Hansard — Wednesday, March 16, 2016 p.m. — Volume 35, Number 7 (HTML) (2024)

2016 Legislative Session: Fifth Session, 40th Parliament
HANSARD


The following electronic version is for informational purposes only.

The printed version remains the official version.


official report of

Debates of the Legislative Assembly

(hansard)

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Afternoon Sitting

Volume 35, Number 7

ISSN 0709-1281 (Print)
ISSN 1499-2175 (Online)

CONTENTS

Page

Routine Business

Introductions by Members

11527

Tributes

11527

Austin Wang

Hon. S. Anton

Introductions by Members

11528

Introduction and First Reading of Bills

11530

Bill 15 — Protected Areas of British Columbia Amendment Act, 2016

Hon. M. Polak

Statements (Standing Order 25B)

11531

Dietitians and healthy eating

J. Thornthwaite

J. Rice

Natural resource development

L. Throness

Youth solutions contest essay on social media

D. Donaldson

Local tourism and community events in Fraser Valley

J. Martin

Sexual exploitation of children and youth

M. Mark

Oral Questions

11533

School district funding and comments by Education Minister

J. Horgan

Hon. C. Clark

R. Fleming

Hon. M. Bernier

Government record-keeping and call for apology to former employee

M. Karagianis

Hon. S. Anton

Sexual assault policy legislation for post-secondary institutions

A. Weaver

Hon. C. Clark

Comptroller general report on Health Ministry investigation

A. Dix

Hon. T. Lake

Orders of the Day

Second Reading of Bills

11538

Bill 2 — Great Bear Rainforest (Forest Management) Act (continued)

J. Thornthwaite

C. Trevena

Hon. A. Virk

J. Rice

J. Sturdy

G. Holman

L. Throness

H. Bains

C. James

Hon. A. Wilkinson

R. Austin

D. McRae

Proceedings in the Douglas Fir Room

Committee of Supply

11573

Estimates: Ministry of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction (continued)

Hon. C. Oakes

J. Shin


[ Page 11527 ]

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 16, 2016

The House met at 1:33 p.m.

[Madame Speaker in the chair.]

Routine Business

Madame Speaker: Good afternoon, hon. Members. Special guests on the floor today are Chief Clarence Louie of the Osoyoos Indian Band and elder Delphine Armstrong. Delphine will deliver the prayer this afternoon in the Okanagan language.

[1335]

D. Armstrong: Before I start this prayer, I want to acknowledge the people of this territory that we’re on today, this historical day.

k̓ʷulncutn ʕapnaʔ sx̌əlx̌ʕalt l pəckɬtan kʷu ʔullus ʔalaʔ x̌əc̓x̌ac̓t tqʷaʔqʷʔalmintəm uɬ x̌ast iʔ spuʔustət kʷu nqʷənqʷnaʔmist k̓an anwi niʕayp kʷu kənkənxtʷixʷ iʔ k̓əl sck̓ʷultət, limləmt k̓ʷulncutn kʷu suxʷɬtəm x̌əl minəmɬtət iʔ suʔmulaʔxʷs iʔ swiws iʔ sqilxʷ l təmxəulaʔxws, uɬ nixʷ iʔ

k̓ʷiƛ̓t, way̓ x̌ast t̓iʔ c̓x̌il, limlənt

[Creator, this day of March we are gathered here of great importance. We are to speak together, and to the good of our hearts, we humbly ask to continue to work together with a good heart, happy to have our original place names — swiws, sx̌ʷəx̌ʷənitkʷ, nʕaylintn — language recognized.

Have a good day, thanks.]

[Okanagan language text and translation provided by D. Armstrong.]

Madame Speaker: On behalf of the assembly, thank you both very, very much.

Introductions by Members

Hon. M. Polak: We are welcoming a number of guests from the Osoyoos Indian Band on this historic day, and I will introduce them to the House — Chief Clarence Louie, Councillor Sammy Louie, Councillor Theresa Gabriel, Councillor Yvonne Weinert, Councillor Veronica McGinnis, Councillor Leona Baptiste, Elder Jane Stelkia, Elder Delphine Armstrong, Sheri Stelkia, Morning Dove Hall and Myra Baptiste. Would the House please make them welcome.

In addition, we are joined by members of the B.C. Parks and Ministry of Environment staff who have worked very hard together with the Osoyoos Indian Band to help to make this possible — Jim Standen, our assistant deputy minister, B.C. Parks and conservation officer service; Brian Bawtinheimer, executive director, conservation, planning and aboriginal relations; Ken Morrison, manager of planning and acquisitions; and John Trewhitt, regional director, Okanagan-Kootenay region. Would the House please make them welcome.

A. Weaver: It gives me great pleasure to introduce three members from the Camosun College Student Society who are here in the gallery today — Andrea Eggenberger, external executive; Rachael Grant, education council; and Michel Turcotte, executive director. Would the House please make them feel very welcome.

Tributes

AUSTIN WANG

Hon. S. Anton: I’d like to introduce to the House the very talented grade 12 student from David Thompson Secondary School Austin Wang. Austin is here with his mom and dad, Ms. Astor Yu Ying Lu and Mr. Hopkins Hui Tao Wang. Now, I want you all to listen carefully, because Austin’s a very smart guy, and he is changing our futures. Austin is developing a procedure to use bacteria to generate electricity.

For his science experiments, which he has run through grades 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12, he has won a number of prestigious awards. Last year in grade 11, he was awarded the Global Environment Challenge prize at the annual international BioGENEius Challenge final in Philadelphia in June. His project then was titled: “Genes with roles in power output of exoelectrogenic bacteria in microbial fuel cells.” I hope you’re absorbing this.

He also won last year a Canada-Wide Science Fair gold medal top prize, overall best project, and he was the first student from British Columbia to win that prize.

This year in grade 12, he’s come back fairly recently from Taiwan, where he won the gold medal in the microbiology category of the Taiwan International Science Fair. He competed there with 20 countries — joined, by the way, by a Prince George student, who won a bronze medal. He won the gold medal for “A novel method to identify genes in electronic transfer of exoelectrogens” — again, aiming to identify the genes involved in bacterial extracellular electron transport to generate power in microbial fuel cells. He’s shaping our future, as I said.

He was selected two days ago to join Team Canada to compete at this year’s International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix.

David Thompson high school excels in many ways. Nurturing academic success is one of them. Austin is supported by his parents. He is supported by his school, led by principal Marea Jensen. He’s also supported by UBC, by Dr. Susan Baldwin, who is his mentor and project supervisor. She is in the area of chemical and biological engineering.

As I said, Austin is a very impressive young man, and I hope the House will make him feel very welcome and
[ Page 11528 ]
wish him success. He will go to some great institution next year, but we don’t know which one yet.

I’d like to introduce my new communications director. Jason Kuzminski is joined by his wife, Megan Parry, and his sons, Benjamin Kuzminski-Parry and Jude Kuzminski-Parry. They are the wife and sons of Jason. They’re visiting from Toronto and they are moving to British Columbia this summer. Would the House please make them very welcome.

[1340]

Introductions by Members

S. Fraser: I would also like to join the Minister of Environment in welcoming the contingent from Osoyoos, and especially, I’d like to thank respected elder Delphine Armstrong for making this day so special and for opening the session this way. And I recognize, of course, Chief Clarence Louie.

For those who have not travelled to the territory, I would just urge everyone to now. It was about seven or eight years ago that I was there for the opening of the cultural centre, which is just world-class. The setting and the production is amazing. Since then, of course, the Nk’Mip winery has been winning awards all over the world for its world-class wines — they are wonderful; I have drank, maybe, too much of them — and also the incredible resort that exists on the banks of the lake.

Please would everyone help to join me in making everyone that came all the way from Osoyoos very, very welcome in this place.

Hon. S. Bond: Today I’m very delighted to introduce three incredibly special people to the Legislature. Today is an important day for them. They flew from Prince George to be here for the introduction of the bill that my colleague the Minister of Environment will introduce shortly. They are literally the passion behind the creation of the park that we will introduce today. They are incredible people.

I’ll start with Nowell Senior. He began building a trail in the Ancient Forest in 2005 on a part-time basis as a volunteer with the Caledonia Ramblers Hiking Club. The trail, once it was open to the public, became popular very quickly, but it wasn’t accessible to visitors with mobility challenges.

In 2010, they began work on a solution, which has resulted in an absolutely spectacular, more than 400-metre-long boardwalk that would enable everyone to experience this incredible place, the Ancient Forest. In the past ten years, he has made over 500 trips to the Ancient Forest and has driven over 115,000 kilometres to do that work.

Dave King has been involved with the Caledonia Ramblers since 1975, including 15 years as president. He worked with Nowell on the original trail. He and Nowell laid out the plan for the accessible boardwalk and began construction in 2010, and he built more than 90 percent of the foundation. And I mean that they carried in the wood — all of those things that were necessary.

Darwyn Coxson is a professor in ecosystems science and management at the University of Northern British Columbia. He was one of the founding faculty members at our university. His research on wet temperate rainforests in British Columbia and internationally has been an important factor in recognizing the significance of the Ancient Forest trail area within British Columbia’s Robson Valley.

I can’t tell you how proud I am. These and 200 volunteers have worked to take this very, very precious part of British Columbia, and today we will recognize it. Believe me, I know that their next step is a UNESCO World Heritage status. I think we have our work cut out for us there.

Congratulations to them, the people of my community who have worked so hard, and thank you to the Minister of Environment for helping us reach this very important place today.

C. James: I have two guests in the gallery today. The first person probably needs no introduction. She’s becoming a regular around this place. Sheenagh Morrison is a Special Olympics swimmer. She is a Thrifty’s employee. She is a volunteer at the Beacon Hill Park petting zoo. She’s also an incredible advocate for people with diverse abilities.

Sheenagh brought a friend of hers today, Jean Melvin. I knew Jean and had the good fortune to work with Jean as an incredible educator in school district 61, both a teacher and an administrator, a school principal. Jean now, in her retirement, has a whole new career as a jewelry designer. I’d like the House to please make both of these women very welcome.

J. Thornthwaite: Today is Dietitians Day, and I invite all members of the House and their staff to go to the Rattenbury Room and check out the dietitians themselves as well as their ability to give you free nutrition advice. I think they’ve still got the food out there. They’re there all day.

I would like to introduce them, the Dietitians of Canada staff: Sonya Kupka — she’s the regional executive director at Dietitians of Canada; Janice Macdonald, director of communications; Melissa Baker from the board of directors, Dietitians of Canada. From the College of Dietitians of B.C., Chi Cejalvo. I’m sorry if I’ve pronounced that wrong.

[1345]

From Compass Canada — and thank you, Compass, for the lunch: Anne Holtzman, Karen Hayley. From Island Health Nutrition Services, Monika Leifhebber. And from private practice, Janelle Hatch, Kristen Yarker, Veronica Kacinik, Lisa Diamond and Joyce Schnetzler.
[ Page 11529 ]
From the Ministry of Health, population and public health, Lorrie Cramb, Anna Wren, Sophia Baker-French, and a retired dietitian, Margaret Woodlock.

Would the House please make them feel welcome, and go and join them in the Rattenbury Room.

S. Simpson: I’m very pleased to introduce a longtime family friend, Wendy Brooks, who’s with us. I’ve known Wendy for many years, but really our friendship goes back to a connection…. Wendy and my wife go back to being in junior high together.

Wendy has recently moved back to Victoria from the Mainland. She’s retired after 28 years working in the public service with the government of British Columbia. It’s appropriate that she be here now in Social Work Week. Wendy is a registered social worker and has worked at Tranquille and worked in child protection and for the last number of years with Community Living B.C.

Wendy, I know, was very committed and dedicated to her work in the public service, and I would ask the House to thank Wendy for 28 years working for the people of British Columbia and wish her a long and happy retirement here in Victoria.

Hon. B. Bennett: It’s my pleasure to introduce today Shannon Stubbs and Amy Lee Leindecker. Shannon Stubbs is a Member of Parliament for Lakeland, Alberta. She’s also the deputy critic for Natural Resources. She’s here to have some meetings with us and discuss natural resource issues. Amy Lee Leindecker is her assistant. Please help me make them feel welcome.

J. Darcy: I’d like to join the member opposite in welcoming the dietitians who are in the gallery today. Dietitians, as we know, play an absolutely critical…. We know how important healthy eating is and healthy living is to all aspects of health, and dietitians really are the front-line advocates and support as far as healthy living goes. We know that healthy food as well as access to clean and safe water as well as income levels and housing are all critical to the social determinants of health, and dietitians play a critical role in that.

One of the issues that we talk about an awful lot in the area of health is diabetes and diabetes prevention, and I want to just take my hat off to all of you because you play such a critical role in improving people’s health and preventing the worsening of diabetes, which is good for those patients and is good for the health care system. Thank you, and welcome to this House.

Hon. Michelle Stilwell: It gives me great pleasure today to introduce former Parksville residents Suzan and John Jennings, who now call Victoria home. Suzan was an active participant in the disability consultation. She is the former chair of Access Oceanside, an organization that focuses on community inclusion. Most recently she has started up a group called Depression Talks, a peer support group here at the Victoria Disability Resource Centre.

John and Suzan are an amazing couple who have faced challenges in overcoming significant illness and adversity. Both are strong advocates for people with disabilities, and I was delighted to meet with them today to discuss the many significant changes our government has made in making life for people with disabilities better. In fact, Suzan carries around our government’s Accessibility 2024 action plan in her briefcase so that she can share it with people wherever she gets the chance.

Suzan and John see and live these changes every single day, and I truly appreciate their ongoing support. Their advocacy for people with disabilities is really making a difference in people’s lives, and I admire them for the work they do in the community to help others. Please help me make them feel welcome.

D. Routley: I’m going to be on my best behaviour today…

Interjections.

D. Routley: I thought that would be appreciated.

…because I’m joined here today by my sweetheart, the lovely Leanne Finlayson, who’s up in the gallery. She’s on the government side. I think she’s practising for a future role.

[1350]

Leanne is very active in our community. Her family, the Finlaysons, are very well known in the small business community. She’s been a longtime board member of the Forest Discovery Centre. The members should go there and ride the live steam train through the forest. She’s also, as many here know, a very accomplished Highland dancer, and she has been competing and teaching since she was a wee one. Leanne, I’m so proud.

A few years ago, we went with her dance studio to Scotland. They competed all over Scotland, and for me, seeing her dance in Scotland would be like seeing a lifelong Scottish hockey player come to Canada. It was a really great thing.

Some of you might know that I like Scotch, but I absolutely love my little Scot. So please help me make her welcome.

L. Reimer: At 11:07 a.m., 28 years ago, I gave birth to my wonderful son Gord. He was an absolute joy to raise. He loves life. He’s a graduate of Thompson Rivers University and is now accomplished in his profession. Would the House please help me wish him a very happy birthday.

M. Hunt: I have three guests in the House today. The first one is Mike Callewaert, an innovative Surrey small business man who has created vegetated wall systems that are retaining walls for very steep banks and green walls.
[ Page 11530 ]
These are created in B.C., manufactured on Annacis Island and sold around the world.

Also, I have two other guests who are with us — Rhiannon Martin who, without a word of prejudice, is the best LA in caucus and quite possibly the world, and her assistant who is with her, who makes — they tell me, at least —the best coffee in the world. That is Kori Altreche. Please make them welcome.

L. Throness: Two more of our legislative assistants are in the gallery today. They haven’t exactly won the Nobel Prize yet, but they’re working on it. Of course, they are indispensable to our work. They do a great job. Would the House please welcome Simran Sahota and Jeffrey Crone.

D. Ashton: I. too, would like to welcome the elders, Chief Clarence Louie, the councillors from the Osoyoos Indian Band, and also pay special recognition to Delphine Armstrong. She has had a long, distinguished career at the En’owkin Centre in Penticton. I would like to thank her for her prayer today.

I’d also like to thank all the band members from the various tribes in the Okanagan for allowing us to live on those incredible lands and share those resources and lands together.

Also, two friends are here from Penticton — actually, Naramata. I’ll get in trouble for that later. Karla Kozakevich, the electoral area E director, and her good friend Carolyn King are both here visiting. So welcome, both of you.

Please, would the House make them all welcome.

D. Bing: As we know, a number of legislative assistants are here with us today. I’d like to particularly recognize the two that work with me in east annex on the second floor. They are just amazing people, and I owe a lot to them. I’d like to recognize Jeffrey Crone and Simran Sahota. Would the House please make them welcome.

Madame Speaker: Hon. Members, I have some guests in the gallery today. They’re lovely folks, I can tell you.

We have Tracey and Walter Harms visiting from Richmond. We have Rheta Steer, who helped me with my babies when they were small.

Some of you have commented on who taught me the look, when I sometimes employ it in question period. My mom is here, Cathy Reid, and is joined by my son, Will.

Introduction and
First Reading of Bills

BILL 15 — PROTECTED AREAS OF
BRITISH COLUMBIA AMENDMENT ACT, 2016

Hon. M. Polak presented a message from Her Honour the Lieutenant-Governor: a bill intituled Protected Areas of British Columbia Amendment Act, 2016.

Hon. M. Polak: I move that the bill be introduced and read a first time now.

Motion approved.

Hon. M. Polak: This bill contains amendments to the Protected Areas of British Columbia Act. The provisions of this bill will add more than 11,700 hectares of land and marine waters to the protected area system managed by B.C. Parks.

[1355]

The amendments will establish one new class A park, the Ancient Forest in the area of Prince George. It will also add lands to five existing class A parks and one conservancy.

The amendments also modify the boundary of one class A park to exclude lands as part of a negotiated settlement with the Boston Bar First Nation to resolve a trespass issue.

In addition, there are amendments to rename four parks. Two of the parks being renamed are changing, so they will only be known by their traditional Okanagan language names. For Haynes Point, the name will be changed to sẁiẁs. For Okanagan Falls Park, the name will be changed to sx̌ʷəx̌ʷnitkʷ.

The B.C. Parks website has been updated with recordings of the vocalizations of the First Nations names. The chief, the councillors and other members of the Osoyoos Indian Band are able to join us today for the introduction of this legislation.

Chief Clarence Louie has asked that I read a few words on his behalf respecting the renaming of these two parks. I’m pleased to do so.

“Today is a very historic day for the Osoyoos Indian Band and the near extinction of the Okanagan language. On behalf of the Osoyoos Indian Band chief and council, who are all here today, and our language speakers here today and back at home in the Okanagan, I want to thank the Premier and cabinet and especially the Minister of Environment” — I won’t put in the name; sorry — “and all of those behind the scenes who helped and supported the name changes of two very important historical and cultural sites in the Osoyoos Indian Band and the Okanagan Nation.

“sẁiẁs was our people’s crossing area on Osoyoos Lake for thousands of years. sx̌ʷəx̌ʷnitkʷ was, and still is, the most important salmon fishing ground for our people on this side of the U.S.-Canada border. sx̌ʷəx̌ʷnitkʷ was set aside as an Osoyoos Indian Band reserve in 1877 and was taken away in 1913 as part of the B.C.-Canada McKenna-McBride royal commission, which reduced Indian reserve lands in B.C.

“Reconciliation for First Nations in B.C. must include respect and recognition for all of the critically endangered First Nation languages which are the original languages of this province. For the last 100 years in residential and public schools, First Nations children were told over and over again how important the English and French languages are to Canadian identity. Today we are officially recognizing, in the B.C. Legislature, how important First Nation languages are.

“Thank you to the B.C. government for not only doing what is right but also for officially recognizing and affirming the Okanagan First Nation language.”

That is from Chief Clarence Louie.
[ Page 11531 ]

I see the time is short. I will only add that maps will be available in the Clerk’s office and also posted on the B.C. Parks website.

I move that this bill be placed on the orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting of the House after today.

Bill 15, Protected Areas of British Columbia Amendment Act, 2016, introduced, read a first time and ordered to be placed on orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting of the House after today.

Statements
(Standing Order 25B)

DIETITIANS AND HEALTHY EATING

J. Thornthwaite: Every year Canadians dedicate a day to recognizing and celebrating dietitians, the health care professionals who use their specialized skill in food and nutrition to improve our health.

Today marks the seventh anniversary of Dietitians Day. As a former dietitian with more than two decades of experience in hospitals, universities and community health, it gives me great pleasure to highlight the work of these dedicated experts and remind all British Columbians that they are the smart choice for credible, nutritional advice on eating well and healthy lifestyles.

Dietitians work with their clients to help them feel their best. They provide tips and healthy recipes to help you plan, shop and cook for healthy meals, show you how to properly read and understand food labels and develop custom meal plans to help you manage weight or digestive issues, support your exercise, workout or sports regime and prevent and manage chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer.

Dietitians are playing an increasingly important role in the health of Canadians, particularly in primary care and the management of chronic diseases. More than 20 percent of all visits to family doctors are for nutrition-related conditions like diabetes. More than 45 percent of seniors admitted to hospitals are suffering from malnutrition.

It’s estimated that more than half of all type 2 diabetes cases can be prevented or delayed with healthier eating habits and increased physical activity.

Through nutrition intervention, dieticians can also help lower cholesterol and blood pressure and can reduce malnutrition levels in seniors, leading to fewer hospital admissions and shorter stays.

Our dietitians provide the necessary information and education to help British Columbians take charge of their health.

[1400]

I want to encourage anyone looking for nutritional and dietary assistance to log on to www.dietitians.ca to connect with a dietitian in your community so that you can eat your way to better health.

J. Rice: I’d like to follow on from the member opposite. I know she was a former dietitian and is pretty passionate about this topic. Registered dietitians are health professionals who are trained and accredited to provide advice and counselling about diet, food and nutrition. They offer health promotion, disease prevention, treatment and supportive care.

Dietitians do more than tell people what to eat. They make recommendations based on the best available science, coupled with their client’s or their community’s unique values and circ*mstances. Dietitians are regulated health professionals. Just so you know, Canadian dietitians are spelled with two Ts and no Cs — those are the American versions of dietitians.

In Prince Rupert, dietitian Arlene Carlson serves not just Prince Rupert but the First Nations communities of Metlakatla, Lax Kw’alaams, Hartley Bay and Gitxaala. Arlene sees people from birth to death. She may assist a new mom with breastfeeding and help her again when her child transitions to solid foods. She may see someone in the hospital who’s had a stroke and is having a hard time swallowing.

One of the important roles Arlene plays is teaching healthy cooking and meal planning classes. Arlene tells me that a lot of people don’t know how to cook or they’ve stopped cooking. If you have a hungry family, you want to fill them up, but the best food choices aren’t always available. Arlene says if you don’t know what to do with broccoli, chances are you’re not going to buy some. Teaching people how to prepare healthy foods creates more demand for healthy foods in our suppliers. That, in turn, creates healthy people.

Shelly Crack is the dietitian on Haida Gwaii. Shelly is spearheading innovative programs such as incorporating traditional foods into the school food programs and health care delivery system. Shelly helps instill a connection to food in schoolchildren so that they grow up valuing their food and where it comes from. In turn, she’s producing healthy eaters, healthy people and establishing food security on Haida Gwaii.

She tells me a story of a Haida….

Interjection.

J. Rice: Just let me finish, hon. Speaker.

She tells me a story of a Haida Gwaii student who was hunting recently. He caught a deer, learned how to butcher a deer, went harvesting foods in the garden and prepared a whole meal. He exclaimed: “Wow, I could feed my whole family.”

I just want to finish off with this. Tomorrow the Masset hospital will be preparing its first 100 percent locally sourced traditional meal, prepared by a Haida Gwaii chef. I want to congratulate the community and thank Shelly Crack for her leadership.
[ Page 11532 ]

NATURAL RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT

L. Throness: Today the people of B.C.’s north rallied at noon in Terrace, Fort St. John and Fort Nelson, calling for northern jobs for northern people and saying yes to LNG. The rallies in these communities saw over 500 businesses, representing thousands of workers, demonstrate their public support for LNG. They understand that without new markets, their livelihoods will be in jeopardy.

We in southern B.C. need to remember that over half of all jobs generated by B.C.’s resource industries are in the Lower Mainland. Natural resource industries make up 11 percent of our provincial GDP. So we, too, need to say yes to natural resource development. In its consideration of current LNG applications, the federal government must also realize just how important the industry is to our entire province and, indeed, our nation.

In particular, it must recognize the pivotal role that LNG can play in reducing worldwide emissions and serve the interests of our own province and our own country in allowing credit for the positive global environmental impact of LNG. Harvard economist Michael Porter said in Vancouver recently that it’s time to get on with LNG exports. He said: “It’s good for the world. It’s good for China. It’s good for lots of other people in the world who really care about climate. We should be exporting as much LNG as possible.”

So let’s get to yes on responsible resource development. That means yes on Petronas and yes on LNG, but also yes on Kinder Morgan, yes on Enbridge, yes on Site C, yes on mining, yes on logging and agrifoods, yes to the good people rallying in Terrace and Fort St. John and Fort Nelson today, and yes to jobs and prosperity for all British Columbians.

YOUTH SOLUTIONS CONTEST
ESSAY ON SOCIAL MEDIA

D. Donaldson: The winner of Score One for Solutions, this year’s contest for teens that our MLA office has held with the Vancouver Canucks’ Dan Hamhuis, had a message that resonated with judges and, I think, maybe with MLAs.

[1405]

Here are some excerpts of what grade 10 Bulkley Valley Christian School student Nathan Steenhof wrote:

“Walking into a coffee shop, I take a minute to look around. The sight that greets me is very depressing. Everyone is glued to their phones, and there’s almost no face-to-face interaction.

“People start to spend more time in social media life than they do in real life, leading to addiction and living more through social media than in real life. Getting more likes makes them feel more popular, and they spend more and more time trying to achieve this and start losing their real friends. Social media has become so much a part of our everyday lives, we don’t even notice how much time we spend on it anymore.

“Our school is doing something called ‘media-free week.’ So Monday morning and Friday evening we are not allowed to use media. I thought this week would be really boring, and I wouldn’t be able to handle not using media. However, it’s been kind of refreshing not having media to keep me occupied, and it’s forced me to do other things with my spare time like reading a book or playing games with my siblings.

“I’m encouraging our school to do more activities like media-free week to help educate people about the dangers of social media. Whenever I go out with my friends, I can encourage social interaction and try to discourage people from withdrawing and going on their phones.”

Well, congrats to Nathan for highlighting an important challenge and a solution or two. Thanks to our three judges; to Smithers’s Dan Hamhuis; to our sponsor, Central Mountain Air; the Gitksan Government Commission; Moose FM and the Interior News. Nathan and his dad are off to a Canucks game Saturday night.

Nathan, even if it is the weekend, go easy on social media, enjoy the game and thanks for reminding all of us about what real life is.

LOCAL TOURISM AND
COMMUNITY EVENTS IN FRASER VALLEY

J. Martin: It’s pretty well springtime, and many British Columbians will be taking a staycation somewhere in this beautiful province. Whether you’re thinking about camping at Cultus Lake, or maybe heading up Highway 1 to the Okanagan, I encourage travellers to take some time and experience the Fraser Valley.

In Yarrow this weekend, it’s the annual Barn Burner BBQ Competition again. Yeah, I have been waiting 364 days for that. This is the first sanctioned contest of this year’s cook-off season. The very best teams from throughout the Pacific Northwest will be smoking it low and slow, with beef brisket, pulled pork — mmm, pulled pork — chicken and ribs. Come on out to beautiful Yarrow. There are lots of samples for the public to taste and get an experience of real, genuine, actual barbecue.

The following weekend, children can enjoy Easter egg hunt events at the Chilliwack Corn Maze in Greendale; at Townsend Park downtown, hosted by City Life Church; or at Peteys Easter Eggstravaganza at Fantasy Farms in East Chilliwack. I’m looking forward, also, to the Family Nature Festival at the Great Blue Heron Nature Reserve near the Vedder Rotary Trail in Chilliwack.

All of these events and more provide outstanding opportunities to explore B.C. and experience the Fraser Valley. I encourage everyone to be a tourist in your own town or come and visit mine. We use hashtag #sharechilliwack. Drop by your local visitor centre, connect with your tourism office on social media and find out what’s going on in your backyard. I hope that everyone can support B.C.’s growing tourism industry and enjoy a staycation this spring.

If I may just return to the Barn Burner for one moment, it’s always an honour to have the opportunity to share some words of barbecue wisdom with the House and get that on the record: “When you boil your ribs, the terrorists have already won.”
[ Page 11533 ]

SEXUAL EXPLOITATION OF
CHILDREN AND YOUTH

M. Mark: I’ve spent the last 20 years advocating for the rights and best interests of sexually exploited children and youth throughout B.C., across Canada and internationally, with organizations such as Covenant House Vancouver, the Urban Native Youth Association, the Justice Institute of B.C., Save the Children Canada and the Representative for Children and Youth.

I’ve heard hundreds of heartbreaking stories from sexually exploited children and youth. Without going into too much graphic detail, I know that infants are being sexually assaulted and their images and videos are being traded like baseball cards on the Internet. I know that toddlers are most often sexually exploited by people that they know. I know that teens are being exploited by social media, leaving a permanent record on line.

I know that this is a difficult topic to discuss because we find it hard to admit that today, in all of our backyards, children and youth are being sexually exploited. The reality is we are not paying enough attention to this issue, and perpetrators are relying on our apathy and silence.

Interjection.

[1410]

M. Mark: I’m not sure what’s funny over there.

We can’t afford to be silent. In fact, we should be angered, disgusted and outraged that children are being subjected to such violence, trauma and maltreatment.

Just this past week, we have learned about another beautiful young person whose life was taken way too soon. Her name was Patricia Evoy. She was 19 years old. My deepest condolences to her family and friends.

While the circ*mstances of her death have not been confirmed, we know that she was high risk. She was vulnerable, and she was sexually exploited.

It is so critical that we must take measures, all measures, to protect people like Patricia. Therefore, I am pleased to learn that March 14 to 20 is declared as stop the sexual exploitation awareness week here in British Columbia.

It is my hope that we take swift and bold measures each and every day as parents, as elected officials and as a society to do everything in our power to protect our children and our youth from violence, harm and exploitation within a human rights framework. This means that we must report abuse and exploitation to the police and MCFD and hold people legally responsible when they do not.

I appreciate that I’m going over time, but it is my hope that we take all measures of action like these children are our sons and our daughters, because their safety is our responsibility.

Oral Questions

SCHOOL DISTRICT FUNDING AND
COMMENTS BY EDUCATION MINISTER

J. Horgan: Recently the Premier set a dangerous precedent when she characterized First Nations leaders and others who were concerned about the environment as a “ragtag group.” Her office carried that a little bit further when a whistleblower, Tim Duncan, raised issues around access to freedom of information and living within the laws of British Columbia. He was characterized as “disgruntled.” When we raised in this House, and people on disabilities raised, concerns about the clawback of their bus pass, they were characterized as “confused and wrong.” Now, we have the Minister of Education speaking to his education partners as “noise…from a few groups.”

This is a pattern of disrespect for the people who make up this great province, a pattern of disrespect for those who want to make this place as good as it can possibly be.

My question is to the Premier. Does she agree with her Minister of Education that 60 duly elected school boards are just noise, that 45,000 teachers are just noise, that hundreds of thousands of parents working through their PACs — along with CUPE members and other support workers in the education system in British Columbia — and, indeed, the vast majority of British Columbians concerned about underfunding of our education system are just a few groups making noise?

Hon. C. Clark: Well, let me say this. I think that all of the debate that we have in this province and in this country is part of a vigorous democratic process. We are lucky that we have the freedom of speech that we have in our country, that we fight to preserve it, and that we’re allowed to have legitimate debates about public policy, which is what we see in this House every day and which is what we see out on the streets on a regular basis.

It’s a good thing, but that doesn’t mean we always agree. For example, when I talk about the folks, the NDP and their members, who sign declarations saying no…. When I talk about the leader of the NDP who opposes and says no to Site C, who opposes and says no to LNG, who opposes and says no to job creation all over the province, I understand he’s taking a very clear position. But he needs to understand that on this side of the House, we take a very different position — and that is in support of the people up in the Peace River country, for example, the people in Terrace, who rallied in huge numbers to stand up for saying yes, to stand up for jobs. You can’t stand up….

Interjections.

Madame Speaker: Members.
[ Page 11534 ]

Hon. C. Clark: You can’t stand up for working people if you don’t want to see them get any work. On this side of the House, that’s exactly what we stand for.

