you may remember. But there was always a greater sense of consultation and discussion among political parties, either the parties themselves and also the House leaders. We were not aware of this change coming forward. There was no indication that the change would be coming forward in this piece of legislation, and had we been aware, we would have requested that it would have come as a separate amendment to the elections finances act.

* (15:20)

      We simply do treat these acts somewhat differently. They do impact our democracy, they impact us as individuals, but I also think that there's a general sense that we want fairness in these acts, and where the public and political parties don't see it as a fair process, Mr. Speaker, it causes a fair bit of uproar, and we've seen that in this Legislature when there've been changes to the elections finances act in the past–or The Elections Act.

      And so for that reason and that reason only, not on the substance of the change, and I want to make that clear because I'm sure the government will run out there and say we are somehow opposed to changes on The Elections Act. We're not. We agree with the changes, as they appear in this act; we just don't think they should be in this act. We believe that  they should be in a separate–should've been a separate amendment in a separate act, not put under a   minor statutes correctment. I think it's a bad precedent for this Legislature. It might be done in other provinces, I don't know, but I don't like it being done–we don't like it being done here. We don't like the lack of consultation because all of us ultimately are impacted by changes to that act.

      So perhaps the minister got advice on terms of where these changes should be. I won't comment on the quality of that advice, but I think it–they should be under a separate legislation. I don't think we should ever be changing the election finances act and The Elections Act with any substantive changes, and this is substantive in a minor corrections act, which is typically done for spelling errors or translation errors, Mr. Speaker, and not slipping in changes to The Elections Act.

      So, for that reason, we will not be supporting this bill, Mr. Speaker, and if the government wants to somehow look in a derogatory way that they can, but I simply think, from a democratic principle, the changes to The Elections Act and the election finances act should not be in this bill.

Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Mr. Speaker, I've listened carefully to the comments by the member for Steinbach (Mr. Goertzen) and read his comments in the committee stage. I agree with the member for Steinbach that when we're dealing with elections and elections finances act amendment that there should be a full process of consultation, that there should be a process where people in committee meetings are realizing that they're dealing with changes to The Elections Act and the elections finances act. I suspect that many people involved in political parties are totally unaware that this change was happening, and there's a good reason for this.

      One is that, you know, there's a particular attention that needs to be paid to changes to The Elections Act and the elections finances act, and the other is that whenever we are looking at amendments in this area, we have the opportunity to consult and  perhaps make additional changes which could improve The Elections Act and the elections finances act. And I think we have missed an opportunity in the approach that the NDP have taken. And so on this occasion I'm supportive of the MLA for Steinbach and I would hope that the NDP do not again bring in changes to The Elections Act and the elections finances act without putting it through the full process and making sure that people–aware of it and, instead of trying to sneak it through, you know, in typical NDP fashion, through a bill like this, a minor amendments. Thank you.

Mr. Speaker: Is there any further debate on Bill 66?

Some Honourable Members: Question.

Mr. Speaker: Question. The question before the House is concurrence and third reading of Bill 66, The Statutes Correction and Minor Amendments Act, 2014.

      Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?  

Some Honourable Members: Agreed.

Some Honourable Members: No.

Mr. Speaker: I hear a no.

Voice Vote

Mr. Speaker: Those in favour of the motion will please signify by saying aye.

Some Honourable Members: Aye.

Mr. Speaker: All those opposed to the motion will please signify by saying nay.

Some Honourable Members: Nay.

Mr. Speaker: In the opinion of the Chair, the Ayes have it.

Recorded Vote

Mr. Kelvin Goertzen (Official Opposition House Leader): A recorded vote, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker: A recorded vote having been requested, and, as previously agreed, the vote will be deferred until 5 p.m.

Bill 74–The Public Sector Compensation Disclosure Amendment Act

Mr. Speaker: We'll now proceed to concurrence and  third reading of Bill 74, The Public Sector Compensation Disclosure Amendment Act.

Hon. Andrew Swan (Government House Leader): Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the Minister for   Labour and Immigration, that Bill  74, The Public Sector Compensation Disclosure Amendment Act; Loi modifiant la Loi sur la divulgation de la rémunération dans le secteur public, reported from the Standing Committee on Social and Economic Development, be concurred in and be now read for a third time and passed.

Motion presented.

Hon. Andrew Swan (Minister of Justice and Attorney General): This bill quite simply will provide that for certain disclosure that's required to be published by the City of Winnipeg, that the names  of police officers will be replaced with their identifying number. As I think the law enforcement community of Winnipeg told us at committee, this may be a small thing, but it is a good thing. I believe everybody in this Chamber is dedicated to protecting our police officers.

      Certainly the members–all members of this Chamber, our thoughts have been with the people of Moncton since the tragedy last week. Of course, yesterday, many watched the memorial in a packed hockey arena in Moncton for three RCMP officers who lost their lives in the course of duty. The Premier (Mr. Selinger) and I attended at Division "D" Headquarters earlier yesterday to join Manitoba's law enforcement community, the RCMP but also the Winnipeg Police Service for service there. I know I speak for all members of this House   in expressing our sympathy to the people of   Moncton, to the RCMP and the entire law enforcement community.

      And, Mr. Speaker, just yesterday we learned of another incident where a police officer in Vancouver was shot in the course of duty. So, unfortunately, across Canada these incidents continue to be top of mind.

      It was very helpful at committee to have Mike Sutherland, the president of the Winnipeg Police Association, come out to speak in support of the bill, as well as Gord Perrier, a member of the executive of the Winnipeg Police Service, who gave us an example from his own career when unfortunately his privacy and his family's protection was impacted by others. We also heard from two other Winnipeg Police Service members speaking in support of the bill.

      I want to acknowledge the co-operation of the Opposition House Leader, the member for Steinbach (Mr. Goertzen), as well as the member for River Heights for their co-operation in moving this bill through quickly. Certainly we stand with our police officers, and, again, this may not be a big thing, but it is certainly a good thing, and I appreciate the advocacy and advice of police to move this forward, and I'm very pleased. I believe the Legislature will   be passing this unanimously this afternoon. Thank you.

Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Mr. Speaker, just a few comments on Bill 74. Before I get into the details of the bill, I want to join others in the Legislature in paying tribute to the officers who have served in the police forces across this country. And at this particular time, we are very concerned about what has happened recently in Moncton and, of course, in Vancouver.

      It is a tragedy of great degree what happened in Moncton, and as some have described it, a situation of unbearable sorrow when we have policemen killed in this sort of fashion, and killed under any circumstance, but in this seemingly random act there is a need to reach out with great empathy to families and friends of those who are directly affected. But to recognize across the country that we must look very carefully at these situations and look at what can be done to prevent such tragedies in the future, and I think it's important in doing this not just to look at what the police could be done, but what others in the community could have done in recognizing that the individual here was an individual who should have been of considerable concern and for a variety of reasons, and how can this be brought forward and addressed before the situation gets to such a tragic ending as it's had.

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      I want to move on to this bill, Bill 74. I want to   thank those who presented at the committee stage,  to Maurice Sabourin, to Mike Sutherland, to Gord   Perrier and to Kevin Rampersad for their contributions. I'm certainly strongly in support of this legislation as it's before us, but I want to make a comment here that, you know, the impact of this legislation is not going to be in this year's list; it will be in next year's lists, which come out a year from now. And thus there was an opportunity, instead of rushing this through, to look at across the spectrum of people whose compensation is reported, whether there were others who fall in the same category where they are at risk of having threats. We should've made sure that we were not looking just at the Winnipeg Police Service but at others who could be affected. And I think this is, you know, important that a little bit more time and we could have had this in the fall and passed in the fall, and it would have still been effective in plenty of time for next year.

      And I think, as I've already brought up, that there have in the Chamber been raised over the last several years other concerns, concerns that I raised last year about the way that the public sector compensation is recorded and so that there are individuals whose names are in two different places and their individual money compensation from the public sector is recorded separately in two places. And I suspect there are others who would be recorded individually but below the threshold, but if you added up their total public sector compensation that they might well exceed the level that–and so that they should be reported.

      So there are some changes that need to be addressed and could have been addressed in this act by looking at the whole act a little bit more carefully than it was in pushing it through. You know, I certainly support this now, but I point out to the Minister of Justice (Mr. Swan), and perhaps he will go back, and perhaps in the fall we can have the rest of what might have been in this bill before the Legislature to do the full job that we perhaps could've been done when this came forward initially. Thank you.

