Hansard Volume Number Thursday February

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					     3rd Session, 37th Parliament



          OFFICIAL REPORT OF


      DEBATES OF THE
LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY
             (HANSARD)




        Thursday, February 14, 2002
            Afternoon Sitting
           Volume 3, Number 4




THE HONOURABLE CLAUDE RICHMOND, SPEAKER



              ISSN 0709-1281
                                                                PROVINCE OF BRITISH COLUMBIA
                                                                 (Entered Confederation July 20, 1871)

                                                                          LIEUTENANT-GOVERNOR
                                                                          Honourable Iona Campagnolo

                                                                        3RD SESSION, 37TH PARLIAMENT

                                                         SPEAKER OF THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY
                                                               Honourable Claude Richmond

                                                                                EXECUTIVE COUNCIL
Premier and President of the Executive Council..........................................................................................................Hon. Gordon Campbell
Minister of State for Intergovernmental Relations................................................................................................... Hon. Greg Halsey-Brandt
Deputy Premier and Minister of Education .........................................................................................................................Hon. Christy Clark
Minister of Advanced Education ............................................................................................................................................Hon. Shirley Bond
Minister of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries..................................................................................................................Hon. John van Dongen
Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Treaty Negotiations.................................................................................. Hon. Geoff Plant
Minister of Children and Family Development ..................................................................................................................Hon. Gordon Hogg
Minister of State for Early Childhood Development...............................................................................................................Hon. Linda Reid
Minister of Community, Aboriginal and Women's Services........................................................................................... Hon. George Abbott
Minister of State for Community Charter.......................................................................................................................... Hon. Ted Nebbeling
Minister of State for Women's Equality ............................................................................................................................. Hon. Lynn Stephens
Minister of Competition, Science and Enterprise ..................................................................................................................Hon. Rick Thorpe
Minister of State for Deregulation ......................................................................................................................................... Hon. Kevin Falcon
Minister of Energy and Mines.......................................................................................................................................... Hon. Richard Neufeld
Minister of Finance ................................................................................................................................................................... Hon. Gary Collins
Minister of Forests .............................................................................................................................................................. Hon. Michael de Jong
Minister of Health Planning ................................................................................................................................................ Hon. Sindi Hawkins
Minister of Health Services.................................................................................................................................................... Hon. Colin Hansen
Minister of State for Mental Health ...............................................................................................................................Hon. Gulzar S. Cheema
Minister of State for Intermediate, Long Term and Home Care ............................................................................. Hon. Katherine Whittred
Minister of Human Resources................................................................................................................................................Hon. Murray Coell
Minister of Management Services.........................................................................................................................................Hon. Sandy Santori
Minister of Provincial Revenue.................................................................................................................................................Hon. Bill Barisoff
Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General ..................................................................................................................Hon. Rich Coleman
Minister of Skills Development and Labour...................................................................................................................Hon. Graham P. Bruce
Minister of Sustainable Resource Management ...................................................................................................................... Hon. Stan Hagen
Minister of Transportation......................................................................................................................................................... Hon. Judith Reid
Minister of Water, Land and Air Protection.........................................................................................................................Hon. Joyce Murray



                                                                             LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY
Deputy Speaker............................................................................................................................................................................... John Weisbeck
Leader of the Opposition ..................................................................................................................................................................Joy MacPhail
Deputy Chair, Committee of the Whole ......................................................................................................................................... Harold Long
Clerk of the Legislative Assembly ....................................................................................................................................... E. George MacMinn
Clerk Assistant ................................................................................................................................................................................... Robert Vaive
Clerk Assistant and Law Clerk .......................................................................................................................................................... Ian D. Izard
Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Committees....................................................................................................................................Craig H. James
Committee Clerk......................................................................................................................................................................... Kate Ryan-Lloyd
Sergeant-at-Arms ........................................................................................................................................................................A.A. Humphreys
Director, Hansard Services ............................................................................................................................................. Anthony Dambrauskas
Legislative Librarian....................................................................................................................................................................... Joan A. Barton
Legislative Comptroller .........................................................................................................................................................................Peter Bray



               Published by British Columbia Hansard Services, and printed under the authority of the Speaker by the
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               Crown Publications Inc., 521 Fort St., Victoria, B.C. V8W 1E7. Telephone: (250) 386-4636. Fax: 386-0221.

                                                                 Internet: www.legis.gov.bc.ca/hansard
                    ALPHABETICAL LIST OF MEMBERS                                                                                  LIST OF MEMBERS BY RIDING
Abbott, Hon. George (L) ....................................................................... Shuswap          Abbotsford-Clayburn....................................................... Hon. John van Dongen
Anderson, Val J. (L) ............................................................. Vancouver-Langara             Abbotsford–Mount Lehman ..............................................Hon. Michael de Jong
Barisoff, Hon. Bill (L) ............................................. Penticton–Okanagan Valley                  Alberni-Qualicum.......................................................................Gillian Trumper
Bell, Pat (L).........................................................................Prince George North        Bulkley Valley–Stikine ..............................................................Dennis MacKay
Belsey, Bill (L)................................................................................. North Coast    Burnaby North..............................................................................Richard T. Lee
Bennett, Bill (L) ........................................................................... East Kootenay      Burnaby-Edmonds............................................................................Patty Sahota
Bhullar, Tony (L) ........................................................................ Surrey-Newton         Burnaby-Willingdon...................................................................... John Nuraney
Bloy, Harry (L).................................................................................. Burquitlam     Burquitlam ........................................................................................ Harry Bloy
Bond, Hon. Shirley (L).........................................Prince George–Mount Robson                        Cariboo North ..................................................................................John Wilson
Bray, Jeff (L)......................................................................Victoria–Beacon Hill         Cariboo South .................................................................................... Walt Cobb
Brenzinger, Elayne (L) ............................................................... Surrey-Whalley            Chilliwack-Kent ............................................................................. Barry Penner
Brice, Susan (L) ............................................................................Saanich South       Chilliwack-Sumas ................................................................................. John Les
Bruce, Hon. Graham P. (L)................................................ Cowichan-Ladysmith                     Columbia River–Revelstoke ....................................................Wendy McMahon
Campbell, Hon. Gordon (L)............................................. Vancouver–Point Grey                      Comox Valley .......................................................................... Hon. Stan Hagen
Cheema, Hon. Gulzar S. (L) .......................................... Surrey–Panorama Ridge                      Coquitlam-Maillardville ............................................................. Richard Stewart
Chong, Ida (L)................................................................ Oak Bay–Gordon Head               Cowichan-Ladysmith .......................................................Hon. Graham P. Bruce
Christensen, Tom (L) ............................................................. Okanagan-Vernon               Delta North.......................................................................................... Reni Masi
Chutter, Dave (L) ........................................................................... Yale-Lillooet      Delta South................................................................................ Valerie Roddick
Clark, Hon. Christy (L) ..................................................Port Moody–Westwood                    East Kootenay .................................................................................. Bill Bennett
Cobb, Walt (L) ............................................................................. Cariboo South       Esquimalt-Metchosin...................................................................Arnie Hamilton
Coell, Hon. Murray (L) ........................................ Saanich North and the Islands                    Fort Langley–Aldergrove ..................................................... Hon. Rich Coleman
Coleman, Hon. Rich (L) .............................................. Fort Langley–Aldergrove                    Kamloops ....................................................................... Hon. Claude Richmond
Collins, Hon. Gary (L).........................................................Vancouver-Fairview                Kamloops–North Thompson ........................................................Kevin Krueger
de Jong, Hon. Michael (L)....................................... Abbotsford–Mount Lehman                         Kelowna–Lake Country............................................................... John Weisbeck
Falcon, Hon. Kevin (L) .......................................................... Surrey-Cloverdale              Kelowna-Mission ................................................................ Hon. Sindi Hawkins
Hagen, Hon. Stan (L) ................................................................... Comox Valley            Langley ............................................................................... Hon. Lynn Stephens
Halsey-Brandt, Hon. Greg (L) ..................................................Richmond Centre                   Malahat–Juan de Fuca .....................................................................Brian J. Kerr
Hamilton, Arnie (L)............................................................Esquimalt-Metchosin               Maple Ridge–Mission ................................................................... Randy Hawes
Hansen, Hon. Colin (L) .....................................................Vancouver-Quilchena                  Maple Ridge–Pitt Meadows .............................................................Ken Stewart
Harris, Roger (L) ......................................................................................Skeena   Nanaimo.......................................................................................... Mike Hunter
Hawes, Randy (L) ............................................................ Maple Ridge–Mission                Nanaimo-Parksville ...................................................................Hon. Judith Reid
Hawkins, Hon. Sindi (L).......................................................... Kelowna-Mission                Nelson-Creston.......................................................................Blair F. Suffredine
Hayer, Dave S. (L) ................................................................... Surrey-Tynehead           New Westminster .................................................................. Hon. Joyce Murray
Hogg, Hon. Gordon (L) ........................................................ Surrey–White Rock                 North Coast ........................................................................................Bill Belsey
Hunter, Mike (L) ...................................................................................Nanaimo      North Island........................................................................................Rod Visser
Jarvis, Daniel (L)...................................................... North Vancouver–Seymour                 North Vancouver–Lonsdale.......................................... Hon. Katherine Whittred
Johnston, Ken (L)............................................................ Vancouver-Fraserview               North Vancouver–Seymour .............................................................Daniel Jarvis
Kerr, Brian J. (L) .............................................................. Malahat–Juan de Fuca           Oak Bay–Gordon Head .......................................................................Ida Chong
Krueger, Kevin (L) ................................................. Kamloops–North Thompson                     Okanagan-Vernon .................................................................... Tom Christensen
Kwan, Jenny Wai Ching (NDP) ...............................Vancouver–Mount Pleasant                              Okanagan-Westside.................................................................Hon. Rick Thorpe
Lee, Richard T. (L).......................................................................Burnaby North          Peace River North .............................................................Hon. Richard Neufeld
Lekstrom, Blair (L)................................................................. Peace River South           Peace River South ....................................................................... Blair Lekstrom
Les, John (L) .......................................................................... Chilliwack-Sumas        Penticton–Okanagan Valley ....................................................Hon. Bill Barisoff
Locke, Brenda (L) ........................................................... Surrey–Green Timbers               Port Coquitlam–Burke Mountain.................................................... Karn Manhas
Long, Harold (L) ...................................................Powell River–Sunshine Coast                  Port Moody–Westwood......................................................... Hon. Christy Clark
MacKay, Dennis (L)....................................................... Bulkley Valley–Stikine                 Powell River–Sunshine Coast.......................................................... Harold Long
McMahon, Wendy (L).............................................Columbia River–Revelstoke                         Prince George North................................................................................Pat Bell
MacPhail, Joy (NDP) .......................................................... Vancouver-Hastings                Prince George–Mount Robson................................................Hon. Shirley Bond
Manhas, Karn (L) .............................................Port Coquitlam–Burke Mountain                      Prince George–Omineca................................................................Paul Nettleton
Masi, Reni (L) ...................................................................................Delta North    Richmond Centre......................................................... Hon. Greg Halsey-Brandt
Mayencourt, Lorne (L) ..........................................................Vancouver-Burrard                Richmond East .......................................................................... Hon. Linda Reid
Murray, Hon. Joyce (L) ........................................................... New Westminster               Richmond-Steveston ................................................................ Hon. Geoff Plant
Nebbeling, Hon. Ted (L) .......................................... West Vancouver–Garibaldi                      Saanich North and the Islands ............................................... Hon. Murray Coell
Nettleton, Paul (L).........................................................Prince George–Omineca                Saanich South................................................................................... Susan Brice
Neufeld, Hon. Richard (L)...................................................... Peace River North                Shuswap .............................................................................. Hon. George Abbott
Nijjar, Rob (L)................................................................... Vancouver-Kingsway            Skeena.............................................................................................Roger Harris
Nuraney, John (L) ...............................................................Burnaby-Willingdon              Surrey-Cloverdale ................................................................. Hon. Kevin Falcon
Orr, Sheila (L) ...........................................................................Victoria-Hillside     Surrey–Green Timbers .................................................................. Brenda Locke
Penner, Barry (L)....................................................................... Chilliwack-Kent         Surrey-Newton ............................................................................... Tony Bhullar
Plant, Hon. Geoff (L) ......................................................... Richmond-Steveston               Surrey–Panorama Ridge ................................................. Hon. Gulzar S. Cheema
Reid, Hon. Judith (L)............................................................ Nanaimo-Parksville             Surrey-Tynehead .......................................................................... Dave S. Hayer
Reid, Hon. Linda (L) ................................................................... Richmond East           Surrey-Whalley ...................................................................... Elayne Brenzinger
Richmond, Hon. Claude (L) ................................................................ Kamloops              Surrey–White Rock ............................................................... Hon. Gordon Hogg
Roddick, Valerie (L)..........................................................................Delta South        Vancouver-Burrard................................................................. Lorne Mayencourt
Sahota, Patty (L).....................................................................Burnaby-Edmonds            Vancouver-Fairview ............................................................... Hon. Gary Collins
Santori, Hon. Sandy (L)..............................................West Kootenay–Boundary                      Vancouver-Fraserview ...................................................................Ken Johnston
Stephens, Hon. Lynn (L) ........................................................................ Langley         Vancouver-Hastings .......................................................................Joy MacPhail
Stewart, Ken (L)...................................................... Maple Ridge–Pitt Meadows                  Vancouver-Kensington...................................................................Patrick Wong
Stewart, Richard (L) ...................................................... Coquitlam-Maillardville              Vancouver-Kingsway ..........................................................................Rob Nijjar
Suffredine, Blair F. (L)................................................................Nelson-Creston           Vancouver-Langara ....................................................................Val J. Anderson
Sultan, Ralph (L) ....................................................... West Vancouver–Capilano                Vancouver–Mount Pleasant............................................Jenny Wai Ching Kwan
Thorpe, Hon. Rick (L) ..........................................................Okanagan-Westside                Vancouver–Point Grey ................................................... Hon. Gordon Campbell
Trumper, Gillian (L)................................................................Alberni-Qualicum             Vancouver-Quilchena............................................................ Hon. Colin Hansen
van Dongen, Hon. John (L) ................................................Abbotsford-Clayburn                    Victoria–Beacon Hill.............................................................................Jeff Bray
Visser, Rod (L).................................................................................North Island     Victoria-Hillside.................................................................................. Sheila Orr
Weisbeck, John (L).........................................................Kelowna–Lake Country                  West Kootenay–Boundary.................................................... Hon. Sandy Santori
Whittred, Hon. Katherine (L) ...................................North Vancouver–Lonsdale                         West Vancouver–Capilano ..............................................................Ralph Sultan
Wilson, John (L)........................................................................... Cariboo North        West Vancouver–Garibaldi ................................................. Hon. Ted Nebbeling
Wong, Patrick (L)............................................................Vancouver-Kensington                Yale-Lillooet .................................................................................. Dave Chutter




                                                                            Party Standings: Liberal 77; New Democratic 2.
                                                                                               CONTENTS

                                                                                 Thursday, February 14, 2002
                                                                                      Afternoon Sitting

                                                                                       Routine Proceedings

                                                                                                                                                                                                               Page

Introductions by Members...................................................................................................................................................... 1097

Statements (Standing Order 25B)............................................................................................................................................ 1097
     Chinese New Year................................................................................................................................................................................... 1097
          I. Chong
       Delta Hospital.......................................................................................................................................................................................... 1097
          V. Roddick
       Seniors bus pass program ...................................................................................................................................................................... 1098
          P. Wong

Oral Questions .......................................................................................................................................................................... 1098
    Medical Services Plan premiums .......................................................................................................................................................... 1098
         J. MacPhail
         Hon. G. Collins
       Health care facility closings ................................................................................................................................................................... 1099
         J. Kwan
         Hon. G. Collins
       Courthouse closings................................................................................................................................................................................ 1099
         D. Chutter
         Hon. G. Plant
       Mental health services ............................................................................................................................................................................ 1100
         K. Krueger
         Hon. G. Cheema

Reports from Committees ....................................................................................................................................................... 1100

Petitions ..................................................................................................................................................................................... 1101

Throne Speech Debate (continued)
       I. Chong.................................................................................................................................................................................................... 1101
       J. Kwan ..................................................................................................................................................................................................... 1104
       T. Christensen.......................................................................................................................................................................................... 1108
       W. Cobb.................................................................................................................................................................................................... 1112
       Hon. M. de Jong ...................................................................................................................................................................................... 1113
       D. Chutter ................................................................................................................................................................................................ 1117
       R. Harris ................................................................................................................................................................................................... 1118
       Hon. G. Abbott ........................................................................................................................................................................................ 1120
       D. Hayer ................................................................................................................................................................................................... 1124
       M. Hunter................................................................................................................................................................................................. 1126
                                                                                                                   1097

                     THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2002            year to reflect those characteristics. This is the Year of
                                                            the Horse, and it is regarded as a symbol of strength,
   The House met at 2:03 p.m.                               intelligence and nobility.
                                                                What can we expect in the Year of the Horse? I be-
              Introductions by Members                      lieve we will see a year of efficiencies and getting
                                                            things done. It will be an exciting year that is positive,
    V. Roddick: A dedicated number of volunteers            yet realistic, as evidenced by the throne speech deliv-
from Delta are in the gallery today. This group in-         ered this week. The Year of the Horse will be challeng-
cludes a former B.C. Minister of Agriculture, represen-     ing and changeable, with much energy focused on the
tatives from the Delta Chamber of Commerce and the          economy.
Delta Farmers Institute, as well as members of the              Every culture has its own unique traditions and
Delta Hospital and their auxiliary.                         values, and it is important that they be continued with
    They are as follows: John Savage, Muriel Cullen,        each subsequent generation. Traditions are passed
Lisa Burt-Paxton, Jane Marynowski, Gail Kitchner,           down, and while they are not immediately understood,
Terry Kitchner, Harvey Friesen, Nancy Friesen, Jock         they have purpose and are steeped in history. I would
McGrandle from North Delta, Donna Schelpe, Eliza-           like to offer some insight into these traditions as they
beth Davis, Albert Weaver, Sean Copeland, Patricia          have been passed down to me from my mother.
Trafford, Georgina Reynolds, Marilyn High, Joan                 Chinese New Year is a festive time, and you can
Goodacre, Doug Massey, Eleanor Sampert, Verna               expect to see celebrations lasting for several weeks.
Cavers, Peter Guichon, Kelly Webb and Jessica Holmes.       Beginning with New Year's Day and onwards, there
    On behalf of myself and my colleague from Delta         will be offerings of lucky money in little red packets
North, I ask that the House make them all very wel-         called lai sees, given by the older generation to younger,
come.                                                       unmarried generations. Throughout the province, here
                                                 [1405]     in Victoria and especially in the lower mainland, lion
                                                            dances will be performed to welcome in the new year.
    K. Krueger: It's my privilege today to introduce to     People's homes will have been thoroughly cleaned by
the House someone who's no stranger to this place. Mr.      now, and no one wishes to sweep away any good luck
Ken Jones was the member for Surrey-Cloverdale from         or fortune from their household during this time of
1991 to 1996 and was renowned for his expertise dur-        celebration.
ing the estimates debate. I'd like the House to make            Food always plays an important role during Chi-
him really welcome.                                         nese New Year. Certain foods are selected to give effect
                                                            to what they symbolize or represent. For example,
    G. Trumper: It's my pleasure today to introduce         chicken, complete with its head intact, is prepared to
some people from as far west as you can go in Canada        represent prosperity. Fish, with its head and tail, is
— from Ucluelet. I would like to introduce to you the       chosen to represent profitability.
mayor of Ucluelet, Dianne St. Jacques; her son, Paul;           I just wish to take this opportunity to wish all my
his girlfriend, April Gustafsen; her mother, Diane Fran-    colleges and all those throughout this province: gung
ces; and also Councillor Eric Larsen. I would like the      hay fat choy and sun ninn fye lock.
House to make them welcome.
                                                                               DELTA HOSPITAL
    B. Belsey: I have the pleasure today to introduce
the first three visitors that I've had from the North           V. Roddick: How fitting that on Valentine's Day I
Coast. Sitting with us today are Staff Sergeant Jim         have the privilege of presenting to this Legislature
Mills; his wife, Dawn; and my lovely wife, Lonie. I'd       what I believe is the heart of Delta. It is a saver of lives
like the House to join me in making them welcome.           — of hearts under attack, of bones that need setting, of
                                                            lungs that need help breathing, of injuries that need
                      Statements                            healing, of hands that need holding and of cries that
                 (Standing Order 25B)                       need heeding. It is Delta Hospital. It has saved lives in
                                                            my community for many years, and now, after all those
                CHINESE NEW YEAR                            years, our community finds itself called to save the life
                                                            of our hospital.
   I. Chong: This week has been a significant one. We                                                            [1410]
began the third session of the thirty-seventh parliament        This remarkable hospital shares the history of our
on the very same day as the first day of the Chinese        community as a whole. From its earliest days as a farm-
lunar new year, the year 4699.                              ing and fishing area, with people helping people, Delta
   To live in a country, and indeed a province, rich in     has grown into a vibrant, diversified community —
multiculturalism means that all of its citizens may learn   with people still helping. Much of that helping occurs
and be knowledgable of other people's cultures with-        at Delta Hospital, where appropriate, accessible care is
out the necessity of travel. Chinese New Year is distin-    available to our residents as well as to many other peo-
guished by the representation of one of 12 different        ple who use our highways, our ferries, our interna-
animals or creatures of the Chinese zodiac. Depending       tional border, our coal port, our airports and our indus-
on the particular animal or creature, one expects the       trial parks. As I've explained to this House before,
1098                                           BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                 THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2002