Madame Speaker: Recognizing the Leader of the Official Opposition on a supplemental.

[1415]

J. Horgan: Well, yeah. Thanks for that. It will come as no surprise to those paying attention that we’re in such a sorry state with respect to public education here. This was a former Minister of Education who can’t even answer a basic question. This is a former Minister of Education who has had us in court for over a decade because she stripped contracts and took away rights from teachers — duly negotiated contracts.

The former Minister of Education has clearly forgotten all about the importance….

Interjections.

Madame Speaker: Members, I will hear the question.

J. Horgan: Well, thank you, hon. Speaker. I know the Premier doesn’t want to hear the question, but we’ll see what we can do about her colleagues as well.

It’s okay to have a difference of opinion. Everyone gets that. But you don’t disrespect people by calling them ragtag, disgruntled or confused.

Again, the Minister of Education has an obligation, in our co-governance model, to have a little bit of respect for school boards. The school board of district 69, from Qualicum, wrote the following with respect to his comments about noise: “Your comments demonstrate a lack of understanding for those advocating on behalf of our students. Your remarks marginalize and dismiss hundreds of thousands of people in this province. They show a blatant disregard and a lack of respect for school boards who are working within a co-governance model with the Ministry of Education.”

My question is to the former Minister of Education — thank goodness, not the current one — now the Premier. Does she agree with her Minister of Education that it’s okay to disrespect the partners in education when it comes to school boards and the parents across this province that want better for their kids than they had for themselves?

Hon. C. Clark: I was up in Prince George yesterday announcing the creation of an 11,000-hectare class A park, the first one created in British Columbia in the last three years, to protect this unique forest, Ancient Forest, which we’ll now be seeking UNESCO status for. While I was up there…. I know the Leader of the Opposition had been up the day before and had done exactly what he accuses the government of, saying all kinds of bad things and calling people all kinds of bad names. There were only 15 people there to hear it, though, so I’m not surprised that it wasn’t reported widely.

When it comes to education, let me say this. We have dramatically increased the amount of money that we put in on a per-pupil basis into education in the province. We have with us, as an example of the quality of education we provide in public schools, the top gold medal in science winner, Austin Wang, who is sitting right here in our Legislature today.

The six-year completion rate for aboriginal students is at a record high of 63 percent. We are continuing to try and improve that. There are so many successes in the education system over these last years, and if you look at the results, you’ll certainly see them.

I think what members in this House and what the public would like to see is a lot more discussion about the facts — a lot less politics, a lot less emotional pleas and really have us talk about what’s happening in our education system, because British Columbia, by almost any standard in the world, is leading.

Madame Speaker: The Leader of the Official Opposition on a final supplemental.

J. Horgan: To hear the Premier say she wants a lot less politics almost knocked me over. It almost knocked me over. Most days, whether it’s in the private jet with the videographer, all the Premier does is politics. What we want on this side of the House, and I think what British Columbians want, is a government that recognizes and reflects the values and diversity of the people of this great province.

Here’s a fact for the Premier. Here’s a fact. On the watch of the people on that side, 240 schools are closed, 40 more schools are on the block, and 900 people showed up in the south Interior to protest this government’s underfunding of public education. That’s a fact. Larger class sizes. Increasing challenges with class composition. Commitments made by that Minister of Education, that Minister of Education and that Minister of Education not being met.

Families first has been replaced by “millionaires first.” There was a tax break for the richest people in British Columbia, and school boards are being asked to find more.

[1420]

My question to the Premier of British Columbia is: why is it okay to call people ragtag, disgruntled, confused or just noise? Why don’t we put that politics aside and embrace the diversity we have here and work with our school trustees, work with parents and work with teachers to make this province as great as we all want it to be?

Hon. C. Clark: Well, I’ll tell you, the member accuses me regularly of just photo ops and all politics — accusa-
[ Page 11535 ]
tions that women in politics are certainly used to hearing. Let me say this. Four consecutive balanced budgets….

Interjections.

Madame Speaker: Members. This House will come to order.

Nelson-Creston, this House will come to order.

Hon. C. Clark: That’s not politics. That’s looking after British Columbia. And 50,000 new jobs created in the last year in a province that is almost doubling the national rate of growth — that is not politics. That’s getting the job done.

Getting to yes on the Great Bear Rainforest. Getting to yes on LNG. Getting to yes on Site C, the biggest single investment that B.C. Hydro has ever made in capital. Getting to yes on 17 new and expanded mines. Getting to yes on job creation all across the province. We have worked hard to get to yes, over the constant noes and the naysaying and the anti-job declarations of the NDP. That is not politics. That’s working. That’s delivering. Those are promises made and promises we are keeping.

R. Fleming: I see that the Premier’s reputation for someone who has an utter disregard for public education is perfectly intact here this afternoon. So let me ask the Minister of Education a question.

Let me quote from the Vancouver Island School Trustees Association spring newsletter. “The Vancouver Island School Trustees Association, which is made up of 12 boards of education and the largest branch of school boards in the province, discussed a number of issues impacting all boards on Vancouver Island, including the ongoing lack of adequate and sustainable funding that is leading to consideration of school closures, reduction of student supports and the districtwide cancellation of innovative programs.”

The newsletter goes on to note that “the Minister of Education” — the hon. member across the way — “had indicated his desire to attend our branch meetings and was invited to attend but was a no-show.”

He won’t show up to the Vancouver Island School Trustees Association, but then he has the time to go on CBC radio and attack school trustees, parents and everybody else who is advocating for the public education system right now and dismiss them as a bunch of noise. That’s what he did.

My question is this. It’s the question that was written to him by Eve Flynn, the district chair of school board 69. Instead of attacking advocates of public education, who he has put in an incredibly difficult situation, with his $54 million cuts in this budget…. Will he do as the chair of the Qualicum board has suggested, and instead of insulting partner organizations in public education, work with them — and begin repairing that relationship by apologizing to those organizations in the House today?

Hon. M. Bernier: You know, I have been invited all around the province. Every opportunity that I have within my schedule, I actually take those opportunities to meet with the school districts. I have actually toured and visited almost half, 30, of the school districts since becoming the Minister of Education.

[1425]

Again, one of the main things I’ve heard from all of those school boards is that we need to ensure the autonomy that they have at the local level, that they are the ones that are making the decisions within those school districts.

It’s interesting that the member opposite wants to try to pull out some quotes. I’ve got a couple of my own.

The way I’ll end this is by saying that those decisions need to be made at the local level. I’m glad that the member opposite, also on the radio, yesterday finally agreed with this side of the House, with our government, that those decisions need to be made, when the critic himself said: “Whether they vote or not to close schools, that needs to be left up to the school districts.”

Although he’s been standing in the House and saying otherwise all these days, I’m glad the member opposite has finally realized what this side of the House has been saying all along.

Madame Speaker: Victoria–Swan Lake on a supplemental.

R. Fleming: I guess the question that school districts around British Columbia are asking themselves right now is: what is the point of the minister touring around the province when he’s not listening to anybody involved in the education sector?

What people are trying to understand, whether it’s parents by the hundreds at a meeting in Courtenay last night or thousands in the Okanagan who are attending meetings to try and save their community schools…. They want to know this, and I’ll ask the minister this. He doesn’t have to give up privileged cabinet discussions, but they need to understand at home. How can a government that says there’s no money for public education and that the government has an imperative to cut $54 million in school district funding…? How can that same cabinet and this minister participate in discussions that allow them to find $230 million in tax cuts for millionaires? That’s what people in British Columbia want to know.

I would suggest this to the minister: stop being critical of organizations who are standing up and advocating for public education around B.C., whether they represent parents or trustees or students. Instead, will he begin to advocate for his own ministry, and the 550,000 kids who are involved in our school system, at the cabinet table and begin that by reversing the $54 million cut in the budget?

Hon. M. Bernier: I’m pleased that the member opposite realizes my job is to advocate for the school dis-
[ Page 11536 ]
tricts and the people of the province of British Columbia.

Since this government has taken over from the members opposite, we’ve increased our budget 31 percent; $1.2 billion we’ve increased the budget. At the same time, the member opposite doesn’t want to realize that we’ve also had 70,000 fewer students in the province of British Columbia. When you add that up, we have record investment in the province of British Columbia.

This year alone, did we advocate? Absolutely — $110 million more added this year to the budget for education.

One other thing I’ll mention to try to help the school districts in the province of British Columbia. Coming up in a couple of months, they are going to see $45 million in relief, on July 1, when the teachers pension plan for the employer contributions are going to be reduced, helping every school district across the province of British Columbia.

GOVERNMENT RECORD-KEEPING AND
CALL FOR APOLOGY TO FORMER EMPLOYEE

M. Karagianis: On Monday, we asked the Attorney General to apologize to Tim Duncan, the former executive assistant to the Minister of Transportation who blew the whistle on this government’s culture of triple-deleting emails. The Attorney General refused to apologize. Mr. Duncan had his keyboard grabbed by a senior staffer in the Transportation Ministry who then deleted emails related to the Highway of Tears. When Mr. Duncan took his concerns to the Liberal caucus director of research, he was told: “We do what it takes to win.”

When this side of the House first spoke about Mr. Duncan’s story, the Premier’s executive director of communications and issues management was outside of this chamber moments later attacking Mr. Duncan’s character and telling members of the media that Mr. Duncan was merely a disgruntled employee.

[1430]

Today I’d like to give the Premier a chance to have her say, the opportunity to apologize on behalf of her government and the staff in her office to Mr. Duncan for the treatment that she and her government’s culture of delete, delete, delete, have perpetrated to him.

Hon. S. Anton: As the member opposite knows, there is a special prosecutor appointed in this case. There are charges laid. The matter is before the courts, and that’s where we should leave it.

Madame Speaker: Esquimalt–Royal Roads on a supplemental.

M. Karagianis: Well, there have been charges against Mr. Gretes, who was the gentleman who took the keyboard away, but there is no apology to Mr. Duncan before the courts.

As far as we can see, the only people who have failed to acknowledge the serious wrongdoing to Mr. Duncan — and he has been vindicated on every account — the only ones who have not done the correct and decent thing have been the Attorney General; Mr. Duncan’s former boss, the Minister of Transportation; and the Premier herself.

Mr. Duncan blew the whistle on just how far this government would go to hide information from the public. In fact, I think he deserves the Premier’s award of excellence, not to be subjected to character assassination by the Premier’s staff.

In this culture of deleting and hiding information, there are major decisions that start at the very top of this government. So again, I would like to give the Premier a chance to stand up and do the right thing and please apologize to Mr. Duncan for the treatment that he has undergone at the hands of her and her staff.

Hon. S. Anton: Things which are for this House are for this House. Things which are before the courts are before the courts, and that is where they should be dealt with.

SEXUAL ASSAULT POLICY LEGISLATION
FOR POST-SECONDARY INSTITUTIONS

A. Weaver: Last Tuesday the Premier told News 1130 that she acknowledged more needs to be done to support the survivors of sexual assault on B.C. post-secondary campuses. The Premier stated: “Rape kits need to be available, trained staff need to be available, and some universities and colleges are doing a more thorough job than others. So the Minister of Health is going to go out and have that conversation, because we have to make sure that help is available.”

I fear that the Premier may have missed the larger point about the conversation we need to have. With respect, we don’t just need more rape kits. We need to take this issue head-on, recognize that our post-secondary campuses aren’t always providing a safe environment for B.C. students, and we need to have a plan in place to prevent assaults from happening in the first instance.

When the University of Ottawa surveyed its student body last year, it found that 44 percent of female students experienced sexual violence or unwanted sexual touching while attending the university. I’m asking the government to take a clear leadership role and make a clear statement that this is a responsibility they will act upon.

To the Premier, does she support the need for sexual assault policy legislation for post-secondary institutions?

Hon. C. Clark: Being raped is one of the worst things that can happen to any woman, whether that is intimate-partner assault, whether that’s sexual abuse at the hands of a family member or whether it’s an assault from a stranger. Any woman who has experienced it will tell you that it leaves a lifetime of scars.
[ Page 11537 ]

We hope for women who are raped that they can find a way to heal, and many do. Some will say they became stronger as a result. But all women who have been sexually assaulted are changed.

It’s something that should not be happening in our society. Sadly, it appears to be more prevalent on university campuses than most other places in our society. There is more that we can do and more that we should do.

The Minister of Advanced Education has begun that work. I certainly welcome the interest of the member from Oak Bay. I’ve had a chance to look at his bill, Bill M205, and I’d certainly look forward to working with him on finding a way that we can either pass this bill or amend it and pass a similar version to it in our Legislature.

We need to do more to protect women on campus from sexual assault because these life-changing, traumatic events don’t need to happen. As a society, we can and we must do more to prevent them.

[1435]

Madame Speaker: The member for Oak Bay–Gordon Head on supplemental.

A. Weaver: Thank you to the Premier for her response. I’m very pleased to hear this.

As the Premier and government will know, without a legislative requirement to develop a policy, we risk continuing the status quo where institutional optics are sometimes allowed to trump student safety.

For example, a student at Thompson Rivers University, who was recently assaulted twice in one term, was told: “Maybe you would be better suited to a different school.” UBC made headlines last year when it turned out that reported cases of sexual assault on their campus were less than a quarter of those reported by the UBC RCMP detachment. Just yesterday, at the University of Victoria, a student noted that she felt “completely invalidated and silenced” by a UVic investigation into her sexual assault.

Addressing this has to be about our institutions, our students and not post-secondary institutions. My question to the Premier is this: what is the timeline for government to introduce such legislation?

Hon. C. Clark: I can’t give a definitive timeline today, except to say that I recognize, along with the member, that this is an urgent issue. A rapist’s best friend is silence. A rapist’s best friend is shame. A rapist’s best friend is the failure of authorities to recognize a complaint when it comes forward and fail to act on it.

We will not reduce the prevalence of sexual assault until we strengthen the institutions that are there to protect women, until we ensure that women feel safe coming forward and saying that they have been sexually assaulted. They will only do so when they have the knowledge that someone will act on what they’ve told them and keep them safe.

We have much more to do, and I welcome the member’s active interest in this. I thank him for presenting his bill. We will work with him on it on an urgent basis and try and get something passed with respect to changing policy as soon as we possibly can.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL REPORT ON
HEALTH MINISTRY INVESTIGATION

A. Dix: After fighting to clear their names, after being exonerated more than once, health researchers who were wrongfully dismissed are being subjected again to more Liberal-sanctioned attack. A leaked copy of an internal Finance Ministry report, one leaked from the senior ranks of the government itself, has allowed the government, in effect, to smear those individuals again, either directly or by association.

The government rejected a public inquiry and acknowledged, in settling lawsuits, that the allegations it made against these individuals were not correct. All of the firings were withdrawn because the government knew it had wrongfully dismissed the employees. Now the smears, unfortunately, from the government continue — not in open court, not in a public inquiry for all to see and rebut, but through another high-level government leak.

I want to give the Minister of Health the opportunity to clear the air today, as it was his ministry that signed the agreements along with the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Justice that cleared these employees, dismissed the charges, settled the cases. Will he, on behalf of the government, keep his word and speak out clearly against a flawed and prejudicial report, one that is attacking current and former employees, public servants in his ministry?

Hon. T. Lake: The report was completed by the comptroller general’s office. It is a report that the Ministry of Health had no control over. The information was not authorized to be released by government. We have no control over the fact that a reporter got ahold of the unredacted report. The redacted version was to obey the law, the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

This issue is before the Ombudsperson, who is investigating all of the aspects of what occurred, and we look forward to the results of his investigation.

Madame Speaker: Vancouver-Kingsway on a supplemental.

[1440]

A. Dix: Well, just to be clear, the sworn and signed word of the government seems to mean nothing. I mean, this is truly dishonourable.

The Ministry of Finance, as the minister will know, both relied on the information from the botched dis-
[ Page 11538 ]
credited Health Ministry investigation — which the Finance Ministry itself called a gong show — and then denied people due process, just like the previous investigation, just as they were condemned by the McNeil report. In this case, not only did the Ministry of Finance not speak to most of the people involved; it actually refused to speak to some who’d offered.

Let’s recap. The government publicly retracts the allegation. The Premier gives what amounts to an apology over there but produces a report, ready to be leaked, that says the opposite. It consistently tries to blame lower-level employees for systemic issues on contracts approved by ministers, deputy ministers and assistant deputy ministers.

It engages repeatedly in smears and innuendos against its own employees over and over and over and over again — even as it has been forced to acknowledge the allegations it made were untrue and even after the Premier’s self-said apologies. The consequences are clear. The damages to public health care and the researchers are well-known.

Will the Minister of Health do the honourable thing: stand by his ministry’s signed word, the signed word they made to those researchers, and apologize today for this continuing dishonourable conduct?

Hon. T. Lake: The member makes it sound like politicians did an investigation. This was an investigation done by professional civil servants, not under the direction or direct control of politicians but carried out by professional public servants. The member stands up day after day after day and accuses the government of smearing the reputation of public servants. That’s, by inference, what he is doing.

They did their work. That work was held private and only released according to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. The government did not have control over the use of that information.

Interjections.

Madame Speaker: Members. Members, the Chair will hear the answer.

Hon. T. Lake: It is in the hands of the Ombudsperson. The member may want to prejudge the outcome of that work. We don’t. We want to see what that work will produce for us so that we can all understand exactly what happened and how we can make sure that we have proper human resource procedures going forward. The member should do what we are doing on this side of the House and wait and support the report of the Ombudsperson that will come later on.

[End of question period.]

Orders of the Day

Hon. T. Stone: I call, in section B, the second reading of Bill 2, the Great Bear Rainforest (Forest Management) Act, and in section A, the continuing estimates of the Ministry of Small Business Red Tape Reduction and Ministry Responsible for the Liquor Distribution Branch.

[R. Chouhan in the chair.]

Second Reading of Bills

BILL 2 — GREAT BEAR RAINFOREST
(FOREST MANAGEMENT) ACT

(continued)

J. Thornthwaite: I’d like to resume my remarks about Bill 2, the Great Bear Rainforest (Forest Management) Act.

[1445]

The Great Bear Rainforest (Forest Management) Act is a proud moment for British Columbia. We have shown and continue to show environmental leadership in this and other avenues.

Our Premier’s work to bring provinces together very recently for the Vancouver declaration on clean growth and climate change was legendary. Our climate action leadership team is still now receiving recommendations. You can still contribute to the recommendations from the climate leadership team, until March 25, to take part in helping us build B.C.’s low-carbon future. Our world-renowned, revenue-neutral carbon tax is something to be very, very proud of.

We are recognized leaders when it comes to environmental management. We are one of only 14 jurisdictions invited to a closed-door meeting with the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in Paris. With one of the brightest and broadest carbon prices in the world, our Premier was invited to address the G20 Finance Ministers on our revenue-neutral carbon tax in Washington, D.C.

We are the first and still the only jurisdiction in North America to be carbon-neutral across government operations. As a result, the carbon-neutral capital program has allowed us to invest millions of dollars in emission reduction projects in schools, hospitals and universities.

Why do I say that? Because I’m very, very proud to stand and support Bill 2, the Great Bear Rainforest (Forest Management) Act. It solidifies even more our leadership in environment and in forest management. We now are able to prove that we can move from conflict to collaboration to collectively working together towards an agreement between environmental groups, industry groups, First Nations and government.

We have a shared responsibility to pass on British Columbia to future generations as magnificent and pristine as we found it, while continuing the ancient trad-
[ Page 11539 ]
ition of making a living off the land. The Great Bear Rainforest is a global treasure, covering 6.4 million hectares and one-quarter of the world’s coastal temperate rainforest, an area the size of Ireland. I mentioned, in my previous remarks, that I’d actually visited the Great Bear Rainforest. This act will create special forest management areas: 273,000 hectares where commercial timber-harvesting activities will be prohibited.

The ecosystem-based management in the Great Bear Rainforest is the result of the collaboration between 26 First Nations, the province, forest companies and environmental groups to create the policy framework for the proposed legislation. This rainforest solutions project was a combination of environmental groups, forest companies, the Coastal First Nations and Nanwakolas Council. The forest companies include Coast Forest Conservation Initiative, B.C. Timber Sales, Catalyst Paper Corp., Howe Sound Pulp and Paper Corp., Interfor Corp. and Western Forest Products Inc. The environmental groups include ForestEthics Solutions, Greenpeace and Sierra Club B.C.

The amount of protected old-growth forest in this area will increase from 50 to 70 percent and will include eight new areas set aside for logging. The act will establish new timber supply areas and reconfigure existing ones in order to better reflect the boundaries of the Great Bear Rainforest.

Forest companies will have a defined forest management area of 15 percent of the Great Bear Rainforest where logging can occur. It will provide for the designation of new special forest management areas that prohibit commercial timber-harvesting activities. The act will create a stable land base that will support an allowable annual cut of 2.5 million cubic metres over the next ten years but will provide certainty for jobs, investment and markets.

The annual allowable cut is a decrease from the existing of about 3.2 million cubic metres per year. This means that under the proposed legislation, the annual allowable cut for all timber supply areas and tree farm licences within the Great Bear Rainforest cannot exceed 2.5 million cubic metres.

The chief forester was involved in the forest analysis that contributed to the recommended annual allowable cut, and the chief forester will continue to participate in these discussions for the Great Bear Rainforest management area during the ten-year adjustment period and will resume authority for determining annual allowable cuts in the area afterwards.

[1450]

In addition, through the agreements reflected in the proposed act, the amount of forest carbon sequestered in the Great Bear Rainforest is expected to increase to 640,000 tonnes per year. Forest carbon credits will be shared with the Coastal First Nations and the Nanwakolas Council through the atmospheric benefit sharing agreements. The forest carbon credits will be used to offset economic development projects of interest to their communities.

I just wanted to summarize in my final remarks a couple of quotes. One from Dallas Smith, who is the president of the Nanwakolas Council: “The introduction of the Great Bear Rainforest (Forest Management) Act is welcomed by our communities. It’s important for all parties that the spirit and intent of this world-class agreement has the legislation behind it to meaningfully support the implementation.”

I met Dallas as well as Chief Marilyn Slett at the announcement a couple weeks ago. Chief Marilyn Slett, president of the Coastal First Nations, said: “The Great Bear Rainforest (Forest Management) Act brings increased environmental sustainability to all our traditional territories. It also provides greater access to forestry opportunities as well as ownership to more carbon tonnes than we currently have and includes special protection areas.”

I’d like to summarize by saying I do support Bill 2, the Great Bear Rainforest (Forest Management) Act, and I look forward to the comments from the members opposite.

C. Trevena: I stand in my place here to talk about the Great Bear Rainforest Act. Many, many people are very pleased that we’ve finally got to the stage where we have an act before us, a bill before us, that we can discuss and that we can support.

I think everybody around our chamber and those who have been working on this acknowledge that it’s been a lot of hard work on many, many people’s parts. It has gone on for many years. We’ve thought a number of times it might have fallen apart. A number of times it has been announced — it’s various sections. So the fact we are now at the stage where we have a bill in front of us is very significant.

I’m very aware of the Great Bear Rainforest. I know the member for North Vancouver–Seymour mentioned that she’d been up there. Well, part of my constituency is actually in the Great Bear Rainforest. While you see all the wonderful pictures of the mist and the fog going down the inlets, the mother ships, the kayakers, the whales — all these lovely “come to B.C.” types of images — there are also quite a lot of regular working people who live on the edges of it.

The Great Bear starts at the north end of Quadra Island, which is very much a working community. We have logging there. We’ve got fishing. We’ve got fish processing. It’s very, very active. It includes Sonora — where you have both a very established community and a lot of tourism there — right the way up, all the way through Johnstone Strait. So I’m very proud that I have the honour to represent that area and to be very conscious that this is part of the Great Bear.
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There is a huge amount of awareness, quite naturally, about the use of our forests from my constituents — and particularly those who live intimately with the coast. Very often — and I think the Minister of Forests can attest to this — I bring groups down to meet with him who are concerned about what is happening on the coast: tourist operators who are very worried about what is happening with the viewscapes when they are operating their small businesses, others who are concerned about the impact of various plans.

There is an intimate awareness, an intimate knowledge, of what has been happening and a real concern that this is done right. Many people are going to be watching this and monitoring that this is done right.

This goes back to the 1990s, when we started working on land use planning and how to ensure that all the interests, as much as possible, could be brought together to create the environment where you could make use of the forest without taking away, without degrading from the resource that we have. It’s a massive balancing act.

I have to thank…. I know that my colleague from Vancouver-Fairview listed many of the people involved in this, named all their names.

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One of the people that I know who’s been involved from the government side is the former district manager for the Ministry of Forests in Campbell River, who took one of the significant leads on this for the ministry. That’s Rory Annett. He’s been working very, very hard on this and I know will be very pleased to see this go through.

I know that there has been huge and significant input from Greenpeace, ForestEthics, the Sierra Club, all the First Nations, the Nanwakolas Council. All deserve a lot of acknowledgment.

I have to say, though, there are people who are still concerned about it. There will be, not just in the long term, the need to monitor it, but there needs to be the recognition at the moment. It’s impossible to embrace everyone, but there are some real concerns. While we have had the involvement of the Nanwakolas Council, which is the group of First Nations looking at economic and other development — and we had Mr. Smith here on the day of the announcement — not all First Nations have been involved, and not all First Nations on the coast are thoroughly engaged with it.

I’d just like to read some concerns from the people who have lived in Kingcome Inlet. I apologize if I mispronounce the name of the First Nations, the Dzawada’enuxw, who are part of the Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw Tribal Council. They have lived in Kingcome, in Gwa’yi, for generations. For many hundreds or thousands of years, that has been their home. Kingcome Inlet is right there. The member for North Vancouver–Seymour, when she’s imagining what the Great Bear Rainforest looks like and remembering what it looks like…. Kingcome Inlet is one of those places.

A letter to the Premier, from the Chief of the Dzawada’enuxw. I’d like to read some of it into the record because it’s important, when we’re talking about bringing people together, to recognize those who are still concerned. The letter reads that they did not celebrate the recent Great Bear Rainforest agreement announcement, and they “take exception to the inclusion of our traditional territories in the publicly released media coverage. The province continues to engage only with select aggregations of First Nations, while not offering the same level of engagement or financial resources to engage at the table on a level playing field to all other First Nations.”

It goes on:

“The tribal councils have, throughout the years, tried to initiate the discussion with the province of B.C. that we’re not engaged in a meaningful way, and despite the press coverage and tremendous financial support given to the aggregations such as Nanwakolas, you” — meaning the Premier — “have not offered our nation the same opportunity for meaningful engagement and measurable progress in planning and discussions regarding land- and marine-based decisions regarding our traditional territories.

“As a remote non-treaty First Nation who has not moved from our ancestral lands, we struggle daily to maintain our community in these changing times. We feel we are not represented at all or at any of your tables and are at a loss as to why, in 2016, this continues to be the status quo.”

Then the Chief continues, to quote the Premier about reconciliation, saying:

“Reconciliation means talking; talking means meeting. And we’re pleased that you ‘intend to find real reconciliation, and reconciliation requires respect. It requires inclusion. It requires the recognition that First Nations have their own visions for their own communities, and we have an obligation as a larger society to do everything we can to support them in finding that vision.’”

Chief Willie Moon concludes:

“We look forward to seeing how you mean to achieve this, and extend an invitation for you to come to discuss this with our community in our home village of Gwa’yi, in Kingcome Inlet.”

They have been excluded. It’s important to recognize their exclusion when we’re talking about how we are going to properly include people, include everyone, and ensure that we are bringing people together in a meaningful way. It is very important when we’re talking about EBM, the environmentally based management system, that we are bringing in the traditional knowledge and the people whose land it is — meaningfully — in the plans, in agreements and going forward.

It is essential that everyone is included — not just feels included — and is definitely not excluded. I would hope that there is some definite move to ensure that the people of Kingcome Inlet can have a voice at a table as this goes on.

[1500]

There is the ability in this legislation, because legislation does give, in the end, a lot of responsibility to cabinet. This is another, I have to say, of my personal concerns about it, and I’ll note them later. In the note about it…. Maybe I’m misreading this and it will be clarified in committee stage.

The bill authorizes cabinet to “make regulations that impose standards, conditions, requirements, restrictions
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and prohibitions in relation to forest practices and operational plans in the GBR forest management area that are in addition to or different from the standards, conditions, requirements, restrictions and prohibitions under the Forest and Range Practices Act.”

The act could give the cabinet a huge amount of latitude to include other First Nations who feel that they have been excluded, to look at some of the parameters and bring that in.

My concern about that paragraph is that it gives the cabinet a lot of latitude to change the rules, which I think that everybody who is watching hopes doesn’t happen, because it has taken so long to get to where we are.

My other concern about the Great Bear, particularly in my constituency…. I have other concerns with First Nations, and I’ll touch very briefly on that. That is that a number of years ago, when a lot of logging activity stopped in the central coast because of the Great Bear, the area was encouraged to redefine itself through tourism.

Through tourism, it was a fantastic opportunity in Bella Bella and up through the Bella Coola Valley. This would be a brilliant way to re-energize, bring people in to ensure that people still had a viable income.

Unfortunately, despite having encouraged the communities to build up their tourism, the government then pulled the mat away from them by discontinuing the ferry service from Port Hardy up to Bella Bella and into Bella Coola and replacing it with, as we on this side of the House have very often explained, a very small vessel, the Nimpkish, meaning that the tourism opportunities that people have come to rely on because they stopped logging have disappeared.

Now we have the signing of the Great Bear — we are discussing the bill — and no indication of whether this support is going to come back, whether there is going to be another push to encourage tourism and, if so, how that’s going to happen when the ferry that used to run that route was sold for just $2 million after a $15 million refit. They really left people physically stranded and financially stranded. So that is another concern that I have about this.

I’d like to pick up on two specific areas of the Great Bear, areas that are absolutely beautiful, wonderful places for people to come to visit that have been and still are part of a working forest. Again, I’d like to flag them as places where we need to keep a very, very close watch. These are both areas in TFL 47 — on Sonora Island and on West Cracroft. The licensee is TimberWest.

I think that TimberWest is not at all surprised that I raise this, because I’ve had many discussions with them, as have the local communities.

Now, Sonora Island, for those who don’t know it…. Many people may know Sonora Resort. It’s a wonderful resort on the east side of the island, very, very upscale, very nice resort that brings people from all around the world to stay there and enjoy it.

On the other side of the island, we have a very established community. It’s a small community, and there is within that community a great awareness of the value of their old growth. There is still a lot of old growth there. It’s also under the TFL 47. TimberWest has been working at developing logging plans.

[1505]

I have to acknowledge the extraordinary hard work of the Campbell family on Sonora — Ross Campbell, Fern Kornelsen, Farlyn Campbell and Jody Ericksson — who have been working extremely hard in raising public awareness about the old growth, literally in their backyard, and to ensure that they have been able to try to negotiate with TimberWest.

But they’ve been playing on a very unbalanced playing field. They are looking at the timber supply, and they had to commission their own report on this. Nobody would do a full report on the age of the trees that weren’t going to be cut — and that some were being cut.

They continue to fight hard to ensure that what is there will remain there, but one of the problems is the definition of what is “old growth.” Are we talking about an old-growth forest or an old-growth tree? Who terms “old”? Who says that this is old and this isn’t? Look at some of the trees there. Some are fantastically huge trees. They’re awesome trees. There are some that don’t look quite as big but are equally old.

It’s this definition which has been a very big problem. We have the negotiations always playing out, and as I say, they are still really negotiating to find some settlement. TimberWest, although they have a significant part of what is now the Great Bear Rainforest, weren’t players in the industrial discussions for a long while. They have only come to the table very recently.

If I might actually quote from the environmental NGOs’ documents about the Great Bear, they say: “One major company, TimberWest, with tenure in the very southern part of the region, didn’t support the agreements until very late in the process.” They are now on board. And their report, the ENGO’s report, says: “More endangered rainforest could have been saved if they had changed course sooner.”

One of the concerns I have from others who are watching the work of TimberWest and working with the company, trying their best to work with them, is that some of the decisions made have already been made. Some of the trees have gone in this time frame in the last few years, and in other cases, some of the decisions have been made and been signed off on before this bill is passed. So we’ll still proceed.