Mr. Kelvin Goertzen (Steinbach): I want to thank the member for River Heights (Mr. Gerrard), the Government House Leader (Mr. Swan) and the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Finance (Ms. Howard), whose bill this name appears under for the discussions that we've had and the co-operation that we've had to move this bill forward, Mr. Speaker.

      And, when the discussions were happening and the bill was introduced, it was before the tragic events that we saw in Moncton, Mr. Speaker. And I know in those a couple of days in between I did get a couple of phone calls from people who had read about the bill and were concerned about it, that it breached the spirit of the public disclosure act to ensure the public salaries over a certain threshold are made public. And my view to them then, and it's stronger now, was that I agree that certainly we want to ensure that that principle is upheld in every situation we can, but there were too many stories we were hearing from police about the possibility of their names being disclosed that could put them into harm's way and that sometimes even though, you know, an act is there for a good reason, disclosure is there for good reasons, there are good reasons for exceptions as well.

      And then, just shortly after we saw what happened in Moncton–in fact, it was the same night that we had committee and we heard from a couple of police officers and representatives from the City of Winnipeg police and the Winnipeg Police Association about how they were targeted now. You   know, obviously, you know, this particular legislation, nobody's trying to draw a parallel and suggest that a situation could be avoided like what happened in Moncton; that's not what anybody's trying to say. But I think what it did draw home is that we need to ensure that we do everything that we possibly can do to ensure that those who are trying to target our police officers, our law enforcement officers, don't have any additional tools that we are providing them to do that. This, I think, is a relatively small thing that we can do. It still upholds the balance, I think, on disclosure by allowing the names–or sorry, the dollar figures of the salaries to be in place with a numerical identifier. I think the badge numbers will be used, Mr. Speaker, and so we can still see the principle of disclosure on salaries while ensuring that individuals who want to target police don't have that as an additional tool.

      I wish we could stand here today and say that   this will somehow protect all of our police officers. We know that it won't. We know that they  are still  going to be the subject of those who want to target them. And we've heard specifically about OMGs,  outlaw motorcycle gangs, and other street‑level gangs, Mr. Speaker, who often prey upon  police  officers and try to intimidate them, and whether that's following them home or doing different sorts of things, and we heard a couple of stories at committee in that regard.

      So this is, I think, a measured step, one that we can do. And I appreciate that we were able to have some confidential discussions about this bill before it actually was introduced at first reading, to ensure it's something that everybody could agree upon, to get it passed quickly and outside of the sessional order that we'd already agreed upon last summer, in terms of how this particular session would be governed.

      While I have the opportunity, we did have, during ministerial statements after the Moncton event, we had the opportunity to say a few words of condolence on behalf of Manitoba to the families and   to all the residents of New Brunswick who were  impacted by the shooting. We didn't get an opportunity to read the names into the record because the names hadn't been disclosed publicly at that time, Mr. Speaker. But yesterday was the funeral for those three officers and I just want to spend just a few minutes mentioning them on the record here in Manitoba.

      Mr. Constable David Joseph Ross was 32 years old. He was the police dog handler with the Moncton Codiac RCMP. Yesterday at the funeral we saw his  dog, which is described as his best friend, Danny, showing his own emotion at the funeral, Mr.  Speaker, and I think many were moved across the country who were watching the funeral. We remember his wife, Rachael. We remember his children, Austin and his baby which is yet to be born but is expected in the fall. And I understand that they've already named that baby Ross. So we remember the family of Constable David Joseph Ross today.

      Also Constable Douglas James Larche, he ran towards the danger when he heard the call in Moncton. He was a proud member of the RCMP for   the past 12 years. He joined the RCMP in February  of 2002. He received the Commander's Commendation for saving the life of a two-week-old infant in 2007, Mr. Speaker. So he was already a hero before he became a national hero as a result of his bravery that unfortunately took his life. He is survived by his wife, Nadine, his wife of 12 years, along with their children, his three daughters, Mia, Lauren and Alexa, and we certainly extend our prayers and condolences to his family.

      Also Constable Fabrice G. Gevaudan. His wife, Angela, is–remains to remember him fondly, Mr. Speaker, and his bravery. And also he is the stepfather to Emma, who he adored, according to the write-up that was in the paper on him. He had a special interest in preventing domestic violence and was active in programs to try to prevent domestic violence and to protect women in his community and his province. And it indicated that even though he often dealt with very difficult situations as a police officer, he remained very optimistic, an optimistic person, and also had a tremendous sense of humour.

      So we want to put into the record the names of these three Canadian heroes who were laid to rest yesterday in Moncton and also thank Canadians who reached out from coast to coast in many different ways. There was an initiative for people to leave their porch lights on, Mr. Speaker, over the last few days. And I know in my community, I saw a number of people who did that, who left their lights on overnight over the last few days to show solidarity. Yesterday many Canadians wore red, and many of our caucus members were wearing red yesterday in support of the RCMP, and I know many Canadians across the country participated in that initiative. It's something that they could do

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      Moncton is part of Canada, but it's still a long ways away, and so you want to show support in terms of how you can show support. And, in these days of social media, those sort of campaigns can happen fairly quickly across the country. And so we're–is touching to see so many Canadians either sign books of condolence, wear red in support of the RCMP or keep their lights on, Mr. Speaker.

      So this act, of course, is not something that is going to prevent those kinds of tragedies in the future. We hope and pray that those tragedies won't be repeated, but we know that there are people who will target our officers.

      Our job as legislators is to do what we can to not allow those individuals to have access to things that make that any easier, Mr. Speaker, and also to support our RCMP each and every day, and our municipal police officers, and to tell them that we appreciate the work that they do each and every day, and to certainly hope that tragedies like this are not repeated.

      So, with those words, Mr. Speaker, we are pleased to support this bill and pleased that we're able to ensure that it could be passed quickly this session, despite the rule hurdles that needed to be overcome. We're glad that they were overcome and we're proud that this bill will be passed. And, hopefully, it protects officers to extent they can be. Thank you.

Mr. Speaker: Is there any further debate on Bill 74?

      House ready for the question?

An Honourable Member: Question.

Mr. Speaker: Question is concurrence and third reading of Bill 74, The Public Sector Compensation Disclosure Amendment Act. 

      Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion? [Agreed]

* * *

Hon. Dave Chomiak (Acting Government House Leader): Yes, on House business, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker: On House business.

Mr. Chomiak: Mr. Speaker, I'm seeking leave of the   House to add Bill 52, The Non-Smokers Health  Protection Amendment Act (Prohibitions on Flavoured Tobacco and Other Amendments), to concurrence and third reading, to follow Bill 56, The Vital Statistics Amendment Act, and to precede Bill   61, The Peatlands Stewardship and Related Amendments Act.

Mr. Speaker: So we'll include consideration under concurrence and third reading of Bill 52 after we've completed Bill 56.

Bill 56–The Vital Statistics Amendment Act

Mr. Speaker: So, now proceed to–the honourable–on–we'll now proceed to call Bill 56, The Vital Statistics Amendment Act.

Hon. Dave Chomiak (Acting Government House Leader): Yes, Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the Minister of Labour, that Bill 56, The Vital Statistics Amendment Act; Loi modifiant la Loi sur les statistiques de l'état civil, reported from the Standing Committee on Social and Economic Development, be concurred in and be now read for a third time and passed.

Motion presented.

Hon. Dave Chomiak (Acting Minister of Tourism,  Culture, Heritage, Sport and Consumer Protection): Mr. Speaker, I've gone on speaking on behalf of the minister who's championed this bill through the House. And I'd like to read into the record a few comments and a few discussion points that arise out of this bill as we go to third reading.

      The amendments to The Vital Statistics Act benefit transgender individuals and represent a step in the right direction for human rights in our province. Manitoba-born adults will no longer be required to undergo transsexual surgery before they can apply for a change-of-sex designation. Instead, with a letter from a health-care professional, they can apply to change their sex designation so that it matches the sex with their identity.

      Mr. Speaker, this legislation has been in the    works for three years. Many individuals and   organizations contributed to the development of     this     bill. I'd like to acknowledge the support   that   was received for this bill from the human rights commission and identity management organizations such as MPI and Manitoba Health contributed to developing [inaudible] legislation, so      did professional health-care associations, academic representatives, advocacy organizations and transgender health-care service organizations. Their input was critical to getting this legislation right, and we'd like to thank them for all their hard work. Their efforts have paid off, and they can feel proud to see this bill passed in the Legislature this afternoon.

