LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF MANITOBA
Thursday, June 18, 2015
Mr. Speaker: Good afternoon, everyone. Please be seated.
Mr. Speaker: Introduction of bills?
Mr. Speaker: Seeing no bills, we'll move on to petitions.
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 northeast region of the Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority.
(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 L. Wielgosh, C. Vogen, I.B. McDonald and many, many more 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 Trunk Highway 206 and Cedar Avenue in Oakbank–Pedestrian Safety
Mr. Ron Schuler (St. Paul): Mr. Speaker, I wish to present the following petition to the Legislative Assembly.
The background to this petition is as follows:
(1) Every day, hundreds of Manitoba children walk to school in Oakbank and must cross PTH 206 at the intersection with Cedar Avenue.
(2) There have been many dangerous incidents where drivers use the right shoulder to pass vehicles that have stopped at the traffic light waiting to turn left at this intersection.
(3) Law enforcement officials have identified this intersection as a hot spot of concern for the safety of schoolchildren, drivers and emergency responders.
We petition the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba as follows:
To urge that the provincial government improve the safety at the pedestrian corridor at the intersection of PTH 206 and Cedar Avenue in Oakbank by considering such steps as highlighting pavement markings to better indicate the location of the shoulders and crosswalk, as well as installing a lighted crosswalk structure.
This is signed by C. Thompson, D. Bodner, T. Hnatiuk and many, many other fine Manitobans.
Minnesota-Manitoba Transmission Line Route–Information Request
Mr. Dennis Smook (La Verendrye): I wish to present the following petition to the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba.
The background to this petition is as follows:
(1) The Minnesota-Manitoba transmission line is a 500-kilovolt alternating-current transmission line set to be located in southeastern Manitoba that will cross into the US border south of Piney, Manitoba.
(2) The line has an in-service date of 2020 and will run approximately 150 kilometres with tower heights expected to reach between 40 and 60 metres and be located every four to five hundred metres.
(3) The preferred route designated for this line will see hydro towers come in close proximity to the community of La Broquerie and many other communities in Manitoba's southeast rather than an alternate route that was also considered.
(4) The alternate route would have seen the line run further east, avoid densely populated areas and eventually terminate at the same spot at the US border.
(5) The Progressive Conservative caucus has repeatedly asked for information about the routing of the line and its proximity to densely populated areas and has yet to receive any response.
(6) Landowners across Manitoba are concerned about the impact hydro line routing could have on land values.
We petition the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba as follows:
To urge the Minister responsible for Manitoba Hydro to immediately provide a written explanation to all members of the Legislative Assembly regarding what criteria were used and the reasons for selecting the preferred routing for the Minnesota-Manitoba transmission line, including whether or not this routing represented the least intrusive option to residents of Taché, Springfield, Ste. Anne, Stuartburn, Piney and La Broquerie.
This petition is signed by C. Dawydick, C. Skrabek, E. Froese and many more fine Manitobans.
Mr. Speaker: Any further petitions?
Seeing none, we'll move on to committee reports.
Mr. Speaker: Seeing no committee reports, I have a report to table.
In compliance with section 4 of the Members' Salaries, Allowances and Retirement Plans Disclosure Regulation, I am pleased to table the reports of amounts claimed and paid for members for the 2014-2015 fiscal year.
Any further tabling of–that was under tabling of reports.
Apology to First Nations, Metis and Inuit Survivors of the '60s Scoop
Hon. Greg Selinger (Premier): Mr. Speaker, before I commence my statement, I'd like to provide the requisite copies to the Legislature.
Mr. Speaker, elders, survivors, guests and members of this Chamber, I am humbled today to speak about a tragedy widely known as the '60s scoop. This wide-scale, national apprehension of indigenous children by child-welfare agencies removed thousands of children from their families and communities.
Je me présente avec humilité aujourd'hui pour parler de la tragédie connue sous le nom « 60s scoop ». Cette appréhension à échelle nationale d'enfants autochtones par notre système social a enlevé des milliers d'enfants de leur famille et de leur communauté.
I am humbled today to speak about the tragedy known as the '60s scoop. This nation-wide apprehension of indigenous children by our social system removed thousands of children from their families and communities.
These children were placed in non-Aboriginal homes across Canada, the United States and even overseas. While some adoptive families took steps to provide culturally appropriate supports to adopted children, the '60s scoop is recognized as a practice of a forced assimilation and one that extended well beyond the 1960s.
There is not an indigenous person in this country who has not been affected by the residential schools legacy, and the number of indigenous people affected by the '60s scoop is also very large.
Across Canada, the number of adoptees is estimated to exceed 20,000 First Nation, Metis and Inuit children. By separating these children from their families, they were stripped of their culture, language and traditions.
Judge Edwin Kimelman and–the author of the 1985 report No Quiet Place on the child-welfare system and how it affected Aboriginal people, described the '60s scoop as cultural genocide, the very term that Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin and Commissioner Murray Sinclair used to describe the residential schools system. It is important that we acknowledge and appreciate the meaning of that description.
The reality is that, like the residential schools, the effects of the '60s scoop remain with us today. The human impact on families and communities are profound and cannot be easily reconciled.
The '60s scoop must now be recognized for the harm it caused and continues to cause. Many of the adoptees experienced profound shocks as they lost their heritage, language, families and their identity. Many of those who later returned to their communities as adults found it equally challenging to rebuild their relationships and connect with their culture.
Today, as Premier, I would like to apologize on behalf of the Province of Manitoba for the '60s scoop, the practice of removing First Nation, Metis and Inuit children from their families and placing them for adoption in nonindigenous homes, sometimes far from their home community, and for the losses of culture and identity to the children and their families and communities.
Comme premier ministre, je prends cette occasion pour présenter une excuse officielle de la part de la province du Manitoba pour le « 60s scoop », l'enlèvement des enfants des Premières nations, Métis et Inuit de leurs familles et leur placement dans des familles adoptives non‑autochtones, parfois très loin de chez eux, pour la perte de culture et d'identité, celle des enfants et de leur familles et communautés.
As Premier, I take this opportunity to formally apologize on behalf of the Province of Manitoba for the '60s scoop, the practice of removing First Nation, Metis and Inuit children from their families and placing them in non-indigenous adoptive families, sometimes very far from home, and for the loss of culture and identity to the children and their families and communities.
It was a practice that has left intergenerational scars and cultural loss. With these words of apology and regret, I hope that all Canadians will join me in recognizing this historic injustice. I hope they will join me in acknowledging the pain and suffering of the thousands of children who were taken from their homes.
By recognizing these difficult truths, I hope that we can join together down a new path of reconciliation, healing and co-operation. There is a long road ahead of us. It takes time to heal great pain. But I stand here, on behalf of the Manitoba government, committing to doing our part in the reconciliation process.
Last year the Province, led by the Deputy Premier and Minister of Aboriginal and Northern Affairs (Mr. Robinson) held a two-day round table with '60s scoop survivors to discuss their stories and put forward an action plan. This round table was the first time in Canada that such a gathering was hosted by a government.
Days later, on behalf of the province, Coleen Rajotte, herself a '60s scoop survivor, and Chief Francine Meeches of Swan Lake First Nation presented to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission final national event on the '60s scoop.
Then in April of this year, on behalf of the provincial government, Coleen Rajotte and Leah Gazan spoke about the impact of the '60s scoop on First Nations, Inuit and Metis children at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
These actions brought much needed attention to this important issue. But still much more needs to be done to assist '60s scoop survivors.
This week the Manitoba government opened the adoption records to ensure there are more–they are more accessible to survivors of the '60s scoop, along with other adoptees. The records help adoptees and birth parents connect with each other, giving access to birth certificates, adoption documents and other information that had previously been kept confidential. We believe that all children have the right to know who their birth family is, particularly those who were part of the '60s scoop generation and for those individuals seeking information important to identifying First Nation, Metis or Inuit heritage. There has been a great deal of interest from adoptees, along with birth parents.
Acknowledging the '60s scoop legacy as well as opening adoption records are very important steps forward on the road to reconciliation. However, we know there will be many challenges for those who discover their family origins and we want to assist them.
Today governments across the country are reviewing the calls to action and summary report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Manitoba has started on many of the recommendations in the areas of education, family services, justice and missing and murdered indigenous women and children. We are using the report as a guidepost for further action.
Under the leadership of Manitoba's Deputy Premier and Minister of Aboriginal and Northern Affairs (Mr. Robinson), the Canadian ministers responsible for Aboriginal affairs and national Aboriginal leaders have advocated for the '60s scoop and missing and murdered indigenous women and children to be addressed at a national level. As Justice Sinclair has said, an apology without a change in behaviour is meaningless, and all levels of government need to admit their responsibility.
We have made progress on missing and murdered indigenous women and children. All Canadian provinces now support a national inquiry on this issue and have committed to holding another national round table within two years. We now want to see national recognition brought to the '60s scoop, and today we commit to raising this important issue at the next national round table.
We also know that education about the '60s scoop and its impact on First Nation, Metis and Inuit children needs to be part of education curriculums across the country. In Manitoba, we will be doing exactly that.
In closing, I would like to once again apologize on behalf of the Province to the innocent children and their families for this practice that, in the words of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, removed thousands of Aboriginal children from their families and communities and placed them in non‑Aboriginal homes without taking steps to preserve their culture and their identity.
We look forward to further leadership on residential schools and the '60s scoop from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission this fall in their final report.
Ekosani, miigwech, mahseecho, mutna, wopida, hei hei, merci and thank you.
Mr. Ian Wishart (Portage la Prairie): In response to the minister's statement, I want to thank the Premier (Mr. Selinger) for his ministerial statement concerning the '60s scoop.
Beginning in the late 1950s and continuing on into the 1980s, thousands of Aboriginal and Metis and Inuit children from across Canada were taken from their homes and fostered or adopted out. Today we remember and acknowledge the traumatic impact this had on Aboriginal, Metis and Inuit families in our province and across the country.
Here in Manitoba, innocent children and youth were taken from their culture, their ancestral language and their caring families and placed into other, mostly non-Aboriginal communities, adopted into a life they knew nothing of. It was not until the 1980s when the practice was stopped after a group of Ontario chiefs passed resolutions against it and here in Manitoba the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry harshly condemned it.
It took many years for us as a nation to acknowledge what really happened in the residential schools and also during the '60s scoop. After numerous reconciliation attempts, June 11th, 2008, marked a significant turning point in our nation's history when our federal government and all political parties in the House of Commons formally apologized to all of 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, create a record of our shared history. Through survivor engagement and public contributions, the commission has helped us move forward on a path toward reconciliation. We are all proud of the significant work they have done.
Mr. Speaker, I have considerable empathy for those impacted by the '60s scoop, as I, too, am an adoptee from a slightly earlier period. I was blessed with being placed in a loving, caring family, something I know that did not always happen to the children from the '60s scoop. But I remain concerned that an apology for what happened in the '60s to Aboriginal and Metis children will not be enough by itself.
We see the significant growth in the number of children in care in our own CFS system with over 11,000 children, placing us as one of the highest rates of apprehension around the world, and it continues to be the highest in the country. Nearly 90 per cent of those children are Aboriginal or Metis despite representing only 26 per cent of all Manitoba children.
The impact of the '60s scoop is multi-layered. We know social workers during that period were acting with the best of intentions. Unfortunately, good intentions did not align with the real needs of the Aboriginal and Metis families and their communities. The path to reconciliation requires we admit that mistakes were made and that we are now better prepared to help address society's fundamental inequities.
The Premier (Mr. Selinger) has stated his apology is part of the healing process and we all hope that that is true. He has indicated his apology is an acknowledgement that the Aboriginal, Metis and Inuit children did lose contact with their families, their heritage, their culture, their language. It is an important loss that needs to be acknowledged.
Yet the parallels between the '60s scoop and the child-welfare system today are unmistakable. It appears sometimes we have made little progress.
This is why First Nations leaders gathered last fall to release their aptly titled Bringing Our Children Home report, which called for greater resources within the First Nations communities so that children aren't removed from their families.
This is why First Nations leaders recently created the position of the First Nations family advocate meant to specifically aid First Nations families with keeping their children within their homes and their communities. Unfortunately, and it deeply saddens me, Mr. Speaker, to hear this week that after only one week on the job, the new advocate is speaking out how things have yet to change.
Though this government may believe that kids in care are safe, the traumatic experience of apprehension has lifelong consequences to both the child and the family, especially when children are torn away from their home and their culture. During the '60s scoop, parents and families had no clue what was happening to their children when they had been taken away. Were they safe, being cared for, nurtured and educated? Today, too, many Aboriginal parents and families feel the same. All they know is that their children is somewhere in the CFS system and they have no way of knowing that children is safe, cared for, nurtured and educated. The harsh reality is that many children are not. In the past year, children who were supposed to be cared for have instead been housed in risky, unsupervised and vulnerable places.
The recent Manitoba Centre for Health Policy report showed that children in care have the lowest proportion of high school completion at only 33 per cent. And the same report revealed that children in care are falling behind their peers on many levels. This hardly qualifies for nurturing and caring. It bears repeating: There has been little progress made.
Much like the '60s scoop and Indian residential schools, there are intergenerational consequences for families when they have their children taken. We must learn from the mistakes of our shared history and acknowledge the harm done by removing children from their communities. We cannot wait for hindsight to show us yet again that this is a dangerous practice.
It is only through real meaningful change that true healing can happen and occur and reconciliation can occur. I hope that we're able to work together to make sure that our shared future is much brighter than our shared past.
Thank you, merci.
Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): I ask leave to respond to the Premier's statement.
Mr. Speaker: Does the honourable member for River Heights have leave to speak to the ministerial statement? [Agreed]
Mr. Gerrard: Mr. Speaker, I stand today on Treaty 1 territory and in the homeland of the Metis nation. And I say thank you to the Premier for offering the apology, on behalf of all Manitobans, today to those who were taken away and affected by the '60s scoop, because it is not just those who were taken away but it is the families as well who were so severely affected.
I also want to thank the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs for his efforts to listen, to reach out to people who were affected by the '60s scoop and to have a major role in organizing the event that we had at noon and making sure that this apology happens. So thank you, Minister.
I want to recognize all those who are here today who were taken away as part of the '60s scoop. And I want to say to you, personally, and your families, I am sorry for what happened, and I want to say on behalf of my leader, Rana Bokhari, and Manitoba Liberals, we are sorry for what happened. And we recognize that in saying sorry that there is much more now that has to be done to address what has happened and the conditions that people are in today and what needs to be done to bring, for all of us, a better future, but for you who were taken away, in particular, we need to pay more attention and provide more support and more help.
I know that there are those who were taken away in the '60s scoop who have spoken out and said, you know, this is too late. I think it is an important day. An apology is never too late. It is vital it is done. I fully embrace, as I believe all do here, the apology that is happening today. And I think it is important recognition of what was done wrong in the past, just as we all need now to get together and move forward in a better way, recognizing what has happened.
I want to personally thank several people who have helped me understand the situation of the '60s scoop.
In the 1980s, I met with and talked at some length with Angus Woodford, who was one of those who went out and searched out children who'd been taken away in the–often in the United States but sometimes in other provinces, and we had some long discussions. Angus put in a tremendous effort and it was not easy, and I remember talking on many occasions with him about this. Angus has now passed away, but I want, in his memory, to thank him and others who made an effort to address this over the time since it's happened. Thank you, Angus.
I want to thank David Chartrand from Camperville because we have had the opportunity to–had a number of long discussions, and he was taken away. I never realized until I had talked with David and with Peter that there was literally a van or a bus which came down the street and literally herded children into the van or the bus and took them away. You know, I just couldn't believe that this could've happened in the 1960s here in Manitoba, but it did, and that, of course, is why we're here today. But it's important we understand that there were some things that were done which were above and beyond what we would ever have believed could have happened, and that's not taking away from some of the abuse and the other sad stories that happened when people were with–taken away and put with other families. Fortunately, some of those families helped and–but some of them were not easy places to grow up.
I want to thank another individual who I talked with more recently, and he talked about how he was walking along a road when he was about eight years old. A car came up and pulled him into the car, and away he went to be taken away. His family wasn't told and it was years before he was able to reconnect. I mean, the type of thing that happened, fortunately, I think, would not happen like this again. But, you know, we have to recognize of the terrible things that were done, you know, in a way that is so difficult to understand.