you've all been in Delta. It's a place you have to go        mer Finance minister, all of those options are always
through to get anywhere else.                                available to government. The decision to raise MSP
    The citizens of Delta are now, as the Premier coun-      premiums was one that I recommended recently, cer-
selled last evening in his televised address, finding the    tainly well after the Minister of Health Services made
courage to fix the system before it collapses. They are      his statements that he was not aware of any govern-
leaping to the challenge to find flexible, workable, af-     ment plan to do so.
fordable new ways to deliver health care. This is good                                                        [1415]
news. Delta's example can encourage communities
across B.C. if we can just find the courage, the heart, to       J. MacPhail: Well, the Minister of Health Ser-
take that leap.                                              vices had to suffer a public humiliation at the hands
                                                             of the Minister of Finance as the MSP hike was an-
           SENIORS BUS PASS PROGRAM                          nounced. I was wanting to give the Minister of
                                                             Health Services an opportunity to redeem himself.
    P. Wong: I was very pleased last night to hear the       But due to his lack of availability and the urgent
Premier say on TV that he was going to reinstate the         matters that are appearing today across the prov-
seniors bus pass for the next year. Right after the an-      ince, I will go then to where the decisions are made
nouncement, I received many phone calls, mostly from         around health in this province, and that is to the
seniors and community leaders, commending the Pre-           Minister of Finance.
mier's prompt action and compassionate consideration             The Minister of Health said a couple of weeks ago
towards the seniors.                                         that yes, hospitals would close. He refused to give
    Many of them told me that through the TV pro-            any specifics of where those hospital closures would
gram, they now know more about the financial hard-           be. The entire province is in a state of high anxiety.
ship the government has faced and the inheritance of a       Perhaps the Minister of Finance, rather than publicly
$4 billion structural deficit from the previous govern-      humiliating the Minister of Health Services, could
ment. They now know that the Premier and his gov-            himself stand today and announce which hospitals
ernment have the courage and conviction to carry out a       will close.
long-term plan to put the economy back on track and
to ensure that the government is accountable for the             Hon. G. Collins: I will take that question on notice
hard-earned tax dollars from British Columbians.             for the Minister of Health Services.
    The reinstatement of the seniors bus pass program
has shown that the Premier and his cabinet are deter-
                                                                Mr. Speaker: The question is taken on notice.
mined to put not just students first and patients first
                                                                The Leader of the Opposition with a supplemental
but also seniors first.
                                                             question.
    This announcement is timely, on the second day of
the Chinese New Year, the Year of the Horse. The
horse, in the old days, was the fastest transportation           J. MacPhail: It's interesting that on the one hand,
vehicle. This symbolizes the fast action and pace that       the Minister of Finance says, "I make the decisions
the Premier and his government have taken in putting         about health in this province; I make the decisions
B.C. back on the road to prosperity.                         about money that goes into health care," and, on the
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity       other hand, refuses to announce for the public, for
to wish everyone in the House and in the gallery a           people who are in a high state of anxiety, what the fu-
prosperous New Year of the Horse and success in the          ture of health care is. This government's policy about
many years to come in this beautiful, beautiful prov-        the future of health care is a bottom-line policy. We
ince. Gung hay fat choy.                                     know that the Minister of Finance is making these deci-
                                                             sions.
                    Oral Questions
                                                                Mr. Speaker: Hon. member, could I ask you to now
       MEDICAL SERVICES PLAN PREMIUMS                        put the question, please.

    J. MacPhail: The Minister of Health Services in-             J. MacPhail: The people in New Westminster are
sisted that he had no knowledge of the pending in-           deeply concerned about the future of their hospital.
crease in Medical Services premiums when he accused          The people in the district of Hope, as of yesterday, are
the opposition of fearmongering. To the Premier: will        deeply concerned about the future of their hospital.
the Premier please table today all documents from his        Are these people just fearmongering? Is this the Liberal
office, from the Ministry of Finance and from the            definition of fearmongering?
Health ministry related to the decision to increase MSP          Would the Minister of Finance stand today and tell
premiums, to prove that his Minister of Health Services      us now which hospitals his government is going to
was telling the truth?                                       close?

   Hon. G. Collins: The Minister of Health Services              Hon. G. Collins: I'll take that question on notice for
always tells the truth. As the member knows as a for-        the Minister of Health Services as well.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2002                    BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                                             1099

        HEALTH CARE FACILITY CLOSINGS                        shut down in the province of British Columbia? Why
                                                             doesn't he just tell the Minister of Health — all the minis-
    J. Kwan: This government has four ministers of           ters of health — now which hospital he is intending to
health, but they can't seem to come up with one              shut down? Or better yet, maybe he should lean over
straight answer about which one hospital is going to be      and talk to the Premier and say: "Hey, you know what?
closed.                                                      Let's just shut down and fire the three ministers of health
    We found out yesterday that the Minister of Health       and save that money and put it into direct patient care."
Planning is spending more time on her image than on
her job.                                                         Hon. G. Collins: I know that the member opposite
    I ask the other ministers, whoever will stand up         is very concerned about making sure all the dollars that
and answer the question: can the Minister of State for       government spends get down to the patients. Perhaps
Long Term Care tell us how many extended care facili-        she might want to lean over to the leader of her party
ties are going to close?                                     and ask her if she had the same concern when she was
    Maybe the Minister of State for Mental Health can        Minister of Finance, when she paid $48,000 for a con-
rise up in this House and tell us what mental health         tractor to travel around the province with her and set
facilities are on the chopping block.                        up meetings.
    British Columbians are looking for answers from
this government. Should we just be looking for a lame-           Interjections.
duck PowerPoint presentation in an open cabinet meet-
ing?                                                             Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

    Hon. G. Collins: I noticed the comment from the              Hon. G. Collins: Mr. Speaker, I can go on, because
member about the PowerPoint presentation and her             that was for the 1999 year. In the year of '99-2000, the
concern about the cost of contracts for speeches, etc. I     then Minister of Finance actually paid the same indi-
was a little concerned about that myself, because I an-      vidual $45,000 for the same accompaniment. As well, I
ticipated that I might be asked by the media or some-        understand that Lauri Nerman was also a very strong
body today, so I went back and looked at the Ministry        supporter of the member opposite and a member of the
of Finance to see what I had done as Minister of Fi-         New Democratic Party.
nance and to see how it compared with previous Min-
isters of Finance.                                                          COURTHOUSE CLOSINGS
    This year, for this speech that is being prepared for
this budget, a contractor is being paid about $4,000 to          D. Chutter: My question is to the Attorney General.
work on that. In the economic and fiscal update last
summer it was about $4,000 as well.                              Interjections.
    If I look at how that compares to what was done
under previous governments, I have in the 2001-02                Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
budget speech $6,290. In the 2000-01 speech — a speech
I'm sure the member for Vancouver-Hastings will be               D. Chutter: As part of the government's effort to
very familiar with — $6,800. In the 1999-2000 budget         restructure the services that it provides, it was recently
speech, $11,830.                                             announced that a number of provincial courthouses
    What's more interesting is I understand that Rob         will soon be closing. Many of my constituents are par-
Cottingham, the individual who wrote the speeches,           ticularly concerned by the announcement that court-
was not only a very good supporter of the member             houses will be closing in Hope, Lytton, Lillooet, Prince-
opposite, he was also a member of the New Democratic         ton and Merritt. Can the Attorney General tell my con-
Party, and the province had to pay for him to stay at        stituents why the decision was made to close these
the Empress Hotel while he was constructing those fine       courthouses?
speeches.
                                                   [1420]        Hon. G. Plant: We were forced to make some diffi-
                                                             cult decisions. At all times I tried to keep the principle
   Interjections.                                            of access to justice first and foremost in my mind. But I
                                                             think it was also important and timely for us to make
   Mr. Speaker: Order, please.                               sure that the physical infrastructure of the buildings
                                                             that we use and operate every day in British Columbia
    J. Kwan: I guess the Minister of Health Planning was     are used most effectively. We looked at how we could
preparing for her major, major speech to her open cabi-      ensure that there would be a minimal impact on people
net colleagues for her self-image performance. Well, it's    in travelling from one court location to another. We did
obvious, hon. Speaker, that the Minister of Finance, not     the best we could. We were forced to close some court-
the Minister of Health, actually sets health policies. The   houses, and I think there are undoubtedly going to be
Minister of Finance just admitted that himself.              some people who will feel that impact.
    So let me just go directly to the Minister of Finance.       But I am committed to working with the justice
Which hospital is the Minister of Finance planning to        system partners, with communities, to find strategies
1100                                            BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                      THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2002

for changing how we deliver justice services — for al-        recent reorganization is expected to deliver mental
lowing documents to be filed by fax, witnesses to give        health services to those who desperately need it in this
evidence by video conference. There are a range of            province.
ideas that I think are appropriate to be looked at now
in order to do the thing which is most important of all,          Hon. G. Cheema: I do understand the concerns of
and that is to give the citizens who live in the commu-       the patients and their families. I have met with many
nities, which the member mentions, some reasonable            families and many groups across this province. This
level of access to justice.                                   will be the first time in this province that we are going
                                                              to have fair and active achievement of mental health.
   Mr. Speaker: The member for Yale-Lillooet has a            This is the first time in this province that we are going
supplementary question.                                       to have clear goals and objectives for mental health.
                                                              This is the first time in this province that we made a
    D. Chutter: My constituents are concerned that            commitment to fully implement the mental health plan,
these closures will mean that many of the cases before        and we are going to fulfil that promise. There is good
the courts will be dismissed because of the length of         news for mental health in this province.
time it might take to bring them to trial. What assur-
ances can the Attorney General give my constituents              Mr. Speaker: The member for Kamloops–North
that these closures will not adversely impact the ad-         Thompson has a supplementary question.
ministration of justice?
                                                                  K. Krueger: I hear the Leader of the Opposition
    Hon. G. Plant: When we went through the exercise          calling out: "Ask about the psychiatric facility." Curi-
of deciding which facilities had to be closed, we looked      ously enough, I was going to do that. In the early
closely at whether or not there would be another facil-       1990s, Mr. Speaker, when you and Mr. Smith repre-
ity, in most cases, within an hour's drive or so — not        sented Kamloops, I remember a decision being made to
always — and at facilities that with the addition of          build a cancer treatment facility in Kamloops. I re-
some new staff would have capacity to absorb addi-            member that when the Leader of the Opposition came
tional caseloads so that the net result over the system is    to power with her government, that decision was
that cases may be moved but that we won't cause an            changed. It didn't happen. But for ten years and at least
increase in the backlog of cases in the system.               seven press announcements….
                                                     [1425]
    I've also said — in response to questions from may-
                                                                 Mr. Speaker: Order, please, hon. member. I would
ors, for example, in some of the communities that the
                                                              suggest you now put your question.
memo represents — that if the city or the community
wants to have a conversation about the possibility of
circuit court locations or circuit court activity, I'm cer-       K. Krueger: I will, hon. Speaker. That member did
tainly willing to participate with justice system people      promise a tertiary psychiatric facility. My constituents
in that conversation too.                                     and all constituents of our region are concerned about
                                                              when we will actually see the spades in the ground for
            MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES                            the tertiary psychiatric facility in Kamloops. I put that
                                                              question to the Minister of State for Mental Health: are
    K. Krueger: It's tough to listen to these opposition      there going to be any negative effects of this regionali-
members ask questions about the delivery of health            zation change, or is the facility going ahead?
care when we had such a brutal experience in this
province on that score for the past ten years. I remem-           Hon. G. Cheema: I do understand the anxiety of
ber that when the Leader of the Opposition was Minis-         those two NDP members there. There is a broken his-
ter of Health, I believe it was, a commitment was made        tory of the NDP in Kamloops. People are concerned.
to fund mental health services to the tune of $125 mil-       We made a commitment. I met with them. Our com-
lion that was never put in the budget and never mate-         mitment is to have a health excellence psych facility in
rialized.                                                     Kamloops. This is going to be the first time in Kam-
                                                              loops they are going to have a centre of excellence. This
   Interjections.                                             is going to happen. We made a commitment. We are
                                                              going to follow through with that commitment.
   Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
                                                                  [End of question period.]
    K. Krueger: So even when our own government ―
which is a kinder, gentler, more caring government by                         Reports from Committees
far, including the way it deals with matters in this
House ― reorganizes health care, the public is some-              B. Lekstrom: I have the honour to present the re-
what cynical about whether that will actually translate       port of the Select Standing Committee on Finance and
into better services for patients on the ground. I'd like     Government Services for the second session of the
to ask the Minister of State for Mental Health how the        thirty-seventh parliament respecting the Budget 2002
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2002                    BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                                          1101

consultation process. Hon. Speaker, I would move that        have put forward. Certainly, again, it was a learning
the report be taken as read and received.                    experience. I believe we'll improve on this process as it
                                               [1430]        develops.
                                                                 It was a privilege, and I would like to thank each
   Motion approved.                                          and every one of the statutory officers who came for-
                                                             ward to present their plans and financial picture to our
   B. Lekstrom: I would ask leave of the House to            committee so that we could have a better understand-
suspend the rules to permit moving of a motion to            ing to present this report to the House.
adopt the report at this time.
                                                                 Motion approved.
   Leave granted.
                                                                                    Petitions
   B. Lekstrom: I move that the report be adopted.
                                                                 V. Roddick: I rise today, on behalf of Delta South
   Motion approved.                                          and my colleague from Delta North and all the con-
                                                             stituents of both north and south Delta, to present a
    B. Lekstrom: Having had the privilege to chair this      petition to maintain our community health care.
committee and tour the province and hear from the                Delta is both active and vocal. The citizens have
hundreds of people that came out to our committee            risen to the challenge of maintaining their hospital not
meetings as well as those who put in written submis-         only with this petition of over 31,000 signatures and
sions, it was certainly an honour to be able to hear from    rising but with dozens of workable ideas and sugges-
the residents of our great province and the challenges       tions on how to deliver a viable, high-quality, effective
that they faced and to come out and put their views          health care delivery system in our community based on
and ideas forward on the development of our budget           equity, patient-centred care, evidence-based care and
that we'll be proud to present next week and that every-     accountability.
body in British Columbia, I know, is looking forward to.
    All of the members on the committee worked very
hard. They listened very well. They listened to the              A. Hamilton: I'd like to present two petitions. The
ideas, and in putting this report together, I want to        first petition is from the Esquimalt Legion seniors
stand here before the House and say how proud I am           group, with 172 signatures, regarding public transpor-
to have been part of that committee, how proud I am of       tation and medicare.
the people I serve and how proud I am that British Co-                                                        [1435]
lumbians took the time out of their busy schedules to            The second petition is from the parents of Macaulay
attend the meetings and put forward written submis-          Elementary School, with 175 signatures, regarding in-
sions. Hon. Speaker, I thank you.                            ner-city school funding.
    I have the honour to present the report of the Select
Standing Committee on Finance and Government Ser-                J. Bray: Today I have the honour to present two
vices for the second session of the thirty-seventh par-      petitions. The first petition is from the parents of
liament respecting the financial review of the statutory     George Jay Elementary School, with 137 signatures,
officers of British Columbia. Hon. Speaker, I would          expressing concern for inner-city school funding. The
move that the report be taken as read and received.          second petition is from the staff at George Jay Elemen-
                                                             tary, expressing concern regarding inner-city school
   Motion approved.                                          funding, with 33 signatures.

    B. Lekstrom: I ask leave of the House to suspend                           Orders of the Day
the rules to permit the moving of a motion to adopt the
report at this time.                                            Hon. G. Collins: I call Address in Reply to the
                                                             Speech from the Throne.
   Leave granted.
                                                                             Throne Speech Debate
     B. Lekstrom: Again, having the privilege to have                             (continued)
chaired this committee, having worked with the statu-
tory officers in our first attempt at this process, it was       I. Chong: As always, it is an honour and a privilege
very much a learning experience, I believe, for both         to rise in this chamber to offer my Address in Reply to
sides — both the statutory officers and the committee. I     the throne speech. This year, more so than ever before,
know that our committee learned a great deal from            I am particularly proud to support a throne speech that
listening to our statutory officers and what they            I believe offers real hope, real opportunity and real
brought forward with their budgets, their proposals          prosperity for the future of British Columbians.
and their plans.                                                 A throne speech lays out the vision and the path or
     The recommendations contained in the report re-         the direction that a government will follow for the en-
flect what the members of the committee heard and            suing year. It outlines the government's priorities, and
1102                                           BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                 THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2002