      I'd also like to take the opportunity to put a few further words on the record regarding an amendment moved by the member for St. Paul (Mr. Schuler) in committee. We did not support the amendment which would have acquired parental consent for a    minor to change their sex designation. The legislation from BC that the member copied deals with all minors, regardless of their age. The BC bill applies whether the minor is six or 16, which is why it includes a requirement for parental consent.

      The legislation that is before our House today deals only with mature minors, Mr. Speaker. This is a well-established concept in the health-care system and in law. Older minors of 16 or 17 are evaluated by their health-care professional and assessed as to whether they have the maturity to make a number of health-care decisions, like whether to accept blood transfusions.

      We consulted with many constitutional and family law experts in writing this legislation, Mr. Speaker. The 'bature' minor principle is consistent with section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms which guarantees equality regardless of age.

      Of course, we hope that transgender youth who are going through the process have the support of their family and friends, Mr. Speaker, and of course we would hope that their parents would be–will be behind them every step of the way. Unfortunately, many transgender youth do not have parental or guardian support, some are in care or on the street. Trans youth are generally more vulnerable to bullying, violence, depression and suicide. We want to ensure that we are protecting all young people as they transition to the sex that reflects their true identity. That is why we could not support the opposition amendment.

      As our society progresses, Mr. Speaker, our attitudes change. When the Human Rights Code was introduced 25 years ago, it was ahead of its time. Since then we have made many changes to our human rights standards to ensure that they truly protect anyone in Manitoba. And point of fact, I recall many debates in this Chamber when the Human Rights Code was first introduced. They were very honestly debated and very heated, but with the aid of hindsight, again, I can reiterate that the changes made to that code and the direction of that code have not only stood the test of time but have proven to be very helpful to the people of Manitoba.

      Over the past few decades we have added physical and mental disability as a grounds protected from discrimination, as well as sexual orientation. The journey continued in 2012 when we became one of the first provinces to add gender identity as a    characteristic protected by the Human Rights Code.   Last year, we passed The Public Schools Amendment Act, or Bill 18, to encourage inclusion, acceptance and respect for others in Manitoba schools. Today we will pass The Vital Statistics Amendment Act to help address the needs of transgender individuals in Manitoba, allowing them to change their sex on official records in an easier, more accessible way. Quite simply, Mr. Speaker, this is a matter of fairness; Manitobans can change their birth records to reflect their identity without having to undergo painful surgery.

      Mr. Speaker, passing Bill 56 today is another step towards a more inclusive province where everyone's individual identity is accepted. We know that more remains to be done, and we look forward to continuing this journey and we look forward to support for this bill. Thank you.

Mr. Ron Schuler (St. Paul): Mr. Speaker, I find it troubling that this Minister of Tourism, Culture, Heritage, Sport and Consumer Protection (Mr. Lemieux) doesn't believe in the value of a family unit.

      Under The Vital Statistics Amendment Act, the power of parents to do their job–that is raising their children and helping them to develop into adults–is  usurped by health-care professionals. Our party strongly believes in the value of families and the instrumental role that families and guardians play in development of children. To keep families out of such a major decision is simply wrong.

      We're not talking about a minor issue here; this   is a life-changing decision with far-reaching consequences. How does this NDP minister rationalize that there is no role for a parent or guardian to play in this decision?

* (15:50)

      It is important that minors have the appropriate guidance when making this sort of decision. They must be made fully aware of the consequences and the gravity of their decision; this is precisely the domain of parenting, and yet this government proposes that we deny parents this important responsibility in such a pivotal decision.

      Mr. Speaker, in British Columbia, where similar legislation has been working its way through the Legislature, the legislation reads as follows, and I quote: In the case of a minor, the consent of all parents having guardianship and all of the guardians of the minor, unquote.

      In our amendment, we have changed that wording slightly. In the amendment we proposed to reflect the need for written consent by either both parents, the surviving parent or legal guardian.

      So what problem does this NDP government see with this amendment? They seem to be saying that they know what's best for these parents' children. The minister can claim that mature minors have the capacity to make these decisions on their own and that a doctor or other medical professionals can determine if they are competent enough to make this decision.

      Yet, Mr. Speaker, if we go back to the legislation to section 25(8), section 2(f), it states categorically: If the applicant is a minor, include a statement that the health-care professional is of the opinion that the minor has the capacity to make health-care decisions.

      Twice in that section the minor is mentioned. Nowhere does it state mature minor.

      Mr. Speaker, my honourable colleague from Kildonan mentioned hope, and I'd like to point out to him that hope is not legislation. Nowhere, at no point in time, will hope be factored into this. What will be factored in is what is passed in legislation. So there is no mature minor provision in this legislation. It only says minor.           

      So, the question then is: Is a 10-year-old considered a minor who needs no parental involvement? Is it a 12-year-old or a 14-year-old, Mr. Speaker? Nowhere in this legislation does it define minor, not even mature minor, which was put on the record by the member for Kildonan (Mr. Chomiak). If mature minor was what the legislation was intending, then that's what should have been written in the legislation.

      However, how can this minister claim that a doctor knows, or may–a doctor who may know very little about the minor's character and personality, is better fit than the family, the family who, in most cases, have seen the child's life from birth on. Not only is this completely disrespectful to parents and families, it puts undue pressure on our medical staff to perform assessments that, in many cases, they might not have the sufficient wherewithal to determine.

      We were once all kids. We all know what it's like to be determined that we want something, whether it was a tattoo or a piercing, or even to stay out later. But, at the end of the day, our parental figures were there to protect us from making some of   these decisions without knowing all of the consequences. They were there to counsel us, to make sure we gave due attention to big decisions. Being whimsical and carefree is what being a minor's all about, and I encourage all children and youth to enjoy that aspect of life while they can. But I can't imagine a world where parents are removed from aspects of their children's lives, no longer able to help guide them to make better decisions and to be thoughtful and mindful of those decisions.

      This NDP government is short-sighted in their analysis and obviously lacks respect for Manitoba families. I urge this government to reconsider our amendment and to quit believing that their Cabinet knows how better to raise Manitoba children than their own parents and families.

      Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak on this bill which deals with the approach to individuals, to be taken under The Vital Statistics Act, who are transgender, and we had–want to thank those who presented, including Karen Busby and Ken Guilford, but the presentation by Karen Busby on this legislation was particularly helpful and clear.

      This is a bill which is appropriate, responsible, needed in Manitoba. I think there–the consideration of the situation of minors may be something that we will have to see as the situation evolves, how this is going to work. But, in general, the ability for people with–who are transgendered to be able to change the  sex on the vital–for vital statistic purposes is certainly reasonable and, I think, timely one. I have heard from a number of individuals on this who are  certainly supportive and, based on the current situation, I'm ready to support this legislation in moving forward. Thank you.

Mr. Kelvin Goertzen (Steinbach): I had the opportunity to read the court case that this bill is based on. I know the member for Kildonan is talking as though that they've somehow chartered new waters here and brought this forward. In fact, it's in response to a court case out of Alberta. And I read the Alberta court case, Mr. Speaker, and read the–Alberta's response to it, and I read British Columbia's response to it. And there's been different ways of responding to the Alberta court which made the decision that there should be the ability to change the birth certificate without going through an operation to change one's identified sex.

      So we, of course, support the law and we support court decisions, but there were some differences. In Alberta they've decided, at least at this stage–they haven't brought, I don't think, their legislation in–but to give discretion to the director for vital statistics in terms of making the change.

      Mr. Speaker, British Columbia did bring in legislation. As my colleague from St. Paul indicated, their legislation now–British Columbia is not, as far   as I know, usually considered some sort of right‑wing bastion of thought. Generally, I think it's   considered one of the more liberal, small-l liberal thinking provinces in Canada. And in their legislation they specifically have a provision that if an individual is a minor, that there has to be parental consent.

      And I don't–I'm not sure why the member for La Verendrye (Mr. Smook) chose not to ensure that parents have some sort of an input in this very, very significant decision. I'm not sure why the member for La Verendrye–or, sorry, the member for Dawson Trail (Mr. Lemieux)–I know the member for La Verendrye would have, I'm not sure why the member for Dawson Trail didn't put in this provision to ensure that parents have the ability to have input and to have discretion over this very, very significant decision. I would have thought the member for Dawson Trail would have thought more highly of parental rights, the parents' ability to be involved with their children.