It is important–and this has been said before–that this apology is not the end; it is the start. It is the start of a major effort not only to create better awareness of those who were involved in the '60s scoop and what happened, but it is the start of an effort to try to better help those who have been involved and who have been so severely affected.
And I think in–a number of years ago–and I would just say this briefly before I conclude. In about 2006, I sat down, and with–a conversation which I remember vividly today–with a woman who came to me and said, you know, we had the residential school system, we've had the '60s scoop. She said, you know, there are more children being taken away now than there were in the residential schools or in the '60s scoop.
And we have–and I think this commitment is starting–to better support families to stop the apprehension and taking away of children and to recognize that for mothers and children there is a sacred bond, and that sacred bond starts in utero during pregnancy where the fetus is able to hear and listen to the heartbeat and the words of the mother, and that bond grows after pregnancy as the child grows. And, of course, there are important bonds with the father and other family members, and these bonds with the extended family are incredibly important to all of us. And we need to work and make sure that we recognize the importance of children and families and build upon the mistakes of the past and build for all a better future.
And with that, I say I'm sorry once again, on behalf of myself and, I believe, all others here.
Thank you for this opportunity to speak. Merci, miigwech, ekosi.
Mr. Speaker: Are there further ministerial statements?
Mr. Speaker: Seeing none, prior to oral questions, I'd like to draw the attention of honourable members to the Speaker's Gallery where we have with us today Grand Chief Derek Nepinak, Grand Chief David Harper, David Chartrand, Peter Paul, Lori Thompson and Robert Walmsley.
On behalf of all honourable members, we welcome all of you here this afternoon.
And also, seated in the public gallery we have with us this afternoon from Birtle Elementary school, we have 32 grade 4 and 5 students under the direction of Heather Smart, and this group is located in the constituency of the honourable member for Riding Mountain (Mrs. Rowat).
On behalf of honourable members, we welcome you here as well.
Mr. Speaker: The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.
Mr. Brian Pallister (Leader of the Official Opposition): I'm not supposed to be up. Oh–sorry, Myrna.
Mr. Speaker: The honourable member for Charleswood.
Renal Health Unit (Gimli)
Mrs. Myrna Driedger (Charleswood): Oh, that's okay. It is, indeed, a historic day, Mr. Speaker, and honoured to be part of this.
Mr. Speaker, this NDP government is rationing dialysis services in Gimli. They have six beds but only use four; they're open only part-time three days a week; they accommodate only eight patients and force the rest to travel to Winnipeg for dialysis. That is a great example of highway medicine. This dialysis unit cost $5 million to build, but it is seriously underutilized.
So I'd like to ask this Minister of Health to explain to Manitobans why they have to pay more and get less.
Hon. Sharon Blady (Minister of Health): I'd like to thank the member for the question.
I can assure all Manitobans, especially those in the Gimli area, that my staff is already in contact with some of the individuals who use those dialysis services in Gimli, as well as with the RHA, because we are bringing more dialysis services to rural Manitoba, not less, meaning that patients and families can spend more time at home with their loved ones and less time on the highway.
Again, the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy has recently released a report showing that Manitobans are getting healthier in nearly every way, including diabetes prevention and care.
If there are any further concerns that any member of this community has regarding the services, I welcome them to please contact my office because we are, again, working on it, but their personal input would always help us do a better job.
Mrs. Driedger: There are several patients who are forced to come to Winnipeg for dialysis three times a week because of the part-time program in Gimli. The regional health authority refused to tell us how many patients are forced to come into Winnipeg. On top of that burden, these families have to drive the patient in. This can take up to 24 hours a week, and, Mr. Speaker, they pray that the weather isn't minus forty with a blinding snowstorm. It's hard on the patient and it's hard on the families.
Mr. Speaker, they are forced, as well, to pay their own travel expenses. For some of them, they've been doing this for a very long time. This sounds like two-tier health care to me.
I'd like to ask this Minister of Health to tell these families why they have to pay more and get less.
Ms. Blady: Again, I would like to thank the member for the question and assure all Manitobans that we have actually worked very hard to ensure that rural Manitobans have access to better diabetes care.
Today there are 16 rural and northern dialysis units versus the nine that there were in 1999. That is nearly an 80 per cent increase. We have opened up new dialysis stations in Norway House, Gimli, Russell, Swan River, Island Lake, Berens River and in Peguis. We have renovated or expanded dialysis units in Boundary Trails, Flin Flon, Portage, The Pas, Swan River and Thompson.
And in addition to bringing more dialysis to rural and northern communities, we know that home dialysis can significantly improve the quality of life, which is why we've seen more than a 60 per cent increase in the amount of Manitobans receiving dialysis right in their homes.
So we're working with Manitobans, Mr. Speaker, and we will continue to work with them.
Mrs. Driedger: Mr. Speaker, there are three families in the gallery today who are victims of NDP broken promises and mismanagement. They question why the dialysis unit in Gimli sits idle for four days a week while their family member is being forced to come in to Winnipeg for dialysis. Taxicab medicine isn't even an option for these people. They have been told there aren't enough nurses in Gimli.
Recent freedom of information shows that the dialysis nursing shortage in Manitoba sits at 44 nurses. That is far worse than what it's been three years ago.
So I'd like to ask this Minister of Health to admit that her broken promises and mismanagement is threatening front-line services.
Ms. Blady: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to thank the member again for the question.
And as I mentioned in my first answer, that my office has actually been in contact with many of the families associated with this particular dialysis service, but if there are any additional members here that would like to meet in my office after question period, I invite them to do so.
I would also like to add that, again, we have been working to bring things to northern communities and, in fact, we are the only province that offers dialysis on reserves. So on a historic day, remind people that we are doing the work.
But, again, if anyone in this Chamber, anyone out in the general public has any questions, concerns, I welcome them to come to my office, and we will continue to work with the Gimli community and the RHA on these services.
Authorization of Expenditure
Mr. Brian Pallister (Leader of the Official Opposition): Now, Mr. Speaker? Thank you.
On July 25th, 2014, the Infrastructure Minister announced $5 million for floodfighting equipment for Interlake First Nations. He was joined at the photo opportunity by Peguis First Nation Chief Glenn Hudson; his colleague, Aboriginal and Northern Affairs Minister; and the Interlake NDP MLA as well.
Under whose authority was this announcement made, and who authorized the expenditure of $5 million?
Hon. Greg Selinger (Premier): Mr. Speaker, a commitment was made in the context of opening up the channels and ensuring the people had compensation for the loss of fishing economic opportunities in the area. There was a dialogue going on between everybody to ensure that all issues were addressed in our ability to protect communities.
As you know, Mr. Speaker, we made very significant commitments to communities for flood protection in terms of the emergency channel becoming permanent, additional channel commitment to this centre for flood mitigation in the Interlake area with the tribal council was part of a larger discussion going on between the government of Manitoba, the tribal council and the federal government. And we committed to move forward on that and, of course, we wanted to follow the proper procedures in doing that.
Mr. Pallister: Proper procedures, that's interesting.
Yesterday, when I asked the question for–the member for Thompson (Mr. Ashton) said we have to deal with real-time flood situations. And the Premier in his statement had a similar talking point, and he said that it was an urgent request for flood protection–urgent request. Now, despite being an urgent request and a real-time situation and an effort to keep communities safe, the proposal–request for proposal to lead to this $5-million tender wasn't made until December 19th. That's almost a half a year later.
So what happened in that time period of the urgent photo opportunity and between the urgent photo opportunity and the request for proposal? What happened that caused this delay of almost half a year?
Mr. Selinger: Mr. Speaker, during the course of that summer there was a real desire to provide compensation for fisherpeople that had lost their revenue due to flooding. At the same time, there was a desire to keep the channels flowing, the emergency channel flowing in order to protect all those communities.
And in the context of that, there had been a discussion among the federal government, the provincial government and officials in the area from the First Nations communities, the Interlake tribal council, on a flood mitigation centre. We are committed to providing supports to communities to be able to fight floods and have the proper equipment and training to do that. That was the context of the decision.
It was important at that time for–provide that support to fisherpeople. It was also important to keep the channels open and moving properly and then to work forward on flood mitigation equipment that would be needed in the future, and we insisted that that be done with a proper process.
Mr. Pallister: Well, there's a bit of a contradiction, just a bit, Mr. Speaker, because what the Premier's alluding to isn't what the announcement was about. The announcement was a commitment by the government to spend $5 million on floodfighting equipment and had nothing to do with these various and sundry other issues he's raising.
And he didn't address my question, of course, again, Mr. Speaker, because there was a delay of almost half a year between the photo op and the announcement that was made and the actual request for proposal.
Almost a year has passed now. The government has yet to award a contract to address what they call an urgent need. What happened in the period following the urgent announcement on July 25th of last year and today has obviously prevented the government from keeping their promise to provide flood protection to vulnerable communities.
So I'll ask the Premier again: What happened?
Mr. Selinger: Mr. Speaker, as a matter of fact, we did move forward with additional flood protection for communities in Manitoba. There has been additional work done to keep that channel open. There has been additional work to make that channel permanent. There has been consultations on an additional outlet out of Lake Manitoba.
In this budget alone, we had individual flood protection resources, additional resources, for southwestern Manitoba.
We also have said we would move forward with First Nations communities to provide them equipment to meet the needs in their area. In this case, the federal government moved ahead and provided $5 million worth of equipment. Our tender remains online. We are committed to working forward on this process through a proper tendering process.
In the budget, we've put millions of dollars more available for southwestern Manitoba for individual flood protection. I note that the members opposite have once again voted against those resources which will protect communities and individual farms and families in the long term.
Mr. Speaker: The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition, on a new question.
Contract Tendering Process
Mr. Brian Pallister (Leader of the Official Opposition): Well, quite frankly, Mr. Speaker, announcements–if announcements could protect Manitobans from flooding, there wouldn't be any damage due to flooding, because the government's great at doing announcements. But the fact is announcements aren't protecting people and statements about committing resources such as this photo op which committed $5 million towards protecting people haven't been acted upon.
So what the Premier is talking about is talking. He's not talking about action; he's talking about consultations and coffee parties. He's not talking about action to protect people.
Now, there's a concern that's also been raised about the tendering process. In March of 2014 the AG, the Auditor General, exposed an epidemic of NDP untendered contracts. In just an 18-month audit period, they uncovered thousands of untendered contracts, over 2,130, totalling into hundreds of millions of dollars. Tendering matters, but it's not common among this government. Tendering matters because it's a way to ensure Manitobans get value for the dollars that are invested.
So I want to ask the Premier: Why was this project not put to tender after the announcement was made?
Hon. Greg Selinger (Premier): Mr. Speaker, I have three copies of the announcement, so I will table them. I will use one for a moment just to put the appropriate facts on the record.
It says that we announced an assistance program for fishers. That was part of recognizing that they had suffered from economic losses during the flood events that had occurred, and this program was made available to Dauphin River, Lake St. Martin fisheries affected by the operation of the Lake St. Martin emergency channel and will provide compensation for fishing opportunities while the channel is being used. That was the–and reimburse the cost of damaged nets and replacing damaged docks. This was part of an overall approach to recognize the losses they had received. We also made a commitment to additional equipment that would allow rapid response from those communities.
We insisted that that be done through a tendering process, Mr. Speaker, and all of that was going on at the same time as we were working to keep the channels open, at the same time as we were working on individual flood protection and we were working on engineering studies and consultations, which are actions that bring people together and come to a decision on how we will provide long-term protection to communities.
We are committed to doing that, and we will follow up and continue to move forward on protecting Manitobans from severe weather events, which in Manitoba mean floods and loss of–
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The honourable First Minister's time on this question elapsed.
Mr. Pallister: Mr. Speaker. well, again, the Premier (Mr. Selinger) did not answer the question.
I'll read from the Auditor General's comments about why tendering matters because it is important the government understand that's what I'm asking here. She said government must ensure that Manitoba citizens receive good value for their tax dollars when it acquires goods and services from the private sector. A competitive procurement process helps achieve that.
Yet this government departs from that competitive procurement process too frequently. In fact, hundreds and hundreds of times totalling hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent without any evidence of value for money being achieved.
This announcement was made. It was a commitment for $5 million to go towards flood protection equipment and materials. It did not have anything to do with the other items that the Premier has raised here today.
I'm asking if he has a commitment to getting value for money for Manitobans, why did he not go to tender and keep his promise on the $5 million that was photo-op announced?
Mr. Selinger: Mr. Speaker, we did go to tender; that's the short answer to his question. And when arrangements are arrived at that are satisfactory and meet the requirements, then that will move forward with consultation with the communities that need the equipment.
More than 76 per cent of all contracts for expenditures that go out there are done through a competitive process. Of the remaining ones, 60 per cent are in situation where only one provider is qualified and capable of doing the work. One example of that is, for example, when we bought the water bombers from Bombardier in Montreal. They the only one that can provide parts to those airplanes in Manitoba, to our CL-215s and CL 'fourfteen'–415s.
Sometimes we do untendered contracts for emergency situations, for example, food and supplies for fighting emergency wildfires.
So these are specific examples, and we do have in our budget this year in the budget implementation and stacks–BITSA, what we call it, budget implementation and tax statues amendment act. We do have a provision for a regulation which will define the thresholds of public disclosure of untendered contracts and, in addition, we will be implementing a new online registry this year for contracts. And we will provide for a streamlined–
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The honourable First Minister's time on this question has elapsed.
Mr. Pallister: A commitment to act only when caught, Mr. Speaker–I mean, they broke every rule that they had in their book when they did not tender a project for over a $100-million contract for an air ambulance. They broke every rule they had, so more rules is hardly going to solve the problem the Premier's creating over there by ignoring them.
Now, on August the 5th, just 11 days after the photo op, a photo op in which he participated, a Peguis chief received a $5-million invoice. He received an invoice, I repeat, just 11 days after a press conference in which he sat next to two ministers of the Crown.
Now, who authorized the $5-million order that obviously triggered a $5-million invoice for floodfighting equipment? Who authorized it?
Mr. Selinger: Mr. Speaker, the–that process did not occur. We went forward with a tender process.
The member opposite makes a case out of the $100-million contract for the STARS air ambulance service.
We put a priority on the safety of lives of people in Manitoba. We had a service that it worked well for us in 2009. In 2011, we continued with that service because that had served us well again. We put a priority on ensuring Manitobans were protected, and if they needed an air ambulance service it was available in a timely fashion.
That was something that we made a decision on. It was the only service like that where all of the pieces necessary were there: the trained staff, the skilled people and the experience to offer that service in Manitoba. Those are judgments we make on behalf of the people of Manitoba, Mr. Speaker. There are other occasions where we've had to do sole‑source contracts in Manitoba.
But I do want to remind the member that 76 per cent of all of those contracts that we do are done through a competitive process and 60 per cent of the remaining ones are done to suppliers where they may be in the unique situation of being the only ones available to 'surpry' that service or that part or that component or that good that the government of Manitoba needs.
So we are going to increase the transparency. We're going to continue to make sure–
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The honourable First Minister's time on this question has elapsed.
The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition, on a new question.
Authorization of Purchase
Mr. Pallister: He's going to increase the transparency, but he won't answer a single question on an important issue, Mr. Speaker.
A hundred million dollars more than Saskatchewan paid for the same service, an announcement just a few days before the cut-off for communications before the last election is hardly an indication of sincerity about getting value for money for Manitobans for anything.
Now, this photo opportunity occurred. It was a reality. It was a–photo ops because there were three different NDP members there, of course, sitting beside Chief Hudson. Chief Hudson received an invoice less than two weeks later for $5 million. Somebody placed an order for floodfighting equipment.
Now, in the photo the chief's sitting right next to the Deputy Premier who is sitting next to the Infrastructure Minister, and I submit this government had no intentions to do anything about shopping smart for Manitobans. They had an intention not to drag their feet over here and do nothing. They had an intention to buy this equipment without a tender.
Now, either Chief Hudson placed the order for the equipment or the government did.
Who placed the $5-million order that was invoiced to Chief Hudson?
Mr. Selinger: The order didn't transpire. We came to a decision after careful deliberation internal to the government to go with a tendered contract process. That process was put out there in December. That process is still online; it's still available for people; it's still an open process, and the tendering process was the decision we made as a government. I directed that we do that and it has been followed through on, and that is the proper process in the circumstance.