The other area that I know the minister is very well aware of, because I bring this to him at regular occurrences, is Boat Bay and West Cracroft Island, which is where there is a camp for a kayaking company. It’s an extraordinarily vibrant small business. It is based on Quadra Island. They run amazing kayak trips up through
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Johnstone Strait and around the coast. They also run, in the winter, kayaking operations down in the southern hemisphere. They have a camp there.

They have been negotiating for a long while with TimberWest to try and accommodate them, but TimberWest looks at the trees. It’s their TFL. They have, under our forestry rules, the right to access that timber. So there have been a lot of negotiations going on.

Spirit of the West is very concerned. They’ve written their concerns to the minister and have talked with the minister in the past. They are very concerned that this is going to really damage their business if there is logging in the area where their camp is. Even with all the pictures, the computer-generated pictures, whether or not it’s going to impact — you know, whether you are going to see the visual quality here or there — it is the question of the spirit and intent of the agreement. This is what really is concerning — that TimberWest and other forest companies really live by that spirit and intent of the agreement.

The company actually went to the Forest Practices Board, and the result of the investigation said: “…licensees are expected to demonstrate a higher level of due diligence through precautionary management of at-risk values…such as those arising under EBM.” It was also noted in some of the operating areas that “…TimberWest did not manage the forests consistent with the spirit and intent of the EBM.”

[1510]

So there is a huge caution there. Some of the agreements have already been signed and things will be happening — not this year but next year now — but there is a serious concern. There are things that are moving on, on the GAR process, but there is a real need to keep an eye on what is happening. I think this is one of my concerns with the Great Bear Rainforest agreement — this absolute need to keep a very constant watch on what forest companies are doing, what others are doing in the Great Bear Rainforest.

We see there is a lot of logging happening on our coast. I represent the north Island, where forestry has been a mainstay of our communities for many years, and that is changing without the mills. I mean, since we’ve had 15 years of a Liberal government, we don’t actually have a working mill on the north Island anymore. It’s quite an extraordinary achievement that they’ve managed to close them all. I’m sure they will applaud themselves for that.

We have people struggling to make income in other ways. We have people still out in the woods logging. That’s what loggers do. But we’ve seen a huge increase in volume appearing to come out of the bush and — the reason I raise this — coming out from remote areas, places where you don’t just drive by. You drive up the main highway through the north Island, Highway 19, and you do see the logging trucks coming down. You do see logging trucks, and whether or not you know trees, you can recognize it’s an old-growth tree because you can see the size of it.

You see those coming out, but you also know that there is logging in areas that people can’t see — way out beyond the bush, into the mountains, on the west coast of the Island, up inlets that are very hard to reach and that you are not going to drive by. The only reason you’re going to go in there is if you are actually working as a logger and that is your job or, potentially, if you are going out hunting, or maybe you’re coming up the inlets if you’re going fishing.

The ability to keep an eye on what is happening is obviously not there, and in the Great Bear, it’s going to be the same. We’re talking about very, very remote places. A lot of trust is going to be involved that everybody keeps to their word, that everything is being done appropriately, that the forest companies are working as they have said they’re going to do and that they’re going to be making sure everything is done appropriately.

The fact that forest companies anywhere have this self-reporting, self-monitoring approach, thanks to what the government, the B.C. Liberals, have said is reducing red tape, is, for most of us, taking away any sense of responsibility, because we don’t have Ministry of Forests people anymore who can go out and see what’s happening. I have the concern, and I know a number of my constituents have the concern, of: who is going to be keeping an eye on what is happening in the Great Bear?

It’s an amazing opportunity, and I know that people are talking about this. It’s a landmark agreement. It could be the way for managing our forests worldwide. That would be wonderful. It really would be wonderful if we in B.C. have got to that stage where our environmental groups, our government, our First Nations, our industry have brought together the best that they can and will work in concert for years to come.

It is an amazing opportunity: the fact that everything that people have talked about in the past — the war of the woods, pitting battles between the environmental people and the people who were working in the bush, the loggers and the industry — might all be over and that we can work together.

I still have, very much, the awareness, the need, as has been referred to by the Forest Practices Board, that logging companies have to ensure that they are practising the spirit and intent of EBM.

[1515]

The government has to make sure that everyone who wants to be involved really is involved — so the people of Kingcome who are living on their ancestral lands have an ability to play a part in this and benefit from it; so the people up the coast who aren’t logging anymore and won’t be logging anymore, thanks to the Great Bear agreement, have the opportunity once again to develop the tourism that they thought they were going to have until the ferry was taken away.
[ Page 11543 ]

Give people that opportunity. Bring in a workable vessel so that people can rebuild the tourism industry that’s been devastated now for two seasons — we’re going into the third season, where people are very worried whether anybody’s going to come — from having had this as a great opportunity.

I think that it’s something that is hugely significant, a hugely significant piece of legislation, and it is with pride that I stand here and acknowledge the importance of it. But it’s the implementation, the participation, the acknowledgment and also…. I do urge a little bit of caution on behalf of the cabinet when they are interpreting the fact that under this bill they have the ability to make decisions that can go in contravention to or change from what is expected. It’s a huge responsibility.

This is an area, as we’ve all heard…. It’s a massive area. It’s an area the size of Vancouver Island that we’re talking about. It is very remote. It is very beautiful. It is very significant for not just us in B.C. but for the world, as a temperate rainforest for our carbon sequestration, for the environmental values that it brings in keeping our air clean as well as keeping the integrity of our land base.

The only other thing that I would like to raise at the moment about this…. I know that we’re going to be having the opportunity, as we go through this in the committee stage, to make sure that we all understand the parameters here. It’s something that I know my colleague from the North Coast is going to talk about much more fully when she addresses this. It is the fact that while we’re talking about land use planning and the importance of that — and this is what the Great Bear essentially is; it’s the culmination of many years of land use planning negotiations, and that’s what we have — it omits the marine-based planning.

When you’re talking about the environment, and when you’re talking about the development of the environment and the use of our natural resources on the coast — and this is “on the coast” — it’s unfortunate that we’re missing that element. The marine-based planning isn’t there as part of this, and that has also fallen off the table — areas, after much work, that the marine-based planning side is no longer being discussed.

As I say, I’m very pleased that we have got to this stage. I think it’s important. I welcome it. I do want to underline the concerns of those who have seen literally the raw edge of the Great Bear Rainforest and how it could work and how it is being interpreted. I hope that all the players remain committed to it and really give the latitude in favour — I have to say — of the environment that we’re trying to protect.

One of the things that I think we forget too quickly when we’re talking about our forests is we are talking about a long-term project. Our forests are there forever. Old growth that is taken out, that’s several hundred years old, will take several hundred years to regrow.

[1520]

I think we’ve got to be more aware of that, that when we are looking at the values of our forests, in the real holistic value of our forest, we don’t rush for the lowest common denominator, for the quick buck, for the financial value, and realize that every time we take old growth out, it’s going to be 300 years for it to come back. I don’t think we’ve got that sort of time.

Mr. Speaker, with that comment, I will take my place in this debate. I thank you for giving me the opportunity, and I acknowledge the hard work that has gone into getting this in front of us and ensuring that we have hope for the future.

Hon. A. Virk: It’s indeed my pleasure to rise and speak in support of Bill 2, the Great Bear Rainforest (Forest Management) Act. This is one of many initiatives that government puts forward to protect, for my children and my grandchildren and all those generations to come, pristine areas of British Columbia where ocean meets forest, forest meets mountain and mountain meets mist. It’s an area abundant with wildlife, from eagles to bears to salmon. It’s my pleasure to be able to support a bill that supports the generations of British Columbians in enjoying the pristine beauty that we’ve been known for worldwide.

The great bear, the spirit bear, the ghost bear, known in the Tsimshian language as Moksgm’ol, is a legend of the bear. I’m going to talk about the legend first before I go about the Great Bear Rainforest. The legend of the First Nations speaks about the creation. It’s the legend of the creation of the Earth, from a land covered in snow and ice. When snow and ice disappeared and green came, the raven, as legend goes, wanted to have a reminder of the time when there was still snow. The raven decided to touch every tenth bear and make them white. So the legend goes that the spirit bear, or the Moksgm’ol, rose from the ravens wishing to remind individuals of the time when the land was covered in snow.

The Great Bear Rainforest is an area of some 6.4 million hectares. That’s a lot of zeros. For the next generations — I speak always to the next generations…. So 6.4 million hectares is a lot of zeros. What does that actually mean for the next generations? It’s an area that’s one-quarter of the entire world’s coastal temperate rainforest.

What does that mean to the next generations? They look at a map. When the youth go to a social studies class, they see an area. They look at the map, they look all across the world, and they see places like Belgium, which is some three million hectares. So this is an area of the creation of a global treasure twice the size of Belgium.

They look at the map, and they see a country such as Ireland, some 7.7 million hectares. We have the creation of a global treasure, a protected temperate rainforest, almost the size of Ireland. Then they go to a map and look at areas such as Scotland, 7.7 million hectares. When you compare that to this area that the Great Bear
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Rainforest Act proposes to protect, it’s an area near the size of Scotland.

That signifies the magnitude by which this government…. I’m hoping the opposition will join us in complete support of the creation of that Great Bear Rainforest that’s going to cover an area — you look around the world — the size of many countries. In some places, it’s double the size of many countries. In other places, it’s the size of large states.

It’s an incredible area where the majority of the area is going to be set aside from logging. The members opposite certainly spoke about the fact that it takes generations for some of these old-growth forests to grow. The legislation is going to support the unique elements. It’s an ecosystem-based environment. It’s going to be a balance between human well-being and ecological integrity.

[1525]

This is not the first support from government to protect the environment. As all will recall, it’s one of the few jurisdictions in the world to take a leadership role that many have followed and many have attempted to emulate — and, frankly, many have tried to copy, with limited success — in how you control greenhouse gas emissions in an entire province. This is one of the few jurisdictions in the entire world that put on a carbon tax in an effort, not to tax but to reduce greenhouse emissions, to educate, to encourage and to make an impact beyond our borders.

You would have seen today the tabling of another announcement that proposes to protect an area of some 11,000 hectares, the Ancient Forest east — or west, or whichever direction it is, one of those directions — of Prince George. It’s a increasing effort by this government to protect for the next generations.

When I sit around the kitchen table with my own children, who support me through everything I do…. The next generation is very much concerned with sustainability. They’re very much concerned with the environment. They’re very much concerned with how the future is going to look for them. When I sit with my colleagues, I see that same concern: what will the next generation, what will British Columbia that they come to…?

I’m proud to say the British Columbia that they and their children are going to grow up in is a British Columbia that supports sustainability, that supports the environment. Yet while it supports the environment and is committed to sustainability, it’s also committed to economic well-being. This is one province, as we’ve seen, where we can support the environment, support sustainability yet, at the same time — it’s not an either-or equation — support economic growth and prosperity.

The creation of this act involved a great deal of consultation. There were a great number of individuals at the table. There were key stakeholders. First Nations partners were working shoulder to shoulder with government. There were forest companies, and I could name many of them, that were there. Organizations that are committed to ecological preservation were at the table. This was a considerable amount of work by a number of individuals, right from timber harvesters to First Nations to government and to those who advocate for preservation. They were at the table for a long time.

Only 15 percent of the area of this Great Bear Rainforest will be defined as locations or areas in which managed, with careful oversight, logging can also occur. That is also going to be able to support the economic sustainability of those First Nations who live in the region. Once again, the ability to have economic sustainability and ecological sustainability — that’s the kind of province I expect.

The millennials, the next generation and those ones who come after them — that’s the kind of province, the kind of British Columbia, that they want to look forward to, that will be there waiting for them. This is the kind of British Columbia, the kind of pristine wilderness and the pristine beauty I know they are going to inherit from us, as we leave that for them.

The act also stipulates changes to forest practices. It’s going to enable a number of regulations that will specify how forest practices may differ. That allows flexibility as well. The proposed act is also going to allow the minister to set partitions on licence levels and a whole host of other things that allow flexibility and apportion and manage licensed cuts. That’s important. Once again, you’re managing economic growth in a very sustained, ecological way with protecting the environment.

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It’s absolutely amazing that we can do so in this small province — we are 4.6 million people, approximately — that we can make an impact on the world. News of this would certainly spread among the world — to see that this is a province that has set aside an area the size of entire countries, double the size of countries around the world, for preservation for future generations. That’s something that I think we can all stand up, very proud, to support. I am very proud to support that.

I will continue to support that type of initiative that’s going to leave British Columbia in a far better place than we found it, that’s going to find a British Columbia that works on creating opportunities for the youth of today and the youth of tomorrow. At the same time, in conjunction with creating those opportunities, it protects those wild spaces where they want to travel, they may want to see, they can preserve.

That’s the kind of British Columbia of the future…. That’s the reason why I stand here, that I come here week after week — to look at a British Columbia where I can be proud to say: “We were part of creating a British Columbia that, in the future, my children and grandchildren and their children can be proud of, that this is a province that we created and preserved.”

In saying that, I take my place in full support of the Great Bear Rainforest (Forest Management) Act as a gift to the world. It’s a gift to many, many future generations
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and a gift that…. We in government are supporting future generations in inheriting a British Columbia that they can be absolutely, committedly proud to inherit.

J. Rice: I’m proud today to rise and support Bill 2, the Great Bear Rainforest agreement act. This is a tremendous achievement. The Great Bear Rainforest agreement has been a great achievement for First Nations, for environmental organizations, for local communities and the forest industry. I know that we on this side of the House are proud to have played an important role in starting the process, when New Democrats were in government.

This agreement shows how important it is to have full involvement of First Nations when determining the future of B.C.’s environment, resources, culture and economy. I applaud this agreement and look forward to further examples of where we can have this type of relationship-building and agreement-making throughout our province.

Many people here have spoken about the beauty of the Great Bear Rainforest. I have the pleasure of representing a great big portion of the Great Bear Rainforest, and I’ve lived in it for almost 20 years now.

I thought I’d start with a story that I wrote in 2009. It was just a little editorial, and it just describes part of where I live. It’s a story I wrote, and it’s called A PhD in Real Life.

“Recently I listened to renowned photographer Ian McAllister talk about his research in the Great Bear Rainforest. Ian’s talk accompanied an out-of-this-world slide show, except only it wasn’t. The captured moments were from right here on the north coast of B.C.

“Sure, we have all seen our fair share of bears and wolves from nature shows and on the pages of wildlife calendars, but these pictures were redolent. Ian recalled the day he silently eased into a fjord and, from the deck of his catamaran, he could hear the bizarre, loud sounds of snoring. Along the shoreline, a large, snoozing grizzly bear slept, slumped over a rockweed-engulfed boulder, limbs flaccid and drooping into the intertidal zone.

“With the bear oblivious to Ian’s presence, he photographed a day in the life of this creature, where he witnessed bursts of energy followed by moments of instantaneous napping. The bear pounced on spawning salmon and then slept on a riverbank; grazed on sedges, then napped in the middle of the estuary; went digging for clams and mussels, then more sleep followed.

“The chunky bear snoozed in positions from hunched over to sprawl-eagled in what looked like landscapes from the pages of National Geographic Magazine. Amazingly, this entire event unfolded not far from here.

[1535]

“I’ve been mulling over something Ian said to me after his presentation. ‘Of course, I don’t need to tell north coasters how spectacular a place this is.’ I’m thinking perhaps not. Perhaps we already get it, and it is those that don’t live here that need this slideshow.

“I participated in a workshop recently where I learned that what urban British Columbians know about the marine environment and how folks from the north coast perceive it differs dramatically. According to the presenter of our workshop, a well-known pollster, surveys show that Vancouverites were only able to name an average of four creatures that live in the ocean, and one of those species was identified as a pigeon.

“Northerners were able to name more than 38 different species. Survey results showed that north coasters understood the intricate complexities of biological life, whereas urbanites thought of a healthy marine environment as having a nice ocean view.

“This should not be a surprise, and I mean no criticism for this lack of understanding. Likewise, I do not know the current issues affecting the people of Toronto.

“I take this as a signal, though, that if major decisions affecting the lives of coastal British Columbians are being made in large urban cities or, with increasing globalization, in faraway places not even in Canada, the people living there need further education.

“Richard Louv coined the term ‘nature deficit disorder,’ which is in reference to the disconnect of children to nature and increasing behaviour programs associated with lack of play outside. With increasing fears of stranger danger, some parents prefer to keep their kids indoors. It can also be easier to supervise them by having them safely sit in front of a video game or watch TV. Perhaps Louv’s term can be extended to include some adults.

“There is a scene in the documentary called Call from a Coast where longtime central coast fisherman and woodsman Billy Proctor discusses taking city folks out on ecology tours. He’s been asked: ‘How often do you get out into the real world?’ Billy’s response is precious. With a slight air of question and concern in his deep voice, he answers: ‘This is the real world, dear.’

“Yesterday when I was volunteering at the Smolt Fest at the Oldfield Creek Hatchery, I smiled as I watched families line up with empty coleslaw buckets to release coho smolts into the creek. Some of the kids had incubated salmon eggs and raised the little fish in their classrooms over the school year. The kids proudly trucked along the creek path, water sloshing about from their buckets, to a waterfall where the fish were released into the wild.

“A couple of emergencies happened when a dropped bucket sent a mad parent scrambling to quickly scoop up the slippery wonders, but this was part of the whole experience and learning.

“B.C. Stats show some of the lowest formal education rates in the northern part of the province, with many not pursuing an education after high school. Vancouver-based Fraser Institute rates Prince Rupert schools as some in the lowest in the province every year.

“This means little to me. Witnessing the prevention of nature deficit disorder yesterday, without a pigeon in sight, I thought that what we do have here on the north coast are many people with PhDs of ‘living in the real world, dear.’”

I’d just like to talk a little bit about the vision of the Great Bear Rainforest. I’m going to be reading from a handout that the environmental groups ForestEthics Solutions, Greenpeace and the Sierra Club put together.

“The Great Bear Rainforest is a spectacular part of the world. It’s home to many First Nations communities. Together the B.C. and First Nations governments, along with environmental organizations and several forestry companies, worked hard to move from conflict to a shared outcome rooted in 15 years of collaboration and negotiation.

“The vision for ecosystem-based management committed to in 2006 is now established with legal and policy agreements, as of February 2016. Eighty-five percent of the remote wilderness region’s coastal temperate rainforests will be permanently off-limits to industrial logging. The remaining 15 percent of the forest will be subject to the most stringent legal standards for commercial logging operations in North America.

“The plan solidifies First Nations shared decision-making with the province over land use in their traditional territories and contains measures to improve the well-being of their communities.

[1540]

“The conservation and human well-being initiatives, which were was set into motion in the 2006 Great Bear Rainforest agree-
[ Page 11546 ]
ments are widely acknowledged as a global model for collaborative solutions to help resolve conflict over land use, indigenous rights and for large-scale conservation.

“The Great Bear Rainforest is almost 6½ million hectares. Almost half of the region is covered by forest ecosystems. It stretches from British Columbia’s Discovery Islands northwards to the Tongass rainforest of Alaska. Together with the islands of Haida Gwaii, it represents the largest tracts of intact temperate rainforests remaining on the planet. It is the traditional territory of 26 First Nations who have lived in this rainforest for thousands of years.

“Covering less than 1 percent of the planet’s landmass, temperate rainforests are globally rare, and today few areas remain unlogged. The Great Bear Rainforest is a remarkable example of this forest type, hosting a dense web of natural life, including towering ancient trees, orcas, salmon, wolves, grizzlies and the unique white-furred black bear known as the spirit bear.

“The 1990s was a period fraught with conflict over industrial logging of old-growth rainforest. Known as the war in the woods, the conflict between First Nations concerned about the fate of their unceded traditional territories and environmental organizations and the forestry industry resulted in protests and international market campaigns. These resulted in major wood and paper buyers cancelling their contracts or steering clear of products from the region.

“Customers of forest products demanded change. This created the willingness among the stakeholders to collaboratively work towards solutions with decision-makers, namely the provincial and First Nations governments.

“In 2000, a coalition of environmental groups, Rainforest Solutions Project, and an alliance of forestry companies, the Coast Forest Conservation Initiative, formed the joint solutions panel to resolve conflict over logging in the Great Bear Rainforest. In 2001, the forest companies deferred logging in 100 key intact valleys, and environmental groups suspended the do-not-buy market campaigns in order to allow space for the development of independent scientific recommendations and multilateral land use planning.

“A parallel conflict resolution process was also emerging between the provincial government and First Nations, whose communities were disenfranchised from decision-making and economic access to their territories. The majority of First Nations communities in the region are part of two strategic alliances: the Nanwakolas Council and the Coastal First Nations Great Bear Initiative. As decision-makers in a government-to-government relationship, First Nations and the province focused on reconciliation, shared decision-making, implementation of ecosystem-based management and revenue-generating opportunities.

“In addition, in the mid-2000s, an independent science team conducted the most comprehensive analysis ever undertaken of these globally significant forests. They developed the Ecosystem-Based Management Handbook to guide forest management in achieving low ecological risk to the forests and high levels of human well-being — the two goals of the 2016 agreements.

“This cutting-edge work was a global first. Over the last ten years, the joint solutions project played a key stakeholder role developing recommendations for the B.C. and First Nations governments for conservation and forest management. These led to conservation and human well-being milestones in 2006 and then in 2009 — the latter resulting in 50 percent of the region’s rainforests being set off-limits to logging — and to final implementation of ecosystem-based management this year.

“One major company, TimberWest, with tenure in the very southern part of the region, did not support the agreements until very late in the process. More endangered rainforests could have been saved if they had changed course sooner.”

Again, I’m reading from the environmental group’s pamphlet.

[1545]

“Ecosystem-based management in the Great Bear Rainforest is one of the most comprehensive conservation and forest management achievements of this scale on earth. The goals of ecosystem-based management are twofold: low ecological risk — which is maintain 70 percent of the natural levels of old growth across all rainforest types — and high levels of human well-being.

“The measures set a new global model for forest conservation that strengthens indigenous rights, increases wildlife and ecological resilience and keeps carbon stored in old-growth forests as a result of avoided logging. The conservation model sustains and, in some cases, aims to restore the long-term health for all types of forest ecosystems in the region.

“The science-based goal agreed to by all parties — to maintain 70 percent of natural levels of old-growth ecosystems across all forest types — will be achieved for most ecosystems and exceeded in many. The plan puts an area the size of Nova Scotia under a new legal, scientific and principled standard for maintaining forest and wildlife health, and the health of the communities that depend on them, into the future.”

This report goes on to talk about the vast area that is to be protected. I know that members opposite and members on this side of the House have already gone into that. But I’d like to just go into some of the things that I have learned about my constituency, which is primarily — well, entirely — within the Great Bear Rainforest.

First of all, again, the First Nations that I represent, which are 44 percent of my constituency, all are eager and are congratulating themselves, the government and the stakeholders on this agreement, which has been difficult to come to fruition over many years.

Collectively, we all have a lot of work to do. One of the issues raised is that there could be…. We have work to do to ensure that the burden of funding and evaluating the implementation of the Great Bear Rainforest agreements doesn’t fall disproportionately to First Nations. There’s a little bit of apprehension and anxiety about that.

In spite of what this government has announced, on the day that they announced the Great Bear Rainforest agreements — well, one of the earlier times that they announced the Great Bear Rainforest agreements — there’s no substantial movement towards ending trophy hunting within the Great Bear Rainforest, which is an issue that is of great importance to the First Nations that I represent within this territory.

Again, the financial burden of compensating the licence holders, the commercial grizzly bear operators, is on First Nations. It’s on a willing-seller, willing-buyer arrangement. That is likely to be cost-prohibitive for many of the First Nations. Now that the Premier has announced this, it has driven up the cost, making it further burdensome for those First Nations.

The guardian watchman program. I hope others will get into this, in our discussion on this agreement, because it is such a phenomenal program. The work that they do is incredible. The products that they produce, the maps that they produce, the science that they produce, are outstanding. The guardian watchmen bank many, many more hours and spend significantly larger budgets on monitoring industrial and recreational use
[ Page 11547 ]
of the Great Bear Rainforest than any provincial agency does, and we’re seeing more cutbacks to the provincial agencies, particularly with B.C. Parks.

We need to get a move on with marine protections and also integrating terrestrial and marine planning. I’m a huge proponent of marine planning. I’ve had the pleasure of being involved in various marine planning processes back in the day when PNCIMA, the Pacific north coast integrated management area, was around. I was involved in that. My colleagues here, who are — pardon the ageist comment — significantly older than I, were participating in the land use agreements. I was too young at the time. The marine use planning is a model off the land use planning, and I commend that.

I’m getting the looks here from my colleagues. By all means, I did not mean any offence by that. I just was acknowledging that I didn’t have the pleasure of participating in land use planning of any great significance in my lifetime.

Interjection.

[1550]

J. Rice: The 1890s, yes.

One of the issues around marine planning is that there are so many agencies involved, and they all shirk responsibility and point fingers and say, “That’s their jurisdiction,” and: “No, that’s their jurisdiction.” We need to navigate that, and that also includes federal government partners, which have been reticent in previous governments to participate. Hopefully, with the new government, they will have a change of heart and see the significance of marine planning and the importance of participating in marine planning processes.

There are other issues around capacity-building. I think I’ve touched on that.

The site of Namu on the central coast is an environmental problem right in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest. We’ve had previous industry players that have just pulled out and left the site abandoned.

I visited the site with my colleague, our Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation spokesperson. We visited the site. We saw what was left. It was like someone cancelled coffee break and people walked away. There were oil tanks falling into the ocean, a sinking, decrepit ship. I now understand that some action has been taken to remediate. The imminent danger has now been identified and apparently addressed, but there is much more work to do.

This is a site, an industrial environmental problem, in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest. There is a huge opportunity to fix that site up, remediate it and have tourism draws and provide a support station for travelling yachters up and down the central coast.

B.C. Ferries. I cannot talk about the Great Bear Rainforest and not talk about the fact that this government took away the Queen of Chilliwack, the vessel that carried over 100 cars and took people to the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest and went right to Bella Coola. That ship was taken away. It was replaced with a year-round ship that they had normally used only in winter service, the Nimpkish. Now it holds a maximum of 16 cars.

Last April I tried to book a trip to Bella Coola on the ferry, and every sailing was booked until September. So, clearly, we’re not providing that community with the capacity they need. If we are to promote this world-renowned site, this Great Bear Rainforest, we need to allow people to get there. The transportation issues need to be addressed.

I must just speak a little bit more on that, actually. I wanted to mention that this was an area — the Bella Coola Valley — that was a forestry area. This was a logging community, or a series of communities, that through these arrangements was told: “You can’t participate in the logging industry as you currently have.” So majorly downscaled.

These people were told by this government, by the B.C. Liberal government, to reinvent themselves with tourism. The provincial government provided them funding and said: “Here you go. Reinvent yourself. Create tourism. Take people on bear tours. Take people on rafting tours. Go hiking in the mountains.” Yet the only tool that they had to do so was a robust ferry system which they had yanked out of their hands.

This area is deserving of some attention from this government. They have yanked both economic drivers out of their hands and have left them. They’ve been left alone, desperate. The depression rate has got to be through the roof in this community from the sad and bleak emails that I get from people trying to make ends meet in the Bella Coola Valley.

In the spirit of this Great Bear Rainforest agreement, let’s see some resources. Let’s see some support for the Bella Coola Valley residents.

A part of the Great Bear Rainforest is the territory of Klemtu. This is the Kitasoo/Xai’xais territory on the central coast. It’s very close to Bella Bella. They have a robust stewardship program in Klemtu. Again, they are increasing the number of guardian watchmen that they have in the park — eyes and ears on the water and on the ground.

[1555]

Unfortunately, the province’s contribution to this area is a measly $20,000 budget — $20,000. This is an area the size of European countries — Switzerland comes to mind — and they have a $20,000 budget. They faced a 5 percent cut last year.

Now we learn that we’ll have 18 B.C. Parks rangers for the entire province. These people are tasked with providing conservation protection for the entire province, and here we are in the Great Bear Rainforest — no eyes and ears on the ground, no one doing science, no one collecting any baseline data, no one managing the increasing number of tour operators, yachts, companies that travel from Alaska to Oregon.
[ Page 11548 ]

Now we have enshrined this Great Bear Rainforest agreement. We promoted and endorsed and are celebrating ecosystem-based management. We need to put our money where our mouth is. Or the B.C. Liberal government needs to put its money where its mouth is and properly support monitoring and enforcement in this area.

A big challenge for the Kitasoo/Xai’xais and other First Nations in the Great Bear Rainforest is that they’re doing all of the province’s work, and they’re not being included in decision-making. So let’s honour the spirit of this joint decision-making. Let them have a voice at the table, and let’s properly resource them. The province always has the final say.

Issues in the Kitasoo territory — for example, in this area called Khutze Inlet. Increasing pressure in this area. It’s in the northern part of the territory. There are way more operators. To quote the stewardship coordinator and now chief councillor, Doug Neasloss: “There are many boats, and many people in the park are pushing bears around.” You know, boats travelling up and down the coast from the United States, dropping crab traps and going fishing in the area. People really wanting to see bears are putting pressure on the bears.

It’s clearly an area that needs attention. It needs monitoring. Yet there are no resources. The province has no capacity to deal with these problems. The tour operators are actually contacting the First Nations and saying: “You need to get here on the ground. You need to do something.” It’s the province’s job. If these First Nations are actually doing the work of the province, then let’s resource them properly. If we’re not going to do so, let them be the decision-makers. They have no say.

The problem with that is that unfavourable decisions have been made on the basis that we do not have enough information — meaning the province does not have enough information. However, the hard-working guardian watchmen in Klemtu have that information. They have all kinds of information. They’re doing all kinds of data collection. They have hundreds and hundreds of hours on the water, yet none of that is available. Or none of that is recognized.

It’s available. It’s not recognized by the province as valid science. It’s not respected. So the province will say things like: “Well, we don’t have enough information to make a decision or to make any sort of enforcement or to help manage the congestion going on in this part.” Ultimately, the Kitasoo would like to see a joint decision-making process such as that that the Haida Nation has with Parks Canada.

The conservation management plans that are being developed are being developed by the Klemtu team, by the Kitasoo. They’re doing all the work.

In the end, the province, the B.C. Liberal government, is collecting a parks fee from visitors and from the tour operators. They’re collecting a fee to manage the park. However, that fee is not going back into managing the park. The moneys that they’re collecting, first of all, are minuscule. They could easily generate some more revenue by increasing the cost. It’s a dollar. But the money isn’t even going back into managing the parks. It’s going into general coffers. It’s going into the general revenue of the province.

[1600]

Now, I’ll tell you this. The Kitasoo have developed a protocol agreement with the tour operators in their territory. It’s a completely volunteer thing, yet the operators are all participating, and they pay their own fee to the Kitasoo. And guess what. The Kitasoo take that fee, and they put it back into managing that area. They put it back into the job that they do.

As I said, there is much more we can do. The work that the Kitasoo are doing is a great example, and the Heiltsuk and other territories within the Great Bear Rainforest are doing a tremendous amount of work. They could use a lot of support from this province, and I hope that we do so, that we step up and properly resource them and put substance to this agreement, not just do lip service. I think the people that live there in the Great Bear Rainforest are looking for that. They want to see that this agreement is a real agreement and that it’s not just paper, not just hearsay.

Lastly, I would like to talk about the fact that we can’t not include the marine environment with the terrestrial environment. We have terrestrial ecosystem-based management that has been embraced. Well, you cannot have ecosystem-based management, which looks at the interconnectivity of the ecosystem, without including the marine environment. We need marine land use planning. It needs to be together. It needs to be jointly addressed.

That would mean talking about oil tankers and increased ship traffic if LNG does come to fruition. The member opposite today went on and said: “Say yes to Enbridge.” Well, the people in the Great Bear Rainforest have said no to Enbridge, and that should be honoured. You cannot have this protected site, cannot say that you care about First Nations values, cannot say you care about the wildlife, ecosystem and economic values of the Great Bear Rainforest and have oil tankers plying the Inside Passage. It’s not possible. We need to respect that decision.

I’d like to conclude with the fact that….

Deputy Speaker: Thank you, Member.

J. Rice: Could I just…? Okay, thank you very much.

J. Sturdy: To be honest, after that diatribe, I wasn’t really sure whether the member opposite supports the bill or not.

[R. Lee in the chair.]