* (16:00)

      I know many of the people in his riding, Mr. Speaker, and I know that they value family input and they value parental input, and so I was surprised–not that this bill came forward, because I'd read the Alberta decision; I fully expected a bill like this to come forward to comply with the law, and we are a party that believes in complying with the law–but his   specific decision to remove family input into this  decision shocked me from what I know about the  constituency of Dawson Trail.

      And I've had opportunity to speak to member's residents of his constituency, and they were equally shocked that parental discretion would be specifically removed because that's not what the court decision said. This court decision did not speak about parental discretion being removed in this particular circumstance, and, in fact, that's evidenced by the fact that British Columbia specifically included parental discretion, and yet the member for Dawson Trail and his Cabinet saw fit to remove parental discretion, and I find that very, very troubling.

      There are many other things, of course, where parental consent–

An Honourable Member: You're going to vote against it?

Mr. Goertzen: You better believe it. You–Mr. Speaker, I will always stand up for parental ability and for the involvement of families to be involved in the upbringing of their children. And the member for   Dawson Trail seems surprised that there are members of this House that would stand up for the right of parents to be involved in decisions that their minor children are making. That seems to shock him. And I'd be happy to have that discussion in St. Anne, in Lorette. In any of his communities we'd gladly have that discussion about whether parents should have some ability to have that–the debate or the–some input in their minor children's lives. So I think he's agreeing to have that discussion and debate. I'll make sure I set that up. I'll talk to his office and we'll try to figure out where the right location for that is.

      I was saying, Mr. Speaker, that we were having some discussion about how often we have to have parental consent for things these days in our life. My son who is of the age now where he's thinking about going to camp, before I can send him to camp–he's seven years old–he has to have parental consent and yet, under this legislation, the member for Dawson Trail has removed parental consent.

      We had a government that proudly–this NDP government, that proudly proclaimed that they were going to require parental consent if minors wanted to go into a tanning bed, Mr. Speaker. This was something that they said was there to protect minors, and so they said, well, and before we allow a minor, somebody under the age of 18, to be able to tan, we want her to have parental consent. And yet under a bill like this, the member for Dawson Trail said no. You don't need any parental consent to change your identity if you're under 18 on your birth certificate.

      I had the opportunity before the home opener for the Bombers to take my son to Fan Fest, Mr. Speaker, and they had a number of things on on the field and I mentioned he's seven. And before he could go on the field and participate in the different events that they had on the Bomber stadium, I had to sign parental consent so that he could go onto the field and participate in those events and yet under this law that the member for Dawson Trail has crafted, if he wanted to change his identity, I'd have no consent in that at this age or any age until 18, even though in British Columbia, that bastion of right-wing thought, I say sarcastically, they have the provision of ensuring that there is parental consent.

      If you want to have your child participate, if your child wants to participate in any sort of health research, Mr. Speaker, parents have to give consent before that can happen. When it comes to drivers, in certain circumstances where individuals who are under 18 want to be able to drive and to participate in learning programs, parental consent is involved. Even a government program that's called Manitoba Mentors, if you want to participate in the Manitoba Mentors Program so that you, as a young person, you can be mentored into a company or into a business, parents have to give consent.

      Seems to make sense and all the previous examples made sense too, but if you want to change your identity, your sexual identity, and you're under 18, you don't have to have parental consent. I don't understand why the member for Dawson Trail (Mr. Lemieux) would remove this. I understand that this is a response to a court decision, and I respect and I always appreciate the fact that governments have to respond to court decisions when they come forward. But this government has gone much further than that and gone much further than British Columbia is doing by taking any sort of parental involvement out, Mr. Speaker, and I simply think that that's the wrong way to go.

Mr. Speaker: Is there any further debate on Bill 56?

      The House ready for the question?

An Honourable Member: Question.

Mr. Speaker: The question before the House is concurrence and third reading of Bill 56, The Vital Statistics Amendment Act.

      Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Some Honourable Members: Agreed.

Some Honourable Members: No.

Mr. Speaker: I hear a no.

Voice Vote

Mr. Speaker: All those in favour of the motion will please signify by saying aye.

Some Honourable Members: Aye.

Mr. Speaker: All those opposed to the motion will please signify by saying nay.

Some Honourable Members: Nay.

Mr. Speaker: In the opinion of the Chair, the Ayes have it.

Recorded Vote

Mr. Chomiak: Recorded vote, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker: Recorded vote having been requested and as previously agreed, the vote will be deferred 'til after 5 p.m.

Bill 52–The Non-Smokers Health Protection Amendment Act
(Prohibitions on Flavoured Tobacco and Other Amendments)


Mr. Speaker: We'll now proceed to call for concurrence and third reading Bill 52, The Non‑Smokers Health Protection Amendment Act (Prohibitions on Flavoured Tobacco and Other Amendments).

Hon. Dave Chomiak (Acting Government House Leader): Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the Minister of Labour, that Bill 52, The Non-Smokers Health Protection Amendment Act (Prohibitions on Flavoured Tobacco and Other Amendments); Loi modifiant la Loi sur la protection de la santé des non‑fumeurs (interdiction visant le tabac aromatisé et autres modifications), as amended and reported from the Standing Committee on Justice, be concurred in and be now read for a third time and passed.

Motion presented.

Hon. Sharon Blady (Minister of Healthy Living and Seniors): Manitoba has made great progress in   reducing youth smoking rates in our province from 29 per cent in 1999 to 13 per cent in the most  recent survey. We know there are candy- and fruit‑flavoured cigarette-like products on the market today that are targeted to encourage children and youth to experiment with tobacco, threatening the progress that we've made. Bill 52 aims to ban those products targeted at getting our kids to start smoking.

      We have heard from our partners in the fight against tobacco use that Bill 52 is an important step in maintaining our momentum and keeping kids in Manitoba from taking up the habit. We have also heard, loud and clear, from the Canadian Cancer Society, from the Manitoba Tobacco Reduction Alliance, from the Manitoba Lung Association and from high-school students on our SWAT teams and from others that more needs to be done and that we should be going further when it comes to preventing youth uptake. Those are all complex issues, Mr. Speaker, with implications that cross jurisdictional boundaries. I will continue to work with my provincial colleagues in hopes that the federal government will take up these complex issues and develop a consistent national approach.

      Bill 52 is an important and meaningful step in keeping children and youth in Manitoba off tobacco, and I urge all members to support it.

      Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Cliff Graydon (Emerson): Again, I'd just like to reiterate what I put on the record earlier today, that we certainly support the intention of the bill that's been put forward by the minister but, at the same time, we do have some concerns with the bill, and we–those concerns I've expressed very clearly, that the tobacconists in the province are collateral damage and a side effect of the bill. They were certainly not intended to be people that are affected by it, and it could cause some loss of jobs in the province, and I have a concern about that. But, at the same time, Mr. Speaker, it appears that my amendments didn't pass, but the concerns haven't gone away and I'm somewhat troubled that the minister wouldn't amend the bill to do exactly what needs to be done to get full support. But, at the same time, I guess we'll leave that to democracy. Thank you.

Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Yes, Mr. Speaker, just briefly on this legislation, I think it's important to do what we can to close the loophole that was created as a result of the federal legislation. There were some excellent presenters on this bill who put their points across very clearly. This bill could've been changed one way or another a little bit, and maybe at some point it will be revisited again, but at least it is a step forward in hopefully having an impact to decrease smoking and tobacco use among young people in Manitoba in particular. Thank you.

Mr. Speaker: Is there any further debate on concurrence and third reading of Bill 52?

      House ready for the question?

Some Honourable Members: Question.

Mr. Speaker: Question before the House is concurrence and third reading of Bill 52, The Non‑Smokers Health Protection Amendment Act (Prohibitions on Flavoured Tobacco and Other Amendments).

      Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion? [Agreed]

Bill 61–The Peatlands Stewardship and Related Amendments Act

Mr. Speaker: We'll now proceed to call for   concurrence and third readings Bill 61, The Peatlands Stewardship and Related Amendments Act.

* (16:10)

Hon. Dave Chomiak (Acting Government House Leader): Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the Minister of Labour, that Bill 61, The Peatlands Stewardship and Related Amendments Act; Loi sur   la protection des tourbières et modifications connexes, reported from the Standing Committee on Social and Economic Development, be concurred in and be now read for a third time and passed.

Motion presented.

Mr. Shannon Martin (Morris): Good afternoon, Mr. Speaker. It's my pleasure to rise and put some comments on the record in regards to Bill 61, The Peatlands Stewardship and Related Amendments Act.

