Hansard — Monday_ February 26_ 2007 p.m. — Vol. 14_ No. 13 _PDF_

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Hansard — Monday_ February 26_ 2007 p.m. — Vol. 14_ No. 13 _PDF_ Powered By Docstoc
					  Third Session, 38th Parliament




        OFFICIAL REPORT OF


    DEBATES OF THE
LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY
           (HANSARD)




       Monday, February 26, 2007
           Afternoon Sitting
        Volume 14, Number 13




THE HONOURABLE BILL BARISOFF, SPEAKER



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

                                                           LIEUTENANT-GOVERNOR
                                             Her Honour the Honourable Iona V. Campagnolo, CM, OBC

                                                                      THIRD SESSION, 38TH PARLIAMENT

                                                           SPEAKER OF THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY
                                                                   Honourable Bill Barisoff

                                                                                 EXECUTIVE COUNCIL
Premier and President of the Executive Council ............................................................................................................ Hon. Gordon Campbell
Minister of State for Intergovernmental Relations .......................................................................................................... Hon. John van Dongen
Deputy Premier and Minister of Education and Minister Responsible for Early Learning and Literacy...................... Hon. Shirley Bond
Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation ........................................................................................................ Hon. Michael de Jong
Minister of Advanced Education and Minister Responsible for Research and Technology ........................................... Hon. Murray Coell
Minister of Agriculture and Lands.......................................................................................................................................................Hon. Pat Bell
Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Multiculturalism ............................................................................... Hon. Wally Oppal, QC
Minister of Children and Family Development ................................................................................................................Hon. Tom Christensen
Minister of State for Childcare ........................................................................................................................................................Hon. Linda Reid
Minister of Community Services and Minister Responsible for Seniors’ and Women’s Issues........................................... Hon. Ida Chong
Minister of Economic Development and Minister Responsible for the Asia-Pacific Initiative and the Olympics .................Hon. Colin Hansen
Minister of Employment and Income Assistance ...........................................................................................................Hon. Claude Richmond
Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources .......................................................................................................Hon. Richard Neufeld
Minister of State for Mining...................................................................................................................................................... Hon. Kevin Krueger
Minister of Environment and Minister Responsible for Water Stewardship and Sustainable Communities ...............Hon. Barry Penner
Minister of Finance.......................................................................................................................................................................Hon. Carole Taylor
Minister of Forests and Range and Minister Responsible for Housing ............................................................................. Hon. Rich Coleman
Minister of Health ......................................................................................................................................................................Hon. George Abbott
Minister of Labour and Citizens’ Services ......................................................................................................................................Hon. Olga Ilich
Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General................................................................................................................................ Hon. John Les
Minister of Small Business and Revenue and Minister Responsible for Regulatory Reform............................................ Hon. Rick Thorpe
Minister of Tourism, Sport and the Arts ......................................................................................................................................Hon. Stan Hagen
Minister of State for ActNow B.C. ............................................................................................................................................ Hon. Gordon Hogg
Minister of Transportation...........................................................................................................................................................Hon. Kevin Falcon


                                                                              LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY
Leader of the Official Opposition .........................................................................................................................................................Carole James
Deputy Speaker ....................................................................................................................................................................................Sindi Hawkins
Assistant Deputy Speaker..................................................................................................................................................................... Sue Hammell
Deputy Chair, Committee of the Whole................................................................................................................................................. Harry Bloy
Clerk of the Legislative Assembly .........................................................................................................................E. George MacMinn, OBC, QC
Clerk Assistant.........................................................................................................................................................................................Robert Vaive
Clerk Assistant and Law Clerk .......................................................................................................................................................Ian D. Izard, QC
Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Committees ....................................................................................................................................... Craig H. James
Clerk Assistant and Committee Clerk ..........................................................................................................................................Kate Ryan-Lloyd
Sergeant-at-Arms............................................................................................................................................................................. A.A. Humphreys
Director, Hansard Services ...................................................................................................................................................................Jo-Anne Kern
Legislative Librarian ..................................................................................................................................................................................Jane Taylor
Legislative Comptroller...............................................................................................................................................................................Dan Arbic
                ALPHABETICAL LIST OF MEMBERS                                                                                        LIST OF MEMBERS BY RIDING
Abbott, Hon. George (L) .................................................................... Shuswap          Abbotsford-Clayburn....................................................Hon. John van Dongen
Austin, Robin (NDP)............................................................................. Skeena       Abbotsford–Mount Lehman .......................................... Hon. Michael de Jong
Bains, Harry (NDP).................................................................. Surrey-Newton            Alberni-Qualicum.......................................................................... Scott Fraser
Barisoff, Hon. Bill (L)..........................................Penticton–Okanagan Valley                    Bulkley Valley–Stikine ...........................................................Dennis MacKay
Bell, Hon. Pat (L) .............................................................Prince George North           Burnaby North ...........................................................................Richard T. Lee
Bennett, Bill (L) ........................................................................ East Kootenay      Burnaby-Edmonds........................................................................Raj Chouhan
Black, Iain (L) ............................................................ Port Moody–Westwood              Burnaby-Willingdon................................................................... John Nuraney
Bloy, Harry (L)................................................................................Burquitlam     Burquitlam .......................................................................................Harry Bloy
Bond, Hon. Shirley (L).....................................Prince George–Mount Robson                         Cariboo North .............................................................................. Bob Simpson
Brar, Jagrup (NDP).....................................................Surrey–Panorama Ridge                  Cariboo South ..............................................................................Charlie Wyse
Campbell, Hon. Gordon (L) .........................................Vancouver–Point Grey                       Chilliwack-Kent ..................................................................Hon. Barry Penner
Cantelon, Ron (L)..............................................................Nanaimo-Parksville             Chilliwack-Sumas...................................................................... Hon. John Les
Chong, Hon. Ida (L) .................................................... Oak Bay–Gordon Head                  Columbia River–Revelstoke................................................. Norm Macdonald
Chouhan, Raj (NDP) ...........................................................Burnaby-Edmonds                 Comox Valley........................................................................ Hon. Stan Hagen
Christensen, Hon. Tom (L) ................................................. Okanagan-Vernon                   Coquitlam-Maillardville ..............................................................Diane Thorne
Chudnovsky, David (NDP) ......................................... Vancouver-Kensington                        Cowichan-Ladysmith ................................................................. Doug Routley
Coell, Hon. Murray (L) .....................................Saanich North and the Islands                     Delta North ................................................................................... Guy Gentner
Coleman, Hon. Rich (L) ...........................................Fort Langley–Aldergrove                     Delta South ............................................................................. Valerie Roddick
Conroy, Katrine (NDP) .......................................... West Kootenay–Boundary                       East Kootenay................................................................................ Bill Bennett
Coons, Gary (NDP) ....................................................................... North Coast         Esquimalt-Metchosin.........................................................Maurine Karagianis
Cubberley, David (NDP)............................................................Saanich South               Fort Langley–Aldergrove ..................................................Hon. Rich Coleman
de Jong, Hon. Michael (L) ...................................Abbotsford–Mount Lehman                          Kamloops.....................................................................Hon. Claude Richmond
Dix, Adrian (NDP) .........................................................Vancouver-Kingsway                 Kamloops–North Thompson ............................................Hon. Kevin Krueger
Evans, Corky (NDP).................................................................Nelson-Creston             Kelowna–Lake Country.................................................................. Al Horning
Falcon, Hon. Kevin (L) ....................................................... Surrey-Cloverdale              Kelowna-Mission ...................................................................... Sindi Hawkins
Farnworth, Mike (NDP) ...............................Port Coquitlam–Burke Mountain                            Langley ........................................................................................... Mary Polak
Fleming, Rob (NDP) ..............................................................Victoria-Hillside            Malahat–Juan de Fuca .................................................................. John Horgan
Fraser, Scott (NDP) ..............................................................Alberni-Qualicum            Maple Ridge–Mission ................................................................ Randy Hawes
Gentner, Guy (NDP).......................................................................Delta North          Maple Ridge–Pitt Meadows ..................................................... Michael Sather
Hagen, Hon. Stan (L) ................................................................ Comox Valley            Nanaimo...................................................................................... Leonard Krog
Hammell, Sue (NDP) ................................................... Surrey–Green Timbers                   Nanaimo-Parksville .....................................................................Ron Cantelon
Hansen, Hon. Colin (L) ..................................................Vancouver-Quilchena                  Nelson-Creston ............................................................................. Corky Evans
Hawes, Randy (L).......................................................... Maple Ridge–Mission                New Westminster .................................................................. Chuck Puchmayr
Hawkins, Sindi (L) ............................................................... Kelowna-Mission            North Coast.................................................................................... Gary Coons
Hayer, Dave S. (L) ................................................................ Surrey-Tynehead           North Island ...............................................................................Claire Trevena
Hogg, Hon. Gordon (L)..................................................... Surrey–White Rock                  North Vancouver–Lonsdale................................................Katherine Whittred
Horgan, John (NDP)......................................................Malahat–Juan de Fuca                  North Vancouver–Seymour..........................................................Daniel Jarvis
Horning, Al (L)........................................................... Kelowna–Lake Country               Oak Bay–Gordon Head ........................................................... Hon. Ida Chong
Ilich, Hon. Olga (L)...............................................................Richmond Centre            Okanagan-Vernon......................................................... Hon. Tom Christensen
James, Carole (NDP).......................................................Victoria–Beacon Hill                Okanagan-Westside..............................................................Hon. Rick Thorpe
Jarvis, Daniel (L).................................................. North Vancouver–Seymour                  Peace River North.......................................................... Hon. Richard Neufeld
Karagianis, Maurine (NDP) ........................................... Esquimalt-Metchosin                     Peace River South..................................................................... Blair Lekstrom
Krog, Leonard (NDP)......................................................................... Nanaimo          Penticton–Okanagan Valley .................................................Hon. Bill Barisoff
Krueger, Hon. Kevin (L) .....................................Kamloops–North Thompson                          Port Coquitlam–Burke Mountain ............................................Mike Farnworth
Kwan, Jenny Wai Ching (NDP)........................... Vancouver–Mount Pleasant                               Port Moody–Westwood.................................................................... Iain Black
Lali, Harry (NDP)........................................................................ Yale-Lillooet       Powell River–Sunshine Coast ............................................... Nicholas Simons
Lee, Richard T. (L)....................................................................Burnaby North          Prince George North.................................................................... Hon. Pat Bell
Lekstrom, Blair (L).............................................................. Peace River South           Prince George–Mount Robson ............................................Hon. Shirley Bond
Les, Hon. John (L)............................................................... Chilliwack-Sumas            Prince George–Omineca................................................................ John Rustad
Macdonald, Norm (NDP).................................... Columbia River–Revelstoke                           Richmond Centre......................................................................Hon. Olga Ilich
MacKay, Dennis (L).................................................... Bulkley Valley–Stikine                 Richmond East........................................................................Hon. Linda Reid
Mayencourt, Lorne (L) .......................................................Vancouver-Burrard                Richmond-Steveston...........................................................................John Yap
McIntyre, Joan (L).................................................West Vancouver–Garibaldi                   Saanich North and the Islands ............................................ Hon. Murray Coell
Neufeld, Hon. Richard (L) .................................................. Peace River North                Saanich South ........................................................................ David Cubberley
Nuraney, John (L).............................................................Burnaby-Willingdon              Shuswap............................................................................Hon. George Abbott
Oppal, Hon. Wally, QC (L).......................................... Vancouver-Fraserview                      Skeena.......................................................................................... Robin Austin
Penner, Hon. Barry (L)........................................................... Chilliwack-Kent             Surrey-Cloverdale............................................................... Hon. Kevin Falcon
Polak, Mary (L) ....................................................................................Langley   Surrey–Green Timbers ................................................................Sue Hammell
Puchmayr, Chuck (NDP)...................................................... New Westminster                   Surrey-Newton............................................................................... Harry Bains
Ralston, Bruce (NDP) ............................................................. Surrey-Whalley             Surrey–Panorama Ridge................................................................. Jagrup Brar
Reid, Hon. Linda (L) ................................................................ Richmond East           Surrey-Tynehead ....................................................................... Dave S. Hayer
Richmond, Hon. Claude (L)............................................................. Kamloops               Surrey-Whalley........................................................................... Bruce Ralston
Robertson, Gregor (NDP) ................................................Vancouver-Fairview                    Surrey–White Rock ............................................................Hon. Gordon Hogg
Roddick, Valerie (L).......................................................................Delta South        Vancouver-Burrard..............................................................Lorne Mayencourt
Routley, Doug (NDP)..................................................... Cowichan-Ladysmith                   Vancouver-Fairview .............................................................Gregor Robertson
Rustad, John (L) ........................................................ Prince George–Omineca               Vancouver-Fraserview .................................................Hon. Wally Oppal, QC
Sather, Michael (NDP) .........................................Maple Ridge–Pitt Meadows                       Vancouver-Hastings .................................................................Shane Simpson
Simons, Nicholas (NDP) ................................... Powell River–Sunshine Coast                        Vancouver-Kensington.......................................................David Chudnovsky
Simpson, Bob (NDP)..................................................................Cariboo North             Vancouver-Kingsway ......................................................................Adrian Dix
Simpson, Shane (NDP) .................................................... Vancouver-Hastings                  Vancouver-Langara ........................................................... Hon. Carole Taylor
Sultan, Ralph (L) ....................................................West Vancouver–Capilano                 Vancouver–Mount Pleasant........................................ Jenny Wai Ching Kwan
Taylor, Hon. Carole (L).....................................................Vancouver-Langara                 Vancouver–Point Grey ................................................ Hon. Gordon Campbell
Thorne, Diane (NDP) .................................................Coquitlam-Maillardville                  Vancouver-Quilchena.........................................................Hon. Colin Hansen
Thorpe, Hon. Rick (L).......................................................Okanagan-Westside                 Victoria–Beacon Hill................................................................... Carole James
Trevena, Claire (NDP) ..................................................................North Island          Victoria-Hillside ...........................................................................Rob Fleming
van Dongen, Hon. John (L)............................................ Abbotsford-Clayburn                     West Kootenay–Boundary........................................................Katrine Conroy
Whittred, Katherine (L)........................................ North Vancouver–Lonsdale                      West Vancouver–Capilano........................................................... Ralph Sultan
Wyse, Charlie (NDP) .................................................................Cariboo South            West Vancouver–Garibaldi ........................................................Joan McIntyre
Yap, John (L)................................................................... Richmond-Steveston           Yale-Lillooet..................................................................................... Harry Lali


                                                                                 Party Standings: Liberal 46; New Democratic 33
                                                                                      CONTENTS

                                                                          Monday, February 26, 2007
                                                                             Afternoon Sitting

                                                                               Routine Proceedings

                                                                                                                                                                                          Page

Introductions by Members ..................................................................................................................................................... 5527

Statements (Standing Order 25B) ........................................................................................................................................... 5527
       Canada line construction on Cambie Street
          G. Robertson
       Mining industry in B.C
          D. MacKay
          J. Horgan
       Project Agriculture
          J. Rustad
       Carey Price
          C. Wyse
       North Shore Festival of Volunteers
          K. Whittred

Oral Questions.......................................................................................................................................................................... 5529
       Frank Paul public inquiry
          C. James
          Hon. J. Les
          M. Farnworth
       Federal funding for mountain pine beetle infestation
          C. Wyse
          Hon. R. Coleman
          B. Simpson
       Budget for housing strategy
          D. Thorne
          Hon. R. Coleman
       Funding for Vancouver social housing
          G. Robertson
          Hon. R. Coleman
          J. Kwan
       Contracts for expansion of Vancouver Convention Centre
          H. Bains
          Hon. G. Campbell
          Hon. S. Hagen
          B. Ralston

Petitions..................................................................................................................................................................................... 5534
       G. Coons

Motions on Notice.................................................................................................................................................................... 5534
       Legislative sitting hours (Motion 40) (continued)
         C. James
         Hon. M. de Jong

Budget Debate (continued)....................................................................................................................................................... 5537
       J. McIntyre
       H. Bains
       R. Sultan
       C. Puchmayr
       Hon. R. Coleman
       D. Thorne
       I. Black
                                                                                                                      5527

                        MONDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2007             Vancouver-Burrard. There are 120 students that have
                                                              joined us today from my high school, King George high
   The House met at 2:02 p.m.                                 school, which is just great. It's one of the best high schools
                                                              in all of British Columbia. They are joined here today by
   [Mr. Speaker in the chair.]                                their teachers Mr. Bachar, Mr. Wilmann, Mr. Zloman,
                                                              Mr. Coomes, Mr. Howe, Ms. Whyte and Ms. Pagden.
              Introductions by Members                        Would the House please give them a real welcome.

    C. Wyse: It is indeed my pleasure today to introduce          Hon. R. Thorpe: Joining us today are a number of
to the House a former student of mine from secondary          distinguished representatives of the British Columbia
school, a longtime friend of mine on city council. I would    professional accounting profession. From the Institute
ask the House to make Mayor Scott Nelson welcome.             of Chartered Accountants of British Columbia, Richard
                                                              Rees, Doug Murphy, Kerri Brkich; from the Certified
    Hon. M. de Jong: I am thrilled today that my              Management Accountants of British Columbia, Colin
brother Rick de Jong and his wife Tracy are visiting from     Bennett and Fred Zdan; and from the Certified General
Westbank, where they live with their two children.            Accountants Association of British Columbia, Gordon
They're here attending, amongst other things, a conference    Clissold and Edward Downing.
in town at the Victoria convention centre. I hope the House       These three professional organizations have been
will make Rick de Jong and Tracy de Jong very welcome         instrumental in the evolution of the taxpayer fairness
here in the chamber.                                          and service code, and I am pleased to have them
                                                              join me here today to launch the third edition of the
    R. Austin: It's my pleasure to introduce four people      Taxpayer Fairness and Service Code. Would the House
visiting the House today. The first two are Rhoda             please thank them and make them welcome.
Quock and Eileen Doody. They are members of the
Iskut First Nation band. They are accompanied today               Hon. J. van Dongen: It's my pleasure to introduce to
by Amy Crook from the Center for Science in Public            the House today two visiting delegations. The delegation
Participation and by Carrie Slanina, a volunteer with         from Belgium includes the Hon. Marc Verwilghen,
the Klabona Keepers Society. Would the House please           Minister of Economy, Energy, Foreign Trade and Science
make them welcome.                                            Policy; His Excellency Jean Lint, the Ambassador of
                                                              Belgium; and about 20 businesspeople.
    Hon. K. Krueger: Today, as I'm sure everyone                  From Finland we have His Excellency Pasi Patokallio,
knows, is Mining Day at the Legislature, and we're            the Ambassador of Finland to Canada, accompanied by
delighted to host dozens of people involved with the          his wife Raija Patokallio. I'd like the House to make
mining industry in British Columbia.                          them all very welcome.
    I'd like to introduce all of them, but some for sure
we should introduce to you: Michael McPhee, the                                      Statements
president and CEO of the Mining Association of B.C.;                            (Standing Order 25B)
Chief Richard LeBourdais of the Whispering Pines–
Clinton Indian Band in my constituency.                                  CANADA LINE CONSTRUCTION
    Scott Nelson, the mayor of Williams Lake, has been                       ON CAMBIE STREET
mentioned. Jack Talstra, the mayor of Terrace; Jackie
Tegart of the village of Ashcroft; James Baker, the               G. Robertson: I rise to recognize my Vancouver-
mayor of the district of Lake Country; Russ Hallbauer         Fairview constituents who are currently enduring
of Taseko Mines; Wendy McDonald and her daughter              many challenges because of the construction of the
Penny Omnès of B.C. Bearing Engineers, a 60-year-old          Canada line. Reduced traffic lanes, limited access to
company in British Columbia that has operations in            bus stops, car commuters on residential streets, the
60 countries, all of which started from here; David           inability to cross streets for blocks on end to visit shops
Caulfield, the past chair of AME B.C. and the chair of        or access services, and major noise disturbances are
Rimfire Minerals; Donald McInnes of Western Keltic            only some of the problems for those who live and work
Mines; Dave Parker, Teck Cominco; 'Lyn Anglin of              in the Cambie area.
Geoscience B.C. ; Mayor Ella Brown and Don Brown of               Vancouver-Fairview residents are forgoing their
the district of Logan Lake; Paul Krivokuca, chair of          enjoyment of a modicum of peace and quiet in their
mine managers; Richard Prokopanko of Alcan; Allen             homes. Whether travelling by foot, car, bike or bus,
Wright of the Coal Association of Canada; Barb Walker         they are met with delays and detours. It is a tribute to
and Leanne Brunt of First Dollar Alliance.                    the strength of this community to be able to withstand
    I hope the House will join me in giving our friends       these impacts, sacrificing extra hours to get to their
a very warm welcome.                                          jobs, to get their kids to school and to go to the laundromat
                                                  [1405]      or the grocery store.
                                                                  Small businesses along Cambie Street are bearing
   L. Mayencourt: It gives me great pleasure to intro-        the brunt financially, despite efforts to promote shopping
duce some students that we have visiting us from              along the line. Accessing local businesses is even
5528                                             BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                   MONDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2007

difficult for neighbours. Real questions must be asked         party had an interesting question-and-answer session
about what's fair for these businesses, as their ability       today with many representatives from the sector. It was
to succeed has been compromised by cut-and-cover               a pleasure to do that, as it was a pleasure to participate
construction.                                                  today in a debate with respect to the importance of
    Investment in rapid transit is important. The climate      mining not just now but into the future.
crisis we are facing means we must get people out of               As we look to an economy with our timber industry
cars. But the sacrifices and challenges to make this           on the coast in question and with the beetle-kill having
happen along Cambie Street are being disproportionately        a significant impact in the interior, never before has
borne by the dozens of small businesses and thousands          mining been so important to the economy of British
of residents in the area.                                      Columbia. I'm very proud to be the critic for that
    I believe this warrants recognition and further            sector standing here today speaking on behalf of the
debate in this House. Meanwhile I encourage everyone           industry.
to support the great shops and restaurants along Cambie            As you know, British Columbia is one of the richest
Street whenever possible.                                      mineral areas in the world, whether it be up Highway
                                                   [1410]      37 into the Galore Creek project or whether it be in the
                                                               southeast with respect to coal — and my friend from
              MINING INDUSTRY IN B.C.                          Tumbler Ridge as well.
                                                                   It's a great industry. It's been the backbone of our
     D. MacKay: This is Mining Week, and it's my               province in the past. It will be the backbone of our
pleasure to tell the B.C. mining story.                        province in the future, and I ask all members of this
     The B.C. mining story in 2007 is a story of success       House to support the mining sector today, tomorrow
and rejuvenation. After a near-death experience in the         and into the future.
1990s, mining is once again a cornerstone of the B.C.
economy. Exploration investment is at a record high.                          PROJECT AGRICULTURE
Claims registrations are up by 500 percent. Our geological
database is the best in the world. Our Mineral Titles              J. Rustad: Each year school district 91, Nechako Lake,
Online is the best in the world.                               hosts an exciting event designed to provide students
     Our tax and regulatory regime just got even better        with an important experience in a sector of our economy
with the 2007 budget. B.C. now has 25 of the 52 major          which is truly the lifeblood of all of us.
mining projects in all of Canada. Perhaps most noticeable          Project Agriculture started at least 14 years ago
of all, B.C. is out-competing the rest of Canada for           and is designed to introduce students to a wide
exploration investment, going from 6 percent of Canadian       variety of employment opportunities within the industry.
exploration investment in 2001 to 16 percent last year.        It's been so successful that other areas around the
     But the real B.C. mining story is not about statistics.   province are looking at it and following similar pro-
It's about people, like the two native bands on Vancouver      gram models.
Island near Port McNeill who are joint-venturing with              Students spend a week participating in a variety of
Polaris Minerals to build and operate a large aggregate        hands-on sessions to explore the many facets of the
mine and ship the aggregate to San Francisco. There is         agriculture industry — everything from high-tech
more hope for the future of those aboriginal communities.      analysis to milking cows. The students have a full week
     The B.C. mining story is about the Tahltan people         both in the classroom and in the field. The students also
from Iskut, Dease Lake and Telegraph Creek who are             learn about the history and changes to the agriculture
working with NovaGold to develop one of North Amer-            industry and get a chance to try many hands-on
ica's most promising copper mines in northwestern B.C.         components, from plowing fields behind a team of
     The real B.C. mining story is about a young woman         horses to using the most modern equipment.
from Chetwynd who was down on her luck and                         This project happened because the farmers and
needed a better job to support her family. She found           ranchers in the Vanderhoof area understand that
out about opportunities in mining from our Mining              there's sometimes a disconnect between consumers and
Rocks road show and took some training. You can go             where the food comes from. They also understand that
to the office of the member for East Kootenay in the           in order for the industry to thrive, they need young,
east annex — you can't miss it; it's shaped like a             energetic individuals to enter into the business. In
doghouse — and you will see a framed photo of this             the classic style of northerners, they recognized these
young woman driving one of those big 240-tonne coal            issues and brought forward a homegrown solution.
trucks. She has a smile on her face as wide as the truck           Please join me in thanking the Nechako Valley
itself.                                                        Regional Cattlemen's Association — and in particular
     It is these real people who benefit from mining,          Alan and Richard Martens for opening up their ranch for
who have pride in their work and hope for their futures,       the many activities — and also school district 91 staff for
that compose the real B.C. mining story.                       making the project such a success year after year.
                                                                   I'd also like to thank the many volunteers from the
   J. Horgan: It's a pleasure to be in this House today        community that make it such a great project. As the
and speak on behalf of mining and the mining sector            member for Delta South says: "We all have to eat to live."
here in British Columbia. The members of the opposition                                                            [1415]
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2007                     BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                                              5529