Regardless, I’d like to rise on behalf of the citizens of West Vancouver–Sea to Sky in support of Bill 2, the Great Bear Rainforest (Forest Management) Act.
[ Page 11549 ]

As government and as citizens, we do share a responsibility to pass on to future generations of British Columbians and Canadians as magnificent a land as we found while continuing the honoured tradition of making a living off that land. This agreement finds the cooperation and the compromise to support that ambition.

The Great Bear Rainforest is an incredible — in fact, almost surreal — part of B.C.’s natural world. Overall, the Great Bear Rainforest covers an area from the mainland, the Discovery Islands to the border of southeastern Alaska, a global treasure covering 6.4 million hectares and one-quarter of the world’s coastal temperate rainforest. How big is that? There have been many superlatives. It is bigger, in fact, than Norway, much bigger than the Netherlands or Switzerland, to use, ironically, a rather Eurocentric reference.

This legislation leaves 85 percent of the forested land base in this massive region of our coastal forest in its natural state. Importantly, despite what we might have heard, First Nations will have a greater decision-making authority over developments on that land, and First Nations will have the opportunity to develop and be involved in other activities, other industries, including clean energy projects, within the Great Bear Rainforest, as well as the aforementioned increased tourism potential and through agreements that benefit the emerging business of carbon credits.

The amount of forest carbon sequestered in the Great Bear Rainforest is expected to increase to 640,000 tonnes per year, which is a not inconsequential amount relative to the province’s ambitions.

[1605]

Forest carbon credits will be shared through the Coastal First Nations and the Nanwakolas Council through the atmospheric benefit sharing agreements. Forest carbon credits will be used to offset economic development projects of interest to their communities, such as eco-based forestry, land conservation along with forest tenures.

Logging will only be allowed on approximately 550,000 hectares of the 3.65 million hectares of forested lands within the Great Bear Rainforest. This act will enable regulations to specify where forest practices may differ from those under the Forest and Range Practices Act and regulations to reflect the unique nature of the land, the water, the air and the people of this special place.

The proposed act will allow the ministers to have partitions at the licensee level to ensure that a certain portion of the licensee’s annual cut is directed in a particular geographic area or restricted to a particular species. In addition, 15 percent of the area will be labelled as managed forests; 43 percent is designated as natural forest and 42 percent is protected areas.

The annual allowable cut will be set at 2.5 million cubic metres for ten years. This is a decrease from the existing annual allowable cut of 3.2 million cubic metres. All parties will commit to annual monitoring reports and five-year and ten-year reviews of the agreements. Forestry in the remaining 15 percent will follow lighter-touch practices, otherwise referenced as ecosystem-based management. This legislation will support the unique elements required to achieve ecosystem-based management, the balance achieved between ecological integrity and human well-being and participation.

Ecosystem-based management is worth highlighting to some degree. Key elements at its core: ecosystem-based management is about connections, about linkages between ecosystems and human societies, economies and institutional systems, as well as linkages between all the various species within an ecosystem. Clearly, the more we know about an ecosystem, and all its interconnections which affect it, the more capable we will be of better managing that system.

Ecosystem-based management does consider cumulative impacts. It focuses on how individual actions affect the ecosystem in an integrated fashion rather than considering these impacts in a piecemeal manner. Clearly, the parts of the system really can’t be uncoupled, because as we all know — certainly in this case — the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

The development of the Great Bear Rainforest agreements are the result of the collaboration between 26 First Nations, the province, forest companies and environmental groups over the last 20 years. I think it’s fair to say that not all 20 years were collaborative. But since the 2006 agreement between the province and a coalition of conservationists, loggers, hunters and First Nations established a series of conservancies stretching some 400 kilometres along the coast, the ten-year homestretch began, culminating in our debate today.

Bill 2 legislates an agreement that preserves intact much of this area and recognizes that human and community well-being is inherent in the values in the area as they have been for thousands of years and that we have an obligation to practise responsible development and act in the interests of people and the natural world. This is what I think is being done. This is what this agreement has accomplished.

[1610]

Key stakeholders and First Nations partners collaborated with government to create the policy framework for the proposed legislation. The joint solutions project, a combination of environmental groups and forest companies, the Coastal First Nations and the Nanwakolas Council, provided input — companies such as B.C. Timber Sales, Catalyst Paper, Howe Sound Pulp and Paper, Interfor, Western Forest Products; and the Rainforest Solutions Project of ForestEthics Solutions, Greenpeace and the Sierra Club.

The amount of protected old-growth forest in the area will increase from 50 to 70 percent and will include eight new areas set aside from logging. The act will establish
[ Page 11550 ]
new timber supply areas and reconfigure existing ones to better reflect the boundaries of the Great Bear Rainforest and reflect the ecosystems-based management principles.

Certainly for forest companies operating in this area, certainty has been a desired outcome. Companies and communities will benefit through the certainty that will come through a secure land base. In the 15 percent of the Great Bear Rainforest where logging can occur, forest companies will have a defined forest management area. Equally important, this act will provide a stable land base that will support a sustainable allowable cut of 2.5 million cubic metres annually over the decade and will provide certainty for jobs, investments and markets.

This certainty gives opportunity to Coastal First Nations, forest companies and other communities to develop economies, jobs and financial opportunities and to have a financial footing and foundation to build a commercial future, an economic purpose and a forest products industry that is sustainable and responsibly managed and that recognizes the First Nations’ history and works with those First Nations to envision and implement a common and successful future. And 85 percent of the region of the rainforest will remain intact.

The province’s negotiated royalty-sharing agreements with 26 First Nations is an important accomplishment in its own right. First Nations in the region will have the opportunity to benefit from the natural resources in their territories. Forest companies in the Great Bear Rainforest will be able to brand their products as responsibly and sustainably produced. Government will have protected an iconic and magnificent piece of British Columbia’s coastal ecosystem. As is so often the case in government, it is really about finding the balance.

British Columbia’s economy, Canada’s economy — more in some provinces than others — will inevitably be, to some degree, reliant on natural resources. The people of this province are right to insist that the development in an era of climate change must incorporate environmental concerns, First Nations issues and resource development together and not get bogged down in either-or gamesmanship in which resource development is demonized. Forestry, energy and agriculture all have impacts on the environment, and they all can be done well, or they can be done poorly. Our obligation is to do it well.

The Great Bear Rainforest is evidence that the collective interests can and do co-exist. I put forward my congratulations to all of the many parties that participated and contributed over the years. Thank you all for your vision and your energy and, importantly, your tenacity. I am happy to be able to participate in my small way, at this time in this Legislature, by standing and supporting this legislation, Bill 2, the Great Bear Rainforest (Forest Management) Act.

G. Holman: I’m very pleased to stand here today and indicate very clearly that this side of the House does support this agreement. I believe that the comments of my colleague from North Coast were not in opposition to the agreement but suggested some actions that this government needs to take in order to implement it more fully and to ensure that local First Nations, local communities benefit to the fullest extent from this agreement. That involves actions other than just forestry, as she indicated.

[1615]

This is a very, very positive step forward. Just to summarize the bill, the bill establishes a forest management area for the Great Bear Rainforest. It gives authorization to cabinet to make decisions about forest harvesting in the affected region. It authorizes the minister to grant relief from penalties under the Forest Act for contravening cut control limits if actions taken under the act contributed to these contraventions.

Now, this is actually a very important aspect of the legislation. We’ll be coming back to this, I’m sure, in committee stage to really understand what this means. The devils in the details sometimes can cause concerns. That does not mean we don’t support and won’t ultimately support this legislation. Perhaps as a result of the discussion during committee stage, we may propose amendments to improve the legislation, but this side of the House, you should be assured, Mr. Speaker, supports this as a step forward.

The creation of the protected area for most logging and most commercial hunting has been supported by most stakeholders. That’s also, of course, very important. Really, a number of members from both sides of the House have applauded the various stakeholders that, through the 20-year period it took to reach this landmark agreement, had to come together, had to overcome their differences in order to accomplish this. Most stakeholders do support the deal. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be here.

There is a concern, though, that the legislation — which authorizes the minister to overlook contraventions of cutting limits and kind of leave the chief forester on the side, who typically makes such decisions — may take the science out of the deliberations. There is a concern, certainly, by some environmental organizations, who, while not outright opposing and still generally supporting the legislation, do have concern that old-growth logging will still be allowed in some parts of the protected areas that are designated under the bill.

The environmental organizations that support the legislation include the Sierra Club, Greenpeace and ForestEthics as well as, of course, Coastal First Nations and forest companies led by the Coast Forest Products Association.

I wanted to read a few comments by some of the stakeholders who have signed on to this agreement. For example, this is from ForestEthics Solutions spokesperson Valerie Langer in February of 2016: “When you look at the land use objective that have been signed into law, the whole first section of the new logging rules is First
[ Page 11551 ]
Nations cultural values. This is dramatically different from how forestry has operated across the province.”

Of course, one of the key aspects of this agreement is around the so-called ecosystem-based logging, which has been a long time coming but is relatively new in British Columbia. You know, the proof, again, will be in the pudding there. Again, there is some concern that if the chief forester is sidelined for the next ten years in terms of how logging is undertaken, we’re relying quite heavily on industry and other stakeholders to make sure that the principles of that ecosystem-based management regime will be adhered to and respected.

[1620]

From William Housty — I hope I pronounced that right — of the Heiltsuk Nation, from the Heiltsuk Nation integrated resource management department: “We have working agreements with all the forest companies in our territory. It’s through them we are able to increase our access to free use wood, to cultural wood for major projects like our big house.” “We have been able to focus exclusively on developing these land use objectives. We have been able to sit at every table, travel to every meeting and have a voice at every venue.”

While the chief forester appears to have been sidelined for a decade, it does give us some comfort that First Nations involvement in the management of this area will be front and centre. Because First Nations have stewarded these lands for millennia, that does give us some comfort that the ecosystem-based management regime will be respected. Again — as my colleague from North Coast was advocating — hopefully, First Nations will be given the resources so that they can effectively participate in the oversight of these areas — a full and meaningful participation in the management regime.

Rick Jeffery, president of the Coast Forest Products Association. I recall the comments of our Environment spokesperson, quoting Mr. Jeffery quite extensively. Mr. Jeffery is quoted as saying:

“Instead of playing into the ‘us versus them’ approach laid out through the public campaigns launched against forestry” — although it was those public campaigns that helped bring industry to the table, so let’s not discount their role in this process — “CFCI” — that’s the coast forest industry — “opted to focus on collaboration, which later proved to be a very successful approach. Collectively and over a period of decades, that group dedicated millions of dollars and countless hours to arrive at a consensus with Greenpeace, Sierra Club and ForestEthics.”

Those are statements from all of the key stakeholders that were involved in bringing this agreement to fruition. I want to repeat here, as many of my colleagues have stated very clearly, that we unequivocally congratulate any and all individuals, stakeholders and First Nations who brought this agreement to fruition.

As, again, the spokesperson for Environment stated in his initial comments on the agreement, this agreement is a gift to the world. We believe that. It doesn’t mean that we don’t have some concerns, and it doesn’t mean we’re not going to pursue those concerns in the committee stage. That’s our job.

I think I’ve summarized the bill and quoted from some of the stakeholders that were involved. It is interesting how many members of this House have a connection with the agreement, with the area.

On this side of the House, our Environment spokesman actually was head of the Sierra Club and did play a role, from time to time, in negotiations. My colleague from Cowichan was a representative of forest unions in coastal B.C. and also, at times, played a role in land use negotiations around coastal forestry. He spoke of his experiences with the so-called CORE commission — the Commission on Resources and Environment. I do recall….

I will never again complain about being criticized in a public meeting, when I heard my colleague describe meeting with 400 angry forestry workers who first found out about an agreement he had signed on to on Vancouver Island — actually feeling quite physically threatened by that.

[1625]

The member from Cowichan is not a person who typically is intimidated. I guess it points to the importance of the forestry land base to so many people in this province.

I’m very proud to have played a role myself. I should mention, before I go on to talking a little bit about my history with the Great Bear negotiations, the member for North Coast who, of course, is the MLA for the area, who travels there as best she can given the poor ferry connections and the difficulty of accessing the area. At this point in time, she probably knows the area, certainly better than most in this House. It is very interesting, the connections on this side of the House with this historic agreement.

I did want to talk a little bit about my involvement. I played a very minor role, but I’m very proud of that role. I also wanted to recount a little bit of the history of this area.

It was founded on land use planning initiated by NDP governments in the 1990s. It was actually quite remarkable. This agreement, in some ways, is kind of a culmination of that process initiated in the ’90s to try and end the war in the woods, which was certainly very heated on the coast but throughout British Columbia.

The CORE commission, the Commission on Resources and Environment was headed up by Stephen Owen, who then became an MP representing British Columbia in parliament. Stephen Owen was given the honour of trying to deal with three of the most difficult areas in British Columbia: Vancouver Island, the Cariboo and southeast British Columbia.

I had the honour of supporting the commission on two of those land use processes. One was Vancouver Island, and one was the Cariboo. Those were the hard nuts in
[ Page 11552 ]
the war in the woods, and the commission on resources took them head on.

Again, that was a commission that was established by the NDP government of the day. The land use planning processes was initiated first by Premier Harcourt and then continued on by subsequent NDP Premiers — notably Glen Clark, who had a similar checkered past with environmental groups, but nevertheless…. For example, I do recall very, very clearly the establishment of the Spatsizi protected area in northern British Columbia, one of the largest protected areas in the world, and how proud Mr. Clark was of that accomplishment.

To go back to the Great Bear specifically. That originated in the land and resource management planning processes initiated by the NDP in the mid-90s for the central coast and the north coast regions. In fact, if you look at the map of the protected areas and you compare it to some of the documents that defined the protected areas in those early days, many of those protected areas, particularly in the south end of the planning area, are almost exactly the same as were proposed initially in the Central and North Coast LRMP processes.

I had the honour, as an independent economist, to support the central land use planning process. Many of the protected areas that I evaluated…. I think it was probably one of the last if not the last job I did as a consulting economist before I turned to the dark side of politics. It was probably the most detailed evaluation I’ve ever done as a consulting economist. Again, in many of the protected areas, the ecosystem-based management system was being put forward at that time, and that was part of the evaluation.

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The foundation for this agreement, in many ways, started with the land use planning processes initiated by the NDP during the 1990s. I doubt that Mr. Harcourt and Mr. Clark are watching at this very moment, but I do want to take the opportunity to acknowledge in this House the role they played and the importance of that land use planning process to British Columbia, where we created the largest network of protected areas in North America at the time — an incredible accomplishment, and achieved at the same time that we had a much higher growth rate in the economy than under the current regime. That’s just an aside.

In any case, I did want to talk a little bit about the nature of the place, of the Great Bear. Many have spoken about the tough negotiations, the fact that these stakeholders, who had been at odds for years and years, had to come together and sort this out. Kudos to them. Great credit to them. They had to make difficult decisions, difficult compromises.

I did want to point out that the nature of the place, the nature of the land base, the nature of the forest — the timber-harvesting land base, in particular — actually helped and was a contributing factor, in my view, to coming to ultimate agreement on the land use plan.

What I’m referring to is the fact that the area is so inaccessible that the hemlock-balsam stands which predominate in much of the area are of lower value — difficult to find products to market, difficult to find markets for those resources. The inaccessibility meant that logging roads to actually access that relatively low–value timber made those stands economically marginal. That characteristic was a contributing factor in the parties coming to an agreement.

If you think about the statistics that many in this House have spoken to, the fundamental statistics about the percentage of the area protected and the implications for the annual allowable cut, approximately 85 percent of the forested land base is protected in some form or another from timber harvesting in this agreement — 85 percent — only leaving 15 percent of the forested area left for harvesting. Yet when you look at the impact of the agreement on the annual allowable cut, the AAC is being reduced from about 3.2 million cubic metres a year down to about 2.5 million. That’s about a 22 percent reduction in the annual cut.

If you think of those two figures in juxtaposition — protecting 85 percent of the forested area, yet your annual cut only goes down by 22 percent…. The reason for that is because much of the forested land base is not really commercially viable, is not really part of the timber-harvesting land base. You could protect much of the forested area because the timber was marginal and because the costs of accessing that timber were so high.

This is the nature of the place. It’s so wild and unroaded. It’s one of the reasons why you want to protect areas like this. But the nature of the place actually contributed to agreement, in my view.

Another statistic that is saying the same thing in a different way is that the AAC…. I don’t recall the specific numbers, but let’s argue, for example, that it was about 3.2 million cubic metres, set by the chief forester of the day. If you looked at actual harvesting levels, the harvesting levels were quite a bit below that 3.2 million.

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Even within the timber-harvesting land base, the harvest levels were not approaching the annual allowable cut — again, because of the marginal value of the timber from a commercial perspective. I’m not talking ecological value. That’s another matter. But because of the marginal value of the timber and the cost of accessing it, the harvest levels were actually significantly below what the AAC was set at.

What this means is that there weren’t necessarily existing jobs that were being directly impacted by reducing that AAC. A significant proportion of it was not being harvested because of the economics in the area. That lent itself to coming to an agreement here. Actually, the economic impacts of, say, laying down protected areas over timber-harvesting land base were not as great as they were in some other areas of the province.
[ Page 11553 ]

Throughout British Columbia, I evaluated over a dozen land use plans. Typically, I would say in every case, the single most important economic impact of those land use plans, in terms of impacts on existing jobs, related to the laying down of a protected area over a timber-harvesting land base that was actually supporting current harvesting and current jobs. That typically was the most important impact.

In the central coast and north coast, the impacts of laying down protected areas over timber-harvesting land base were not as significant in terms of affecting existing jobs. It certainly could affect potential jobs if, through time, we found markets for the timber. So there was that forgone economic opportunity, but it really didn’t affect existing jobs that significantly. That was a contributing factor to coming to an agreement here.

We do have some concerns. We’ll be raising those in committee stage.

I did want to say another…. The First Nations role in this land use plan. Probably more than most areas in British Columbia, the First Nations role here was critical. Their engagement with other stakeholders and with the provincial government was critical, probably more so than in many other areas in British Columbia.

To be quite honest, historically — and I would say during the ’90s, during initial land use planning processes in British Columbia — I don’t think First Nations had the role that they should have had because of their treaty rights or because of their constitutional rights.

In the central coast, we see First Nations coming to the fore in terms of their agreement, their consensus being critical to the success of the Great Bear agreement.

In terms of some of the concerns we have…. This doesn’t mean we’re not going to support the legislation, but we’re going to put forward some concerns. As I mentioned before, there is some concern about forest management in the central coast if the role of the chief forester is being reduced for a decade.

For example, the authorization in the Legislature to give the minister the ability to overlook contravention of cutting limits. The AAC has been reduced from 3.2 million cubic metres per year to 2.5 million cubic metres per year. There is a concern that without enforcement of cutting limits, the actual harvest levels could be significantly higher than what the AAC limitations suggest. That’s something that we’re going to be questioning the minister on in committee stage.

Within the areas that are allowed for logging, just how is that going to be managed properly, especially if the chief forester is not playing the role that, typically, he or she would play?

[1640]

Along with that are issues like visual-quality objectives, for example. Visual-quality objectives are established to try and retain the aesthetic beauty of an area. They will still allow for timber harvesting but allow for aesthetic factors to be taken into account as well. Will those VQOs be enforced? Will they be properly managed?

Riparian areas. No timber harvesting should be allowed that damages our fish streams. The NDP brought in the forest practices code years and years ago. My understanding of the code is that it has evolved from a more prescriptive kind of approach to timber harvesting — around riparian areas, for example — to an approach that relies more on the so-called professional reliance model and on timber-harvesting companies doing the right thing.

In the Great Bear, if the chief forester is not involved, how are those riparian areas, those crucial areas that protect our salmon in British Columbia, going to be protected? These are some of the questions we have.

Of course, what’s very interesting about this deal are the carbon credits that are involved. You know, this is a good thing. The protection of this old growth should qualify for carbon credits. It’s a huge carbon sink. Those credits are to be shared between First Nations and the provincial government, as I understand it. The devil is in the details, though, on carbon credits and how they work. That’ll be a question we’re going to be asking the minister.

Finally, I wanted to talk a little bit about the transition. There is funding available to First Nations and local communities to help them transition their economies from ones based solely on timber harvesting to other activities. We’ll have some questions about how that’s going to work and how that will be facilitated.

The member for North Coast did raise the concern, for example, about ferries to the central coast. That ferry run, which was cut, to Bella Bella–Bella Coola was a huge contributor to the local economy of not just the central coast but the Cariboo area as well. This seems to fly in the face of efforts to try and diversify local economies, particularly in that area and particularly in the context of this agreement.

The cutting of that ferry service, the Queen of Chilliwack, which was taken out of service and replaced by a ferry with a fraction of its capacity, is of great concern not just to us on this side of the House but to local communities. Of course, the Queen of Chilliwack was subsequently sold off to a company in Fiji for cents on the dollar.

The measures to help local economies transition from an economy based on forestry alone to other sectors is going to be an issue that we raise during committee stage. However, I know my time is coming to an end here.

In summary, I do want to repeat: the view of this side of the House is that we do believe this is a great achievement. We will be supporting the legislation. We may be proposing some amendments, depending on the conversation, the questions and answers, during committee stage. But I want to commend all of the partners, all the partners that I’ve referred to before, and this government for this remarkable achievement — an achievement, though, that had its roots in the land use planning processes of the 1990s.
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L. Throness: It’s my pleasure to speak to the Great Bear Rainforest management act, Bill 2, today.

I want to begin my remarks with an anecdote. Years ago I was chief of staff to a federal minister in Ottawa. I was sitting at my desk when I received a phone call out of the blue from somebody I’d never heard of before. It was from a fellow who seemed to know my name and my direct phone line.

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It was the chief executive officer of the Goldman Sachs corporation in New York, the world-famous trading company. Somehow he had gotten my name and number and thought that I might have some kind of impact on the Great Bear Rainforest. So he lobbied me, asking to use whatever influence I had to support the Great Bear Rainforest. Of course, I had none, but I guess he was phoning people at random.

It’s an illustration of just how broad the lobbying effort has been, from the average person on the street to this high official in a worldwide, very wealthy company; how long the effort has gone — it’s been about 20 years of conflict; and how wide the lobbying effort has been — all over the world. We have groups from all over the world who have lobbied for this to take place.

I want to point out that it falls to the government of B.C. to shoulder the responsibility of actually taking action — to do the hard work, to set aside land. It is a huge tract of land, about 6.4 million hectares. It makes up a quarter of the world’s coastal temperate rainforest.

The whole world wants to protect the Great Bear Rainforest, but I would point that they don’t want to pay for it. It’s the people of B.C. who are going to have to pay for this. I would point out that the annual allowable cut is going to drop by about 20 percent in the Great Bear Rainforest. It is the people of B.C. who are going to bear the cost — the treasury of the provincial government and the people who work in the forest. It is them who will be bearing the cost.

Why are we doing this? Why are we taking some of the forests of B.C. out of the purview of logging operations? Well, other values have interjected. There are monetary values, but there are other values as well, and we understand that there has been a long period of conflict leading to this moment.

We have a lot of space in B.C. Our province is four times the size of Great Britain. We have just a tiny fraction of Great Britain’s population. We have 94 million hectares of land in B.C. That’s an enormous area. The Great Bear Rainforest comprises 7 percent of our land mass. We’re setting apart a huge area. I think it’s appropriate that we do that.

This act merely defines areas of access for logging. It’s quite a technical act. It talks about sizes of annual allowable cuts and decisions that the chief forester can make. We’re not creating a new provincial park. It’s not protected to that extent, but this act protects 85 percent of the forest from logging. It protects a large area of old growth, where some of the trees are 1,000 years old. But it also protects 237,000 hectares for logging.

I want to talk about balance for a moment. It used to be that environment was regarded as the enemy. It was something to be conquered, because it was a threat. You might not survive if you were out in the environment. When I grew up in Fort St. John as a child, there wasn’t much concern about the environment. The environment wasn’t something that was threatened; it was a threat. The concern was the other way around. It was about the survival of people.

Since then, things have changed. The balance has shifted. Our technological capacity has increased so much. Our population has increased so much. The garbage and other pollution that we can produce has increased. The power of our vehicles alone…. Think of quads and motorbikes in my own riding, how they can create trails just by driving through the forest. Our machines can manipulate the environment. The capacity to do so has increased so that today it’s the environment that tends to be under threat.

The environment, when faced with our modern technology, is quite delicate and fragile. Therefore, we in B.C. have gone to unprecedented lengths in creating parks and other protected areas, including the Great Bear Rainforest.

In speaking of balance, I want the people in my riding, particularly, to know that in protecting this area to a greater degree, we are not in any way abandoning our mandate to ensure that jobs can be created and that people can continue to prosper on the land that’s covered by the Great Bear Rainforest. That’s what this act is about.

There have been many emotive statements made about the beauty of the forest and its spiritual values, and so on. They’re all valid, but this act really is a business agreement. I’m not a forestry technician, so I can’t speak in detail about the technical aspects of the bill, but the bill establishes a forest management area allowing the government to specify limits on logging in terms of geography and annual allowable cuts.

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The key is that this act will establish certainty for business in the forest. While it stops logging in 85 percent of its territory, it also sets aside areas that can be logged, with an annual allowable cut of 2.5 million cubic metres a year over the next ten years.

Allow me to cite some of the groups which were involved in the forging of this act, in negotiating the agreement that we have before us today. Some of the groups are B.C. Timber Sales, Catalyst Paper Corp., Howe Sound Pulp and Paper corporation, Interfor and Western Forest Products. These are profitable companies. They have a mandate to create jobs and make money, and we welcome that.

There were other groups that also participated in the agreement, groups like Greenpeace and the Sierra Club,
[ Page 11555 ]
that stand more against development and more on the side of the protection of the environment. Then, of course, we have First Nations. The Coastal First Nations and the Nanwakolas Council have special interests in that area.

All working together, we’ve been able to create this agreement. It has been a collaborative effort to establish a balance in the forest, to allow managed forestry while preserving one of the great wonders of the natural world. Judging from the reaction of the press as well as business groups and environmental groups, even on both sides of this House, it looks like we have achieved a measure of balance.

It would be my hope, as it is with agriculture, as it is with aquaculture — field crops and greenhouses — that the logging industry would move more and more toward farming trees rather than hunting them. To go into a forest like the Great Bear Rainforest with big equipment, expensive equipment, to climb mountains, to build roads, to hunt for good trees to cut down is really not as positive a solution for the environment and not as efficient as the principle of growing trees in a controlled setting, controlling for size and species and pests and many other factors.

The problem, of course, is that the first period of growth takes a long time, but after that, there is efficiency. I would see that already in my riding in nursery operations, where people grow Christmas trees and ornamental trees in neat rows over large spaces. They don’t need huge equipment. They don’t have to travel long distances. They don’t have to build roads.

There are many advantages to farming trees rather than hunting them. Logging trees — of course, they’re obliged to reforest areas that they cut. There are many forestry companies that are cutting second growth now, and that is sort of like a tree farm. We met yesterday with the Truck Loggers Association, which talked of second-growth forests. They are working to manage the forests well — forests that are more like a farmer’s field than a wild forest.

I hope that in the future, we will be able to make the shift even more complete from hunting trees to farming trees. I think the industry would be more profitable and efficient as a result, and the environment would also benefit from that.

In conclusion, I want to speak in favour of the Great Bear Rainforest (Forest Management) Act. I want to congratulate the parties, who have been bitter enemies in the past, with decades of conflict behind them, who have now worked together instead to create an agreement that will protect old growth and, at the same time, protect and give certainty to business as well so that we can continue to profit in any way, monetary and in other ways as well, from this great natural resource for generations to come.

H. Bains: It is an honour to speak on this bill, Bill 2, which establishes a forest management area. We call it the Great Bear Rainforest, the GBR. I think it will be referred to in many of the agreements that we talk about. It is actually a historic moment, no doubt.

When you look at the history of the woods in British Columbia, I think, on the one hand, we are fortunate to have an abundance of forests in British Columbia. They provided British Columbia, ever since the creation of British Columbia as a province, to build around the forest industry, to have our infrastructure paid for by the riches that came from the forest industry, paid for many of those social programs that we all care for and are proud of, whether in education, health care, pensions or jobs.

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It’s the forest industry that built this province. There is no doubt in anybody’s mind. I think there were mindsets at some point that we have an abundance of forest. We can cut as many trees as we want and make as much money as we can in the shortest period of time. There was a time when…. The environmental side — the role that our forests and the trees play in cleaning up our environment, enhancing our environment — was largely forgotten in those days.

When you look at the emergence of awareness about our environment and protection of the environment in the ’70s and ’80s…. The so-called war in the woods started in the ’80s because the land use decisions made prior to 1992 were basically government making rules, and they expected everyone else to follow them. That was the way it was in the forest industry. As such, they were under a tremendous amount of pressure, as they are even today, from the industry and from many of the interested groups, to allow them to go into the forest and cut as much as they could without much regard to the environment and our future generations, who will also be depending on our forest industry.

This planning model started to derail in the early 1980s with the emergence of the war in the woods, when a growing community of environmental activists conducted a series of high-profile campaigns to protect specific areas from logging. As such, in response to these campaigns and growing global sustainability initiatives, government established the Commission on Resources and Environment — the CORE commission, the CORE system. CORE was to develop a provincial land use strategy that would resolve conflicts over protected areas.

This was initiated by the Harcourt government in 1992 in response to what was going on in our forest industry, in response to the war in the woods. As Harcourt used to say, we want to end this valley-by-valley war. We want to have a provincial eye on it, and we want to make sure that we protect enough area. I think the Brundtland report that came in from the United Nations recommended that we protect 12 percent, I believe it was, and the government of the day, under Harcourt, decided that we will achieve that goal. I think they actually not only achieved it; they exceeded it. I think today it is more than 12 percent that’s protected in British Columbia.
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I think what we see before us in Bill 2 is lessons learned. It picks up from where the CORE and LRMP plans were laid down and the successes that we saw through them. I’m happy they followed that process that was initiated under Harcourt and continued on during successive governments, although there were some variations to it. But I think, essentially, it was the process that was set aside for the forest industry and others to follow. It was the one that was modelled and that I think is followed here. I’m happy to say that the model that was set in the 1990s is working still.

Basically, the idea was to invite rather than what the old model was — the government making all the rules and expecting everyone to follow them. What happened was we saw the flaws in that system. The flaws were that the environment and everything else was secondary, other than to cut the logs and make lots of money as quickly as we can.

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Under the CORE and the LRMP systems, the idea was to bring environmentalists, First Nations, industry, tourism, community groups, the workers together at the table and, with some government staffing there, assist them to understand each other’s concerns. Not necessarily that they agreed with everybody and everyone’s concerns, but I think the emphasis was put on…. I believe it was called interest-based negotiations or interest-based bargaining process. It was to understand each other, understand why they were taking the position they were taking.

Once you understand each other, then you start to address each other’s concerns. It was not necessarily a win or lose situation; it was that you walk away from that room where everyone feels they have won something here, that this system is going to help every stakeholder’s concern that was on that table. That was the whole system.

I think it was first tried in the 1990s. It worked. I think it continues on with that model, and I think we see the results before us under the GBR bill here, where environmentalists and First Nations got together. I think the difference here is that back then, it was the government initiating and bringing all those different groups together, trying to put a land use process in place so that we protect the environment, protect jobs and protect the communities that are forestry dependent, and that the government also benefited from the economic activities in those area.

That was that. I think here the two groups that actually deserve commendation are the First Nations — 26 different First Nations that are covered by this huge area of 6.4 million hectares — and the industry. They came together. They have been working at it since early 2000. They have gone through different stages of it, and finally, they came to this conclusion.

Then the government was dragged to the table, basically. I mean, that’s what happened here. It was the industry and the environmentalists putting this agreement together, identifying all the concerns by consulting different groups within that area. Then, finally, the government had to come to the table and say yes to this. I think that’s what happened here.

That’s what happens when you bring people together. When you start name-calling to those who disagree with your positions — ragtags or misinformed or noises — that’s when you divide people. You don’t bring them back. You don’t bring them together.

This process clearly demonstrates that those two groups, First Nations and industry, came together and said: “Look, we are going to make this work.” The government finally came to the table and it was: “Yes, we agree with this as well.”