      I'll be honest, Mr. Speaker, my involvement with peat was quite limited until this legislation came up, and that was to go to my local co-op in town, purchase some peat for the garden and spread it around, and that's pretty well all I thought about this large, very compressed bag of product.

      But, obviously, it's through the legislation, through the minister's briefing and, obviously, through those presentations during the committee stage, presentations by the Canadian peat industry, by the Canada Parks and Wilderness Society and other interested individuals that wanted to make comment on peat.

      I have to say, at least in one component, and it might strike members opposite a little strange, but I do agree with the Minister of Conservation and Water Stewardship (Mr. Mackintosh) that peat is not a mineral, Mr. Speaker, so it does seem a little odd that peat finds itself under the mining act. So, I mean, the removal of peat from the mining act–and I do believe that we will be the first jurisdiction that actually removes peat from the mining act. And the minister's right; I mean, peat is a very unique substance. It's not quite wood; obviously, it's not quite mineral. It's its own substance. So, obviously, there is some logic to putting peat within its own act.

      What was also quite interesting, when it comes to peat, Mr. Speaker, the idea that this government is proposing with peat is–the idea here is to treat peat as a renewable resource, obviously, as I noted, by removing it from The Mines and Minerals Act to a new act under the direction of the Minister of water and–Conservation and Water Stewardship.

      But let's be honest, Mr. Speaker, peat is not truly a renewable resource. It's–I guess it's as renewable as, say, coal is. I mean, you get enough dinosaurs, enough time and enough pressure, we will–coal will again be recreated, as will oil and those other kind of substances.

      Peat is a leftover from–you know, took literally thousands upon thousands of years, left over from the last ice age, the accumulation of a significant amount of vegetable mass and plant mass, Mr. Speaker, that became, through a combination of environmental forces, became what it is now and it is peat.

      But what's really quite interesting, and as I started my comments, Mr. Speaker, about going to   the local garden shop and getting peat, is how  important peat is to the industry–or to the economy here in Manitoba. There are approximately 360 Manitobans employed through the peat industry. There are 10 different plant locations and 21 bog sites.

      And what we're talking about in terms of Manitoba's peatlands, the harvest area in Manitoba of  peatlands only represents about 1 per cent of Manitoba's total peatland area, Mr. Speaker. So it's not a significant amount that we're looking at harvesting in terms of peat. But, as I said earlier, in terms of peat actually being a renewable resource, that's a bit of a stretch.

      Now, I mean, obviously, there are ways, and I remember listening to the presentation by Stéphanie Boudreau, who is the science co‑ordinator of the Canadian Peat Industry, who was there to make a    presentation on behalf of the Manitoba peat producers, and she shared with us her direct knowledge of peat. And it–the terminology is more–a more correct terminology and use of phrase would  be, actually, the restoration of peatlands as opposed to the–treating peat as a renewable resource, because  over the–Ms. Boudreau, again, the science co‑ordinator for the industry based out of Quebec, has invested more than $7 million in research over the last 10–or, sorry, the last 20 years to investigate ways to accelerate the restoration of peatlands and obviously to mitigate the impacts.

      So, Mr. Speaker, when peat is harvested, it is in  a sense a form of clear-cutting. Not–you know, obviously when we think of clear-cutting we think of the large–you know, the 20, 30 foot trees and just being lopped off at the base and sort of left with stumps left behind. In essence, that is what peat harvesting is. I mean, they go in, they block off the section of peat that they wish to harvest, they redirect that flow of water that feeds the peat to let it dry out, and then they go in with a machine and they literally clear-cut the peat and remove it all.

      Now, obviously, they noted the industry recognizes–and I think most Manitobans recognize that peatlands form an 'intregal' part of our larger water system here, Mr. Speaker, not only in terms of wildlife, in terms of, obviously, the bird population that uses peat as its nesting ground, but also smaller animals and amphibians that also utilize peat.

      More importantly, peat acts as a significant carbon filter, a carbon storage for the province and for Canada as a whole, and it forms a critical component of the filtration system, Mr. Speaker, filtering waters before they enter our lakes and rivers. And as the–you can take a look–and Ducks Unlimited actually has a number of excellent resources, and one of them that I recently viewed showed an overlay of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, showing the retention ponds and the marshland in those two jurisdictions from about 50 years ago to  present. And it–the shrinkage was incredible, in large part due to, I guess, the–you know, the previous thought that this was wasted land and simply should be removed. Now, obviously, farmers and other stakeholders are–have been for the last  number of years–and, I mean, whether it's KAP or–and working in conjunction with the Ducks Unlimited–have begun to–or have for a number of years recognized the importance of peatland, of marshes and our wetlands as a critical component of our larger ecological system.

      But, Mr. Speaker, I was talking about what the science co-ordinator for the Canada peat industry shared with us in terms of, again, the rehabilitation of   peatland, and it's called the moss layer transfer technique. And as part of that they go in and a leveller is used to flatten the dome-shaped fields, to scrape the peat surface, and they literally scrape it to ensure a good redistribution of water, they–a donor site is identified as close as possible to the 'stite' to restore with the desired plant assemblage. That–because donor sites recover more rapidly after pant–plant collections since only the upper layer is harvested and it can be used more than once, again, on a sustainable or a semi-sustainable basis.

* (16:20)

      Then, of course, comes manure, Mr. Speaker, because as every good agricultural producer out there can tell you, that there is nothing better than manure in terms of fertilizers. I know members opposite are quite aware of that fact. But a manure spreader is   used to spread the plant fragments over the restoration site, and they try for a ratio of introduction about one to 10, which means that in one metre square of plant material coming from the donor site is spread on 10 metres square of surface to restore. Then they cover this entire layer with straw, and actually straw mulch to protect the newly introduced plant fragments, especially the sphagnum mosses. And then they'll often, over top of that, they will fertilizer with a low-phosphorus fertilization, to encourage the plant establishment and growth. They will block the drainage to raise that water level in the peatland to encourage the regrowth of the sphagnum. And then, of course, as every 'stewart' of the land knows, that monitoring is a critical component of that and the monitoring–and, again, as suggested by the science co-ordinator for the industry, is done about after three, five, 10 years and then every five years thereafter to do an inventory of the return of plant life, wildlife, biodiversity as well as the hydrological characteristics and carbon fluxes as a result of those intermittent scheduled monitoring of the site.

      So the monitoring of restored sites shows that a typical bog plant cover establishes, actually, within a few years following restoration and it is dominated by sphagnum mosses, Mr. Speaker, and restoration also returns the organic matter accumulations to values that are comparable to those of natural systems.

      In terms of plant species, the number of species of plants can actually be higher in restored areas, compared to natural peatlands, Mr. Speaker, because wetland species can also be abundant in former drainage ditches, especially at the beginning of the restoration process.

      Some birds and insect species, typical of natural peatlands, do not recolonize restored peatlands, but their abundance–or, sorry, they do recolonize, but their abundance remains lower than in natural peatlands 10 years after restoration, Mr. Speaker. So, again, there are some environmental consequences even after the effort's made to restore, when–at least when it comes to birds' and species' reintroduction. That is not to suggest that it's a wasteland, that there are no birds and insects returning, but simply that they're not returning in the previous numbers that have existed when it was a naturally occurring event.

      Now, obviously, Mr. Speaker, I made reference earlier in my comments about that carbon balance, and following restoration, CO2 emissions are largely reduced and reversed, while CH4 emissions increase, but to a lower extent again that exists in natural peatlands.

      Now, studies from different provinces in Canada report similar values, suggesting that content of their  climate does not greatly impact the effect of restoration on CO2 and CH4 flux, at least in the short term, Mr. Speaker.

      Now, the industry indicated that at the committee stage, there's a great deal more work to do, a lot more science to do, and they very much are strong advocates of that scientific approach, Mr. Speaker, of making sure that what they’re doing is in the best interests of the industry's long-term sustainability and to ensure what they’re doing today doesn't become a detriment to those that follow tomorrow.

      And I think that the Canada–that the Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss Association actually has a fairly good record here in Canada as responsible 'stewarts,' and here in Manitoba, Mr. Speaker. I know the province, as part of this legislation or as part of  the lead-up to this legislation has removed the harvesting of peat moss from our provincial parks and protected areas, all except in one incident. It's just unfortunate the province, due to some earlier mishandling of the situation, ended up getting a bit of a peat rush or gold–almost like a gold rush, as a number of the industry stakeholders attempt to get their licences, gone through when the government announced a two-year moratorium under the former minister–Minister Blaikie. So the Province was left in the position that they actually had to go and use tax dollars to buy back these licences from industry stakeholders that did follow the process that is laid  out by the province, but the licences actually had   to be purchased back by the Department of  Conservation and, by extension, obviously, the taxpayer. So I think there is only one–either one protected area or one provincial park, and I'm not quite sure off the top of my head, but that still allows that harvesting.