it is clear that this government is determined and fo-           In these past eight months this new government
cused on revitalizing British Columbia's economy, on         has been working to clean up the problems of the past
restoring sound fiscal management and on putting             as well as introducing new measures to move us for-
patients, students and people first.                         ward. During these past eight months this government
     These are the very reasons why, in 1996, I sought       has consistently shared information with citizens of
public office at the provincial level. I did so shortly      this province and indicated that this government
after attending a breakfast meeting where the guest          would be going through restructuring.
speaker spoke of a plan to move British Columbia for-            Admittedly, I am sorry that in our government re-
ward. This man, this guest speaker, outlined his vision      structuring some people will be losing jobs, and com-
and a framework for achieving his objectives. He spoke       munities will be affected. I sincerely wish that did not
of accountability and of responsibility to taxpayers,        need to happen, because it was through no fault of
and it was clear to me that given the opportunity this       theirs that people lost their jobs. I blame the previous
man would be an outstanding Premier of this province,        government which created jobs that were not sustain-
if the people were to put their trust and confidence in      able, that were not always necessary.
him.                                                             Rather than being bold enough to take a realistic
     Well, a majority of the citizens of British Columbia    and hard look at what core essential services govern-
did just that last May. The member for Vancouver–            ment needed to provide, the previous government
Point Grey received an overwhelming mandate to be-           made decisions based on politics without regard for the
come Premier and to lead our province back to eco-           future. The previous government kept introducing a
nomic prosperity. From the very beginning the Premier        stream of regulations without ever asking about or
has shown such a dedicated commitment to our prov-           evaluating the outcomes.
ince that other government and business leaders are
                                                                 They virtually killed our mining industry and ig-
now beginning to take notice. They see that British
                                                             nored the concerns of the forest industry. They di-
Columbia is back and will once again be an economic
                                                             verted millions of dollars from Forest Renewal without
force in Canada.
                                                             any accountability of that spending and embarked on
     I reviewed the comments made yesterday by the
                                                             megaprojects, one after next, without proper business
member for Vancouver-Hastings, the Leader of the
                                                             plans. That, too, is the legacy of the previous govern-
Opposition, and was amazed at how quickly she forgot
                                                             ment. What we are faced with today is a real mess, a
the legacy her government left us from the last decade,
                                                             mess that each day brings more challenges for our new
taking our provincial economy from first place to last
                                                             government.
place in Canada. It was her government's lack of lead-
                                                                 Our government's plan is to turn our provincial
ership, her government's ineptitude and her govern-
                                                             economy around. Yes, it means we have to be more
ment's mismanagement that created much of the fiscal
                                                             competitive, more diversified and more attractive to
challenges we now face. For ten years her government
                                                             investors. All this will bring more opportunities for
didn't make the tough decisions, didn't stand up to the
                                                             small and medium-sized enterprises, which have al-
private interest and, more important, didn't do any
                                                             ways been acknowledged as the engine of our econ-
long-term planning for health care or for education.
                                                             omy.
     There is no question that we are facing tough eco-
nomic times. During these times of economic slow-                What is really important, as well, is that more jobs
down we all need to work together and find solutions         will be created for our young people. I have heard the
to new ways of delivering and providing services to          Leader of the Opposition criticize our efforts to restore
patients and students.                                       the economy, and I am disappointed that she has
                                                    [1440]   gleaned so little from all her years as a cabinet minister.
     Let's be clear: keeping the status quo will not move    How convenient it was for her to forget that their gov-
us forward. Keeping the status quo means that wait-          ernment doubled our provincial debt in ten years to a
lists will continue to grow. It means people will con-       point where debt servicing — that is, interest payments
tinue to leave our province in search of a brighter fu-      — is one of our fastest-growing government expendi-
ture elsewhere. Keeping the status quo means jobs are        tures.
lost, and businesses go bankrupt with excessive over-            How convenient it is to forget that diverting scarce
regulation and red tape. I, for one, will not agree to       taxpayers' dollars to interest payments means there
that, nor am I happy that British Columbia may soon          will be less money for health care and education. How
be regarded as a have-not province, a result of the pre-     convenient it is for her to forget that we do need a
vious government's inaction.                                 strong, vibrant and diverse economy to sustain the
     Government has a very important role to play, and       needed services for health care and for education.
that is to provide good, dependable services to people           We were elected to save and renew health care and
most in need. Before it can do that, it must ensure that     education, and we will. Though we are fiscally chal-
the services to be delivered are going to be sustainable     lenged, we made a commitment — a commitment to
over the long term — not short term, not band-aid so-        maintain the budgets for health and for education and
lutions and not the quick fixes we were so accustomed        to look for savings in all other ministries. Every effort
to seeing from the previous government in the past           has been made to protect those most vulnerable in our
decade.                                                      society. This government remains committed to long-
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2002                    BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                                          1103

term improvements in services for women, children            ernment that allowed all workers the right to bid on
and families.                                                government contracts. It is not just the opposition that
    As a provincial Legislature, it is necessary that we     is professing to protect the workers. Our actions do
spend a great deal of time here in this precinct, but the    speak louder.
most important work is out in our communities, in our             Not all workers are members of the public sector
constituencies. Every week I meet with constituents in       unions either. There are many private sector unions,
my community office, and truthfully, I have heard            such as the IWA. What did the previous government
more than an earful.                                         do for them and for their forest industry? Well, I think
                                                    [1445]   we know what's happened there. Thousands of jobs
    Last week, as an example, I met with three people        were lost.
employed through the MSP division of the Ministry of              You know, it's strange to hear the opposition mem-
Health Services. One of these ladies recently lost her       ber be so negative about the throne speech, but I guess
job, and I felt very badly for her. She appeared to be a     that's to be expected. I recall when the member for
very capable, competent and earnest person, and she,         Vancouver-Hastings used to encourage us to look at
along with the other two, asked that I take a message to     the throne speech. When she was a minister, when she
the Minister of Health Services. They wanted the min-        was in government, she said: "Look closely at this
ister to know that they, along with others still em-         throne speech and support it for all its wonderful
ployed at the MSP office, were willing to accept change      hopes and promises." The only problem was that in
and be part of a team that helps to bring about efficien-    their throne speech, there were always empty prom-
cies. While I cannot restore the job to that particular      ises, just like the $125 million mental health initiative
lady, I can and I will ensure that their voices are going    that was promised and never delivered on.
to be heard, because that too is part of my role as an                                                          [1450]
MLA.                                                              This throne speech is different because it is real.
    I also met with a lady who had never before ven-         This Premier expects to be held accountable for it.
tured to meet a politician, never before chosen to meet      Unlike the previous Premiers and the previous gov-
with her MLA, so I was glad when she came in to see          ernment, our Premier does expect to be held account-
me. She took the time to come in to ask questions about      able. So, too, do all my colleagues on this side and that
all the things that she had read in the newspapers. I        side of the House. I guess that is what is so alarming to
very carefully spoke with her, allowed her to display        the opposition. They cannot believe we are saying
her concerns, and at the end of the meeting she was          things that we believe in and that we intend to keep
very glad that she took the time to come in to meet          them, because her government used to break promise
with me. I know all my colleagues are doing that very        after promise and dithered for so long that our econ-
same thing — meeting with constituents, taking away          omy was neglected.
the fears that have been so badly misreported.                    We really do depend on the people in our commu-
    Again, hon. Speaker, that is what our job is. We         nities to make them a better place for all of us. We need
should never forget — we should always be mindful —          to listen to what they have to say, especially when they
that as MLAs we listen to our constituents, we hear          come forward with ideas and solutions.
their opinions, and we represent them the best that we            Our volunteers are also the unsung heroes of our
can. We find a means of bringing their issues forward        communities, and I want to take this time to thank the
to this place, where we become their voice. It is not        many volunteers in Oak Bay and Gordon Head for the
always easy, because there are certainly conflicting         work they did in the past year. They were recognized
views.                                                       in the International Year of the Volunteer. Just because
    In a previous week I heard from several people and       that one year as gone by, it has not kept them from
received many phone calls and letters. These were the        continuing to volunteer. They are encouraged to do
people who said that they have been watching silently        that much more.
and carefully what our government has been doing.                 Mr. Speaker, before I take my seat I do wish to pro-
They encouraged me. They said: "Please, remember             vide an example of the renewed sense of hope in my
your commitment to restore the economy. Remember             community. Last winter, spurred on by the energies of
that you must stay the course and not be persuaded by        some small business people in Oak Bay — not that
the private interests to change direction." These people     they're small business people; they're business people
clearly had a different view, and it is important that we    with small businesses…. These business people in the
hear both sides. They were there to support us and the       village of Oak Bay transformed our one main street in
new direction of our government, but so, too, were the       Oak Bay to a Victorian Christmas village. The shops
others that I met with who wanted us to take their           and businesses benefited from the additional traffic
message to our various ministers.                            and interest brought in by the surrounding municipali-
    I want to spend a little time speaking about the         ties. I commend all who took part in making that
working people that the opposition sometimes believe         worthwhile effort such a success. I know they're al-
they are the sole protectors of. I say wrong, wrong,         ready working on this current year to bring even more
wrong. It was our government that restored workers'          visitors to our friendly village of Oak Bay.
rights through the secret ballot. It was our government           Finally, I wish to follow up on comments made by
that returned pension rights to workers and our gov-         my colleague the member for Victoria–Beacon Hill,
1104                                            BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                 THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2002

who also spoke of the increasing high-tech industries         that you depend on, that families depend on? No, they
and enterprises here in the capital region. I absolutely,     didn't.
absolutely agree that this is happening. As well, the             Hon. Speaker, I know members are fond of saying:
member for Saanich South spoke of one particular              "Well, gee, you know, it's just you trying to paint your
business, Epic Biosonics, that she was particularly           own picture, the opposition members trying to paint
proud of, and so she should be. Again, I wholeheart-          the fiscal picture in terms of what it looks like." Don't
edly agree with her that Epic Biosonics is a success          take my word for it. The auditor general today, the
story. I remind her, too, that Epic Biosonics had its very    auditor general of British Columbia — an officer who's
early beginnings in Oak Bay but, because of its success,      answerable to every single member in this Legislature
quickly outgrew its premises and relocated to Saanich         — issued his report on monitoring government fi-
South.                                                        nances. He says: "People often ask me about the state of
    There is much work ahead. My colleagues and I —           the government's finances. Both citizens of British Co-
and everyone, I hope, in this chamber, regardless of          lumbia and their elected representatives want to know
how we feel — know that we have to work on behalf of          how the government's finances fare and compare with
our constituents. I expect we shall all rise to the occa-     other jurisdictions."
sion.                                                             Well, let's see what this Liberal government is do-
                                                              ing. "The government has decided to implement this
    J. Kwan: Let me just put some facts on the record,        requirement" — that is, the Budget Transparency and
to begin with. I know that the members like to say that       Accountability Act — "at the end of the allowed period,
they kept all their promises, but let's just look at the      rather than earlier. 'Until this happens, the govern-
facts in terms of their campaign. Maybe they've forgot-       ment's financial statements will be incomplete and thus
ten already, since it's been eight months.                    confusing,' says the auditor general." Then he goes on
    On the issue around income taxes. British Columbi-        to say in his report that in the five-year period ended
ans voted for lower taxes for middle- and low-income          March 31, 2001, the economy in B.C. grew more than
people. They did not vote for huge tax breaks for big         did the government's net liabilities.
corporations and the wealthiest British Columbians.               "Net liabilities refer to the obligations we leave for
That was something that the now Liberal government            our children to pay or finance. In the same five-year
specifically did not campaign for during the election.        period, provincial revenues increased by 37 percent,
No one from the government campaigned on big tax              expenses by 31 percent, capital assets by 7 percent and
cuts to the wealthiest British Columbians, who are the        total debt by 18 percent. With the current year's drop in
beneficiaries by far. Are the Premier's corporate friends     energy prices and the reduced provincial income taxes,
and high-income supporters gaining the best benefits          the trend is not expected to continue." Based on this
now? Are they taking those sacrifices that the Premier's      comparison, the auditor general concludes that B.C.'s
now saying that everybody has to take? They — their           economy has been the second most able to support its
donors, their supporters, their friends — have the larg-      government's past revenue-raising and spending prac-
est income tax benefit given by this Liberal govern-          tices.
ment. That is the reality.                                        Another widely used indicator of government fi-
    Let's look at sound fiscal management. Let's see:         nancial performance is its credit rating. B.C. has kept
we've gone from the largest surplus in British Colum-         its high standing in the international financial market,
bia's history to the largest deficit in B.C. — a deficit of   although its ranking amongst provinces has dropped
$3.4 billion. Add another billion, probably, for this         to second, after Alberta.
year's upcoming budget.                                           All of this blaming…. I know the government
    I could probably support that kind of sound fiscal        members want to say it's all the previous government's
management if the government were running a historic          fault: "They spent way too much money than they
deficit to support health care and education for all Brit-    could afford when revenues were coming in." But you
ish Columbians, including those who are in the lowest         know what? The report that was just released today by
margins, who are in the middle incomes — all British          the auditor general says otherwise. In fact, spending
Columbians. But that's not what this government is            was well within the percentage of revenues. In fact,
doing. They're cutting services. They're forcing people       revenues exceeded spending at 37 percent while
to pay more. They're forcing user fees on people.             spending was kept at 31 percent. Those are the facts. I
They're even contemplating that people who go into            encourage everyone in the House to take a look at this.
walk-in clinics would have to pay a fee. This is what         This is a report done by the independent auditor of this
this government's doing.                                      House — independent of everyone. He's answerable to
                                                    [1455]    every single legislator in this House. Don't just make
    Did they campaign on that in the last eight months?       up your own stories just because they fit your own
Did they come out and tell people, "When we give you          stories. Look to the facts, and go to the sources.
these big tax cuts, by the way, we're not telling you             "By…announcing the tax cuts first, the government
right now, but we're actually going to give big tax cuts      created a situation that can only be called grotesque.
to the big corporations and the wealthiest British Co-        The rich in B.C. are getting tax cuts of up to $20,000 a
lumbians as well," and that after that — to the Minister      year at the top end — which in and of itself is not a sin.
of Environment too — they were going to cut services          At the same time, to cover revenue losses caused in
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2002                           BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                                           1105

large measure by the tax cuts, the government is hitting            happens when the actions are measured against the
the poor in ways that are often petty and sometimes                 words?
downright heartless. But the well-off shouldn't be re-                  Let's look at the question around the most vulner-
ceiving dramatic tax cuts — small tax cuts would do                 able. Again, it's not just what I say but what others in
just as well — while the poor are nickel-and-dimed."                the community are saying.
This is not from me; this is a quote from Times Colonist                Just yesterday, February 13, non-governmental
editorialist Paul MacRae, January 21, 2002. This is an              agencies issued a press release and had a press confer-
evaluation by someone else in terms of the actions of               ence. Twelve leading non-governmental organizations
this government.                                                    are charging that the B.C. Liberal government is engag-
                                                 [1500]             ing in an assault on poor British Columbians that vio-
    Let me just go to another quote:                                lates standards set by the United Nations. The groups,
   "Some people view smaller government as a good thing.            which provide advocacy for human rights and poverty
   Perhaps there was fat to be cut away, but to axe off over        issues, today requested that the United Nations Com-
   three years is a desperate, frightening act that could end       mittee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights give
   up costing B.C. much more in the long run.                       urgent attention to a massive assault on the social and
        "Fewer courthouses, fewer jails, less money for legal       economic rights of the poorest people by the govern-
   aid, reduced social services, no response to medium and          ment of British Columbia.
   minimal environmental calls, user fees for recreational              At a news conference yesterday, the NGOs released
   facilities, charges for fighting fires on private land and       their submission to the United Nations committee,
   reduction of paramedics will all seriously impact citizens,
                                                                    which has headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. The
   both directly and indirectly.
                                                                    Liberal government's proposed cuts to social assistance
        "The savings for cutting services may not be
   immediate, but they will happen down the road. It's
                                                                    and legal aid are singled out in the submission. The
   called foresight — something the government may not be           groups argue that the cuts contravene obligations that
   showing with these dramatic cuts.                                the government of British Columbia is required to fulfil
        "It's a sad day in B.C. nevertheless. The people who        under the UN International Covenant on Economic,
   will be most hurt by the loss of public services may never       Social and Cultural Rights. Canada has been a signa-
   be heard from. They never are."                                  tory to the treaty since 1976. All provinces are bound
   From another region in British Columbia, the                     by the terms.
editorial from the Kamloops Daily News that was re-                     This is how our broader community is viewing the
ported in the Times Colonist on January 21, 2002.                   actions of this government. This government wants to
   From another paper, the Province, Jim McNulty:                   say that they are protecting the most vulnerable. Well,
        "The Premier has converted British Columbia into a          how are they protecting the most vulnerable?
   political Petri dish for experiments straight out of the                                                             [1505]
   Fraser gang's lab. This is a government that, mirroring              Let's first look at the issue around income assis-
   the Fraser Institute, doesn't like government. 'In some          tance — welfare. Shelter allowances for families with
   respects,' noted University of Victoria political scientist,     two children or more will be reduced. We know that
   Norman Ruff, the change 'turns back government 30 or             particularly in the urban centres there is a very low
   40 years in the reduction in public services.'"
                                                                    vacancy rate. The member for Vancouver-Burrard
These are the comments from the public, from the lar-               ought to know because his riding has the lowest va-
ger public, from the media — their editorials as they               cancy rate in terms of rental availability for the public.
see what is being done right now in this province by                You know what? Shelter allowance is going to be re-
this Liberal government in their promise for prosperity.            duced by this government for people on income assis-
Prosperity for whom? The selected few.                              tance. This is how they're going to help you, the most
    If you're in the 1.1 percentile who happen to make              vulnerable.
$150,000 or more, well, then you are going to see a                     How else are they going to help you, aside from
prosperous future for yourself. But you know what? If               reducing the shelter allowance? They are also going to
you're not in that bracket, then it's tough times. Sacri-           help by reducing your support, the scarce amount of
fice is what the Premier's calling it. Too bad if you don't         money people on income assistance get from govern-
have health care services. Too bad if your children can't           ment to survive. Those allowances are also going to be
afford post-secondary education because the tuition fee             reduced. Helping the most vulnerable and those most
freeze has been lifted and tuition is going to skyrocket.           in need, the Liberal government is going to reduce the
That is the reality for many British Columbians.                    amount of money you can have to live on if you are in
    The Premier says he puts the interests of patients,             the most need of income assistance.
students and those most in need first — the most vul-                   How else are they going to do it? Formerly, if you
nerable in our society. The Premier says that he'll put             were a single parent on income assistance, you got a
children and family first. He says that he will not break           family maintenance exemption. That is, if you collected
his trust with the people. That was from the throne                 some money from your ex-partner to support the chil-
speech. Those were direct words from the throne                     dren living with you, you got to keep $100 of that, and
speech. Well, let's take a look and measure those                   it was not deducted from your payments. How is this
words, because honestly — honestly — words are                      government helping single parents and children on
cheap until you measure them against actions. What                  income assistance? The family maintenance exemption
1106                                           BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                  THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2002

will be gone, eliminated. That is how this Liberal gov-      for their children. The universal child care program has
ernment is saying that it is prioritizing you and is go-     been cancelled, repealed, gone. If your child turns three
ing to take care of your needs first. The Premier is go-     and you're on income assistance and you can't find
ing to take away the family maintenance exemption for        affordable child care, tough luck. That's just tough luck,
single parents on income assistance. That's how this         because that program is now gone — from the Liberal
government is going to help you.                             government, from this Premier.
                                                                 Then if you're a young person who has just turned
   [H. Long in the chair.]                                   19, before you get on income assistance, you have to
                                                             show you can live independently for two years on your
    Incentive. Everybody talks about incentive for in-       own. You know, this provision scares me no end. In my
come assistance recipients. They all talk about how          own riding and in many other communities, as well, I
they want to see them get into the workforce to gain         know there are a lot of young people who are faced
employment opportunities, to be self-sufficient. You         with traumatic situations at home — abuse in many
know, most income assistance people that I know actu-        instances. You know what? They would be forced to
ally want the same as well. As part of the incentive for     stay at home and face the abuse and continue to live
them to do that, they actually get to make a little bit of   with it, or they will be forced into the streets. You
money, what is known as the earnings exemption. If           know my prediction? God, I do hope that I am wrong. I
you are a single person, you get to make $100 before         pray that I am wrong. I think a lot of the young people
any additional dollars you earn are deducted off the         will turn to the streets. You know what else they'll turn
income assistance cheque, as an incentive to get you         to? They'll sell themselves. They'll sell their bodies just
back into the workforce to gain some experience, to          to survive. That's what this government is offering you
gain some confidence and to be part of the workforce.        when it says it's going to help the most vulnerable.
If you are an individual with children in a family unit,         If you were a refugee claimant, you were allowed
you get to keep $200. Guess what? How is this gov-           to collect income assistance until you had settled all the
ernment going to help the most vulnerable? They're           matters of immigration so that you could get a work
going to eliminate the earnings exemption. That's how        permit and so on and so forth. Now, with this govern-
they're helping you.                                         ment's change, you will no longer be able to get assis-
    I'd be really frightened if the government turned to     tance.
me: "Let me help you. You're my first priority." I'd be          If you're fleeing a country for your life, from perse-
running for the woods. I would want to say, "No              cution, and you've come to Canada to seek better
thanks. I'd be doing just fine without any of your assis-    opportunities for the future, that support until you get
tance," because this is what this government is intend-      your feet on the ground, until you can get the work
ing to do when they say they're going to help the most       permits and go through all the immigration procedures
vulnerable.                                                  so that you can actually just simply survive with the
    When you tally up their many examples…. I won't          bare minimum, is no longer there. That's what this
go into each and every one of them, but if you tally up      throne speech speaks to. That's what this Liberal gov-
all the deductions coming from this government for           ernment is offering to those who are most in need.
income assistance recipients, for a single mom you can           If you're on the disability benefits program, the
see a drop of as much as $370 a month. That is for a         Disability Benefits Program Act is going to be repealed.
mother with one child. This represents a 46 percent cut      If you're on disability, which recognizes that some
on your income. That's what it means.                        people have unique needs and unique illnesses that
    Single moms on income assistance, the government         prevent them from working on a long-term or short-
is going to help you. Here's what they're going to hand      term basis…. People with disability will now be in-
you, wrapped in nice big red ribbons no doubt: a 46          cluded with the general welfare system, something that
percent cut in your support, in the ability to survive for   the disability community fought long and hard to
you and your children and to try to break out of the         change.
poverty cycle, to create a better future for yourself and        Now they fear that with the new eligibility rules that
your children. That's how the government is going to         are being applied — as defined as employable — they
help you.                                                    will be forced to go back to work, and if they're unable to
    By the time your child turns three, if you're on in-     find work, they'll get cut off. They're petrified about it. I
come assistance, you'll be forced to go to work. If you      have a letter. The member for Oak Bay–Gordon Head
don't, you will see a further reduction of your income       mentioned going out to talk to people. Maybe I should
assistance allowance, a further reduction of 25 percent      just suggest reading some of the correspondence as well.
after two years. Do you know how many people that            I have a litany of this kind of correspondence from Brit-
impacts, how many children that impacts? Approxi-            ish Columbians, not just from my riding but throughout.
mately 15,000 in British Columbia. This is how this          They're concerned with these issues.
government is going to help you.                                 This one letter is from a woman in Victoria. I'll
                                                    [1510]   quote a part of her letter:
    Meanwhile, the previous government brought in a                  "My oldest daughter has recently been diagnosed
universal child care program to ensure that British Co-          with Crohn's disease. She suffers almost daily with
lumbians have access to safe and affordable child care           nausea, diarrhea and unbelievable pain and has been
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2002                           BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                                                      1107