Other circumstances require different responses. The STARS contract that we did was to ensure the safety and security of Manitobans during a very serious flood situation when many roads had been washed out, when many standard procedures were not available because of the damage to infrastructure and people were at risk. Many people were literally in islands where water was surrounding them, and if an emergency occurred they needed to be rescued. The air ambulance was the ideal service to do that. It had proven itself in 2009. It had proven itself again in 2011. It's a non-profit organization. They had well-qualified staff. We have seen that they have tried to do a good job. We have improved the standards for that service in Manitoba and continue to offer it when people need it.
Mr. Pallister: The contract was written by the company that they gave it to. Not a single Manitoba company had a chance to bid on it, and there's no way they can make the case that any Manitoban got value for their tax dollars that were taken from them by this government's sloppy shopping techniques, Mr. Speaker–not one.
Now, this is a totally dysfunctional government and this illustrates it. Either the NDP government placed an untendered order, a sole-source order for floodfighting equipment or Chief Hudson did–one or the other.
Is the Premier (Mr. Selinger) asserting that the chief of Manitoba's–one of Manitoba's largest and strongest First Nations communities ordered $5 million worth of floodfighting equipment without prior approval from his government and then sent the bill to the government after? Is that what he's suggesting?
Mr. Selinger: None of the above, Mr. Speaker. I'm suggesting that the process followed careful deliberations inside of government and resulted in a requirement to do it through a tendered process, and that is the methodology that we put in place for this contract. In the meantime, the federal government made available $5 million for this type of equipment. That was their decision. We followed a tendered-process approach and we continue to do that. Different circumstances require different responses. In this case, it was the view that a tendered process was the best way to go, and that is the process we have followed.
Now, I say to the member opposite, he complains about the STARS airship contract. He would've put the lives of Manitobans at risk during a serious flood situation and a serious flood–post-flood situation where people literally were not able to get out of their communities because of very serious damage to infrastructure. And we put that resource in place because it had served us well in 2009, it had served us well in 2011, and we wanted to have continuity of service. We provided for that continuity of service because we put the lives and safety and security of Manitobans at the top of our priority list.
Mr. Pallister: Well, Mr. Speaker, the company that they gave the sole-source contract to–a 10-year contract–was actually employed by the government for two years prior, so I don't think the emergency case has much weight to it.
Now, the actual dysfunction of the government is on display again today. They refuse to answer the question, who placed the order? An order was placed; it's clear the order was placed.
Now, $5 million for 133 flood prevention kits, but there was no tendering process. The Premier says, an order did not transpire. And order was made, Mr. Speaker, or an invoice would not have been sent.
Now, the government made no attempt whatsoever to evaluate competitive bids. They just made an empty promise apparently, a commitment to spend $5 million in which they now say was going to be tied up in red tape for months and months and hasn't even been acted on.
I have to ask the Premier this: Is his minister somehow clairvoyant? Does he have a crystal ball in his office? How could he possibly have announced a $5-million contract to purchase flood prevention equipment before they even went shopping for the equipment?
Mr. Selinger: Mr. Speaker, the amount is an up-to amount. If that amount is needed that's what would be used after a competitive process had occurred.
The point was there was a requirement and a desire to make sure that First Nations communities in the Interlake had equipment for rapid response to flood events, Mr. Speaker. at the same time as we were providing compensation to fishers, at the same time as we were keeping emergency channels open, at the same time as we were doing work on long‑term solutions for a permanent channel and an additional channel, and at the same time as individual flood protection projects were occurring throughout many communities in the Interlake including permanent diking projects, including rebuilding of roads, and at the same as we were doing flood protection initiatives in other parts of Manitoba.
We have taken a multi-pronged approach to fortifying Manitoba to be able to resist flood events throughout Manitoba, Mr. Speaker, which have very serious impacts on communities, very serious impacts on lives, which is why we did the contract with STARS. We saw the impacts in the past; we knew that these people needed service; we knew they needed continuity of service, and we provided it. And the members opposite have opposed that. They've also opposed every major investment we've made in flood protection in Manitoba and they continue to oppose every major investment in flood protection in Manitoba. This is another example–
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Order, please. The honourable minister's time has elapsed on this question.
The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition, on a new question.
Mr. Pallister: Well, I appreciate the comments about double standards from the guy who covered up taking Jets tickets for three years and admonished his colleagues to come clean. That's a pretty good double standard.
Here's another double standard. The Premier (Mr. Selinger) talks about rapid response. Five years after the flood and we've been advocating for four of those years to build another outlet to protect the people around Lake Manitoba. His government's just having coffee parties, Mr. Speaker. There's no commitment to rapid response here at all. There's a commitment to obfuscation.
And evidence mounts. Here again today, evidence mounts that there was absolutely not any plan to shop intelligently to get this flood equipment nor had there been any plan to shop in hundreds of other cases where the government went sole source without tendering properly.
Now, the whistle-blower report that was released asserts that the Minister of Infrastructure attempted to circumvent Treasury Board processes and attempted to have the Treasury Board ignore basic procurement rules.
Did the Premier support in any way the Infrastructure Minister in his attempts to push for Treasury Board approval of this untendered $5‑million deal?
Mr. Selinger: Mr. Speaker, I supported a proper process of competition–a tendering process–for any acquisition of equipment.
The Ombudsman looked into the allegations that were made by the whistle-blower. And, by the way, we brought in the first whistle-blower legislation in Canada, and in this session of the Legislature, we are strengthening that legislation. We were the first to bring it in. We made a commitment to review it after five years. That commitment has occurred, and we're going to strengthen that legislation even further, Mr. Speaker, to allow people to take full access of whistle-blower legislation, which is something this government supports.
Members opposite, when we first brought in the whistle-blower legislation, did everything they could to derail it, Mr. Speaker. They tried to politicize it. We tried to make it a process that would give protection to people, and we're going to strengthen that process.
The Ombudsman looked into the allegations and through discussions with the clerk of the Executive Council found nothing to proceed on and therefore discontinued his investigation.
Mr. Pallister: Well, the Premier says that he supported a proper process, but he ignored the process entirely in dozens or hundreds of other cases in the past, and so his tracks tell us what kind of an animal he is, Mr. Speaker, when it comes to abiding by the rules of purchasing and by the common sense of getting value for money for Manitobans.
Now, common sense sometimes goes away with governments that are as tired as this one, and they forget how hard people work for the money that they give the government. But Treasury Board is there to protect the interests of Manitoba's working families and people who pay taxes to the member for Riel (Ms. Melnick) and others. And Treasury Board is there to stand in the way because sometimes you have to say no, and sometimes you have to establish priorities when you're in government. You can't say yes to everything, and certainly if you circumvent the Treasury Board and you circumvent the Treasury Board process, what it leads to is massive deficits and ongoing debt such as this government demonstrates every day: a serious spending problem.
Now, the whistle-blower said there was a serious and aggressive attempt by the Premier's office to circumvent the process. Why did he do that, Mr. Speaker? I submit he did. Why did he try to circumvent the Treasury Board process of our province and put Manitobans' best interests on the back burner yet again?
Mr. Selinger: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition is just simply wrong on the facts. I was the one that wanted a full review by Treasury Board of anything that was going to eventuate as a result of the commitment to provide additional flood protection equipment to the people in the Interlake. Treasury Board did its job. It made its recommendations.
There was a discussion on that, and I followed up and required that we do it by a tendered process, Mr. Speaker, and that was the process that we took. And it's an important process because we do have to make sure that things are done properly.
And every set of circumstances requires different challenges. On the STARS one, we wanted to have continuity of service to protect lives in Manitoba, and there are other circumstances. But 75 per cent of all contracts are done through a competitive process; 60 per cent of the remainder are specific situations where there may only be a sole-source supplier.
We're going to make sure that in the next budget implementation bill there is a stronger regulation to sort those matters out. We're going to have online–procure–information about these things. These are steps we're going to take to make sure that things are done properly.
But we also have a responsibility to the public, and that is to serve the public interest. When the public is–lives are at risk or communities are at risk of being flooded and there are things that we have to do rapidly to protect them, we have to be willing to act to do that in the public interest. We have in the past; we will in the future.
Mr. Pallister: Well, how he acted on this was he tried to force this deal, untendered, through, and failed in doing it because people at Treasury Board said no to him and they refused to abide by it. And they refused to say no–they refused to say yes to a process so clearly flawed, that was proposed by him and by his colleague on the heels of an Auditor General's report which said it was an epidemic for this government to give away untendered contracts and to not give value.
Now it's in–I invite the members to read the Auditor General's report and educate themselves on the issues. In section 3(2) the man–Manitoba's Framework for Ethical Environment, it says this. It says: The importance of tone at the top is recognized. Tone at the top and its impact on the overall ethical climate within the workplace cannot be overstated. The attitudes, choices and actions of senior leaders play a primary role in the creation of an organization's ethical culture and climate.
All the Premier (Mr. Selinger) has done today is state that he supported a tendering process when there is no other evidence except his word and, given his record, I submit to him that that is questionable quality of evidence.
So I ask him: Why did he attempt to support the Minister of Infrastructure and circumvent the Treasury Board process in the case of this $5-million purchase?
Mr. Selinger: What the member is asserting is, quite frankly, a false allegation on his part, which is not surprising. This is a person that has put false allegations in front of people every single day, and he did that in his previous time in this Legislature when he said he wouldn't privatize the telephone system and promptly went on to do that. He promptly went on to do that. And he continues to do that every single day, Mr. Speaker, when he says he won't affect public services but he wants to cut $550 million out of the budget, when he says that he will protect social services but then he wants to privatize them, when he says that he cares for families but it comes–to access to daycare, and then wants to privatize that as well.
We need no lessons from the member opposite when it comes to the quality of his word. This member has continuously misled the public as to his true intentions, and we look forward to discovering more about what his agenda is to Manitoba.
What we will do is we will protect Manitobans when they're in flood situations. When we have requests for equipment, we will do it through a proper process. And we will make sure we continue to build a Manitoba that people are protected from floods, have good education and have good health‑care services and a growing economy.
Mr. Speaker: The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition, on a new question.
Mr. Pallister: Well, this is a Premier who continues to pay lip service to proper process, but doesn't abide by it, and that's why the Auditor General cited in just a sample, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of examples of where the government under this Premier's leadership failed to follow proper purchasing and procurement practices, in fact, ignored them–and for 16 years made the only place you could find evidence of untendered contracts be the Legislative Library computer. And that kind of record speaks volumes about the government's commitment to anything in the realm of openness or transparency.
Ethics is an ongoing challenge for this government. The whistle-blower said there was a serious and aggressive attempt by the Premier's office to circumvent the process. I did not say it; the whistle-blower said it, and the Premier's refused to address it.
I've asked him repeatedly, and he has not denied that he attempted to influence the procurement process. He has not denied, and I ask him to do it right now if he would, that he intended to give out, untendered, a $5-million contract for floodfighting equipment. He keeps talking about emergencies as if there's an excuse under there somewhere, but he tried to push Treasury Board to approve it, and he knows that. And only after it was discovered and the whistle-blower report came out did the RFP get issued. On December–
Mr. Speaker: The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition's (Mr. Pallister) time on this question has elapsed.
Mr. Selinger: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition clearly didn't hear the previous two answers I gave him.
In fact, I required that we follow a tendered, competitive process for acquiring any further equipment–[interjection]–for acquiring any additional equipment well before we were aware of the whistle-blower complaint.
The whistle-blower complaint is an anonymous complaint. We only know about it when the Ombudsman approaches us for information. He approached us for information. He was informed that a tendering process was already in place. He discontinued his investigation based on the information he received, Mr. Speaker. That's how the Ombudsman handled it.
The way we handled it, we worked it out, internal to our processes in government, and we went forward with a tendered approach.
The member opposite wants to make an issue out of other untendered contracts. Different circumstances require different responses. When lives are at risk, as we saw when we went with the STARS contract, we knew that we needed to provide a service at a time of great stress in communities, many of which had lost infrastructure, were surrounded by water, and they were at risk of serious health issues. We put the STARS process in place and we provided continuity of that service as we went forward, Mr. Speaker.
Members opposite didn't support that. Members opposite did not support investments in flood protection. They are following the double standard. They say they care about these things; they vote–
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The honourable leader–time has elapsed.
Mr. Pallister: We stand for protecting Manitoba taxpayers and getting value for money when purchases are made.
This Premier (Mr. Selinger) is trying to make the case that he stood for a full and fair tendering process. The announcement was July and it didn't even go to RFP until the end of the year.
Now, Mr. Speaker, how's that a commitment to act in the interests of the people of the Interlake? How's that a commitment to a full and fair tendering practice? How's that anything but a virtual admission that he failed to get his way with Treasury Board for five months and then he decided the only way out was to create the impression that he was actually trying to shop when he wasn't?
Now, he says he's pure as the driven snow on this process, but three members of his Treasury Board provided us with pretty significant indications of how they felt when they resigned from his Cabinet.
So I want to ask him: Is that pure coincidence?
Mr. Selinger: Mr. Speaker, the July 25th release focused on fishers' compensation for loss of income during the period when they were experiencing the flood. It was at a time when we wanted to keep the emergency channel going. We also committed to work with First Nations communities in that area through the Interlake tribal council and the federal government to ensure they had rapid response equipment going forward. We did it through a public tendering process.
Those are the facts on the ground. Those are the facts that exist today. All the other allegations and hypotheticals that the member–Leader of the Opposition likes to perpetrate with his conspiracy theories, that's entirely up to him how he wants to think that way.
We acted properly. We got a compensation program in place for fishers, Mr. Speaker. We ensured that we were able to keep the channels flowing by working co-operatively with people. We made sure that people had access to the STARS helicopter air ambulance service, and we were rebuilding infrastructure all around Manitoba.
In this budget this spring, we launched an additional initiative for individual flood protection in southwestern Manitoba. Members opposite voted against it once again. When it comes to the double standard, they say they support these things and they consistently vote against them.
Mr. Pallister: The Premier's double standard was rejected by a significant number of his front-bench Cabinet ministers, Mr. Speaker. I think that's eminently clear.
These are his former minister's words: You make that decision because in your heart of hearts you know there's really no way to go on; there's no way to continue to be in Cabinet with integrity. That's the words of a former Finance minister in the province of Manitoba.
Here's another former Finance minister: I regretted that he wasn't so much interested in my advice as he was in validation. I tried my best to give him my honest views. It just meant that it made it more difficult to govern on behalf of the people of Manitoba. I like being a Cabinet minister. I like being an elected representative. I take that very seriously. I take my role as a team member very seriously. I thought I could honestly speak to the Premier.
Two former Finance ministers resigned for a reason, and the Premier's provided us with graphic evidence today of what that reason was.
Mr. Selinger: It's–
Some Honourable Members: Oh, oh.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Order, please.
Mr. Selinger: It's very obvious the member didn't even have a question there. He just wanted to do what he likes to do best, Mr. Speaker, go on a rant. He does not want to take accountability for his own behaviour when it comes to double standards. He says one thing in the House; when it comes to others–when it comes to practising that behaviour himself, he does not do that. He votes against flood protection, he votes against for accountability. The untendered contracts that he refers to in here were the policies and practices that he put in place.
We have made a commitment to improving on those policies, Mr. Speaker. They were okay when he was in office; they're not okay now. The reality is they can be improved upon, and that's what we're going to do.
He says that the STARS contract should've been tendered, Mr. Speaker. He did not recognize the urgency of providing that service at the time it was provided. It was a sole-source contract to provide continuity of service to Manitobans, and he objected to that. That is not a surprise. What we see from the Leader of the Opposition every single day is one set of rules for himself, another set of rules from everyone else.
We will continue to serve the public interest.
Request for Auditor General Review
Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Mr. Speaker, we are now all aware that a member of the government committed, July 25th, 2014, to a $5‑million purchase without going through Treasury Board approval or tendering.
It has been termed a very aggressive attempt to avoid tendering a $5-million contract for the purchase of floodfighting water-containing tubes, a purchase which was apparently committed to July 25th and then made and invoiced on August the 5th 2014 before any tendering.
Will the Premier refer the matter of this concerning attempt to have an untendered contract for $5 million in 2014 to the Auditor General?
Hon. Greg Selinger (Premier): Mr. Speaker, a whistle-blower complaint was put in front of the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman investigated that complaint and discontinued his investigation based on the information he received from the clerk of the Executive Council. That is the appropriate process. That is the reason we were the first government in Canada to put whistle-blower protection in place, and that is the reason we respect the role of the Ombudsman in that, and we have now reviewed that legislation and have been given advice on how to strengthen it.