                    CAREY PRICE                             an explosive presentation at which they actually blew
                                                            up hydrogen to create energy. My personal favourite was
    C. Wyse: I rise today to recognize one of my            the North Shore Black Bear Society with their interactive
constituents whose name will undoubtedly be familiar        puppet show on being bear smart.
to most fans of Canada's favourite winter sport,                I would like to give a special thanks to Barb MacLellan
hockey. This young man from Anahim Lake, on the             and Lee Faurot of Volunteer North Shore for their hard
western edge of Cariboo South, has earned recognition       work in making this happen. I look forward to doing it
for himself and brought honour to his community.            again next year and encourage all members of this
    Carey Price grew up playing hockey on the outdoor       House to get involved with the volunteer sector in your
community rink with the other children in Anahim            community.
Lake. When he was old enough to join a minor hockey
league, Carey and his father travelled to Williams Lake,                          Oral Questions
a round-trip distance of almost eight hours on winter
roads. As you can imagine, these weekly trips were                       FRANK PAUL PUBLIC INQUIRY
quite tiring, so Carey's father Jerry took flying lessons
and bought a small plane for the trips to Williams Lake         C. James: Last week, after years of saying no to a
and back. Eventually, the entire family rented an           public inquiry into the death of Frank Paul, the Solicitor
apartment in Williams Lake, returning to the family         General had a change of heart. This is a very serious
home in Anahim Lake whenever time permitted.                issue, and British Columbians want assurances that all
    Carey's mother, Lynda Price, is the Chief of the        aspects will be investigated.
Ulkatcho First Nation Band in Anahim Lake. As is                My question to the Solicitor General is very simple.
often the case, this entire community has supported         Will he ensure that the role of his predecessor the
Carey and is proud of his accomplishments, and Carey        member from Langley-Aldergrove, in delaying this
has accomplished much to make his family and his            inquiry, is included in the terms of reference?
community proud.                                                                                               [1420]
    This past January Carey played in goal for Team
Canada in the World Junior Hockey Championships in              Hon. J. Les: As all members of the House will be
Sweden. When Canada won the gold medal, Carey               aware, this tragedy occurred in December of 1998. It
gave full credit to the entire team, but spectators who     has been an issue of concern for quite some time. It has
watched the exciting series also recognized Carey's         been reviewed by numerous people in those intervening
contribution to that win. Indeed, Carey was named the       years. More recently, concerns have been expressed that
tournament's most valuable player, and he was also          not all of the issues have been addressed appropriately.
named as goalie for the all-star team.                      We are committed to making sure that this issue is
    Today, Mr. Speaker, I ask the House to join with        completely and thoroughly investigated and examined. We
me in recognizing Carey, his family and his entire          want to get at the facts to the satisfaction of all concerned.
community. Later this spring CTV's W-Five will feature
Carey and his journey from a small and proud community         Mr. Speaker: The Leader of the Opposition has a
on the edge of the Cariboo Plateau to the world stage of    supplemental?
hockey.
                                                                 C. James: I do. In 2001 the member from Langley-
    NORTH SHORE FESTIVAL OF VOLUNTEERS                      Aldergrove as Solicitor General rejected a request to
                                                            hold a coroner's inquest. In 2004 the same member
    K. Whittred: Finding time to give back to your          rejected the Police Complaint Commissioner's request
community is part of what makes a strong community          to hold a public inquiry. He argued that such investigations
even stronger. That's why I was so pleased to be part of    would not serve the public interest, only fuel racial
the organizing committee for the North Shore Festival       tensions.
of Volunteers this past weekend. It took place at Park           So my question again: if the Solicitor General, as he
Royal shopping centre. It was the first-ever North          says, wants the public to know everything that has
Shore–wide volunteer festival and was a resounding          gone on, will he ensure that the inaction of this cabinet
success.                                                    is investigated as part of this inquiry?
    Over 50 North Shore organizations participated —
the maximum Park Royal could hold. These ranged                 Hon. J. Les: As I've said, this case has been outstanding
from the North Shore Volunteers for Seniors to Youth        for quite a number of years. In that period of time there
Friendly North Shore to CASARA, Civil Air Search and        have been police investigations. There have been
Rescue, to the North Shore Chorus. There was truly          coroner's investigations. There has been a review by
something for everyone.                                     the Police Complaint Commissioner. There have been
    The youth participation was tremendous. One             two reviews, I believe, by Crown counsel. Indeed, it
group of youth spearheaded by a young man from              was reviewed as recently as three years ago by my
West Van, Johannes Rebane, created a youth volunteer        predecessor. In all of those cases, I think those decisions
website with a comprehensive database for youth volun-      were made based on the evidence and the information
teering. Check it out at www.yvl.ca. Youth Hydrogen had     available at that time.
5530                                               BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                    MONDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2007

    More recently, people have suggested that there is                M. Farnworth: These are not assertions. In fact, if
perhaps other information out there, which ought to be            the Solicitor General were to review the 2004 complaint
more thoroughly considered. That will be done. Our                commissioner's report by Mr. Dirk Ryneveld, he would
objective is, as I've said before, to simply get at the facts     read: "I've also requested them to identify all guards and
and get at all of the facts so that it can be properly            officers depicted in the video who have not previously
addressed.                                                        been identified or interviewed."
                                                                      There has been no new information since then. That
    Mr. Speaker: The Leader of the Opposition has a               is the information that was brought forward — the fact
further supplemental.                                             that guards had not been interviewed. This government
                                                                  knew that, and they did nothing.
     C. James: That's why I'm asking this question of the             So my question, again to the Solicitor General, is….
Solicitor General. It's so the public can get all of the facts.   For three years nothing happened, and in the space of
     In 2004 the Police Complaint Commissioner said that          24 hours the government changed its mind. Will this
a public inquiry could lead to province and countrywide           commission of inquiry look into why that delay took
benefits — 2004. The then Solicitor General refused to            place and what role the former Solicitor General played
acknowledge such benefits and actually refused to                 in that inquiry not going ahead?
listen to the family, who wanted an inquiry.
     Again to the Solicitor General: after years of pressure,         Hon. J. Les: Again, I would simply say that the
Frank Paul's family may finally get answers about the             inquiry will be broad and far-ranging, and it will
night he died. But will they also get the answers they need       include all of the relevant issues that need to be
about why it took so long for this government to act?             addressed. It will be independent from government,
                                                                  and I suspect that a lot of people will draw a lot of
    Hon. J. Les: Our objective here is to make sure that          comfort from the fact that we're actually making available
at the end of the day, when this process is complete, we          this opportunity to air these issues in that kind of forum.
have all of the facts addressed appropriately. I think it's           This is not that forum. This is not the public inquiry.
surprising that the member opposite would suggest                 I would suggest to the member opposite that we allow
that others who have made decisions with respect to               that process to proceed and that we all draw our
this issue would not have done so in good faith. As I             conclusions after the inquiry is concluded.
enumerated just a few minutes ago, numerous people
have reviewed this file in many different ways and                           FEDERAL FUNDING FOR
from many different perspectives, and have all essentially              MOUNTAIN PINE BEETLE INFESTATION
come to the same conclusion.
    But because there appeared to be issues that remain              C. Wyse: To the Minister of Forests and Range:
outstanding in the opinion of some, we are making                 where is the billion dollars that Prime Minister Stephen
available an independent process, under the guidance              Harper promised the province would receive for the
of an independent inquiry, to make sure beyond any                mountain pine beetle epidemic?
shadow of reasonable doubt that those issues have all
been addressed.                                                       Hon. R. Coleman: Some of the money has arrived
    The previous Solicitor General agrees that an inquiry         to us. It is $23 million being spent along the Rocky
should be held, and I have made that announcement                 Mountain Trench that is under an MOU with the
last week, as the member opposite is aware. That process          federal government. The rest of it…. I've spoken with
will unfold and I'm sure will be successful.                      the minister responsible, and I'm assured that it's coming,
                                                    [1425]        but that's the best I can tell the member now.
                                                                      They have in front of them all of our proposals, and
    M. Farnworth: In 2004 an unnamed source went                  the mountain pine beetle information is in front of
to the Police Complaint Commissioner with crucial                 them. We're waiting for them to release the dollars to
information. The commissioner recommended an inquiry              British Columbia.
that this government rejected.
    Recent comments in the media make it clear that                  Mr. Speaker: Member has a supplemental.
the unnamed source was Greg Firlotte, a jail guard
who was never interviewed about Frank Paul's death.                   C. Wyse: Again to the Minister of Forests and
How long has the Solicitor General's office, past or              Range: did we get an additional $100 million of the
present, known that key witnesses were never interviewed?         federal funds this year for the pine beetle epidemic,
                                                                  and do we have a signed commitment from the federal
    Hon. J. Les: Whether or not certain key witnesses             government for the $100 million each year for the next
were interviewed is something upon which I am not                 ten years?
prepared to pass judgment at this point in time. Certain
assertions have been made. These are the kinds of                    Hon. R. Coleman: We have an understanding, as
things that will be determined at public inquiry.                 you know, that all the parties in the last federal election
                                                                  committed $100 million for over ten years to the mountain
    Mr. Speaker: The member has a supplemental.                   pine beetle epidemic. We have been working with the
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2007                        BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                                              5531

new federal government as they've worked through               we saw money flow over the last year with regards to a
their processes to get the money flowing according to          number of issues that we had with Alberta and stuff on
the plans that we had laid out to the previous government,     mountain pine beetle.
and we've been updating those plans with the present               I actually find it incredible that this member stands
minister. I spoke to Minister Lunn as early as last week,      up and even wants to discuss pine beetle when for ten
who assured me that they thought they were through             years, they knew the problem existed. They did nothing
most of their processes and that things would start to         about it. Never built a beetle action plan. Never built a
flow.                                                          financial relationship with the federal government.
                                                    [1430]     Never built a Cariboo-Chilcotin beetle action committee
                                                               or any other beetle action committee. All this member
    B. Simpson: When Prime Minister Harper committed           ever does is criticize those local community committees
to the $1 billion — that's what he went into the election      that are trying to build a future for forestry and
for — he committed to $100 million over ten years.             economies in the interior of British Columbia.
    The minister and I had a discussion about $400 million
that was allocated in the federal budget this spring.                   BUDGET FOR HOUSING STRATEGY
The minister indicated that it was his expectation that
he would be in contact with the minister responsible in            D. Thorne: It's almost a year since the Minister for
the next few days. He's done the official thing already,       Housing told us he would soon release a full housing
but usually it takes a few days after the budget comes         strategy. It's four months since the so-called housing
out to sort of suss it out.                                    strategy was released in October. After widespread
    That was on May 3 of last year. Our communities            criticism throughout the province, the minister then
need that money. The federal government has committed          told us to wait for the next budget, and we would see a
that money. It's in the budget. What is it that the province   better and fuller strategy.
is not delivering to the federal government to secure              The budget has come and gone, and it is apparent
those funds now?                                               that it is anything but a housing budget. In fact, the
                                                               budget for non-profit and co-op housing has actually
    Hon. R. Coleman: There is nothing the province of          been slashed by $760,000. Now we're being told to
British Columbia hasn't done to meet its obligations to        wait another 60 days before we'll see a full housing
the federal government to let them move the pine beetle        strategy.
money.                                                             I wonder how the people of B.C. can possibly
                                                               believe anything this government has to say. I ask the
   Mr. Speaker: The member has a supplemental?                 minister: if there is a real housing strategy somewhere
                                                               out there to tackle this housing crisis in British Columbia,
    B. Simpson: I do. The Premier in the estimates,            then why wasn't it announced last week in the budget?
when the Leader of the Opposition questioned him on                                                                   [1435]
this, said that we would have the money in June or
July. The minister said that we would have the money               Hon. R. Coleman: I find the member's comments
a few days after the budget. We're almost at the end of        rather laughable in the fact that this government has
the federal government's fiscal cycle, and we know that        actually tripled the housing budget over the last five
last time the federal government rolled back the mountain      years.
pine beetle money that they had because it wasn't out              It's incredible to me that this member doesn't know
the door.                                                      what a housing strategy is. Maybe she should read
    In point of fact, the Cariboo-Chilcotin Beetle Action      Housing Matters, and we can debate in estimates because
Coalition had to forewarn this government that the federal     by George, she sure doesn't get what's in there today.
government was going directly to local governments to
see if they could get the money out the door. I quote              Interjections.
directly from that letter: "It is discouraging to discover
that the Ministry of Forests emergency response team               Mr. Speaker: Members.
and, apparently, the provincial government itself only
discovered the request from the federal government                 Hon. R. Coleman: Last fall we said we would partner
when CCBAC, the Cariboo-Chilcotin Beetle Action                up with organizations for supportive housing so we
Coalition, forwarded them a copy."                             can get a proposal call for 450 units. We announced 768
    My question, again, to the minister is: what is it that    units on Friday because we partnered up and got more
this minister is not doing to secure that money? How           for our money.
did he drop the ball on a billion-dollar promise that              In private members' statements this morning is the
was made by the Prime Minister?                                first time I've heard a member of the opposition agree
                                                               with the Leader of the Opposition about the fact that
   Hon. R. Coleman: Nothing has been not done that             they think rental assistance programs actually work for
shouldn't be done. We saw some money flow last year.           people in B.C.
We saw $100 million last year. I don't know where the
member is getting his numbers from. I also know that               Interjections.
5532                                             BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                    MONDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2007

  Mr. Speaker: Members. The member has a supple-                                FUNDING FOR
mental.                                                                   VANCOUVER SOCIAL HOUSING

   D. Thorne: I can assure the minister that I'm really             G. Robertson: I'll just remind the minister that housing
looking forward to estimates to debate this issue. He          is all about wood, steel, concrete. It's not about hot air.
needn't worry — yeah, really looking forward.
   How the minister, Mr. Speaker…                                  Interjections.

   Interjections.                                                  Mr. Speaker: Members.

   Mr. Speaker: Members.                                           G. Robertson: The well-guarded 2010 countdown
                                                               clock in downtown Vancouver now reads about 1,081 days
    D. Thorne: …can stand there with a straight face and       until the games begin, but the games this government
say that they have tripled the housing budget when we          is playing with the 2010 commitments to housing and
all know that three-quarters of the so-called housing          homelessness are well underway.
budget is an income tax cut that may be spent God                                                                  [1440]
knows how…. Across this province, people are saying                Time is now very short to ensure — and I quote from
that this budget — this so-called housing budget, this so-     the commitments — that "no residents are displaced,
called housing strategy — is at best a joke and that the       evicted, made homeless or face unreasonable increases
spin doctors of the Liberals should be sued for malpractice.   in rent as a result of the games."
Those are the kinds of comments I'm reading.                       I will remind the minister of additional 2010 com-
    In this so-called housing budget…                          mitments: protect rental housing and provide an afford-
                                                               able housing legacy. Blaming municipalities for the delays
   Interjections.                                              was absurd. Vancouver has 12 sites ready to go. His
                                                               innuendo about future funding doesn't cut it either.
   Mr. Speaker: Members.                                           Will this minister commit now to fund 1,000 units
                                                               of social housing in the city of Vancouver?
    D. Thorne: …only $139 million is dedicated to new
construction. Why, today in the Vancouver Sun there's              Hon. R. Coleman: Again, I guess the member should
a quote from the housing director of the city of Van-          phone the city of Vancouver, because when I met with
couver saying that a long-term commitment of sta-              them…. They may have 12 sites, but they don't have 12
ble funding and programs that address a full contin-           sites ready to go, hon. Member. Maybe that's a little flash
uum of need is lacking.                                        of news for you, but you maybe better go check it out.
                                                                   There's something that this member doesn't understand
   Mr. Speaker: Can the member pose her question.              and the members of the opposition don't understand.
                                                               Housing is about people. If immediately, today….
    D. Thorne: Oh, my question is coming.
    He joins a growing chorus, asking the same question.           Interjections.
I'm wondering if the Minister for Housing is still sticking
to his government's message box. Or has he actually                Mr. Speaker: Members. Members. Just take your
done a reality check across the province? Maybe that's         seat, Minister.
why he's asking us to wait 60 more days.                           Members. Minister, continue.

    Hon. R. Coleman: I hear the member for Cowichan-               Hon. R. Coleman: You know, if a single mother
Ladysmith railing at me across the floor at the moment,        with one child can have $200, $300 or $400 a month
although he didn't complain on Friday when we                  where they live today to offset their rental, I think the
announced a new housing project in your riding.                outcomes for that child and that family are that much
    I read the memo from Mr. Gray at the city of               better. Now, I know you don't support that idea. You
Vancouver. I met with the mayor of the city of Vancouver       just want to build social housing. You don't believe in
on the weekend and explained the housing strategy to           actually assisting people with their rent.
him. He's comfortable with it. He knows where we're                That's too bad. This government has made the choice
going. They know it's a complex problem. They know             for thousands of people to have a better life in British
there are things in the wind that are commercially             Columbia.
sensitive today that we can't discuss outside, in the
public, until we complete them.                                    Interjections.
    They know all that, but I want to hear from you.
Who on that side of the House is finally going to admit          Mr. Speaker: Members. Member for Vancouver–
to the 16,000 seniors in British Columbia that get SAFER       Mount Pleasant has the floor.
and the up to 20,000 families that get a rental assistance
program that if you ever became government, you                  J. Kwan: The minister can huff and puff all he
would take it away from them?                                  wants, but it does not change the fact that in the lower
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2007                       BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                                             5533

mainland, homelessness is more than double under              of those costs. The complexity of the project is driving a
this government's watch. It doesn't change the fact that      number of those costs, but here's what is important.
here in the capital city, the latest homeless count shows     There will be billions of dollars of economic activity,
that there are 700 people living on the streets in the city   and thousands of new jobs will be created by that
of Victoria. In fact, homelessness has escalated under        convention centre.
this government since they took office.
    So yes, it is about people, and it is about ensuring          Mr. Speaker: The member has a supplemental.
that the people actually have a roof over their heads.
The minister won't listen to the city of Vancouver,               H. Bains: Eight years ago in this House, someone
won't listen to the opposition, won't listen to the people    said: "There must be bad leadership coming from the
of British Columbia. Let me ask the Premier a question.       Premier's office, because the Premier is not demanding
    Will the Premier listen to his own adviser, Mr. Ken       performance. There's no one in the private sector who
Dobell, who has recently sent a report to the city of         would possibly maintain their job when one of their
Vancouver asking for a billion dollars to support housing     projects had doubled in price."
for the city of Vancouver? They need $250 million to              Now that person sits in the Premier's office in this
build up the sites and $750 million to actually fund the      House. His pet project has more than doubled in cost,
operation of those sites. Will the Premier commit to          and the public has no reason to believe that this bill
the city of Vancouver and listen to Mr. Ken Dobell's          will stop at $800 million. I ask the question of the
suggestion?                                                   Premier again. Will he do the right thing and take
                                                              responsibility for the convention centre debacle and
     Hon. R. Coleman: I know you don't like a rental          table all of the contracts in full in this House today?
assistance program. You don't like the fact that we're
partnering up with non-profits and municipalities to              Hon. S. Hagen: The great news in the Premier's
get more supportive housing in the marketplace to             office is that we have a great Premier.
help people with multiple barriers, addictions and
mental illness. I know you don't like that this Premier           Interjections.
put together a Premier's Task Force on Homelessness.
It's something you never thought of for ten years,               Mr. Speaker: Members. Members. Minister of
something you never cared about.                              Tourism, Sport and the Arts continues.
     I am actually quite comfortable with the fact that
the relationship we have with the city of Vancouver               Hon. S. Hagen: Only the NDP, which stands for
and the work we're doing right now is going to bring          negative, destructive and pessimistic, would have
them very significant results over the next number of         something against a project as great as this one is. You
months as we get there. And on top of that, in the very       know, the NDP always wants to take shots at the people
city you just mentioned, we have a very good working          who are working on these projects, people who have
relationship with Mayor Lowe and his council, as well,        given years of public service, who have done a fantastic
in the city of Victoria.                                      job for this province — which is more than I can say for
                                                              any members of the opposition.
        CONTRACTS FOR EXPANSION OF
       VANCOUVER CONVENTION CENTRE                                Interjections.