   prescribed some very costly medications. She has                 mined to head down in that direction, head right down
   worked very hard since she was 18 years old. Never once          in that direction to revamp the income assistance deliv-
   has she had her handout or assistance from the system.           ery program, irrespective of the record shown in other
        "It is my understanding that after two years on social      jurisdictions that have done exactly that kind of work.
   assistance, she'll be forced to return to work. What
   happens to her if she's not well enough to resume                    When we think about the most vulnerable, hon.
   working? Will she be cast aside like everybody else in           Speaker…. Earlier today, in question period, the Attor-
   this province? Where do abused mothers and their                 ney General said that he is going to be the defender for
   children turn to who need assistance from the Ministry of        access to justice. Well, how is this government acting as
   Children and Family Development? I get the feeling that          the defender to access to justice? Well, because you'll
   the Liberals don't know, nor do they care."                      be the most vulnerable who need access to justice,
This is a letter written by a woman in Victoria.                    when you need it, will you be able to access it — if
                                                  [1515]            you're low-income people who need legal aid? The
    The astounding part of it, aside from cutting direct            answer is no. Forty percent of the legal aid budget is
services, direct support to people on income assistance,            being cut by this government. That's embedded be-
is that the government is going to revamp the admini-               tween the lines in the throne speech.
stration of income assistance as well. Who are they                     Forty percent of the cut in legal aid over three years
looking to? They're looking to a firm that has already              will mean the closure of a number of legal aid offices. It
done that work in Ontario. You know, far from having                would mean a drastic reduction in legal aid support in
a stellar record, this firm actually has a very blotchy             family law, in poverty law. The cuts will affect many
record as well.                                                     vulnerable British Columbians, including disabled
    Let's look and see what the auditor general from                workers, tenants, women, women fighting custody
Ontario had to say around the restructuring of the in-              battles, the unemployed and many other citizens who
come assistance system in Ontario.                                  face issues, whether they be mental safety or physical
        "In a blistering report the government's own auditor        safety. Those who cannot afford legal representation
   general slammed the deal with Andersen Consulting.               will simply not have access to justice. That is the real-
   The report states: 'We continue to question the
                                                                    ity. This is in the era of a new government that says:
   achievement of value for money for taxpayers from this
   agreement.' He added: 'This project is failing to deliver
                                                                    "Don't worry, we'll make sure that we will protect
   the replacement technology and functionality required            those who are most in need." That's how the govern-
   for administering the income support and Ontario Works           ment does that work.
   programs economically and efficiently within the                     Communities throughout British Columbia have
   timetable planned…. We consider this failure ominous,            been writing many, many letters to myself and to my
   because the Ministry of Social Services and Andersen             colleague from Vancouver-Hastings. I want to quote a
   Consulting have agreed on the need to extend the
                                                                    letter for the record.
   contract from four to five years to complete the project.
   This extension threatens to diminish the benefit to the                                                              [1520]
   taxpayer from this project.'"                                        "Dear Attorney General:
This is, again, from the auditor general in Ontario, who                     "What do you expect to happen to the justice system
has looked at what the restructuring in Ontario has                     in B.C.? Courthouses, some already operating at more
done to the welfare system and found that indeed that                   than 100 percent, are to be closed. Legal aid, which of
system has been nothing but a dismal failure. In fact,                  course benefits the most vulnerable in our society, is
                                                                        severely curtailed. It has often been stated that a society is
taxpayers didn't save any money. They actually spent
                                                                        judged by the way it treats its children and its elderly. If
more money trying to restructure the system, and peo-
                                                                        this generally accepted criterion is true, B.C. certainly
ple actually got fewer benefits in that process.                        fares ill or poorly.
    It isn't just Ontario that has done this but other ju-                   "It's just fine to have the largest cabinet in B.C.'s
risdictions. In Nebraska in 1996-97 the same work was                   history. What happened to the promise of a lean
being done, $24 million cost overrun. Texas, 1997, $63.7                government? Cabinet ministers received substantial pay
million cost overrun, four years behind. Virginia, 1996,                raises, felt necessary to attract quality. Why do they not
150 percent cost overrun. U.S. energy company, 1996,                    want quality in our justice system? Apparently not.
sued for $100 million for the work that was done that                   Please reconsider."
failed to deliver the two system development projects.                  You know, some members are wondering what pay
The U.K., $40 million. The company that did this work,              raises cabinet ministers got. Well, in their quiet little
Andersen, was sued for being inept, for $40 million.                rooms behind closed doors, this is what cabinet minis-
Yorkshire, U.K. You know, the company that did the                  ters did. They went and gave themselves a $150 pay
work, Andersen's, walked out before the project was                 raise for travelling to Victoria to do their business.
complete. They said they were only there for the                    They switched the rules. That's how they do it. Treas-
money, so when it wasn't profitable for them, they left             ury Board made a decision behind closed doors, and
before the project was even completed.                              behind closed doors this is what the government does.
    The Canadian government cancelled a $44.5 million               That's when they say…. When you need your services
contract with Andersen Consulting in May of 1995 af-                the most, that's what they'll do.
ter the firm failed to meet its contractual obligations.                Other areas — human rights. Access to the Human
The list goes on and on. Yet this government is deter-              Rights Commission has now also been denied. Many of
1108                                             BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                 THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2002

the people who face violations will not be able to go          tect you, you know what? My advice to British Colum-
there.                                                         bians is this: look out, because it means all your ser-
    Women who face violence. The government talks              vices that you depend on are in jeopardy.
about how they want to protect women who face vio-
lence by saying they will protect transition houses.               T. Christensen: It's an honour to stand in the
Well, they're shutting down women's centres, pre-              House today and represent the fine people of
employment training programs that help women es-               Okanagan-Vernon. It's always interesting to follow one
cape violence, that help women in transition get self-         of the two members of the opposition, because they
sufficiency. Those programs — gone.                            always raise a number of points that just seem fascinat-
    Housing — gone.                                            ing. Certainly if I were a citizen of this province listen-
    Inner-city kids. I wonder where the advocate is            ing to what one of the two members of the opposition
from     Vancouver-Kingsway,          from       Vancouver-    says, I would be fearful, because they're very good at
Kensington, from Vancouver-Burrard. Why don't they             fearmongering.
stand up in this House and ask their minister why they                                                              [1525]
are cutting inner-city school funding to the children              What they do is take announcements the govern-
who are most in need? That inner-city school funding
                                                               ment has made or announcements about the direction
will help them stay in school, enhance their learning
                                                               the government's going to be taking before those an-
opportunities — succeed and not drop out — and deal
                                                               nouncements have a lot of meat on them, and they then
with violence issues and multiple barriers, literacy           try and think of the worst-case scenario. They then
questions, counselling. Where is that funding? Well,           double it, and then they spout it off as fact. It's simply
this minister, this government, has deemed it unneces-
                                                               not fact.
sary for the most vulnerable children in all of British
                                                                   The reality in this session is that there are a number
Columbia, who are faced with multiple barriers. That
                                                               of issues the government will be dealing with, and
money is now gone.
                                                               we'll be introducing legislation. At that point, we'll be
    What about the environment? The minister likes to
                                                               able to all see — the citizens of this province — the
talk about how they're protecting the environment and so
                                                               validity of that legislation and the fact that this gov-
on and so forth. The fact of the matter is that when you cut
                                                               ernment is taking this province in the right direction.
programs, it's not just the water quality that could be in
jeopardy. When you cut services to highway improve-                Mr. Speaker, what I found remarkable and quite
ments, you jeopardize the lives of British Columbians.         pleasing about the throne speech is that there were no
                                                               great surprises. It reflected the commitments this gov-
   Interjections.                                              ernment made in the election campaign. Imagine that:
                                                               a throne speech, eight months into the term of a gov-
    J. Kwan: The members like to say it's fearmongering,       ernment, that actually reflects the election commit-
but the reality is…. When they said that they wouldn't         ments the government made.
raise MSP and that the opposition was fearmongering,               It also confirmed many of the challenges this gov-
what was the reality? MSP actually went up.                    ernment faces, challenges the Premier and various min-
                                                               isters have been telling British Columbians about in
   Interjections.                                              open cabinet meetings and otherwise over the last
                                                               number of months.
   Deputy Speaker: Order, please. Order, please.                   The fact that there were no surprises speaks vol-
                                                               umes to the openness and the transparency this gov-
   J. Kwan: Hon. Speaker, I know that my time is up,           ernment is following in confronting the challenges we
but I'd like to close. If members want to heckle on a          face as a province. Once again: openness, transparency
point of order, they should be sitting down.                   — another campaign promise fulfilled.
                                                                   It's been eight months since we were sworn into
   Deputy Speaker: Member, your time has expired.              office, and in that short time, this government has
                                                               taken many, many steps to get this province back on
  J. Kwan: Thank you. I will just wrap up my state-            track. The first thing we did was make tax cuts — yes,
ments, hon. Speaker.                                           tax cuts — to make this province, once again, a com-
                                                               petitive jurisdiction, able to attract investment and
   Interjections.                                              stem the flow of capital and talent leaving this great
                                                               province.
  J. Kwan: Yes, I'm just going to wrap up my state-                The Premier also did a number of very innovative
ments, hon. Speaker, if I may.                                 things in terms of establishing his cabinet. The one I am
                                                               particularly proud of the Premier for establishing is the
   Deputy Speaker: Order, please. The member's time            Ministry of Health Planning. Imagine that: an area of
has expired. You may wrap up.                                  public policy that takes almost 40 percent of the pro-
                                                               vincial budget, and we're actually going to plan ahead
    J. Kwan: Thank you. When this government says              for the challenges that arise in that area of public pol-
that they're on your side and that they're going to pro-       icy. That's incredible foresight, and it's long overdue.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2002                   BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                                            1109

    Another thing this government spent a lot of time       cessity of a renewed private sector economy in B.C., the
on in the fall, and which is ongoing in terms of some       need to attract investment and attention to British Co-
Crown corporations, is the core services review. Again,     lumbia. We all know this, but the world is going to
Mr. Speaker, imagine a government that gets elected         come to British Columbia if we only let them know
and then actually sits down and says, "What is gov-         why they should, and we're doing that.
ernment doing? What should government be doing,                  Since coming to office, the Premier's been in China
and how can government do it better?" — another step        and Hong Kong and Japan on a trade mission showcas-
long overdue in terms of the governing of this prov-        ing British Columbia. He's getting, from what I hear,
ince.                                                       rave reviews in terms of what this government is doing
    A number of select standing committees of this          for the province and the path this government is set-
Legislature toured the province in the fall. I was very     ting forth. He's also been on the Team Canada mission
pleased to have been appointed to the Select Standing       down in the U.S., to Dallas and, I believe, to Los Ange-
Committee on Education, and I think people are ea-          les, again getting rave reviews on what this province is
gerly anticipating our report, which will soon be pre-      doing.
sented to the Legislature. The other committees did do           It's those messages that the province of British Co-
their job. They heard from British Columbians. They         lumbia needs to get out. When the world recognizes
heard a diverse number of views reflecting the diverse      what we have to offer and what we are doing here, the
population of this province and the many regions of         world's going to be knocking on our door. In that re-
this province. They submitted those reports to this Leg-    gard, I'm very pleased to see that in the throne speech,
islature, and those reports form a foundation for minis-    this government has confirmed its commitment to
ters and for all members of this Legislature to think       support the bid for the 2010 Olympics, an Olympics
about a number of very good ideas that have been            that's projected to perhaps bring as much as $10 billion
brought forward — a number of innovative ideas.             in direct and indirect benefit to the province and pro-
Those reports can often form the foundation of very         vide up to 228,000 jobs.
progressive policy in the future.                                We all have watched in the last few days — and
    The throne speech confirms that this government         over the next week — the Olympics in Salt Lake City.
isn't going to waver in making the difficult decisions      We watch our athletes doing so well there, and we all
necessary to follow through on the commitments made         know the extensive coverage that such games get —
during last year's election — commitments to bring a        that they showcase the locale in which they are being
new era of prosperity, hope and opportunity to all Brit-    held. As I've said before, when people see British Co-
ish Columbians.                                             lumbia, a couple of weeks later they're going to be
    My friend the member for Peace River South re-          here.
marked yesterday that he would be gracious in that he            I was very pleased to see that the Premier is going
thought that perhaps the previous government had a          to initiate a number of small business round tables this
lot bigger hearts than they had dollars. It sort of made    spring. As all of us in this House know, many of the
me think for a second, and it made me think of another      members here have backgrounds in small business or
quote I heard a former member of the previous NDP           have worked with small businesses. Small businesses
government say — a leadership candidate at the time:        are the cornerstone of our local community economies.
"We made announcements about things we weren't                   I spent a number of years as a director and presi-
even going to do."                                          dent of the Downtown Vernon Association, which was
    Well, we can wear our hearts on our sleeves and         a downtown business improvement area in Vernon.
talk about all the wonderful things we want to do for       Our mandate was to assist small businesses in attract-
British Columbia. Perhaps when we make those an-            ing more customers to downtown. I can tell you, those
nouncements, it does bring some comfort to various          small businesses have struggled over the past decade.
people in our province. But government doesn't do           This government is committed, and I'm glad to see that
anybody any favours when it makes promises and an-          it's committed, to ensuring that small business can
nounces programs that have no hope of being sustain-        thrive in this province.
able or that the government hasn't even budgeted for             The Premier initiated his council on technology in
or, worst of all, simply for the sake of making an an-      the fall, and their work is continuing. I think that of any
nouncement, with no intention of following through.         area of the economy, high-tech really does have the
Such announcements are a cruel taunting of British          potential to…. Well, there's a number of British Co-
Columbians who might genuinely benefit from such            lumbia companies already on the map in high-tech, but
programs. Mr. Speaker, I know the days of empty             we certainly have the potential to grow exponentially
promises are over.                                          there.
                                                   [1530]        Vernon is not alone in having a number of high-
    The throne speech did confirm that we face a num-       tech businesses. I just want to mention a couple of
ber of great challenges, but more importantly, it sets      those that are on the leading edge. One, Tekmar Con-
out a path for addressing those challenges head on, a       trol Systems Ltd., is a world leader in hydronic heating
path for renewed hope and prosperity in British Co-         systems. And guess what: since the last provincial elec-
lumbia. There are numerous highlights in the throne         tion, they're expanding. I've met with them, and
speech. It recognizes and confirms the very strong ne-      they've told me they're happy with what this govern-
1110                                           BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                  THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2002

ment's doing. They know that we want to be a competi-        and that we're exploiting that resource for the benefit
tive jurisdiction to attract and retain business. What       of all British Columbians.
that means to my community is a doubling of the                   The same goes for oil and gas, for coalbed methane.
number of people employed by Tekmar as well as the           I've mentioned mining. This government is going to
fact that they've bought new property in Vernon. They        ensure that these opportunities are pursued for all Brit-
will be building a new facility, a much larger facility,     ish Columbians. That's long overdue.
and they will employ a number of local contractors in             When we look at the natural resources of this prov-
doing that and, obviously, provide economic benefit to       ince…. It's truly amazing when we sit back and actu-
my community.                                                ally look at what we have in the way of natural re-
                                                    [1535]   sources, look at where we are and the challenges we
                                                             face and recognize that there's simply no reason we
    Another leading-edge company is Ultradoc Soft-
                                                             should have gotten to this point. Nevertheless, we're
ware Inc. Ultradoc has just been invited to accompany
the Prime Minister and a number of business leaders          here. It's clear that there is no challenge that's greater or
on their trade mission to Russia and Germany. Ultra-         more necessary than reform in the management of our
doc was started by a local Vernon physician and deals        forest resource. There the challenges are daunting.
                                                                  We're currently dealing with the softwood lumber
with medical records information. It's a web-based
                                                             dispute. It's something that every single member of this
system that is very interesting and certainly, I think,
has a very bright future as we come to grips with the        House would like to have seen resolved a long time
significant challenges we face in the use of medical         ago. The difficult part of any negotiation such as that is
information, in keeping that information secure but          it's tough to negotiate when one party doesn't seem to
                                                             really want to come to the table too much. I know, cer-
making it available around the province for our physi-
                                                             tainly, that our Minister of Forests is working hard on
cians, hospitals and all our health care professionals to
provide the best service possible to the patients of this    that file and will continue to do so, keeping in mind
province.                                                    not just getting an agreement, but getting an agreement
                                                             that's for the benefit of British Columbians.
    These are just a couple of examples of entrepreneu-                                                            [1540]
rial British Columbians that are succeeding in Vernon. I
                                                                  The Minister of Forests certainly has his plate full in
know if you speak to any of the members of this House        the next while in dealing with forestry. We've made
who reside in the Okanagan Valley, we're trying to           commitments to stumpage reform, and we've made
brand the Okanagan Valley as the Silicon Vineyard. I         commitments to tenure reform. All of those things are
think you will see more and more over the next five          major challenges. When we look at forestry in the prov-
years that this brand is going to stick, and there's going
                                                             ince, we've got a history of decades — in fact, centuries
to be very good reason for it.                               in some cases — of doing things a certain way. We
    The throne speech mentioned the Energy Policy            have considerable vested interests. Like anything,
Task Force — again, another task force, another review       when you're looking at change, there's always a gen-
of government policy and provincial policy that was          eral resistance to change, just for the sake of resisting.
long overdue. You don't have to think too hard to rec-       All of that must be overcome if we're going to have an
ognize that consistent, relatively inexpensive energy is     internationally competitive and viable forest industry
the foundation on which an economy can be built. This        in this province.
province has done well on that in the past, but we've             We need to take the necessary policy steps to pro-
fallen behind because we haven't been thinking about         mote and ensure forest health. We need to ensure that
what we need five and ten years from now. I was very         fibre is available to allow the expansion and success of
pleased when the Premier established the Energy Pol-         our value-added product manufacturers. We need to
icy Task Force to look at the long-term energy needs of      ensure that the Crown — you and I and all the other
the province. I'm very much looking forward to their         people of British Columbia — receives a good return
final report this spring and to being involved with this     for the sale of our timber resource. We need to ensure a
government in responding to that task force report and       viable, sustainable and diversified forest industry
in developing a policy to address the long-term energy       overall.
needs of the province.                                            That's going to require us to be cautious. All of us
    The government's outlined a commitment to re-            in this House are going to need to listen carefully to
newing the mining industry. In my meeting with local         those who have experience in that industry as well as
individuals in Vernon who tend to be involved in the         to new ideas. We're going to have to think very criti-
start of mining — that is, the prospecting end — I was       cally.
surprised, not knowing much about the mining indus-               One of the good fortunes of this government, Mr.
try, and pleased to learn about the incredible potential     Speaker, is that this government caucus represents
this province has for mining. The mineral potential          almost every riding in this great and diverse province.
here is second to none in the world. We, as a govern-        Most of us can see the critical importance and influence
ment, simply need to get our act together — which            of forestry and the many aspects of the forest industry
hasn't been done by previous governments — to ensure         by simply looking out the windows of our constituency
that we're attracting mining investment, that we're          offices. Certainly, if we can't see it from our constitu-
doing that in an environmentally responsible manner          ency offices, we can probably see it from our homes.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2002                      BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                                            1111