I think this is a new day. I think this is a good thing. Again, I must say that usually, in these big bills and the new programs that government brings in, the devil is in the details. We will be asking a number of questions, lots of questions, during the committee stage, trying to understand exactly how this agreement will unfold. What is in it for the industry? What is in it for the First Nations? How will the communities benefit from it? How will the workers benefit from this? Who’s going to get hurt as a result of this agreement? All those questions will be there. I think we could ask those questions during the committee stage.

I want to say that during the 1990s, this process wasn’t easy. When the CORE commission was put together under Stephen Owen, there was fierce opposition when they tried to put that agreement together — from the environmentalists, who were saying that we were allowing too much development; from the industry, who were saying that we were protecting too much area; and from the public and the workers, saying that we were sacrificing too many jobs.

[1705]

At the end of the day, the CORE commission was disbanded, but LRMPs came out of this. Through that, the agreement was finalized, and essentially, CORE itself was declared a success, although there were all kinds of disagreements and all kinds of accusations at that time.

I think at that time, it was the government’s vision for the future. They decided that we must take some bold decisions so we don’t continue on with the status quo, don’t regret going forward, where our future generations will be saying, “What were you doing when you were chopping down all the trees and you left nothing for us?” as far as the economic activity and the jobs for them are concerned and as far as protection for the environment is concerned.

I think that is something that we must be commending those people who were there during the 1990s for — the government staff, the leadership of the government of the day and all the environmentalists, the industry, the workers, the community groups that came together. They realized this had to be done. Yes, there were going to be some pains for many.
[ Page 11557 ]

I was part of the group that took…. They were actually asked to make more sacrifices than anybody else — it was the workers — although the government of the day, under FRBC, Forest Renewal B.C., put together some really good programs for those workers who were asked to sacrifice their jobs for a public policy.

They were given the opportunity to retrain and get new jobs in new areas. It was something that…. I talk to some of those folks even today. They benefited from it, although they weren’t very happy at that time. How can you be happy when you are depending on an industry for generations in that particular area, and then all of a sudden, your job is no longer there because of a wider public policy which requires you to move away from the area because your jobs are no longer available to you? That’s what happened. Through FRBC, many benefited. They moved and settled into different areas of their choice.

I just want to see what some of the people are saying about this. The Leader of the Opposition in this House said:

“The Great Bear Rainforest agreement is a tremendous achievement for all involved. First Nations, environmental organizations, local communities and the forest industry should be commended for continuing to work towards finalizing this landmark agreement. We are proud to have played a role in starting the process when the New Democrats were in government.

“The agreement shows how important it is to have the full involvement of First Nations when determining the future of B.C.’s environment, resources, culture and economy. Too often, the Premier, today, leaves First Nations behind in pursuit of her political agenda.”

That was the Leader of the Opposition, the member for Juan de Fuca.

Let’s look at some of the other players who were at the table. This is one person that I, a lot of times, don’t agree with — his positions — because I think his role is to make sure that the people he represents, the industry he represents, make good return on the investment. I don’t blame them. That’s what they are for, and that’s what they will be doing for their shareholders and for the owners.

How you do that is something that I sometimes disagree with. We talked about log export, for example. There are some different views on that. I have different views than Rick Jeffery, who’s a CEO of the coast forest industry. This is what he said. I think he played a key role and must be commended. Like I said, I disagree with him on many aspects of how our forest industry should be doing and how we should be handling and maximizing the benefit of our forest industry for our communities, for the workers and for the province. His view and my views are a bit different.

[1710]

I must commend him for showing the leadership that he did, bringing the parties together and finalizing this agreement. He said this: “Instead of playing into the ‘us versus them’ approach laid out through the public campaigns launched against forestry, CFCI opted to focus on collaboration, which later proved to be a very successful approach. Collectively and over a period of decades, that group dedicated millions of dollars and countless hours to arrive at consensus with Greenpeace, Sierra Club B.C. and ForestEthics.”

This is what Rick Jeffery said. I say: “Rick, good job.”

Then you look at what ForestEthics spokesperson Valerie Langer had to say. She was quoted in Windspeaker, the largest First Nations paper. This is what she said: “When you look at the land use objectives that have been signed into law, the whole first section of the new logging rules is First Nations cultural values. So this is dramatically different from how forestry has operated across the province.”

To Valerie Langer, I say: “Valerie, thank you very much for showing leadership from your part and all of the First Nations that were involved in this. I say your efforts are commendable.”

Then you look at the First Nations groups. Their spokesperson, William Housty of Heiltsuk Nation, said this: “We have working agreements with all the forest companies in our territory. It’s through them we are able to increase our access to free use wood, to cultural wood, for major projects like our big house. We have been able to focus exclusively on developing these land use objectives…. We have been able to sit at every table, travel to every meeting and have a voice at every venue.” That was William Housty of Heiltsuk Nation, integrated resource management department.

You can see how different groups are coming together and making it work. This is in contrast to what happened in 2003, when the so-called Forest Revitalization Act was brought in. It was basically brought in by the government, and I talked about this earlier. When the government comes down with the rules and they expect everyone to follow, you usually see a disaster, especially with this government, the way this government makes rules.

They listen to their friends and then they put those into the law, and everyone else pays the price for it. The 2003 Forest Revitalization Act is an example of that. In it, they cancelled the social contract that existed for decades. This was an agreement between the industry and the people of this province. They would have access to raw materials, trees, and in return, they would be processing them in British Columbia, in their own mills, to create jobs for British Columbians. That system worked all those years, but that social contract was almost cut out. It was removed. It was cancelled.

Now the industry is allowed to do whatever they want to do with their logs. The workers end up losing their jobs. There are many mills out there, many mill owners who can’t get logs, and they are not working at full capacity. That’s the result.

Those examples that the minister knows about and everyone else knows about exist even today. We had a record amount of log export in the last few years — a record amount. On the coast, over 40 percent, almost 50 percent
[ Page 11558 ]
of the logs that we harvest are exported. Something’s wrong with that picture when you see mills that are not working at full capacity, mill owners that are complaining that they cannot get logs to run at full capacity or to add capacity to their mills. I think that’s the problem.

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Then you take a look at the cut controls. There was a reason that the cut controls were put in place decades ago as part of the social contract. It means that over five years, they must harvest within 5 percent to 10 percent of their AAC. But during each year of those five years, there was a rule of 50 percent or 150 percent. They could go 150 percent or down to 50 percent depending on how the economics were of the day. If the market was hot, they could harvest under 150 percent in the particular year. If the market slowed down, they could come down to 50 percent.

The idea that they must not go below 50 percent is because there are so many people in those forestry-dependent communities, the smaller communities that depend on activities in the forest industry. The grocery stores, the gas stations, the retail stores — all those stores are dependent on the income that comes from the forest industry and the workers who are employed. So a minimum of 50 percent of the activity must take place.

This government gutted that. Now they can achieve that AAC over five years. There’s no requirement for individual years. What that means in practical terms is they could cease all activities for the first four years, they could go in there and take all of the AAC in the last year, and they would be complying with the current rules. I mean, there’s something wrong with that. As a result, many communities suffered. They suffered because there was no income coming, because there was no activity, no taxes coming to their communities. That was another area.

All that was done with a promise from the industry that they would be investing $2 billion to $3 billion in our coastal sawmills to make them competitive with the rest of the world and to lower our costs as a result of that. What happened? That investment took place, but not here in British Columbia.

Even today we have seen, since 2003 when the Forestry Revitalization Act was brought in, according to the government’s numbers, 150 mills shut down, with 30,000 workers laid off from the forest industry. So 30,000 fewer workers are working in the forest industry than when this government took power.

But you know what? That doesn’t mean that our forest companies are suffering. They are making profits, but they’re not investing those profits here in British Columbia. At the time when the Forest Revitalization Act was brought in, you could count how many mills were owned by our British Columbia companies south of the border in the United States — maybe two, maybe three, something like that.

But today, Mr. Speaker, if you care to guess? It’s not ten. It’s not 15. It’s not 20. Over 40 mills are invested by British Columbian companies who are making profits here in British Columbia. Yes, there are ups and downs because there are so many different factors involved in how the forest industry is doing in British Columbia. How United States housing starts are doing affects us here because of the U.S. still being the largest importer of B.C. lumber.

I think when that happens and the companies don’t invest in British Columbia, the government must ask itself what is going on here. We give everything that the industry asked for. We gave them everything under the Forestry Revitalization Act, and their promise was to invest in B.C., to make our mills more efficient and be more competitive.

We have companies here on the coast who have more timber available to them than their milling capacity, much more — not just slightly more but much more, like two million cubic metres. They still are allowed to shut the mills down, and they continue, allowed to export logs. How does that work for British Columbian workers and British Columbian companies? Not very good, and I think that has to change.

[1720]

I think lessons should be learned — how the First Nations and industry came together to put this agreement together so that they can live with this. We’re talking about 2.5 million cubic metres AAC under this agreement for ten years, and they were able to put this thing together.

Industry thinks they won something here. And the environmentalists know that they are able to say that they have seen some proud moments as a result of this agreement because now this will be a managed area, managed logging, keeping all those values and principles that are in the GBR agreements. They think they have won. I think we all have won as a result of this. All British Columbians have won. That’s the lesson that the government should learn.

They need to bring environmentalists, workers, communities and industry together to see how we can turn this industry around. What would it take to have our industry, British Columbian companies, invest in British Columbia, especially here on the coast where we have fibre available, to start new mills, add more capacity? There are so many mills out there working on two shifts. Can we help them so that we could have a third shift on, so we could utilize the logs that are destined for Korea, for China, for all other countries and process them here?

Doesn’t that make sense, Mr. Speaker? I bet you agree with me. That makes sense.

If we are a resource-based economy — which we are — yes, we need to expand. We need to diversify — no doubt. But we need to make sure that our resources are utilized to the maximum so that we create more jobs with what we have as far as the natural resources are concerned. That’s what’s needed, but it’s not happening.
[ Page 11559 ]

I think, when you look at so much area that is now protected — it will be managed — you’re talking about 6.4 million hectares of area that will be protected and managed. It’s called the Great Bear Rainforest. Over half of the region is covered by forest ecosystems — 3.6 million hectares. It stretches from British Columbia’s Discovery Islands northwards to the Tongass rainforest of Alaska.

Together with the islands of Haida Gwaii, which has its own management agreement — when you put the two together — it represents the largest tract of intact temperate rainforest remaining on the planet. It is the traditional territory of 26 First Nations who have lived in this rainforest for thousands of years.

I think this is a model, the model that the government should be, actually, taking a lesson from and bringing everyone together. All those stakeholders are crying out for help. They’re looking for some leadership from this government so that we could design and devise a plan like this so that we can utilize our natural resources to create jobs for British Columbians right here in B.C., not like when they take our raw logs into their countries to create jobs for their people. I mean they need to…. Of course, I commend them for doing what they’re doing, because they are doing what’s best for their people. That’s what governments are supposed to do.

My time ran out, and I take my place.

C. James: I’m pleased to rise, as well, to speak to Bill 2, the Great Bear Rainforest Act. I want to begin by saying that this truly is a positive step to have this bill and this agreement come forward to the Legislature.

This bill, as others have mentioned, establishes a forest management area for the Great Bear Rainforest. I just want to read — and I’ll get to, in a minute, around the technical language of this — a few pieces that this bill does, because I think it’s important for those who are looking at the effects of this bill to know that this bill establishes a forest management area for the Great Bear Rainforest and does the following.

[1725]

It authorizes the Lieutenant-Governor-in-Council to make regulations to specify a maximum allowable annual cut for the Great Bear Rainforest management area — and I’ll come back to that in a moment; to reconfigure timber supply areas located, in whole or in part, in the Great Bear Rainforest; to specify annual allowable cut partitions; to specify annual allowable cuts for affected forest licences.

It authorizes the minister to make orders to be able to impose harvest volume limits on the holders of forest licences. It authorizes the minister to grant relief from penalties for contravening cut control limits under the Forest Act if the minister, in fact, considers that specific actions taken under this act are contraventions.

Technical language. Really, it’s technical language that, from my perspective, doesn’t do justice to this piece of legislation and what it really stands for. It’s technical language that doesn’t acknowledge the years and years of hard work, particularly by the Coastal First Nations.

I think they are the first important people to recognize in this agreement that has come forward. If it was not for the Coastal First Nations asserting their rights, asserting their legal rights, and taking on the fight in this process, we wouldn’t be standing here today. We wouldn’t be standing here today acknowledging this momentous occasion and acknowledging the impact that this is going to have not only on our province but in fact across our country and across our globe.

It’s technical language that also doesn’t acknowledge the work that was done by the many environmental groups that were involved in this process — Greenpeace; ForestEthics; the Sierra Club, which again, just as others did, spent years and years and years of work bringing forward this extraordinary agreement.

The technical language doesn’t speak to the years of work, also, by the Coast Forest Conservation Initiative. That was a collaborative effort of B.C. Timber Sales, of Interfor, of Western Forest Products, Catalyst Paper and Howe Sound Pulp and Paper.

I think you can sense through this that there’s a theme here. The theme that I believe is so important in this legislation and so important for all of us to acknowledge and to look at and to recognize and to support in all of this is that this truly was an effort of groups and organizations working together.

It truly was a collaboration where, as you’ve heard from other speakers to this bill, people who often had not come together around issues — people who often are on opposite sides of the table, people who are often in conflict with each other — acknowledged that there was a larger good here to work towards, that there were common areas. There was common value in saying that it was important to acknowledge and find a way to protect this extraordinary area.

Does that mean the agreement is perfect? No. I think there are some genuine concerns that have been brought forward and will continue to be brought forward over the committee stage discussion of this bill and certainly over the implementation of this agreement. I think, as others have said, the devil is in the details, and it really will matter what kinds of resources are there to be able to support the implementation of this agreement.

These agreements, once they’re signed on a piece of paper, are simply the start of the work that needs to occur around where the protected areas are, where the areas are to be logged, what kinds of supports are there for other economic opportunities that need to occur. There’s still a great deal of work that needs to happen. I think the questions and the issues that will arise will be very important and will be important to watch as we go along and, as I said, are valid questions to raise.

At the same time, that doesn’t take away from this extraordinary achievement. Raising those questions
[ Page 11560 ]
doesn’t dilute, in any way, the kind of support that we have for this piece of legislation or the support we have for the protection of the Great Bear Rainforest. But it does show that it’s important that follow-up occur.

This isn’t simply a piece of paper that’s signed, comes into the Legislature and is supported and then gets forgotten. It needs to continue to be a living, breathing document. It needs to continue to have the focus on the ground to make sure that when areas are protected, they truly are protected, that the resources are there for that, that the workers and the companies who also came to the table are recognized for the work they put into that.

[1730]

Those are the kinds of questions that we can certainly ask at committee stage, and we’ll be watching over the next number of years as the agreement is implemented and goes forward. And it really will be years, because it took years and years and years to get here. This really has been a 20-year campaign that has crossed over various governments, when it has come to finding an agreement here.

It was interesting. In looking at the comments that have been made by other people, there’s a quote from Richard Brooks, who is Greenpeace’s forest campaign coordinator. He says: “From conflict to collaboration, we now celebrate the protected areas of cultural and ecological importance, while ensuring that economic opportunities for the community exist long into the future.”

I think there are a couple of very important points to note in that quote. I think one is that opportunities exist long into the future, that this isn’t a short-term agreement. This is not an agreement that was put together in…. In fact, you saw some of those agreements back in the ’80s and the ’90s, before we started recognizing and acknowledging the importance of addressing environmental issues. An agreement would be reached simply to stop a protest, a short-term agreement where you’d see the parties come together and agree to put aside something. But that was it. It was done short term; it wasn’t done long term.

What I see important in this bill that has come forward is that it does acknowledge the need for a long-term strategy. Certainly, the years of effort that people have put into that speaks to that as well, but it really speaks to the importance of acknowledging a long-term strategy to support First Nations, to support communities, to support the cultural and spiritual importance, to support the economic importance and to support the environmental importance. I think that’s what’s really pointed out in this quote.

The other piece, of course, is the shift from conflict to collaboration. I’ll speak to that in a moment, as I go along, because to me, that’s the most important piece for all of us to learn here.

I think it’s also important to recognize that negotiations don’t necessarily bring forward a perfect solution. Is this agreement perfect? No. Are there areas that, many groups would argue, need to be improved? Yes. And are there groups and organizations which would say that they got a piece of something that they wanted but not all of what they wanted? Certainly.

I think that is the importance of coming together at a table and having those discussions: everyone is not going to get exactly what they want. Everyone is not going to walk away with exactly what they want. But if you build that consensus — if you’re able to come to the table, if you’re able to see where the common ground is, if you’re able to better understand each other — then you’re much more likely to come out with an agreement that is going to be more satisfactory to all the parties there, an agreement that people can sign on to, as you’ve seen with this agreement.

It’s a process and an approach that I’m really pleased to see come forward, because I have to say that it’s not an approach that we often see this government utilizing. We do not often see a common approach like this coming from this government. That’s in the most recent times.

We heard the Premier call First Nations who disagreed with her a “ragtag group.” You know, that really contrasts, if you’re looking at this piece of legislation, if you’re looking at the 20 years of work to bring this forward. You certainly don’t build those relationships, you don’t provide opportunities for people to sit around the table, when someone disagrees with you and you call them a ragtag group.

These were First Nations who have legitimate concerns, who came forward to express those, who came forward to talk about the cultural importance of the area that was being discussed with the Premier, to talk about the ecological and the environmental areas that they were concerned about. That was the approach that they received from the Premier. This is, as I said, a very different kind of approach that has come forward, and one that I hope will give some lessons to be learned from the other side.

We’ve seen it in other examples. We’ve seen it in the issue of the support for people with disabilities and the bus pass — where, again, the response from the other side has not been to sit down and listen to the concerns.

[1735]

It has not been to sit down and try and find a solution and to listen to people’s genuine worries, about what they believed was going to happen and what actually happened, when the government said they were going to give them a certain amount of money and then clawed it back with the bus pass. That wasn’t the approach.

The approach has been to call them wrong — that they’re wrong, they’re confused, they’re wrong. Well, I can tell you, having worked and talked and lived with many people with developmental disabilities who have come to me to talk to me about the issue of the bus pass….

I’ll come back to the bill, hon. Speaker.

Deputy Speaker: Member, we’re on Bill 2.
[ Page 11561 ]

C. James: Yes, this is related to Bill 2 because the issue of Bill 2 coming forward is a collaborative approach. I’m happy to talk about Bill 2 and the collaborative approach, because it really contrasts with the government’s approach that they use in other areas.

I would certainly hope that the government would learn consistency and the success of Bill 2 in coming forward, and understand that if they utilize that in other areas, like people with disabilities and the bus pass — if they utilize that same approach of bringing people together to learn at the table about each other’s viewpoints and to be able to find solutions — I think they might see a bit more success than we’re seeing with the issues that have come forward.

We also see the same kind of difference of approach from Bill 2 to the issue of education. Again, we see the government turning their backs on people who are raising concerns and issues, saying it’s simply a small vocal group. Well, I’m certain that in the 20 years of work that have occurred through Bill 2, the 20 years of work and the efforts that have come forward, many of those groups and organizations at one time or another were brushed aside, were told that they didn’t matter, that their voices weren’t heard.

What extraordinary things can occur, and we see it in this bill, when you actually respect people, when you respect their points of view, when you take the time around the table to listen and to learn and to give and to take.

That’s the other important piece, as I said, in here. Not everyone got everything they wanted. This was a process of give-and-take. It brought great success that will benefit all of us. I would hope it’s something that the government would certainly learn in other areas besides Bill 2.

The land use planning agreements that were begun back in the 1990s — I think other members have spoken about this as well — really were the beginning of the kind of genesis that you see with the Great Bear Rainforest agreement. They really were, I think, the beginning of both a positive and a necessary recognition of the need for the economy and the environment to work hand in hand.

What we had seen before that really was an attitude of either-or — we either protected something or we used it for economic growth — and not a recognition about how they need to go hand in hand, not a recognition of the importance of that. I think there was a very important shift that started to occur in the 1990s around land use planning that created some extraordinary examples of cooperation and collaboration, some extraordinary examples of protected areas that I’m pleased to see, as I said, continue in this bill, in this example.

It also was the beginning of, I believe, again, a critical shift, a necessary shift and a positive shift in a recognition of First Nations as true owners of the land. By no means was it addressed during that time period, and we still have a very, very long way to go, but I think there was a beginning of an understanding in the broader community outside First Nations about how important it was to recognize legally and in action that First Nations are the owners of the land. Simply brushing them aside and saying, “We can either protect this area or we can do economic development on this area,” without any discussion with First Nations…. Again, it slowly began to shift, slowly began to make a difference.

I think it was also during that time period that, again, fed into what we see coming forward as part of Bill 2 — moving past the days of acknowledging that there was no problem with unsustainable economic development, that it wasn’t a worry, that the resource was going to last forever, that we could simply take the resource and be done with it.

[1740]

Unsustainable logging certainly was a huge issue then, as I said, ignoring the treaty rights and ignoring the benefits of protecting the environment. There was a real lack of acknowledgement, a lack of understanding, of the value that you can put on protecting the environment, both an economic value as well as a social value.

I think that, again, was the beginning of a change that helped feed into the work that occurred. I talked to many people who were involved in that land use planning time period, in the mid-1990s. That was an exciting time for individuals who, as I said, had been ignored, had not been welcome at the table, who had been brushed aside. Also, it was the beginning of recognizing the extraordinary power that could bring, by bringing people together, by giving them an opportunity to have a voice around this table.

Are we there yet? No, we certainly aren’t. Is there a great deal of work to do? Yes, there certainly is. But I truly believe that this agreement is a step, and a good-sized step, in the right direction, after 20 years. Building that consensus, building that understanding is going to pay off well beyond the agreement in the Great Bear Rainforest.

I think that there is value in this agreement in itself, because this is an extraordinary part of our province. I think anyone who spends time vacationing outside our province or who travels the world really needs to remember that people come from all parts of the globe to British Columbia because of the beauty here, because of the extraordinary gift we have of having ecosystems of all kinds across our province, of being able to appreciate that beauty.

I certainly would encourage people to remember that while others travel to our province, we need to also remember to take that time to travel the corners of our province that, perhaps, we haven’t seen. I was one of those who grew up in Victoria, spent years travelling the world, travelling Europe, and didn’t spend as much time travelling British Columbia. I’m proud to say now that I think I’ve probably camped in most corners of this province, up to the Yukon border and beyond. I’m a huge booster of the extraordinary place that we live in.

I think the example of the Great Bear Rainforest and the consensus that came together and the work that went
[ Page 11562 ]
into this agreement truly will be a bigger payoff than simply the Great Bear Rainforest itself. I really think that if we spend time examining this process, if we spend time examining what occurred through this time period….

Perhaps there will be a wonderful doctoral student somewhere who will take on the research on a project like this, take the 20-years example and talk about what worked and what didn’t work, talk about the success and the challenges and talk about how we got here. It would be a great research project to be able to utilize for all governments — to be able to know what helped and what didn’t help, what was successful and what wasn’t.

I really think that if we think about this process, if we think about what came to fruition after 20 years, think what other opportunities are possible, other opportunities that we could do in this province if we worked together, if we found that common ground, if we were able to do that….

I want to speak for a moment about another example where we’re going through a very similar kind of challenge as you see in the Great Bear Rainforest, and that’s Site C. It’s another example — just as the Great Bear Rainforest was, just as we see coming forward with Bill 2 — where you have conflict, where you have challenges, where you have First Nations issues around the rights of the land, where you see agricultural land issues, where you see people talking about: is this the right project at the right time?

It’s just as you saw going through the Great Bear Rainforest, just as you saw in the work that led to Bill 2, where you have those kinds of conflicts, where you have those kinds of differences of opinion. I certainly would like to hope that there are other options possible, just as were proved through this bill.

[1745]

Just as was proved as we go through Bill 2, that might be possible for something like Site C as well, where we don’t rule out the opportunities to bring folks together or we don’t rule out the opportunity to look at alternatives, to look at where common ground is. I certainly don’t believe that we’re finding that right now. I certainly don’t believe that is the place that we’re at now.

People often criticize the opposition for opposing things and not putting forward alternatives. In fact, in this case, when it comes to Site C, we did put forward an alternative. Just as you saw the discussion happen through Bill 2 and through the discussion getting us to the Great Bear Rainforest, people had to look at alternatives.

People had to look at some other examples. People had to say: “What could we do if we weren’t logging this area? What alternatives might we look at? What would be the value of tourism? What would be the value of spiritual and cultural protection in this area? Could we look at economic opportunities through there?”

That’s the kind of process that happened through the Great Bear Rainforest agreement. That could also happen in this example. As I said, we put forward an example of an alternative. We’ve said: “What if you looked at retrofits? What if you looked at alternative sources of energy? What if you provided opportunities for conservation? What would those alternatives look like? What kind of process could you use to actually examine those with all of the parties involved?”

I think the lessons from Bill 2 that are so important for government to recognize would be to look at options, to not always go for an either-or but, in fact, to bring people together, as happened through this process, to say: why not compare? What might be an alternative that wouldn’t cause as many difficulties, that would address First Nations’ issues and that would still provide jobs?

[R. Chouhan in the chair.]

If our common goals are to make sure that we’re acknowledging and recognizing First Nations’ rights, if our goals are to make sure that there are jobs in this province…. If those are common goals, why wouldn’t we look at alternatives? Why wouldn’t we say that there are other ways to be able to do that than simply looking at the Site C? As you did in Bill 2, why wouldn’t you say: “Let’s put those options on the table. Let’s do those comparisons. Let’s take a look at the jobs. Let’s take a look at protecting agricultural land.”

I hear the government saying that agriculture is important in this province. They want to expand the opportunities. Well, again, where is that, as was part of the discussion with all of the parties involved in the Great Bear Rainforest agreements? As we saw it happen there, why couldn’t it happen on other projects? Why couldn’t that be a lesson learned as we go through this process?

I think there’s no question that there was unprecedented collaboration around the table. If you take a look at the goals, in going back to the discussion around the Great Bear Rainforest, the goal was to achieve ecosystems-based management, to maintain the ecological integrity of the forests and to achieve high levels of well-being for the communities.

Again, it comes back to not either-or, not setting people up to take sides, but in fact saying: “We’ve got some common goals here. How can we sit down and work together to find those common goals, to find an agreement that will meet those common goals?”

What an extraordinary experience for all of those people who sat around the table. As I said, did they get everything that they wanted? No. Would everybody say that it was a 100 percent success? No. But they also recognized the importance of protecting this area and sitting at the table and coming together to make it happen. That’s why I say that this truly is an agreement that goes beyond British Columbia, that stretches beyond our province and makes it an agreement of global importance.

To see companies, workers, environmental groups, First Nations all come to the table together to recognize
[ Page 11563 ]
the economic, social and environmental needs; to look at the cultural importance; to examine areas, as I mentioned, such as tourism — just imagine if that lens was applied across government. Just imagine, if we had an opportunity to take a look at issues that come forward and look at the balance and recognizing all of those pieces, what kind of power could be unleashed in British Columbia.

[1750]

I often say that we have all of the extraordinary resources we need in our province to be a leader, whether it’s the human resources, through the people of our province; whether it’s the environment and the extraordinary, beautiful place we live; whether it’s the natural resources in abundance in our province; whether it’s a well-trained, well-educated workforce. We truly do have all of the pieces necessary to be a leader in every way, shape or form. But what’s also needed is a government that will work in partnership and recognize, as I said earlier, that it’s not either/or and recognizes the value that comes with protecting the environment.

Certainly, if you look at this agreement, at Bill 2, it recognizes and acknowledges something like the old-growth rainforest and the amount of carbon that is stored per hectare, accumulated over thousands and thousands of years. If we protect that old growth, what does that do? That ensures that we see that immediate reduction of carbon losses continue and we protect that carbon storage. That has value. That has value that often isn’t taken into account when simply looking at the economic value of something instead of recognizing the economic and environment and social value.

As I take my place, I certainly hope that this bill will set the stage for recognizing the importance of collaborative work, the importance of respecting all voices, even those who disagree with you. I think these aren’t common values of the current government, so I hope that they learn from this example. It recognizes the importance of the balanced approach of the economy and the environment rather than either/or, finding opportunities for people to come together. I think we would all be better off if Bill 2 was an example of future economic work that occurred in this province.

I’m pleased to stand and recognize this historic agreement. I’m pleased to stand and recognize and acknowledge the amazing groups and organizations that showed stamina by staying at the table for 20 years, to be able to come forward with an agreement that we all benefit from — the companies, the environmental groups and, as I said in the beginning, the people who I think really deserve the largest credit, which are the Coastal First Nations in that area. They began this fight with not a lot of hope, in the beginning, of coming forward but always a belief in the protection and the cultural importance of their land and how extraordinary that was.

So a huge thank-you. Even though I represent Victoria, which is a long way from the Great Bear Rainforest, I think we all benefit in British Columbia by protecting these extraordinary places in our province, by finding agreements that meet the demands of protecting the environment and protecting the economy and that acknowledge that you can, in fact, bring forward greater economic growth by doing that than creating an either/or and dividing people off in our province.

I hope this sets the stage for many more agreements to come.

Interjection.

Hon. A. Wilkinson: I don’t want to intrude upon the member for Skeena’s time because this is his home base. But nonetheless, perhaps he’ll permit me to say a few words in support of the bill.

This is a fascinating piece of legislation. It represents a digest, a microcosm, a selection of the fine work done by this Legislature in the last 100 years and more to bring British Columbia to the place that it is today.

We have to go back a very long way to describe the significance of the Great Bear Rainforest. This part of the world, including where we stand today, was formed by a number of plates of rock coming out of the Pacific Ocean and, essentially, rubbing up against the North American mainland and being forced up into the air as the Coast Mountains.

This, of course, created an extraordinary geography that is found in very few places in the world. The southern coast of Chile is similar. Parts of New Zealand are similar. Parts of Norway are similar. They all had the same geological basis, in that plates came out of the ocean and pushed up against the land and formed mountain ranges.

This is very steep rock. There’s a great deal of volcanic activity up and down the coast. In my earlier career, I had the great fortune of working in Dease Lake. Just south of there is the only intact cinder cone from a volcanic eruption in British Columbia, which is completely black and free of vegetation because it is so recent in origin, on Mount Edziza.

[1755]

We take that geological background, and onto that we graft the effects of the ice age, which came through this area and pummelled the rock in many, many places and is still doing so in much of the coast range. We can fly up to Terrace, as the member for Skeena does on a regular basis, and admire the vast amounts of snow and ice draped across our Coast Mountains range, all the way up to Alaska. For those of us who’ve had the pleasure of visiting the southern Yukon, it gets bigger and grander the farther north you go.

This, of course, represented an extraordinarily difficult geography for human settlement. So we have the scenario where, as we understand it, the First Nations came across a land bridge during the ice age, into what is now
[ Page 11564 ]
Alaska, when the Bering Sea was either shallow or non-existent, and made their way down the coast. Some of us will have a better understanding than others of this, but my understanding is that Haida Gwaii never was glaciated, which explains its unusual geography, unusual flora and fauna. It’s quite a unique situation on the west coast of the Americas in that the rest of Canada, for the most part, was glaciated and, therefore, was ground into dust.

We can see, of course, in areas like Kamloops and parts of the Okanagan, the very wide river valleys that represent the outflow from underneath those glaciers in massive rivers that were miles across compared to their current situation, where they actually occupy the bottom of those river valleys created by the glacial outflow.

More recently, of course, the First Nations came down the coast and eventually settled all of the Americas, but they came as, perhaps, the first tourists into British Columbia before they went south. We have the remarkable cultural basis of our Coastal First Nations, which created what, in my humble opinion, is the finest indigenous art in the world all across this coast, as we saw the cedar carvings, the longhouses, the totem poles and the remarkable costumes, including the hats, that led to the distinctive aboriginal culture that defines the west coast of British Columbia.

The forest itself, of course, grew up post–ice age. We have the remarkable forests that are very, very large and very important trees that grew all the way up this coast. We stand in an area now that was minimally forested because it was so dry here. We see the Garry oaks here in Victoria. In my own riding, in Vancouver-Quilchena, the trees are not nearly as large as they are further up the coast, where the rains are much heavier and the trees are protected from the coastal storms by the geography of the mountainous canyons. So we ended up with remarkably large trees, up the Great Bear Rainforest from, essentially, the tip of Vancouver Island all the way up to Alaska.