     H. Bains: Two and a half years after the Premier             Mr. Speaker: Members.
reassured British Columbians, "That's it — kaputski.
It's done," the cost for a convention centre has soared           Hon. S. Hagen: We're talking about a project here
over 60 percent over budget, and B.C. taxpayers are           that's going to serve British Columbians and build the
now on the hook for $800 million and counting.                economy in British Columbia for years to come. It's an
                                                  [1445]      environmentally friendly project. That was the party,
     Can the Premier tell this House how many hundreds        when they were in power, who wasted $73 million and
of millions of taxpayer dollars are being forked over         didn't put a shovel in the ground or a pile in the sand.
simply because this government had chosen to build the
convention centre as cost-plus, for-fee type of con-              Interjections.
tracts?
                                                                  Mr. Speaker: Members.
   Interjections.
                                                                  B. Ralston: My question is to the Premier, again on
   Mr. Speaker: Members.                                      the same topic. Mr. Dobell is quoted as saying: "We
                                                              started on this at a time when inflation in the construction
    Hon. G. Campbell: I think everyone understands            industry was 2 percent a year. In fact, inflation has been
there have been significant cost escalations for the          10 to 12 percent a year."
convention centre. I also think the members opposite              On November 3, 2005, the minister responsible at
will understand that the economy is driving a number          the time said that $615 million would be the final cost
5534                                            BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                    MONDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2007

of the building. Now, after just a year later, both the       between competing interests and viewpoints, and that
Minister of Finance and the minister responsible agree        dialogue helps to protect the public interest.
the cost is in the range of $800 million. This is over a          The B.C. Liberals have never cared too much about
30-percent increase. The figures don't add up.                those principles. After all, it was this government that
    Once again, will the minister tell the House why he       relied on an obscure precedent to deny British Colum-
won't admit that signing cost-plus open contracts is the      bians an official opposition altogether for four years. It
reason for this convention centre fiasco?                     was this government that brought in a legislative
                                                              calendar and then used it to force closure.
    Hon. S. Hagen: Negative, pessimistic, destructive             It was this government that cancelled last fall's
— that's what that party stands for. We're going to           legislative session and called the Legislature "busy-
have a project here that's 1.1 million square feet of         work." It was this government that promised open cabinet
exhibition space.                                             meetings and then turned them into staged media
    If they're asking the question: are we happy with         events where ministers got to throw each other staged
the escalations…? Of course we're not. But you know           soft-ball questions.
what? We have a booming economy in British Columbia.              It was this government that promised openness,
That's what's driving construction. That's what's driving     transparency and accountability, and then cut the budget
the prices.                                                   for FOI and took every opportunity to restrict access to
                                                    [1450]    information. It was this government that unilaterally
    I'll tell you what we are happy with, though. We          appointed a candidate to be Auditor General over the
are happy with the fact that we have 50 conventions           objections of the opposition. I could go on, but the
signed up starting in '09, 27 of which we would not           point is clear. From the start the B.C. Liberals have
be able to handle without the new facility. Those 50          acted arrogantly and without concern for the public
conventions will generate $874 million worth of               interest, and today's motion just adds to that record.
economic activity — just those 50 conventions.                    The government assures us that its motives are pure,
    I just want to make one additional point. At the same     that it's acting in everyone's best interest and striking
time, they're negotiating with 167 other conventions          the right balance. But the result of this unilateral decision
which want to come to B.C.                                    raises serious questions about the government's true
                                                              intent, its real agenda.
   [End of question period.]                                      Had the B.C. Liberals sought input and support for
                                                              these changes, we would have brought forward serious
                                                              concerns about their proposal for discussion and
   G. Coons: I rise to present a petition.
                                                              amendment. Had they shown respect for this chamber
                                                              and achieved consensus, their motives wouldn't be
   Mr. Speaker: Proceed.
                                                              called into question on this motion.
                                                                  For example, the net effect of this proposal is to
                        Petitions
                                                              reduce the number of hours for debate in this chamber,
                                                              but perhaps that is the government's real intent. It
    G. Coons: I have a petition signed by 354 residents       certainly is the result of this motion.
of Prince Rupert and area, asking that the government                                                                [1455]
restore funding for quality licensed child care services.         It means fewer questions will be asked in budget
                                                              estimates, where the government asks for authority to
                   Orders of the Day                          spend tens of billions of taxpayer dollars. It means
                                                              important legislation will receive less time and therefore
    Hon. M. de Jong: I call continued debate on Motion        less scrutiny. But again, maybe that's what this govern-
40 standing on the order paper in my name.                    ment wants.
                                                                  It means that British Columbians who work during the
                   Motions on Notice                          day will lose their opportunity to see their Legislature
                                                              work. Once again, maybe the government prefers it if
           LEGISLATIVE SITTING HOURS                          fewer people have an opportunity to actually watch
                   (continued)                                them work.
                                                                  There are reasonable solutions to these concerns
    C. James: Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak against this       that could have been discussed. We could, for example,
motion. I do so not because I'm against change, but           extend the Legislature by a week or two to make up for
because I'm against the way this government imple-            lost time. We could reduce the number of night sittings
ments change and the consequences that often result.          but not eliminate them altogether, still allowing people
    As many previous speakers have pointed out in this        to watch the proceedings. As our Opposition House
debate, by convention and tradition, changes of this          Leader said, our door is open.
type are carried out by consensus between the govern-             It's clear that this government isn't interested in
ment and its loyal opposition. There are good reasons         discussion or compromise. They're determined to impose
for that. It leads to better decisions. It protects the in-   their will, and they're intent on treating this House
dependence of this chamber. It forces compromise              with disdain — a deliberate pattern of behaviour that
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2007                        BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                                            5535

has further separated citizens from their chosen repre-        draconian…. I'll get to the essence of the thing in a
sentatives.                                                    moment. If they don't want to listen, that's fine. We'll
    When I entered provincial politics, I said that I          have the vote. If they actually want to know whether or
wanted to help bring a new tone to the debate in this          not I was listening….
Legislature and in politics in general in B.C. — tough,
vigilant, aggressive but also respectful of British                Interjections.
Columbians' intelligence. A new tone never means
compromising on principles, and it never means letting            Mr. Speaker: Members. The Government House
up on government. We will always be tough on the               Leader has the floor.
B.C. Liberal record — whether it's the shameful
way they've treated at-risk children, the way they've              Hon. M. de Jong: I actually did listen to the debate,
betrayed seniors or the harm they've caused our                and it may surprise members to know that in a couple of
environment.                                                   cases I actually heard some comments that I thought
    To get respect from the public, we must show it in         were thoughtful and responsible. The member for Cariboo
return. To be relevant, all of us — government and             South reminded members of some of the circumstances
opposition — must be heard. We can't be heard if we            that members like him are confronted by in terms of
call each other names and engage in personal attacks.          travel back and forth to the chamber. You know what? I
And we shouldn't be heard when we speak in spin —              and the government and the government caucus actually
for example, when we call a tax cut a "housing plan" or        care about those things. We actually care about trying to
when we talk big on global warming but do nothing to           come up with a structure that works for members.
back up our words. That only adds to the public cynicism           That's why this is a sessional order. That's why,
about politics. We won't be heard if we ignore this            when we first began discussing this, I made it clear that
chamber.                                                       that would be one of the guiding principles — that we
    The people of B.C. have moved way past the way             wanted to try this. And yes, it was about eliminating
we practise politics, and the institutions which govern        night sittings, but it was also about ensuring that the
our province have become more and more distant from            time — the 40½ hours that derive from night sittings in
the reality of their lives. It's time that we caught up to     the scheduled spring session — was made up.
the people, but unilateral and heavy-handed decisions              I know there has been an attempt — and we've just
to change the way this House functions take us back-           heard yet another attempt by the Leader of the Opposition
wards in that work. It violates the traditions of this         — to characterize that differently, that somehow this
House, and it should be withdrawn.                             was an attempt to minimize the hours of debate. I know
    I would encourage all members of this House, out           the Leader of the Opposition doesn't want to hear this,
of respect for the public, to vote against this motion.        and I know members opposite, in their revisionist
                                                               history of this thing even while it's taking place, don't
   Mr. Speaker: Seeing no further speakers, the House          want to hear this. Actually, if we had debated this
Leader closes debate.                                          motion when the government wanted to early last
                                                               week, we would have increased the number of hours
    Hon. M. de Jong: I am, as always, obliged to the           available for debate in the spring session.
Leader of the Opposition and the members of the                    Now members make a point about the specifics of
chamber who have contributed to the debate that took           when that debate would take place, and there is an
place over Thursday afternoon and now the early part           element of truth to that. It is a four-hour issue, and that
of the afternoon on Monday.                                    may be something that, in the course of conversation
    I won't take a lot of time, but I do think it is worth     going forward, one might be able to address.
restating what I said at the outset in introducing the             I have been around here long enough not to take
motion before the House. It has not been lost upon me          too much of this stuff personally, but when the Leader
that an attempt has been made to characterize this as          of the Opposition says it would have been better if the
something that it is not — these allegations of a unilateral   Government House Leader had sought some input….
attempt to subvert the practices of democracy within           To leave the impression, as I think she has purposely
the halls of this chamber in British Columbia. I don't         done, that an attempt was not made to engage in some
know what all that I have heard.                               discussion I think is unfair. I just think it's unfair.
                                                     [1500]        I know the Leader of the Opposition wanted to get
    First of all, let me state the specific facts. We are      up and make some kind of rallying point or debate
talking about a sessional order here, one that applies         here, but one of the things…. I must say, when I'm
for the spring session and the spring session only.            confronted by that kind of a statement in the context of
                                                               this debate, that one of the challenges one has with this
   Interjections.                                              Leader of the Opposition is actually getting a decision
                                                               from her — actually getting a decision from the Leader
   Mr. Speaker: Members.                                       of the Opposition. And what can be even a little more
                                                               challenging than that…
   Hon. M. de Jong: You know, members who only
a short time ago were characterizing this as some                  An Hon. Member: To get her to stick with it.
5536                                             BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                    MONDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2007

   Hon. M. de Jong: …is to get her to stick to that            she made when she said that British Columbians will
decision once she's made it.                                   lose the opportunity to watch these proceedings.

   Interjections.                                                  Interjection.

   Mr. Speaker: Members.                                           Hon. M. de Jong: Well, it is incorrect, because not
                                                     [1505]    only are these proceedings broadcast, and will be till
                                                               6:30; they are rebroadcast.
    Hon. M. de Jong: On the verge, the eve, of the vote            I understand the political desire that the Leader of
that will take place, let's remind ourselves what is in the    the Opposition had to stand up here and try to rally the
standing order in the sessional amendment. It would see        troops around some cause that some people apparently
the night sittings that have taken place on Mondays and        have strong views…. But you know, it would be nice to
Wednesdays, which have over the last number of years           be accurate. It would be novel, in fact. It would be
started at quarter to seven and run to nine o'clock,           novel to be accurate.
replaced by the House convening at 1:30 in the afternoon
and sitting until 6:30. Going forward, that would mean             Interjection.
that the 40½ hours that would take place under the
former schedule of night sittings will be replaced, assuming     Mr. Speaker: Excuse me, Member for Vancouver–
this motion passes today, by 40 hours of debate.               Mount Pleasant. Can you apologize for that? Member.
    There's the acknowledgment. There is the acknow-
ledgment. There is the grand assault on democracy: 30              J. Kwan: I withdraw.
minutes of debate.
                                                                   Mr. Speaker: Government House Leader continues.
   Interjections.
                                                                  Hon. M. de Jong: I regret very much that members
   Mr. Speaker: Members. Members, we don't need to             have chosen to take a matter that I hope and still hope
debate with other people on the floor. The Government          can be constructive and positive going forward and try
House Leader has the floor.                                    somehow to turn it into a political issue or a cause.
                                                               However, be that as it may.…
    Hon. M. de Jong: The notion that has been advanced                                                          [1510]
by some members that there was no attempt made to
engage in a discussion I will leave for the opposition             Interjections.
caucus to take up internally. They can do so, and I
won't make any further comments on that.                           Mr. Speaker: Members.
    My hope is this. My hope is that we can try this,
assuming it passes — that members will feel, not-                 Hon. M. de Jong: I think it says a lot about an
withstanding the opinions that some have expressed             opposition. I actually sat in here for the bulk of the debate
during the course of this discussion and debate,               and listened because I was interested in what members
that members will have an opportunity to try it, to            had to say. That apparently is not the case….
provide their views as we move through it. At the
conclusion of the spring session we can sit down,                  Interjections.
perhaps the Opposition House Leader and myself, to
determine whether or not it worked for members, like               Mr. Speaker: Members.
the member for Cariboo South or the member for
Peace River South — whether there was a difference                 Hon. M. de Jong: It is further, I think, a reflection
in terms of some of the logistics and travel logistics         on this opposition that believes, any time their view
and whether it worked well.                                    does not prevail, that those opposite are somehow
    The Opposition House Leader made some com-                 running roughshod over their democratic privilege as
ments about the possibilities of other meetings super-         members of this chamber.
seding the time that heretofore has been spent with                We're going to have the vote. Again, I urge mem-
the House in session, and we'll look at that. But to           bers, if this motion passes, to feel free to channel via the
have this characterized as some sort of full-fledged           House Leader as we move through this — or directly, if
frontal assault on the democratic principles and               they wish, via the Opposition House Leader — their
pillars of this institution, I think — something the Leader    views on its operational efficacy. I urge members of the
of the Opposition and others with nothing better to            chamber to give the new schedule a chance to operate.
do than manufacture issues to detract from some other          We'll see how it works and assess it at the end of the
difficulties they may or may not be having — does a            spring session.
disservice….                                                       With that, I call the question, Mr. Speaker.
    It's probably no more complicated…. What the Leader                                                              [1515]
of the Opposition has tried to do here has probably
revealed as much in a very straightforward comment                 Motion approved on the following division:
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2007                         BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                                                5537

                        YEAS — 40                               plan for the next phase in achieving our goals for a
                                                                prosperous decade. We are now actively pursuing
                                                                opportunities and initiatives under the aegis of the
      Falcon           Reid            Coell
                                                                Pacific leadership agenda, which outlines five key
      Ilich            Chong           Christensen
                                                                elements that I wish to reiterate due to their importance.
      Les              Richmond        Bell                         They're integral to our platform: (1) to lead Canada in
      Krueger          van Dongen      Roddick                  partnership with first nations; (2) to tackle the challenges
      Hayer            Lee             Jarvis                   of global warming and unplanned urban sprawl; (3) to
      Whittred         Horning         Cantelon                 increase affordable housing, reduce homelessness and,
                                                                most importantly from my perspective, help those who
      Hagen            Oppal           de Jong
                                                                cannot help themselves; (4) to improve quality, choice
      Campbell         Bond            Hansen
                                                                and accountability in our two most important public
      Abbott           Penner          Neufeld                  services, health and education; and (5) to open up
      Coleman          Hogg            Sultan                   Canada's Pacific gateway and strengthen our economic
      Lekstrom         Mayencourt      Polak                    competitiveness — all in an attempt to keep on pushing
      Hawes            Yap             Bloy                     each and every one of us to realize the true promise of
                                                                our province.
      MacKay           Black           McIntyre
                                                                    I'm very proud to be part of a team with a real
                       Rustad                                   leader who is not afraid to lay out an ambitious plan to
                                                                achieve specific goals as well as to continue to ask the
                        NAYS — 30                               hard questions. Our leader, unlike others, has the courage
                                                                of his convictions to press forward with significant
      Brar             S. Simpson      Fleming
                                                                change and to actually implement the plan.
                                                                    I understand that change is uncomfortable for most
      Farnworth        James           Kwan
                                                                people. There are many vested interests in society —
      Ralston          B. Simpson      Cubberley                groups who would much prefer the status quo. But
      Hammell          Coons           Thorne                   status quo is not good enough for British Columbians
      Simons           Puchmayr        Gentner                  now — not ever — and certainly not good enough for
      Routley          Fraser          Horgan                   our children and our grandchildren. We were elected
                                                                to lead.
      Dix              Bains           Robertson
      Karagianis       Evans           Krog
                                                                    [S. Hammell in the chair.]
      Austin           Chudnovsky      Chouhan
      Wyse             Macdonald       Conroy                        One of the main themes of government during this
                                                                term has been that of individual responsibility. We
    Mr. Speaker: Hon. Members, earlier in the debate            need to be much more aware of our actions as well as
with the Government House Leader and the member                 the need to start to take steps, even if they're small, to
for Vancouver–Mount Pleasant, I misinterpreted what             alter our path — whether we're taking steps to eat
she said. I thought she said the word "lie." She said           healthier, to be more active, to step up to the plate in
"phone in live." That should be noted for the record.           assisting with the more vulnerable in society and now to
                                                                be much more conscious of our personal environmental
    Hon. M. de Jong: Hon. Speaker, here's a live update.        footprint and what we can do to mitigate or alter our
I think all members probably noticed a bit of activity          habits. All these steps will have a cumulative impact.
involving the Small Business and Revenue Minister. I            Collectively, they will assist us in managing resources
can advise the House that he was taken to the hospital          more efficiently and more effectively.
earlier today. We're not sure what his condition is at               As you know by now, the ambitious environmental
the moment, but we have assured him that all of our             goals set out in the throne speech have received acco-
best wishes in the chamber are with him, and we wish            lades from many corners, including various letters to
him a speedy recovery.                                          the editor from the general public and the press, such
    I call continued debate on the budget.                      as this from David Suzuki on CBC radio. "It's very
                                                  [1520]        heartening to me to know that in British Columbia there
                                                                seems to be a real shift in terms of the government's
                     Budget Debate                              approach to climate change, and I applaud the Premier
                       (continued)                              for making that shift."
                                                                     From renowned Victoria climatologist Andrew
    J. McIntyre: It's a great privilege to rise on behalf of    Weaver at the University of Victoria. "It is the most
the residents of my communities in West Vancouver–              progressive plan I've seen anywhere in North America,
Garibaldi and respond to the February 2007 balanced             for a start, and one of the best in the world," he said. "This
budget.                                                         is the way to go. This is great leadership. It is really super."
    What is being termed by many as a substantive, vision-           Also, Vaughn Palmer on Valentine's Day, a headline:
ary throne speech last week laid out our government's           "A Throne Speech That Even Satisfies Critics." In his
5538                                            BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                   MONDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2007

column, he goes on to say: "Even the critics were taken            We have a proven track record of achievement that
aback. I never expected a B.C. Liberal government throne      no one can dispute. To me, these are just examples of
speech would be greeted with a press release from the         members of a political party without their own concrete,
Sierra Club that began: 'The Sierra Club of B.C. today        realistic plan of action desperately trying to throw
welcomed….'"                                                  stones. These negative responses to a laudable plan of
    Identifying these goals is only the first step. We will   action outlined in the throne speech that even media
need time under the leadership of the climate action          and some of our harshest critics are praising are nothing
team chaired by the Premier to develop a more detailed        short of completely pathetic and embarrassing.
approach and attach costs. The opposition, of course,              I expected — I guess, it turns out, naively — full
may have to be reminded that it's essential to actually       and genuine debate on the issues, on the merits of our
have a business plan before you start spending the            plan and an intelligent analysis of the proposed
money.                                                        budget, or at least some concrete forms of alternatives
    All of this will be done in conjunction with starting     that we could discuss, that we could learn from. But no.
to implement our new energy plan. This will be a              Instead, we get insults and misinterpretation, along with
preoccupation, no doubt, over the coming year. However,       the doom-and-gloom scenarios. I am so disappointed.
I want to remind everyone that there are a number of               I'd like to know how this type of constant negativity
ongoing issues that are not being forgotten despite           benefits British Columbians. I think the NDP has to
what the members of the opposition would like you to          answer for this. However, I digress.
believe. Our budget clearly shows the ongoing commit-              On to the fundamentals of our fourth consecutive
ment to a wide variety of initiatives that are advancing      balanced budget, which run the full spectrum of confirming
our quality of life in this province.                         our commitment to the most vulnerable, who need a
    In contrast, the member for Yale-Lillooet calls the       helping hand, as well as to providing tax relief to a vast
government's agenda an act of fiction. That is absolutely     majority of British Columbians, who are best equipped to
laughable. There likely has never been so much being          decide how to spend their hard-earned tax dollars.
achieved in so short a time in this province's history.            While we are managing change, at the same time,
    I was informed by a Clerk that the House has never        we've reasserted our commitments to increase funding
been so busy as it was last fall — while we were              for our core public services, health care and K-to-12
supposedly not working, according to our opposition.          education, to the tune of $2.69 billion and $633 million
For starters, there's never been such an ambitious turn-      respectively in the three-year budget cycle. This brings
around in the economy. If he really believes it's fiction,    these funding levels to $3.68 million in new — the
you may have to ask yourself what planet he's living          operative word being "new" — funding for health care
on, because you can be sure that his constituents are         and $765 million, over three-quarters of a billion, for
benefiting from our government's initiatives.                 K-to-12 over the next three years. As enrolment continues
                                                     [1525]   to decline by more than 12,000 students alone this year,
    The member for Vancouver-Fairview last week insulted      per-pupil funding will reach a record $7,910, an increase
our government members by stating in this House that          of over 4 percent over last year.
our government does not have the prerequisite ability              The funding increases to the health budget from $8
and business experience to be running a $30 billion–plus      billion to $13 billion in round numbers represent an
organization. You should hear what your own member            increase of over 50 percent since we rescued this province
said: "Not many of the members opposite have experience       from the NDP in 2001. That's a cut? No. No, it just
in business, and all of a sudden they're in charge of 30-     sounds like NDP math to me.
odd billion dollars' worth of expenses to manage. Fiscal           Access to post-secondary education, which is
responsibility, when you have no background in fiscal         particularly key due to our increased need for skilled
responsibility, is puzzling."                                 labour in a number of fields as well as in high-demand
    Has he checked our resumés? It's incredibly laughable     regions such as the Sea to Sky corridor, is receiving
and extreme, particularly in light of how the NDP             new funding of $343 million over three years. Additionally,
managed the fast ferry fiasco and basically torpedoed         there is $135 million over three years to support the
the B.C. economy in their ten years of ideological rule       creation of 7,000 new apprenticeships and to reach the
in the 1990s. This government has returned B.C. from          goal of 25,000 new post-secondary spaces, including
the basement to a leading position in the country, and        2,500 postgrad spaces.
in short order it's attained the highest credit rating             We are already significantly upping our efforts on
possible, triple-A. Does that sound like incompetence         the provincial nominee program to bring in workers
or a fiction to you? I don't think so.                        from other parts of the world whose skills are in demand
    The Leader of the Opposition goes on and dares —          in B.C. and in the riding I represent. Landed-immigrant
and I say "dares" — to say in her response to the throne      status can now be fast-tracked, sometimes in a matter
speech that our government's throne speeches "have            of weeks. But oh no. I read in the media today, of
always been a terrible barometer of the government's          course, that bringing in foreign workers is something
true intentions." This could not be further from the          else the unions are opposed to.
truth. In fact, there's been commentary over the past                                                              [1530]
week that the one thing you can count on is that when              In this budget, in addition to core services, our gov-
this Premier puts his mind to something, it gets done.        ernment has identified a range of other key initiatives
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2007                           BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                                              5539