I'm confident that we will ably meet the task of reform-           The Minister of Advanced Education announced in
ing our forest industry to meet the needs of all British       the last week that this government would be removing
Columbians.                                                    the tuition freeze and allowing post-secondary institu-
     I was also pleased to see in the throne speech a con-     tions around this province to set their own tuition. Of
firmation of this government's intention to work with          course, that predictably set off all sorts of fireworks
our aboriginal and first nations communities to build          from predictable sources in terms of how tuitions
capacity and to improve aboriginal British Columbians'         would skyrocket and so on.
economic opportunities, health and quality of life.                I don't believe that's at all the case. The reality is
Those are important commitments. From my meetings              that when you get into individual communities around
with representatives of the Okanagan Indian band in            this province, they're very good at assessing the capac-
my constituency, I know that the band council and              ity of their community in terms of the tuitions they'll
members are looking at innovative economic opportu-            pay. Those tuitions will reflect the needs of local stu-
nities for their band and their members. I'm looking           dents, as well as the needs of the institution to be able
forward very much to government working with them              to serve the needs of the local community.
to pursue those opportunities.                                     Again, it is only a good thing when we are allowing
     The throne speech confirmed this government's             local institutions, local school boards, the autonomy to
commitments to putting students and patients first in          make decisions in the best interests of those local com-
our education and health care systems. In education I          munities.
was particularly pleased that we will be following                 In health care we face incredible challenges, but
through on our commitment — in this session, I believe         again I'm confident that those challenges are going to
— to provide more autonomy to school districts and             be met. People are concerned — rightfully concerned.
post-secondary institutions. I've met with a number of         All of us very much want and need to have the confi-
my school trustees and with officials in school district       dence that our health care system's going to be there
22, as well as with a number of principals, students and       when one of us, or perhaps one of our family members,
teachers. All of these people have innovative ideas.           needs it.
They're creative. They're dedicated to serving the stu-            I had opportunity last week to meet with a number
dents in Vernon, Lumby and Cherryville — the stu-              of folks who have elderly parents in the Alexander
dents of school district 22. I know that when we give          wing of the Vernon Jubilee Hospital, which is a long-
them the ability to do their jobs and to exercise their        term care facility. We had a very good chat about what
discretion, they're going to do that in the best interests     some of their concerns are. Many of those concerns
of students. They're going to do it considerably more          arise from uncertainty. I'm certainly hopeful that as our
capably than somebody 350 miles away down in Victo-            health authorities come to terms with their new man-
ria can do. That's the benefit of local autonomy, and it       date — let's remember that they've only been there a
gets better results.                                           couple of months, and they need to come to terms with
     In the post-secondary realm, Vernon is proud to be        the number of facilities and the human resources that
the home of the Kalamalka campus of Okanagan Uni-              they have to deal with — we'll be able to allay some of
versity College. That's a college that I believe is particu-   that uncertainty and some of those fears.
larly responsive to the community's needs. There's a               The folks I met with at Alexander wing are actually
panel of community members that provides advice to             taking a very proactive approach. They're going to try
the college campus on occasion and tries to identify           and meet on a monthly basis to discuss concerns that
what the community's needs are in terms of program-            they have. They'll invite me now and again to those
ming at the college. I think they've been relatively suc-      meetings to hear those concerns. That will allow me
cessful in having strong input with the college.               either to contact the health authority and relay the con-
                                                     [1545]    cerns there or to bring them to the Minister of Health
     The Kalamalka campus is going to be undertaking           Services, if I think that's necessary.
the construction of an addition. Hopefully, they'll get            When we look at health care, we need to have an
shovel to ground sometime this year. That's an addi-           open mind, to be creative and try new things. It's
tion that doesn't cost the province any money. They're         abundantly clear that what we've been doing in the
not coming with hands outstretched to the Ministry of          past isn't meeting the needs of all patients in this prov-
Advanced Education. What they've done is be creative           ince, so we need to do better. I think that this govern-
in looking at what they were spending for various fa-          ment has shown guts in its willingness to look at new
cilities and how they could use those funds to actually        ideas and new ways of doing things.
make an addition at the main Kalamalka campus to                   It's raised the possibility of looking at the so-called
house their continuing education needs. What that's            P3s — the public-private partnerships — to try and
also allowed them to do is free up some space in their         solve some of the challenges we face there in terms of
main building so that they can finally — after about ten       infrastructure needs. I doubt that P3s are a panacea in
years of the student association putting aside funding         terms of solving our problems, whether they're in
towards a fitness centre — go ahead with facilitating          health, education or other infrastructure needs, but
those students having their own fitness centre at the          they certainly provide an opportunity. They're indica-
Kal campus.                                                    tive of a government that's prepared to try new ideas,
1112                                          BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                  THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2002

prepared to look at the options to meet the needs of the    ment is that they are concerned about the impact on
people of British Columbia.                                 those most vulnerable in our society, whether those be
    The regional health authorities, in a very strong       the poor, the developmentally disabled, those living in
move, have decreased administration. They're allowing       or fleeing from abusive relationships, or children. Over
the government — and the authorities themselves will        the last number of months I've had the pleasure of sit-
be doing this — to focus their resources on patients.       ting as part of this government's caucus, which in-
There are very difficult decisions ahead, as I've said,     cludes a number of passionate advocates for those
but we remain committed to access and timely, quality       most vulnerable in our communities. I very strongly
care for all British Columbians.                            believe that this government has and will continue to
    Unfortunately, we've had to make some tough de-         take into account the needs of those most vulnerable in
cisions in health care already. There have been some        our community as we go about making the difficult
necessary changes in what government expects British        changes ahead.
Columbians are going to be paying for themselves in             The vast majority of us in this House know that the
the broad range of health care services available. When     path pursued by the previous government was a fail-
we've made those changes, we've specifically protected      ure and was unsustainable. It was the road to ruin for
those that are least able to pay. Those on MSP premium      this province. Some of the goals were laudable and
assistance continue to receive supplementary health         well-intentioned, but unfortunately good intentions are
care services at no cost. Recent changes to the MSP         not enough. Good governance requires making diffi-
premiums lowered the premium — lowered the pre-             cult choices. It requires looking ahead — far ahead, in
mium, Mr. Speaker — for approximately 230,000 low-          some cases — not only to ensure the well-being of cur-
income British Columbians — often lowering it to zero       rent British Columbians but to also pave the way for
so that where they paid some premium before, they're        the well-being of future generations. We must be, and
not paying any now. Those are progressive moves to          we are, committed to government providing strong,
protect those most vulnerable as we undertake some of       effective services for British Columbians, particularly
the difficult changes in health care.                       in health, and in the greatest equalizer of all, education.
                                                   [1550]   But those services must be sustainable.
    I'm particularly pleased that the throne speech reit-       We've already borrowed too much from our chil-
erated that the government will act this year to ad-        dren. We owe it to them to get our fiscal house in order
vance the target of treating 5,000 new intermediate and     and to not mortgage our ability to provide services to
long-term care spaces by 2006. My constituents, par-        future generations. I'm confident that we're setting out
ticularly those in Lumby, who have been advancing           on the right path as set out in the throne speech.
various creative and cooperative proposals to meet              While it is an honour for each member to sit in the
their community's need for spaces in long-term and          House and represent his or her constituents, that hon-
intermediate care for their citizens, will eagerly await    our does come at a price. We all spend far too much
the government's action on intermediate and long term       time away from our families, and in doing so we all
care spaces.                                                expect a great deal from them in holding down the
    It goes without saying that each decision we make       home front. It's our families that often see the letters to
in this House has an impact on individual British Co-       the editor first. I know in my case my mother has quit
lumbians. It's an awesome responsibility that each of us    reading the newspaper and listening to the radio. I'm
undertakes every time we walk in these doors. Over          not sure if she's watching television anymore. She only
the last eight months I've been fortunate to meet with      talks to people who don't know me or don't know that
many constituents and correspond with an even               she's my mother. Nevertheless, she remains very
greater number. Some agree with the steps the gov-          proud. My wife is teetering on whether she's going to
ernment is taking. Predictably, some disagree. That's       continue to read the newspaper. But they get to see the
the wonder of a diverse constituency. I appreciate all of   letters to the editor first because they're at home when
the folks in my constituency who have taken the time        we're down here. They get to fume over how misun-
to come and commend what the government is doing            derstood we often are. For those of us with children,
and to come and tell me where they have concerns. I         the responsibility we leave with our spouses is even
appreciate in particular the individuals who may be         greater.
directly affected by a particular suggestion the gov-                                                             [1555]
ernment has made. They've come in and sat down and              In closing, in reflecting on the fact that today is Val-
had a good discussion with me, and I've tried to ex-        entine's Day — and the member for Delta South
plain the challenges facing the government and what         brought this up earlier, but I'm surprised that nobody
we're trying to do. In many cases we come to some           else has — I want to thank my wife, Jennifer, for her
agreement. It's important that I recognize what their       unwavering love and support, and I certainly want to
concerns are and the impact that certain steps have on      confirm my infinite appreciation for all that she does
them so that I can come back down here and work to-         for me and my children and for allowing me to be here
wards minimizing the impacts from the necessary             and represent the people of Okanagan-Vernon.
steps the government needs to take.
    What I've heard most loudly from those who are              W. Cobb: The throne speech indicated and outlined
expressing concerns about the direction of the govern-      for British Columbians the plan this government must
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2002                     BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                                          1113

implement in order to have a renewed economy, an              forms. The Forest Practices Code will be revamped —
economy that can present new opportunities while en-          none too soon, I might say. The code has strangled our
suring funding is in place for patient care and educa-        industry, and the people of Cariboo South have felt the
tion. This is a basic principle. We need a strong, thriving   impact more than most. The government's plan to
economy in order to pay for the social programs we all        market B.C. wood products around the globe is a wel-
value. It's a simple concept that we can't continue to pay    come idea. For far too long we have let others set our
out more than we take in. The previous government             image. It's time we got out there and sold B.C. products
didn't understand that basic fact, and we're all paying       and sold them with pride.
the price for it, as you heard today, when we were talk-          The mining industry is also getting the attention of
ing about closures of hospitals and courthouses.              our government. For the people of the Cariboo that is
    We are making some very strong statements about           also good news. We want to get people working again.
the seriousness of where we find ourselves and are            We want to have people have pride in our province.
putting some bold changes in place to find and imple-         We want all of us to get the benefits that flow from a
ment those solutions. It is important for all British Co-     restored economy.
lumbians to understand and not forget what the past                                                              [1600]
ten years have done to this province. We used to be an            I know this is contrary to what some try to portray,
economic leader, and we're now at the bottom of the           but these changes will put patients first and ensure that
heap. We're looking up at other provinces that don't          we have a sustainable system for the future. We will
have the abundance of resources and natural beauty of         have an education system that puts students first, but
British Columbia. The past decade saw us fall to last in      government needs to be in control of the issues that
the country in job creation, to last in investment, to last   mean the most to the people — like health care, educa-
in economic growth — and on top of that a doubling of         tion and our social programs. During the discussions on
the B.C. debt. It is obvious that we have not had very        the merits of Bills 27, 28 and 29 it became very apparent
good managers of our finances.                                to me that government did not have control. If we did
    They allowed ideology to get in the way of creating       not take back the right to manage our health and educa-
a cooperative front to keep our economy strong. Turn-         tion, I believe we were giving up our right to govern.
ing around the years of neglect will not be easy for          We were not elected to have this province run the way
anyone, especially for the many public servants af-           it was in the past. We must govern for the future.
fected by this change, just as it has not been easy for the       It has been asked of me on many different occa-
thousands of forest and mine workers who fell by the          sions if there ever was a politician with an eye on the
wayside over the last few years. Coming from a small          future, not just the next election. I must say that 77
town, I fully understand the impact this restructuring        members of this Legislature are doing exactly that. We
has on people. I see them in the coffee shop; I meet          are looking forward and making plans so our children
them on the streets when I'm downtown. These people           have a future — a future of hope and prosperity, not a
are friends and neighbours. I can promise you: no one         future of debt and despair.
has enjoyed this process.                                         Mr. Speaker, we can no longer use our Visa to pay
    There were many job losses in my riding of Cariboo        off our MasterCard. We are putting in place the build-
South and a lot of uncertainty, but I believe that what       ing blocks to enable B.C. to grow out of the ruins of the
we are doing is absolutely necessary. Some say that I         last decade and regain its place as the number one
haven't been a voice for my constituents, that I am           province, not continue as a have-not province.
simply toeing the party line. Well, I have been a voice           Our three-year restructuring plan will allow busi-
for my constituents, because I believe these changes          ness and industry to come home, rebuild and prosper
will lead to a stronger and more prosperous British           so we will have the funds needed to support our health
Columbia. I am fighting for Cariboo South, trying to          and education system. As hard as it will be and has
ensure that we have a forest policy that makes sense          been, these decisions must be made.
and a regulatory system that will encourage the rebirth           I try to be back in my riding at least two days in
of the mining industry.                                       every week, and there is a lot of uncertainty and fear
    The comments in the throne speech about needing           out there — fear of the unknown — but most people
to revitalize the forest industry were very welcome.          who think it through are willing to make some sacri-
The government made clear the need to bring a final           fices, knowing that in the end we will create a better
and lasting solution to the softwood lumber dispute.          place to live and raise our families.
The actions of the American industry have been disap-             In conclusion, the past eight months have been dif-
pointing, to say the least. As mentioned yesterday by         ficult, but it is now time to focus on the future. We
my colleague Blair Lekstrom, you can't be a part-time         have laid out a plan to rebuild the province, and I urge
free trader. If you want our energy or our natural re-        all British Columbians to put aside partisan politics
sources, if you want an open border, then you must            and, instead, join us in creating an economy that will
also accept our wood. But more than that, the govern-         flourish and provide the benefits we all desire in this
ment understands the problems that have been built            great province.
into our forest industry over the past ten years.
    We will be working to create an industry that is              Hon. M. de Jong: The throne speech. It's the ninth
globally competitive and embraces market-based re-            or tenth time I've actually had the honour to sit in this
1114                                           BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                 THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2002

place and listen to the Lieutenant-Governor deliver the      ment to the people of this province reaching their full
Speech from the Throne. I must confess that notwith-         potential.
standing the passage of time and the number of times              At the conclusion of that exercise we all left here
one participates in that exercise, it is always enjoyable.   exhilarated and proud but in the back of our minds
The pomp and the ceremony associated with it does            understanding, as well, that as fulfilling as that was,
remind one of the history and the traditions associated      the tough work was yet to come. That was tough
with this place and, I think, also serves to reinforce in    enough — tough personally to learn new jobs, to learn
all of us how fortunate we are to occupy a desk — with       about being a member of the Legislative Assembly, to
79 members, an increasingly smaller desk — in this           learn about being a member of cabinet. We're all still
chamber.                                                     learning.
    There are other changes in this place that have oc-           I think when we left this place at the end of last
curred in the time that I have been here — certainly         summer, the last session, we knew there was a chal-
over the last number of months since the election of a       lenge awaiting us. Though we could not know with
new government which I think we are all proud to             precision the extent of that challenge, we knew it
serve in. I noticed the member for West Vancouver and        would test our resources, test our commitment to pub-
the member for Prince George North working away on           lic service, test our commitment to the platform we ran
their computers here in the House. The Legislature has       on and were elected on.
moved into the twenty-first century. I actually always            That was what was in my mind as I listened to the
enjoyed and looked forward to coming into the House          Speech from the Throne and, I have to say, listened to
as a place to escape any of those devices from which         the Premier on television last night. They are, com-
we might get messages.                                       bined, rather remarkable addresses, rather remarkable
                                                    [1605]   presentations, in my view — extraordinary, actually —
                                                             when you think that they really represent a departure
                                                             from the past, in this sense.
   Interjection.
                                                                                                                 [1610]
                                                                  They represent a calculated and deliberate desire to
     Hon. M. de Jong: As my colleague from Peace             communicate the state of this province in as straight-
River North points out, that might have something to         forward a manner as possible with the people of this
do with my ability to operate one of those electronic        province, pulling no punches and in no way trying to
devices. But here we are, where members now can              gloss over some of the difficulties we face. As the Pre-
come into the House and actually communicate with            mier said last night, that's not always easy. In fact, the
their constituents from their desks. Isn't that amazing?     record of governments past — certainly over the last
It's an age when constituents can ask questions of           decade — is to do quite the opposite: not to tell people
members and have them placed on the order paper,             the facts, not to give them the straight goods but to tell
thanks to innovations that the Speaker himself has           them what they would like to hear.
brought to this chamber over the last number of                   As I was thinking about the past — without dwell-
months. There are changes — I think healthy changes          ing on it, Mr. Speaker — it occurred to me that it would
— that will serve this institution, serve its members        have been more difficult to tell people the truth in 1996,
and, as a result, ultimately serve the people of British     after that election — that the budget wasn't in fact bal-
Columbia. That most certainly is a good thing.               anced, as the NDP government of the day had prom-
     It's the second Speech from the Throne we have          ised it was and would be. Of course, people, in their
listened to since the election of a new government. I        hearts, really would have preferred not to hear that, I
think that upon reflection we can all look back — and        suppose. It would have troubled them to know that
do look back — with a degree of satisfaction and pride       they hadn't been told the truth. It would have been the
upon the first session of this parliament, when a new        right thing to do, but it would have been difficult.
government, a new Premier, came into office with an               It would have been difficult to tell people that tax
overwhelming mandate, a mandate for change.                  dollars had been squandered on electrical projects in
     That change was spelled out, I would suggest, with      far-away places like Pakistan and easier, I suppose, to
a greater degree of particularity than any government        tell people something else, to withhold that informa-
in memory which I can think of — particularity not just      tion from them, withhold the facts — but more difficult
on the issues but on the timing: a 90-day agenda. I, for     to tell them the straight goods. It would have been
one, and, I think, all of my colleagues were proud and       more difficult at some point during the construction of
are proud of the fact that in the last session the gov-      those fast ferries to give people the facts and tell them
ernment fulfilled its 90-day pledges — 21 of them.           it wasn't going to work, as was surely apparent long
     On our first day in office a dramatic tax cut was       before the facts became known by other channels.
delivered to all British Columbians as was promised.              It's not easy telling people bad news. It's not easy
Education was deemed and designated an essential             telling them that the treasury that governments are
service. These and other promises were made with a           charged with protecting and administering has been
view to bringing change to British Columbia, to bring-       mismanaged. It's not easy to tell them that we are adrift
ing improvements, to fixing problems that had been           in a sea of debt. But those were the facts. Those were
permitted to develop over time and were an impedi-           the facts then, and the fact that they were withheld
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2002                    BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                                             1115