      But we talked about the importance of that industry or of the–of peat harvesting on our larger economy here in Manitoba, and, as I indicated, we're talking about 210 jobs: we have about 90 indirect supplier jobs; we have 60 induced jobs. More importantly, I think, from a provincial protector or, at   least, a Province that's often desperate for new revenues to spend, generates about 1 and a half million dollars in total taxes, about 700 and–about–just over $700,000 provincially and about $13,000 to those municipal jurisdictions in which the harvesting may occur. It also provides about $400,000 in royalties for government, or at least it did in the year 2011, so about three years ago.

      Now, I know, again, as part of this bill, as often is the case with this NDP government, a lot of the details will be flushed out in the regulatory process. But I know in the briefing, Mr. Speaker, the government–and, I believe, in the legislation–the government talked about revisiting that royalty program, so there is a–obviously, the indication anyway, because if we look at his government's track record, they're very reluctant to lower the costs to individuals or to businesses here in the province of Manitoba. So I can only imagine that the royalties are going to substantially increase over the years on 'behart'–on behalf of the NDP government. Of course, they'll wrap themselves in that mom and apple pie of, you know, we're just here to protect the environment, and we will reinvest these funds in some sort of, you know, green initiative, as they're often want to do.

      You know, one of the critical or one of the more interesting parts about the legislation, Mr. Speaker, is that each licensee holder of a peat licence in the province of Manitoba now has approximately–I think it's three years to actually present to the department or to, actually, a newly created director a restoration plan of which they actually have to pay a deposit.

      Now, we did put forward, Mr. Speaker, an amendment during the committee stage which would have indicated that those restoration plans, upon submission to government, would have had to–or  upon receipt by government would have to be posted and made available online within 30 days of receipt, because I think all Manitobans and interested stakeholders would find value in learning more about what each individual site– because there are unique characteristics with each peat harvesting site, and I think it's important that we have that transparency and that accountability built into the system. That should an individual–whether it's, you know, just, again, passing interest or maybe it's through their own academic studies or maybe it's through their own professional career wants to learn more about the specifics of the restoration plan, that they would be able to access it online and within a reasonable amount of time.

      Now, I know in discussing that with the minister, the minister, at the time, rejected that amendment and he argued, at the time, that it was part of the environment 'mact', that is the publishing of peatland restoration plans. So, obviously, my effort here is not to duplicate or apply redundancies in the system. I take the minister at his word that those–that the publishing of peatland restorations plans do indeed fall under The Environment Act, and so I reach out to the minister and his department to provide me that information so, again, I as a legislature can have that information so that I can ensure that I'm making a informed conversation or informed comments on the record, more importantly, making an informed decision when I vote yea or nay on this particular piece of legislation.

      So the minister–or through his legislative policy  analyst–did indicate that the environmental–sorry, the EAL proposal includes other supporting documents, is placed on the public registry for  review. And the–both the management plan and recovery plan required under Bill 61 will become part of the EAL proposal and would therefore be part of the public registry at the EAL proposal stage, Mr. Speaker.

* (16:30)

      So, Mr. Speaker, while there isn't within that–within The Environment Act the licensing procedures regulation, a time frame in terms of the posting and sharing of that public information, Mr. Speaker, I do take the minister at his word, the information that his policy analysts have shared with me, that the–that it is–or that at least the spirit of the amendment that we put forward was, indeed, covered off.

      So, Mr. Speaker, I think we can all agree on this side of the House that peatland is a critical component, as I said, of our environmental health and well-being and, especially, I guess, in light of the announcement the government made today, I think it only re-emphasizes, I think, what we all need to collectively do to value this component of it.

      But also there is a commercial value to this peatland, Mr. Speaker. And I think, again, I think it's worth commenting that only 1 per cent of Manitoba's peatlands are currently under harvest, so–and that the industry is actively using research methods and financial investments–again, how best to restore those wetlands–or sorry, those peatlands to a stage in which the plant life and wildlife can return and, also, that we can have that water filter and water-health component that peatlands function in part of our larger water system.

      But, again, to reiterate what the science advisor from the Canadian peatland association said, you cannot, at least in our lifetimes, or that of our children and grandchildren, restore peatland to a re‑harvesting level, Mr. Speaker, but you can, obviously, rehabilitate the land so that you can retain or reacquire some of those environmental benefits that exist through the proper management of peatlands.

      So, Mr. Speaker, with those words, I'll allow any   of my other colleagues to make comments on  Bill   61, and I look forward to hearing those comments and I look forward to a larger debate on the legislation.

Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Mr. Speaker, I want to put a few words on the record about this bill on peatlands.

      I think, to begin with, it's important to recognize the very large extent to which Manitoba has peatlands. This bill clearly is significant and it's important in starting to address issues surrounding peatlands in Manitoba.

      On the other hand, there are some things here which are a little bit unusual. We have a consultation process on this bill, but the–and the peatland strategy, which, I think, ends in August sometime. And here we are with a bill before the consultation process is complete. And so, you know, which is the cart and which is the horse? It's not clear from this government.

      Mr. Speaker, the second thing is that we had today a strategy toward sustainable drainage which was presented. This strategy is presented, but in my fairly quick look, it doesn't really speak very much in terms of peatlands. And yet, here we are, debating a bill and, at the same time, we've got a Surface Water Management Strategy being presented when these two are actually very, very closely connected.

      And it would appear that the government, in developing the Surface Water Management Strategy, was really looking at agricultural lands and considering that the peat is in the boreal forest and therefore that these two don't connect at all but, in fact, there's already been areas where, on the edge, you've had peatlands converted to agriculture and peatlands drained for agricultural purposes.

      So, in fact, these are all part of one system here.  It's not that they're totally separate. And we need to start thinking in a little broader context, rather than trying to pigeonhole peatlands in one part of the province and surface water management for agriculture in another part of the province. These two issues, in fact, overlap and need to be considered more effectively together.

      I think it's important, as we consider peat and the future of peat in Manitoba, that we are considering the broader implications.

      Mr. Speaker, we had a number of really good   presenters: Paul Short; Stéphanie Boudreau, Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss Association–Paul Short was the Canadian sphagnum moss harvesting, I think, association; Ken Guilford; Pascal Badiou from Ducks Unlimited; Gaile Whelan Enns representing both herself, Manitoba Wildlands and, in a separate presentation, representing Peguis; and then a written presentation from Ron Thiessen with the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society.

      Just a couple of comments from certain of the  presentations to highlight the–from Stéphanie Boudreau. The fact that the harvesting and restoration is becoming increasingly sophisticated, that machines used for agricultural or peat harvesting purposes can be used, making these techniques compatible with the restoration of large peat surfaces. Techniques include planting, surface preparation, plant correction and plant spreading, straw spreading, fertilizers, in some cases, blocking drainage ditches and monitoring. So the–there is a considerable sophistication in certain aspects of this, but, on the other hand, there is still a lot of science that is needed to understand certain aspects of processes and what our plans are.

      As Pascal Badiou emphasized, peatlands function to help maintain the water quality and overall health of these lake ecosystems, and he was   talking about, you know, the importance of     collaboration and co-operation among all stakeholders–true.

      The presentation by Gaile Whelan Enns and her answers to question highlighted that the peatlands are often areas where there have been medicinal plants; they're a pharmacy for First Nations people. Is this–do you want to call that agricultural in the sense of having plants, but it's a more natural form in the sense that it's not necessarily disturbing the existing peatland but harvesting those which are–plants which are there–an important aspect to consider.

      Again, comments about the importance of research and science in so many areas in respect to peach–peat. And, from Ron Thiessen, you know, the–recognizing the importance that peatlands are part of large interconnected ecosystems, the most efficient terrestrial ecosystem for long-term carbon storage, filter and storing of water, that the cultural values are important, the potential for First Nations to be involved is significant.

      And this is the–he also comments–and, I think, this is pretty important–that there should be a clear definition of peatlands. It's odd that you have a peatlands bill, but it doesn't clearly define what are peatlands; to some it may be obvious, but, in fact, peatlands are–represent, in essence, a continuity of what one consider peatlands and where do you draw the boundaries. This is actually quite an important point and should have been better considered.