Then, lo and behold, the first Europeans arrived — not Captain Cook, not the Spanish but the Russians, who made their way across from the Kamchatka peninsula. They made their way across southern Alaska and colonized the area right down to the Alaska panhandle as it stands today. That was done prior to the arrival of the Spanish from Mexico and the arrival of Cook in the 1770s.

Of course, Captain Cook found his way to what is now called an English-friendly cove, or Yuquot, in the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations territory in Nootka Sound. I see the member for Nanaimo grinning admirably, as he has been there many times — or perhaps not. It’s far too cold and uncomfortable. Anyway, there are lots of good fish there that we can all explore and find through our various fishing expeditions to one of the finest parts of the world.

That first European contact from the British in Nootka Sound turned out to be, of course, the effort to drive out the Spanish, which happened fairly quickly because the English were perhaps more entrepreneurial in their acquisition of territory than the Spanish at that point and, also, the fact that the Russians had their domestic problems in Russia thousands and thousands of miles away, 12 time zones away, in Moscow. They were having enough trouble that their colonization efforts in North America stalled. So they were left in the Alaska panhandle. They were exploiting the fur trade by killing off the sea otters in that part of the world, and they have barely returned to Alaska since then.

Our predecessors first engaged in the fur trade and heavily exploited the sea otters for export directly to China from the west coast of North America. That was largely an American trade with a bit of British participation, and that’s what led to the desire for a sense of law and order in this part of the world. Of course, the British were very keen on law and order, preferably on their own terms. That evolved into the current fine state of the rule of law we have in this particular room, where we respect each other’s prerogatives to speak and never interrupt in an unseemly fashion. That is the very heart and soul of our British common law here — the function of the Legislature.

[1800]

We digress momentarily from the history. We go back to the colonization of this part of the world by the British. Captain Vancouver came through in 1792, sailed around the corner of Point Grey, and for the first time, an English imperialist came into English Bay — Burrard Inlet — and found, lo and behold, two Spanish ships at anchor. They, of course, did not know if they were at war because their last communication with home base would have been months and months earlier, so all hands on deck prepared for battle. But everyone’s too tired, and it’s a sunny day, so they just decided to call it a day and decided not to be at war and, in fact, got along quite well.

The Spanish, essentially, had explored up through the Georgia Strait. We have numerous islands named after them, from Sonora through Quadra, Cortes and, of course, Galiano and Valdes. This is the legacy of the Spanish efforts at colonization here, which fell apart after the British had arrived, as I say, and came to stay in the early 19th century.

Simon Fraser made his way down the Fraser River after Alexander Mackenzie, of course, had been probably the first European to actually set foot on the Great Bear Rainforest by coming across, in 1792, from what is currently Williams Lake, across the Chilcotin Plateau, down the steep road — that currently exists and didn’t exist at all then — and found his way to tidewater near Bella Coola.

The great irony of this is that about six weeks later or earlier — I can’t remember — Captain Vancouver’s crew had come through the exact same spot. Poor old Alexander Mackenzie, close to starvation, certainly suffering from scurvy and sore feet, missed the chance to meet the home team, with lots of whiskey and good things to eat on the ships.
[ Page 11565 ]

From that we go on to the point where the Great Bear Rainforest was eventually explored in much more detail. This proved to be very difficult. Having lived in Campbell River…. There are many representatives from Vancouver Island here. They will know about the former navigational obstacle, the massive obstacle that used to be Ripple Rock. Just north of Campbell River, between Quadra Island and the mainland of Vancouver Island, lay Ripple Rock, until — the member for Nanaimo will correct me — 1958, when it was blown to smithereens by a massive explosion.

That allowed, for the first time, reasonable levels of navigation through that particular passage, because it had defied ship traffic for centuries. That, of course, was the key obstacle for Captain Vancouver, who was able to actually make it through that particular passage, made it up into Queen Charlotte Sound at the north end of Vancouver Island and became the first European explorer, in any sense of detail, of the Great Bear Rainforest.

If we carry on from there, we have the Americans who bought the Alaska panhandle from the Russians in 1867 for the tiny sum of two cents an acre. It was known at the time as Seward’s Folly. He was then the Secretary of State under President Lincoln, until he was assassinated in 1864 or 1865. Seward carried on and bought the Alaska mass, including the Alaska panhandle. No one really knew what they were buying. They just knew that they were purchasing the extent of Russian settlement, which came down to almost Prince Rupert. The mapping, of course, was nonexistent, so they simply said, “We’ll choose the height of land,” which they did, and that became the Alaska–British Columbia border.

Now, between the Alaska border and near Stewart, up in Prince Rupert country, right down to the top of Vancouver Island has now been saved for posterity as the Great Bear Rainforest. This, of course, presented ongoing challenges to anybody trying to explore the area. It’s steep. It has a lot of rain. There’s a lot of fog and clouds, so hundreds of ships found their fate on that coast.

We all know about the Alaska gold rush in 1897. The rush started, and by 1898 it was fully underway. The Americans would sail from Seattle or San Francisco up the British Columbia coast, hoping to find their fortune by docking at Skagway and going over the infamous Chilkoot Pass. Dozens of ships were lost on that coast because of the complete lack of navigational aids, terrible weather, terrible winds.

This had the side benefit of making the Great Bear Rainforest very difficult to exploit for industrial purposes. There was the fur trade, of course, which we talked about briefly already. There was fishing, which was very extensive from about World War I onward because motorized ships had become available, which were less subject to being dashed on the rocks in the bad weather.

[1805]

Navigational aids still were primitive or nonexistent, so many of those ships were lost. Many lives were lost in the fishing trade. But nonetheless, there was aggressive fishing up that coast, leading to the development of the canneries in Prince Rupert and at the north end of Vancouver Island.

There was also, of course, the ill-fated settlement by bands of Danish, Norwegian and Finnish unfortunates, who were told that it would be just like home, that they could settle in areas like Cape Scott and that they would be prosperous. Well, lo and behold, it turned out it rained buckets day after day, month after month at Cape Scott. It was hard to make a living or to even survive, so eventually they gave up, moved to the Lower Mainland and became residents of Vancouver-Quilchena.

Now, in keeping with all of this, we had the further exploration of the area. Mount Waddington, the highest point in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia, was named after a crew member on Captain Vancouver’s ship. Many of the mountains on the west coast are named after crew members on those voyages. I believe there were two or three ships with Captain Vancouver. For instance, near where I live, Brunswick Mountain was named after a midshipman. Howe Sound is named after one of the crew members.

Many of the landmarks as we head up the coast from Sechelt to the north are named after obscure crew members who laboured in misery in the underdecks of HMS Discovery but found their fame and eternal fortune by having a mountain named after them. I suspect the Spanish crews suffered the same fate. They just got islands, though, rather than mountains.

In any case, that set of mountains proved to be very difficult to climb. A lot of them are volcanic. A lot of them have very bad weather and very broken snow. The same is true of the mountains in southern Chile. They’re exceptionally difficult to climb because of the combination of weather and poor-quality geology.

There’s a famous couple, the Mundays, who made their way to Mount Waddington. They never actually reached the summit but, through the summers of the 1920s, went up to one of the large inlets. Whether it was Bute or Knight Inlet, I can’t recall. Every summer they went there and slogged through the bush, which is extraordinarily steep and extraordinarily thick, because they had seen Mount Waddington, realized its significance and were desperate to climb it.

Phyllis Munday became the first significant female mountaineer in the history of British Columbia and is renowned in mountaineering circles for her tenacity, grit and ability to slog, wearing leather and canvas, through the coastal mountains of British Columbia, trying to get to the top of Mount Waddington. It comes to about 13,000 feet, I believe, and they reached the 10,000-foot level before giving up. This, of course, was without any of the modern equipment that we take for granted these days, and they were at the far, far end of their supply chain.

This was all, of course, done with their savings from their work in the Vancouver area, where they held regu-
[ Page 11566 ]
lar jobs. But their passion, their interest, their desire was to get to the top of Mount Waddington. It’s a bit of an unfortunate tale — they were unsuccessful — and one wonders why the mountain perhaps wasn’t renamed after then. It was named, instead, after an obscure crew member on a ship that went by and never came close to the mountain.

Now, there’s a more modern mountaineering angle on this, in that those mountains from the tip of Vancouver Island all the way up to Alaska are frequent, there are many of them, they’re hard to reach, and there is no road access — it’s mostly marine access — so many of them were unclimbed by the 1980s. They still had had no first ascent, which is remarkable in the world today.

Along came a remarkable man, a chartered account from Richmond, B.C., Canada, by the name of John Clarke. He had something in the range of 100 first ascents in the coast range, because each summer he would arrange for a helicopter to take him in and drop supplies at a number of points on the top of the mountains where the wildlife wouldn’t get to it. He put them in metal barrels, and then he would, in a very leisurely way, make his way along the crest of the mountain ranges, claiming one first ascent after another.

This became known as a bit of a naughty process, because we was recorded in the mountaineering annals dozens and dozens of times, and some people began to question the validity of the helicopter approach to the base and the food caches on the tops of the mountains. Mr. Clarke, though, makes a very amusing and passionate statement for the worth of his efforts by the fact that he not infrequently got to his food cache and found that, after all, the wolverines had gotten to it and eaten all his food. So he would go without food for up to week, barely surviving to get to the next food cache.

Then, of course, the last food cache was where he would settle in, enjoy the sunshine in the summertime, reflect on his dozens of first ascents from that particular traverse and wait for the helicopter to pick him up.

[1810]

Now, this economic history, of course, was started with fur. It then moved into fish, as I mentioned earlier, and then came forestry. Forestry developed in this part of the world initially as an extremely labour-intensive and very dangerous business.

Most of us have seen the shells, the rusted rot from donkey engines left in the bush. They’re found everywhere from North Vancouver through the deeper parts of Vancouver Island. After the donkey engine era, came the railway logging era. There’s still an old rail track up near Woss — on the way up from Sayward, I believe it is — that serviced the entire valley between Campbell River and Port McNeill and that provided some enormous logging opportunities.

Of course, one can’t build a railway everywhere. You can’t put a donkey engine everywhere. So there was very little logging in the Great Bear Rainforest until the 1930s, with the invention of the chainsaw by the Stihl company of Germany.

Initially, these were large structures that required two men, usually, to manipulate and control. They were extraordinarily dangerous, as one can well imagine, but they prevented and obviated the need for what we’ve all seen in various parts of British Columbia — the old technique of putting wooden stakes at about six feet off the ground and then getting up there with a long swede saw and having two men pull it back and forth for days until the monstrous tree fell over and hopefully didn’t kill anybody in the process.

This is an extraordinarily dangerous line of work. The evolution of the former downtown Vancouver, which is now the Downtown Eastside, with the single-room-occupancy hotel, evolved to service those logging crews who lived in camp while they were earning money. Then they would come down by boat, usually on the Union Steamship line, settle into the east end of Vancouver, because downtown by then had moved over to Hastings and Granville, and they would whoop it up.

It became a particularly hard-nosed, difficult part of town with a lot of violent crime, fed by the arrival of hard-working, almost all men, who would then take out their frustrations and their paycheque on themselves and others.

That industrial forestry developed through World War II. There was a great reset of forestry after World War II, and then along came the pulp mill. Most of us can name the former pulp mills along the Great Bear Rainforest, starting from Port Alice on the north end of Vancouver Island, the Elk Falls mill at Campbell River, the still-functioning Powell River mills and then, of course, Ocean Falls up near Bella Coola, which operated from about 1950 to 1970, and the Skeena Cellulose mill in Prince Rupert, which shut down under the NDP.

There was, also, of course, the Eurocan mill in Kitimat, which operated until about 1995, or 2005 perhaps. Nonetheless, the point is made that we’re talking about half a dozen pulp mills that developed after World War II — some of them in the 1920s but mostly after World War II. Their fibre supply was assured because of this vast supply of lumber. But then the usual combination of economics, isolation, fibre supply and other matters eventually put them out of business.

Most recently, the Elk Falls mill in Campbell River, where I worked for a number of summers — not at the mill but in the town — was a source of enormous prosperity in the town. Since the closure of the Elk Falls mill, there has been an effort to revitalize Campbell River’s economy without those large, industrial wages, which were entirely reliable year after year.

This has been a challenge throughout British Columbia’s history: reinventing our economy as times change and finding new things to do which don’t involve a large, industrialized base for that work.
[ Page 11567 ]

We also, of course, have to revisit the history of Alcan. The member for Skeena can recite this in his sleep. Nonetheless, we can investigate it for a few minutes.

In roughly 1950, the Korean War was underway. The demand for aluminum was growing rapidly because aircraft then required aluminum, and aluminum was finding all kinds of new purposes.

Aluminum is made by taking aluminum oxide and mixing it with carbon. Then the result is that aluminum metal comes out and carbon dioxide. That’s why the carbon plates are put into the channels that are made to smelt the aluminum. The aluminum oxide comes out of bauxite, which is generally imported from countries around the world. Jamaica has a large supply, and there are many other sources. It comes in by ship to Kitimat.

[1815]

The reason why this is done in Kitimat is because, of course, the Nechako River was blocked. It is now the Kenney dam. The flow was reversed to run out to the Coast Mountains rather than down the Fraser, and the water flowed down into the Kemano power plant, which produces stunning amounts of power at a very cheap price.

Nonetheless, when the Korean War ended in 1953, suddenly the price of aluminum collapsed, and the aluminum company at the time — it became Alcan, eventually — was obliged to make the call of whether to complete the project or not. It had been a huge capital investment, they still weren’t producing, and the price had collapsed.

Fortuitously for us and for the member for Skeena and his thousands of constituents, Alcan proceeded with the project nonetheless, and the result is that the Kemano spins off very large amounts of electricity, which is transported on a lengthy and impressive power line across the Coast Mountains and down into Kitimat, where that electricity is used to smelt the bauxite, aluminum oxide, into aluminum.

This has been, of course, a roaring success. Over the last 60 years, it has produced stunning amounts of aluminum for export, and it’s done directly from Kitimat by ship. Of course, the community has grown into an extraordinarily prosperous community with some of the highest industrial wages in North America — which, nonetheless, doesn’t prevent the odd bit of grousing from some organized members of the population who work at Alcan.

More recently, we’ve had the opportunity to see the early stages of the liquid natural gas industry growing up in that community. Of course, directly across the Douglas Channel from the Alcan smelter is the Haisla First Nation and its extraordinarily successful and entrepreneurial chief, Ellis Ross.

The Haisla First Nation has been a great beneficiary of the Alcan expansion project, having provided many of the ancillary services and operating the construction camp, which at one point had 4,000 residents.

Interjection.

Hon. A. Wilkinson: All right. Well, the member for Skeena points out that the community is so prosperous they brought in a luxury cruise ship to house their workers. He, of course, went on for the odd bit of offshore gaming that he prefers not to tell us about.

Nonetheless, this construction was completed, I believe, four years ago, and the refurbished Alcan facility is in full production.

Once again, Alcan — which had been acquired by Rio Tinto — took a huge gamble on aluminum prices. During the refurbishment, aluminum prices went down and down and down. Nonetheless, Rio Tinto decided to complete the project. We now have the benefit of having one of the most modern smelters in the world, with an assured electricity supply that will continue to provide employment for Canadians for many, many years to come and an enormous tax base for the Kitimat community, which helps to give them the amenities they have.

All of this is to digress into the industrial history behind the Great Bear Rainforest. This has been an interesting story in that it has been highly successful for periods of time in forestry and the pulp mill business, and on a continual basis with the Alcan smelter. Nonetheless, there has been, otherwise, a paucity of activity for the general population.

We come back, of course, to the First Nations, of which there are dozens between Campbell River and Prince Rupert. They settled there because of the extraordinary biological wealth — the huge trees that provided for clothing, for housing and for, of course, the entire cultural base involved with totem poles, and so forth.

The exceptional marine life resulted in a huge supply of fish, mussels and other forms of life and, of course, the herring and herring roe, which provide an enormous supply of protein that could not possibly be exhausted by the local population.

Nonetheless, these tended to be fairly small communities, very culturally distinct, with very distinct languages because they were relatively isolated from each other. It’s no small thing to paddle a boat from Nootka Sound over to Rivers Inlet. The fatality rate would probably be in the range of 50 percent even on a good day.

So these communities tended not to be so connected that they would get a hom*ogenous language. There are a variety of languages up the coast. This leads to the current rich cultural heritage of the area, which is, of course, now the heritage that all of us, as British Columbians, benefit from and which helps to define the Great Bear Rainforest. These First Nations have been instrumental in bringing this Great Bear Rainforest arrangement into play.

[1820]

This has been, as has been canvassed here at great length in the last couple of days, an extraordinary combination of the commercial aspect of the forest industry; the ongoing other economic opportunities; the resident First Nations; the resident non–First Nations population,
[ Page 11568 ]
which is quite small, other than in Kitimat; and of course, the extraordinary efforts of this government to bring this deal to fruition.

I remember being in Ottawa as a deputy minister in 2002 and canvassing this topic with the then Privy Council Office about how this was a fundamentally sound approach to a very challenging part of the world, not only geographically but economically, and also the politics of all of the relationships between the extractive industries, the First Nations and government.

Nonetheless, through all of the good offices and good efforts of the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, the Ministry of Environment and many others, this effort has now finally paid off with this legislation. This will be the enabling legislation to bring into effect the Great Bear Rainforest and has been the apple in the eye of numerous environmental NGOs for many, many years.

It is actually an extraordinary testament to the foresight of the people of British Columbia and, particularly, the foresight of this government that we’ve been able to bring together these disparate and often disputatious groups so that they will actually gather and hold hands in the same place, sign the same deal and bring into fruition this extraordinary opportunity.

We had a bit of an insight into this a few years ago, actually ten years ago this summer, when my family engaged in a house exchange with a French family. They had come to Vancouver with the explicit goal of going to visit the Great Bear Rainforest. They took our car. They went up to the far end of Vancouver Island, and their conclusion was it was all too scary, because there might be bears and wolves out there, so they turned around at Port Hardy and came back.

This is actually a very desirable thing because for we British Columbians, of course, having that impressive wildlife at our doorstep is part and parcel of why we live here. The cougars, the bears, all the other predators — at least in my family, we find them intriguing and interesting and fascinating. We’re pleased to see them, because it means that we’ve got a relatively intact ecosystem here that still has dominant predators, still has the food base of the ungulates and other sources of food for those predators.

It makes this a kind of fascinating part of the world — that we can have an airport with more flights to greater China than any other place in the Americas, and 20 miles away we have cougars in the backyard. This is actually a remarkable thing that we intend to support and perpetuate so long as we possibly can.

The Great Bear Rainforest, in many ways, is the ultimate manifestation of that approach to our society. We want it to be for the benefit of all British Columbians, to make sure that British Columbians are feeling fully involved and to get the necessary approbation and praise from visitors, saying: “What an extraordinary thing you’ve done — an area the size of Ireland which has been preserved for all time so that all of us around the world, not just British Columbians, can enjoy this extraordinarily complicated, interesting and wild corner of the world.”

We will all seek to visit it. Perhaps the closest we’ll get is from 30,000 feet on the flight to Terrace, but for those of us who’ve had the opportunity to visit this part of the world, it really is extraordinary. The most impressive thing is how, even from an aircraft, it seems to go on and on and on. Perhaps if it’s done once a week on the flight to Terrace, it seems to go on and on a bit too long, but for those of us who fly it occasionally on a sunny day, it is an extraordinary part of the world.

This is a future asset for all British Columbians. It’s a legacy for the world. It’s a preservation of British Columbia’s heritage that we now all take on an important trust relationship. This government is extraordinarily successful and has been very pleased to be leading this charge. It’s actually very satisfying to have the members opposite supporting this important bill.

R. Austin: I’m delighted to take my place in second reading on Bill 2, the Great Bear Rainforest.

My apologies to the hon. minister for attempting to supplant his wonderful speech and his lesson on geology and history to all of us. I suspect that had he been the designated speaker, he might have started at the Magna Carta or, perhaps, at least at Oliver Cromwell and the setting up of parliamentary democracy.

[1825]

Anyway, speaking for those of us on this side of the House, we did learn a great deal. I think most members of the Legislature do not spend a great deal of time exploring rural British Columbia. People have busy lives and live in the big cities down here, so it is interesting to participate in a debate that speaks to a vast and huge rainforest here on the coast of British Columbia.

Earlier today people mentioned that there was some history being made here with members of the Osoyoos Band who were here to witness the renaming of parks in their traditional territory from the English name, Canadian name, to their own historical language.

Here again today we’re also witnessing an important piece of history in British Columbia. As the hon. minister has already alluded to, this accord has taken place over many, many years. In fact, it came about as a result of a huge amount of conflict — the kind of conflict, unfortunately, that has been almost epidemic in this province as it has grown industrially.

The conflict, of course, has always been between those who want to take the resources of this bountiful land — whether it be taking rocks out of the earth, cutting down trees, taking fish out of the oceans or out of the inland waterways — and create jobs and wealth from that, and those who have said: “Wait a second here. Let’s stop. Let’s take our time and recognize that we don’t have to live in a society where we take every single resource out today and
[ Page 11569 ]
accept today’s price just to have a job in the short term. We should look, more long term, at what is the best future for all of us in British Columbia.”

It was interesting, aside from the speech we’ve just heard, for me to listen to the member for Chilliwack-Hope make a very short speech in regard to this bill. It was interesting. He talked about three major things. Of course, he mentioned that the Great Bear Rainforest protects 85 percent of the old-growth forest, forever, from logging. He talked about there being balance, something that we talk about a lot on this side of the House. He also mentioned, and used the phrase, that when he was growing up in a community in northeastern British Columbia, when he was a young person, the “environment was…the enemy.”

Those are interesting things, especially coming from him, because, of course, at the same time as he was making this great speech in favour of the Great Bear Rainforest accord, earlier today we also heard him talk, in his two-minute statement, about there being only an access to getting to yes to every form of industrial development.

It’s interesting to see the dichotomy between a two-minute statement where every pipeline must be approved — even those that his own party suggests should not be — every mine should be approved, Enbridge should be approved, all these things…. Yet later on in the day, with a little bit of practical thought, he realized: “You know what? Ecosystem-based management is actually a good thing.” So history is being made here in British Columbia today.

The other thing is this. We’ve heard speeches from both sides of the House, and very often we snipe at one another in this Legislature. But here today you have seen, you have witnessed, I think, a high level of debate, especially from the hon. member who spoke before me. It’s a high level of debate where, I think, if people were watching this debate today, they might actually take some pride in what is being done here today, in the kind of work that’s being done and the kind of legislation that Bill 2 refers to.

At the end of the day, we have to figure out how to take this as a template and actually use it, not just in the Great Bear Rainforest. Once it becomes a working document and actually is put into place, I hope that in future generations, we will see this as the model and go: “Why were we always simply fighting one another and trying to always pit the environment and the economy against one another, when in reality this is probably by far the best way to go?”

If we were able to do this not just in that area but across British Columbia, and not just simply in forestry — because this is largely about forestry, although of course it protects all kinds of other species…. If we were able to do this as we look at every form of industrial development in every part of British Columbia, we might actually recognize that in the long term, we are doing what is right for British Columbians.

[1830]

Often debates in this House resort to: “If you’re bringing up some cause for concern, well then, you’re against jobs.” And here we are. We have the Liberal Party, who have been governing now for many, many years, bringing forward a bill that actually stops a lot of jobs in a short time. It stops a heck of a lot of jobs. I’m sure there are forestry workers who stand and look at this and go: “Well, you know what? I could have been cutting down those trees. My family could have been benefiting from that.”

But here we have the government recognizing: “You know what? It’s not worth it. It’s not worth it to constantly take, take, take.” We have to also look after the land, our air, our water, our resources. And, more importantly, we have to look after those who actually live in the regions, who, for the longest time in British Columbia’s history, didn’t see a lot of benefit from all of the resources that were taken out of their territories and shipped and made profit from, from companies that didn’t even necessarily exist from here.

This really is quite a historic agreement. I’d like to just put on the record some of the things that other people have spoken to here. People have talked about a rainforest and the size of these trees. I’ve never actually been into an old-growth rainforest, but my wife was fortunate enough a few years ago, when she was doing an anthropology course at Northwest Community College, to go for a week, spend a week in a conservancy called the Kitlope.

The Kitlope is now part of the Great Bear Rainforest. It’s one of the conservancies that has now been incorporated into it. She spent a week down there. She went with some elders from the Haisla community who went to support them in the wilderness and to teach them all the things that the First Nations from that area had known about the Kitlope. It’s southwest of Kitimat. You have to take a boat for several hours down the coast to arrive at the Kitlope.

To give some kind of context to the size of these trees, I remember my wife bringing back a photograph where there were about six or seven of her fellow students, all holding hands, and they could not get around one of these trees. It is quite extraordinary to think of the natural wonder of trees that have been growing, not for 20 years, 50 years or 60 years — the normal cycle in which we often go and cut trees down — but for hundreds of years. Also to learn about all the fauna, the animals and the ecosystem around these kinds of forests.

I think it is an incredible day. You have a large part of British Columbia which had only really been travelled and had knowledge come from the aboriginal people who had been here for thousands of years. We have found a way now to actually take their traditional knowledge, bring it into our modern form of government and create a piece of legislation that largely recognizes, to be honest, the values that First Nations people have always had in this province.
[ Page 11570 ]

Interjection.

R. Austin: We’re doing it here…. Oh yes. My colleague from Nanaimo says: “And who saved the Kitlope?” Well, of course, it was the NDP in the 1990s who saved the Kitlope.

In fairness, there is a great deal that could be had from both sides of this House in terms of this piece of legislation, because while the process was started in the 1990s and came about as a result of conflict in the 1990s, we see a government that came into place that recognized that this was a process worth following, and now 20 years later, we come to the conclusion of it.

Let me get back. We recognize now, in this piece of legislation, when you see the involvement that First Nations have had, that they’ve been able to bring their own value system in — something which, for the longest time in British Columbia, we derided. We said: “Oh well, they’re backward; they’re not forward-looking. They don’t want to think about how to make more money and create jobs.”

Now here we have a piece of legislation that recognizes that they have a value system which, in the long term, will create more wealth for all British Columbians, whether it be in direct jobs, whether it be in industrial jobs, whether it be in ecotourism. This is a part of the world where, as people have mentioned, it is very, very difficult to go and log. It is very expensive to go and log. There are huge amounts of animals, wildlife there.

[1835]

Instead of cutting down these trees, if we can encourage people to come to these regions to go and look at the wildlife…. My goodness, people will come from all over the world and spend thousands of dollars not to come and hunt animals but to simply bring their cameras, go in boats, go to lodges — to actually witness what it’s like to be up close with a bear, for example.

British Columbians spend a lot of time in the outdoors. They kind of take it for granted that they might meet a bear. In fact, here’s my little anecdote about the spirit bear.

I am fortunate enough to live on 2½ acres up in Terrace, and I have a forest behind my house. One day I’m in the back office there and stare out the window, and lo and behold, there is a spirit bear, as close as myself to the Clerk.

[Madame Speaker in the chair.]

I have this incredible picture — not taken outside. I did not go on the deck. I have enough fear of bears not to go on the deck. But I have this great photograph, taken from inside my house, with a spirit bear only a matter of a few feet away.

Seriously, people will come from all over the world, okay? They will travel thousands of miles. They will come and spend huge amounts of money in lodgings here. They will take ferries. They will take boat rides. They will find guides who will take them into the wilderness to go and look at bears. There’s an amazing place just north of Prince Rupert, and a large bear-viewing company that takes people out of Prince Rupert in a boat that has over 200 people on it. All they do is simply go for the day to look at the bears feeding off the salmon.

It is the protection of areas like this, like the Great Bear Rainforest, that enables us to find other economic opportunities other than simply cutting down trees. The great thing is that those opportunities will be there forever, so long as we protect them and recognize all the good things that can come from that.

Another wonderful thing that has come about as a result of this piece of legislation is that traditional enemies have been brought together. It’s not simply that First Nations had a lot of input. You also have to credit the large companies, for whom their main role was to make sure that their shareholders could profit from cutting down trees. Yet they have also been a very big part of this agreement, to recognize that, yes, there are places where it is worth going and logging, and there are other places where there are other values other than simply them making a quick buck from cutting the trees down.

The companies have also come forward and negotiated here. Wouldn’t it be nice if this could be done all the time? Not just in an area like this, not just to protect a particular species, but to look at it from a holistic point of view — to look at this large area.

I’m going to use a definition here of what ecosystem-based management is. It is “an environmental management approach that recognizes the full array of interactions within an ecosystem, including humans, rather than considering single issues, species or ecosystem services in isolation.”

As my former profs would say, you’ve got to cite everything that you use in academia. I’m going to cite that. It comes from Christensen et al. 1996 and McLeod et al. 2005.

It may sound complicated, but in reality, it isn’t. It’s simply a recognition that while we as humans, the dominant species on the planet, have the ability to go in and do whatever we want with the environment, we have a responsibility not just to ourselves but to the animals, to the ecosystem, to the water, to the air, to the people who have lived there, perhaps long before we ever got there. It’s a recognition that we need to set aside some of our western thinking, our quick industrialization attitude, and recognize that there is more at play there than simply going in and trying to figure out how to make money the quickest.

That’s what this system is. Obviously, it’s not only been difficult to get to this agreement; it’s going to be very difficult to continue to make sure that it works.

Part of the issue here is that this has to now be monitored for the lifetime of this agreement. Ecosystem-based management is also checking in, every couple of
[ Page 11571 ]
years, to make sure that what you are allowing, what you are agreeing to in terms of industrial development within that ecosystem…. You have to watch to see what effects it’s having within that ecosystem, and then you have to be able to change that to make sure that you are understanding the true values and the whole basis upon which you decided to protect that area.

[1840]

There’s a lot of work ahead to make sure that this system works well for that area. My hope is that that work will be done, that it will be successful and that we’ll see it in other parts of British Columbia.

It’s been mentioned here about carbon. We are now living in a world where people are extremely concerned about the increase in greenhouse gas emissions and the increase in temperatures. I’ve only lived in the northwest of British Columbia for 21 years, and in the short time that I have been there, I have witnessed glaciers just north of Terrace, which when I arrived were awe-inspiring and now, only 20 years later, are just a shadow of what they were.

If anybody doubts that climate change is happening, you only have to go to places like that to see the rapid change in glaciers, which had barely changed over hundreds of years. Now in 20 or 30 years, they’ve shrunk by 50 percent. This is not simply anecdotal evidence. This is a reality. You can see it in front of you.

We know from the fact that if you live in a coastal range, as I do, where…. We’re still very cold, east of us, and of course, Prince Rupert and that area hardly ever gets snow. Where Terrace is located is a midpoint, and climate change makes a huge difference in those areas which are between either very cold or very warm. You see that change on an annual basis.

To be able to protect an area the size of Ireland, with trees the size that you have in a rainforest, means that we are doing good for the world. We are doing good for not just British Columbians or Canadians; we are doing good for the world by retaining that carbon, back in its original form.

People have talked about the value of trees. This last weekend I was able to watch a documentary about Haida Gwaii. I bring this up, hon. Speaker — I’m not digressing from Bill 2, just in case you thought I was — because Haida Gwaii is an example of the opposite of what we are hoping to achieve with Bill 2, in the sense that we’re going to protect a vast area of trees.

In the documentary on Haida Gwaii I watched this weekend, they were showing people who had done mapping of the history of all of the islands of Haida Gwaii. I think of it as two big islands, but actually there are 160 islands that make up Haida Gwaii. If you look at the amount of wood that has been removed from Haida Gwaii since industrial logging started, it would come to $1.2 trillion in today’s money. What do the people of Haida Gwaii have to show for all of that wealth that was removed from that area? Pretty much nothing. It’s very much a subsistence economy.

The people who have put together the Great Bear Rainforest recognize one very important thing. If we’re going to have industrial activity in a place that is critical in terms of its ecosystem, then surely to goodness, the people who should benefit should be the people who actually live and make their lives in those communities and choose to live there long term.

There’s this great contrast between what happened in Haida Gwaii and what I hope will happen in the Great Bear Rainforest. We’ve had to learn from all of those mistakes. It took a long time for the Haida people to stand up and say enough is enough and to take the kind of political action necessary to protect what’s left in Haida Gwaii and to recognize that they have to manage their resources in the same way that I hope Bill 2 will do for the Great Bear Rainforest.