We have brought forward that bill in this House in this session. We'd be pleased to pass it as soon as the members opposite are willing to vote on it.
Mr. Gerrard: Mr. Speaker, the Premier may not refer the matter to the Auditor General, but I want to inform the Premier that the Manitoba Liberal leader, Rana Bokhari, and I are writing to refer this important matter to the Auditor General.
On another matter, Mr. Speaker, the matter of conflict of interest for the Minister of Infrastructure in relation to the purchase of floodfighting water tubes, the matter, if true, is a very serious matter.
When will the Premier be writing to the Auditor General to review this conflict-of-interest issue in an attempt to bypass a tendering process, in this case, of a $5-million purchase?
Mr. Selinger: Again, Mr. Speaker, the member would have to be specific. If he's suggesting there's a conflict of interest, that was addressed by requiring any contract to be let for flood protection equipment to be done through a competitive process. That's what the Ombudsman investigated, based on a whistle-blower complaint. That whistle-blower brought that information forward–the whistle-blower brought that information forward; the Ombudsman followed up on it, investigated to see if there was an issue. When he was–when it was confirmed to him that a proper tendering process was put in place, he decided to discontinue that contract.
The Ombudsman can be called upon again by any other whistle-blower, including any member of this legislation–they can–legislature. They can take advantage of the whistle-blower legislation, and they could even strengthen the protection for themselves if they'd pass the legislative amendments we've put forward today. If they want to have even stronger protection for any whistle-blowing complaint they wish to make, they can pass that legislation and we can act on that right away.
Request for Auditor General Review
Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Mr. Speaker, it's alarming just how freely today's NDP government can ignore accountability and transparency in their dubious procurement practices.
The Premier also delivered a concerning message in the Legislature March 2014, when he said it wasn't necessary for the Auditor General to investigate the 30-year exclusive licence to operate Manitoba's property register that today's NDP government sole-sourced to Ontario's Teranet.
Will the Premier today acknowledge the vital role of the Auditor General on behalf of Manitobans and request a review of both the Teranet and the 2014 floodfighting equipment contracts?
Hon. Greg Selinger (Premier): Mr. Speaker, I strongly support the role of the Auditor General, which is why, as minister of Finance, I brought forward amendments to strengthen the office and to allow them to do value-for-the-money audits. They are an independent office of the Legislature. They have the right and the responsibility to investigate anything they wish and any priority they wish to assign to themselves, and they do that. And we take their reports seriously and we follow up on their reports.
If they wish to investigate the matters, they can do that. If the member opposite wishes to request them to do that, he will take that under advisement. If he wishes to do it as a whistle-blower, he will–he can do that under the first legislation to be brought forward by any provincial government in Canada, legislation which we're prepared to strengthen. We are going to make sure there are more tools for people without fear or favour to bring forward concerns, either outside of the public service or inside of the public service. Whistle-blower protection will be in place.
They can also write to the Auditor General at any time to ask them to pursue these matters, Mr. Speaker, and the Auditor General will take that under advisement and decide if that's the priority they wish to pursue.
Mr. Speaker: Time for oral questions has elapsed.
Mr. Speaker: It is now time for private members' statements.
Valley Gardens Stars Hockey Team
Hon. Erna Braun (Minister of Labour and Immigration): The Valley Gardens Stars A3 peewee hockey team recently finished a phenomenal hockey year. Against all odds, their team came together to win the city championship title. What an impressive accomplishment.
Their season started off with a win, a loss and one tie. Thanks to their dedicated coaches and supportive parents, the team quickly realized that a strong work ethic and teamwork–they could accomplish anything they wanted if they worked together as a unit. Their hours spent doing dryland training and later the three to four times per week spent on the ice were clearly worth it. And what a 'remarkle'–remarkable journey it was for the Valley Gardens Stars.
For the B-side final, the team won 5-nothing against the South Winnipeg team. That win allowed the team to continue to the championship best-of-five series against the Lord Selkirk team. In the final game of the series, playing in a loud Selkirk arena, the Valley Gardens Stars overcame the odds to win 4-nothing.
These boys certainly have learned the values of practising hard, discipline and hard work. Their championship title is well deserved. I'm sure the coaches, management and parents are all very proud.
Congratulations again to all the players on the Valley Gardens Stars A3 peewee hockey team. I wish you all the best in the future.
And, Mr. Speaker, I'd also like to ask leave so that the names of team members and their coaches be read into the record.
Mr. Speaker: Is there leave to include the names the honourable member's referenced in her statement? [Agreed]
Team roster: Brenden Jerome, Aidan Keown, Brady Punton, Sam Livingstone, Matt Dureault, Carson Cieszecki, Jakob Gamblin, Wes Klapprat, Brenden Neufield, Aric Greenaway, Jackson Guenette, Chad Besner, Kyle Musngi, Noah Crowther
Head coach, Toby Punton; assistant coaches, Paul Dureault, Reg Gamblin, Steve Klapprat; manager, Kerry Punton; goalie coaches, Brent Greenaway, Jim Neufield
Mr. Shannon Martin (Morris): Mr. Speaker, I'd like to address the House today on a matter that is long overdue. Interns have been a valuable part of the operation of the Legislature since 1985 when the program was first initiated by Dr. Paul Thomas.
In fact, I would not be reading this statement today if it were not for the hard work of Manitoba legislative interns, including one Michael Juce. Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these interns from the swift completion of their tasks.
All honourable members in this House have benefited from the tireless work of these talented individuals. From comprising speaking notes to digging up the best quotes, our interns deliver on time and every time. And these interns will gain many valuable experiences in their time here, opportunities and lessons that will benefit them on whatever path they choose to follow in the coming weeks and years ahead. Working in this building, we see that many former interns do stay around or return to provincial politics, including some of us as MLAs and even our Clerk of the House, Mr. Speaker.
In addition to these interns themselves, we should also take an opportunity to thank our clerks and the Speaker for administering this program every year and ensuring every year a new batch of interns have fruitful and positive opportunities here in the Legislature.
I'm a firm believer in giving credit where credit is due, so while I want to make specific thanks to the interns who have worked for the opposition caucus, I'd also like to give thanks to the government interns for their contributions to this House and their hard work making sure that their members can stand up and sound presentable during members' statements: an effort, I am sure, Mr. Speaker. I know that the members opposite must appreciate being prepared, and we certainly appreciate that someone over there is making sure that they're aware of their many fine constituents' activities.
Mr. Speaker, with the participation of this House, I would like to congratulate this year's interns on a job well done. I'd like to formally wish this year's six legislative interns the best of luck as they pursue new positions and endeavours, and I'm sure Gabriel, Jessica, Max, Michael, Neil and Stephanie will go on to make great contributions in our provinces. I'd like to ask all members to join me in a round of applause and thank this year's group of truly talented interns.
Ms. Christine Melnick (Riel): In this Year of Sport in the province of Manitoba, it is a pleasure to welcome Spencer Harrison, a basketball enthusiast with a strong commitment to giving back to his community.
Spencer is an incredible young man with a passion for teaching basketball to young people. Spencer is a graduate of Glenlawn Collegiate where he played for the Lions. He also played for the Blazers at the Canadian Mennonite University and for over eight years has been coaching in different leagues.
In 2011, Spencer co-founded the Winnipeg Elites Basketball Club to create more opportunities for kids to attend basketball camps where they can constantly work on their skills in the summer. Winnipeg Elites focuses on helping young athletes develop fundamental skills in basketball to be ready for their high school career and beyond.
Winnipeg Elites athletes participate in a local league practising two to three times a week through spring and summer. They also have a chance to travel to places like Minneapolis, Fargo and Saskatoon to compete in tournaments.
Due to Spencer's commitment and the Elites' hard work, a number of participants have gone on to become athletes at post-secondary institutions both here in Manitoba and across Canada, such as the University of Winnipeg, University of Manitoba, Carleton University and the University of Victoria.
Youth programs like the Winnipeg Elites Basketball Club are important to help the athletes develop positive attitudes, help them get involved with the community, provide a mentor and teach them the importance of teamwork. For Spencer, the highlight of the program is having the opportunity to watch the players develop and gain more confidence in their skills over the year.
I wish to thank Spencer for his incredible work, for his foresight and his commitment to youth of the Riel area. In his work with the Winnipeg Elites Basketball Club, he has provided so many young people with the opportunity to learn and grow. Spencer, Riel just wouldn't be the same without you.
Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith and Patrick Sharp
Mr. Ron Schuler (St. Paul): Mr. Speaker, Manitoba's most well-known export may be our hockey players. I would like to congratulate Winnipeggers Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith and Patrick Sharp and the rest of the Blackhawks on winning the Stanley Cup on Monday. For many years the Blackhawks struggled on and off the ice. From 1998 until 2008, they only made the playoffs once and struggled to draw fans.
Things started to look up in 2005 when Duncan Keith and Patrick Sharp joined the team. In 2007, they were joined by Jonathan Toews who was named team captain in 2008. At 20, he became the youngest captain in Blackhawk history and the third youngest captain in NHL history.
Led by the three Winnipeggers in 2010, the Blackhawks won their first Stanley Cup since 1961. Patrick Sharp finished fifth in playoff scoring, and Duncan Keith won the James Norris Memorial Trophy as the NHL's top defenseman that year. Toews won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP and played with Keith on Canada's gold‑winning Vancouver Olympic team that year. They were joined by Sharp on the gold-medal‑winning Canadian team at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
This year Keith was the unanimous selection for the Conn Smythe Trophy as well MVP. Sharp finished 14th in playoff scoring and Toews finished fourth. The invaluable on-ice contributions of these three Winnipeggers have made the Blackhawks a modern dynasty with three Stanley Cups in the past six years.
Off the ice, they also give back by working with charities. Jonathan Toews is an official ambassador for Jumpstart charities. Since 2005, Jumpstart has helped over 850,000 kids from families that need a financial hand participating in sports, 'danch'–other activities. Jonathan is also one of the 12 outstanding individuals receiving the Order of Manitoba on July 9th this year.
I would like to ask all honourable members to join me in congratulating Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, Patrick Sharp and the rest of the Blackhawks on winning another Stanley Cup, and, as you reminded me, Mr. Speaker, not only is Jonathan Toews a fine Canadian, a great Manitoban, but also a proud product of Transcona.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Philippine Consular Heritage of Manitoba
Hon. Mohinder Saran (Minister of Housing and Community Development): Mr. Speaker, joining us in the gallery today are Perla Javate and Aracelli Ancheta from the Philippine Heritage Council of Manitoba, one of the many organizations that help organize Philippine Heritage Week. This is a wonderful opportunity for our Filipino-Canadian community to celebrate and share their history, culture and traditions with all Manitobans.
Philippine Heritage Week started off with the flag-raising and opening ceremony on June 6th. Joining me at the opening ceremony were fellow MLAs from Logan, Tyndall Park and Burrows. We enjoyed an evening full of traditional entertainment, including a dance performed by the traditional folk dance group, Kayumanggi. The opening ceremonies had a great turnout, and the event was a wonderful celebration for everyone.
I was also happy to attend the Philippine Independence Ball on Friday with the Premier (Mr. Selinger) and fellow MLAs from St. Norbert, Minto, Rossmere, Burrows, Tyndall Park and Logan, along with MLAs from the PCs and Liberal Party.
A big part of Philippine Heritage Week is to preserve and explore the many rich and diverse traditions of the Philippines and connect young people to their families' culture. The Philippine Heritage Council of Manitoba plans events for young adults and families to help convey the value of Filipino culture to the next generation. One of these is the cultural exchange, which celebrates French‑Canadian and Filipino culture. At the event they had a chance to learn about each other's history, traditions and culture.
Philippine Heritage Week is very meaningful for the Filipino community. It helps teach young people about their history and culture, and it provides Manitobans like me the chance to learn about their rich traditions.
Thank you to all the volunteers and the Philippine Heritage Council co-ordination committee for organizing the Philippine Heritage Week election. You all did a fantastic job.
Mr. Speaker: That concludes members' statements. Now time for grievances.
Prior to moving to orders of the day, I'd like to draw attention to honourable members. As you know, we have a number of pages that are working with the Assembly as we do each year. And this is the last shift for our page, Veronica Kessler.
Veronica was born and raised in the–Stonewall and presently attends grade 12 at Stonewall Collegiate. At the age of three, Veronica played her first game of soccer, and at the age of seven, became–soccer became her passion. As a result of her dedication and training, she will leave on Sunday, June the 21st, and–to the University of North Dakota for a full athletic scholarship for five years. Her goal is to play for Canada's national team. Veronica's grade 12 average is 90, and she hopes to pursue a career in criminology, and we wish her all the best in her future activities.
Thank you, Veronica, for your service to the Chamber.
Hon. Dave Chomiak (Government House Leader): We certainly hope she will achieve her goal.
Mr. Speaker, could you please call bills for debate in the following order, debate on second reading: Bill 5, The Police Services Amendment Act; Bill 11, The Public Health Amendment Act; second readings: Bill 18, The Certified Occupations Act; Bill 20, The Architects Amendment Act; Bill 21, The Engineering and Geoscientific Professions Amendment Act; Bill 23, The Boxing Amendment Act; Bill 14, The Consumer Protection Amendment Act (Home Improvement Contracts); and, finally, debate on second reading of Bill 17, The Manitoba Public Insurance Corporation.
Mr. Speaker: As announced, I will be calling bills in the following order: first, debate on second readings, we'll be calling bills 5 and 11; and then second readings, bills 18, 20, 21, 23 and 14; and then debate on second readings of Bill 17.
Mr. Speaker: Starting first with Bill 5, debate on second readings, The Police Services Amendment Act (First Nation Safety Officers), standing in the name of the honourable member for Lac du Bonnet (Mr. Ewasko).
Is there leave for this matter to remain standing in the name of the honourable member for Lac du Bonnet?
Some Honourable Members: No.
Mr. Speaker: No? Leave has been denied.
Is there any further debate on this matter?
Mr. Stuart Briese (Agassiz): I'm pleased to rise today to put a few comments on the record on The Police Services Amendment Act (First Nation Safety Officers).
This is a bill to amend The Police Services Act, and it enables a First Nation safety officer program to be established by a First Nation or an entity that represents a group of First Nations.
Now, up to this point in time, the–there's some 31 First Nations in Manitoba that have safety officers, policing staff, and they've been–the costs have been paid by the federal government up to this point. The federal government has now decided that they don't care to continue with that program. They will continue the funding, but it's–that funding depends on the Province basically matching that funding.
So what we're being told and what our understanding is is that the Province will now take over this policing authority–or policing, safety officers on First Nations. The Province intends to put together a training program for these safety officers and look at their salary ranges and a number of things.
Now, I do have a few concerns, but I do know also that the First Nations, the RCMP, most stakeholders in this procedure are in favour and supportive of this act. I think there will probably be some presentations at committee, and we'll see what comes out of that. But that being said, my concern would be this was a program that has cost about $1.7 million, I believe, over–in the province of Manitoba, one–roughly 1 and a half million dollars, I guess, and the costs will be going up because the Province is required to put money into it. It would be roughly a $3-million program. But my concern is that not only are the up-front costs increasing to Manitoba, but I think these costs will grow.
There are, as I said before, 31 First Nations in this program. There are a number of others that have Dakota Ojibway Tribal Council police, and they're not under this program and won't be under this program. They are fully trained police officers. These are more of a status of bylaw enforcement officers who will enforce the bylaws of the First Nations.
There's some thought about other areas of enforcement, but that hasn't been addressed yet. The–for instance, Highway Traffic Act enforcement: At the present time, they don't have the powers to enforce The Highway Traffic Act. There'll probably be some consultation along that line.
Many of these safety officers are on First Nation–in First Nations communities that are very isolated, without RCMP coverage. They do have RCMP available but probably from another community at some distance away. Quite often, the only access is by air, so it takes some time to get the RCMP officers into the community when whatever policing actions are needed.
These safety officers are not–have not been exactly full-time. They have been available at times, and their salaries are not that high. I think we'll see some movement on an increase in the salaries, which could have a significant impact on the Provincial Treasury because the Province is picking it up now. I do think that First Nations communities have some discretionary funding, and I would hope that some of that discretionary funding goes into some of the costs on these safety officers. We believe there will be a proliferation of agreements under other First Nations, and that will also increase the costs.