      As I would see it, if we think of where we are now, the government should have, sort of, set a goal, you know; are we going to preserve 5 per cent, 10 per cent, 25 per cent, 50 per cent, 75 per cent of–or 95 per cent of peatlands in Manitoba? What's the plan?

An Honourable Member: Goals, Jon? We don't need no goals. We don't need no goals.

Mr. Gerrard: This government doesn't really believe in goals. The minister, in presenting your sustainable drainage strategy, talked about a no net loss of wetlands. Does this apply in this part of the province as well; it's not entirely clear.

* (16:40)

      But I would suggest that there are outcomes: we could have peat that is left as it is first. We could, secondly, have peat which is harvested. Third, we can have peat which is harvested and then restored, rehabilitated or reclaimed. Fourth, we can have peat which is converted directly to agricultural use. And   fifth, we could have peat harvested and then afterwards converted to agricultural purposes. And one of the concerns about this bill is that it doesn't really consider this aspect that is that, if you look around the world, one of the major things that has   happened is the conversion of peatlands to agricultural purposes. And, you know, this bill doesn't really reflect the reality of what's happened around the world.

      And one may reflect here on Manitoba, I suspect there has been more peatland converted to agricultural purposes than there has been, to date, peatland which is harvested in Manitoba. And so the reality is that, although peat harvesting is very important and we need to have this looked at carefully, that there are likely to be, particularly with global warming and warming temperatures and, particularly in some communities in the boreal forest, pressure to look at the conversion of peatlands into agricultural lands.

      The government themselves are already talking about putting lots of gardens up in northern Manitoba. Well, and the reality is that one of the places where 'gardland'–gardens could or agricultural plots may end up being put is on peatlands, and this should, at the minimum, have been discussed, considered and not just avoided, because it is likely to be that we will see much more consideration of this as time passes. Whereas, we are not thinking very much about it now, in the future I think, if we're looking ahead, we need to be aware of this consideration.

      This bill does not adequately put a framework for developing the research and the science around peat in Manitoba. This bill doesn't set up any approach in terms of advice for scientific areas or funding of the science and research and there should've been, because it's clear that there is a big gap in the current science in terms of the overall management of peat, and this is not just for harvesting, but for other uses, and so on, of peat. And even identifying fully the plants, which may be very important for pharmaceutical purposes, could be, you know, one area where there would be useful research together with First Nations communities.

      I would suggest that, when we are looking at management of peatlands, that we should be looking in general at several particular areas. One is in wetlands protection and water management, this is a    vital area where peatlands are tremendously important, and so we need to have a perspective, goals and approaches that deal with, as well as develop knowledge surrounding peatlands and water management. The extent to which these peatlands are important is already known that they have a vital role, but making sure that how we treat these peatlands and how we look at things long term is essential in terms of maintaining water quality and maintaining optimum water management so that we can use–have peatlands being effective in terms of flood protection, as well as enhancement of water quality.

Second, as has been already much discussed, there are greenhouse gas emissions, so addressing climate change and having an understanding of optimum approaches with respect to peach–peat in   terms of greenhouse gas emissions is clearly important and, you know, while it's mentioned and considered, is–we will need to have more knowledge and more clearly defined approaches here.

      There is economic benefits of peat, and I would suggest that there are four areas where their potential for–five areas, actually, for economic benefit. One is in peat harvesting in the sense that people have looked at in terms of peat mining, and that's a major aspect of this legislation.

      Second is in peat harvesting in the sense of gathering of plants for pharmaceutical purposes by   First Nations communities. This is a way of harvesting the plants and the peatlands, but it's very different from most of what the government has been talking about in terms of peat harvesting per se.

      Third–the conversion of peatlands to agriculture. As I say, this is what has happened in many, many areas of the world. We need to understand that although there may not be a lot of pressure right now to make such conversions, that there may develop such pressures in the future. And there may be some economic benefits from looking at this, although there're clearly some downsides in terms of understanding the impacts of agricultural conversion in terms of wetlands management and greenhouse gas stewardship.

      The fourth area of potential economic benefit deals with stewardship of greenhouse gases. Now, the government has talked over the years a lot about  trading carbon credits with other jurisdictions, but very little–and, certainly, has not set up an  inside‑Manitoba greenhouse 'gras' trading credit system so that individuals and companies could benefit from appropriately managing, for greenhouse gas stewardship purposes, peatlands.

      Mr. Speaker, water and land stewardship–again, the potential for economic benefit from good stewardship of water and land. We have had, in   Blanshard municipality, ecological goods and services approaches, the management of peatlands in the future, probably not the immediate future but certainly starting in areas which–where there's agriculture nearby, it's certainly applicable. But it could extended. We need to consider are there ecological goods and services for which we should be supporting, in certain areas and in certain groups, First Nations groups, Metis, Inuit, perhaps the ecological benefits of wise stewardship in these areas.

      Lastly, we need to consider the sharing of management of benefits with First Nation, Metis and Inuit people in economic benefits in particular. Too often First Nations and Metis and Inuit people have been considered last instead of first, and I'm not convinced yet that this government has done the   adequate consultations with Aboriginal people and   has adequately incorporated the co-operative management and co-operative benefits approaches that should be happening.

      The restoration of peatlands is much talked about here, but it's not well defined. In fact, we are having in this bill, restoration, rehabilitation, reclamation of peatlands, but it's not clear the different 'deferitions' in terms of exactly what's involved with restoration, rehabilitation, reclamation and what the end results are going to be. There could have been much better and much more work here and, overall, the goals, the strategy could have been spelled out a lot better.

* (16:50)

      In terms of licensing, there are some interesting transition approaches, questions about how well these have been managed. The–57(1), "The director must issue a peat harvesting licence to a person who held a peat quarry lease." We're not given specific information on how many exist in licences, how many applications for licences, you know, are going to be automatically processed and, you know, whether the requirements for licences, given that these must be issued–it's very definitive, will be, you know, rigorous, as they should be, in terms of making sure that people who come forward, under a condition that they must have a licence or must be given a licence, that they will have to follow and do adequately in terms of their approach.

      And lastly, there–we need to be assured that there will be a public registry covering the appropriate details. This may be under The Environment Act, but this must be done and so that the information is out there and that it is available.

      Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker: Is there any further debate on Bill 61?

Hon. Gord Mackintosh (Minister of Conservation and Water Stewardship): I just want to give a brief shout-out to the staff that has worked so hard on this over the last many months, Mr. Speaker. They've really engaged many people in a way unprecedented, I think, and as well, have been working with industry as well, in a way that has really respected the insights that they can bring to this policy area.

      I look forward, of course, then to, the–that same staff developing the regulations, Mr. Speaker. There's a lot of work left to do.

      Thank you very much.

Mr. Speaker: Any further debate on Bill 61?

An Honourable Member: Question.

Mr. Speaker: House ready for the question.

      The question on–is concurrence and third reading of Bill 61, The Peatlands Stewardship and Related Amendments Act.

      Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion? [Agreed]

Bill 68–The Child and Family Services Amendment Act
(Critical Incident Reporting)

Mr. Speaker: We'll now to proceed to call bill–for   concurrence and third reading–Bill 68, The Child  and Family Services Amendment Act (Critical Incident Reporting).

Hon. Andrew Swan (Government House Leader): I move, seconded by the Minister of Family Services  (Ms. Irvin-Ross), that Bill 68, The Child and Family Services Amendment Act (Critical Incident Reporting); Loi modifiant la Loi sur les services à l'enfant et à famille (signalement des incidents critiques), reported from the Standing Committee on Social and Economic Development, be concurred in and be now read for a third time and passed.

Motion presented.

Hon. Kerri Irvin-Ross (Minister of Family Services): Bill 68 will enshrine in legislation the duty for individuals within Manitoba's child and family services system to report critical incidents as a government priority.

      Children's safety is, and will continue to be, the highest priority for Manitoba's child welfare system.

      The Child and Family Services Amendment Act (Critical Incident Reporting) will achieve the following three objectives: No. 1, while Manitoba currently has a strong reporting system through CFS  standards and policies, the act enshrines in legislation the duty to report critical incidents. Secondly, the legislation expands the list of those who are obligated to report critical incidents, to include people who come into contact with children throughout the entire CFS system. The act also ensures that critical bodies in the system receive critical incident reports without delay, including the provincial director of Child and Family Services, the mandating authority, and the licensing and/or placing agency.