to ensure that we will continue, with momentum, to                      In addition to building a housing legacy, Budget
progress on the right track and to provide solid supports          2007 builds on the province's three-year transportation
to British Columbians. The theme of Budget 2007 is                 investment plan, providing more than $2.4 billion of
"building a housing legacy." We recognize that housing             provincial investment in transportation infrastructure
issues touch us all, right from homelessness all the way           as well as $1.1 billion of investment leveraged —
to home-ownership issues.                                          "leveraged" being the operative word here — through
    This budget delivers British Columbians a range of             federal cost-sharing and partnerships with the private
new supports worth $2 billion over four years to help              sector, local governments and other agencies. This
address the challenges created by an economy on fire.              includes allocating $266 million over three years for the
How the NDP Finance critic could stand in this House               ongoing Sea to Sky Highway safety upgrade in my
and say that this budget "raises questions about the               constituency.
Premier's ability to govern in the interests of working                 This budget includes $49 million in funding for
families" is completely beyond me. This opposition is,             initiatives targeting reconciliation of aboriginal rights
in fact, opposed to the very initiatives that will assist          and title as well as building strong and respectful
working families — blinded by ideology.                            relationships between government and aboriginal
    Here are some key highlights that prove exactly                organizations. This builds from the $100 million for
how we are providing for every British Columbian,                  capacity-building previously budgeted and delivered.
including working families. There's a housing endow-                                                                    [1535]
ment fund of $250 million — that's a quarter of a billion               I'd now like to move on to provide the House with
dollars — that will generate approximately $10 million             an update on activities in the special constituency of
a year to support innovative housing solutions. This is            West Vancouver–Garibaldi, which I have the privilege
in perpetuity and will deliver benefits for generations            of representing here in the Legislature.
to come — for your children and for your grandchildren.                 The continuing work on the safety upgrades for the
    Our government is also helping every taxpayer                  Sea to Sky Highway, which links most of the constituency's
with their housing expenses by cutting personal income             communities, is moving along at an amazing clip. It's
taxes by 10 percent for British Columbians earning up              literally moving mountains with, I must point out, mini-
to $100,000. By doing this, the government is allowing             mal road closures and minimal disruptions to people's
British Columbians to redirect these savings to their              lives and schedules — except, of course, I have to say,
own personal priorities. This latest personal income tax           on the few occasions when Mother Nature has not
reduction builds on the 25-percent tax cut introduced              cooperated and has inflicted upon us severe weather
in 2001 and the B.C. tax reduction introduced in 2005.             and landslides.
As a result, 250,000 British Columbians now pay no                      I must take this moment to thank constituents for their
provincial income tax. Others have seen reductions up              patience and perseverance, as well as their suggestions
to 70 percent, and most have seen reductions between               for finding solutions and improving how, together, we can
30 percent and 35 percent.                                         find ways to cope and keep the road open in dire circum-
    The budget offers new supports for homeowners.                 stances.
The first-time-homebuyers program is enhanced to                        Three- and four-lane sections of this $600 million
exempt first-time buyers across B.C. from paying the               highway upgrade are already completed, making the
property transfer tax on homes valued now up to                    road safer and more efficient to travel. It's only going to
$375,000. This will save first-time buyers up to $5,500,           get better as we move to completion in 2009, on or
and that is a lot of money. To a young couple, people              ahead of schedule and on budget — the great benefits of
starting out to buy a new home, $5,500 is a significant            an award-winning, successful public-private partnership
amount of money.                                                   which has built-in incentives for performance. It's a
    Seniors will also greatly benefit from the new housing         concept that the NDP somehow doesn't seem to grasp,
tax measures. Now low-income seniors will be eligible              despite evidence of stunning examples of success in this
for the homeowner grant, regardless of their home's                province that are now being contemplated and copied
assessed value. New legislation will be introduced to              by other jurisdictions.
allow people to start deferring their property taxes at                 The Sea to Sky corridor continues to have a number
age 55 rather than at age 60. This provides added                  of land use challenges. As I said before, we must learn
budget flexibility for those on fixed incomes.                     to share our resources like never before and try to find
    Budget 2007 also expands the rental assistance program,        innovative ways to ensure that our practices are
raising the income threshold to $28,000 a year so that             sustainable. So 2007 is going to be a very big year, as we
more lower-income working families — that would be                 anticipate signing the Sea to Sky Highway accommoda-
working families — qualify for benefits. An additional 5,800       tion agreement with the Squamish First Nation, following
families, more than 20,000 in total, will be eligible to           on the heels of the successful land transfer agreement
receive up to $563 a month to help with their housing costs.       signed with Lil'wat Nation just before Christmas.
    Our government is also raising the shelter rate by                  We're also looking forward to the possibility of
$50 a month for people on income assistance. This                  implementing an LRMP — that is, a land and resource
means that B.C. now has the highest shelter assistance             management plan — for the region as well as introducing
rates in Canada for employable singles, couples and                a new recreational trail strategy. The economic boom in
single-parent families. No, this isn't any help at all, I guess.   the province, especially in the Sea to Sky corridor, has
5540                                             BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                   MONDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2007

created new opportunities for apprenticeships on the           increase Whistler's competitiveness with direct access
highway and work in construction and in the forest for         by air to the international resort.
our first nations residents, which is not only proving to          Speaking of Whistler, it's a resort community that for
be an economic benefit but is adding to capacity.              years has been dedicated to implementing leading envi-
    What hypocrisy when the member for Yale-Lillooet,          ronmental sustainability practices, using their vision 2020
who was elected in '91 and '96 — during the NDP's              plan and the application of the Natural Step framework
dismal decade of deterioration, as it's commonly referred      as guiding principles. I hope that Whistlerites, starting
to nowadays — last week cried about the desperate              with mayor and council, are pleased with the aggressive
situation on the first nations reserves of the many bands      environmental targets laid out in our throne speech.
located in his region.                                             Construction activities at the Olympic venues in the
    What did he and the NDP do for them when they              Callaghan Valley and at Whistler are in full swing. I had
had the opportunity for ten long years? Absolutely             the privilege of joining the media tour last summer to see
nothing. They did nothing in comparison to what this           what incredible progress has been made. I also attended
government has done to advance the interests of first          the groundbreaking ceremony for the athletes village,
nations in our term with the Ministry of Aboriginal            which will be converted to affordable housing units after
Relations and Reconciliation and all the related ministries    the games as a lasting legacy for community residents, to
that have allocated millions and millions of dollars for       help them live in the community in which they work.
economic opportunities, for sharing resources, for                 Now moving on down to Squamish. It is enjoying
building capacity and for setting targets for improving        rapid growth, which of course brings its own set of
first nations health, education and skills.                    challenges. Major development projects are in the
    They did nothing. They did nothing when they had           works, including on the Nexen lands on their waterfront.
the opportunity. We are absolutely determined to               The province gifted 70-plus acres. There are other resi-
redress the past inequities and narrow those gaps. In the      dential developments to satisfy the increased numbers
constituency of West Vancouver–Garibaldi, as an example,       that are moving there for lifestyle reasons to enjoy the
2010 has been the catalyst for untold opportunities for        outdoor recreation capital of Canada, especially now
advancement for first nations. As I mentioned: land            that the highway is improved. The adventure centre
transfers; jobs and apprenticeships in the forest, in          there, which the province also funded to the tune of
construction, in the hospitality industry; aboriginal          almost a million dollars, is up and running and serving
tourism, with the pending opening of the Squamish              locals and tourists alike.
Lil'wat cultural centre in Whistler; Olympic live sites            With $2 million of provincial funding, the West
grants and achievements in youth sports.                       Coast Heritage Railway Park is also undergoing major
    Lyle Leo of Lil'wat Nation, who recently has won a         renovation, adding a turntable and sort of convention
national award for his work in economic development,           centre facilities. It is just where we steamed up in the
takes great pride in the band's drop in unemployment           Royal Hudson with the Lieutenant-Governor a few
from well over 80 percent — which, I guess, would              months ago and was also the site of an art show at
have been in the 1990s — to the low 20s, with expanded         Squamish's Wild at Art Festival last week.
opportunities in the works to reduce that even further.            As an aside, when I hear "Squamish," I immediately
This is not talk; this is significant action and accom-        think of and would like to take an opportunity to
plishment. It's real change and improvement in people's        comment now on the thoughts of the member for
lives because there's a genuine will and a commitment          Maple Ridge–Pitt Meadows on the Ashlu project, which
to change.                                                     he castigated in his comments last week when he
    As I near my conclusion, let's talk about the highlights   accused our government of capitalist giveaway ripoff
in several of the riding communities over the past months.     principles. Well, that very project, which is worth millions
                                                               and millions and millions of investment in that
   Interjection.                                               community, has first nations partners — 45 jobs, going
                                                               to 100 jobs for first nations. And it's clean energy. So
    J. McIntyre: Why? You can't take the heat?                 guess what. The opposition cannot have it both ways.
    There are too many accomplishments to enumerate,               Britannia Beach, going on down the corridor here,
but I'd like to touch on several of the noteworthy. Let        is also undergoing a major facelift, with new residential
me start with Pemberton. A number of positive steps            redevelopment. The award-winning P3 treatment plant
have been taken as the fast-growing, comparatively             had its official opening a number of months ago, and I
small community deals with its infrastructure needs.           had the supreme pleasure of emceeing. I now can
They've received a child care capital grant from our           assure this House that clean water is flowing into
ministry, and they've made applications for Olympic            Howe Sound after decades of inaction.
live sites grants.                                                 You might wonder: what did the NDP do about
                                                  [1540]       this all through the '90s? Yes, I guarantee you that there
    Arising out of some of our government-to-government        will be resounding silence, because guess what. They're
meetings at UBCM last fall, the village of Pemberton           opposed to the private sector involvement. They would
was awarded a cross-ministry grant for a feasibility           rather do nothing — nothing.
study for the Pemberton Airport, which has the potential
to be a great economic driver in the region and to                 Interjection.
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2007                        BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                                                5541

    J. McIntyre: Yeah, yeah.                                        In closing, I can't help but wonder if the NDP is
    The Britannia mining museum, I can report, is               actually going to have the courage to support this
flourishing, with the updated concentrator building             budget — whether or not, for purely political reasons,
virtually completed with the aid of both provincial and         they're going to vote against these tax breaks and family
federal funds.                                                  supports and then turn around and try to claim that
    Lions Bay is dealing with infrastructure needs, as          they are the only ones to represent the interests of B.C.
are a number of the communities. They have the expanding        families. Well, this is absolute nonsense, because if they
highway and the aftermath of some nasty winter                  vote against this budget, the NDP will be showing their
weather. But on a more positive note, I've had the              true colours. Just look…. [Applause.] Yes, good, good.
pleasure of working with their mayor Max Wyman in               Keep clapping.
developing the Sea to Sky cultural alliance, which is a             Actually, I appreciate the applause, because guess
fabulous grass-roots initiative designed to create critical     what. You go on record for opposing a 10-percent tax
mass for arts and culture in our region.                        break for the vast majority, opposing record funding for
    On Bowen Island I had the pleasure of attending             health care and education. Opposed to increased financial
the official opening of their new public golf course, the       assistance to keep seniors in their homes. Opposed to
pride of many residents who have worked hard to raise           increased assistance for new homebuyers, yes. Opposed
funds and make it the success it is. Along with some of         to expanded rental assistance for an additional 5,800
their local festivals, amenities such as this will definitely   B.C. families. Opposed to an increase in shelter rates for
help in their tourism efforts.                                  people on income assistance, opposed to an additional
    As we get to the south end of the constituency, we          almost $50 million for first nations initiatives. Opposed
arrive at West Vancouver. There has been a major                to a minimum of $100 million in environmental initiatives.
cultural push in this community as a result of their                The NDP are just plain opposed — negative, destruc-
designation last year as a cultural capital of Canada.          tive and pessimistic. In contrast, I feel buoyant. I feel
Festivals will be taken to new levels. There's the              buoyant about what this budget brings to this province.
Harmony Arts in August and now WinterSong in                    I am confident that this Premier has a vision and a
February, which I just had the pleasure of attending on         strong commitment to lead in this province, to improve
opening night in its second year.                               the quality of life for us all with a budget we can afford.
    The North Shore 2010 Spirit of B.C. Committee and               I am incredibly proud and humbled at the same time to
three local mayors have championed our North Shore              represent the West Vancouver–Garibaldi constituents and
MLA initiative of developing a path — more than a               especially proud to be part of this team that actually gets it.
bike path — linking Deep Cove to Horseshoe Bay as a
legacy. Over $700,000 has been returned to the district             H. Bains: I have a surprise for this member who
for policing and should assist with West Van's venture          just spoke previous to me. I'm here to tell her the real
into E-Comm. The 2010 venues at Cypress Mountain                reasons why we should not support this budget.
are well in hand, with one of two completed already in              This is the third budget that I've seen. There's the
2006, well ahead of schedule, to allow our athletes to          same theme developing: give it to the rich multinationals
practise.                                                       and their multi-millionaire friends at the expense of the
                                                      [1545]    working people, the poor and the most vulnerable in
    Finally, I'm very pleased to report that highway            this society. That's what they're doing.
construction is progressing well on the Eagleridge                  As a result, we have the highest number of children
interchange — again, with minimal delays in traffic. So         in poverty in B.C. Homelessness has doubled in the
you can see that the Sea to Sky corridor, to borrow a           last four years. Tuition fees for our students in post-
phrase, is really a happening place as we progress to           secondary education have doubled or tripled. We have
2010.                                                           the highest number of poor living in this province, more
    I'm delighted that this Balanced Budget 2007                than anywhere in Canada. That's why we should be
should improve the quality of life for most everyone in         opposing this.
one way or another — whether it be youngsters                       There are a number of other reasons, which I'd like
who can take advantage of early learning and literacy           to bring to the House, why we should be opposing this.
programs; higher funding in K-to-12 and more government         This budget…. They've talked about how fiscally
money for trades and skills development, apprenticeships        prudent this government is. Let me tell you that for any
and higher learning as they go into adulthood; or for           business you start, there's a fundamental to starting a
seniors who can, as of last week, feel more secure in           business. You must have a business plan.
their housing arrangements. As a renter, an owner or                                                               [1550]
someone in need of shelter or social assistance, rest               When you look at VANOC, at the games that are
assured that our government is putting together a full          being developed, there's no business plan. Although it
range of supports for all of us dealing with housing            was promised two years ago that there would be a
pressures.                                                      business plan that would talk about all of the compo-
    Most of all, I hope that the proposed 10-percent tax        nents of the business plan, we have not yet seen a
break will be appreciated by a broad cross-section              business plan. And they call themselves business people,
of British Columbians. This is the power of a strong            business-savvy people. Those are not business-savvy
economy.                                                        people. That is mismanagement, incompetence.
5542                                            BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                   MONDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2007

    I would like you to take it to my constituency,           credentials and their certificates to fully realize the
Surrey. Ever since this government has taken over, they       potential that they bring to this country.
have allowed the health care system at Surrey Memorial                                                            [1555]
Hospital to deteriorate to a point where people are                These were the folks — many of them are in the
losing their limbs and lives, and this minister continued     category — who were recruited from India, from Sri
to say that everything is fine in Surrey and all of those     Lanka and from Pakistan and other countries and were
hospitals in the lower mainland.                              told: "Your skills are needed in Canada, in British
    Just a few days ago you heard in this House               Columbia." As a result, they came through a skill category
about my constituent who had partially severed his            of the Immigration Act. When they arrived in Canada,
fingers while trying to make a living at his work-            they were told by this government, by the federal
place. He went to Surrey Memorial Hospital at 1:30            government, that their credentials are no good. As a
in the afternoon. He was made to wait two or three            result, as someone said, the hard-working immigrant
hours, and he was told that there are no doctors, no          families are desperate for meaningful jobs.
operating rooms available for him. From there he                   After many years of empty promises, repeated
was shipped to Royal Columbian Hospital. Again,               announcements and hot air, there's no time to waste. What
the same story there. From there his father was told          we need is action rather than more promises, more
to take him to VGH. His father drove him all the way          announcements. That's all we hear from this government
to VGH and got there at 8:30 in the evening. He was           on this issue.
told there that surgery would be performed on him                  Ontario actually took some concrete actions. They
first thing in the morning. That didn't happen. It was        actually brought in Bill 124. They have, through this
the same story there: no doctors; they're too busy            bill, advised all of the professional organizations and
doing other things; no resources. It took 22 hours in         the foreign-trained professionals that they're to work
pain and agony in this day and age, in this province,         together to come up with a process which will speed
before surgery was performed, and he ended up                 the line in recognizing those credentials. They gave
losing one of his fingers.                                    them about a year to come up with that proposal.
    You know what was really, really disturbing? The               If they fail to come up with a solution in one year,
family made a statement that if they were in India, a         then the government can use that act and introduce
Third World country, they probably would have saved           changes as they please to fix this problem. At least
that finger there. That is a shame. That is a shame.          there's an attempt being made. Concrete steps are
    This is from the family, and I think all of you on        being taken — contrary to what this government does,
that side of the House should go and talk to that family      which is just the announcement, promises, but no
and listen to their concerns. Go listen to their concerns.    action. That is a shame. There's nothing in the budget
This type of arrogance and ignorance that comes from          to deal with that issue either.
that side of the House is the reason why we continue to            As I said before, the trend continues on in this
get ignored in Surrey, and no one from that side has          budget again — to help the multinationals, to help
the guts to stand up to the Premier and tell him that we      multi-millionaires or their friends at the expense of the
need resources in Surrey Memorial Hospital.                   poor and the seniors.
    Rather than fixing, all we see is announcement after           Manufactured home owners are another group of
announcement after announcement. The first announce-          folks that are hit hard by this government. In 2002 they
ment was made when they realized that they were going         changed the act. Once they were entitled to up to
to lose elections in 2005. Now they will expand the emer-     $10,000 moving expenses. If the landowner decided to
gency ward; they will build another hospital. Then they       develop the land for other purposes than the home
came to Surrey and said, "Yes, we will expand" — that         park, they would get $10,000 moving expenses. This
was October 2005 — and that the construction will start       government, true to their form, came in and changed
on the ambulatory day care unit in 2007 and will be           that. Now all they're entitled to is the equivalent of 12
completed in 2009.                                            months' rent, which in many cases is only $4,000 or
    I'd like the members on the other side to pay attention   $5,000. That is a shame.
to this. That was the announcement made in October                 Many of these folks who live in those manufactured
2005. Then the Premier came in about six months ago           homes are seniors. Many of them are on disability,
and said that the construction will not start in 2007.        fixed incomes. How cruel a government can be. I have
Instead, it will start a year later. Come on; stand up for    seen 85-year-olds, 87-year-olds who are affected by this
Surrey. What is the reason for the delay of that hospital     change crying in my office because, they are telling me,
to start construction in 2007? What is the reason? There's    the policy of this government has made them homeless.
no reason. There's only one reason. They need to pay               They have no place to go, because they have a home
for the mismanagement, the debacle, of the Vancouver          that is too old to be moved. It does not meet the safety
Convention Centre and the cost overrun at the Olympics.       requirements of the highway. No one buys them. Now
That's what the reason is.                                    they're being moved out. There is no compensation, and
    There are a number of other areas that they have          as a result they have no home to go to. That is a shame,
failed to address in the budget. We have hundreds             and there's nothing in this budget to deal with that issue.
if not thousands of immigrants who are trained,                    The other change they brought in when they
who are qualified and who cannot use their skills, their      took office was the elimination of the Human Rights
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2007                         BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                                             5543

Commission. A human rights commission is a basic                     Child care resource and referral funding was cut
fundamental right for every citizen in a democratic              just a few weeks ago. My understanding is that of the
society. This was the commission that would help the             $14 million that went to these service providers, $6
employer, the workers and the communities to deal                million came from the federal government and the
with the issues in the event there was an issue dealing          remaining $9 million came from the B.C. government.
with a human right.                                              When the federal government cut their $6 million, this
                                                                 government cut their $9 million down to $3 million.
    [H. Bloy in the chair.]                                          In my own constituency we have a service provider
                                                                 called Options, which had 4,758 parent referrals;
     They provided education and many seminars to                53 workshops enrolling over 1,000 participants; 115
deal with the issues they are facing, and there's nothing        networking and drop-in programs; 19,000 loans of
in this budget to deal with that issue either. Once              resources and equipment; 27,000 consultations with
again, many folks are disappointed — the visible                 parents; registered 64 "licence not required" day cares;
minorities and folks all across the province.                    assisted 775 families with subsidy applications and
                                                       [1600]    supplied 2,834 applications.
     WorkSafe B.C. — another area, same theme. The                   Now they will not have this service in my community.
workers' benefits are reduced so that the employer can           Instead, there are 17 people being laid off from my
have a holiday in their premiums. If you look at the             community. Those folks, who provided all of these
area of benefits that are being cut in WorkSafe B.C., it's       services to the parents and to the children in my
so serious that there are people out there who basically         constituency, are no longer there.
have lost their homes, and they don't know what to do                                                                 [1605]
about it. There are people in my office who have been                They call this a housing budget, for some reason. I
dealing with WCB for six or seven years now with no              looked at it, and the member for West Vancouver–
end in sight. All they see is roadblock after roadblock,         Garibaldi said that what the member for Yale-Lillooet
and they have nothing to go to.                                  — who I thought correctly described this budget —
     For whoever is entitled to those benefits, their benefits   had said was laughable. But I'll tell you what's laugh-
are reduced to a point where you're talking about                able, Mr. Speaker. They said that there's $2 billion in
working in poverty. That's the kind of stuff this gov-           housing. Three-quarters of that — they know that —
ernment has done. Like I said, the theme is the same.            comes as a 10-percent tax cut, as they claim, which
Take from the workers, take from the ordinary families,          should be used as a housing subsidy. That's laughable.
and give it to the multinationals. That's the theme              There isn't much about housing, but they call this a
again when they changed the WCB and WorkSafe B.C.                housing budget, just like the one before they called a
in the act.                                                      children's budget and the one before the seniors
     The forest industry is another area. Many of my             budget, which I believe was the same thing. There was
constituents work in the sawmills. I just had another            nothing in there — all talk.
sawmill closed, where many of my constituents work                   I want to talk about crime, in closing. I know my
— Western Forest Products in Queensborough. Over                 time is running out. Just in the last few days a serious
200 workers were given pink slips because of the policy          criminal, a rapist, was released in my community of
of this government. This mill wasn't shut down because           Surrey-Newton. The Ontario Attorney General went to
this mill was not profitable or wasn't efficient. This mill      court and got a court injunction, got an order preventing
was shut down because the company can shut it down.              this fellow from moving into Ontario forever. Where
     There's no accountability from this government.             was our Attorney General? Where is this government
They'll continue to use our logs and tree farm licences.         in protecting the citizens of my community in this
The workers are thrown on the street, and there's no             province? Nowhere to be seen.
responsibility, as we once had, on the companies                     While they are praising this budget, praising their
through the social contract that we had in place in the          Premier day in and day out, they are not doing anything
'50s and '60s. These are our logs. These logs are supposed       about preventing crime. They are doing nothing to
to be used to create employment, both in logging and             assure my community that they are safe in their homes,
in manufacturing.                                                that they are safe when they're walking their children
     There was that link, and they took that link out so         to school. Nothing is being done, and I think that is a
that their friends the multinationals can do whatever            shame. It is a shame for the record of this government.
they want with our resources — our logs. Log exports,                I want to move on to the education side. When Bill 33
as a result, are at a record high. In the meantime those         was brought in after the tremendous amount of pressure
companies shutting down these mills are claiming that            from the parents, the teachers and this opposition, they
they don't have enough logs to keep those mills running.         made some changes, but they went only halfway. They
That's the kind of stuff this government has done, and           put the class sizes and the class-size limit on, but they
all you have to do is talk to those workers who are losing       provided no resources to pay for that. There was nothing
their jobs every day in the forest industry. They refuse         for the special needs children — nothing whatsoever. I
to do that. They even refuse to meet with those workers.         think, as a result, our children are suffering in that com-
It is a shame — the kind of changes that have been               munity, and those folks and the parents are not getting
brought.                                                         the support they need in our schools for their children.
5544                                             BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                   MONDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2007