from people doesn't diminish their import. It doesn't        caucus have had the courage to acknowledge the prob-
diminish the impact they have on government's ability        lem and the extent of it.
to deliver services to people today and in the future. It        All of us, I think, are dealing to one degree or an-
is a shame that it has taken to this point for people to     other with the anxiety and nervousness that exists in
learn the facts. That's what the Speech from the Throne,     our community around the government's stated intent
in part, does — pulling no punches and withholding           to fix the problem, because it is going to require
nothing. It has laid out for people the challenge we face    change. It's going to require change on an unparalleled
as a society here in British Columbia.                       scale. Change on that level should engender a certain
    It would be easier, I suppose, to tell British Colum-    degree of nervousness, and it does. All of us deal with
bians that we have a health care system that will meet       that in different ways. It manifests itself in different
their needs and is sustainable over the long term. That      ways in our communities. Whether it's Prince George,
would be a much easier, more palatable message. In           whether it's North Vancouver, whether it's Surrey, all
communities that the member for Cariboo South and            of us deal with that nervousness and that concern
the member from Vernon spoke about, it would, in the         within our communities.
short term, be a message that would be probably be               In my community, in Abbotsford, a hospital facility
received more positively. But it wouldn't be true.           promised more than a decade ago is now in the final
                                                             planning stages. We're doing something new. We are
   [Mr. Speaker in the chair.]                               involving the private sector. P3s, they're called: public-
                                                             private partnerships. It's never been done before on
                                                             this scale. I, for one, am proud that we're doing it. I, for
     It wouldn't be true because our health care system
                                                             one, am proud that this will become a potential model
as it is presently established is not sustainable, and
                                                             for future capital construction in this province.
people deserve to know that. People deserve to know
                                                                 I understand that there are people who are nerv-
there is a government which is prepared to make that
                                                             ous, but they should not be nervous, and surely they
admission, to make that acknowledgment, and which
                                                             should not be surprised that the government is intent
has a plan in place that it is executing to ensure we do
                                                             upon proceeding in a way that will extract the maxi-
have a sustainable, publicly funded health care system
                                                             mum benefit to patients for every health care dollar
there when people need it, where they need it.
                                                             spent. That, most certainly, is the objective. To sug-
                                                    [1615]   gest that the government should look away from
     It would be easier, I suppose, to try and hide from     various construction models, from various manage-
people that government has a spending problem on a           ment models, simply because someone's notion,
massive scale — deficits in the billions of dollars.         someone's perhaps antiquated notion, of what our
Maybe my colleagues here in this House will correct          health care system needs to look like is offended…. I
me, but I don't know of a lot of people that are proud       say: "Too bad."
of that. I don't think people in Port Alberni are happy          We have gone beyond having the luxury of hiding
about that, but I think the member from Port Alberni,        behind dogma and ideology. Patients aren't getting the
who has spoken on this in the past, is correct when she      care they need and deserve. Every one of us sitting in
says that they want to know. They want to know the           this chamber has a duty to those people to explore
truth. They want to know the extent of the problem.          every avenue and every option to ensure that they get
They want to know the impact it is going to have upon        that care. That's what we're going to do, and we're go-
them, and I think, by and large, they are ready to deal      ing to make no apologies to anyone for doing it.
with it. They want their government to show some                                                                 [1620]
leadership in dealing with that problem, because they            In my community there are concerns — as there are
understand that over the long term, the ability gov-         everywhere, except, I think, Peace River North —
ernment has to deliver those services in Port Alberni, in    around transportation infrastructure. Maybe they have
Merritt, in Maple Ridge, is tied to government coming        those concerns there too. Apparently, they do.
to grips with a structural deficit that is in excess of $4       We live in a world where there is tough competi-
billion — one that this government inherited from a          tion for scarce public dollars. The challenge for com-
previous NDP regime.                                         munities across this province, I would suggest, is to
     As I have spoken with people in my constituency         work together within various regions to establish what
— as all of my colleagues have — I have been buoyed          those regional transportation priorities are.
and encouraged by the reaction that I have received              It is a simple and straightforward matter, I under-
that says: "About time. It's about time a government         stand, for a community to create a shopping list. You
came along and in its defining statement for the session     know, in the year 2002 British Columbians move not
didn't try to gloss over the facts." I'm from an agricul-    just within their regions; they move around the prov-
tural area, so excuse me when I quote one of my con-         ince. Probably what we need to do and should do and
stituents who called me right after the throne speech        what I know this government intends to do is establish
was delivered and said: "Thank God, at least you're no       regional transportation planning and regional trans-
longer trying to b.s. me." You can't fix the problem if      portation priorities.
you're not going to admit it's there. The Premier and            I think I can make a very compelling case — and I
the government and the members of the government             intend to, to the best of my ability — that in my com-
1116                                           BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                  THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2002

munity transportation infrastructure surrounding the         highlighted what some of them may be — the fact that
expanding airport at Abbotsford is a priority and            they will be played out, rolled out over the course of
something to which overall economic growth is inextri-       the year. There are not a lot of surprises anymore. I
cably tied. Our community has to make that case with         think most people know what they are, but there is,
the realization that there are around us other commu-        again, anxiety about the impact some of these changes
nities with other priorities. I think that case can be       are going to have on workers, their families, communi-
made.                                                        ties and licensees.
    It'll be made better if we work together on a re-            I thought I would take a moment at this point to try
gional basis, and I'm pleased to say that is something       to articulate some of the reasoning behind the general
that the locally elected people in that end of the Fraser    direction of these changes. I'll begin by saying this: I
Valley are doing in, I think, a very positive way, and I     don't think we achieve anything by addressing this
think and hope that will reap rewards.                       from the point of view of criticizing decisions that were
    We should be under no illusions no matter where          made ten, 20, 30, 40 or 50 years ago. I don't think we
we live in this province that the fiscal well is virtually   achieve anything by second-guessing those decisions,
empty. It is empty because of some very poor decision-       because I think in many cases, perhaps the majority of
making that governments before us have made, and we          cases, those decisions that gave rise to a policy regime
will pay a price. British Columbia will pay a price for      that we now have in place were defensible, were the
that poor decision-making.                                   right decisions.
    I have listened to my colleagues make their                  We have built a province around the development
speeches in response to the throne speech, Mr. Speaker,      of the forest sector over the last century. Towns exist
and I have heard in those addresses an understanding
                                                             because of forestry. Road systems exist because of for-
of the impacts of some of these very difficult decisions
                                                             estry. But part and parcel of that is in so doing gov-
that government is making on their communities,              ernments have preserved unto themselves a tremen-
courthouses and in my case, in my present job, forestry      dous amount of decision-making authority to direct the
offices — district and regional offices.                     evolution of the forest economy. I think you could
    There are a couple of things as I turn my mind for a
                                                             make an argument that there was a time when that was
moment to that portion of the throne speech that ad-         appropriate or required. I think you can equally make
dressed forestry matters. I thank some of the previous       an argument today that that time has past. So, in gen-
speakers for their insightful remarks on that issue and      eral terms, extricating the government from the deci-
their kind commentary, in many instances, on the at-         sion-making process, removing the government's abil-
tempts the government has made on a dispute that has
                                                             ity to artificially direct the evolution of this industry is
raged for some time now with the U.S. — but more             very much at the heart of what we are doing. For many
about that in a moment.                                      people that is troubling. But I have to tell you, Mr.
                                                    [1625]   Speaker, that one of the things that I have been im-
    Whether you are from Yale-Lillooet, from the Cari-       pressed by is the degree to which agencies, business
boo, from Prince George, from the North Coast, it is a       or otherwise, that enjoy success in the year 2002 are
difficult thing when government offices close and peo-       generally those that are able to adapt to changing
ple lose their jobs. I know that everyone in this place      conditions in a global community. I think that is very
understands that the trauma associated with losing           much a given. To remain stagnant is to eventually
one's job does not disappear any quicker because it is a     disappear.
public sector job versus a private sector job. These are
                                                                 Why, then, do we believe that government policy
people who have been asked to serve the people of
British Columbia as public servants and have done            over such a fundamental issue as the forest economy in
that, done it to the best of their ability and, in many      British Columbia should be immune from that dy-
cases, performed exceptional service, and now find           namic? Because that's really what's happened. These
                                                             policies that we are tackling and changing today have
themselves out of work — in the Forests ministry,
                                                             been in place for generations. The argument that says
many hundreds this year, some of them long serving
members of the Forest Service.                               that they must remain in place forever, it seems to me,
    There are two reasons they find themselves in that       ignores the reality that unless we are prepared to adapt
position, neither reason attributable to them person-        them to changing circumstances, we are condemning
                                                             our forest economy and forest-dependent communities
ally. One is a $4 billion structural deficit that has
                                                             to a bleak future.
obliged this government to take some very difficult
decisions right across the board, and that has been vis-                                                          [1630]
ited upon this ministry that I presently have charge of          Don't believe me; look at the recent past. Go to
and virtually every other ministry within government.        those communities that have seen facilities shut down
In the case of forestry there is another dynamic at play     and ask them how the social contract has operated to
— I think a more significant one in the longer term —        preserve those communities. I would suggest that it
and that is the realization that we need to change the       hasn't, and I will suggest that you will get agreement
way we manage our forests in British Columbia.               on that point from people who live in Tahsis, Gold
    I want to talk about that for a moment because the       River or any number of communities across this prov-
throne speech dwelt on some of those changes and             ince.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2002                   BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                                          1117

    We have said that as part of our legislative package    ful planning process. This government must not waiver
as announced and referred to in the throne speech, we       from this plan, because the services we all count on and
intend to move ahead. We have dared to speak the            the jobs we expect will only exist for us and for our
heresy that we will change and eliminate appurtenancy       children in their future if we have a healthy economy
provisions as they presently exist — a heresy. I have       and a fiscally responsible government that lives within
said it before and I will say it again: you cannot on the   its means.
one hand say that you want — as I think we all do               Let me briefly review the past eight months. In the
want — to exact the highest value from timber har-          early summer, an independent fiscal review board de-
vested in British Columbia and in the very next breath      termined that if changes were not made, the province
point to policies that preclude that from happening.        would have a $3 billion deficit this year and a $3.8 bil-
    These are significant changes as they relate to cut     lion deficit next year. Unfortunately, due to unknown
control and timber pricing and other mandatory re-          events of the time, including the September 11 tragedy,
quirements that presently exist within the Forest Act.      the degree of the softwood dispute impacts and re-
Yes, they will change the way that industry operates in     duced revenue from the resource industry, the budget
British Columbia, but they'll change it for the better.     outlook is much worse.
They will help revitalize and build hope again. It re-          With these future multibillion-dollar deficits, we
quires us, in order to fulfil our objective and achieve     have a financial crisis that must be addressed immedi-
our objective in that respect, to overcome one other        ately. We are in a vicious, ever-deepening debt hole,
obstacle — that is, the present impediments thrown up       and we must stop the digging now. Each additional
by our neighbours to the south, our largest market.         deficit dollar adds to our debt. Each additional debt
    No one should underestimate the challenge we face       dollar adds to our interest costs. This further decreases
in the weeks ahead, but as someone said — I think the       funds available for services, which explains the ur-
member from Vernon — just a few moments ago, we             gency to control spending, to balance the budget and to
will make every effort to secure an agreement. Not an       act now.
agreement at any cost, but an agreement that works for          We all witnessed a decade of reckless spending, an
British Columbians, an agreement that will allow us to      incredible waste of our tax dollars by the previous gov-
move ahead and make some of these fundamental               ernment. Unlike our previous government, we must
changes that will allow our industry to reattract in-       stop stealing from our kids' futures, saddling them
vestment, that will allow our industry to prosper, that     with our debt for our benefit — which limits their op-
will allow our industry to once again begin to employ       portunities for services in the future. To carry on as in
the people in the communities that are dependent on         the past would be irresponsible and selfish.
our forests. No one should underestimate the challenge          Another determination from the fiscal board was
that we face in reaching that agreement with the            that reducing spending alone would not be enough to
Americans.                                                  balance the budget. There would have to be changes to
    I've had some tough things to say, and my time is at    increase revenue as well as to reduce expenditure. To
an end, but I will say this: the degree of support that     address the revenue shortfall, action was immediately
we have enjoyed — the Premier, I, the government —          taken this past summer to open up B.C. for business.
from every member of this House and from people             To attract investment, the province must be competi-
around the province leaves me feeling entirely confi-       tive with other jurisdictions.
dent that at the end of the day, notwithstanding the            The measures that this government implemented to
trials and tribulations we may face along the way, we'll    become competitive included reducing the cost of do-
get that agreement and we'll be on our way to rebuild-      ing business by cutting taxes and regulation and reduc-
ing a vibrant, profitable forestry economy in British       ing the risk of making investments by building trust in
Columbia that people can be proud of once again.            government with responsible financial reporting and
                                                            planning requirements.
    D. Chutter: I must say I certainly admire the ability       To reduce the expenditure side of the ledger and
and ease with which the member for Abbotsford–              obtain greater value from each tax dollar, this govern-
Mount Lehman can address the Legislature without            ment undertook a core review. This core review took
notes and run out of time as well.                          place over the fall with the purpose of determining the
    I welcome the privilege to speak today in the Legis-    priority or core services that government should pro-
lative Assembly of British Columbia to respond to the       vide to the public. The core review and the alignment
Speech from the Throne as the representative of the         with budget limitations occurred under careful scru-
people and communities of Yale-Lillooet. This gov-          tiny involving all MLAs through extensive committee
ernment was elected with a mandate for change — to          work.
take action, to make decisions, to invigorate the econ-         In January, as promised, this government an-
omy, to instil sound financial management practices         nounced changes to services and corresponding budget
and to put patients, students and those in the greatest     constraints as determined by the core review process.
need first.                                                 Excluding health and education, which are both pro-
                                                  [1635]    tected at current funding levels, ministry spending is to
    I am pleased to say that change is taking place as a    be reduced by 25 percent on average over three years.
result of the decisions based on a responsible, thought-    This equates to about an 8 percent overall reduction
1118                                           BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                  THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2002

across all ministries. Compare this to the 21 percent        straint. I can assure the people of Yale-Lillooet that I
across-the-board reduction in Alberta and the 11 per-        will take their constructive input forward on their be-
cent reduction in NDP Saskatchewan that occurred in          half.
the 1990s out of the necessity to address their financial        In preparation for this change that we're going
crises.                                                      through, this past fall I sat down with health care pro-
    These decisions are difficult ones, as they impact       viders in each of five hospital communities in my rid-
families and communities in my riding of Yale-Lillooet.      ing and documented their comments and issues. I
They are necessary decisions in order to sustain ser-        summarized the common issues, which included:
vices to our communities. Let me assure the people of            1. The importance of sufficient hospital services in
my riding that these decisions were developed over the       rural communities to attract and retain families and
past eight months after undertaking a responsible,           seniors in order to sustain the community.
principled review and planning process.                          2. Population-based funding alone is not sufficient
    Legislation adopted this past summer meets the           for communities with adjacent major highway systems
commitment of this government to practise sound fi-          and corresponding accidents, nor for those with a high
nancial management, including a requirement to bal-          tourist influx.
ance the budget and to report all provincial finances            3. The need for community input into decision-
accurately and honestly under generally accepted ac-         making. Local people know best the needs of the com-
counting principles. The most recent legislative             munity, and in the past, community volunteers have
changes are necessary to allow for the flexibility to fo-    delivered health care on budget.
cus the limited resources on patients and students in            I submitted this information along with petitions
order to meet their needs first. I know that change is       from three hospital communities to the minister re-
difficult to accept, but we are in a financial crisis, and   sponsible and discussed their concerns. The number of
we have no choice but to change if we want to sustain        signatures on each petition was in excess of 1,400 for
government services.                                         Princeton, 3,500 for Hope and 3,900 for Merritt.
                                                    [1640]       This issue in health care is about change — to pro-
    Change is also coming to our health care service,        vide affordable and effective health care with a focus
and I would like to talk a bit about what I've been do-      on benefiting patients. The best thing that we can do
ing in my riding on this subject. The hospital in the        for health care, regardless of what it might look like, is
rural community of Yale-Lillooet is the heart of the         to establish a sustainable service to benefit us now and
community, having evolved and expanded over many             into the future.
years with a great deal of volunteer work and dona-              In closing, the plan for the future, as laid out in the
tions. The hospital is more than just another govern-        Speech from the Throne, is a responsible, principled
ment service. It is the beginning, often the lifesaver and   strategy to bring prosperity and opportunity to British
the end for many community members. I fully appreci-         Columbians; to put first the interests of patients, stu-
ate the importance that we all place on hospital ser-        dents and those in greatest need and, finally, to pass on
vices in rural communities. I too have children, I have      with pride a British Columbia that offers our children
aging parents, and I plan to grow old in my rural            the opportunity to reach their full potential.
community.
    The challenge today is that patients are not always          R. Harris: It's with a great deal of pleasure that I get
getting effective health care. We do not have the money      to stand in the House again and speak on behalf of the
to spend more, and spending more will not necessarily        people of Skeena. First, let me take the opportunity to
fix the problem. We cannot continue the way we have          thank the many people who have supported me.
been delivering health care in order to sustain services     Though they may not write letters or carry signs and
to rural communities.                                        placards, I have very much appreciated their phone
    This government increased health care spending           calls and gestures of support in these challenging
this past year by 13 percent to $9.5 billion, which is       times.
over 40 percent of the total provincial budget. With this                                                         [1645]
expenditure level frozen for three years, the two health         In my first speech in the House, I described the
authorities in my riding are faced with challenges to        beauty as well as the potential that the riding of Skeena
reduce spending to stay on budget. To do this, a proc-       possesses. We are a riding rich in natural resources and
ess of review of acute care services in each of the hospi-   blessed with an abundance of talented people. The
tals in Yale-Lillooet is taking place. This review is ex-    beauty of our rivers and mountains provides us with
pected to be completed in this month of February, with       endless tourism opportunities. Skeena has all the com-
the proposed changes to be presented at that time.           ponents necessary to build strong and successful com-
    I would like to assure my constituents that consul-      munities. We are a population of people who are
tation with community leaders and stakeholders will          poised and willing to participate in the rebuilding of
take place, with the decisions by the health authorities     the northwest economy and the economy of British
on acute care changes announced in March. I want to          Columbia. All we want to know, though, is that we and
encourage my constituents to submit their innovative         our children can live in this riding and that they can
ideas and solutions in order to optimize health care         get an education and career opportunities right there in
services in their communities within the budget con-         the north.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2002                   BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                                             1119