As I said earlier, the safety officer program will continue to be funded by the federal government through the First Nations policing program, but the–and these safety officers will deliver crime prevention programs, connect persons in need with appropriate social services and provide information to local police authorities on public safety issues in First Nations communities.
Now, that, as I said before, is–there's a need to take a look at what exactly the enforcement duties of these public safety officers will be. On anything that happens to be criminal, I believe, they'll probably have to call in the RCMP to cover that, but highways traffic–certainly, there's probably room for some expansion there and some actions to be taken by these safety officers there.
You know, in Manitoba, we've got–we're first in a lot of things that we really don't want to be first in–high rates of crime, murder capitals–and we've got all these things going on and not a very strong approach from Justice to address them. And, hopefully, this is one small part of that puzzle, but it goes–we've had–what are we at, 12, 13, 14 annual crime prevention announcements that are going to fix everything, and it goes on and on and on. You know, people are getting really tired of the broken promises and really do want to see a change for the better.
This particular bill, this amendment, may be one small part of the puzzle and may address some of the issues out there. It's not going to address them all. It's not going to even address a very high percentage of them, but it may address a little bit.
So this bill will be going to committee very shortly, and we'll look for input there. I expect there'll be some presenters on it. And we'll take what comes through committee and deal with it from there in third reading in the House.
With those few words, I thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: Any further debate on this matter?
Is the House ready for the question?
An Honourable Member: Question.
Mr. Speaker: Question before the House is second reading of Bill 5, The Police Services Amendment Act (First Nation Safety Officers).
Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion? [Agreed]
Mr. Speaker: We'll now proceed to call, under second–debate for second readings, the Bill 11, The Public Health Amendment Act (Prohibiting Children's Use of Tanning Equipment and Other Amendments), standing in the name of the honourable member for Steinbach (Mr. Goertzen).
Is there leave for this member–matter to be–remain standing in the member's name for Steinbach?
Some Honourable Members: No.
Mr. Speaker: No? Leave has been denied.
The honourable member for Emerson, wishing to debate this matter?
Mr. Cliff Graydon (Emerson): It gives me great pleasure to get up and put a few words on the record regarding Bill 11, the public health and amendment act, prohibiting children's use of tanning equipment and other amendments.
Mr. Speaker, we can all agree that preventing any kind of harm towards children is vitally important to all members of this House. Therefore, preventing children from UV exposure and the development of skin cancer is paramount to maintaining their health. Members on this side of the House are extremely concerned by the risks that indoor tanning equipment poses to children. Children are the future of this province and should be protected from unnecessary harm. Indoor tanning services give off ultraviolet radiation, which is known as a 'carcigen'. UV rays cause cataracts, skin damage, including sunburns, premature skin aging and wrinkles and skin cancer. Tanned skin is damaged skin. When a tan fades, the damage is still there.
Canadian Cancer Society reported that indoor tanning equipment gives off UV rays at levels up to five times stronger than the midday summer sun. This is a frightening fact, Mr. Speaker. There are a number of common types of skin cancer and one of these, melanoma, accounts for about 3 per cent of all new skin cancer cases, placing it among the top 10 cancers diagnosed in Canada. It is more common in males than females. One in 59 Canadian men will develop melanoma in their lifetime while one in 73 per cent of Canadian women will develop this awful disease.
Mr. Speaker, just think of the many lives that could be spared this hardship if only our government had come to the table with this legislation earlier. I'm sure that the lives of every single person in this room have been affected by cancer in one way or another. Isn't it the government's duty to do everything it can to help prevent this terrible disease, especially in our young people?
It has taken this NDP government far too long to act on these matters, and the children of Manitoba are the ones that are losing. This type of legislation has already been enacted in almost every other provincial legislature except Manitoba. Seven out of the nine Canadian provinces have already enacted similar legislation in order to protect their youth from the harm UV rays emit from indoor tanning equipment and likely saving them from the hardships of skin cancer.
Why has it taken this government so long to step up to the plate and protect our youth from the harms associated with indoor tanning equipment, Mr. Speaker? Nova Scotia passed the legislation four years ago in 2011 to ban indoor tanning for youths under the age of 19. This government's delay in child safety, when it comes to indoor tanning equipment, is a direct reflection on their inability to protect children in this province. It's clear that they don't have the best interests of the children in our province at all. They have to wait until they're last–last at everything.
Dr. Megan Cooney, a third-year pediatrician or pediatric resident with the University of Manitoba, said several other provinces have already introduced similar legislation, and we want Manitoba to be at the forefront of this movement, because it's a recommendation that has been made by all major medical associations in Canada and United States.
This was made to this government over a year ago–in fact, more than that. And, Mr. Speaker, we're just now seeing legislation coming forward. It's a clear indication that they are not really concerned about the health of our children in this province. How many minors have irreversibly damaged their skin and increased their risk of cancer in 13 months it's taken this government to get on board with this initiative, even after it was urged–urged–by physicians of this province?
Even the Canadian tanning association's executive director, Steve Gilroy, expressed his concern and maintains since August 15th, 2014, all of its members started to ban minors from using indoor tanning equipment. They were out, they were out in front of this government; they were doing what was necessary to be done. They didn't wait for the government to do its job. This government is–has a record of being very reactive when it comes to health-care strategies that are essential to all Manitobans.
A significant number of provinces have already passed a similar legislation, but this province, it just wants to be last in every possible category that it can possibly do. Manitoba is last in the country in education, in ambulance and ER wait times and now with protecting our young people from indoor tanning equipment. This is shameful, Mr. Speaker.
The NDP's lack of action on this issue is especially problematic in rural Manitoba because of the lack of physicians and access to them. And, although the Minister of Health (Ms. Blady) says that every Manitoban deserves to have a doctor and she was going to deliver that, we have heard that time and time again, Mr. Speaker, but they're just empty promises. They're empty promises. Time and time again, the Minister of Health and the Minister of Healthy Living have put empty promises on the table. Manitobans have a great, great reason for being suspect of anything that they say.
The lack of action on this issue is, as I have pointed out, is very critical, and because this legislation wasn't introduced earlier, many youths who have used tanning beds have had or will have a diagnosis of skin cancer which will result in higher health-care costs for the province. Mr. Speaker, the fact that UV rays are significantly more harmful to our youth has been known for years. Why has it taken this NDP government so long to introduce this legislation?
It's not a real wonder, Mr. Speaker, because when we look at the track record of this government they have failed on so many fronts. They have failed in the health-care delivery. They have instituted a PST increase when they said they wouldn't. They said they would balance the budget; they didn't–they changed the legislation. They said they wouldn't raise taxes; they did. They went to the doors and they knocked on the doors and said, we will not do that, and they did it. Manitobans are used to the failures of this government. They're not going to put up with it going forward.
This government's responsibility is to care for the people of Manitoba and make sure that they're staying as healthy as possible and are receiving the best quality health care when they fall ill. This government is failing in that duty and putting the lives of Manitoba families at risk. And it's very, very evident, Mr. Speaker, when we see what the on-load times are for ambulances that tie up doctors and paramedics that are needed, perhaps needed where they have came from to come to Winnipeg, to come where the physicians are. And we also know that in most cases now these physicians are only available from Monday to Friday. They're not available during the week.
We also know that many, many Manitobans are sourcing health care in the United States, especially if their doctor suspects that it's cancer and they're going to be waiting for two, three, four months, they know that they have to address it as quickly as possible in order to beat cancer. The research in cancer has really multiplied in many, many years and in many ways, and if it's caught early enough, it can be cured, put in remission, while more research goes on.
And we heard the other day in this House where Terry Fox–he gave up possibly many good years by pushing himself to raise money for cancer research in Canada and in the world, and Manitoba doesn't pay attention. Oh, they stand up and pay lip service, Mr. Speaker, but it's all talk and no walk. They don't do; they don't take their responsibilities seriously.
With the NDP, Manitobans are paying much more and getting way less. Despite record-high tax increases, our health-care services have gotten worse. Like I pointed out, ER wait times are the longest in the country and ambulance fees are the highest in Canada.
Mr. Speaker, when we have our seniors, for example, that are on a limited income, who have been hit with some of the highest tax increases in modern history in the province of Manitoba, and they are asked to pay more for that ambulance and then only get to the hospital to wait because the wait times are so much longer. Oh, and once they do happen to see a physician, there's nobody to take them home. So what does the Minister of Health (Ms. Blady) do? She puts them in a taxi.
So we've gone from hallway medicine to highway medicine, and, my goodness, now we've gone to taxi medicine. That's what we can expect. That's what we can expect from this NDP government–broken promises, mismanagement, higher costs and getting less for what you're spending.
Under this NDP government, emergency services are in a state of crisis. Manitobans wait the longest in this country for ER care. Mr. Speaker, in rural Manitoba and in many areas of Manitoba, you could wait a lifetime to get ER care. The reason for that is that 16 years ago, the ERs were open, and every ER in the province of Manitoba was open. It wasn't open just five days a week. It wasn't just open eight hours a day. It was open seven days a week.
Can you imagine having our ERs open for seven days a week? Twenty-three ERs in Manitoba are closed; they are permanently closed. Another seven are on a rotational basis. Not knowing–the people that need that service don't know until they get to the door that that big sign on the door says closed. In many communities where we have hospitals where the ERs are closed, do you know how they let people know the ER is closed? They put a bag–they put a bag over the hospital sign so that anybody–anyone that's on the highway comes into this town, knowing that there was a hospital, can't find it. The signs are covered. They have no direction to these hospitals.
Mr. Speaker, this is mismanagement by the NDP government, and with the staggering wait times, Manitobans are paying much more and getting much less. Manitobans pay more out of their pocket for an ambulance than anywhere else in Canada, up to $530 in some parts of the province. And these aren't remote parts in the province.
The waste–NDP waste is threatening essential front-line services, and it's clear–it's clear when we see the OR closed in the town of Altona. And, at the same time, then, Mr. Speaker, that affects the ER. And we were guaranteed–we were guaranteed by the Minister of Health that that wouldn't happen. That was on a Thursday, and Sunday at 8 a.m., the ER is closed.
It's only closed for 24 hours. Well, Mr. Speaker, if I need it, it's very important. But, by NDP standards, if they don't need it, it doesn't matter.
So, Mr. Speaker, it's high time that we've seen this type of legislation come forward. It's too bad that they waited as long as they did. But, with those few words, thank you very much.
Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to this bill which deals with indoor tanning.
I have had a careful look at this bill, and, you know, it's certainly something that we should be moving forward on. I have some questions about aspects of this bill which I will comment on as I go through my remarks.
Indoor tanning was first used in Europe in 1906 to help with vitamin D development for calcium absorption in bone diseases. Tanning beds became popular in the 1970s. They were imported from Europe to the United States and Canada. And, between 1978 and 1988, there were no regulations on tanning beds in the United States, and I believe the situation was similar in Canada.
It's important to note that there are medical uses of tanning. Phototherapy is 'cousent'–currently used to treat eczema, psoriasis, skin lymphoma, pityriasus lichenoides chronicus, lichen planus, granuloma, and eulary morphea [phonetic], and pruritus, and vitiligo. Therapy can be full body, but there are also treatments for localized care for hands or feet in some instances.
Based on American data, the majority of UV radiation is UVA in the range of 320 to 400 nanometres. UVB is about 1 to 9 and half per cent of tanning-bed UV radiation at 290 to 320 nanometres, according to FDA regulations.
In Canada, Canadian regulations require that every ultraviolet lamp that is used in tanning equipment must function so that, at any distance and in any direction from the radiation source, irradiation within the wavelength from 200 nanometres to less than 260 nanometres does not exceed a 3 per cent of the radiation within the wavelength from 260 to 320 nanometres.
The risk of melanoma is increased with early tanning bed use. It's been shown to be increased by 75 per cent for those who use tanning under age 35 years of age.
As of 2012, the total number of tanning salons in Canada was almost 3,000–2,971. One per cent of those, 44, are listed in the province of Manitoba.
It is of interest that tanning-salon operators must complete a questionnaire, according to Health Canada, and this has to be kept by managers. They must answer all questions correctly in order to operate tanning beds and provide services. This document is currently under revision. However, there is currently no government-required training for tanning-bed operators in Canada.
Industry-sponsored Smart Tan training is widely available and can be done in person or online. Completing the training is also a requirement for obtaining insurance coverage. The National Tanning Training Institute also offers training in Canada. Tanning operators are required to check the identification of their clients. Owners can employ people under 18 to work in salons and operate the tanning beds, and warning signs and risks of tanning must be posted in tanning salons.
Victoria, BC, was the first in Canada to introduce a ban on the use of tanning salons for youth under 18 years of age. Now provinces, including BC for those under 18; Ontario, for those under 18; Quebec, for those under 18; Nova Scotia, for those under 19 years of age; and Newfoundland and Labrador, for those under 19 years of age–all have legislation on tanning bed use for youth.
Around the world, indoor tanning for youth under 18 years of age is banned in Australia, in France, in Germany, in Austria and in the United Kingdom. Australia has also banned the use for people with very fair skin. And Brazil has completely banned the sale of tanning beds for aesthetic purposes.
As of 2012, youth under the age of 16 must have a parent present when using tanning equipment. And youth under 18 must have parental consent to use tanning equipment. There are about 42 tanning salons listed in Winnipeg and two in northern Manitoba, in Thompson and in Flin Flon.
A Manitoba youth health survey for grades 7 to 12 from the Seine River School Division showed that 6 per cent of students had used tanning bed services; 10 per cent of Manitoba girls in grade 7 to 12 and 4 per cent of boys frequent tanning salons.
This bill prohibits the use of commercial tanning equipment by children unless they have a prescription from a designated health-care professional. As well, advertising to children is prohibited, protective eyewear is required to be provided and the use of specific types of tanning will be regulated.
A number of questions arise from this bill. One is how will the bill be enforced in tanning salons?
Was protective eyewear not previously provided to customers using tanning equipment, or were people sometimes not wearing it?
What's the current process to become a trained operator of tanning equipment in Manitoba? Are there standardized requirements?
The question can be asked whether tanning salons should be required not to employ workers under 18 years of age, since the new legislation restricts the use of tanning beds by those under 18.
There's a reference to specified tanning equipment. Probably this will be more clearly explained in the rules and regulations, but that clearly needs to be described in detail.
A question of how this legislation applies to tanning beds in gyms and other such facilities that are currently not monitored.
Should an individual providing tanning salon services in relation to a medical prescription for phototherapy require additional training and certification?
In subsection 59.1, we're dealing with an amendment: "health care facility" is added under the definitions of The Public Health Act. In the act, it names hospitals or facility but doesn't specifically state health-care facility.
Does this mean that now places that operating tanning beds are defined as health-care facilities, or is this referring only to tanning beds in hospitals and other designated health-care facilities?
In this act, under subsection 59.1(1), tanning equipment means a device that can be equipped with one or more ultraviolet lamps and induces skin tanning or other cosmetic effects. It does not include any such device that is used in the production of therapeutic effects for medical purposes. However, with this amendment, tanning equipment is now to be used "solely in a health care facility." If this is not the intention of the act, then maybe this needs to be clarified.
Subsection 112(1) is amended by adding the following: "prohibiting the use of specified types of tanning equipment in commercial tanning operations, including tanning equipment that doesn't require an attendant to control its operation."
Is this referring to self-serve tanning equipment in salons and fitness facilities? If so, it should be clarified as to whether these will be prohibited by general use in these facilities or only prohibited to those under 18 years of age.
So, Mr. Speaker, I look forward to this bill going to committee stage for further discussion and hearing of expert opinion, and for it moving beyond that to becoming adopted.
Mr. Speaker: Is there any further debate on Bill 11?
The House ready for the question?
An Honourable Member: Question.
Mr. Speaker: The question before the House is Bill 11, second reading, The Public Health Amendment Act (Prohibiting Children's Use of Tanning Equipment and Other Amendments).
Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion? [Agreed]
Bill 18–The Certified Occupations Act
Mr. Speaker: We'll now proceed to call Bill 18, The Certified Occupations Act, under second readings.
Hon. Kevin Chief (Minister of Jobs and the Economy): I move, seconded by the Minister for Children and Youth Opportunities (Ms. Wight), that Bill 18, The Certified Occupations Act; Loi sur les professions reconnues, be now read a second time and be referred to a committee of this House.
His Honour the Lieutenant Governor has been advised of the bill, and I table the message.