     I want to talk about the Olympics and the Vancouver       rather than continue to run these with the Premier's
Convention Centre. I've never seen any government              friends whose only interest is to protect the Premier's
doing what this government is doing — hiding the               political hide rather than protecting taxpayers and their
cost, not being up front, and this from a government that      tax dollars." That is a shame.
promised they would be the most open and transparent               When you look at how incompetent they are…. The
government in Canada. In fact, they are quite the opposite.    current minister responsible for convention centres
     We calculated that the real cost of the Olympics is       said only a week ago that about a week earlier, he didn't
over $2 billion. When we add all those numbers, it             even know. He said he didn't know how far the cost
comes to $2.7 billion. The Auditor General came up             overruns are going to be. Here's a minister responsible,
with their report and confirmed that there's $2.5 billion      and he didn't know. He didn't know at all what the
of Olympic costs for the taxpayers. But this minister,         cost overrun is going to look like.
this government continued to say that it was only $600             "So who is in charge?" we ask. Who is in charge?
million. They have off-loaded hundreds of millions of          Obviously, it's not the minister. It wasn't the previous
dollars on the municipalities, off-loaded on the government    minister. It's someone else — either the Premier or the
agencies, and they have tried to hide all of that cost in      Premier's friends who are running that project into the
different budgets.                                             ground.
     This is the independent office of the Auditor General         While I've been going at this, I have misplaced all
saying it's $2.5 billion. But this government, instead of      of my papers, and I don't know where to start now.
saying, "Yes, we made a mistake. Yes, we could not add             I just want to say this at the end. This budget has
up as you have. We're sorry," continued to say: "No, it's      nothing in it for the students who like to go to post-
only $600 million, and the Auditor General doesn't know        secondary education. There's no relief for them. There's
what he's talking about." That's the response from this        no relief in this budget for the seniors who are paying
government. That's nothing but arrogance and a                 through their noses for Pharmacare and because of lack
contemptuous attitude toward the taxpayers that we             of housing. There's nothing in it for the children of this
see day in and day out from this government.                   province. There's nothing in it for the women of this
                                                      [1610]   province. There's nothing for those folks who came
     The convention centre is another story. In 2003 this      from outside as immigrants, and they have those
government, this Premier said that the budget would            foreign credentials. There's nothing to deal with that
be $495 million. Only a few months later they updated          issue.
that to $565 million. Then it went to $615 million. The            There's nothing to deal with the accountability and
minister at the time said that is the final cost of the        lack of transparency that oozes out of these government
building. That's the taxpayers' money — $615 million.          offices. There's nothing to deal with that.
The minister said that's the final cost. That was about a                                                         [1615]
year ago when the minister made that statement.                    In the meantime we continue to see our health care
     Then they tried to come up with all kinds of excuses.     deteriorating, where people are losing their limbs and
It's not the incompetency. It's not the mismanagement.         lives. In the meantime the minister thinks everything is
Oh, it's the labour cost. It's the material cost. This         fine. That's just pure arrogance and contempt towards
Premier, their two successive ministers and their hand-        the taxpayers of this province.
picked people who are running that project — friends               In conclusion, I would say that we — all of us —
of the Premier — said that the construction cost is 11         should oppose this budget and ask the Minister of Fi-
percent to 12 percent and that they anticipated it was         nance to bring back a budget that actually deals with
only 2 percent.                                                the ordinary folks, deals with ordinary families, deals
     A year ago the minister was saying that it was only       with the poor and deals with those who are most
$615 million. Now it's $800 million. That's not 10 percent.    vulnerable in our society.
That's like a 33-percent increase. What's the explanation
of that? There's no explanation from their side because            R. Sultan: My goodness. What a litany of incompe-
they know it's pure mismanagement. It's pure misman-           tence, mismanagement and ignorance we've heard from
agement.                                                       the member for Surrey-Newton.
     I was asked this question: are we facing another fast         This is what incompetence, mismanagement and
ferry fiasco? When you compare that fast ferries cost          ignorance have produced in this province under this
over $250 million, the Premier — who was the opposition        government — 320,000 new jobs. That's the result of
leader at the time — lit his hair on fire, and I say right-    incompetence, mismanagement and ignorance, I suppose.
fully so. But now we are facing over a billion-dollar cost     Gosh, what would competence, good management and
overrun, and not a peep is coming from those members           sophistication achieve if all that was accomplished was
from their side — not a peep. They think everything is         320,000 new jobs?
fine.                                                              One of my notes reminded me that we are at a 30-
     Where are you? The business-savvy folks — where           year low in unemployment, but that's a mistake. Appar-
are you? Stand up to this Premier. Stand up to this            ently, according to Statistics Canada, since they started
Premier and tell the Premier: "Put some competent              keeping records unemployment has never been lower in
people, competent managers, in that project so that            British Columbia than it is right now. That's an incredible
taxpayers can be saved from future cost overruns               accomplishment.
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2007                              BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                                             5545

    In contrast to people's voting with their bus tickets            other side of this aisle, what would they have done in
and cars taking them elsewhere under the previous                    lieu of what our Finance Minister presented in the way
government, under this government we've seen the                     of a budget? In the main, aside from the applause from
population of the province growing about 1 percent a                 the member for Surrey-Whalley, it's been carping
year through immigration. This is an incredible growth               criticism if not a diversion to some other off-topic
rate to achieve, as obviously people from elsewhere in               thing, like hours of work for this Legislature.
Canada and elsewhere in the world rather like what                       We do have the benefit of another quite detailed
they see as a result of incompetence, mismanagement                  financial plan and budget offered by allies of the members
and ignorance. So let's keep it up. This is an achievement           opposite. I refer to our old friends at CCPA, the Canadian
to be proud of, and of course, it is the underlying foundation       Centre for Policy Alternatives. I took the opportunity
stone upon which the Finance Minister has presented                  of seizing their B.C. Solutions Budget 2007 document
the budget.                                                          and comparing their numbers with those in the Finance
    I find curious the tactics of the opposition in re-              Minister's budget on this side of the House.
sponse to both the Speech from the Throne and the                        Again, we heard some echoes of those tanks trundling
budget. The Speech from the Throne — to which I will                 across Red Square as we flipped through the pages of
not separately speak, so let me just inject a brief comment          what CCPA had to offer. In sum, it's an interesting
— clearly addressed one of the big issues of our day —               comparison, and I chose the years 2008-2009 because
namely, global warming, energy conservation and cli-                 both are carefully detailed in the Finance Minister's
mate change. I expected, particularly from this party                budget and in their alternative budget.
opposite, of all parties, well versed in the doctrine of                 Here are the high spots. Their economy is going to
these issues over many, many years than people on this               be a little bit bigger than our economy in 2008-2009 by
side of the House focused on it…. I give them credit for             0.6 percent. Not a lot, but significant. Their government
that.                                                                revenues are going to be 8 percent larger. And this is
    What did they choose to talk about? Child care.                  the really strange curiosity. Their government spending
Now, child care is important too, but I couldn't help                is going to be 2.3 percent less.
but think that they had the wrong parliament. The                        Juxtapose that with the words with which they
consequences of abrupt changes in child care that have               introduced their budget, saying that government must
caused upset in all the ridings should be better directed            tackle poverty, growing inequality, rising homelessness,
through Jack Layton, it seems to me, rather than in this             nothing inevitable about unacceptably long wait times
House because of the source of the difficulty.                       in the health care system, cash-strapped schools, inade-
    Turning to the budget speech, again focusing on tax              quate child protection, etc. One would have thought,
cuts, homelessness, helping seniors and helping first-time           based on that preamble, that they were going to really
home buyers and so on, I expected a very thoughtful                  cut loose with some very ambitious spending plans to
and probably pointed — to the point of discomfort in                 rectify what they view as weaknesses in the program.
spots — criticism of the presentation of the platform by                 Here is the reality of what they in fact propose,
the Finance Minister.                                                large item by large item. In the health sector the allies
    What, instead, were we given the pleasure of? Hours              of members opposite, CCPA, would actually spend in
and hours of debate about the hours of work in this                  2008-2009 about 8 percent less than this government
Legislature. I never thought I would see the day when                proposed to spend — 8 percent less. In the education
an NDP opposition would vote against the 40-hour week,               sector, another favourite topic, they would spend 6
but that's what we seem to have seen here.                           percent less. Less in social services, 0.3 percent — not
                                                        [1620]       by much, but nevertheless less. They would spend a lot
    Having said all of that, perhaps it was their discomfort         less, 11 percent less, on public protection, 7 percent less
at finding a handhold on the various programs that                   on transportation, 3 percent less on natural resources
were rolled out which accounted for what I would call                and economic development, and 3½ percent less on
some lapses in opposition opportunity.                               general government. They would only spend more on
    Indeed, I can't resist quoting the member for Surrey-            debt service, which perhaps stands to reason.
Whalley who said, to quote Les Leyne's column in the                                                                       [1625]
Times Colonist:                                                          Total spending overall is 2.3 percent less in the CCPA
         "The New Democrats seem to have finally realized            alternative budget. I think this is certainly unexpected,
    how popular tax cuts are as well. The NDP sneered at the         and it surprised me because it did suggest an approach
    Liberals' first dramatic tax cut, the 25-percent shocker in      to debt reduction, for example, that went far beyond
    2001. They were so down and out at that point, with two          what was envisaged on this side of the House.
    seats, that opposing what turned out to be a pretty popular
                                                                         Their main theme was that generally revenues had
    move, didn't do them much harm.
         "This time they are treading much more carefully.           been underestimated in the past. They came up with
    The NDP Finance critic" — the member I've just alluded           their alternative plan, which showed more revenues,
    to — "who was the designated speaker for the opposition's        but instead of spending it, they put it towards debt
    official response…said: 'The income tax cut is welcome….'"       reduction. I find that very, very strange.
We'll accept that; we happen to agree.                                   The other thing to comment on with CCPA is the
   I suppose the question one must ask is: given the                 proportion of the economy that they would see flowing
philosophy and historical strategies of those on the                 through government coffers in the way of taxes raised
5546                                            BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                    MONDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2007

and government revenues. Here we do see some dis-             place and provide the kinds of housing our communi-
tinct policy differences. The Minister of Finance is pro-     ties need.
jecting 15.1 percent of the provincial economy flowing             I presume they're against the SAFER program pro-
into the provincial government in '08-09. CCPA pro-           viding monthly cash payments to subsidize rent for
jects 16.3 percent — 1.2 percentage points more — but         15,000 British Columbians 60 years and older and add-
also speculates in some text that maybe it could go as        ing 5,800 additional families to the rolls. I presume
high as 17.7 percent.                                         they're against the first-time-homebuyers program
     Well, 17.7 percent of the British Columbia economy       helping people get a foot in the door by exempting
flowing into government through the tax machine is            them from the property transfer tax.
certainly significantly greater than what the Minister of          A couple of other things that I presume they're
Finance is projecting at only 15.1 percent. You get an        against. They presumably are against making low-
extra $5 billion with those 2½ percentage points of           income seniors, veterans and people with disabilities
revenue. I could not see how they were planning to            eligible for a homeowner grant regardless of their
actually raise that additional money, but I just couldn't     home's assessed value — an issue of particular impor-
resist the opportunity to compare it to where it might        tance on the North Shore.
come from and what kind of a tax increase that might               Finally, I presume they're against changing the op-
imply.                                                        portunity to defer your property taxes from eligibility
     It would be a 76-percent increase in personal in-        at age 60 to eligibility at age 55. I presume they're
come taxes, for example. It would be a 359-percent in-        against that.
crease in corporate income taxes, if that was the target           I will look forward to the evolution of this debate to
of the entire $5 billion. It would be almost a doubling       see what they are in favour of, but I would say there's a
of the social services tax — i.e., the sales tax. It would    rather long litany of what they seem to be against by
be a 500-percent increase in the fuel tax or a 250-           their opposition to this budget.
percent increase in property tax. In fairness, if they             I think there are some huge missed opportunities. I
were going to raise another $5 billion, they clearly          must admit in my heart feeling the occasional irrespon-
would not load it all under one sector, but that gives        sible impulse to rush over and say: why don't you ask
you some idea of the scale of what seems to be in the         this question, or why don't you ask that question? I'm
minds of some of the analysts over there.                     restrained from doing so, so let me just offer you some
     To sum up the CCPA's B.C. Solutions Budget 2007,         comments from this side of the House.
they're gambling on a slightly higher economic growth              I think a missed opportunity for the opposition in
rate and on quite a bit more government revenues.             debating this budget is to raise the issue of productiv-
They've got a bigger share of the economy, and they're        ity. It's not mentioned in the budget at all, but it's be-
planning less government spending than this govern-           coming an important issue among many observing the
ment is. That's a first in budget history, I would sug-       Canadian scene, including British Columbia.
gest, although maybe my research is inadequate in                  We have had a slippage in productivity in Canada,
terms of left-leaning think tanks.                            and I don't think British Columbia's immune. Interest-
     The opposition here in this House, while not put-        ingly for those who think productivity means getting
ting up their own budget for analysis, certainly has          workers to work harder and uncomfortable things like
indicated what they're against in no uncertain terms.         that, I think it's the business sector, in fact, that is show-
I'm sure we're going to hear more about that before the       ing not to be as productive as it should be in compari-
debate is ended. Let me just list eight of the things         son with our international competitors.
they've indicated clearly that they're against, which, as          Let me just cite a few statistics again. Since 1961, if
I sit in my own constituency office, I don't hear much        we look at the total economy, gross domestic product
complaining about.                                            per worker, we lost about eight points vis-à-vis the
     The first point is to increase the number of beds        United States. We used to be about 92 percent of where
available for full-time shelter by almost 30 percent.         they are, and now we're on an 84-percent basis. Busi-
They're against that, I presume. Secondly, the Finance        ness has lost a smidgeon more.
Minister announced up to $38 million in new funding                The consequences of loss in productivity are seri-
for housing initiatives around the province for those         ous. It appears in the most recent data that the slide in
that are currently homeless or at risk of being home-         Canadian productivity has actually accelerated.
less. I presume they are against that.                             You might say: "Well, who cares? This is Canada;
                                                     [1630]   that's the world. We run our own affairs here." But the
     They seem to be against having a family of four          consequences of poor productivity have been outlined,
receiving up to $700 a month for housing. I presume it        for example, by economist Don Drummond, who talks
means they're against British Columbia having the             about Argentina: "Argentina illustrates the long-term
highest shelter assistance rates in Canada for employ-        consequences of an unproductive economy." Its anemic
able singles, couples and single-parent families — the        productivity is hobbled by "excessive public spending,
highest in Canada.                                            mounting deficits, nationalized industries and a closed
     I presume it means they're against this government       economy," producing many "formidable problems,
providing $45 million over four years to upgrade up to        including hyperinflation. This has led to serious social
750 of our social housing units to help people age in         ills, particularly for the most vulnerable, who have
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2007                       BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                                              5547

seen the value of their savings and salaries diminish"        throne speech. But, you know, the proof is in the facts.
and, in some cases, virtually disappear.                      When you look at the facts, the facts are glaring. It's not
    Productivity is not something people talk about           only this side that is making that observation. Here are
very much or think about very much, but if we wanted          some quotes. Here's Keith Baldrey on February 21: "The
to look at the economics of British Columbia and how          most misleading part of any budget I have seen since
to make sure we all benefit from the boom that we are in,     the Liberals came to power."
I think the opposition could have raised some questions           Vaughn Palmer says: "Carole Taylor insisted Tuesday
about productivity and asked with legitimacy: "What           that her budget was all about 'building a housing legacy'
are you folks doing about it there? You're in charge."        and pointed to a reputed $2 billion housing plan. The
                                                     [1635]   claim was entirely misleading…. Taylor could have just
    Instead, what we get from members opposite typically      as easily packaged her tax cut as 'building a legacy' for
are pleas for more protectionism, a closed economy, anti-     child care, education, retirement or buying a new car."
TILMA — heaven forbid, let's not compete with those
rude and rough people from Alberta. Let's have more               Interjection.
regulation, not less. Let's nationalize enterprise.
    We heard a rumour this morning that one of your                C. Puchmayr: The member across takes offence at
critics told a meeting that should members opposite           the media for making those observations. We made
come to power, they would nationalize the independent         those observations as well, and she takes offence to that
power producer sector. I don't know if that is true or        as well.
not, but it would certainly seem consistent with the                                                                  [1640]
philosophy of many members opposite. Certainly, the                I will continue through this. I will continue to let
higher taxes implied by the Canadian Centre for Policy        this House and the people of British Columbia know
Alternatives would also be a part of the overall picture.     what the true observations are of this so-called housing
    Now, let's add this up. Higher taxes, nationalization,    budget.
more regulation, a closed economy — it sounds like the             Michael Smyth: "Somebody should sue the Liberal
path Argentina went down many years ago and has never         spin doctors for malpractice because they sure botched
really recovered from.                                        the operation yesterday." That was on February 21.
    I am positively delighted to speak warmly about                Paul Willcocks: "Can anyone argue with a straight
the budget our Finance Minister has brought forward.          face that a tax cut worth $25 a month for a typical family
It certainly has been received with respect and acclaim       is really the centrepiece of an effective housing strategy?"
among people across Canada who look at how govern-            Unbelievable. Absolutely unbelievable.
ments are managing their fiscal affairs. It maintains the          Don Cayo: "This could have turned into a real
tradition of prudence and caution, the maintenance of         housing budget. But, despite modest increases for the
our superb credit rating, and at the same time, it injects    homeless and low-income renters, it isn't. And Minister
a very human face and some tangible programs to               Taylor and her colleagues deserve to have their noses
persons such as the homeless, to seniors struggling to        tweaked for pretending it is." That's in the Vancouver Sun.
maintain a standard of living, to people who are less              A professor of political science at UVic says: "When
advantaged right across the system.                           you consider that we have a growing population, a
    I think it's an excellent budget, and I'm disappointed    waiting list for housing and a continuing homelessness
that the opposition has not seen fit to zero in on the real   problem, it is very timid. It's a…most timid…start of a
issues rather than issues that, frankly, I think are some-    housing policy." That was in the Globe and Mail.
what spurious.                                                     There are many more quotes, and I won't continue
                                                              on with them. I will make my comments now. But I
     C. Puchmayr: In the dwindling hours of our first         also want to say that Mayor Sullivan of the city of
overtime shift, I'd like to thank the members in this         Vancouver had some glowing words about this budget
House, and I'd like to make my comments on the tax cut.       until, I guess, he did an analysis of it and realized the
     There are certainly some interesting remarks coming      same thing that we are realizing. This is not a housing
from the other side about what we've seen here. "The          budget.
people's housing budget" is what they're calling it.               It's just like the children's budget was not a children's
When you look at the fact that they're talking about $2       budget. We now have the worst level of child poverty
billion in tax cuts and somebody that's earning $100,000      in Canada. Some 24 percent of children live in poverty.
a year would get returned probably the equivalent of          This is after the children's budget of about a year ago.
the payment on a gas-guzzling Hummer for one month,           When there are children living in poverty, there are
well, they could have called it the "Hummer budget."          parents living in poverty as well. I think it is shameful
Or for people who, between the family, are getting a          that in an economy that is doing as well as this — with
dollar — a family of three, 30 cents for the two children     the highest resource values that we have ever seen in
and the mother…. That's not even enough to buy a              electricity, in copper, in oil…. We should not have so
chocolate bar, so you could call it the "can't-even-buy-      many people living in poverty, and we certainly
a-chocolate-bar budget."                                      shouldn't be number one in Canada in child poverty.
     I guess it depends on what tax bracket you're in.             It used to be Prince Edward Island. Prince Edward
They certainly praise this budget, just as they praise the    Island was number one in 2001. British Columbia was
5548                                            BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                   MONDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2007

about eighth, almost the best place in Canada to raise        and shelter. Why is there such a long waiting list?" She
children. Now it has become the worst place to raise          tells me that at one of the social housing developments
children for those living in lower incomes. This budget       that has been around for many years, there are vacancies.
does nothing to address that issue. As a matter of fact,      There are empty units. Now we know why. They were
not only does it do nothing, we've seen unprecedented         purging those units out so that they could come back in
cuts to child care in this province.                          and build a different type of seniors housing.
     I know, they blame their brothers and sisters in the         Then they're going to trumpet that as: "See? We're
Conservative government, but nevertheless, when               meeting our obligations. We're building this housing."
times were tough…. I'm not going to take credit for the           We need housing for both. We need housing for
'90s, but there were some good things done in the '90s.       seniors. We need housing for the elderly, for the disabled,
     The federal government got out of building afford-       and we need housing for the homeless.
able housing. The federal government decided: "No                 We need transition. We need to be able to treat
more building of affordable housing, social housing.          people with drug and alcohol addictions so that they
We're getting out of that market." Quebec and British         can become part of society once again.
Columbia continued to build social housing. We had                In my city of New Westminster, there is a group
fewer people living in the streets and fewer people           called Lookout. Our Leader of the Opposition and myself
that were homeless because we were building social            toured it one time. It was incredible to see the pride of
housing, like any progressive city or any progressive         these individuals who were at one time at risk. They
country does.                                                 were living in the streets. They were at risk of abuse.
     I remember recently I was at Whistler, when I was        They were at risk of becoming drug addicted. They
back with the UBCM. I was a representative of the             were being victimized by other people who were living
social economic policy committee. I was representing          in the streets, and they found a home. They found a
the city, and I was a little concerned that we would          home in the Lookout shelter, which provided a safe
have a conference at Whistler. I thought that it's not        accommodation.
really money well spent for a municipality.                       It was supposed to be a transitional space, where
     It was really interesting to see, about six years ago,   they would move them off the streets into a room, a
what was starting to happen in the Whistler area.             very small bachelor suite, and eventually, hopefully,
Every store you walked into in the village had stacks of      they would be able to move on into other accommodations.
application forms, people looking for workers. Why            Well, transition housing isn't transition housing anymore.
were they looking for workers? Not because there were         Once people get in there, if you make them leave after
all these jobs but because nobody could afford to work        two years, they have nowhere to go.
at minimum wage and live in Whistler.                             They will be back on the street again because we
     When I was back at the conference, I said: we're         are seeing such a shortage of housing and such a crisis
going to see this happen here. It's going to happen on a      in housing that now transitional housing is ending up
larger scale. It's going to happen in British Columbia.       being permanent housing. There's nothing wrong with
It's going to happen in Vancouver, and it'll probably         that, but we need to build more so that we can help
happen in my community of New Westminster.                    people, especially those with disabilities.
     Folks, it has happened. It is happening. If we can't         Recently we saw the issue with long-term care. The
supply starter homes or transitional housing for homeless     Albos were a couple. Because of the new first-available-
people, especially those with mental disabilities, we are     bed policy, there was no ability to deal with that. There
not a progressive government. If we didn't speak out          was no ability to have two people who were married
about it, we would not deserve the right to sit here as       for 60 years or more be able to live the last years of
an opposition. If we allow this government to trumpet         their lives with respect and dignity together. The way
this as a housing budget and say nothing about it, we         that they were torn from each other and transferred
shouldn't even be here.                                       and the tragic results of that, with both of them passing
                                                     [1645]   away very quickly…. Mr. Albo, I think they said, died of
     I'm proud to be here and speak out for my community      a broken heart.
and for British Columbians who are living in poverty.             We need to have more compassion. It can't just be
     You remember the seniors' budget. Look at where          dollars and cents. There has to be more compassion. If
seniors are now: in desperation. The government               there's money for a corporate tax cut, which on our first
promised to build accommodation for seniors — 5,000           budget…. I believe it was a 1¼-percent corporate tax
or 6,000 accommodations for seniors — and long-term           cut, almost half a billion dollars over the term. That tax
care beds. Where are they?                                    cut went to oil companies who didn't even ask for a tax cut.
     Now they've announced this ingenious plan.                   The business community said: "Wow. We're surprised
They're going to take existing social housing and convert     we're getting a tax cut. We didn't even ask for one." It
it into seniors housing. Add another displacement to          went to oil companies who right now, in my opinion,
social housing.                                               are gouging British Columbians on the cost of fuel —
     Somebody came into my office one day and said:           sometimes a hundred percent higher cost of fuel in
"Why is there a ten-year waiting list for affordable          British Columbia, which is close to where it's being
housing for a mother and child? The mother's trying to        produced, in northern B.C. and in Alberta. A massive
work at minimum wage and needs some assistance                markup compared to other parts of the country.
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2007                        BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                                              5549