      Over the next year, we will be working as a department with the agencies and the authorities to work on the regulations and define what is a critical incident.

      I look forward to the development of the regulations, and I'm confident, as we move forward, this is another step in Manitoba protecting their children.

Mr. Tom Nevakshonoff, Deputy Speaker, in the Chair

Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): I want to put on the record briefly a few comments just to say that,  while I think that critical incident reporting in Child and Family Services is important, that it is different from health care, and I think it's very important to recognize this and make sure that–or any regulations that come forward recognize the unique circumstance.

      I think it is important to have some process for outcomes and that the critical incident reporting will  not only lead to appropriate investigation but actual change in the system. This has been a huge problem under this government: that they've had recommendations after recommendations in Child and Family Services, but that they're not delivered on making the change in so many areas.

      Thirdly, we've had a recent incidence of Matias. And it's not just a matter of reporting, but it's a matter of the minister actually doing a job that she should be in making sure that things are moving forward and that family needs are addressed and attended to.

      And, lastly, from the point of view of people who work within the system–although I think it's really important to have critical incident reporting, that it's also important to have a system that allows the positive contributions that so many are making within the child and family services system reported so that it doesn't seem that the Child and Family Services system is just being reported because of negative things. And, of course, critical incidences are terrible, but let us also recognize the many children who are being helped and saved because of the good work that's being done in the Child and Family Services; let's recognize that and make sure that we don't have a typical NDP one‑sided bill. Let's look at both the positives as well as the negatives. Thanks.

Mr. Ian Wishart (Portage la Prairie): I would like to rise and put a few words on the record regarding Bill 68, critical incident reporting, Child and Family Services.

      We're concerned about this bill. We have, certainly, some support for the need to do critical incident reporting, and I appreciate the work from my colleague from River Heights that we only hear the negatives with critical incident reporting and perhaps we need some positive reinforcement as well.

      But, when there are critical incidents, they need to be reported and recorded properly. And this House  has seen quite a substantial history with this government of not only not recording them and not reporting them, but not recording them properly and not keeping good track of records. In fact, many of the coroner's reports are very critical, as well as the Children's Advocate are very critical of the fact that recording still is not occurring and still is very poor. So having critical incident reportings without good reports is a very serious problem.

      Mr. Deputy Speaker, we suggested a couple of very good amendments, including changing the definition of a critical incident so it is more consistent with that that occurs in the health-care act. And we also suggest that there is better mechanism, more transparent mechanisms than just reporting to the director or themselves, which is really what the department will end up doing.

      And, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I think, Manitobans have become increasingly interested and concerned about what's going on in the child-welfare system in   this province, especially considering the large number of children that are in care. So we suggested that the report–or the critical incident be reported either to the child's advocate office, which we all have considerable respect for and their ability to do open and honest investigations, or, at very least, to a committee that contains the child–the Children's Advocate and some other independent bodies, as is consistent with the health-care system.

Mr. Speaker in the Chair

      So, with those concerns and the fact that the government chose not to incorporate any of those amendments, we will not be supporting this bill as it stands. Even though we do support the need to do critical incidents, you might as well have–go the whole route and have 'transpary'–go over–and have some transparency.

      As I said earlier, Manitobans are increasingly concerned about what's going on in the child care–family services child-care system and, certainly, with  all of the children that are in care, want to see some degree of transparency and some satisfaction that all of the recommendations–and, when the minister well knows she has over a thousand recommendations out there, some–and actual action on these recommendations, because very few of them have actually been acted on when you actually look at it.

      So thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity.

Mr. Speaker: Is there any further debate on Bill 68?

      House ready for the question?

Some Honourable Members: Question.

Mr. Speaker: Question before the House is concurrence in third reading of Bill 68, The Child and Family Services Amendment Act (Critical Incident Reporting).

      Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Some Honourable Members: Agreed.

An Honourable Member: No.

Mr. Speaker: I hear a no.

Voice Vote

Mr. Speaker: All those in favour of the motion will please signify by saying aye.

Some Honourable Members: Aye.

Mr. Speaker: All those opposed to the motion will please signify by saying nay.

Some Honourable Members: Nay.

Mr. Speaker: Opinion of the Chair, the Ayes have it.

Recorded Vote

Mr. Kelvin Goertzen (Official Opposition House Leader): Recorded vote, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker: Recorded vote having been requested, as previously agreed, the vote will be deferred as the third item of votes after 5 p.m.

* (17:00)

      As previously agreed, the House–by the House, the following deferred votes will now be held on concurrence and third reading of the following bills:  Bill 66, The Statutes Corrections and Minor Amendments Act, 2014; Bill 56, The Vital Statistics Amendment Act; and Bill 68, The Child and Family  Services Amendments Act (Critical Incident Reporting).

      Each vote will be held separately and, as soon as one vote is completed, the House will proceed automatically to the next vote. The House will continue to sit until these votes are completed.   

Bill 66–The Statutes Correction and Minor Amendments Act, 2014



Mr. Speaker: We shall now proceed with Bill 66, The Statues Correction and Minor Amendments Act, 2014.

      A recorded vote having been requested, call in the members.

      Order, please.

      We'll now proceed for the vote on Bill–concurrence and third reading of Bill 66, The Statutes Corrections and Minor Amendments Act, 2014.


A RECORDED VOTE was taken, the result being as follows:


Allan, Allum, Altemeyer, Ashton, Bjornson, Blady, Braun, Chief, Chomiak, Crothers, Dewar, Gaudreau, Irvin‑Ross, Jha, Kostyshyn, Lemieux, Mackintosh, Maloway, Marcelino (Logan), Marcelino (Tyndall Park), Melnick, Nevakshonoff, Oswald, Robinson, Saran, Selby, Selinger, Swan, Wiebe, Wight.


Briese, Cullen, Driedger, Eichler, Friesen, Gerrard, Goertzen, Graydon, Helwer, Martin, Mitchelson, Pedersen, Piwniuk, Schuler, Stefanson, Wishart.

Clerk (Ms. Patricia Chaychuk): Yeas 30, Nays 16.

Mr. Speaker: I declare the motion carried.

* (17:10)

Bill 56–The Vital Statistics Amendment Act



Mr. Speaker: Now proceed to call, for concurrence and third reading vote, Bill 56, The Vital Statistics Amendment Act.


A RECORDED VOTE was taken, the result being as follows:


Allan, Allum, Altemeyer, Ashton, Bjornson, Blady,   Braun, Chief, Chomiak, Crothers, Dewar, Gaudreau, Gerrard, Irvin‑Ross, Jha, Kostyshyn, Lemieux, Mackintosh, Maloway, Marcelino (Logan), Marcelino (Tyndall Park), Melnick, Nevakshonoff, Oswald, Robinson, Saran, Selby, Selinger, Swan, Wiebe, Wight.


Briese, Cullen, Driedger, Eichler, Friesen, Goertzen, Graydon, Helwer, Martin, Mitchelson, Pedersen, Piwniuk, Schuler, Stefanson, Wishart.

Clerk: Yeas 31, Nays 15.

Mr. Speaker: I declare the motion carried.

Bill 68–The Child and Family Services Amendment Act
(Critical Incident Reporting)



Mr. Speaker: Now proceed to the vote on concurrence and third reading of Bill 68, The Child and Family Services Amendment Act (Critical Incident Reporting). 


A RECORDED VOTE was taken, the result being as follows:


Allan, Allum, Altemeyer, Ashton, Bjornson, Blady,  Braun, Chief, Chomiak, Crothers, Dewar, Gaudreau, Gerrard, Irvin‑Ross, Jha, Kostyshyn, Lemieux, Mackintosh, Maloway, Marcelino (Logan), Marcelino (Tyndall Park), Melnick, Nevakshonoff, Oswald, Robinson, Saran, Selby, Selinger, Swan, Wiebe, Wight.


Briese, Cullen, Driedger, Eichler, Friesen, Goertzen, Graydon, Helwer, Martin, Mitchelson, Pedersen, Piwniuk, Schuler, Stefanson, Wishart.

Clerk: Yeas 31, Nays 15.

Mr. Speaker: I declare the motion carried. 

* * *

Hon. Andrew Swan (Government House Leader): House business, Mr. Speaker.

      Can you canvass the House to see if there's agreement to call it 6 o'clock?

Mr. Speaker: Is it the will of the House to call it 6 p.m.? [Agreed]

      The hour being 6 p.m., this House is adjourned and stands adjourned until 9:30 tomorrow morning.