    I also shared with the House the disastrous effects     much of the local economy tied to this industry, and
of the last ten years of misguided government policy        specifically this company, we need to find a way to
and incompetent financial management that have              bring closure to this file, hopefully with the successful
struck and really hurt most rural communities in Brit-      movement of SCI to the private sector.
ish Columbia. Skeena, like so many resource-                    Even so, forestry will continue to be a major player
dependent ridings, continues to pay the price of the        in the economy of Skeena. Issues around softwood
previous government's inept forest policies that have       lumber, a new look at tenure reform, as well as the
often driven the costs of logging in this province to the   changes to the Forest Practices Code are all being
highest in the world. This, combined with the softwood      watched with a great deal of interest by the people of
lumber dispute, September 11 and the continued un-          my riding. SCI may be the immediate problem, but
certainty around Skeena Cellulose Inc., has contributed     these other items will shape the future. We must move
to make a poor situation even worse.                        quickly but prudently as we reform the tenure system
    The previous government's taxation and regulatory       in this province to ensure it reflects the interests of B.C.,
regime has virtually eliminated mining as a participant     not the interests of other jurisdictions.
in any of our rural economies. As well, these same              The investment community in this province has
policies have placed a huge cost burden on the small        continued to say that high taxes, over-regulation and a
business sector of our economy, stifling the growth of      lack of certainty are preventing business from locating
this sector also.                                           or expanding in B.C. In July of last year we dealt with
    As a member of Treasury Board, I've gained an           the taxation issue by finally making B.C. competitive
insight into the depth the previous government              again with our neighbouring jurisdictions. A recent
plunged this province. The decisions over the past ten      KPMG study showed that B.C. beat 43 U.S. cities in
years have had nothing to do with servicing the needs       terms of business costs, so we are obviously heading in
of taxpayers and everything to do with serving and          the right direction.
advancing the political agenda that's rewarded friends                                                            [1650]
at the expense of students, patients and taxpayers.             In the upcoming session I'm glad to see that we are
    In 1996, when other governments across Canada           finally going to start to deal with the over-regulation of
were grappling with their economic challenges, the          this province without compromising standards. Restor-
previous government continued on a reckless course          ing the economy is the top priority because it is the
that even in the face of a shrinking economy and de-        foundation upon which everything else flows. We need
clining investment took this province from being num-       the cash to support the programs.
ber one in the country to the last in just about every          The communities of the north share the same con-
economic indicator. From 1998 to 2001, 54,000 jobs left     cerns as other British Columbians about health and
this province. In the Pacific Northwest, from December      education. I am proud of the changes we have made in
1999 to December 2000, the workforce shrunk by al-          providing flexibility within our education system. In
most 10 percent — nearly 5,400 jobs. In 1999 the plan of    the rural communities where weather, lifestyle, culture
the previous government transformed B.C. into a have-       and industry differ from the large urban areas, these
not province.                                               changes will now actually allow us to provide an edu-
    We are now challenged not just with stopping the        cation system for our children that fits the needs of
exodus of capital and jobs but in fact with convincing      students, parents, teachers and communities.
the international community that we are open for busi-          Health care in the rural communities is a major
ness. The leadership of the groups that oppose our          concern, not just in Skeena but also in the entire north-
government's direction would have us believe that we        west. As our health delivery area, geographically, cov-
live in a bubble, that somehow government can legis-        ers 25 percent of this province, services that are en-
late prosperity with the wave of a hand. Nothing could      joyed by the rest of the province, like renal dialysis and
be further from the truth. The road to rebuilding the       trauma, are still not available to over 100,000 people
economy will be long and tough. Interest rates, global      who live in this vast region. The restructuring of health
markets, as well as international events, are beyond our    care authorities, as well as the new management tools,
control. We must focus our attention today on the is-       should allow them to focus the scarce health dollars
sues within our control so that this province is posi-      more directly on patient care and services. It will be
tioned to take advantage of the economic rebound            critical for us as politicians to make sure that communi-
when it comes, and it will. That is why it is critically    ties that fuel the engine of economic growth do, in fact,
important to get our financial house in order today.        have the services and resources they need to attract
    The people of Skeena face a number of pressing          and retain the professionals and workers that we will
issues. As I stated earlier, the uncertainty around         need to meet this challenge.
Skeena Cellulose continues to weigh heavily on all of           In my first speech to the House I spoke of a com-
the communities in the northwest. As most of the            mittee that I sit on and chair. That's the northern cau-
members are aware, the timber holdings of this facility     cus. I believed then, and even more so today, that this
span three ridings and seven communities. If we're          group of MLAs from the ten northern ridings has an
going to revitalize the northern economy, families,         opportunity to make a significant, positive contribution
communities and businesses need to be able to plan          to the future of our communities. Over the last six
with a sense of certainty as to their future. With so       months as chair I have met with a significant number
1120                                          BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                 THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2002

of mayors, community groups and regional districts, as      mining, oil and gas development, tourism, manufactur-
well as the northwest treaty group. The northern cau-       ing: all can and should be part of the northern econ-
cus has met with the NCMA, an organization that             omy.
represents all the incorporated communities within the                                                          [1655]
north.                                                          The days ahead of us are going to be tough. The
    We've also met with a significant number of groups      economic minefield we walk through has been ten
and organizations representing industry and tourism         years in the making. There is a need for us as a society
as well as a variety of other interests. We participated    to really start to ask the tough questions. If we do not
in the Northwest Corridor Development Corp.'s annual        deal with the economic challenges in front of us today,
convention in Smithers and now have a representative        it will be up to our children to deal with them tomor-
on that board. This organization has membership from        row.
Alberta, Saskatchewan, the Yukon and Alaska. Its                Our government has started to take actions that are
mandate revolves around increasing economic activity        necessary to reverse the trends of the last ten years. The
to the highway transportation corridors of the north.       tax cut that was introduced last year is absolutely es-
Although these groups all may differ on some fronts,        sential if we are to compete with our neighbouring
the one area of common agreement between all of these       jurisdictions for investment. The sacrifices we make
groups is the northern caucus and its need to find a        today will ensure that our children will have a future
way to attract investment and create employment.            — a future that can provide long-term, sustainable
    First nations across the north have been extremely      health care; an education system that challenges, enter-
hard hit by unemployment. Their communities are             tains or reflects the diverse interests of regions within
paying the social and human costs that are associated       our province; a social safety net that makes sure that
with such high levels. As chair I met recently with the     we are able to provide for those within our society that
northwest treaty tribal group, and as a northern cau-       are most in need; but most importantly, a vibrant econ-
cus, we will be meeting with them again soon. Our           omy that provides the kind of community stability that
hope is to be able to work outside the broader treaty       makes B.C. the number one place to invest and live.
process to help move projects forward and create the            Mr. Speaker, I know the people of Skeena have a
certainty that business is looking for. We must find        tremendous amount of optimism about our commu-
quick and effective means of generating real employ-        nity's capacity to meet the challenges ahead. I look
ment. This is a tremendous opportunity for first na-        forward to representing their interests over the next
tions to finally be active partners in the developments     year.
in their communities and become partners in industry.
Any benefit that their communities have will be felt in         Hon. G. Abbott: I'm very pleased to join in this
and ripple through all the other communities of the         response to the throne speech. I do hope today to make
northwest.                                                  some general observations about the challenges we
    The northern caucus also has an important role to       face in British Columbia and also to advise members of
play in ensuring that the additional costs that northern    the House of some of the initiatives that we have un-
residents have in accessing health care and education       dertaken in the Ministry of Community, Aboriginal
are considered as we move to the new delivery models.       and Women's Services in relation to the throne speech,
Students who must incur the additional living and           of which — as I'm sure all members know — further
travelling expenses in pursuit of an education need to      details will be available again next Tuesday when the
know that there is support there for them.                  Finance minister makes his budget speech.
    I live here in Victoria with three students. When I         It's now about eight months since the new cabinet
asked them about the tuition fees, they told me that        was formed in British Columbia. It has been an inter-
they certainly would enjoy low fees, but the tuition fees   esting period, indeed — certainly for members of the
make up only 20 percent of the cost of their education.     government, members of the caucus and for the public
The real cost of their education is the cost of living      as well. On some days, Mr. Speaker, it seems like those
away from home. They need to know that the courses          eight months were really just eight days. On other days
and support services will be available for them so that     it seems like they're about eight years. I know you've
they can complete their education in the shortest pe-       had that experience before.
riod of time. They want me to make sure that they have          It is always a great honour to serve in this chamber,
an economy that will provide them with jobs and op-         and we have to remind ourselves of that despite the
portunity, both while at school and after graduation.       tough times and the challenges that we may face, both
They ask that the student loan programs be available        within ministries and across government. One of the
so that if they need assistance, it's there for them.       old expressions about government — and I'm sure you
    A strategy for the north cannot be accomplished on      know this one very well, Mr. Speaker — is that the
a riding-by-riding basis. It will take the collective ef-   worst day in government is still better than the best
forts of ten MLAs that recognize that as one commu-         day in opposition.
nity succeeds, so do we all. With this throne speech,           While I'm sure, over the balance of time, one would
British Columbians can finally look forward to turning      say that's right, I have to say that on some days, recol-
the corner and fostering a climate that will stand us       lecting the carefree, joyous days of opposition, I'm not
well when the economy starts to rebound. Forestry,          necessarily in agreement with that expression. But it is
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2002                      BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                                           1121

a huge honour and on some days even a pleasure to be           ests, our water, our majestic mountains, the mineral
a part of a government that is trying to reshape and           resources we possess, the oil and gas, the natural ports
rebuild an economy and a social fabric in British Co-          and harbours. We have in every way been blessed in
lumbia that really cries out for that kind of reform. It is    this great province. I thank my lucky stars that I didn't
a great opportunity and one that I have enjoyed.               have to even choose to live here. I was born here and
    I do hope, as I'm sure every member of this cham-          have been able to build a great life here in British Co-
ber hopes, that over the course of the next, now, almost       lumbia.
three and a half years to May 17, 2005, when we will all           When one looks at what we have done, or what the
be judged by our respective electors, we leave this            previous government did, with those great resources
province, our constituents and constituencies a little         that we possess in British Columbia, I believe that the
better place than when we arrived — although I guess,          record can only be judged as shameful. Again, while I
based on what we inherited, hopefully a lot better             don't want to be partisan here, clearly there is much
place than when we arrived. I do believe that we are           more that we can do for this great province, consider-
working tirelessly toward making this a better place.          ing the resources we have, the people we have, the
                                                      [1700]   educational institutions we have. Everything points to
    These aren't easy times. Certainly, looking back           the enormous success that this province ought to be
over the past eight months, in many ways they have             enjoying at the beginning of the twenty-first century,
been the toughest months of my life — no question              but we're not.
about that. I know that many other members of this                                                                 [1705]
assembly feel the same way — that this great turn-                 Frankly, Mr. Speaker, I was amazed at the Finance
around project has, in many ways, been more difficult,         minister's open cabinet presentation recently on the
deeper, more complex, than what we ever anticipated            state of the province and particularly the state of the
we would face when we took office. They have been              province's finances, the state of the province's econ-
tough times.                                                   omy. Clearly, we have been moving over the past dec-
    It's not just the 12- to 14-hour days that we rou-         ade in precisely the opposite direction of greatness in
tinely put in, trying to come to grips with the awesome        this province. I don't want to go through all of the ma-
range of policy challenges that we have. I know I will         terial that he presented, much of which was very com-
often leave this building at 8, 9 or 10 o'clock at night,      pelling, but there are three points that I want to make
and there will still be ministerial office lights on around    based on the slides that he presented to us that day.
the buildings. I know that we are part of a government             That is, among other things, British Columbia in the
that is working tirelessly to bring better government,         1990s trailed every other province in Canada in terms
better policies, to this province.                             of new economic investment — an absolutely astonish-
    I think, when we look back in May of 2005 or in-           ing fact given, again, the human and physical resources
deed at any point in the future — when we look back            that we enjoy in this province. Over the last decade
on this period that we are currently in — we will say          under the guidance of the former government, we
that moving into the bright, warm sunshine of the fu-          moved from the number one economy in Canada to
ture felt all the better because we had to go through          perhaps the number ten economy, depending on
some dark and very difficult days before we arrived at         whether you include some of the territories. We had
that warmer, sunnier place where economic activity             slipped that badly. The percentage of change in British
was revitalized, social programs were strengthened.            Columbia is 21.2 percent over the decade as opposed to
Before we arrived there, we went through some diffi-           Alberta, which was well over a 100 percent increase in
cult times that made it seem all the better, once we got       terms of investment between 1990 and 2000.
to the other end.                                                  Again, I think it is very much the consequence of a
    That, I believe, is what's going to happen. These are      theme which I hope to touch on a couple of times in
tough times. I don't think any of us enjoy people gath-        relation to my own ministry and in relation to, broadly,
ering outside our constituency offices to tell us that         the challenges the government faces. That is, even if
they disagree with the direction of change in the prov-        you have the greatest, most abundant, most wide-
ince. We may not enjoy getting letters from people             spread resources that a province can possess — and
who, in their view, have been adversely affected by            clearly, that is what we have here in British Colum-
changes in expenditures. This is all pretty tough stuff.       bia…. Even if you have all that, even if you have great
But what we have to appreciate is that all of this is part     human resources, as we have in the province, if you
of a plan to rebuild, strengthen, rejuvenate and revital-      inject into the mix taxes that are way too high, taxes
ize this great province that we live in.                       that are uncompetitive with other provincial jurisdic-
    I've had the pleasure of living my entire life in Brit-    tions, if you mix those in, if you mix in one of the most
ish Columbia. I was born in Enderby in the constitu-           oppressive regulatory environments in the nation —
ency of Shuswap that I'm now proud to represent. I've          way beyond what exists in any other province in Can-
had the opportunity to travel on many occasions to             ada — surprise! B.C. may be a great place to live. B.C.
different parts of the province. What I know from that,        may have great resources, human and physical, but if
as I think every member of this House knows, are the           you mix in too much regulation, you mix in taxes that
enormous resources that we have been blessed with in           are uncompetitive — guess what. Investment doesn't
British Columbia, whether the resources are our for-           come here anymore. That was the lesson of the 1990s,
1122                                          BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                 THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2002

and the NDP government delivered that lesson in             it. There's no easy way of doing this. It's going to be
spades and by doing so took us from the number one          tough, and we're going to be doing it.
economy in Canada to the number ten economy in                   This graph shows clearly the one administration
Canada.                                                     that just wasn't going to do that was the NDP, and
    A second slide, again, particularly astonished me       we're paying the price for that today. We're getting
and obviously astonished many British Columbians.           beat up. We're having the tough days, the short nights,
As the Finance minister pointed out, over the decade of     and we're having all of that because in British Colum-
the 1990s the NDP took us from being one of the             bia, at last, there's a government that has the guts to
strongest have provinces in Canada, by the estimates of     come to grips with the compelling problems we face.
the Ministry of Finance officials, to becoming a have-           It's just in time, I think. We know we continue to
not province in the fiscal year 1999-2000. We won't         face a big deficit problem. We know it has been tough
know for another year or two hence whether we'll con-       making those expenditure reductions in my ministry
tinue to be a have-not province or not. The estimate        and a whole bunch of ministries of government. It has
from the Ministry of Finance is that for 1999-2000 we       been brutal, and it is going to continue to be tough for
will be getting an equalization payment from the fed-       some time.
eral government of about $30 million.                            Do we have to do it? Yeah, we have to do it. If we
                                                   [1710]   are going to come out in 2003, 2004, 2005 with a re-
                                                            newed economy, if we are going to balance the budget
    Now, that ain't a lot of money, but I think the fun-
                                                            in 2004-2005 and reverse this very destructive pattern
damental point is this: a province as rich as British Co-
                                                            that the NDP followed for a decade, yeah, we do have
lumbia has no business being anywhere near a have-
                                                            to make those very difficult changes. We need to close
not province in Canada. A province as rich as British
                                                            that gap. We need to balance the budget. We need to
Columbia should lead this nation. It should never trail
                                                            confer on British Columbians once again that leader-
this nation; it should lead this nation. I'm proud to be
                                                            ship, that greatness, which for many decades character-
part of a government that's going to restore British Co-
                                                            ized the province.
lumbia to that position as a leader in Canada.
                                                                                                                [1715]
    The third and final point I want to make that's bor-
                                                                 The last weeks, the last months haven't been diffi-
rowed from the Finance minister is this. He looked at
                                                            cult just for government members. This has been very,
how debt was managed in different provinces in Can-
                                                            very difficult for public servants as well. I just want to
ada over the decade, looked at how it was managed by
                                                            take a moment, if I could, Mr. Speaker, to say this. As
the federal government, and he compared that to our
                                                            we move forward, our greatest resource and in some
performance in British Columbia. If you look at the
                                                            respects — not in a political sense but in another sense
graph, you see ten salmon swimming upstream. Those
                                                            — our greatest allies have been public servants in Brit-
ten salmon are reducing their deficits and eliminating
                                                            ish Columbia. I can tell you that if I've worked hard
them, setting about to reduce their debt and in some
                                                            and my colleagues have worked hard, I know our dep-
cases actually reducing it. The one exception to the
                                                            uty ministers, assistant deputy ministers, program di-
direction in which the salmon are swimming — sur-
                                                            rectors — all of them — have put in enormous hours
prise! surprise! — is British Columbia.
                                                            over the past weeks and months as we attempt to bring
    Only in British Columbia over the decade of the         about some fundamental reforms in public policy in
1990s did we see a provincial administration that was       British Columbia.
either too incompetent or simply too unable, because of          There's a price to be paid for moving quickly, but
their inability to come to grips with the situation they    there's also going to be an enormous benefit conferred
faced, to do the right thing. That was to get their         on British Columbians by moving relatively quickly.
spending under control, to get deficits under control       We have been enormously aided in that effort by the
and to begin to reverse the very destructive piling up      very skilled and very dedicated public servants that we
of debt that continuously robs our social programs in       have to work with. I do want to thank them for the
British Columbia.                                           very considerable sacrifices that they have made in
    Every province in Canada and the Canadian gov-          recent years.
ernment itself quickly learned the lesson, which should          I want to turn for a moment to some of the areas in
have been universally known at that point, that you         which the programs of my ministry mesh with the
can't keep piling up deficit after deficit, building the    goals that are articulated in the throne speech. When
debt, seeing more and more costs for borrowing, and         the Finance minister said, "You've got to find expendi-
hope to preserve intact all of the programs that exist      ture reductions in your ministry, just as in all the min-
across government. All the rest of the administrations      istries, excluding Health, Education, Advanced Educa-
in Canada made those difficult changes.                     tion and so on. You've got to find some savings," it was
    I'm sure they had long days and sleepless nights,       a daunting task. The one thing we didn't do in my min-
just as this administration is having now, as they at-      istry, and one thing we didn't do as a government, was
tempted to come to grips with spending issues and           what the NDP administration did when they tried to
revenue issues in their provinces and in the federal        cut costs back in late 1996. For those of you who were-
government. I have no doubt about that at all. There is     n't around at the time, what the former government
no easy way of doing this. If there were, we'd be doing     did, without any kind of notification, consultation or
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2002                      BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                                             1123

discussion, was to simply advise municipalities across          drinking water, so we protected the IWP in our budg-
the province that the provincial government was uni-            ets.
laterally reducing their transfers by $113 million over-             Further, what we will see as these roll out — and
night. No consultation, no discussion.                          I'll be blunt about this; they haven't rolled out as
    The NDP provincial government simply tried to               quickly as we would like…. But we've already seen 15
offload their problems onto the backs of municipal              projects announced — $37 million in value. Those have
taxpayers. They did it right in the middle of a critical        been finalized by the joint federal-provincial-municipal
time in terms of the formation of municipal budgets.            UBCM committee that makes the awards. My ministry
They did it without any kind of consultation. Re-               makes the recommendations; they make the awards.
markably, they did it completely against the provisions              We have made, as of December 2, I believe, an ad-
of their own Local Government Grants Act, which they            ditional body of recommendations which includes 85
had only recently put into place. The Local Govern-             projects with a value of about $300 million. When those
ment Grants Act was supposed to protect against pre-            are ratified, as we hope they will be ratified by the joint
cisely that thing. It did not. In fact, in the next legisla-    committee, we will see better water systems, better
tive session the government had to come in and change           sewer systems, better social and cultural facilities in the
the Local Government Grants Act so it would make                province. We will also see economic development as-
allowance for what they had done.                               sociated with that new infrastructure as it goes in and
    We did not do that. We didn't cut local government          the infrastructure and new economic development that
grants. We didn't say: "You're going to take on our             will be permitted as a consequence of that infrastruc-
challenges. We're going to offload them onto you." We           ture being in place.
                                                                     I'm delighted that not only have we protected mu-
didn't do that. I'm proud to say that at the UBCM con-
                                                                nicipalities and regional districts across the board, we
vention last September our Premier said: "No, we're
not going to cut small community protection grants              have also protected the Infrastructure Works program.
that in some cases make up 50 percent or more of some           We believe it can be part of the kick-starting of the
of the very small municipalities' budgets in this prov-         economy that we believe is necessary and in fact will
                                                                occur in the months ahead.
ince." He didn't say we're going to cut that. He said:
"We are not going to be off-loading our problems onto                Another area of the budget, which…. I guess I
the backs of the municipalities." And we have not. Lo-          shouldn't be saying too much about this, given the Fi-
cal government and local government funding have                nance minister will be talking more about it later, but I
been entirely protected in the budgeting process. We            can tell you that we have given the highest priority to
                                                                housing for British Columbians. In particular, we have
are not in any way off-loading our problems onto mu-
nicipalities. I know they appreciate that. I've met with        given the highest priority to trying to address the hous-
UBCM, and they are very appreciative of that fact.              ing needs of the most vulnerable British Columbians.
                                                                                                                    [1725]
                                                      [1720]         One of the more dubious duties which I had to per-
    Further, while it was difficult in the context of           form over the past few months was, on the eve of Af-
budgeting, another thing we did that was extremely              fordable Housing Week, to actually put under review a
important for municipalities but also extremely impor-          number of projects which had been granted provisional
tant for the province, for the federal government and           approval by the former government. That wasn't a lot
for the economy generally was protect the provincial            of fun. What I was confronted with, prior to making
share of the $600 million in the Infrastructure Works           that very difficult decision, was the knowledge that, all
program for water and sewer, and we protected the               things being equal, I was seeing a budget line for B.C.
$200 million for non-water and sewer projects in British        Housing that was growing from $126 million in the
Columbia. Of the 800 million bucks shared by the three          current fiscal year to $172 million in '04-05. Now, that is
governments, our share was and is a very substantial            not a sustainable expenditure line for any government,
commitment, but again, in line with the Premier's               never mind a government that is desperately attempt-
commitment to the Union of B.C. Municipalities, we              ing to come to grips with revenue and expenditure
chose to protect those funds. What that will mean is            problems, as this government is.
that communities with water systems that perhaps                     What we have been doing over the past few months
aren't producing the quality of water that the residents        is — again, I give full marks to B.C. Housing and to all
deserve will be able to make application to the Infra-          of our partners for this — working tirelessly to develop
structure Works program through their regional dis-             a new, sustainable housing model that will allow us to
trict or their local municipality so that they can up-          address the needs of the most vulnerable in British
grade their water quality and shortly, hopefully, will          Columbia but to be able to do it within a sustainable
benefit enormously from those projects.                         budget line.
    Already we have seen well over 400 applications                  There's no magic to that. It means that people have
for the IWP. It would have been easy for the province           to bring more resources to the table to make it work. To
to say: "Sorry. Can't afford it any longer. We're not go-       their credit, people have been doing that. I was de-
ing to do it." But, no, we didn't because we know that          lighted that back in November — I guess it was actu-
this is a critical issue for local governments. It's critical   ally signed in December — we were able to conclude a
that every British Columbian have access to safe, clean         $90 million agreement with the federal government.
1124                                          BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2002