    They received a tax break. I mean, they can take a          schools. The schools were run into the ground. Seismic
1¼ percent every five minutes. They jack those prices           issues prevailed.
up and down and condition you to pay 3.5 cents less at the          We built a school every 19 days. What does this side
pump to make you believe you're getting a deal. They            do? They're closing schools. They're ripping the schools
received a tax cut.                                             out of the heartlands, out of the communities. And
                                                     [1650]     what do people do when the school leaves? They leave.
    Banks have just raised their costs. A lot of them           Where do you go? Am I going to move to an area
have just raised their service costs. They get a corporate      where the school has just been closed so my children
tax cut, and people like the Albos are having trouble           have to travel for hours and hours a day on a bus?
decent, dignified accommodation together in the last                What happens when you do that? Trades leave,
years of their life. So to call this a housing budget is just   skills leave, and then you go: "There's a skills shortage."
beyond belief to me.                                            Put a school in there, and see what happens.
    We talk about the 300 more shelter beds. Why shelter
beds? Is that dignified? We're going to bring in a                 Interjection.
budget where we're going to put 300 more mats on the
floor for the homeless to sleep on. Pat us on the back,            C. Puchmayr: Absolutely.
somebody. You know, 300 more mats….
                                                                   Hon. S. Bond: First to worst when you were in
   Hon. G. Abbott: Tell us what you'd do.                       government. You can list it all.

     C. Puchmayr: The member wants me to tell him….                 C. Puchmayr: Yeah, right. First to worst in child
I'll tell the member what I would do, so he'd better            poverty under this government — the worst; one in
listen up really close here.                                    four. It's sad, and they don't look at that. They refuse to
     The United Nations came out with a statistic that          look at that. They refuse to make that analysis. It's so
said for every dollar you spend on rehabilitation of            simple.
drug addiction, on homelessness, you have a saving of                                                                 [1655]
$7. For every dollar you spend, there's a saving of $7.             Let's talk about jobs again. I'll just use my community
     Why don't you take the $250 million — that legacy          as an example. We've lost hundreds of jobs in the
fund that's going to draw $10 million a year on it —            sawmills. They've left. They've gone south of the border.
and invest the whole thing? You've got $1.5 billion of          Who was in government when they went south of the
benefit to society by building that housing right now —         border? The Liberals. Hundreds of forestry jobs and
a $1.5 billion saving to society — instead of $10 million       value-added, high-paying manufacturing jobs — gone
and rolling out some mats so that a drug-addicted               south of the border. This government was on watch.
homeless person can be brought in and laid down on                  The brewery in my community. Under this government
the floor. Then at seven in the morning, you punt them          they found reason to leave. They went to Alberta —
back out on the street: "Sorry. Come back tonight." Or          under this government. I didn't know that jobs left for
in some cases: "Come back if it gets below a certain            Alberta under this government. Well, not only are they
temperature."                                                   going to Alberta, but they're going south of the border.
     I mean, that's so sad. That is so sad. That is where       Our logs are going down there, being manufactured
we are at. We built housing under the former NDP                south of the border, while value-added, good-paying
government. They stopped building housing, and we               jobs that sustained the communities are gone — absolutely
have had the biggest increase in homelessness since the         gone, under their watch.
Great Depression, and all that during a time when the               I'm pleased that the Forests Minister is here. My
economy is booming.                                             community has been trying to get him to come out and
     The economy is booming: highest resource prices,           talk about the mill closure. The mayor of my community,
highest copper prices, highest oil prices. Copper went          the councillors of my community, the workers at the
from 30 cents to — what, Member? — about $3 or                  Western Forest Products mill…. I even phoned his
more? Thirty cents a pound to $3 or more? Oh, and this          office. I asked if there was a wide enough hallway that
is a global price. This isn't a made-in-B.C. price. You         I could put a tent there so that I could actually see him
think B.C. sets the oil price? If the oil price was set in      coming and I could say: "Please come to my community
B.C., I would hope the other side would set an oil price        and talk to my council. Talk about a transition program.
that was reasonable rather than an oil price that people        Talk to my council. Talk to the millworkers that are
can't even afford to travel around on anymore.                  losing their jobs. Give them some hope."
     I think that's how you measure a government. You               This isn't a mill that wasn't making money. This is a
measure a government on how they do when times are              profitable mill. This is a mill that was making money.
tough.                                                          Under their watch, those jobs are gone. Again, jobs are
     I remember back in the '90s — I wasn't in the              gone south of the border.
government; I'm not taking credit for this — they built             I was in the hospital visiting with doctors and hearing
a school every 19 days in ten years. The previous Social        the horror stories of doctors saying: "Why would I
Credit government — which is some of the people                 want to stay here when I can't even operate? I don't have
across from me, only a different name — didn't build            the operating theatre time. Why would I stay here?"
5550                                             BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                    MONDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2007

    One of the doctors, who is very prominent in the                We went from all of that to $4 million. Not only
emergency wards, said that it's not even worthwhile            that…. This is how creative it is. Heading into the
training them because if you train them and don't give         throne speech, you do a whole bunch of spin about the
them the opportunity to work, they're going to leave.          environment at the last minute, and then you do it in
They're going to leave and go to the United States.            the throne speech at the last minute. Then when you're
They're going to go to other parts of the world where          doing the budget, you announce that you're going to tax
they are in demand.                                            the two cleanest resources we have — gas and electricity
    Under the watch of this government, we're losing           — and people go: "Hey, I feel good. It's the green tax."
doctors. We're losing value-added jobs. We're losing                Then they wake up, and they go: "What just happened
millworkers. We're losing nurses — under this government.      here? How did we go from 'We're going to be leaders
                                                               in the environment, we're going to have the green
   Interjections.                                              environment, and we're going to have the hydrogen
                                                               highway,' and then absolutely no money to do it?"
   Deputy Speaker: Members, can we please leave the            Nothing. Nothing to do it. Talk about greenhouse gas.
speaker….                                                      A lot of smoke and a lot of mirrors.
                                                                    How did the Premier become the environmentalist
      C. Puchmayr: Really, it's great to know that they're     all of a sudden? Where did that come from? Well, remem-
thinking about my comments, or they wouldn't be                ber the Governor of California. The Governor of California
sharing their frustrations with me. I'm glad that they         had a worse approval rating on the environment than
are listening, too, because maybe they will take some of       even George Bush, the President. He went: "Wow, mid-
this to heart and do something about it.                       terms are coming up. I have to reinvent myself. I know
      I'm going to talk a little bit about TILMA. We heard     what. I'm going to convert one of my seven gas-guzzling
the member across talk about TILMA. Let's say all the          Humvees to a hydrogen fuel cell, and then I will get
Conference Board of Canada comments are accurate.              re-elected as a green governor."
Let's say there was a net benefit to British Columbia.              Well, you know what. He did get re-elected. So what
Let's say there was. Well then, have the guts to come          does Stephen Harper do? He goes: "Wow, I better get
into this House and debate it in here so that we can           rid of my Environment Minister. I'll dust off the old
actually debate TILMA in this House. They won't                federal Liberals' plan on the environment and then
debate it. They make a deal. This is the open and trans-       re-announce it and say that I'm a green prime minister."
parent government — about as transparent as ink from                Yet at one time…. Listen to this. Here's a quote
a squid. No debate.                                            from Prime Minister Harper denying climate change
      They go to Alberta, and they cut a deal. They bring      only a few years ago when he was with the Canadian
it in. We don't have the right to come in here in committee    Reform Alliance Party. He referred to Kyoto as a socialist
stage. We don't have the right to get the minister to          scheme. Then all of a sudden he borrows something
answer the questions that my community is asking and           from that green guy across the border — not Arnold;
my municipality is asking. We've seen examples of              Kermit. He borrows his jacket. "I'm green now. I'm
TILMA in a different context in the United States, in          going to get re-elected."
Oregon, and it's disastrous. It is absolutely disastrous.           I don't think that British Columbians are going to
      They talk about free trade across the border, like       fall for this. I mean, this is pretty bizarre. This is pretty
there isn't free trade across the Alberta border. Are there    far-fetched, as $4 million to reduce greenhouse gas
border lineups? Are there border crossings? Do you             between now and the end of this term just doesn't fly.
need to have all of your documents in two languages?           I'm baffled that they would call…. We had a green
      There are no restrictions in going across the border     throne speech, and there's nothing green about it. Then
to work. There are no restrictions. Are there restrictions     we had a homeless budget, and we've got record
to investing? If I want to invest, if I want to put my         homelessness, and it'll continue to grow. It's just
money in a bank in Alberta, are there restrictions? No.        beyond belief.
So why do we need this?                                                                                               [1705]
                                                      [1700]        The member across, for Vancouver-Burrard, rose in
      If there is not a net gain, if the economic growth for   the House the other day to talk about NIMBYism. He
Alberta equates the economic growth for British Columbia,      spoke about my community, New Westminster, and
it'll be a push. We both will benefit equally, so why do       his quotes were: "New Westminster is not a very good
we need it? Why do we need TILMA? If you don't agree           example either." He's talking about affordable housing.
with that, at least have the decency to bring it into this     He goes: "New Westminster is so bad…the member
House as legislation, and let us debate it in here. That's     from New West who sits across the House has done
what we're here to do. TILMA needs debate.                     nothing to help this…. They were so bad that they not
      I love to talk about this new green plan, this envi-     only ran the Salvation Army out of town; they also ran
ronment. We see certain concerns about the environment.        Union Gospel Mission out of town. They have no
I was certainly pleased to hear many, many minutes of          desire and no commitment to create social housing in
the throne speech talking about the environment and            their communities."
about greenhouse gas. But where are the results? Where
was it in the budget speech? What happened?                        Interjection.
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2007                       BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                                                 5551

   C. Puchmayr: Well, I've got it here — Mayencourt.              Hon. R. Coleman: I'm pleased to respond to Balanced
He could have corrected it in Hansard. He did have time.      Budget 2007 debate. First of all, I like the title of it because,
   If you listen, if you look at the record….                 frankly, that's all we've ever done — balance the budget
                                                              in British Columbia. As we've balanced it, we've actually
   Interjections.                                             put this province back on its feet. We've changed the
                                                              direction for hundreds of thousands of people, if not
   Deputy Speaker: Member. Member, would you                  millions, in the direction of a great future for people
please take your seat.                                        of British Columbia, including my children in this
                                                              province.
    Hon. G. Abbott: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I wonder if           Before I start I should tell the House that our friend
you would advise the member that it's inappropriate to        from Okanagan-Westside is doing better. We expect he
use surnames or personal names in the context of debate.      won't be there long, and we wish him well.
                                                                  I was pondering how a budget comes about and the
   C. Puchmayr: My apologies.                                 hours of work that take place to create one. As anybody
                                                              that has ever been a member of an executive council or
   Deputy Speaker: Continue, Member.                          a cabinet in the province knows, there are hours of
                                                              work by ministry staff, by people within their finance
    C. Puchmayr: I want to talk a little bit about social     departments. There are hours of work by the ministers
housing and housing initiatives in my community. We           themselves, Treasury Board staff, the Minister of Finance
were the first city to build social housing. Social housing   and Treasury Board itself. Priorities are identified and
came in after the Second World War because soldiers           debated, decisions are made, numbers are nailed
were coming back and they needed accommodations.              down, and a budget reaches the House.
Social housing came in as a result of that. In New                What a budget does is give you a template for the
Westminster they just did a report card on housing,           operation of government for the next year. In the case
and New Westminster rated the highest, a "B minus,"           of the way B.C. does it, it actually gives you a fiscal
and Vancouver, a "D plus."                                    plan for three years. That fiscal plan is a plan that directs
    New Westminster has 1,400 subsidized housing units.       us in going forward as we try to look at how we set our
New Westminster was one of the original communities           priorities and at how it's going to affect the lives of
to bring in a secondary-suite bylaw. A secondary-suite        others.
bylaw is necessary to clean up some of the illegal suites                                                                [1710]
that there were and make them safe and clean for families         Whenever I reflect this, I always try and look back.
to live in. Also, New Westminster since 1971 has had a        I haven't debated the throne, so I haven't had an oppor-
moratorium on stratification of condominium units, which      tunity to talk about my family and my children, but I
Vancouver doesn't have.                                       do look back at the last year, and I look forward to the
    In Vancouver you can just pay the money and stratify      future for my kids. I see this: I see that my daughter-in-
hotel units. New Westminster has a moratorium on it. I        law got her degree this year, my daughter got her mas-
certainly hope that the minister again looks at the proof     ter's this year and my son-in-law has applied to get a
and finds that his statements were absolutely wrong.          master's in music at the university so that he can move
The Union Gospel Mission is still in New Westminster.         forward in conducting and scores, etc.
The Salvation Army is still in New Westminster, and               My son has made a monumental decision as a
we're working with them to try to ensure that we have         Canadian: that he'll leave and be in Shilo, Manitoba, on
more affordable housing.                                      the second of April to take training to go to Afghanistan
                                                              as a member of the Canadian Armed Forces. When he
   An Hon. Member: The member, not the minister.              returns from his commitment to this country, he will
                                                              have a job waiting for him, because a company in
    C. Puchmayr: Yes, the member. The other thing that        British Columbia that he works for has actually said:
concerns me that isn't in the budget is WorkSafe B.C. —       "We believe in what Canada is doing. We will be there,
Workers Compensation. We see nothing of the changes.          and the job will be there for you when you return after
There were 22 violations, 23 recommendations by the           you fulfil your commitment to this country."
Gramlich inquest in the forest faller's death. I certainly        That makes me proud as a Canadian, as a British
would have liked to see some more with respect to             Columbian. It makes me particularly proud as a father,
changes to that. I'm anticipating some issues may come        but it makes me proud to know that there are companies
forward with WorkSafe B.C., and I certainly look forward      that will also step up to the plate for this country in
to debating those in the House.                               that way.
    The other is on the issue of rehabilitation and               This budget, as I sat and listened to the different
pension.                                                      discussions with regard to it…. I'm going to get to the
                                                              tax cut and the housing in a few minutes. Let me tell
   Deputy Speaker: Thank you, Member.                         you: the way that some people like to contextualize
                                                              some of these things boggles my mind with the lack of
   C. Puchmayr: Thank you. Time flies when you're             understanding that they have of amortization and invest-
having fun.                                                   ment, and how you can leverage funding from mortgages
5552                                             BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                    MONDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2007

to do more, because they don't quite have that contex-          to make some of these rooms bigger and bring in wash-
tualized on a 35-year investment.                               rooms and facilities for our seniors so that they could
     Before I do that, though, I sit and listen as a member     age better in place in those facilities with some dignity
of this House. Many, many times, of the questions that          and some service that they deserved.
come before the House, there are always these questions                                                              [1715]
that come on health care. I spent five years in opposi-             Not one of us would argue with the fact that it
tion, so I do know how these questions come about.              would be a good investment. In some cases the invest-
     Someone feeds a story into the opposition, and they        ment would have to be that the facility needed to close
say, "Oh boy, we've got them this time. Let's bring this        and a better one be built for those people. As you do
one to the House to embarrass the government, because           that, you come up against two things. One, you're
somebody didn't get service the way they should have            going to have 5,000 new net beds, and you're doing
in some emergency room or something happened. So                7,000 or 8,000 other new beds just to take care of the
let's say: 'Health care is a disaster. It's underfunded. It's   capacity you have had to close down because of the
crashing and burning, and it's no good.'"                       crummy, crappy stuff we thought seniors could live in
     We became government in 2001. We were spending             — stuff that we should not as a society, in any way
about $8 billion a year on health care. Just five and a         whatsoever, have found acceptable to us. I toured way
half short years later, $13 billion is being spent on health    too many of those facilities in the days I was involved
care. What are the challenges we face as we come forward?       in the business. Today I can look at the facilities we're
When you try and fix something, the first thing you do          doing and know that the quality is there and that
when you find out you've inherited an old, decrepit             seniors in this province will have a much better future
and uninvested-in physical plant is that you have to            for housing in B.C. in their latter days.
make an investment in the system.                                   On top of that, I know this. In the last five years
     The investment in the system is not just in people         we've done more hip and knee surgeries than at any
like nurses and doctors being trained and bringing              time in the history of the province, and there's still a
them forward. It takes four years to train a nurse, by          waiting list. Why is that? Could it be because the baby
the way, so it takes a while for them to get to the             boom is coming through, society is aging and we keep
system as we try to build the capacity. In addition to          coming up with new technologies to do these types of
that, as we do that we also have to look at what we             procedures, which then puts pressure on people with
were facing and at what we're facing going forward.             regard to the fact that those waiting lists are filled up?
That's why we're in a position — after getting our              But if you sit down with people and say, "How is your
books in order, getting the finances of this province           care when you do get your surgery, and how is your
together and turning the economy around — to make               aftercare?" they say: "It's great."
the largest capital investment in health care facilities in
B.C.'s history, ever.                                              [S. Hammell in the chair.]
     As we do that, I want to touch on a couple of things
that one of the members talked about earlier. It has a              We all have become much too familiar in the last
bit to do with housing, but it's also got to do with            year or two — or for our lives and maybe, for some of
health care. They talk about the 5,000 beds which will          us, in the last 10 years — with people who are suffering
be completed on time and on budget in the next year             and dying with cancer. We do know this: there is no
and a half. They talk about, "Oh, jeez, they're doing that,"    better jurisdiction in the world than British Columbia
and, "Why are they doing it? What's going on? What else         to deal with cancer. We are very good at it. We shouldn't
is going on?" and all the rest.                                 be ashamed of saying it.
     I was actually in the business as a consultant working         We don't always have to say the sky is falling to
for companies in health care many years ago. The one            recognise that there are people every single day, friends
thing that disturbed me back in the 1990s — even as a           of ours, constituents, who are actually receiving
housing critic in the 1990s, when I talked and debated          phenomenal, world-class cancer treatment in the province.
in this House — was the decrepit, disgusting facilities         We should be proud of that because, frankly, it's impor-
that we felt our seniors should have to live in and live        tant as we move forward.
out their lives in.                                                 I know that in this province every year about two
     Some of the facilities that we had in this province        million people arrive in emergency rooms. I know
were an embarrassment to any one of us. They were               when two million people come through a system in one
not a facility that any one of us would want our parents        area of the system, sometimes there may be difficulties.
in. They were rooms the size of a small- or medium-sized        I know that we have to be there to try and address
bedroom in a house, with four beds in them and no               those as we try and find solutions for those as we go
bathroom. The bathroom was outside and down the                 ahead. But we should also recognise all the people who
hall. There was no door large enough to take a proper           actually have good service and success when they walk
wheelchair and an inability for two wheelchairs to ac-          into an emergency room in the province and remember
tually pass each other in a hallway.                            that we have front-line staff and doctors in B.C. who
     Not one of us could disagree with the fact that you        are doing a great job. There's an article out there.
have to do something about this. Not one of us could                Let's remember that together we will solve the
disagree that maybe you had to knock some walls out             issues around health care. Don't just pooh-pooh, "Oh,
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2007                      BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                                           5553

my goodness, we can't have a conversation about how              I will talk about the rent assistance program in a
we can improve it," or say that we can't actually have a     minute, because it all goes back into the whole package,
legitimate discussion among us — whether it be with          but oh no, you don't want to meet that either. The other
our constituents or with members of this House or with       thing is, in 2001 they railed — the opposition, the
people in the health care profession — about how we          Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives — about 25-
could have a conversation about health care.                 percent income tax cuts for British Columbians. The
     Of course, some people say: "Well, we don't want to     economy turned around. More money went into people's
talk about it. Just put more money in it." Some of us        pockets. Amazingly, we received more income from
say: "Actually, maybe we're not getting the results in a     personal income tax than we ever did, even though we
particular form of health care that we want, so maybe        did a personal income tax cut.
we've got to target how we do it better. Maybe we have           I know they don't like it that 250,000 low-income
to sit down, with the people that can tell us how we do      British Columbians are not paying any income tax. I
it better and improve it, to do that."                       know they want something from them. I know they want
     I live in a constituency that I have represented now    to bleed money out of the poor people of the province.
since 1996. When I came to public office in 1996, the        I know that.
biggest education issue in my community was this:                They haven't jumped up and said: "Boy, we spent
there were too many portables around Parkside and            ten years in Victoria, and we didn't put any money into
Aldergrove elementary schools in the community. The          the shelter allowance for people on social assistance.
schools were bursting at the seams, and another school       You guys come along and raise it." You don't have a
needed to be built. All the work went into it, and           thing to say about it — do you? Not a thing. Not a
finally, to their credit, the previous government invested   thing to say about it. Yet we did it. You didn't.
in a new school in that community. That school was               We raised welfare rates. Do I hear any compliment
built, and it was filled in 1998, approximately.             other than: "Oh, gee whiz, you know…."
     Today in 2007 there are fewer students in that
community alone so that only two elementary schools              An Hon. Member: Not enough.
are now needed. Because of the demographics, the
changing population, of that community, it saw a dramatic        Hon. R. Coleman: "Not enough. Oh, they did some-
drop in student population.                                  thing, but not enough. We don't have any idea why we
     Here's the crunch. My community is working with         couldn't do it for all those years that we were there."
this issue. We'll work through it, and we will work              Then we move on to some critical linchpins of this
through it together, because we know there are fewer         budget as far as I'm concerned. They're important
students, but what's the rest of the crunch in my            pieces of the budget, because it has to do with home-
community? In another area in my community, not that         lessness, mental health, addictions and helping people.
far away, there's an explosion of development. A new         Actually, I must admit that the member for Coquitlam-
elementary school was recently built, and now the high       Maillardville said in the House this morning that she
school is under capacity in that area of the community.      thought that the increase in the rental assistance program
                                                    [1720]   and the rental assistance program were good now.
     On the eastern side of my community there are               That is not the position her leader took with rental
two high schools presently under pressure, and the           assistance programs last fall. It's not the position
demographics and the number of students entering the         they took for the five years I was in opposition doing
school system at every grade level today tell us this: we    housing questions with them and asking why they
will eventually not need those two high schools. We          wouldn't help people where they lived — when they
might need one of them. We won't have the students to        knew very well they couldn't build it, own it and
make them work because there won't be enough kids.           operate it fast enough to take care of the waiting list in
     One of them is set in a rural area, not near any bus    B.C. Housing.
routes or access routes, so we have to adjust and                They knew that then. They did nothing. They built
understand that in education we have challenges in           some social housing and put no supports, no multiple
student population and how we manage it. Even having         barriers, no addictions. And they didn't go after the
said that, the largest level of funding per student and      issue with regards to the most vulnerable people in
the largest investment in B.C.'s public education system     our society. They ignored that problem in British
is taking place under this government.                       Columbia.
     I know that the opposition has to be the opposition.        Now, just listen to this carefully. In 2000-2001 when
But I don't think they're opposed to this: 250,000 low-      we came to government, the housing budget in the
income British Columbians pay no provincial income           province of B.C. was $112 million a year. The budget is
tax. Are you opposed to that? Are you upset about            now $328 million for British Columbia.
that? You're not supporting it. It's unbelievable to me.         Two and a half or three years ago the Premier
     The member for New Westminster gets up and says         started the Premier's task force on mental health and
that a single mother in my community gets nothing,           addictions.
when a single mother on a low income in my community
pays no income tax. He never mentions the second part            Interjection.
of the sentence. It's amazing to me.                                                                            [1725]
5554                                             BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                   MONDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2007