Mr. Speaker: It has been moved by the honourable Minister of Jobs and the Economy, seconded by the honourable minister–pardon me–seconded by the honourable Minister for Children and Youth Opportunities, that Bill 18, The Certified Occupations Act, be now read for a second time and be referred to a committee of this House.
His Honour the Lieutenant Governor has been advised of the bill, and the message has been tabled.
Mr. Chief: I'm proud to bring this bill forward, Mr. Speaker. The new Certified Occupations Act will provide an opportunity to provide more training and certification for select occupations that are not recognized under the current apprenticeship act.
As it's been said and as we know, we have one of the fastest growing economies in the nation, not only this year but forecasted for years to come, and part of that when you have one of the fastest growing economies, Mr. Speaker, it creates a high demand for skilled workers.
I do want to say that, with a high demand of skilled workers, we have one of the youngest and fastest growing demographics in the nation made up of, of course, a young indigenous population. We have a very young and fast-growing new Canadian and refugee population, and we continue to work with industry. We continue to work with our education system. We continue to work with non‑profits to send a strong message to women–to young women that we want to see them in non‑traditional roles, Mr. Speaker.
We want to make sure that all people get a tap on the shoulder to know there's a job for them; there's a career for them. And so, when we have one of the youngest and fastest growing demographics, Mr. Speaker, we want to be able to move forward and create those opportunities that are available to them.
The occupations will be administered separately from the existing apprenticeship and certification system but many of the aspects will be similar including, Mr. Speaker, working closely with industry-led standards and development, a competency-based training model. We know that there are a lot of people who come to the table with incredible skills. They have a lot of experience. We want to make sure that we can find ways to highlight and to recognize and to certify the incredible skills that people bring forward, and we want to make sure that that training is both in the classroom and where we have seen a lot of success is on-the-job training. And so we want to make sure that not only are they getting the in-classroom but they're getting the on‑the-job training, and the skills that they have for on-the-job training is also recognized.
Standards will be developed through consultation with industry and stakeholders and, Mr. Speaker, a lot of these kinds of consultations and discussions, and we had opportunity already but we're going to continue to work closely with–I'm just going to name a few–the Apprenticeship and Certification Board and labour leaders. We know that we've had a lot of success with the–with our apprenticeship model. We're always looking to enhance and modernize that model. We believe that The Certified Occupations Act is going to allow us to be able to do that. We've taken to–we take and listen to industry-led. We listen to labour leaders, and want to continue that consultation, continue to listen, continue to build on the strength of the apprenticeship and certification model.
We also work closely with the Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology, of course. They are a group of people who continue to work and send a strong message to people. In fact, one of the messages that we send, and we know from BuildForce Canada, Rosemary Sparks of BuildForce, the executive director, it's been said that there's–in the next 10 years, there'll be 12,000 jobs in the construction industry alone. So we know that there's going to be an incredible amount of opportunity, careers and jobs, Mr. Speaker, in Manitoba–more now than we've ever seen before.
We want to work closely with the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, the CME, under the leadership of Ron Koslowsky, and he is someone who's worked closely with us on this and will continue to work closely with us.
And we do want to say, Mr. Speaker, that we have been able to look and work with the Manitoba Trucking Association. We're very proud to work with people like Terry Shaw. We know there's incredible opportunity with the Trucking Association. They don't fit directly under the apprenticeship model so we know that there's potentially up to 300 new recognized skilled workers when it comes to this industry alone, and, you know, we're going to continue to work with the Manitoba Trucking Association.
This new legislation will build on the experience and success of the apprenticeship system that has existed for 71 years. And so we have this apprenticeship model that we know is having a great impact. In fact, we've been able to triple the amount of active apprentices up to over 10,000 now, Mr. Speaker.
But we always know there's more work to do, and that's what people are telling us. And we want to modernize. We want to make sure that we're working to find ways to meet the incredible demand for jobs that are going to happen with a strong economy.
We do recognize, though, that not all occupations fit the strict requirements under the apprenticeship model, and other options are needed, and that's why we're bringing this bill forward, The Certified Occupations Act. The occupations framework will provide the opportunity to engage sectors that have not traditionally been involved in the apprenticeship model, Mr. Speaker. We think that there's opportunities to work with other occupations, help us identify those trades, recognize those occupations, certify–create certification–but most importantly, what we want to make sure is that they're getting the services and resources they need to make sure that–not only that the young people and people in the province are getting trained, but the services to reach out to make sure that people know about the incredible opportunities that exist here in Manitoba. We'll continue to put emphasis on the consultation, making sure that we're talking to industry, making sure that we're continuing to talk to labour leaders, continue to talk to people who are doing the training, listening to what they have to say. We are happy to work, of course, and start this with the Manitoba Trucking Association.
We know that there is incredible opportunity for The Certified Occupations Act. I look forward to the debate and I look forward to the support for this bill.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mrs. Heather Stefanson (Tuxedo): I'm pleased to rise and put a few words on the record with respect to Bill 18, The Certified Occupations Act, Mr. Speaker, and I want to thank the minister for bringing this forward for debate in the Legislature.
The bill enables an occupation to be designated as a certified occupation by regulations. A person who completes the education and training requirements established by regulation for an occupation will be able to obtain a certificate, and it establishes a certified occupations board to establish a guide and to co-ordinate the development and recognition of certified occupations. Any occupation that is not already regulated otherwise are eligible to become certified occupations.
And, Mr. Speaker, the occupations will be administered separately from the existing apprenticeship and certification system, but many aspects will be similar, including industry-led standards development, competency-based training model, and both classroom and on-the-job training. And standards will be developed through consultation with industry stakeholders, according to the minister.
And, Mr. Speaker, an occupation is not eligible if it is designated trade under The Apprenticeship and Certification Act, designated by the Canadian Council of Directors of Apprenticeship, the CCDA, for inclusion in the Red Seal program or if it is profession, trade or occupation regulated by a college, association, society or similar entity.
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the minister for the briefing that we had with he and his staff–brought to light a little bit more about where this act has come from and the reason behind it. And we know that members of the trucking community were asking for this kind of legislation to come forward. It wasn't sort of clear as to why it had to be done by way of legislation. I thought maybe it could've been done by way of regulation, but this bill is before us today and so we will debate it as is.
And I think it's important that–to mention that this will establish a Certified Occupations Board and the board will be able to make various regulations. And one of the regulations that is a little bit concerning to members of the industry is, in specific, is the area regarding the rate of wages for persons engaged in certification programs.
We know that there is a minimum wage already set in Manitoba, Mr. Speaker. We know that probably many of these people, in various occupations, will probably make more than that anyway, and we're just wondering what the reasoning is behind the inclusion of that particular clause that the board has the authority to make changes to.
And I think this area needs some clarification, Mr. Speaker, and certainly members of various industries who will be affected by this have some questions around that. And so we'll continue to bring forward those questions, and I'm sure members of the industry will be out to committee and we look forward to hearing them in committee with respect to that.
I think it's also worth noting that there is a particular clause in here as well, under the various regulations that can be set forth by the board, and this one states regarding "any matter considered by the board to be necessary or advisable to carry out the intent and purpose of" the act. And that's–it's very broad, Mr. Speaker, and I think that broad regulatory recommendations that can be made by the board–I would like that to be more specific. I think if there are specific areas that the minister has in mind for that, let's specify what those are and not leave it to be so broad, because that's where we have–where we can run into some concerns. And I know that members of industry have already indicated some concerns with that as well.
Certainly, Mr. Speaker, we are–we know that this, the member–or the minister has indicated that this will be done by way of significant consultation as to what industries that this will have an impact on. And we know that this government has a rather negative track record when it comes to consultations, and we hope that they're sincere about this consultation process and that industry will be significantly consulted when it comes to various regulatory changes that will have significant impacts on their businesses.
We know, Mr. Speaker, that there's already–I've visited many, many industries and many, many businesses across this great province of ours, and we know that their–one of the main concerns that they've had other than the uncompetitive tax environment that we're in is the significant red tape brought forward by this government. It's already difficult enough for many of these businesses to succeed here in Manitoba, and many businesses are looking to expand in other provinces as a result of the excessive red tape in our province. And so I hope that, again, that members opposite and the minister is sincere about the consultation process that will take place to ensure that they do listen to these businesses and some of the concerns that they have regarding red tape.
So, Mr. Speaker, one of the other issues of concern that we heard from various industries, particularly in northern Manitoba when we were visiting up north in The Pas, in Flin Flon, Thompson areas, meeting with industry stakeholders up in those communities, is the journeyman-to-apprenticeship ratio. And the one-to-one ratio is of concern to people in the industry, and they would prefer to see something more along the lines of a one-to-two ratio. And we on–members of this side of the House have listened to those industries, and we believe that we've listened to them, and we've actually indicated that we are prepared to make those changes. And I hope members opposite would seriously consider that as well, because it's the right thing to do and it's what industry is wanting, and we know that it could have a negative impact on jobs if that is not changed.
So, with those few words, I know that we are looking forward to listening to various stakeholders in the community come forward at the committee stage, Mr. Speaker. And, again, I hope that members opposite listen to those stakeholders within the community who do have some concerns with respect to this. But we certainly understand the intent of the bill and agree with the intent of the bill, but I think it's important at this stage to listen to those stakeholders and ensure that they get this bill right.
So, again, I look forward to listening from–to stakeholders in the community at the committee stage, Mr. Speaker. Thank you.
Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Mr. Speaker, I rise to talk on this bill, which enables occupations which are not currently regulated to be designated as certified occupations and allows, then, a process to be developed whereby a person who can go through required education and/or training requirements and obtain, then, a certificate that they have the skills needed for that particular occupation. The act establishes a Certified Occupations Board and enables a process for certification in a wide variety of occupations which are not currently regulated or don't have professional associations and other matters, which allows for training processes to occur at the present time.
I believe that the act, though, at this point, is desirable, is a good idea, but I also believe that there are aspects of this bill which the minister needs to think through a little bit more carefully as it is, in fact, put into practice. And the minister should look carefully at whether there are aspects which need to be put into legislation or which just can be put into the rules, for example.
Let me start with, clearly, there needs to be some way of assessing competency. At the end of any training program in virtually every profession, there is–or every skill, there is some assessment that the person has achieved a certain level of competency. In order words, that it's not just enough to go through some sort of educational or learning process but you actually have some assessment at the end of that time period of education or learning, to make sure that that person is competent in the profession. And I think that the–this is important enough that it needs to be clearly established, not just that a person has had the education, but they have actually had some sort of assessment that they are competent in the skill which is being described.
In today's world, one needs not just the initial assessment of competence but for virtually every skill, that skill is also operating in a changing world, where the nature of the skill, the nature of the knowledge, changes, sometimes on a yearly basis, sometimes quite significantly every few years. So that one of the questions here is that, you know, it's no longer good enough to certify somebody in the year 2015, but you need to have some kind of process that would allow for ongoing certification or competence assessment. And I think that the nature of such a process might be, to some extent, specific to the occupation that we are talking about and so that this needs to be individualized.
But I think it's pretty important to think now, not just about the process for initially certifying somebody, but the process for making sure that there is a process there for ongoing certification so that the requirement here that the board and the director provide for a program for certification I think is no longer good enough. I think you need to have some process for ongoing competence assessment or ongoing certification every so often because, you know, as people get older, we even have people, you know, have their licence–driver's licence checked, and so that this should be built in right from the start because, if not, it will have to be added later and it would be better to add it in right now and do it properly than have to go back later on and rethink it and do it again.
As I've said, the ongoing nature of what is needed to be learnt for is very specific to a specific occupation, and so that this will need some level of, you know, expert knowledge, people who are, you know, a group of people who are, perhaps, leaders in the occupation or people who are competent.
I'm not sure exactly how that is going to be established because, clearly, a board of seven people, or thereabouts, is not going to be sufficient to be knowledgeable in the details of every occupation that you might be dealing with. Clearly, there are going to be some occupations here where there are going to be relatively few people. In fact, there may be occupations which could be completely new to Manitoba and that we would have to rely on some sort of outside expertise in order to be able to develop the program, the assessment of competency, the assessment of ongoing competency in some way or other.
And setting this up to begin with can be, you know, can be very important. We want strong enough standards for training and competency that people who are going to be doing these jobs in Manitoba are going to be able to work in these areas of employment and be certified.
The next thing I would suggest that the minister should look at with every occupation, we've got lots and lots of immigrants coming into Manitoba. There are likely, therefore, to be people who come in to Manitoba with varied skills and backgrounds related to this particular occupation. There should be some sort of a process so that somebody who comes in from another country can be assessed for their competence and achieve a certificate. And, depending on the occupation this could be a very simple matter, particularly if we use knowledge of how such occupations are registered in other countries and recognized, how such training is developed in other countries. We may have people coming from other countries who have much superior or inferior training and experience compared to us. We may, in Manitoba, have, in some cases, different standards, different climatic conditions, different other aspects of the job here, which people who come from other places need to, sort of, update or learn about just what the Manitoba regulations are.
And so here is another matter when we start to put in place a certification of occupations that we should probably consider upfront, giving the importance of immigration and people who are coming from other areas to Manitoba.
One more point, and that is that when we're talking about competency–initial competency, ongoing competency in terms of an occupation, this–the operation of the standards council or the board, and its overall role, can actually play a role in helping to set standards for, not just for competency, but for what should be the practice, right, in that occupation. Now, in other words, we have for well-established occupations, we have standard practices that, you know, firefighters or policemen or what have you, have to follow. And so it's not just a matter of somebody being competent, but of somebody who is practising in this occupation actually meeting certain performance standards. And that, again, is something that should be considered and looked at.
So I would suggest to the minister that while this bill is highly desirable and a really good move, on the other hand one needs to have a fairly careful look at the ramifications of putting this bill in place and make sure that all these various parameters and aspects have been looked at, and incorporated and considered in some fashion, as we, and, indeed, before we, you know, move forward and start writing regulations. Because we are dealing with potentially a large number of different occupations for which there may be relatively small numbers of people practising in Manitoba, it would be smart to have this worked out well in advance, before we get into issues and problems down the road.
So, Mr. Speaker, with those comments and suggestions to the minister, I'm looking forward to this bill going to committee stage and being able to have input from hopefully a wide variety of experts, and then moving on beyond that.
So, thank you.
Mr. Speaker: Any further debate on this matter?
Is the House ready for the question?
An Honourable Member: Question.
Mr. Speaker: The question before the House is second reading of Bill 18, The Certified Occupations Act.
Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion? [Agreed]
Bill 20–The Architects Amendment Act
Mr. Speaker: We'll now proceed to call under second reading, Bill 20, The Architects Amendment Act.
Hon. Erna Braun (Minister of Labour and Immigration): I move, seconded by the Minister of Multiculturalism, that Bill 20, The Architects Amendment Act; Loi modifiant la Loi sur les architectes, be now read a second time and be referred to a committee of this House.
Ms. Braun: Bill 20 is intended to update and modernize The Architects Act in several key areas.
First, the bill re-establishes architects' scope of practice in the act by setting out detailed restrictions on who is authorized to perform architectural work for different types of buildings. For some buildings only registered architects can perform this work, while for others, professional engineers or the general public may do so.
Since 2005, the provisions establishing architect scope of practice have been located in the Manitoba Building Code regulation under The Buildings and Mobile Phones Act. The scope of practice was placed there as a temporary measure to help resolve issues related to the interpretation of the previously existing scope of practice provisions.
Over the last decade, both architects and engineers have advised these temporary provisions have been working well and have resolved the issues that existed with the previous legislation. Given this, the bill proposing to move the scope of practice provisions into The Architects Act, which is a more appropriate place for them to be located.
Another important way that Bill 20 modernizes the act is by changing bylaw and rule-making powers that allow the association to establish mandatory continuing education requirements for its members. This will help ensure that the act reflects the latest professional standards for Manitoba architects.
In addition, this bill makes a number of administrative improvements to better allow the Manitoba Association of Architects to carry out its mandate. These changes include allowing bylaws to be published online instead of being distributed by mail and updating professional discipline provisions.
We have worked closely with the Manitoba Association of Architects in developing this legislation. We've also consulted with the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Manitoba on the proposed changes in this bill. Both associations enthusiastically support this bill, and I am proud of the collaborative effort shown by both associations to promote the continued co-operation of their professions.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Dennis Smook (La Verendrye): Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to put some words on record regarding Bill 20, The Architects Amendment Act.