I think it’s important to note, also, that people have shown amazing patience. While this has been led, in large part, by environmental NGOs, they have had to recognize that they also had to make compromises. I mean, I’ve read — some people criticizing the fact that there is still going to be 15 percent of these magnificent trees cut down. In any negotiation, you don’t get to have everything that you want.

[1845]

I think that the environmental movement has recognized that instead of always striving for purity, for perfection, it’s better to get two-thirds of a loaf or 85 percent of the loaf and to allow companies to still be able to come and do their work and employ people.

Hopefully, with this agreement in place, we will see that it’s largely First Nations people or people who live in those communities who continue to benefit from any kind of industrial logging that takes place.

Our system here is such that we charge stumpage on trees. The revenue comes down here, in Victoria, into general revenue, and then the 85 of us decide how it is spent. While it is spent, to a large extent, throughout British Columbia, through health care and education, the reality is that very little of it is ever kept back in its original communities. Very little of it goes back to give the kind of quality of services in the smaller communities in the far regions of British Columbia compared to what happens in the urban centres where the majority of people live, the majority of people vote, so the majority of members of this House represent those areas.

I’m hoping that in an agreement like this, we will see decisions that are made more locally rather than from far away. When those decisions are made more locally, then that makes, in essence, a better decision that will benefit all the people who live in that area.

I am very proud today to stand and support this piece of legislation. I think that if it all goes as well as we hope it will, it will act as something which, in future, people
[ Page 11572 ]
will look back to here and go: “Wow, they actually got it right when they brought this agreement into place and when they put this law in.”

I’m hoping, listening to the debate from both sides today, that we might actually see some movement in the thinking of the other side, of the government, so that when those of us on this side say, “You know what? Maybe this isn’t such a good place for an LNG plant, but those places are,” people won’t say: “Oh, you’re just against LNG.” No, maybe not. Maybe you’re worried more about fish sitting right beside that LNG plant than you are about putting in an LNG plant and getting it going today.

Hopefully, this kind of respect, in the debate that’s happened here today, will make the government also recognize that while they’ve got wonderful words coming out today, that is a template, a model to use for all forms of industrial development here in British Columbia.

D. McRae: I’m pleased to stand in the chamber today, to rise and take my place in speaking on Bill 2. Today we stand to debate Bill 2, the Great Bear Rainforest Act.

I think, as a person with a family, I would start off my speech by saying that we have, in this chamber, a responsibility to pass on this province to the next generation in a way that they would be proud to know we did our best to look after it. When I said, “did our best,” it encompasses both maintaining the heritage and the ecosystems of this province but also making sure that we’ve had that balance, making sure there are jobs and opportunities for the generations to come.

The thing that I first noticed about this bill, Bill 2, is that it actually does a lot of those things incredibly well. It is that balance of what great legislation is.

I know, as we stand, that members opposite will raise the occasional concern on Bill 2. But the reality is, I think, that this is a prime example of the work of many individuals — many members in this House, many members who were in this House before us, the civil servants, the First Nations leadership, the industry individuals — who have taken part in this process to make sure that we have got it as best we possibly can. I do appreciate those who’ve stood and said that it will be a work in process.

Now, the thing that always amazes me when I stand in this chamber and I think about British Columbia and Canada, is just how massively large this nation and this province is. I think the Minister of Advanced Education talked about comparing it in size to Ireland. Well, in my mind, when I was thinking, “How large is the Great Bear Rainforest?” in geographic comparables, I didn’t use Ireland. I used Belgium and not one Belgium, actually. I took two.

It is literally the equivalent of two countries the size of Belgium — just one small part of our province. It is also, if you want to use it in terms of size, 6.4 million hectares of land or about a quarter of the world’s coastal temperate rainforest — absolutely essential.

Now, as a history teacher, too, I was totally engaged with the member from Quilchena as he talked about the historical impact of people coming to this part of the world. Obviously, we start off by recognizing that the First Nations came first. They travelled the land bridge from Asia and have been here for many thousands of years.

[1850]

As well, we’ve been exploring this region for about 500 years, from the European perspective. I don’t know if my colleague mentioned Sir Francis Drake. On Vancouver Island, there is a famous mountain, the Golden Hinde, named after his ship. He was visiting the coast of Vancouver Island about 500 years ago.

Of course, we mentioned the Russians earlier, Vitus Bering. Vitus Bering, when he got to North America, didn’t come the easy way. While he was exploring for Russia, many people are often surprised to find out that, actually, he is not Russian. He is Danish. Vitus worked for the czar and was employed by the Russian Empire.

His job, first of all, was to actually, literally, transit across Russia, the entire nation, from St. Petersburg all the way through Siberia, eventually hitting the Pacific coast somewhere near the Kamchatka peninsula. When he got there, his job wasn’t done, actually. He literally had to…. How do you go across the Pacific? You have to build a boat. He had brought supplies with him to build a boat so he could sail across the northern Pacific and visit the west coast of North America.

Of course, obviously, with the Russians being here…. The Spanish were here. We talked about Quadra. He’s mentioned in terms of…. Obviously, many islands have been named in Georgia Strait and the north with a Spanish significance.

We have Captain Cook. Captain Cook is one of those individuals who I thoroughly appreciate. Not only was he one of the premier explorers in the British Empire, doing three massive exploration voyages around the world. He did come, obviously, and visit the west coast of North America and was here. Sadly, he died probably in one of my favourite spots in the world. He died in the Sandwich Islands — which, as members in this chamber know, are now known as Hawaii. Perhaps not the best way to end his life.

There were worries, as he did his exploration, that he, perhaps, was becoming a little unstable during his voyage. One of the things I always enjoy telling the students is that he was a big fan of actually making his men eat walrus meat during the latter parts of his voyage. The thing about walrus meat, if members of the chamber don’t know…. I must say. I used to be the Minister of Agriculture. One of the things you learn in this portfolio is walrus meat actually doesn’t taste like chicken. It just tastes bad. It’s not a good meat and no one’s first choice.

Interjections.
[ Page 11573 ]

D. McRae: The members opposite are saying fish or chicken. To be honest with the members opposite, I have yet to eat my first walrus. I’ll take your word for it. When in doubt, I think chicken might be a good option for many members tonight.

Then, of course, in this chamber, we’re obviously blessed to have Captain Vancouver bless the very top of this building. Captain Vancouver, as members opposite know, obviously, worked with Captain Cook and came with him on his second voyage. It’s funny when you think about it. Captain Vancouver is obviously revered in British Columbia. He did a great job exploring our coast with his Spanish compatriots along the way.

In England, he’s not overly well recognized. Often members in this chamber say: “Why would he not be?” In fact, his grave, for the longest time, was ignored in England, and we would have individuals in British Columbia send money to the Boy Scouts in England to make sure that the grave was respected and cleaned up and given the proper respect.

One of the downsides with Captain Vancouver is he happened to have a young man on his ship. The young man was not the best sailor by any measures. Unfortunately, he had to be punished rather often. If you remember, in the British Empire and the navy, flogging was not uncommon. People didn’t take to it too well.

The downside for Captain Vancouver and this young man…. This young man actually happened to be a baron. He didn’t leave England a baron. His father died while he was away. When he was 14 or 15 years old, he was just an able seaman doing a bad job, as such, around the world. Because he did such a bad job, he was flogged. He was literally sent home to England. He gets back to the old country, finds out that he has now made this inheritance and uses his place in the House of Lords to actually besmirch Captain Vancouver’s name for the rest of his life.

While people didn’t live nearly as long as they do today, Captain Vancouver, who did an amazing job, actually died at the age of about 40 years old in disgrace. In fact, I believe he was the equivalent of a tugboat captain in the Thames River at the time, not because of the work he did on the west coast where we revere him but the politics of England back in the day.

Noting the hour, I would like to reserve my place in this debate and adjourn the debate.

D. McRae moved adjournment of debate.

Motion approved.

Committee of Supply (Section A), having reported resolution, was granted leave to sit again.

Hon. M. Polak moved adjournment of the House.

Motion approved.

Madame Speaker: This House, at its rising, stands adjourned until 10 a.m. tomorrow morning.

The House adjourned at 6:54 p.m.


PROCEEDINGS IN THE
DOUGLAS FIR ROOM

Committee of Supply

ESTIMATES: MINISTRY OF
SMALL BUSINESS AND
RED TAPE REDUCTION

(continued)

The House in Committee of Supply (Section A); G. Kyllo in the chair.

The committee met at 2:52 p.m.

On Vote 40: ministry operations, $3,862,000 (continued).

Hon. C. Oakes: I would like to take just a brief moment to introduce the team that we have here today. It’s always important to know the hard-working individuals that ensure that our ministries are so incredibly well run.

I would like to first start by introducing Tim McEwan, who is the deputy minister; Christine Little, the assistant deputy minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction; Jackie Hunter, the executive director of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction; and Tracy Campbell, the acting assistant deputy minister of the management services branch.

As Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction and Minister Responsible for the Liquor Distribution Branch, one of my key areas of focus is supporting and promoting our vibrant small businesses that we have in British Columbia. This year we’ve provided continued support for small businesses through programs such as the mobile business licence and our partnership with both the federal government and local governments on resources for business owners, such as BizPaL.

We also celebrated our first annual Red Tape Reduction Day earlier this month, a day in recognition of this government’s commitment to improving access to services for British Columbians across this province and getting rid of unnecessary regulations so that small businesses can focus on what they do best: creating jobs and helping grow the B.C. economy.

I look forward to this opportunity to have dialogue on how we continue to support small businesses. With that, I welcome the member opposite.

[1455]


[ Page 11574 ]

J. Shin: I have my set of notes here for the estimates that we have. I must say this before I begin. The first sentence is: “The minister and I….” What I mean by that is that it’s my pleasure to be able to be the shadow critic for this particular file. It’s a very important one. I feel as though we have a very good dialogue between the minister’s office and myself. That’s something that I definitely appreciate, and I want to put that on the record.

I believe that these estimates will be not just an opportunity for myself to raise questions and to hold the government to account for their mandate but, also, a chance for me to advocate on behalf of the many stakeholders and individuals that I’ve had a chance to connect with and, of course, use this platform as a way to share ideas together in a very candid manner. I think the minister would welcome that, obviously.

Beyond being just the critic for this particular file, I hope to be a good partner, a good complement to the ministry’s work, so that we can improve the conditions for our entrepreneurs of British Columbia.

On that note, what I would like to start off with…. Please, I would appreciate the minister’s patience. I did try to organize this into themes, so that we can focus on one area before moving on to another, but I’ve also had good last-minute input that came in, so we might end up going a little bit zigzag into different areas.

With that note, I would like to turn the minister’s attention to the service plan for the ministry — reviewing their goals for the current fiscal year. In goal 1, the ministry outlines a number of the ministry-led initiatives and possibly funded…. I’ve noticed Small Business B.C., the Futurpreneur, the mobile business licence program, BizPaL, the small business awareness strategy, as well as the LNG–Buy B.C. program that the minister also mentioned in her introduction.

On that, specifically on Small Business B.C…. This is an organization that I had the privilege of connecting with and actually working with, on a few of the programs and events that they have launched. Their performance indicators are quite astonishing. Nearly 110,000 entrepreneurs self-identify as users of the Small Business B.C. products, which is 27 percent of all small businesses in B.C. And over, I believe, the last four years, their performance indicators have grown quite appreciably.

With that, I’m curious if the minister can comment on the budget as far as funding and contractual obligations that are tied to Small Business B.C. and, given the demand — I understand that Small Business B.C. also has self-generated revenue — if she foresees any funding increases or decreases in this particular fiscal year.

Hon. C. Oakes: Thank you to the member opposite for the question.

[1500]

I thought it was very relevant — perhaps for us as well — to highlight some of the great work that Small Business B.C. is doing. In 2014-2015, Small Business B.C. did increase its number of client interactions by 20 percent, to 982,529 clients, and expects to serve at least over one million clients, a 21 percent increase over last year. And a 10 percent increase in walk-in clients is anticipated.

It goes to demonstrate the strength of small business in British Columbia and the vibrancy and the great work that they’re doing. I will say that we have a three-year contract with Small Business B.C., also in partnership with the federal government. We are in the final year of that contract.

Currently we fund Small Business B.C. through $686,000. The federal component of that is $1 million, and the self-generated funds that Small Business B.C. generates, $640,000. So it is a really good investment. They are able to match and to find funds as well.

I will also note, if I may, that I had the opportunity to talk with the federal minister last week and to talk about Small Business B.C. and the great work that they’re doing. Maybe it’s important, also, on the record just to perhaps let people know that…. To encourage people, if you’re looking at starting a small business or you’re an entrepreneur or you’re an existing small business and you’re just looking for a little bit of support, we strongly encourage people to check out the website. They’ve got lots of different opportunities to help.

They also do outreach activities across the province. They attended and presented at 135 events to 13,888 attendees over this last year. A 61 percent increase in 2014-15 over the previous year. Metrics were drawn from the 2014-2015 annual report and their quarterly reports, as well as their performance indicators.

J. Shin: That would echo the same numbers that I have in my notes as well, which is one of the reasons why I wanted to stand and talk in strong advocacy for the work that they do, as well as the kind of support that small businesses in B.C. deserve.

For that, I just want to draw the minister’s attention to comparing it to the LNG industry, for example. According to the Small Business Profile 2015 compiled by the ministry, there is an estimate of more than one million people that work in small business in B.C., accounting for 54 percent of the private sector employment in the province and 44 percent of the total jobs. In comparison, in the same year, oil and gas extraction accounted for 6,200 jobs in B.C. Keep in mind, this was before the major industry downturn in the last half of 2015.

What that means is that compared to the jobs that are provided by the small businesses, the oil and gas extraction industry accounts for, at most, about 50,000 jobs in B.C., which is less than 5 percent. On the GDP side, the small business sector accounts for 33 percent of the provincial GDP, which is $78 billion. GDP for oil and gas extraction was $7.2 billion.

Again, the reason that I’m highlighting these differences is because there is an obvious government prior-
[ Page 11575 ]
ity for supporting the LNG investments. But at the same time, when you look at the raw numbers for GDP as well as the number of jobs that are created by small business, I believe that the Small Business Ministry is where we can see more government investment to make sure that we support the entrepreneurs, because the numbers are pretty self-explanatory.

The minister has done a great job of mentioning the performance indicators and the growth of services that Small Business B.C. has shown over the last few years. So I won’t go more into that. But again, I just want to put on the record that we would love to see more support for the great advocacy and education work that they do.

On that note, while I was able to find the funds allocated to Small Business B.C., I couldn’t quite get the breakdown as far as the ministry dollars go for other programs that the ministry is engaged with. If the minister can please let us know some of the numbers, and if there were any decreases or increases for the current service year for Futurpreneur, the mobile business licence program, and BizPaL. I understand that some of the other mandates in goal 1 of the strategic plan are more about conversations with other ministries that may not come with dollars attached. For any other sort of funded programs, if the minister can please let us know.

[1505]

Hon. C. Oakes: I think it’s important to note that this is a relatively small budget for our ministry. We have $3.85 million. That is both the Small Business budget and the Red Tape Reduction budget as well.

For that, BizPaL, we do support. It’s part of our federal contract. Our contribution to that is $77,000. The mobile business component, and most of that is around staffing support, is $190,000.

The member opposite asked if there’s new funding that we were able to find for this year. One of the programs that I’m really proud to support is Futurpreneur, because one of the things…. When I took over as minister, having reviewed all of the reports from the Small Business Roundtable for the last ten years, two priorities were very consistent — how to make sure that we’re supporting young entrepreneurs and making sure, within the school system, that we are looking at financial literacy, entrepreneurship.

I got introduced to Futurpreneur, and they are doing a fantastic job right across the country. I met a lot of the new young entrepreneurs and the ideas that they’re bringing forward and the types of businesses that they’re generating. I think it’s a really strong investment opportunity. We are reviewing the success of that, and we’ll be looking at how we can possibly look at future funding for this.

One of our jobs in our ministry, too, is to work closely with other ministries, because I think what is important to know is that our small businesses interact with almost every ministry that we have.

When the member opposite talked about the oil and gas sector, I think it’s really important that, when you look at our small business numbers for British Columbia, oil and gas small businesses are a significant part of that — if you look at your service, your supply, the boots on the ground.

In many respects, why I think we’re a good complement is that, having lived in northern British Columbia and having maybe a more rural aspect of small business, I understand the boots on the ground — whether it’s a welder, whether it’s a truck shop or what that has — and the tremendous amount of what that provides to our economy. It absolutely drives the economy.

[1510]

For the member opposite, your experience of having owned a small business with your family in an urban setting — I think it’s a good complement for us to understand that.

But I certainly wouldn’t dismiss the importance of oil and gas and the small businesses that are still working up in that sector. One of the critical things, especially in resource-based communities, is the importance for us to look at how we diversify our businesses.

What I could say to the member opposite: we are looking, as a ministry, to ensure that we are looking at programs, making sure we’re engaging stakeholders in what kind of support we can be doing to help small businesses diversify.

Many of our communities are single industry or limited industries. How can you ensure that you’re supporting and growing that? Maybe a little bit later on we might talk about the tech sector and what we’re seeing around small business. But there are lots of opportunities there.

I appreciate the member opposite being such a strong advocate for small business and being an advocate for increased budgets. You won’t get an objection from us here on this side, but I thank the member for her question.

J. Shin: Actually, the minister raises a really good point. There seem to be multiple ministries involved when it comes to advocacy for small businesses.

I had a chance to review the 2014-15 public accounts, their detailed schedule of payments — specifically, large amounts of it from the Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training Ministry and the kinds of moneys that were transferred to business organizations that have significant business interests.

I’ll just mention a few examples here. Small Business was a department within a larger ministry previously, before this became a ministry on its own.

But on that, we noticed that there were significant transfers of funds. For example, the Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce received $154,065. That’s from the Social Development Ministry.

The same thing with the West Shore Chamber of Commerce, receiving $81,000 from the Jobs and Tourism Ministry. Likely and District Chamber of Commerce received $50,000.
[ Page 11576 ]

The B.C. Chamber of Commerce seems to be the biggest recipient for Jobs and Tourism Ministry funds, which was quite a bit over $1 million — 1.173-some-million dollars.

Given that there are 107 chamber members of the B.C. Chamber of Commerce, I wasn’t clear where the parameters are set as to why some chambers get specific funds allocated specifically for them, as opposed to some chambers…. It looks as though they get it through applying to the B.C. Chamber of Commerce from the lump sum that they receive from the government.

If the minister can please comment on what her ministry’s involvement is with that. It still remains a little bit unclear as to why it’s coming from the Social Development Ministry and why it’s coming from Jobs and Tourism. And does the Small Business Ministry itself have any plans in the future as far as how these funds are disbursed?

[1515]

Hon. C. Oakes: To the member opposite: thank you very much for your questions around chambers of commerce. I think it’s probably no surprise that, having my history, I’m a significant…. I know the value of what chambers do across British Columbia.

I think it’s important, perhaps, just to step back a little bit. One of the strengths of chambers of commerce or boards of trade in communities is that — the member listed a couple of communities — they’re often that economic development group in a community. It’s not just on economic development. They do so many things.

I digress a little bit. When you look at the Quesnel Chamber of Commerce, it started in 1910. It really was founded at a time when it did the work that existed before even local government came along. My favourite story is: the Quesnel Chamber of Commerce stocked fish in Dragon Lake. Now Dragon Lake is a world-class fishing destination. They also were the ones responsible for ensuring that sidewalks and libraries and fire were taken care of in the early years.

You see that evolution of chambers of commerce. It’s distinct in every single community. You go to Castlegar and you see the Sculpturewalk. You go up to Prince Rupert and you see the great work that the chamber of commerce is doing there. I think chambers of commerce respond to activity that’s happening in their current environment in a community. It evolves, and it changes.

For example…. Well, I can’t speak to the exact specifics. I’d be happy to get back to the member opposite on exactly what the specific amounts were for the programs that the member listed. I’d be happy to do that. We’ll engage with our other ministries. But I can imagine that probably on…. We should never guess, I know, especially in estimates.

But for example, within Social Innovation, sometimes there are job creation partnership programs. There are different programs. Chambers of commerce can be the key driver in a community to make sure that there is training that happens in a community. If no one else is doing that, they become kind of that contract person in the community.

I can speak closely to the Likely Chamber of Commerce. That was as a response of Mount Polley and ensuring that, on a tourism perspective…. There was work that was required again to ensure that we were supporting Likely with getting a positive tourism message. In our region, in the Cariboo region, there are 4,000 lakes just around the Quesnel Lake area. Something happens that’s very negative, and it can affect tourism. So to get positive messages out that there are a lots of tourism opportunities….

The B.C. Chamber of Commerce — again, I can’t speak to the specifics of this one, but I do know that we partnered in the past with, for example, the microbusiness program. It was a program that was designed to ensure that if you were a small business, and maybe there was customer service training that was required or e-commerce….

I know that a lot of our small businesses…. We’ve heard, and I’m sure the member opposite has also heard, that our small businesses want to get engaged in e-commerce. They want to sell into that channel. But they struggle like many of us — technology is not probably my strongest suit — to do training to help support their business. That’s the type of work that’s being done.

Chambers of commerce — again, every single chamber is independent, and they look at what their community needs. They look at the list of programs that the government offers, and then they apply to those organizations.

The final question, I think, is: what is our role with trying to package, I guess, what a whole bunch of ministries may have as programs? We are working closely in the service plan on how we can do better stakeholder outreach. Like the member opposite, we know how important it is that we have a great stakeholder partnership, that we’re able to ensure that our partners who support small businesses know what the programs are.

[1520]

We’re looking at new ways on how we can engage that, and we’re very open. If the member opposite has ideas, we’d love to hear that and see how we can help implement them.

J. Shin: One of the advantages of having a great working relationship with the minister is that often, I think, this is way friendlier than people anticipate. With that said, thank you for the answer.

The minister, again, raises a good point. We’ve had a chance to discuss this a little bit more. Can the minister please speak on how we can ensure that the representation from multiple different communities are being heard?

One of the things that I raise time and time again is that…. Often, when we talk about small business under the current classification, it’s a business anywhere from owner-operator to a medium-sized enterprise almost —
[ Page 11577 ]
with 40 employees, even. They are classified as a small business. Obviously, it’s the bigger operations that have the luxury of time and also the financial means to be able to hire maybe a lobbyist to participate in public consultations or to voice their concerns and even participate in the Small Business Roundtable, for example.

A lot of the businesses — and the minister knows as well…. Eighty-five percent of the businesses are microbusinesses with less than five employees. A lot of the time, when we talk about small business, that’s the kind of picture that I get in my mind — kind of like my momma and poppa’s ice cream store, where, really, when we have four people working, it’s probably four people from the family, right? How do we ensure that those voices are heard?

On that note, I had the chance to connect with both Small Business B.C. as well as CFIB and other stakeholders that the ministry works with. It continues to be a problem. It’s a challenge that I think our stakeholders are well aware of.

One of the things that I notice is that, despite the fact that there’s a clear lack of representation — whether it’s regionally or by the kind of businesses that we’re talking about within the small business framework…. When I look at the boards, when I look at the current board of directors for Small Business B.C., as well as the ministry staff and also the Small Business Roundtable chairs and the members, it’s quite stark that there is almost zero, I think, ethnic representation, for example.

The regional representation seems to be a bit of a hit-and-miss. I know there are some vacancies. I was hoping, if the minister can please speak a little bit on some of the ministry’s efforts in making sure that we continue to improve the representation, which we need in order to make sure that the small business advocacy is not being done by solely one group of people but that we try to catch the concerns from as broad of a population as we can.

[1525]

Hon. C. Oakes: We were just discussing the fact that we’re eight months in into this ministry and, you know, time just flies. It has been a true privilege to be in this ministry.

I’ll respond, I guess, to the two questions. Small Business B.C. — we have one appointed member that we have any ability to put on that board. But I would like to talk about the Small Business Roundtable. The round table really is the voice into government of small businesses. I think it’s important to note.

The vice-chair of the round table is Cybele Negris, CEO and co-founder of Webnames, and she’s from Vancouver. So you’re right. We’re looking at diversity and: what does that look like?

As we go down…. Sue Adams from Whistler is a microbusiness. Angie Barnard, the founder of TripTide Canada, from Nanaimo, is a microbusiness. John Cameron, the CEO of Rock Solid Business Coaching, from Langley, is a microbusiness. Jill Doucette, owner of Synergy Enterprises, is from Victoria and also a microbusiness. Jon Garson, president and CEO of the British Columbia Chamber of Commerce from Vancouver, an association.

Ingrid Hope, owner and president of Hall Printing, from Trail and Nelson, is a microbusiness. Sam Howard is a senior policy analyst from the CFIB, so from Vancouver, an association. Ashley Ramsay is founder and CEO of Yeti Farm Creative, and she is a microbusiness. She is from Kelowna. Bob Redden is from Prince George. He is the partner and president of Environmental Dynamics and fits into probably more the medium-sized business.

Randy Richmond from Nelson, vice-president and partner of Spearhead. Again, probably more the small to medium. Chief Ellis Ross, the chief councillor from the Haisla First Nation from the Kitimat village, sits on the Small Business Roundtable and is very important, as well, because he is the also the chair of the aboriginal business council, so it’s great to have that synergy on this board.

Mark Startup, vice-president of MyStore, Retail Council of Canada in Vancouver. Ian Tostenson, the president and CEO of the British Columbia Restaurant and Food Services Association, is from Vancouver. M.J. Whitemarsh, CEO of Whitemarsh Enterprises from Sooke, is a microbusiness. Chief Judy Wilson, chief of the Neskonlith Indian Band in Chase.

We are working towards diversity. I absolutely take the member’s comment that we need to look at what representation looks like and making sure that we strike that balance. Like I said, we’re eight months into the ministry, but you have my commitment, absolutely, that we’ll continue to look at the round table, make sure that we refine it, continue to ensure that we are representing our small businesses from all across British Columbia.

I know the member opposite has put many kilometres on having travelled the province of British Columbia and meeting with small businesses. I know that she will appreciate the list of where we have our members from who speak directly and advocate for their communities, for their regions, for their sectors, to the round table.

J. Shin: Thanks to the minister for her answer. While we are on this topic, I will just re-emphasize the point that not only regional but types of businesses be represented in these quite exclusive opportunities for small businesses to voice their concerns. We want to make sure that we continue to improve the representation.

I just want to put on the record that minority representation is something that I feel very passionate about. That’s clearly lacking all across the board, whether within the ministry staff as well as the boards that we are talking about.

The reason is, just as I had a lightbulb moment when the minister talked about her experience as a rural MLA in a rural constituency about the boots on the ground and what it means for a smaller town for resource sector industry and how that feeds into the local economy, in
[ Page 11578 ]
the same light, I believe that in many ways for immigrant-owned small businesses, the only way they can be truly advocated for is that they have representation on these boards that are very important.

[1530]

It’s one thing for us to have board members that advocate on small business, but it’s another to have a diversified opinion who is going to fight for…. Why don’t we have translated materials already? That should be done already, right?

How about some of the exotic foods and how long it has taken for different health authorities to be sensitive to different fermentation processes? It looks like the food is rotting but not really. It’s actually an authentic way to process and prepare food, for example. It’s no different than cheese-making. When it comes to some other exotic Korean cuisine or what have you, those continue to raise problems when you come to food inspection processes and whatnot.

These are, I think, culturally specific and sensitive areas. With all good intentions from the ministry and all the stakeholders involved, if we don’t have the fair representation, the time that it takes for the changes that we need to see is far slower. I just want to leave it at that — that in the coming years, whenever there’s an opportunity for the ministry to appoint or influence how the boards are made up, that there is a strong push and advocacy for representation.

This is a province of 1.4 million immigrants, and every year we welcome 42,000 newcomers. A lot of these immigrants, with their foreign credentials often unrecognized or as part of their immigration condition to earn their citizenship, end up starting a small business, just like my family has. So make sure that we continue to prioritize all efforts from the government to make sure that these immigrants that we welcome to British Columbia can hit the ground running as opposed to getting held back by English barriers that are very real.

[S. Sullivan in the chair.]

I think it’s a very worthwhile investment from the government to help out with language assistance, whether it’s with translated materials or culturally sensitive policies or better representation and outreach. All of these are ways that I think will definitely benefit the economy of our province, as opposed to seeing the same immigrants that could have been very quickly on their feet take much longer to get settled and thrive in this province.

On that note, I don’t think…. I was making a memo as the minister was speaking. I just want to get clarification going back to goal 1. Am I hearing this right? Besides Small Business B.C. and some small amount of funds that are allocated for Futurpreneur as well as the funds that the minister has already clarified for the mobile business licence and BizPaL, are there no other contractual grants or funds that are made to any sort of other stakeholders and organizations, besides the ones that we’ve already talked about?

[1535]

Hon. C. Oakes: Thank you to the member opposite for the question. I would like to go back a little bit and, again, make the commitment to the member opposite about minority representation. I know that the member opposite has been a very strong advocate. Thank you for regularly reminding and being such a strong advocate. It’s important.

Here’s what I can tell you. I had the conversation with the federal minister on exactly this topic and what the supports are and how we can look at where the gaps are. I might read out what some of the supports are. Again, they’re not necessarily in our ministry. That’s why sometimes I think things don’t get captured.

I’d like to go through, though, a few of them, because if there’s something we’ve missed, or if there is some way…. We’ve also had this conversation before — that sometimes, as a government, we’ll put out a publication. Is it easy to read? Is it easy, if you’re an immigrant and English is not your first language? Is the type of material that we’re putting out really in a clear enough form that makes it accessible or easy to understand? That’s a lot of the work that we’ve been trying to look at and put laser focus on, the red-tape-reduction piece, because I think that service-understanding piece is critically important.

The small business branch does publish the Starting a Small Business guide and an import-export guide in five languages: English, traditional Chinese, simplified Chinese, Korean and Punjabi. Translation services are, typically, updated every two to three years, but I encourage the member opposite — and we can get copies for the member — that if there is something that we need to look at within them, please let us know.

Our premier service delivery provider, Small Business B.C., also translates their brochures in both English and French. As well, the staff speak a number of different languages, so if somebody calls in, there’s a variety of languages that they can support.

We also started a new program this past year — and it’s in partnership with a couple of different ministries — on the immigration business owners. It’s called WelcomeBC and SUCCESS. WelcomeBC can help you find information, tools and resources you need as an immigrant, and it can also provide links to useful resources for community leaders and service providers, as new members of their community. WelcomeBC is currently under the mandate of the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training.

In addition to the welcomebc.ca website, a number of the features and tools provide up-to-date information. They have a cost-of-living calculator, a newcomer’s guide and welcome to B.C. in your language, which has 14 different languages. The B.C. newcomer’s guide comes in 14 different languages, but there are also 26 local newcomer’s guides.
[ Page 11579 ]

SUCCESS is a non-profit charitable service delivery organization which offers multilingual translation and interpretation services in over 12 languages to individual clients and public service agencies, including small claims court, family court, B.C. Housing, ICBC, legal services agencies and school boards. They also have marketing and promotional materials around business plans, proposals, brochures and pamphlets. Small Business B.C. and SUCCESS provide marketing support and referrals to their service offerings.

It was a good reminder for us to go back, though, and look at these publications. I encourage, like I said, the member opposite, to please…. If you could do the same, and if there’s something that we need to improve, we would like to hear that.

[1540]

We also have a commitment to go out and do regional consultations. I also take the member’s point that often…. I can assure you that the members that are represented here across the province come from their communities, saying, “This person is somebody that we really feel reflects our small business community,” but I felt it was really important to get out into communities to understand exactly what’s going on.

We started our first consultation. We did do a test in the Lower Mainland. We were to train everyone on how these consultations will roll out, and over the next course of this year, we will be going out to communities to listen directly to small businesses.

Again, I would reach out to the member if, within the immigrant or ethnic community, there are ways or tips or tools that you would like to share on that, because I think you raised, again, valid, culturally specific questions. We will make sure that we take that back to our ministry.

J. Shin: The good work — it just never stops, right? There is always more to be done and more we can do. While I certainly appreciate that, I think Canada is probably one of the top leading countries in the world that pays special attention to the different challenges of immigrants that we attract into the country.