    Hon. R. Coleman: The member from Victoria, on              in the housing sector in the next 30 to 60 days. We're in
the other side, is heckling, which is fine. His community      the market now doing that work.
is part of that task force and has worked very well with            You members can sit there, and you be ready, by
government on strategies with regards to it and is             George. I know you'll want to be critical, because
actually moving ahead with a number of projects with           you're going like it but you're going to have to find a
the government. I'm sure he might want to come to the          way to not like it when we have additional success for
openings of them to say: "I was an MLA. I opposed the          people on the streets of Vancouver and other communities
project, but it's a good idea that you helped people in        across British Columbia.
my community." Maybe he won't show up. Maybe he                     Then, Madam Speaker, it's unbelievable. First they get
won't. I don't know.                                           up and say…. I heard the member for New Westminster
    Just last Friday, as a result of a proposal call for 450   say, and he answered my question for me: "It's terrible.
units of supportive housing in the province, by leveraging     A single mother with a child renting in my community
and building partnerships, we managed to announce              comes to my office and says: 'There's a ten-year waiting
758 new units of supportive housing in the province.           list for social housing. I can't get affordable housing.'" I
    Earlier today, in question period, the member for          wonder if he said: "Here, take this brochure, and apply
Cowichan-Ladysmith, who has asked me what I'm                  for the rent assistance program in British Columbia so
going to do in the Cowichan Valley and where am I              that we can actually give you some money to offset
going to be to help his community, was over there              your rent where you live and have better outcomes for
heckling when I was answering a question in the                your child today rather than waiting for…."
House. I know that he should know that the Canadian                 The opposition lives in fantasyland where somebody
Mental Health Association in the Cowichan Valley               could go out tomorrow, snap their fingers and build
received $675,000 to purchase property for an emergency        15,000 units of housing that would still be applicable to
shelter and transitional housing for 37 units in his           the market when you finally got them built — because
community. But, whew, he won't stand up in this                of the aging and changing demographics of people
House and say: "I asked you for this a year ago. Thank you,    within communities — rather than immediately helping
Mr. Minister, for actually working with my community           them where they are.
to find the solutions in housing."                                                                                   [1730]
    Oh, the member from Surrey is over there today.                 I look forward to when the members opposite actually
The member from Surrey should know — I'm sure he               come forward and say one of two things: "We actually
does, but you never know — that just on Friday we              do believe a rent assistance program for people, helping
announced four projects in Surrey — four projects. One         them where they live so that they can make choices in
of them is in Surrey–Green Timbers for $9.3 million:           their lives and have affordability, is important." I'd like
capital costs for second-stage housing, an emergency           to hear that, but I think what I'll hear is nothing. I won't
shelter for women and children. It includes a high-risk        hear what the truth is, which is that they really don't
pregnancy clinic with prenatal and postnatal care,             support those types of programs and that they would
counselling and job skills training — also to be provided      gladly cancel them if they ever became the government
within the centre — and we did it. We did it, hon.             of British Columbia.
Member; you never did.                                              When they finish that sentence, I want them to also
    We also had the Elizabeth Fry Society, which got 11        say this: "We don't like rent assistance programs; ergo, we
units, and the Fraserside Community Services Society,          don't like SAFER, because it's a rent assistance program
which purchased a property for transitional housing            for seniors." Fifteen years — not one dime raised or
for people with mental illness and addictions in that          category changed in SAFER by the opposition. Ten years
community at a cost of $1.3 million that they were             in government — not one change, not one addition, not
awarded on Friday as well.                                     one tweak, not once.
    In the spirit of partnership we've also identified              We always supported SAFER. We always said to
another piece of property that we actually had, and            the minister that it was a good idea, in opposition. We
we've asked non-profit societies — and I'm sure you            actually said that he should start a rental assistance
must know some, hon. Members…. You can have them               program, in opposition, back in the 1990s, and he did-
send them to B.C. Housing tomorrow, because we                 n't listen. But I can tell you what: when we raised the
have the property identified for another 35 units of           threshold and changed the qualifications, more and
housing in your community, and we're putting it up             more thousands of people are on SAFER than ever
for free.                                                      before in the province's history. We're helping seniors
    There are also units in Vancouver, and there are           have affordability in their rental places in British
units in Coquitlam, in the Fraser Valley, in the               Columbia, where they live, and that's the way it should
Okanagan, up in Terrace and Prince Rupert. Even in             be.
Prince Rupert we've invested money in a development                 I know they don't like the idea. I couldn't believe
proposal to help them find something in their community        the logic of the member for New Westminster on this
for the future.                                                particular subject, because he said that they're converting
    That was before Budget 2007. Then in Budget 2007           social housing into supportive housing. He should
the Finance Minister has given us a block of funding to        actually read the context of the budget. Mind you, he
go out and do some very creative things very quickly           should read the whole budget and find out how really
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2007                        BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                                             5555

good it is for every aspect of government and every             about the aging parent of a developmentally disabled
aspect of the citizens of B.C.                                  adult? Why can't you come up with an innovative idea
     We have a number of thousands of units in B.C.             to sit down with those folks and say: "Okay, maybe
that are seniors social housing units. Today when a             you can buy four or five units of apartments in an
senior falls, breaks their hip or gets injured and can't        apartment block. Maybe we can put supports in place
take care of themselves in one of those units, they need        so that your adult developmentally disabled children can
to be moved to another type of supportive housing,              now live there, and you can be comfortable as you age"?
because those units are old. They're nice — they've got             Their fear is this: they're aging, and they want to
bathrooms; they're clean; they're well-managed — but            know there's something there for their kids who are
they haven't been modernized with the simplest of               developmentally disabled. We're part of a government
things, like a lever-handled tap. If the person living          that made a significant change for the developmentally
there has a little bit of arthritis, they can actually move     disabled in the budget a year ago, which very few people
the tap up, move it back and forth, hot and cold. They          talked about.
can actually take care of themselves and their washing              For years in this province, and I mean years —
and their bathing and their food.                               probably ten, 15, maybe even 20 years — there was a
     Hey, bars on the walls. They can be put in the             quota on the number of members of developmentally
washroom so that people can actually have a grab bar            disabled in the community who could get a hundred
to get in and out of the bathtub. I know the members            dollars a month for coming and doing volunteer work
over there find it funny, but it's not that humorous if         in community organizations around the province. That
you're the senior who has arthritis or is disabled and          meant there were over 3,000 developmentally disabled
who now has to leave your home because nobody put               who didn't get anything, yet they were still there with
the supportive services on the walls to take care of you        their friends, developmentally disabled, and not receiving
so that you could age in place and live in that particular      a hundred dollars a month.
apartment a lot longer than having to be put in some                We changed that last year — a simple thing, an
other form of housing, Madam Speaker.                           important thing for the developmentally disabled. I
     In addition to doing that, we will put in the buildings    believe that now is the time to sit down with parent
the opportunity for them to have meals and more home            groups and find out other options for the future of
support and nurse care. People can come in and help             these kids, these young adults going forward for their
them with their meds and the things like that, so they          housing opportunities in B.C. You do that by having
can actually age in place.                                      some money that you can be creative with.
     It's something I debated in 1996, the first time I
debated housing in the province of B.C.'s House. I talked          Interjection.
to the minister at that time, and I said that you need to
move into age-in-place, putting services in place and                 Hon. R. Coleman: Thank you to the member for
widening doorways so that you can get some wheel-               Nelson-Creston. It's always nice to know when my time
chairs in. These people are going to get older, and they        is running out.
should be allowed to stay and live where they are today.              I am so proud to stand here as a member of this
That's important. It's important to their quality of life,      House and know that we put together the largest
it's important to their families, and it's the right thing to   increase in housing in the province's history. For the
do.                                                             first time we have a housing strategy that takes care of
     The member opposite can pooh-pooh that we're going         all of the people who are developmentally disabled, the
to invest $45 million in converting some of our seniors         continuum of people who have multiple addictions —
housing so that it's more supportive for the people that        supports needed for them — and people with mental
live there. I will never apologize for thinking of people       illness. A strategy is being built on an intergovernmental
who are seniors being allowed to age in place with              relationship like has never been accomplished before
dignity in the province.                                        between the Ministry of Employment and Income
     As we came through this, we put together an                Assistance, the Ministry of Health and all other ministries
endowment fund. Now, $250 million stays on the books            of government as we go forward to build on the future.
of government, and the Ministry for Housing gets the                  We'll do that because we'll work together. The only
interest to do innovative projects. It's calculated very        challenge that I ask of the opposition on the other side
conservatively that the interest on the $250 million at 4       of the House is that maybe just for once you could
percent will be $10 million a year. I know, but I'll let the    actually step up to the table and become part of the
members go away to get their mortgage calculators to            solution rather than part of the problem. Maybe just
figure out what type of leveraging you can get if you           once you could actually recognize that when you have
have an additional $10 million or $20 million per year          20,000 or 30,000 additional people getting rent supports,
to do different and innovative things with partners and         it's important to the people with lower incomes in British
housing in B.C.                                                 Columbia.
                                                       [1735]         Maybe just for once, when you know there's an
     It also allows us to look outside the box. As the          integrated strategy to build on the future of housing for
Minister of Finance articulated in the budget speech,           all people in B.C., you can work with us. And maybe
what about the developmentally disabled adult? What             just for once you'll stand up and say: "You know what?
5556                                            BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                  MONDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2007

The tax cut is good, the budget is good, and what you're          Let's not forget that housing is a provincial and
doing for the people, the children and the families of        federal issue and that we have a long way to go to
British Columbia is very critical to the future of the        address pressing housing needs in British Columbia. I
long-term supports they need."                                will continue, through my role as an MLA, to demand
    I'm proud to stand and support this budget. I'm           that government pay its fair share towards non-profit
proud of the Minister of Finance for the budget she's         housing; to deal with the living conditions of residents
brought forth. I'm proud of the work that people in my        in single-occupancy rooms — SROs, as we commonly
government have done, and I'm particularly proud that         call them — particularly in Vancouver's downtown
we have vision in front of us to change things for the        east side; and to better manage the remediation of
right way for the future of B.C.                              leaky and mouldy non-market housing, which is causing
                                                              an ongoing financial crisis for many B.C. societies.
    D. Thorne: Thank you, Madam Speaker, for letting              At a time when B.C.'s economy is performing well,
me speak today. I am honoured to represent the resi-          we are seeing record numbers of homeless people on
dents of Coquitlam-Maillardville in this House for the        our streets. The Minister for Housing just stood here in
third year.                                                   front of us and spoke about how much his government
    During the past year I was pleased to take on the         is doing for these homeless people, how much more
critic area for housing and homelessness. I want to tell      than the previous government. Well, one wonders if
you why housing is such an important issue for me.            this Minister for Housing ever goes outside, if he ever
Since 1972 I have been working with women and families        leaves the Legislature or his constituency office, because
at the community level — on the ground, as this               what I see when I go outside is pretty awful in an awful
government likes to say — working for safe, affordable        lot of places. The growing numbers of homeless is
housing for families. As we all know, it's pretty tough       something that most of us find very, very hard to take,
to deal with life's unexpected events if you don't have       and I advise the Minister for Housing to spend a little
the security of a roof over your head.                        more time outside and see what's actually happening
    In 1989 I chaired an affordable housing committee in      under his watch.
Coquitlam and working with SHARE Family Services. I               In November the downtown women's centre in
worked for a time as the on-site manager for the non-         Vancouver, which is already dealing with its own lack
profit society that is run by SHARE. I've also served for     of funding, was forced to open its doors to more than
more than five years as a board member of the Greater         50 homeless women every night — women who had no
Vancouver Housing Corp., which is one of the largest          other housing available to them. In my own community,
non-profit providers of housing in the province next to       Coquitlam-Maillardville and the Tri-Cities, we have
B.C. Housing.                                                 now got about 170 people living outside, many along
                                                    [1740]    the Coquitlam River. In 2005, when the official homeless
    During my time there — which I'd like to point out was    count was done by United Way, we had 32 people. I
all under the previous government — we completed a            think it's shameful.
number of important housing initiatives, including the            This is a government that can stand up and try and
unique Inlet housing project in Port Moody, which             fool the people of British Columbia into thinking
provided a hospice, senior and family housing, and            they're doing more than the previous government,
housing for mature women. This was all done under             when in the Tri-Cities, which is not known for being a
the Homes B.C. program at B.C. Housing, which this            particularly low socioeconomic, the numbers have
government cancelled in 2001.                                 gone from 32 to 170 in less than two years. Shame,
    I'd also like to take this opportunity to congratulate    Madam Speaker. Shame.
Coquitlam resident Sandy Burpee and the Tri-Cities                Also, in November I was shocked to learn of a plan
Housing Coalition, who have been working tirelessly           to spend half a million dollars to cleanse Vancouver
for a full continuum of affordable housing in my region.      streets of the homeless during the 2010 Olympics. How
Sandy was instrumental in bringing about a recent             easy it is to get a financial commitment for a two-week
partnership between the city of Coquitlam and B.C.            party when real people need homes now and every
Housing, which has resulted in a request for expressions      single day up to 2010 and beyond.
of interest being put out to the non-profit market to             The loss of single-room accommodation in the
develop and operate between 35 and 55 non-market              downtown east side demands immediate government
housing units for individuals who are homeless or at          action. Last Monday the opposition moved a motion to
risk of becoming homeless.                                    call on the new Auditor General to monitor the rate of
    As part of its affordable housing strategy, the city of   SRO loss as part of the evaluation of the Olympics. This
Coquitlam is making available a vacant 18,000-square-         province has signed on to the Olympic inclusivity
foot site. It's been a number of years since the last non-    agreement with the city of Vancouver. One of the
market housing development was built in Coquitlam,            commitments is to ensure that there are no displacements
and it is only happening now because the city is making       in the downtown east side community.
land available at no cost to the non-profit developer.            Since the award of the 2010 games the rate of SRO
This is not to diminish B.C. Housing's role, but this         conversions has been alarming. It is imperative that the
development would clearly not be happening without            independent officer of this Legislature looks into this
the city becoming a funding partner.                          issue and determines if the terms of the inclusivity
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2007                        BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                                             5557

agreement are being honoured. In recent days one               another blow a few week ago when the government
landlord was quoted as saying that he was evicting his         failed to provide critical operating funding for a homeless
current tenants to make his building available for             shelter which subsequently had to close its doors. Surrey,
$1,000-a-month rentals to Olympic project workers.             with an estimated homeless count similar to Vancouver's,
                                                      [1745]   has just 45 shelter beds compared to Vancouver's 550,
    It is extremely disappointing to me to see this            which is not nearly enough. Last year Surrey's Hyland
government reject the opposition's motion and thus             House Society turned away an estimated 4,000 home-
give the green light to more of this type of eviction in       less people. This fact contradicts the Housing Minister's
spite of their earlier commitments to protect the              assertions that Victoria will do its part if only municipal
vulnerable residents of the downtown east side. As I           governments would step up to the plate.
just mentioned a few minutes ago, in 2001 the B.C. Liberal          We also have manufactured home owners around
government cancelled Homes B.C., a program which               the province suffering, as more and more of them see the
built around 1,000 affordable units per year. Had this         property their home sits on sold for condo and subdivision
program been maintained, I am sure that we would not           redevelopment. Changes made to the Manufactured
be in such a dire situation today with our homeless.           Home Park Tenancy Act by this government in 2002
    I'm asking this government to make an immediate            have removed adequate notice and fair compensation.
commitment to build non-profit housing. Non-profit             As a direct result, many manufactured home owners
housing and cooperatives are a partnership where all           are facing financial ruin. Property owners should be
parties have an interest in making it work. It is a com-       required to provide a fair and uniform relocation package
munity asset, a long-term investment in ordinary people.       to those they are displacing. My riding of Coquitlam
    The wait-list for social housing in British Columbia       has been a leader in this regard by requiring owners of
has increased dramatically, to almost 14,000 people.           manufactured home parks to negotiate fair agreements
When I left the board of the GVHC, we were 2,000 or            with their tenants before they can rezone the land for
3,000 less than that. That was only a year and a half          other development.
ago. Applicants are now waiting up to five years to be              At its last convention the Union of B.C. Municipalities
placed in safe, affordable units. As of December 2005          also passed a motion that recognized the importance of
there were over 700 tri-city households on the B.C.            having relocation agreements in place throughout this
Housing wait-list, and no doubt this has increased over        province. Sadly, this Legislature has not seen fit to do
the past year.                                                 the same. A motion has come forward by the people on
    I recently received an e-mail, as did the Minister         this side of the House, which was rejected by our
Responsible for Housing — or non-housing, as the case          government. Shame, again, on this government.
may be — from a family with a special needs child who                                                               [1750]
has been waiting six years to get into housing which                I hope all of the people in manufactured home parks
would fit their requirements. Obviously, the need for          are now aware of this awful situation. So here we are:
non-profit housing is great and continues to grow. It's        growing numbers of homeless, skyrocketing wait-lists
not something that we are saying or I am saying as             for social housing, a dwindling supply of affordable
fearmongering. This is reality. These are facts, and the       rentals, virtually no new rental housing being built by
government needs to face up to that.                           the marketplace, evictions becoming the new business
    The free market is not helping any. In many cases          as usual, manufactured home owners forced to move
of new development, hundreds of tenants are being              and a government that refuses to acknowledge these
evicted from older but affordable rental suites. One           realities — a government that can do no better than
such casualty was in New Westminster just before               blame municipalities, continuing this decade of denial.
Christmas, where nearly 150 people were given eviction         Housing must once again become a provincial priority.
notices for New Year's Eve after their 73-unit tower           This decade of denial must end.
was sold to a property management service. Families,                The government's current housing strategy does
seniors and tenants with disabilities are under unbeliev-      little to increase affordable housing stock. It relies
able pressure to find affordable homes in a region where       heavily on rent supplements, but everybody knows
vacancy rates are low, homelessness is growing and the         that rent supplements will not raise vacancy rates,
wait-list for social housing is thousands long.                which are the lowest in the country. This was the situation
    I predict that as we move closer to the Olympics,          for thousands of people when last week we went into
we will see more and more of these types of evictions          the House to hear the budget speech, to finally hear
— evictions based on so-called upgrading of suites.            what the Minister of Housing has been asking us since
The residential tenancy branch is struggling to keep up        last February to wait for.
with the people that are needing arbitrations. What's               "Wait for it," he said. In October he said it again:
happening is…. The arbitrations are so far behind that         "Wait for it." Well, we waited. He told us we wouldn't
often by the time the residential tenancy branch rules         be disappointed. Well, guess what. I, my colleagues on
in favour of the tenant, it's too late; they've already been   this side of the House and people across this province in
evicted or already had to find other accommodation             desperate situations were all disappointed last Tuesday.
because of their fear of being evicted.                             It appears that the government's strategy is to blame
    Another example of this problem is in Surrey, where        municipalities again for supposedly putting up road-
a sharp rise in the homeless population was given              blocks to social housing. It's just not true in Coquitlam
5558                                             BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                   MONDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2007