This bill amends The Architects Act as follows: The act's provision about bylaw and rule-making powers is restructured and a power to make rules about mandatory continuing education is added. Bylaws are to be published on the Internet rather than being distributed by mail. The power to make bylaws about professional discipline is described in more detail. Mediation is added as an alternative to disciplinary action. Appeals of discipline decided to the Court of Appeal are available only after an inquiry hearing is held.
The bill also amends provisions dealing with when architectural work has–work may be done by non-architects by explicitly stating criteria that were previously incorporated by referring to the Manitoba Building Code.
Well, Mr. Speaker, it's–it is an honour to be speaking to this bill because this bill was brought forward, I believe, by the architects themselves. They put most of the words into the bill. So this bill actually does things to get rid of red tape, to make things easier for them. So I would have to agree that this bill is one that is worthwhile supporting.
In this legislation, it reduces barriers to employment in our province with the number of different areas that they look at, that they can make bylaws. It'll ensure that fewer barriers to highly educated people entering our province and seeking work in their specialized field; they'll be able to work here easily.
By facilitating the ability of Manitoba Association of Architects to create and implement its own bylaws, this bill ensures that architects and their professional body are in control of their field of work in this province. And that's good to see, because business can move forward. They can control their destiny; they can control the amount of red tape that's involved in the bill. They can look after what they're doing, and when an association is looking after itself, that means that the association will do better.
And we all have to agree that architects working in Manitoba, you know, designing all the buildings and stuff, we have to applaud them, because they've done an excellent job. We have some beautiful buildings in Manitoba. And I'm sure some of our architects have designed buildings all over the world. So we do have a world-class group here, and I think we need to maintain them and make sure that they're able to work freely in their own businesses.
And what they've done in some of these bylaws is they've made it easier for themselves to make contributions, whether it's to schools or hospitals–so again, too, getting rid of red tape, which is something that I would like to see happen in more bills that this government is introducing, because it's when we look at a lot of the bills that they seem to be creating more red tape than getting rid of it.
And one of the areas that we looked at was, for instance, the New West Partnership. Again, too, there's a lot of areas in there that, you know, we could do–could be doing more to make Manitoba a more friendly place for businesses to work in. Unfortunately, Manitobans seem to be paying more and getting less.
In recent years, we've had some, you know, architects that have done some important projects here in Manitoba, as well as across the world. [interjection] Yes, but the NDP have–like, I hope they take lessons from this bill because this bill is actually one that does a lot of good.
And it was a pleasure to–we met with a lot of the architects and talked with them, and it was their ideas. So this was actually–I know–I guess it was started by the architects themselves. They're the ones who initiated this process. So you can see that the bill actually has some really good parts to it. So I think that just shows how important consultation is when bills are being designed.
And I know that I've seen bills where consultation wasn't really important to the present government, and I would really encourage them to continue this, because this bill, actually, you know, it's–it was nice to work with, everybody was excited about it, but–and this also works, you know, with the–with modernizing a lot of the acts that needed some work done.
The architects have been doing a lot of things in past, but what they wanted some of these ability to create bylaws so that they would be able to, you know, do things that would be legal not–they have been doing things, but whether it just wasn't the bylaw created for it. So I think that this bill is one that we can support because of what it does.
I mean, our caucus over here believes in promoting training and investment and innovation for Manitoba businesses, because business, no matter what the Premier (Mr. Selinger) says about the NDP creating jobs, it is business who creates jobs.
So I'm glad to–I'm glad that this bill is one that we can support, and I'm sure that the minister will probably bring forward, you know, more bills of the same nature that have consultation with everybody, and the bill that they present will make a lot of sense.
It was really good to work with these architects; they made a lot of sense, and common sense seems to be something that we seem to be a little bit deprived of sometimes when these bills are brought forward. But I'm glad to see that this bill does have a lot of common sense, and it is making Manitoba a friendlier place for business to work in. And I'm glad that the architects brought this forward. There has been a lot of support for this, so I'm just glad that this is going to come along and be good.
I just hope that when we have committee on this that we have some of the architects coming out and, you know, explaining their reasons and being happy about this bill. So I'm looking forward to listening to what the architects have to say in committee. Even though I have talked to several of them, it was a real eye-opening experience to be part of this bill and to listen to them, to see how a bill should really work.
Anyways, thank you, Mr. Speaker. I look forward to listening to them at committee. Thank you.
Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Mr. Speaker, a few comments on this legislation, this bill dealing with updating the situation for architects. First of all, let me recognize the expertise that we have here in Manitoba, the faculty of architecture. It is well known, not just in Manitoba but across Canada and globally, for the expertise and the excellent architects that come from here, so a salute to architects in Manitoba and to the faculty which has done over the years a really excellent job.
Second, I want to talk briefly about the excellence in architecture that we have here in Winnipeg and across Manitoba. And the excellence in architecture provides a situation where we have good living space. It provides a situation where today we have film crews coming to Manitoba, because they are interested in being a part of the architectural design that's here–whether it's the Exchange District or the Legislature or elsewhere, people are coming here to do filming as tourists, because we have really good architecture and really good architectural history. That is a compliment over the many, many years of the existence of our province to architects and to their contribution to our society. And I just wanted to say thank you to the architects, because we today are the beneficiaries of all the good work that they have done over the many years.
I want to welcome the fact that architects, over the time that I have been here, have been very ready to participate in public affairs. I remember, a number of years ago, we had some changes to the architects and engineers act. We had a very large number of architects coming in to present at the committee stage, and, you know, there was quite a lineup. And we're now making changes, hopefully, to how we manage committee hearings so that we can manage these long lineups better in the future.
But I just want to say a word of compliment to architects for being ready to participate in discussions, public discussions of this nature and in our Legislature, and I'm sure we'll have some architects coming to contribute at committee stage to talk to us.
I also want to say a word about the changing patterns, that we are moving into a world where we want more sustainable construction, where we were doing levels of the greenness or sustainability of buildings. And processes like the LEED process, I think, are making an important contribution, in allowing us as a province to have buildings which will perform better, which will look better, which will be better for us, not just now, but going on into the future. And, in a number of circumstances, because of the way they're designed, they will have lower operating costs because they are less–need less added electricity costs, and that's going to be a benefit for us in the years ahead.
I welcome the provisions of this act and the fact that architects have been involved in with the development of these–the greater use of the Internet for matters in today's world is smart and that's good. I think it's very important to have some rules about mandatory continuing education in architecture. The world changes very rapidly today and it's really important, as I was talking about not very long ago, for certification of occupations, that we have processes, whether it's architects, engineers or any other occupation, that we have a process for ongoing education so to make sure that people are up to date and on top of, you know, what is the best and the most modern construction. This is very important for good building construction, just as it is important for good road construction, for example, and that we want to make sure that we are reducing errors that we've got processes that come into play when there are errors found. I mean and I think, you know, and, sadly, in a sense, there have been over the last 20 or 30 years a number of examples where errors have crept into buildings. Not all are architects' fault, I think, but, you know, where you can avoid errors, you can avoid a lot of extra costs and a lot of extra problems to people.
I remember working at the Children's Hospital; there was expansion there and all of a sudden it was found that their insulation had not been put in properly. I suspected it had nothing to do with the architects, but it's an example of how construction had to stop and it caused a major delay and a lot of extra costs because things weren't done properly and well the first time. And this was discovered in the middle of winter, and so it wasn't very good for, you know, the various aspects of the building function, and so this was, indeed, corrected, but it was certainly a cost to them.
Another more recent example is what happened at the airport. Again, I'm not sure that this was an architectural problem, but I bring it up because it illustrates the fact that with the new airport, there was a major problem which delayed the opening of the airport for about a year.
And, again, this may not have anything to do with the architects involved, but it points out the importance of getting it right, and that when you put together architects, the engineers, the project managers and everybody else, we need to make sure that we're getting it right the first time.
We've been talking in this Legislature; we had an opposition motion not very long ago about the Bombers' stadium. Again, some issues; again, I don't know enough about the details and I have no idea whether this had anything to do with architecture, so I don't want to, you know, lay the blame on the architects, but I do think that it illustrates how important it is when we're having major construction problems, that they are done well and that they are done in a way that, you know, functions well but it doesn't delay the building and in a way that, all of a sudden, when the building is completed, whether it's a stadium like this, that you are finding a lot of extra costs because things weren't done right to begin with.
So the point here being that it's really fundamental to how we do as a province to make sure that we have architects who are competent, who are doing their job, who are up to date, and I want to congratulate the architects, because overall, if you look at everything together, they've done some phenomenal work in this province. But putting in place those safeguards is clearly of critical importance and something that the architects themselves, I believe, welcome and the architects themselves will be ready to be, you know, happy about the changes here.
I notice that mediation is added as an alternative to disciplinary action. I think that in many circumstances, what we're working on is not so much as punishing people for mistakes, but having people learn from mistakes and not having those mistakes made again. And so being able to identify where error is concerned, I'm not sure that architects, as a group, have a process for identifying errors and making recommendations as to how these can be prevented in the future, but that clearly is something which is hurry–highly desirable. And I'm sure that people are watching closely, and where such errors occur, that we should be putting in place, not just the mandatory training but the standards as well, and recognize that architects are very involved in setting of standards in a whole variety of ways, and that is a good thing.
So, Mr. Speaker, with those comments, I look forward to the presentation by architects at the committee stage and to further discussion into this bill now moving forward. Thank you.
Mr. Speaker: Any further debate on this matter?
An Honourable Member: Question.
Mr. Speaker: Question before the House is second reading of Bill 20, The Architects Amendment Act. [Agreed]
Bill 21–The Engineering and Geoscientific Professions Amendment Act
Mr. Speaker: We'll now move on to second reading of Bill 21, The Engineering and Geoscientific Professions Amendment Act.
Hon. Erna Braun (Minister of Labour and Immigration): I move, seconded by the Minister of Multiculturalism, that Bill 21, The Engineering and Geoscientific Professions Amendment Act; Loi modifiant la Loi sur les ingénieurs et les géoscientifiques, now be read a second time and be referred to a committee of this House.
Ms. Braun: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased again to speak on Bill 21. This bill makes a number of changes to the act that will improve the ability of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Manitoba to issue specified scope‑of-practice licences to individuals that do not meet the educational requirements for full membership but have significant professional experience that qualifies them to practise engineering or geoscience within a limited scope.
These changes will allow the association to recognize limited engineering and geoscience licences from other Canadian jurisdictions and provide career pathways for foreign-trained individuals. This will provide employers with more access to skilled workers to meet the growing demand for engineering and geoscientific services, including for the significant number of major infrastructure projects planned or under way in Manitoba and help to grow our economy and create even more good jobs.
The amendments respecting specified scope-of‑practice licences are supported by the Office of the Manitoba Fairness Commissioner, as they will provide many internationally educated engineers and geoscientists with a timelier path to licensure in Manitoba and align with recommendations made by the Fairness Commissioner in 2012.
This bill also strengthens the association's ability to ensure that its members stay up to date with continuing professional development requirements. This is important to ensure the accountability of professional engineers and geoscientists, recognizing the critical work that they do in developing and renewing infrastructure as well as helping to ensure public safety and environmental sustainability.
Other changes made by this bill will permit the association to promote itself by making charitable donations and amend several provisions to better enable the association to carry out its mandate.
Bill 21 is the result of extensive collaboration with the association who were instrumental in bringing forward these ideas to modernize their association to meet Manitoba's new and changing labour-market needs.
I am pleased to say the association is fully supportive of this bill. I'm also pleased that this bill is supported by the Manitoba Association of Architects.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Dennis Smook (La Verendrye): I'm again pleased to stand up today and put some words on record regarding Bill 21, the engineering and geoscientific professional amendment act.
Again, like the previous Bill 20, this has been brought forward by the association, and because engineers and architects and geoscientists work together on buildings, it's basically aligning so that both associations use the same type of laws.
The engineering and geoscientific professionals act provides for the regulation of those professionals and related disciplines by the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of the province of Manitoba. This bill amends the act as follows: registration administrative processes are amended to improve the association's ability to license individuals who do not meet the requirements of the full membership but who are qualified to practise within a limited scope of engineering or geoscience.
This is an important area of this new bill because what it does it gives the engineers the ability to, if somebody has come from another country and they worked in a factory that builds widgits and they have a company in Canada that builds widgits, and these–the person has a lot of experience, what can happen here is the person could be issued a licence to practise, not necessarily become an engineer, but a licence to practise so that he's able to work in this plant immediately without having to go jump through all kinds of hoops and that. And, with our amount of people we're having in immigration in Manitoba, we need professionals. It is a good change to their laws. So I'm sure that new immigrants will really look forward to this.
The association's purposes and powers are amended to allow for promoting the roles of the professional and the association by, amongst other things, making grants and donations and giving financial assistance. What–when speaking to the association, let me say this, they have been doing it, but really they needed to create a bylaw to make it so it would be done legally. So this is just a minor change to their rulings to keep them in line with everything else that's happening, which is good because they do donate a lot of money to, you know, to different charities.
I did have a list here of some of the different charities they have donated to. I believe that they donate 2,000–or 2 per cent to a maximum of $50,000 per year to non-engineering and to non‑geoscientist charities, to major CancerCare, Heart and Stroke, Human Rights Museum, Winnipeg Harvest and a lot of small charities. So I believe that is showing they're promoting themselves by giving to charities, which I'm in total agreement with.
Representation of the associate's council for an engineering or geoscience's intern–that was basically just a name change. To call somebody an intern, they had a different name for them. So this just makes it just a little bit more professional by calling them an intern.
The procedure for making a bylaw to update–allow for the use of new technology, so as everything else in this world our technology is changing constantly, so, as an association, they want to be on top of everything that they're doing with technology. And also the association's ability to ensure that registrants participate in continuing professional development is strengthened. And this is, I think, a very important rule because we want our engineers and we want our architects to constantly be upgrading themselves.
As I said, technology is changing every day in this world, and as there are better ways to build buildings or design them, it's important that they stay on top of these things, and sometimes some of these engineers may need a little–they need to be pushed a little bit to make sure that they, you know, maintain their standards. So it is a good part of the rules here.
A number of changes were made to modernize terminology, improve consistency with language–minor changes. They also talk about using the Internet to do voting on, and I had a question on that, because we've all heard about Internet–when you do voting over the Internet, it could possibly lead to some irregularities. But what they assured us of is, because each engineer has a number–basically like you have a PIN number to your bank account–so they have to go into the system with their PIN number in order to be able to vote. So it is a fairly structured and secure system that they're going to be using for Internet voting, so I don't think that anybody will be able to get into there to vote at their own free will.
And it was, again, very interesting to sit down with these engineers and geoscientists to listen to their reasons for wanting these acts changed. I mean, this is going to be another lesson to the NDP about how important it is to update things and get rid of red tape and make things easier for businesses to function, because, again, too, it's important. We don't want to chase some of our more important people out of this province, send them to other provinces and then have to hire them over there to do our engineering and architectural work from another province, because that takes money out of the province of Manitoba.
And it is important to make sure that we do maintain the right atmosphere here to keep these people here, because we just–we want to make sure that it is important that they stay here in Manitoba, because we do need professionals to do the engineering work and, like, in the different buildings that we're building, whether it be schools and as we see how things change over the years. Like, the school that I went to is–the way they design schools today is completely different from the school that I went to, and it's important to stay on top of all of this, to make sure that they all stay in tune with what's happening with–what's happening in our world today.
And I really look forward to committee, because I'm sure we'll have some presenters there, and they will be, you know, explaining to us what their reasons are and if there's something that should come across that we maybe need to make an amendment to this bill. I hope the opposition is open to doing that, because it–after all, it is their bill and they've asked for it. It is to make sure that they have a proper workspace to function in here in Manitoba.
And, again, too, I just want to say I can support this bill, because it does eliminate a lot of the things. So it's coming from a group of people who are progressive and really instrumental in trying to change the way they do things.
So, again, I want to thank the room for their time, and I look forward to listening to some of these engineers at committee. Thank you.
Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Mr. Speaker, I want to comment on this bill, which deals with updating the professions of engineering and geoscientific professions. I welcome this legislation. I welcome the active engagement of the engineers and the support of the architects as this is moving forward.
Clearly, engineering is vital for so much of what happens in Manitoba. So many of the existing and new developments–Manitoba Hydro–construction of Manitoba Hydro and transmission lines and so on is all very dependent on having engineering expertise when we're looking at the constructions of dams and various other aspects of what Manitoba Hydro is involved with. And, clearly, this is just one example of the many, many contributions that engineers make to how our province functions. And we should recognize that there have been times when engineers at Manitoba Hydro have led the world in terms of new technologies and new ways of doing things, and we should welcome that, because very often those new technologies are important in, for example, enabling us to transfer power for long distances and to do things better and, in some cases, cheaper than we are doing them currently.