That will go a long way. The municipal partners have        to Surrey. RMH received no government subsidies to
stepped up to the plate; the non-profits have stepped       set up shop in Surrey. They say they are here because
up to the plate. We are in a great position now to move     we have a great investment climate. They join other
ahead with B.C. Housing.                                    successful businesses such as Teal Jones Group, S&R
    I'm amazed how quickly half an hour went. I             Sawmills, Flag Chevrolet Oldsmobile and hundreds of
apologize. I do look forward to working with all of my      other businesses in my constituency which contribute
colleagues in the House in these and other areas to         to the creation of jobs for thousands of taxpayers in
ensure that in the very near future British Columbia        Surrey.
becomes once again not only the envy of Canada but              A major factor in economic recovery is job creation,
the envy of the world.                                      and small businesses are the big job creators. The
                                                            throne speech spoke of economic renewal, of the new
    D. Hayer: On behalf of my constituents in Surrey-       era of hope and prosperity for British Columbia that
Tynehead I welcome the opportunity to rise in this          this government will usher in over the next few years.
great Legislature to respond to the Speech from the         We will not be doing this in isolation. We will be look-
Throne delivered so well by our new Lieutenant-             ing to the people of this great province to tell us what
Governor, Iona Campagnolo.                                  needs to be done. One of the first actions toward this
    Before I begin, I wish to add my personal condo-        goal has already been planned and announced in this
lences to the family of Don Ross, who served as a           throne speech. Premier Campbell will soon lead dis-
councillor for the city of Surrey in the 1970s and who      cussion with small business owners, operators and
was also mayor of Surrey from 1980 to '87 for eight         entrepreneurs to hear their advice and ideas for
years. He will be remembered for his many accom-            growth.
plishments in Surrey, including bringing a SkyTrain to          In my own riding of Surrey-Tynehead one of my
the city of Surrey.                                         greatest pleasures is responding to the many calls, e-
    The Lieutenant-Governor spoke of this govern-           mails and visits from my constituents. To help keep
ment's mandate from the people of British Columbia          them informed and to hear their concerns and advice, I
for change and of the changes necessary to build a          hold regular open houses for business people. I just
solid foundation for economic and social renewal in         held a seminar on doing business with government.
this province. She did not flinch from mentioning the       Every month, on a regular basis, I will be holding
raging storm that change brings. Change is never easy,      breakfast meetings on the Fraser Highway in the ABC
nor is it painless.                                         Restaurant to gather input from my constituents. I am
    Our central mission is to revitalize the economy.       always available to listen to their concerns and their
We have created the framework for economic renewal          input on all sides of the issues. This way I can pass on
by cutting personal income tax, reducing corporate          their concerns and their suggestions to my colleagues
income taxes and eliminating other taxes that have          in caucus, the ministers and the Premier.
discouraged growth and job creation in this province.           The throne speech highlighted the moves this gov-
A level playing field for all business has been created     ernment will take to spur more private sector invest-
through the elimination of business subsidies. We are       ment. Government can no longer afford to undertake
working hard to reduce the regulatory burden on B.C.        megaprojects based solely on the public purse. To that
businesses.                                                 end, we will explore public-private partnerships and
    We won't stop there. Next year, changes to the Em-      seek investment in transportation and highways, in
ployment Standards Act, Workers Compensation Act,           information technology, in housing, in land and re-
Company Act and Labour Code will cut red tape, im-          source development. In fact, these public-private part-
prove efficiency and provide flexibility and fairness for   nerships will result in great benefits for the constitu-
employers and employees alike. The goal is to encour-       ents of my riding of Surrey-Tynehead, as well as for the
age growth in the economy and to make British Co-           greater population of the lower mainland and the rest
lumbia more competitive, diversified and attractive to      of British Columbia.
investors. Growth and investment are key to the pros-           A good example of public-private partnerships —
perity that provides our health support services and        P3s — would be the construction of a new crossing on
educational structure.                                      the Fraser River between my riding and those of my
                                                   [1730]   colleagues from Fort Langley–Aldergrove and Maple
    Is all this effort having any effect yet? Yes, it is.   Ridge–Pitt Meadows. This new crossing would en-
There are already encouraging signs that our provincial     hance traffic flows, reduce commuter time, and speed
economy has begun to turn around. Last year B.C. had        the movement of goods and services. It will replace a
the largest increase in housing sales in the country, the   current and very costly transportation bottleneck. The
highest percentage increase in residential construction     new plan would reduce cross-river traffic on the exist-
in Canada and a faster rate of increase in retail sales     ing Port Mann Bridge, cut fuel consumption and re-
than the rest of the nation. The message in the throne      duce air pollution, which will be of great benefit to our
speech is that this good news will continue.                environment.
    Evidence of an investment climate that attracts                                                            [1735]
business to the province is welcome news. RMH Tele-             That brings me to another P3: a new highway con-
services Call Centre is bringing thousands of new jobs      nector between Highway 1 and Highway 99. This new
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2002                    BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                                          1125

route will pay for itself simply by the enormous saving      for today's commuters and the future growth of our
in travel time for commercial vehicles which need to         province.
access the southern half of the lower mainland. Joined                                                          [1740]
by the Fraser crossing, this route will improve traffic          We should take a look at the public-private part-
and ease congestion on existing residential, rural and       nerships to make these changes. P3s will be designed
commercial streets. It will create a seamless flow of        so that those who use them the most will pay the most
commercial traffic from Highway 1 in the interior of         for their construction. Someone who lives in Atlin may
the province to a major border crossing at Pacific           not wish to be burdened with taxes to build a bridge
Highway and the Peace Arch. This new route will al-          that will see a very small return other than personal
low simple and smooth access to the major commercial         transportation benefits to them, even though he or she
industrial area along the Fraser delta, as well as serving   may benefit through improved commercial transporta-
the larger industrial complex in Langley and Surrey.         tion.
     This government was given an overwhelming                   This is the beauty of P3s that was highlighted in the
mandate to do things differently, and P3s are the route      throne speech. They benefit the users, and the general
toward the positive changes that voters demanded             public throughout the province is not saddled with the
from us. I will encourage my caucus colleagues to seek       enormity of their debt. Therefore, on behalf of my con-
support for such P3s in their own ridings for the bene-      stituents of Surrey-Tynehead over the coming period, I
fit of all British Columbians.                               will be urging the government and the Minister of
     I want to touch for a moment on other transporta-       Transportation to actually consider the addition of
tion issues within my riding. As you know, the original      more lanes to the Port Mann Bridge over the Fraser
Trans-Canada Highway, now known as the Fraser                River.
Highway, carves through the centre of my constitu-               The throne speech spoke of being fiscally responsi-
ency. Many sections of this route need major upgrad-         ble and accountable. I assure you that one of the driv-
ing. I want you to know I am working diligently with         ing forces behind this government will be to make
the city of Surrey and TransLink to get some of these        good on that promise and to be held accountable. We
upgrades accomplished, particularly on the section that      were given an overwhelming mandate based on the
runs through the Fleetwood community between 152nd           principles of accountability. We intend to measure up
Street and 168th.                                            to that mandate. As a result, the independent B.C. Pro-
     Another issue is the improvement needed to the          gress Board was appointed by this government to es-
160th Street interchange on Highway 1. This is a major       tablish performance measures for progress in the econ-
traffic bottleneck at one of Surrey's busiest inter-         omy. It will issue its first report within weeks.
changes. I am working on this issue with the Minister            Another goal of this government is to make British
of Transportation in an effort to resolve it.                Columbia one of the world's top ten technological cen-
     That brings me to the topic of the Port Mann Bridge     tres within the next four years. The Premier's Technol-
and the important part it plays in the transportation        ogy Council is tackling that challenge and has already
system in our province. The Port Mann links my riding        issued its first quarterly report.
of Surrey-Tynehead to the other ridings of greater Van-          There has been a concern in my city of Surrey that
couver. It handles not only many thousands of daily          cancellation of development of Tech B.C. would nega-
commuters but virtually all east-west bound commer-          tively impact my community by denying residents the
cial traffic, which affects the delivery of goods and ser-   opportunity to obtain a technical education and a de-
vices to and from our heartland.                             gree in their home city. I met with the vice-president of
     If there is a problem on the bridge, someone in         Simon Fraser University and with others at that out-
Prince George, Fort St. John or the Yukon is going to        standing educational institution, and I have been as-
get their groceries delivered a little late. This bridge     sured that the Surrey campus of Simon Fraser Univer-
affects the lives of most people in British Columbia and     sity will be a permanent one. There are more than 2,000
well beyond our borders too. When it was built in early      Surrey residents attending Simon Fraser. When there
1960, it was a marvel of engineering and provided a          was a big concern about Tech B.C., I met with students,
huge improvement in traffic flow, but in the past 40         their parents, the faculty, the administration and many
years things have changed, and changed drastically.          other concerned constituents.
My community of Surrey has gone from basically a                 I want to point out that all of our Surrey MLAs
rural municipality whose downtown was Cloverdale to          worked very hard to keep a major university in Surrey.
become a major metropolitan city.                            We achieved that with the help of the Minister of Ad-
     Surrey is today the second-largest city in British      vanced Education and the Minister of Finance. The
Columbia. One day soon Surrey will be the largest city       government has met with Simon Fraser University and
in British Columbia. My riding of Surrey-Tynehead            arranged for expansion of the institution's technology
was created out of this huge population boom, and            facility not only to incorporate Tech B.C.'s program but
many of my constituents use the Port Mann Bridge on          to enhance it. This has been good news for Surrey, for
a daily basis. In the past few years we have seen some       the students and for my constituents. This is a win-win
improvements to traffic flow on the Port Mann with           situation for everyone.
expansion to the third eastbound lane. However, the              We recognize education as a cornerstone of our
time has come to soon add more lanes to this crossing        future. This government will focus resources on stu-
1126                                            BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                  THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2002

dents. Post-secondary institutions will now have the          We must do everything within our power to ensure it
tools to fully utilize their resources. This will enable      is sustained. I have personally met with my colleagues,
them to offer enough classes to ensure that students          the U.S. President's envoy, and I met with the workers
complete their education in a timely manner and pay           and owners of sawmills regarding the softwood dis-
less total cost over the long term.                           pute. I do have a number of sawmills and many wood-
    Those students who are most in need will be given         manufacturing plants in my own constituency.
top priority under the legislation that will replace four         Entire communities, jobs and the well-being of
existing acts and will help create an improved culture        families throughout the province depend on the for-
of employment and self-sufficiency. Safe care for chil-       estry. Its fate touches every one of us. It must be main-
dren within their own extended families will be en-           tained. I encourage our Forests minister to keep up the
sured under the new amended child protection legisla-         heat on the U.S. protectionists. I also want to encourage
tion. The rights of tenants and landlords will be pro-        him to stand firm in his efforts and to remember his
tected under a new and modern residential tenancy act,        own words: "No deal is better than a bad deal."
written in a language that can be understood easily by            Next week we are going to present the people of
everyone.                                                     British Columbia with our first full budget of this gov-
                                                     [1745]   ernment. I won't deny the fact that it will contain some
    I was also encouraged by the comments in the              tough news, but sometimes to cure an illness, you have
throne speech that more private capital will be actively      to take a little bit of bad-tasting medicine.
pursued this year to support public policy objectives in                                                          [1750]
several other areas. I was very happy to hear that these          While this budget may have some bitter pills to
will include such things as land and resource devel-          swallow, as I listen to the presentation next Tuesday, I
opment as well as health support services and facilities.     will heed the words from the throne speech that this
For us to prosper, we need to partner with the private        government is committed to balancing the budget. To
sector. They have the expertise and the motivation to         achieve that fiscal responsibility, we will have to make
ensure win-win solutions for everyone. However, the           some cuts. We will have to sell some assets, but we will
bottom line is that government must wrestle with the          remain committed to protect those most vulnerable in
revitalization of our economy. Without that, all the          society. We will remain committed to children and
good things that people want us to do can't be done.          families. We will ensure long-term improvement in
    One of the first actions undertaken by this govern-       services to women. We will put patients and students
ment was to stimulate the economy by decreasing per-          — those most in need — first.
sonal income tax to the lowest-based income tax rate in           In closing, the throne speech has promised these
Canada for those who earn less than $60,000 a year.           things to the people of British Columbia. I am certain I
That was the first step. Now, we're working to create         speak for all my colleagues as well as myself when I
comprehensive strategies that will allow government           declare that we will live up to the promises we made in
to stimulate investment and job creation in both the          the last election.
energy and mining sectors, and I am looking forward
to the next month's report on this.                               M. Hunter: It's a pleasure for me to rise and speak
    The biggest challenge we face right at this moment        again in this House and to indicate my support for the
is resolution to the softwood lumber dispute. I know          agenda and for the direction set out in the Speech from
that our Forests minister is doing everything he can to       the Throne.
come up with fair and equitable terms with the Ameri-             Every time I enter this House, I'm reminded of the
cans. I know that our hon. minister is pulling out his        enormous responsibilities that we undertake here. We
few hairs he has left on his head trying to get the           are all busy people trying to serve our constituents to
Americans to see the light on this issue.                     the best of our ability — and, of course, our province.
    The throne speech was very clear on what British              It's sometimes difficult for people to recall all of the
Columbia is doing to make our forest industry more            achievements that this government has already accom-
competitive and perhaps more agreeable to the protec-         plished in its term of office. The Speech from the
tionists to the U.S. policies that are controlled by the      Throne, in my view, is a very useful reminder of those
powerful, rich American lobby group. Unfortunately,           accomplishments. More importantly, it sets out in
our hon. minister's best efforts seem to be falling on        broad terms the task and the work that lie ahead.
deaf ears in the United States.                                   In order to understand what we must to do to reach
    I am proud to say that this government is making          the goals we have set for ourselves as government,
the effort and, as stated in the throne speech, will make     with the overwhelming support of the voters of B.C., I
a shift toward market-based stumpage. It will tackle          think it's useful to remind ourselves of some important
the complicated challenge of forest policy reform. It         economic facts. My constituents in Nanaimo are as
will streamline the Forest Practices Code to make sure        aware as anyone else in B.C. of the underperformance
that it will be result-oriented, cost-effective and worka-    that characterized the British Columbia economy for
ble on the ground.                                            the last decade of the twentieth century. We know that
    While I emphasize this, Mr. Speaker, we'll maintain       three million Albertans produced more goods and ser-
the same standard of environmental protection. The            vices than four million British Columbians, and we are
forest industry is still the backbone of our economy.         appalled by that.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2002                      BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                                            1127

     As private sector investment dried up in this prov-           At the last election, voters saw that it was time to
ince in the 1990s, and as we ventured deeper and more          end waste, to start spending within their means, to put
expensively into the failed experiments and depthless          money back in their pockets so that they could make
incompetence of the former government, the mounting            expenditure decisions that met their family needs. The
costs were saddled onto the people in my constituency          people accepted this government's underlying phi-
as well as everywhere else in this province.                   losophy to give taxpayers a greater say, to revive legis-
     My father used to tell me that money does not grow        lative committees, to listen to the public and to be held
on trees. While the meaning of that adage is certainly         accountable for our actions and decisions.
true, as we in British Columbia know all too well, one             The decision of the people of British Columbia is
might argue that in this province my father was wrong.         the basis, the foundation, of the agenda set out in this
Money did indeed grow on trees. The forest industry            throne speech. Some special interests find these fun-
provided the jobs and the tax base that afforded my            damental changes in approach very difficult. Many
generation the quality of life that we have enjoyed. The       have become so cynical about the political process that
forest industry was, of course, not alone. Mining, fish-       they cannot accept that we on this side of the House
ing, construction and tourism, amongst many others,            mean what we say and say what we mean.
laid the base for the economic success story that was              I was cynical too. That's why I ran for the privilege
British Columbia.                                              of being in this place and doing my part to rebuild
     My community is hurting because of the termination        trust in public institutions in British Columbia. I was
by the last government of the promise and profit that the      cynical about how my tax dollars — my public bank
resource industries brought to us. Just as we entered the      account, if you will — had turned into a huge political
second industrial revolution — a revolution which has          football. Was the budget balanced? Was it in deficit?
brought excitement, investment and new wealth else-            How much was being accounted for off the books?
where in Canada — the last government closed the door          Thankfully, all that has come to an end.
on the new entrepreneurs as well as on the old.                    It was an independent group, the fiscal review
     Now we see in the Speech from the Throne a reaf-          panel, that last July finally exposed the truth about
firmation of this government's determination to end the        B.C.'s finances and underlined the changes that needed
policies and philosophy that created the economic and          to be made. Every person in this province should keep
social failures of the 1990s. I'll quote my father again,      that report on their bedside table or in their bathroom,
because he's a man who played — and I'm glad to say            or wherever it is they read, as a constant reminder that
still plays — a part in my life, whose depth and breadth I     no matter how much we try to avoid change, no matter
appreciate more and more as the years go by. He always         how much we regret leaving the apparent comforts of
warned me, as a youth, against the popular attitude that       yesterday behind, we have no choice but to change.
emerged in Great Britain after the Second World War —              The conclusions of that independent report bear
an attitude that was enhanced and affirmed by the so-          repeating. Without changing our government spending
cialist Labour government under Clement Attlee: if             habits, we were headed for a structural deficit of some
things went wrong, the government would fix them. For          $3.8 billion by 2003-04. That is just 13 months from
years Britain was guided by this notion, and eventually        now. I can say that I did not seek election to carry on
Britain became known as the sick man of Europe.                the spending habits of the past, the habits that doubled
     As an immigrant to Canada in the late 1960s, I felt       the public debt of this province in ten years, the habits
liberated in a province and a country where people de-         that led to the kinds of decisions whose results are still
pended on themselves, their friends and family, not the        visible every day in Departure Bay and Nanaimo.
government, for support when it was needed. Somehow,               I drive by them twice a day at least. In case anyone
somewhere along the way we caught the English disease          has forgotten, those results are called the Pacificats, the
in B.C. Unfortunately, long after the disease was cured in     fast ferries, arguably the single largest travesty ever
Britain, British Columbia is still suffering from it.          visited upon the people of this province. Long after
                                                      [1755]   those boats have gone, we will need to remember what
     The patient must now take the cure, hard though           happened and make sure that this kind of breach of
that may be. It is with pride that I stand here on the         trust never happens again.
government side of this House, ready to participate in             Mr. Speaker, I am mindful of the hour, and I would
and help forge and guide the significant changes we            now move adjournment of debate.
must undertake to cure our economic ills.
     Those ills present a clear and present danger to our          M. Hunter moved adjournment of debate.
economic well-being and to the future of our children
and grandchildren — indeed, to our very way of life.
                                                                   Motion approved.
Those ills threaten to destroy in British Columbia the
fabric of the social conscience that is at the heart of Ca-
nadian society and is what makes our society a civil               Hon. G. Collins moved adjournment of the House.
one — that is, the desire to help our fellow citizens
when they are in need. Continuing the status quo en-               Motion approved.
sures that this help and those services will simply
erode and disappear.                                               The House adjourned at 5:59 p.m.

				
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