and in many other cities. I am an active participant on        February. Their son is seven months clean from drugs
the Tri-Cities Homelessness Task Force, which meets            and doing very well. He has a job and is able to live
regularly to look at solutions in our area. I actually         independently. However, he's been on the Vancouver
attend the meetings, unlike some other politicians who         Coastal Health mental housing list for eight years.
sit on the task force.                                         They now say there should be something available for
     Local municipalities have recently agreed to provide      him in the fall. It sounds like: "Wait 60 more days."
funding towards a strategic action plan to agree to deal       They must be talking to the Minister of Housing, I
with homelessness, and the city of Coquitlam is working        guess.
on an affordable housing strategy which will have far-             His stay at Riverview is up at the end of February,
reaching implications — a strategy that the government         and they've already allowed him to stay longer than
of the day might take some lessons from, if they would         he's really allowed. The Riverview housing liaison
take the time to read the strategy.                            stated that the housing wait-list is very long and that
     Let's all remember a few months ago when lower            many patients are discharged with absolutely no housing
mainland municipalities, through the GVRD, put forward         to go to. This patient is vulnerable, and if he ends up
an affordable housing proposal — a well-researched,            on the streets, there is a danger of him getting back into
well-documented document — and the reaction of the             drugs.
Minister Responsible for Housing was to dismiss it                 Clearly, this government is neglecting to provide
immediately without any due consideration. As a former         housing for Riverview patients and others in danger of
city councillor, I say that's just not good enough.            becoming homeless. The Riverview situation is really,
     I also wish to note very seriously that the cities and    really awful — the waiting list for Riverview. They're
towns of British Columbia are not responsible or               moving people out, and there is no housing for people
funded to provide social services or housing. Those are        to go to. The people in my riding bear the brunt of this,
the responsibilities of the provincial and federal             and we are tired of it. We're very, very tired of it. I'm
governments that collect tax dollars for that purpose.         speaking on behalf of them, because I get most of the
They are whom we must always hold accountable,                 calls at my office.
especially in these troubling times when homeless                  I've also met with members of the Canadian Asso-
numbers are tripling and quadrupling.                          ciation of Home and Property Inspectors (B.C.) several
     I have met with the owners of the so-called leaky         times now to discuss their wish to establish standards
condos who are still suffering from this financial fiasco.     for the home inspection industry. I have in this Legislature
These are people whose lives have often been ruined            questioned the Solicitor General on why the government
and who now suffer ongoing medical conditions as a             has not acted on its promise to implement regulations
result of too many years of uncertainty and chaos —            for the home inspection industry. I am still waiting for
victims of a seemingly uncaring system. Frankly, many          an answer, although the Solicitor General was quoted
of them feel abandoned by our provincial government,           in the media as "having seen no evidence that such
who promised before the 2001 election to take on a             standards are needed." This, in a province full of leaky
leadership role and to move immediately towards                and substandard homes, just defies the imagination.
resolution of this problem.                                        I've met several times with representatives of the
     Well, that was nearly six years ago. Leaky-home           B.C. Real Estate Association and discussed with them
victims have yet to see any assistance coming from this        many items of interest to their members, including and
government, not even any help in putting pressure upon         especially the property transfer tax. One interesting
the Prime Minister to fulfil his election promises. Both the   possibility that I believe warrants further discussion is
B.C. government and the federal Conservatives have             the feasibility of using a portion of the PTT, the property
abandoned people who often can't even live in their            transfer tax, to fund affordable housing. The revenue
homes anymore. Once again, I say: shame, shame, shame.         from the PTT for next year is estimated at around $900
     I've also met with tenants in seniors housing com-        million, and the money being put into new social housing
plexes who fear they will be evicted by new owners             construction at around $139 million. This is less than 15
who come in and issue eviction notices. I've met with          percent. Surely, as a rich province with a huge surplus,
the advocates of the Tenants Rights Action Coalition           we can do better than that.
and with many members of the B.C. Non-Profit Housing               My Coquitlam constituency office continues to
Association. They are all equally concerned — advocates,       receive dozens of phone calls from people with a variety
tenants and seniors alike.                                     of concerns. One of the most pressing in the last few
                                                      [1755]   months has been the possible closure of eight schools in
     A lack of affordable housing and downsizing of            our district, three in my riding of Coquitlam–Maillardville:
Riverview Hospital, which is also in my constituency,          Meadowbrook Elementary, Vanier Elementary and Millside
does not bode well for the most vulnerable members of          Elementary.
our society. There is very little new funding in this              Our school district 43 already, a couple of years ago,
budget for programs to address the lack of supported           closed four schools, and eight more are on the chopping
community living arrangements, which were supposed             block — three in my riding. I actually have more in my
to replace institutional care.                                 riding than any of the other ridings in Coquitlam. It's a
     Last month one of my colleagues heard from a fam-         tragedy. I have attended all the school closure meetings
ily of a Riverview patient who must leave at the end of        at the three schools as well as making a presentation to
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2007                        BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                                             5559

the school trustees last week. I will continue to help             What a waste of tax dollars. This office helps hundreds
parents fight the closure of these valued neighbourhood        of parents find child care to meet their families' needs
schools, which are often the heart and soul of their           and provides information in what to look for in quality
communities.                                                   care. They also help parents apply for the B.C. child
    The taxpayers in my riding know full well that the         care subsidy. We could have a resource office that was
school district is being forced to look at school closures     well used by parents seeking child care, but instead we
to save money, mainly because the provincial government        are wasting child care dollars paying out a lease, and
is not funding many things — seismic repairs for one; a        parents have lost a valuable service.
huge budget item. The schools on the chopping block                There are 43 other child care resource and referral
in my riding all have huge seismic repair items in their       programs in this province that will close by the end of
budgets, so we know that this is probably the main             September, which likely will be replaced by a phone
reason that the school district is looking at closing these    service that will be very difficult for all, but nearly
three particular schools. They're also not funding — or        impossible for new immigrants already struggling with
haven't funded, I should say — teacher wage increases          language problems and other settlement issues.
or Bill 33, and they've frozen maintenance funding.                It seems as if there's, like, the flavour of the day
                                                      [1800]   sometimes with the members who sit across from me.
    Millside Elementary is one of the schools on the           One year CCRRs are the flavour of the day. Let's
closure list because the school district says it cannot        expand them, and let's make them better. They're the
afford to keep it open. Millside is celebrating its 100th      best thing in town. The very next year it's: "Oh, it didn't
anniversary this year. Ironically, plans are well underway     work out so well. Let's get rid of this."
for a big celebration. I recently toured the school with           Well, you know, parents and people across this
Deb Smith, executive director of Step-by-Step Child            province, including the staff in these places, are a little
Development Society, which operates an after- and before-      concerned about this hippity-hoppity stuff — from one
school child care program there.                               thing to another. I think this government is in for a big
    If all eight schools in my school district 43 are          surprise when they keep hearing about this child care
closed, 300 child care spaces will be lost to the Tri-         issue. This is not going to go away. This issue has legs,
Cities area. This will be a huge setback, and I want the       and this government is going to hear about it.
Minister of State for Childcare to explain it at some              Health care, as you know, continues to grab headlines.
point. I asked last week in question period and didn't         In my riding, emergency room doctors at the Royal
get an answer, of course.                                      Columbian Hospital — which is not exactly in my
    I'd like to know how the Minister of State for Childcare   riding, but it is my regional hospital, and it feels like
possibly plans to mitigate this loss of 300 spaces.            my hospital — again last week repeatedly expressed
How will families in Coquitlam, Port Moody and Port            frustration at least and anger at worst that their
Coquitlam find quality, affordable child care when             department is dangerously overcrowded.
these schools are closed and when the other school                 Anyone in my region who needs neurosurgery,
child care centres are full and have waiting lists?            cardiac surgery or interventional radiology for trauma
    These spaces are mainly provided by non-profit             cases goes to the Royal Columbian Hospital. Doctors
societies, and it will be impossible for all of them to        have said that ambulance crews and stretchers are
find new locations and absorb the extra costs involved         backed up on far too many days. The hospital can't put
in moving to a new building. This is if they can even          people into beds because many of these beds are being
find any space. There is virtually no empty space —            used by people who need rehabilitation and extended
certainly, in my riding and in most of the Tri-Cities.         care facilities that don't exist.
When they do find space, the rents in our area are so                                                                [1805]
high that I predict these child care spaces will be lost.          I recently had a personal experience with just this
Like housing subsidies to our most vulnerable, child           when a friend of mine suffered a back injury and
care subsidies are of no use without a good supply of          ended up…. He just came out of the hospital after five
empty spaces to move into.                                     weeks. He had been shuffled off to Queen's Park Hospital
    Even though I am no longer the critic for Childcare,       after he spent four days in a closet at the Royal Columbian
this issue continues to be close to my heart. I was            — a very nice closet, mind you. The staff treated
shocked to hear no mention of child care in the budget         him very well, as they try to do with all of their
speech. Just down the block from my constituency               patients, but there is a limit to what doctors, nurses and
office, a child care resource and referral office operated     hospital staff can do. This government should recognize
by the YMCA will shut its doors because its funding is         that.
being eliminated by the government — by September '07.             I've been conducting my own conversation on health
    This move makes very little sense and leaves me            care in my riding, and here's what my constituents are
deeply disappointed. The office opened just a year ago,        saying to me. They appreciate our publicly funded
with expanded services and client base, because they           health care system. They want to see it strengthened
were encouraged by this government to do so. When I            and improved. They don't want millions of dollars
met with the staff there they told me that the government      spent on advertising and administrators. They want
is now planning to pay out their lease and staff               wait-lists reduced and more resources for front-line
contracts.                                                     workers and effective treatments.
5560                                            BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                   MONDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2007

    Here in B.C. we need more medical doctors and             lead the nation in terms of job growth for five consecutive
not, as somebody said the other day, spin doctors, who        years. Our employment levels are at historic highs
are promoting private, for-profit services. On March 22       throughout the province, and in some places unem-
in Coquitlam I'm holding my own public meeting on             ployment is so low that it simply can't be measured.
health care. This will be an opportunity for everyone,        We have a triple-A credit rating for the first time since
not just 100 preselected people, to have their say and        1983, which means less interest rate gets paid on our
give genuine input that will be listened to.                  accumulated debt of the last several decades, and that
    It's no wonder that my constituents feel this             means more money is available for programs for the
government has already decided the future course for          families in British Columbia.
health care when they read the comments of the former                                                               [1810]
chair of the Fraser Health Authority board, which is              We've got a building excitement towards the
my health authority, who said that he quit because            Olympic Games and the spirit of achievement that they
inadequate government funding threatens patient care          represent. We have historically high investments
in our region. He felt powerless to convince the province     taking place in education and in health care.
to change its course. "I now believe that decisions beyond        I'm honoured to represent the riding of Port
our control are taking Fraser Health rapidly backwards,"      Moody–Westwood and its 69,000 students. It's one of
he wrote in his resignation letter. "The very community       the largest ridings in British Columbia, and it is the
leaders we enticed to provide good governance and             fastest-growing riding of all 79 in the province. We
business acumen to the management of the health sector        have participated in the extraordinary success of this
now appear totally ignored." Comments like this are hardly    government in the last five years. I'm going to touch
reassuring to the residents of Coquitlam-Maillardville.       briefly on some of the ways that we have and on how
    The people of British Columbia are looking for lead-      our community has participated in this enormous
ership in health care, child care and housing. In recent      economy that we have going.
years the budget speeches and throne speeches have                Contrary to almost all of the remarks of the member
made commitments to these issues. However, the gov-           for Coquitlam-Maillardville, we've seen an investment
ernment's record on follow-through is more than dismal.       in mental illness in our community with the opening
    My constituents are also expressing concerns about        recently of Cottonwood Lodge, a 24-bed specialized
the trade, investment and labour mobility agreement,          mental health residential facility for individuals requiring
as was discussed earlier in this House today, which is        more intensive, ongoing supports than are available
scheduled to come into effect on April 1. At first glance     in existing community mental health residential
this may seem like a fairly innocuous deal that will ease     services. It's one of the components in Fraser Health's
the flow of trade and labour between two provinces,           plan within the Riverview Hospital redevelopment
but not all British Columbians accept this at face value.     project.
    Recently I received a letter from Eunice Parker, a            We've participated with the building of the David
former Coquitlam city councillor and a freeman — one          Avenue Connector. The provincial government contributed
of five freemen in the city of Coquitlam — who pointed        over $2 million towards the David Avenue Connector
out that there was no plan for public hearings or even a      and the bridge, which is the largest infrastructure project
debate in the Legislature about this agreement. In            ever completed in the city of Coquitlam and proof once
Eunice's words: "This is a strange kind of democracy. One     again of our government's commitment not just to
has to wonder what we elected these people to do."            transportation throughout this great province but also
    I see that my time is starting to run out, and I still    to the Tri-Cities itself.
have four more pages. So I will just say that my                  On the lighter side of things, we have Rocky Point
constituents have also contacted me about concerns,           Park. This magnificent facility, our answer in the Tri-
particularly the Burke Mountain Naturalists, about the        Cities to Stanley Park, underwent a major $3 million
run-of-river hydro projects that might not be as green        renovation and redevelopment. It included the addition
as we, at first blush, thought they were. I think I'll do a   of a bandshell and a spray park, upgrading of landscaping
two-minute statement on that, Madam Speaker. It's so          and pathways, new parking facilities and a new park
well-written that I just can't not say it in this House.      services building. Many amenities for families are
    Rapid transit did not get the attention it needed in      included in this new park, including a new wading
the budget, in my opinion. I'm living in a riding that's      pool, a new playing field, drainage improvements, new
suffering because all the money is being sucked up by         wetlands and a pond, a new playground and a new
the RAV line, and we once again have no money for             performance stage.
rapid transit.                                                    I'm very pleased with much of the work that has
    I thank you for letting me speak today.                   been done in the Tri-Cities area in the area of housing
                                                              and homelessness in the last several years. It was this
    I. Black: It is indeed a privilege and an honour          government that piloted the Hope for Freedom outreach
for me to stand and address the provincial budget on          initiative. It was so successful in its efforts to go out to
behalf of the constituents of the fine riding of Port         where the homeless are and bring them into the
Moody–Westwood.                                               government services available to help them during the
    We receive a budget this year with the affairs of the     difficult times they're going through that we extended
province well in hand. Our province has continued to          this pilot by another three years.
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2007                       BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                                             5561

    We're also a government that recently put $200,000        health care system while we analyze what we can do
toward the InnerVisions Recovery Society — this was           with it to ensure its survival.
announced as of last Friday — allowing it to purchase              It allows us to reflect our priorities of helping those
the property where it operates a ten-unit transition          most in need. Housing, known as the cornerstone of a
housing development providing a substance abuse               strong social policy. Continuing on our remarkable
treatment program. As part of the provincial home-            path of progress, respect and trust with our first nations
lessness initiative, created through the work of the          communities, not just with respect to treaties and the
Premier's Task Force on Homelessness, Mental Illness          various funds that are available and the various initia-
and Addictions, funding for more than 758 additional          tives that we've embarked on as a government but also
housing units across the province was announced last          challenging the health outcomes and the educational
Friday, and up to 55 of them have been called for in          outcomes of the first nations people. Then, underlying
Coquitlam, again as part of the Housing Matters B.C.          so much of this is that they are focused on the quality,
program.                                                      the choice and the accountability within our health care
    The province is now committed to creating over            system and the education system.
1,291 new housing units under the provincial home-                 You could not escape the focus on the environ-
lessness initiative. The initiative aims to break the cycle   ment in the throne speech and our budget. This is
of homelessness by integrating support services with          merely the next step in fulfilling our already announced
housing so people may move beyond temporary shelter           great goal. It was number four. You'll recall that we
to more secure housing, gain greater self-reliance and        ran an election on five great goals back in 2005. As
achieve appropriate employment.                               part of what we've done, we've preserved in years
    In our community, Madam Speaker, you could not            past the Kitasoo spirit bear conservancy, taking the
bring up the initiatives within the government without        size of the conservancy from 10,000 hectares to over
talking about rapid transit. I must comment on it,            four million. So 14 percent of our province is now
though it is a TransLink project. It is the number-one        under conservancy. This made the cover of the Wall
priority for our community, as a result of our number-        Street Journal.
one issue, which is growth. It's a priority that is shared         We also have 43 new class-A parks and 38 existing
by our Ministry of Transportation and our Premier.            ones that have been expanded, and we have the 2002
    The $170 million commitment that was requested of         energy plan, which was billed at the time by external
this government by TransLink remains absolute. Upon           analysts as the cleanest and greenest in North America.
completion of the TransLink governance review, we'll          Government emissions — the emissions from govern-
be in a position to analyze the remaining funding             ment bureaucracies and employees and the working of
shortfall under a P3 model, to the benefit of all of the      government — have been dropped by over 24 percent
citizens in the northeast section of our community.           from 2000 to 2004, and yet we're just getting started.
    As recently as last week the Minister of Transporta-           When the city of Victoria announced the fact that
tion again voiced his support of rapid transit into our       they were ready to step up to the issue of raw sewage,
community, and I remain focused, as he well knows,            the government of British Columbia stepped up and
on keeping this project as a very clear priority within       said: "We will pay up to one-third of that bill."
his ministry and within our government.                            The go-forward plan on the environment, as articu-
    The throne speech both reflects our achievements          lated in our throne speech and budget, included over
since 2001 and anticipates the road ahead. We have our        two dozen specific initiatives — not just legislation
students outperforming their counterparts in interna-         proposals and regulation and incentives and partnership
tional assessments. We have labour peace, not just            funds but also linkages to human behaviour and choice
looking back over the last four years but also going          in areas of conservation, public education and information,
forward for the next five. We have the independent            which is a critical component of making impact in this
Conference Board of Canada rating our B.C. health care        area, as well as commitments to holding public forums
system as number one — not okay or middle of the              and conservation councils.
pack, but number one.                                              I absolutely love the one on reforestation. We've got
                                                              over six billion trees that have been planted in this
   [Mr. Speaker in the chair.]                                province as of 2007, and we're currently continuing our
                                                              reforestation efforts at a pace of about a billion trees
    We also have yet another reminder of the importance       every five years. It took us 51 years to get the first
of low income taxes, as we see seniors in our province        billion, which I think is kind of interesting.
who are earning less than $30,000 a year paying $1,000             It's also reflective of the need to do planning with
less in tax today than they did under the NDP.                respect to the environment at a community level, as
                                                   [1815]     we embark on our $21 million Towns for Tomorrow
    The throne speech reflects both the strength of our       infrastructure fund and our $20 million B.C. Spirit
position and the priorities within our communities.           Squares fund focused on outdoor meeting places and
Because of our strong economy, we have the ability to         bringing people in and making them more aware of the
make the historic investments in health and education.        importance of the environment and how they can have
It gives us the ability to plan and manoeuvre and             an impact on ensuring its survival going forward. This
choose. It allows us to feed the insatiable appetite of a     is not just about legislation. It's about setting the stage
5562                                              BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                    MONDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2007

and setting the example, and it's about encouraging a                 One of the first things that young couples in our
very specific behaviour in our citizens.                         area encounter when they go to buy a house is the
     In the area of education our budget outlined $1.4           first-time-homebuyers program. Thanks to this govern-
billion additional funding for health care and education,        ment, first-time buyers are now in a position to save
in addition to the full funding — not partial funding, as        up to $5,500, when new couples are starting out in
was mentioned recently by the member for Coquitlam-              their lives.
Maillardville, but full funding — for the salary increases            We've extended the eligibility for the homeowner
from the historical and sizeable settlement reached              grant to lower-income seniors as well, regardless of
with teachers last June. It's a settlement, I might point out,   their home's assessed value. This means that people on
that they never achieved in their ten years in government.       fixed incomes who may have bought homes 20, 30, 40
With that settlement, the $1.4 billion increase in that          or 50 years ago, who currently are in a position of
area actually rises to $3.3 billion.                             almost being driven from their homes because of property
     I'm very pleased that in the throne speech it was           taxes, are in a position to have a great deal more insurance
announced that our boards will be authorized to                  than they had before. They can remain in their homes
charge fees approved by school planning councils to              and live where they want to live.
defray non-instructional costs or additional costs incurred           One of the exciting elements of this budget was the
in offering special academies, trade programs and —              personal income tax cut of 10 percent. As has been
near and dear to my heart — band instruments. Of all             mentioned here many times today, we now have
the responses I got back from my constituency in the             250,000 of our most needy B.C. residents paying
last several months, the concern from budding musicians,         absolutely no provincial tax whatsoever, while others
their parents and school teachers who teach in band              at the low end of our income brackets are seeing up to
programs was the concern that the inability to charge            a 70-percent reduction over what they paid five and six
band rental fees would dramatically reduce if not shut           years ago.
down programs that were so critical to me personally                  Most other brackets of our income, right up to the
and that remain so critical to the families and youth in         top ones, are seeing a savings of 30 percent to 35 percent
our communities.                                                 over the provincial income tax they paid under the
     I'm also very pleased that we announced the estab-          previous government. This is good news for British
lishment of a teacher employment registry to report the          Columbians of all ages and income brackets.
names of teachers disciplined for misconduct involving                I want to touch on one fact that I came across as I
emotional, physical or sexual abuse. We are blessed,             was preparing my remarks for today, and that is what I
and we must remain mindful of the fact that the vast             refer to as the $1,800 phenomenon; $1,800 represents
majority of our teachers are outstanding professionals,          two things. It represents the lower amount of tax that is
but where there is the kind of misconduct that this              paid by a family of four since 2001. We're seeing a family
contemplates, we must make sure that our families and            of four, since 2001, save $1,800. Just to put this in
communities are aware.                                           comparison with the previous government, $1,800
                                                       [1820]    happens to be the same amount of money by which
     I'm also pleased to see that my colleague from              incomes in this province fell during the 1990s. On that
Vancouver-Burrard's initiatives in the area of bullying          point, $1,800 is a number to celebrate in this budget.
are being addressed in this throne speech, as it was                  Now, I am noting that we are running a little short on
announced that we'll be requiring our boards of education        time, so I'm going to close my remarks today by focusing
to establish codes of conduct for students, which meet           on some of the external reaction that we've seen to the
the provincially set standards, and that we'll institute         budget and to our throne speech. We've had environ-
zero tolerance in bullying in B.C. schools.                      mental experts such as Andrew Weaver refer to our plans
     There are other elements in the budget, including           as "the most progressive plan I have ever seen" and use
$178 million over four years for policing, justice and           the phrase "great leadership." We've seen similar senti-
the correction system to protect our communities and             ments from David Suzuki and the Sierra Club — hardly
our citizens.                                                    traditional friends of a free enterprise government.
     There's no question that a great deal of the budget              Now, is this a slam dunk? Of course not. The envi-
focused on the area of housing. I'm going to touch on one        ronment is a complex matter. It has taken many dec-
or two elements and bring them close to my community             ades of human behaviour to get us where we are, and
once again. Budget balance 2007 includes $328 million            it's not a problem we're going to solve overnight. But
in our housing budget — three times what it was when             when you've got a government that's got the vision and
we took over government in 2001.                                 the leadership, that puts principle above political
     There are some very creative ideas in this budget,          expediency, you do the right thing. You're not afraid to
including the $250 million housing endowment fund to             stick your neck out a little.
allow British Columbians to come up with ideas to best                Over half the people surveyed in the days immediately
meet the needs of the evolving demographics and the              following our budget and our throne speech believe that
changing communities in which we all live. In addition,          we can meet the targets, as ambitious as they are, by
we've also got $27 million over three years to increase          2020 — with younger residents more confident than our
the number of year-round shelter beds by almost 30               older ones. Well, what a wonderful statement about the
percent and provide the related support services.                confidence, the focus and the commitment of our youth
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2007                   BRITISH COLUMBIA DEBATES                                     5563

to embrace and understand the challenge that is ahead         Motion approved.
for their world and their children's world.
     The NDP could learn a great deal if they actually        Hon. G. Abbott moved adjournment of the House.
pulled their heads out of their ideological sandbox and
listened to the measured and considered thoughts of           Motion approved.
the community of British Columbia. Noting the hour, I
would like to reserve the remainder of my comments,          Mr. Speaker: This House stands adjourned until 10
and I would move adjournment of the debate.               a.m. tomorrow morning.

   I. Black moved adjournment of debate.                      The House adjourned at 6:25 p.m.
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