I have a son who is an electrical engineer, and he keeps me up to date with some aspects of what are happening in engineering. And so I have a personal interest in engineers and wish all the engineers well.
A number of years ago–just to emphasize the expertise that we have here in engineering–a number of years ago, University of Manitoba engineers were funded for what's called a centre of excellence, and this was a centre of excellence which was awarded in competition with many other disciplines across Canada and many other project proposals. And so it meant a very, very high standard in terms of being at the leading edge of what was going on, having extraordinarily good people, having co-operative relations with engineers at various other institutions across Canada. And the lead was here, and it was congratulations to people like Dr. Sami Rizkalla, to Walter Herzberg, to Chris Lorenc with the Manitoba Heavy Construction Association, and everybody was able to work together to put together an extraordinary proposal. And it got funded, and it got funded for many years, I think, until they were not allowed to renew it anymore because the process is–only allows for so many renewals. But I think they did some marvellous work.
In fact, I remember that one of the things that came out of the work of this centre of excellence was the construction of the bridge at Headingley across the Assiniboine River. And in that bridge, there is sensors, and the sensors allow remote monitoring of what is happening on that bridge and what's happening when cars and buses and trucks cross the bridge. And there were some slight differences in the way of construction on the two sides of the bridge so that they could monitor the type of construction, how long it was going to last, how well it was doing, what was happening to the stresses and strains on this bridge–a fascinating example of being able to be out front in the use of some new technology, but in being out front and making sure that it was done in a very, very safe way, even though all the testing had been done and which suggested that the new technology was going to be better and stronger and lighter and work better, that they were doing the testing in an ongoing basis and monitoring just to make sure that everything was going well and doing well. So that's an example, but one small example, of, you know, outstanding work that has been done and continues to be done here in Manitoba.
I welcome the efforts that the engineers are undertaking to have some of the best continuing professional development and continuing professional education and competency assessment anywhere. This is clearly something which is very, very important in a rapidly changing world, that we have ways of making sure that people are up to date, and they're knowledgeable about the latest things which are happening and are able to use, for Manitoba, the best that can be possibly done and know what the costs are and what the stresses and strains are in structures so that they are built well for us in Manitoba.
It's interesting that the design and the construction of buildings, bridges, whatever, hydroelectric power dams and so on, it's very important to be able to have good-quality design engineering work done and then that carried through into the building process.
I remember, a number of years ago, as an example–I think it was in the '50s–there were two bridges built, maybe in the '60s, but quite a number of years ago, built at Portage la Prairie on the east side and the west side, along the Trans-Canada Highway. And interestingly enough, there was a problem with the bridge that was built on the east side. And when this was looked at very, very carefully, because these two bridges were built about the same time, you know, the west side bridge was fine and did not need, you know, attention, but the east side bridge needed to be completely replaced because there was a major problem, whether it was in the engineering, but more likely in the way that some of the materials were used, but it's an example of the difference that you can get from putting processes in place so it gives you the very best that can be achieved.
If the east-side bridge had been built in the same standards and the same way as the west-side bridge, it likely would be standing and being used today, and we would not have had the extra costs, the extra delays. There was quite–I think it was for about a year where people had to route through Portage la Prairie. It caused a lot of extra turmoil for anybody traveling along the Trans-Canada Highway and we would have avoided all that if that bridge on the east, I believe, had been built the same way as the one on the west. And so it's a good example of why it is important to get engineering and construction done very well.
So, Mr. Speaker, the licensing of immigrants who are new to Manitoba, and people moving into Manitoba, I think that this is, the engineering profession is leading the way in terms of putting in place ways that people can get assessments based on their competency and they can get the ability to practice in areas in which they have specialized knowledge.
And so I applaud the engineers for doing this, for their moving forward in terms of new technology, moving into donations to charitable organizations, I believe, is in part, not so much about promoting themselves on some occasions, but really about helping people in Manitoba to achieve good goals in areas like health care as well as other areas. And it is good to have the increased public representation on the investigation committee so that you can bring in people who may be knowledgeable in ethics and various other aspects, to achieve the best possible results from investigations and the best possible help to people who are subject to investigations and for where there is need for improvement.
So with those few words, Mr. Speaker, thank you very much.
Mr. Speaker: Is there any further debate on this matter?
Is the House ready for the question?
Some Honourable Members: Question.
Mr. Speaker: The question before the House is second reading of Bill 21, The Engineering and Geoscientific Professions Amendment Act.
Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion? [Agreed]
Bill 23–The Boxing Amendment Act
Mr. Speaker: We'll now proceed to call for second reading, Bill 23, The Boxing Amendment Act.
Hon. Ron Lemieux (Minister of Tourism, Culture, Heritage, Sport and Consumer Protection): I move, seconded by the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General (Mr. Mackintosh), that Bill 23, The Boxing Amendment Act; Loi modifiant la Loi sur la boxe, be now read for a second time and referred to a committee of this House.
Mr. Lemieux: This bill builds on the legislation brought forward by the federal government to modernize The Boxing Act. Box–Bill 23 supports the province's sports tourism industry by bringing it in line with the Criminal Code section on prizefighting in Canada.
Mr. Speaker, The Boxing Act is the legislation that controls and regulates professional prizefighting in the province. The Boxing Act provides legislation for the establishment of the Manitoba Combative Sports Commission, formerly known as the Manitoba Boxing Commission.
These proposed legislative changes will not change the current function of the act or the Manitoba Combative Sports Commission, but ensure that it speaks with the same consistent jurisdictional language.
Mr. Speaker, the purpose of the three-person OIC-appointed commission, is to regulate professional combative sport matches in the province of Manitoba in accordance with regulations as set out in The Boxing Act. The commission regulates all contests or exhibitions of boxing and mixed martial arts including the licensing and supervision of ring officials, contestants, promotors. MCSC is responsible to recruit, evaluate, develop and assign judges, referees, timekeepers, doctors and other officials. The current commission is overseen by Chair Bill Tibbs, Commissioner Anita Lesage and John McDonald as executive director from the Sports Secretariat. Head physician is Dr. Ed Pilat, along with 20 contract officials.
The previous legislation has not been modernized in decades, Mr. Speaker. Governments have been working since 1999 to modernize section 83 of the Criminal Code which has not been amended since 1934.
The amended Criminal Code regarding prizefights came into effect in June 2013. The Criminal Code saw updates to the definition of a prizefighting–or prizefight to include an encounter with fists, hands or feet. It expands the list of exceptions to the offence to include amateur combative sports that are on the program of the International Olympic Committee and other amateur sports as designated or approved by the Province, as well as boxing contests and mixed martial arts contests held under the authority of a provincial athletic board, commission or similar body.
Mr. Speaker, it should be noted that this bill is only applicable to the regulating of professional fighting contests. Amateur 'combatitive' sports are regulated by individually recognized provincial sports bodies which see competitors compete with a different set of rules, regulations and safety equipment.
Mr. Speaker, these changes would support Manitoba's efforts to tap into the ever-growing popularity of these sports and bring more professional events into the province. These changes would not only support the government's approach to becoming a sports tourism destination, but would also be consistent with similar legislation elsewhere in Canada.
Mr. Speaker, this legislation builds on our government's declaration of 2015 as the Year of Sport in Manitoba. The Year of Sport promotes, celebrates, and recognize–recognizes the important role that sport plays in our daily lives and in our communities, as has been seen by the great FIFA event that just took place in Manitoba. It had a fantastic entertainment venue, our new Investors Group Stadium, which members opposite have opposed.
We’ve seen many sporting events also at MTS Centre, which the members opposed. They're on record of actually voting against the MTS Centre. Regrettably, it's–you know, it's regrettable that members opposite don't see the value in sport in the province and, Mr. Speaker, we have many, many more sporting events coming our way, including the Grey Cup this fall. So I would encourage members opposite to buy their tickets as opposed to members opposite who didn't get Jets tickets, as they presume, or have us presume that they did not, have never provided a list to this Legislature of the tickets that they did get. We did; they didn't, so we're very supportive of sports in Manitoba. We are investing in sport and recreation for the people of all ages across the province.
About 300,000 Manitobans make sport part of their daily lives. This astounding level of participation includes everything from active involvement in organized sport as a player, coach, manager or volunteer. The several marquee sporting events coming up this year, 2015, is shaping up and is to be a remarkable Year of Sport in our province, and our government is thrilled to be a partner in sharing sport with everyone.
Our government's committed to improve and expanding recreation facilities all across this beautiful province, helping people to discover the physical benefits that come from a healthy lifestyle.
Tourism, Culture, Heritage, Sport and Consumer Protection and its agency, Sport Manitoba, is working with Children and Youth Opportunities to help lead the Year of Sport, engage communities throughout the province, embrace 2015 as the Year of Sport.
Mr. Speaker, there's so many other people to thank with regard to not only the boxing and combative sports, but people within the sporting community that make Manitoba such an exceptional and beautiful place to live, grow, work and raise your family.
And so, Mr. Speaker, with that, the Year of Sport is truly a celebration of the incredible value sport has on the lives of Manitobans. Just earlier this afternoon we had a member from–formerly a member of Springfield, but St. Paul, talked about the value of three members of the great Chicago Blackhawks, Stanley Cup champions, and what sport meant. So, to hear them catcalling from across the way is, certainly, I would think, not appropriate, certainly, to–with regard to legislation we’re bringing forward, but showing the value of sport in this province, and truly a celebration of incredible value sport has on the lives of Manitobans. And I'm proud to introduce this legislation as part of our commitment to ensuring fair, equitable, safe participation in sport. These amendments benefit the athletes and I recommend all members of the House to support this bill, modernizing the language of–to support all professional combative sports that occur in our province.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Ron Schuler (St. Paul): Mr. Speaker, it is indeed always an honour to get up and speak to legislation in this Legislature.
Bill 23, although not one of the biggest pieces of legislation or the most substantive pieces of legislation that we've ever seen, it is–nevertheless, it is a legislation that we should be dealing with and want to see it pass on to committee and get those who have a vested interest the opportunity to get out and speak on it.
I am standing in this House today, Mr. Speaker, to speak to this bill which seeks to modernize and update The Boxing Act to include other competitive sports like mixed martial arts that have recently become quite popular as sources of physical activity and sports entertainment. In fact, I mentioned to the minister in the briefing that there are different versions now of this kind of sport.
And I was watching one night, when I had one of my insomnia moments worrying about how we were going to all sit here 'til December–that I turned on the TV and I believe I saw one boxing show. And that wasn't question period; it was actually a real boxing show, and it came out of Russia. And I believe it was four on four, and it had teams and no rules, and they–if you knocked out one of your opponents, you then could go help your other colleagues, and it was an absolute blood sport. And, clearly, it is that–those kinds of boxing–it is those kinds of boxing programs that I think are going to be addressed by this kind of legislation.
I would suggest that maybe the minister might want to take his legislation and send it to Russia and see if maybe they would like to have a look at this, because his–because, Mr. Speaker, it really was unnerving, and if I couldn't sleep before that, I certainly didn't sleep after. It's that kind of stuff that I think we're trying to regulate with this legislation.
Mr. Speaker, we've seen a lot of excitement around the recent Pacquiao-Mayweather bout, which demonstrates the enthusiasm that many folks have around competitive sports events. That match–a historic one, indeed–even received–which even received mention in this very Legislature.
Indeed, combative sports have a long history in sporting entertainment. While boxing matches have for a long time been the dominant form of combative sporting entertainment in North America, in recent years, as mentioned, mixed martial arts, commonly known as MMA and ultimate fighting–while these sports are a source of entertainment for many, it is important that audiences know that bouts are legitimate and conducted professionally. Extension of regulations around boxing to these sports is a step forward, regulating how combative sports take place in Manitoba so that athletes are not subjected to wrongful treatment while competing.
Many Manitobans engage in forms of combative sports as a way to stay active and healthy. Boxing clubs and martial arts centres are an important part of the sporting and athletics landscape in Manitoba. Indeed, athletes from many sports admire boxing training for its ability to keep them in ideal shape, and boxers are often thought to have exceptional strength, agility and stamina among athletes.
Combative sports are also a healthy and controlled way for people to experience physical exhaustion and competitiveness inherent in competitive sport.
So, Mr. Speaker, there are many other facets to this legislation, and I know we will have an opportunity to speak to this legislation on third reading. At this point in time, we probably would like to see it go to committee and allow the public to have a say in it. And it always will be given an opportunity for members in this Chamber to speak to it another time.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Mr. Speaker, just briefly, I–this is a significant important improvement to this legislation. I welcome the changes that are being proposed–the inclusion of more sports.
My son was quite involved in–Tom was quite involved in martial arts as he was growing up, and, you know, I have an appreciation for, you know, combative sports, and they play a pretty important role.
So that–Mr. Speaker, the other thing I would say is that when I was–first looked at this bill, I thought maybe it was a bill that would regulate the interaction of the members of the opposition over their internal divisions, but, you know, maybe it'll have another use that we can appreciate in the future.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: Is there any further debate on this matter?
Is the House ready for the question?
Some Honourable Members: Question.
Mr. Speaker: Question before the House is second reading of Bill 23, The Boxing Amendment Act.
Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion? [Agreed]
Mr. Speaker: We'll now move on to second readings of Bill 14, The Consumer Protection Amendment Act (Home Improvement Contracts).
Hon. Ron Lemieux (Minister of Tourism, Culture, Heritage, Sport and Consumer Protection): I move, seconded by the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General (Mr. Mackintosh), that The Consumer Protection Amendment Act (Home Improvement Contracts), be now read a second time and referred to a committee of this House.
Mr. Speaker: It has been moved by the honourable Minister of Tourism, Culture, Heritage, seconded by the Minister of Justice, that Bill 14, The Consumer Protection Amendment Act (Home Improvement Contracts), be now read a second time and referred to a committee of this House.
Mr. Lemieux: I'm really pleased that–and I know the opposition will support this bill, Mr. Speaker, because one of the largest purchases one makes is often a home or an automobile. In this particular case, we're talking about renovations and the kind of changes that need to take place for a lot of homes to ensure that–not only that to beautify one's home but also to give value to that particular structure.
Mr. Speaker, we've heard from many Manitobans. There's been a lot of consultation with regard to home renovations, taking a look at the kind of renovations that take place throughout Manitoba. Not everyone wants to purchase a new home or even has the financial wherewithal to purchase a home. So what often they will do is renovate, and they will make changes to their home, whether that be plumbing, electrical or structural changes to their home or condominium.
Mr. Speaker, there are many involved in the trades that have taken advantage of many of the–many consumers, and, again, this piece of consumer protection, we feel, is very, very important for those individuals who are looking forward to making those types of changes in their home. And, again, there are many who have essentially put a shingle out saying that they are a home contractor or that they can make these alterations or changes to homes, whether they be a roofer–right now there are really not any restrictions with regard to roofing whatsoever. People can come along with a half-ton truck and a ladder and a bundle of shingles and a hammer and go knock on a door and solicit business.
So, Mr. Speaker, what we're trying to do with this piece of legislation to ensure that not only is there fairness in the marketplace; by that, I mean there are 99.99999 per cent of businesses that are absolutely legitimate, provide a great service for Manitobans, but yet there is a small portion of those in the industry that are taking advantage of–could be seniors–taking advantage of people that are not aware of what necessarily goes into a particular job. There are those who have given large down payments prior to even anything being changed whatsoever in one's home or condominium, and then the contractor's nowhere to be found.
So, Mr. Speaker, what we're trying to do is to ensure that we're providing this kind of consumer protection for individuals that are looking to have renovations done, and we as a government, part and parcel of what the Attorney General and Minister of Justice (Mr. Mackintosh) started a number of years ago–and so we want to ensure that Manitobans understand that this government is on their side and are–try to provide as much protection as we can when making all those purchases that are necessary in their life, and we want to ensure that the kind of tradespeople that are out there are going to ensure that–but I just want to say, in conclusion, that this government's proud of all the consumer protection legislation we've brought forward.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hour being 5 p.m.–pardon me–the debate will remain open in this matter when it's again before the House.
The hour being 5 p.m., this House is adjourned and stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. on Monday.