It’s not to undermine the great work that has been done, but my job, of course, is to continue to press on the government to ask for more. I do understand some of the main documents and guidelines are available, like the minister has mentioned, in five most commonly spoken languages, but we are a province where 200 languages are spoken. There are many times that….

Another file that I have is that I’m the deputy critic for Multiculturalism, and, from my experience working on that file, I found myself, again, very naturally becoming an advocate for the minor minorities — very small populations, whether it’s the Ethiopians or the Bosnians, and so on and so forth — where their populations are not as significant as, say, the Chinese community or the South Asian community.

Nonetheless, they’re individuals, all the same, that deserve support. I will continue to ask the government to be cognizant of just how diverse our province is. It does go beyond the five languages that we most commonly cater to.

On that note, given that this ministry is quite interesting, in the sense that the ministry budget is very small…. With that, the number of funds that are being passed on to other organizations — I understand that it’s fairly limited, and we’ve identified a handful. But I also understand that the ministry does work with other stakeholders. Again, my interest here is to make sure that….

It’s very easy, I think, for anybody to go back to our same group of friends and talk to them and get ideas: how are we doing? But are there active pursuits for the ministry to go beyond the usual universe of stakeholders that they dialogue with?

I understand that the ministry, of course, is in close communication with Small Business B.C., CFIB, and so on and so forth, and I would imagine, the chambers of commerce, as well as the other ministries in the government. But this is something that I’ve heard from stakeholders, and I wanted to see if the ministry has been, that I’m not aware of, or if the ministry plans to engage with some other business advocates. That includes, again, going back to the minority groups.

A lot of the minority communities have a very robust network, and it’s not uncommon for, say, even the Korean-Canadian community…. There are over 200 organizations in that Korean community alone. And almost all of the minority communities have a business leg — the Chinese Women Business Association, for example, and the Taiwan Chamber of Commerce. This is right here in B.C.

[1545]

I was hoping to hear from the minister if the ministry is aware and if there are any active efforts to also invite them into some of the round-table conversations or public consultations. Even for red-tape feedbacks — were those organizations invited and included?

I also wanted to highlight the great work that local business improvement associations do. I understand that the system, municipally, sort of mandated groups in multiple communities. Nonetheless, they service many local small commercial strips and a group of business owners that, I think, speak to the same population that the ministry plans to serve.

If the minister can please let us know what the stakeholder universe looks like for the ministry, beyond that which is quite obvious from the conversations that we had.

Hon. C. Oakes: I’ll answer the question I should have answered before. My apologies.

Our budget is $3.85 million. We have 20 FTEs within the ministry, and that goes to support the mobile business licence, the regulatory team as well as…. Of course, the contracts we have are with the federal government on BizPaL and Small Business B.C.
[ Page 11580 ]

We do have about $35,000 that goes towards a small business round table, and that’s for travel costs. We wanted to make sure that we were hearing from small businesses from across British Columbia. There is a cost when you have to fly from Kitimat or from Nelson. So that’s where that cost is there.

To the question around invitations and public consultations. We can always do a better job. I think the challenge is…. When you look at a community, it’s such a diverse group of individuals. We want to do better. I would welcome working with the member opposite if there are stakeholders that you feel should be engaged in this. It is open to everyone. It’s trying to figure out how we do that engagement.

I can say, on the red-tape-reduction consultations that we did do, that was very broad-based, and it was open to everyone. We did a lot of work on social media. That was a clear focus. We’re trying to figure out, with new technology and new generations of small business: how do you filter information out into communities and invite that feedback?

I’m pleased with the type of feedback that we did get from communities through that process, but we do need to look at how we broaden stakeholder engagement on the small business front and welcome any ideas or suggestions that you may have.

[1550]

J. Shin: I have a list for the minister. It’s a list of all the multicultural stakeholders with a special business interest. It will be very important for not just the ministry announcements that go out. It’s one thing for us to send out announcements. But are those falling on the ears we intend them for? Always, I think, if you can, streamline and add on to government communications to make sure that the news reaches people.

On that note, even last session, the Franchises Act…. Are we able to make sure that there is awareness in the new small business owners? Do all of our stakeholders that greet some of the new entrepreneurs who are about to enter franchise businesses know about the latest legislation, and so on and so forth?

I’ll definitely share with the ministry some of the contacts that I have.

On that note, just to expand a little bit more, not just the business stakeholders in the community that the ministry can engage with…. I also do want to ask the minister a little bit about…. I understand that the minister is in constant communication with other ministries for small businesses.

One of the programs that I quite often hear from business owners, at least the ones that have been in operation for quite some time…. On occasion, they’ve asked me: “What happened with the work study program? Are there provincial government programs where students can volunteer and get part of their wage subsidized, for example?” These are some of the pilot programs that may have come and gone in the past, by previous governments, but it’s nonetheless something that I quite often hear.

If the minister can please comment on any conversation that you may or may not be having provincially. I understand that there is a federal part to that as well and thank you for the advocacy with the federal minister. On that note, with Advanced Education and the Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training ministries, to see if any of these youth or work study programs, where it clearly benefits youth in training, our students looking for jobs…. As well, small business owners can benefit from training some of our up-and-coming labour force and, at the same time, get the benefit from the government for the important work that they do.

[1555]

Hon. C. Oakes: I would like to make a minor clarification. I referred to the budget as 3.85. It’s actually 3.862 million. The small business portion is 3.096 million. The other piece is the red-tape-reduction, the regulation piece.

To the question around the work study, the provincial youth and training, I identified that as a gap that we currently have as far as pulling information together. I agree that these types of programs…. I think we have both participated in these kind of programs in the past. As you know, young individuals found them incredibly rewarding. I do know that the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training is doing a lot of work around creating programs that are supporting that.

I think what is important, though, is what we have to figure out — and that is what we’ve spent a lot of time working towards — when we hear what’s happening in other ministries is how we get that information, package it up and get it into the hands of the small business community. We have more work to do. I admit that.

This was also on the list with the federal minister because it’s in her mandate letter as well. With technology now, there should be the ability to say: “Here’s my small business number. Here are the programs that I might be able to apply for.” It makes it really easy, and it’s streamlined.

I know that the federal minister is looking at that as well. We’re looking at it. And you know, our commitment is to work collaboratively together to look at if there is…. Let’s not reinvent the wheel. If there is a system that is working, how can we introduce that, as well, into British Columbia?

Again, if the member opposite has ideas on how that will look, we’d be happy to take that feedback.

J. Shin: I’ve brought this to the minister’s attention before, and I’ve also spoken about it in the House. The minister talks about the challenge that I think all of us are very acutely aware of. I certainly appreciate all efforts being made for us to continue to navigate through those challenges to make better the advocacy that we want to do for small businesses.
[ Page 11581 ]

On the small business, the current classification, where it’s such a big umbrella term…. In other jurisdictions…. This is something that I would ask the ministry to consider — especially, for example, in the U.S. Part of the way they decided to tackle the challenge was by having, in legislation, language like “minority-owned,” “women-owned” or “disadvantaged businesses.”

This language exists in council or in their legislative body but not in Canada. What that simply allows the ministries or the governments to do is to be able to specifically focus their efforts on one classification of business owners or entrepreneurs or small businesses under the small business classification as it exists without necessarily changing the current framework.

[1600]

On that, I’m hoping that the ministry is actively sort of researching what other jurisdictions are doing so that we can more specifically cater services across ministries by categorizing a specific target group that can benefit from extra attention and support from their government. So I’ll just put that on the record.

But on that note, given that the time is actually flying right by, I do need to be cognisant of how much I’m allocating for the rest of the binder that I need to get through.

I would like to turn to the budget now. I understand that this is a new ministry with a small budget of 3.8 million. There are some discrepancies that I just wanted to point out. Please correct me if I have this wrong, but it looks like the restated estimates for last year say that the budget for small business functions was at 2.1 million. The current budget now calls for 3.1 million. So there is a one million…. I’m not suggesting that it’s an increase, but there is a discrepancy in that number there.

If the minister can please tell us why that discrepancy is.

Hon. C. Oakes: The net budget increase has to do with how it used to exist within the previous ministry of Jobs and Tourism. The $686,000 that supports Small Business B.C. used to come out of the Ministry of Jobs and Tourism, so there’s that piece; $270,000, increases, reflects the full year operational cost for 2016-2017, because we were only a part of a year with the new ministry. And $2,000 is an increase in salaries and benefits to the BCGEU staff in accordance with the current collective agreement, and a $10,000 decrease in the cost associated with employee benefits.

J. Shin: That was great. I got the BCGEU part as well, which was something that I was going to raise.

Now, the budget. Again, I’m not sure if we were calculating this right because of the transition from the previous ministry to this one. But from what we calculated, it looks like there is a salary and benefit expense that increased by $377,000 over the last year.

[1605]

It looks like the total salaries and benefits from 2015-2016 were projected to be about $1.6 million — $1.639 million. For 2016 and ’17, though, the projections are looking to be over $2 million. So there is about $377,000…. I’m curious to find out if that is because of the one position vacancy in the ministry or if there are some extra staff being added in the ministry, so if the minister can clarify.

Hon. C. Oakes: The difference is between the reflection of…. We’re now looking at a full year on staffing costs versus the partial year. I would also note that we went from a ministry of state to a ministry, so there is the addition of a deputy minister — as a minister — and that was the incremental cost increase.

J. Shin: Okay. For the ministry staff side, I just wanted to check to see if there was any ministry budget for the coming year for any non-political staff or government workers or special contractors. Or will the staff wage allocation as it is…? Are they specifically…? Is it all for the current organization chart as it stands, or is there room or allowances for additional staff or contracts to come into the ministry?

[1610]

Hon. C. Oakes: For the ministry portion of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction, we don’t have any plans to increase any of the employees. I want to put that on the record, because we do have the 20 staff. We do have the liquor side, and of course, we have — that was in estimates from yesterday — more than 20 employees. I just wanted to clarify that.

J. Shin: Contractual obligations. On that side, I would imagine the three-year contract that’s about to expire for Small Business…. I think, from the conversation that we had before, you are expecting that to continue and be renewed, likely at the same funding level. That was one thing that I wanted to get clarification on. Also, the numbers that the minister has disclosed for funding Futurpreneur mobile licences and BizPaL….

I’m not sure if I’m remembering this correctly, but I thought that the ministry had some small grant or funding made out to Junior Achievement. Is that something that is true, and if so, will that be continuing?

Hon. C. Oakes: The contract for Small Business B.C. ends March of 2017. That’s when we’ll be beginning the negotiations for that particular contract.

The Junior Achievement contract actually came out of the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Labour, and that was for 2014-2015. It’s an incredibly valuable organization. Thank you to the member opposite for raising that.

J. Shin: I know the funds are very limited in this particular ministry. Given that the ministry has taken an interest in partnering with several initiatives, like the ones that we’ve mentioned, I’m curious to find out if the ministry is open to or has a process where other projects
[ Page 11582 ]
or other stakeholders can apply or propose some of the ideas that they have. Is there a process where they can come forward with those ideas for the ministry to consider for their future support?

[1615]

Hon. C. Oakes: Part of the work that we do on the advocacy side, ensuring that we have really positive relationships with groups out there, is we always encourage people to bring forward their proposals or their ideas. I can tell you I have a stack of them in my office. It is my hope that as we go out and do the regional consultations, we’ll continue to collect ideas and best practices to get a sense of what different business groups are wanting to achieve.

We certainly, as we’ve canvassed our budget, have such a limited budget in this ministry. But we do certainly have the ability to…. As we look at proposals, perhaps there’s another ministry that might have a project that’s aligned with what that group is trying to achieve — or, equally so, the work that we’re doing to try and reach out to stakeholders across British Columbia and build those very important relationships. Perhaps there’s an organization that we’ve heard of or a group that might actually be a funder.

I think it’s critically important, as the member opposite began, that both of us are advocates for small business. We have such a limited budget within this ministry. We really have to build relationships and stakeholders and have that clear sense of, perhaps, where opportunities are — but always open to hearing projects and ideas.

J. Shin: Okay, I guess we can move on to the red tape now. Under regulatory reform and the red-tape side, I understand that, really, we are looking at more or less the one-year mark of the government’s commitment for red-tape reduction.

I reviewed the report, which was fairly self-explanatory. There are numbers — like, for example, about 400 ideas that came forward. Some of the major ideas were disclosed. I have a list of them, which I’ve reviewed. Again, the main concern on this for British Columbians is just to make sure that the red-tape-reduction measures are in no way seen as — or can possibly be — deregulation of regulations that we absolutely need.

On that note, for the stakeholders that were engaged…. The minister has already mentioned that the main method of inviting the public for submitting their ideas was social media. I understand it was probably budgetary restraints that led to that as well. It looks like some feedback was given; 5,900 people participated by conversation or visiting the website, and all of these are great to hear from folks.

With that said, though… There’s a number of items that the ministry has committed to and has already gone through in getting those particular matters done. But there is a list of many more items.

I was wondering. The ideas are submitted, and they’re disclosed, but there is no timeline or definitive action plan or a priority list that I can see. If the minister can please comment on what the ministry’s plan is with the other excellent ideas that are submitted.

[1620]

Hon. C. Oakes: Thank you to the member opposite for raising the question around timelines and the public engagement process for the red-tape-reduction part of the ministry.

[1625]

I think it’s important to note that the other avenue of the consultation that we did work closely on is that we worked closely with the public service sector employees. We all know that the men and women on the front line, who…. Depending on what the ministry is, they’re the ones that have identified what we can be doing.

When you take a 28-page form and you can get it down to two pages…. Or you can look at a procurement process for small businesses. If you can take that and simplify it, if you can…. We certainly recognized, very early on in this process, the importance of reaching out to our public servants that do such an amazing job.

When you go through the responses that we’ve had…. I think that was a critical component for this engagement process — bringing the really thoughtful ideas that did come forward. I’d just like to read on record our thanks for everyone who participated in that.

The other aspect is, of course, we reached out to the CAs on both sides of the House. I think, again, our constituency assistants are the front lines in our communities and understand if service levels aren’t working as they should and if there are things that we can do to simplify. Are there regular frustrations that folks were hearing? They were a critical partner in ensuring that we were out engaging.

Over 5,900 people visited the website, and there were more than 200 ideas that were submitted. The next process for that is we would identify a lead ministry responsible for the idea that would come in and then work with those ministries to ensure that the idea was assessed for feasibility.

We have this significant spreadsheet. What we have is the idea, when it came in, whose ministry it was, the progress and the next steps. Every single item that has been brought in has been evaluated by that ministry. Every single minister has within their mandate letter that they are to be working to look at ways that they can remove some of those frustrations or simplify or streamline or find new efficiencies.

There is a working group at both the deputy minister level and the assistant deputy minister level. There is also a regulatory person identified in each ministry to make sure that action is being taken on the ideas that have been identified through this consultation process. The Public Service Agency continues to be engaged in this process.

[J. Thornthwaite in the chair.]
[ Page 11583 ]

We have identified what we call the greens — those items, through a ministry, that we were able to move quickly on. Again, the member mentioned…. We weren’t looking at any type of regulation. Regulations aren’t all bad, right? They’re needed for public safety. They’re needed for the proper functioning of society. But where there were those nuances or those frustrations or those pieces that we could ensure that we could just do a little better job, we would code it.

The yellow ones are the ones that are on track and that the ministries are closely monitoring, going back and forth. For example, a number of responses came around tax policy, even communication, the PST. The member and I have had this conversation of sometimes…. Are our government publications easy to read? We canvassed that a little bit early on.

There were a lot of people that engaged in this process and provided ideas. I think that helped formulate the announcement during the budget about reviewing and having a tax commission to go out and really have that conversation about what we can look at. I think a huge part of ensuring we’re supporting small businesses, again, is making sure how we’re communicating. Do you understand what we are trying to achieve in government?

[1630]

The timeline is, in a sense, a moving timeline. Each of the items that have been identified are very…. Some are small, and some are large.

The one I would like to bring up…. It’s also not only provincial items that were raised. The one that really touched my heart…. You know, it’s unfortunate. We hope that no one has to go through difficulty when you have a loss in a family. Sometimes the amount of paperwork that is required can be daunting at a very, very difficult time.

In the U.K., it was interesting that they had a program where all of the different levels of government were able to work collectively, together. You have, basically, one form that you fill out, and it filters out to all the other levels of government.

We’re working with the federal government on some of these initiatives as well. I think they’re really important, and they’re valid. So we’ll continue to move forward on that. But again, if the member opposite wants to get updates regularly on where we’re at, we’d be happy to do that.

J. Shin: I would like to echo what the minister is saying. Even just Bill 3, which was introduced this session, I think is a classic example of some of the unnecessary red tape. For such a small change that we can introduce in government, the kind of difference that it can make in people’s lives is very significant. So while this is good work, my job is to always say: “Faster, more, and let’s do it better.”

But with that said, I didn’t keep track of the hour. We’ve been at this for two hours, and I think it’s reasonable that we get a short break, if that’s all right — a recess?

The Chair: Would you like a recess, a five-minute recess?

The committee is recessed.

The committee recessed from 4:32 p.m. to 4:42 p.m.

[J. Thornthwaite in the chair.]

J. Shin: To resume where we left off on the red-tape-reduction efforts. From the report, along with the list and appendix of all these sorts of great ideas that came forward, the ministry has specifically highlighted a couple of items. That would include simplifying the child care subsidy process for parents, improving Internet accessibility and, of course, examples like the business tax return process — simplifying and improving that process — and so on and so forth.

One of the things that maybe I might have missed in my review is a red-tape-reduction suggestion that came forward from the credit unions in their letter. I think British Columbians love credit unions and the role that they play for our community. Central 1 Credit Union has sent in a letter to the attention of the minister. While I can go on at length about the important work that credit unions do, I’ll cut to the chase.

They’re really asking for amendment of the Credit Union Incorporation Act to allow for electronic mailing of the notices of AGMs if the member has already indicated that they prefer to receive communication electronically. The second request is to, again, amend the cost-of-credit-disclosure regulation of the Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act — again, to allow for electronic disclosure related to the fixed-credit agreements.

I find that their requests are in line with what the ministry is already doing in improving Internet accessibility as far as how a lot of these forms are done and how we communicate to British Columbians, whether we are government or business. If the minister can tell us a little bit about where the ministry is at with this particular request from the industry.

[1645]

Hon. C. Oakes: The two items that the member raised are in the system that we have for reducing red tape. What I can tell you is that it’s in the Ministry of Finance. I know that it is under review as part of…. Those pieces have to be reviewed every ten years, so I do know that the Minister of Finance is reviewing that legislation.

J. Shin: I understand that it is currently under review with the Ministry of Finance. I suppose the stakeholders would probably appreciate some reassurance that there’s good consideration that’s being paid to it and that there’s advocacy from this ministry on their behalf on the red-tape-reduction aspect of it.

That’s why I just want to put that on record as to this particular request that came in from the credit unions
[ Page 11584 ]
being actively considered by the government. Also to echo what they mentioned in the letter — that the current review by the Ministry of Finance for the credit union governing legislation that’s, I believe, being done this year, and the implementation of the changes that are imposed from that review, won’t take effect for perhaps another year or maybe even couple years.

The credit unions were saying these two things. We can probably roll it out sooner than later, because it is costing the industry about $2 million a year that they could have shaved off. It’s environmentally sound. It’s what the members prefer. If anything, like most efforts that the ministry is making for red-tape reduction, it’s always sooner than later. I just want to put that on record.

Something else, and this is a bit of self-interest here as well, is that making things electronically available has many advantages, I think. It’s no news that it reduces our carbon footprint. A lot of the things that we can do digitally would help free us from paper and the cutting-of-the-trees way of doing things. There’s that.

There’s obviously the cost-effectiveness that you get to decrease on the cost of mailing, the cost of paper, the cost of staff to assemble the mailings that go out, among many other things. Doing things electronically also it has its merits on making it more accessible and convenient for people.

On that, I just wanted to see if I have the ministry’s support, if I may say so, on electronic petitioning. It’s in the ministry mandate, and — I don’t know if I have the quote right here with me — it’s about making sure that small businesses, as well as British Columbian consumers in general, whatever they want to voice their opinions with the government directly, to be able to do it electronically, I think, is a way forward.

[1650]

As the minister is aware, I’ve introduced a bill on this twice, once in 2014 and once in 2015. In that time, not only have other jurisdictions like the U.K., Australia and even Quebec already gone forward with electronic petitioning, but in that two years since I have introduced this bill, it was also a motion brought forward federally from an opposition bench. It was accepted. It was given a reading. There was a healthy debate. It was voted on in majority favour by members from all parties.

Since then, I was very happy to see that now Canadians can go to a website. I just want to put it on the record, because it was very encouraging to see a model of where we can be in British Columbia. On the website now, you can simply go to petitions.parl.gc.ca. Then you can sign and view all the active petitions that are put forward by all members from all parties. They can also have an option to create their own petition and start it on line on the government website.

There’s also a response section where the government has the mandate to respond within 45 calendar days to every petition that has gone through the process and was presented in the House of Commons by the member that vouched for that particular petition. It also has terms of reference about the procedural and technical aspects of what petitioning is, the history of petitioning and why it’s important in our democratic society.

If the minister — sorry to put you on the spot here — will please share with us her thoughts on the electronic petitioning and what it can mean for British Columbians, given that the federal counterpart, other provincial jurisdictions as well as multiple countries around the world have already gone with modernizing this particular process.

Hon. C. Oakes: I know that the member is very passionate about this, and it’s important to raise this. What I can recommend to the member opposite is that we now have on the red-tape-reduction website the ability, 24 hours a day, to submit ideas on how the government can reduce red tape. I would recommend to the member opposite that if people feel the same way as you about the importance of this, we would encourage people to include it in the reducing-red-tape conversation.

J. Shin: I’m very optimistic about electronic petitioning. Even Madame Speaker of the House, in the issue of Parliamentarian…. It was an issue talking about modernizing government, and she has actually put in a very supportive article on that note for, potentially, electronic petitions coming into B.C.

On that, I just want to remind the minister that in her latest service plan, its purpose does state that the ministry manages key lines of government services that support “a modern regulatory environment for citizens and businesses,” “providing more convenience for consumers” and reducing red tape that “makes it difficult for citizens and businesses to interact with government.”

On that mandate, the 24-7 submission button on the government website is something that I can definitely feel positive about. But by that same token, if you can extend the same efforts to make sure that the petitioning can also be done electronically, that’s something that I would like to put on the record for as well.

[1655]

On that, another thing that I just wanted to raise for the minister’s attention is on the…. This ministry is very interesting, in the sense that I feel as though the Small Business Ministry, as it’s currently defined — with a limited budget but having a definite voice in the government and amongst cabinet members — gets to, essentially, act as kind of a GP, like a family doctor. You get to filter through multiple ideas that you collect from the road and try to come up with something that you can take to different ministries.

What I want to probe a little bit more during this time is that there are opportunities to be had and to be leveraged by having the ministry staff…. I know that there is no shortage of good work. But with that, if I can call on
[ Page 11585 ]
the ministry to continue working with other ministries, to be that good facilitator and liaison between small businesses and all the other ministries that have the funding for grants or for more contracts that can be given out for small businesses — so, for that, less of a fund attached to some of this work, but more, I suppose, the ministry staff resources.

I understand that the ministry has some priorities that I’m aware of, like the employer Best Practices Guide. It’s something that the minister and I had a chance to chat a little bit about, which is not just working with our stakeholders, like Small Business B.C., but from the government with a ministry budget that would justify it — so to make sure that we have as many documents and guidelines available through the government.

One of the ideas that came forward was: what does being a good employer look like for our small business owners? A lot of the times it’s not uncommon for me to hear from small business owners that feel very threatened by some of the letters and communication that they receive from the government. I know that the intention is not to, but sometimes when it comes to announcing new regulations or changes in penalties or consequences of non-compliance, for example, a lot of the communications….

The minister talked about how we can simplify the language, and we also canvassed a bit about how we can make this available in multiple languages. I think it’s also very important to highlight the tone in which these communications go out.

I do believe that government’s intent is not to be the regulatory reinforcing police body, so to speak, for our small business owners, but to take every opportunity to make sure that the tone of their communication reflects that the intention, as government body, is to educate and engage, and through that education and engagement, empower good practices, as opposed to coming down hard on the small businesses.

I think every small business owner has the good intention to be compliant. A lot of the times it’s a matter of simply being unaware or less than exposed. I think I had a very candid conversation with the minister. When I go home after doing my day’s job, if I get a new iPad or even a new TV, it comes with a fairly straightforward instruction booklet, but I just don’t want to read through all the fine print. It can be much.

If we lend, in the same sort of latitude that we give ourselves, for small business owners, I think it’s not unreasonable at all that we continue to do better on the communications side.

The employer Best Practices Guide. What I mean by that is: given that this is something that I have already talked about with the minister, is the ministry prepared to or willing to look for ways to clearly outline — rich in infographics, very easy-to-read languages, in multiple languages — best-employer guideline literature?

[1700]

That could be quite useful as a government resource — even for me, as an advocate, as an MLA — that I could take to stakeholders and to small business communities, besides the regular sort of literature that’s already available.

Hon. C. Oakes: I think it’s a testament to the member opposite the fact that you advocate very strongly. I think it’s helpful for us to have dialogue in advance so that you understand — not in advance to this, but in advance to just general collaborative types of conversations….

I want the member opposite to know that when you brought that forward to me and we started to look at the tone of what we were doing with government, we brought it to the Small Business Roundtable, and we had a very thorough discussion around that.

As a government, the type of communication…. I like that you talk about education, engagement and empowerment. I think those should be values and principles, as a government, when we look at the type of material we produce. It’s incredibly important.

The member opposite talked about creating what a good employer looks like. While it doesn’t specifically exist within this ministry, the member opposite has my commitment that we will work with multiple ministries to ensure that we create a very simple guide with the intent, again, to educate, to engage and empower our small businesses.

As well, we have a small business accord that we have signed, with the principles. I think it’s important that we read out the goal: “We, the undersigned, establish this B.C. small business accord and its principles to help foster a progressive business culture where government initiatives support current and future generations of small business owners across British Columbia.”

[1705]

The principles. “Consider the needs and impacts of small businesses in policy and program decisions to enhance business certainty, access to qualified labour, access to capital and technology adoption.

“Foster a regulatory environment that small business can access, navigate and influence effectively and efficiently.

“Design government programs and resources affecting small businesses so that they are well developed, accessible, properly funded and effectively communicated.

“Foster thoughtful collaboration among all levels of government, including First Nations.

“Deploy educational and training programs that are future-focused and aligned to meet the changing needs of small business and labour talent it develops.

“Create long-term growth opportunities for small business through government procurements.”

I think it’s important to read into the record because we have an accord. We have an accountability to ensure, with what we put and sign, that we are moving forward. You have my commitment that we will be working across
[ Page 11586 ]
ministries with that small business lens to reflect the type of tone, as government, that we send out to small business.

J. Shin: No, I wouldn’t expect any less from the minister. I think respect is something that can always be at the centre of how we communicate to each other, regardless of what medium, especially in a written language to a lot of our small business owners and immigrant small business owners. Sometimes a piece of communication from government can make all the difference as to whether it’s a frightening experience or whether it’s an empowering and engaging process.

Thank you so much for that commitment. I really appreciate that.

On the red tape, I’m just trying to get into a little bit of the details here, as far as the numbers are concerned, so that I understand where these numbers are coming from and how it’s tracked and reported.

The government document on regulatory reform in B.C. is fairly easy to follow, so there isn’t too much that I am concerned with, although I do just want to clarify a few things.

In the number that’s disclosed, the government uses the timelines. It speaks of an inventory of all regulatory requirements that was created and that since 2001, this number has been reduced by 43 percent. I’m assuming, by how it reads, that it was in 2001 that there was the attempt to get an inventory of all requirements. Using that number, to where we are today, it looks like 43 percent is reduced.

With that, I’m curious to find out if that’s a net reduction, because there are new regulations that come through. The ministry is well aware of what MMBC has meant on the regulatory side. I understand it’s with the Ministry of Environment. On that note, there’s certainly great advocacy to be done because of the folks that are impacted by that particular regulation. As important as it is, it could have been done better. Certainly, there’s a voice to be heard from this ministry to the Minister of Environment on that note.

Where I’m hoping to get clarification is on the tracking side. I saw the ministry’s frequently asked questions section. It says: “How we count.” But that doesn’t quite clarify what I’m hoping to get, which is: does the ministry keep track, on a yearly basis or a quarterly basis or whatever the time period is…? Does it actually count how many new regulations come into play and how many red-tape reductions the ministry achieved? Is this information available for us to view per line item?

For example, the stakeholders are very curious about how many new regulations and how many hours of potential administrative burden were imposed by MMBC, but there’s no clear way for us to dissect that information now, as it’s presented. If the minister can please give us her explanation of that.

[1710]

Hon. C. Oakes: I might start at the end and then work forward, if that’s okay.

Each ministry reconciles every year, on March 31, the net change of regulation, and that’s public. So you can, on our website, have that.

A regulatory requirement — I’ll start at what a regulatory requirement is, to help answer the question that the member asked. A regulatory requirement is any action or step that a citizen, business or government must take to access government services or programs, carry out a business or pursue legislated privileges.

To be honest, my colleagues often will say: “Well, why don’t I get a greater count? I’ve reduced all this work, or I’ve done XYZ. Why doesn’t it get coded as such?” Really, the regulatory requirement is any action or step that a citizen, business or government must take to access government services or programs.

In 2001, the government did commit to reducing the number of regulatory requirements by one third in three years. In order to meet that goal, we needed to conduct a baseline account of regulatory requirements in B.C. and measure this against this baseline. I think that’s, really, an important statement, because it’s really important to have consistency and to have a baseline of how we measure, as a government, to understand how our performance is.

I’ve had the conversation around the qualitative side, the hours it takes, such as what the member mentioned, and it’s a valid point. So we are looking at ways to start looking at that qualitative side of the conversation. But it’s critically important from baseline performance metrics that we are consistent, to understand: are we on track? Are we targeted?

[1715]

I mean, we have a commitment as a net-zero commitment until 2019, so it’s really important for us, again, to have that consistency and certainty. We don’t want to be accused of skewing a number closer to 2019 because we’ve adjusted the type of measurement that we’ve had. I think that’s really important. But the member’s mention on the qualitative-size point is taken.

J. Shin: Thanks for the answer.

What I really enjoyed, actually, preparing for this estimate, is…. I love the performance matrixes. That’s just setting smart goals and having something to measure ourselves against, whether we are making progress or not. That’s something that I absolutely thrive on, so I can definitely appreciate the minister’s emphasis on the importance of a performance matrix, whether it’s quantitative or qualitative. We strive for both. But I understand. Qualitative is a significant undertaking for us to be able to have matrixes for that.

On that, there’s some…. I think we do have to draw the line somewhere, and that’s where the baseline really comes in. I just want to probe a little bit. I understand. Some of these baselines can be quite arbitrary, because we’ve got to start from somewhere.
[ Page 11587 ]

In performance measure 3 in the ministry’s strategic plan, it says that, to this fiscal year, the ministry is targeting about another 10 percent reduction overall. And from 2017, it’s committing to — what feels like an arbitrary cap, at least — a zero net increase and to follow the same sort of trend all the way to 2019.

Can the minister please share with us the rationale for this? Should there be further attempts for red-tape reduction in the following year or the year after? I’m just wondering. What’s the rationale as to how we came up with this particular goal?

Hon. C. Oakes: I think it’s important to note what we’ve seen by having this commitment to 2019. It really has changed the culture that I see with my colleagues around the table, and I think, within government in general. I think that there is an absolute awareness around…. We physically, as cabinet members, have to sign a sheet of paper every time we introduce something so that we are aware of the regulatory count that we’re bringing forward. There is this absolute increased awareness — and almost competitiveness — when we’re looking at that, which is driving the type of change that I think is necessary to ensure that we continue to move this forward.

[1720]

I think it’s also important to note that, like anything, there was a significant amount of work that was done in the first few years. What we are going through on reducing red tape is you look at the easy-to-dos — right? — when you start a process, like any that you take on. Looking at reducing red tape…. Well, we did it with reducing red tape, but also with the regulatory count.

A lot of stuff happened in the first few years which really drove the numbers up. And now we’re looking at, really, that net zero to 2019. But we always encourage everyone to continue to look at how we can do things better. I think you’ll see us — as part of the conversation that’s coming out of this and the reducing-red-tape piece and the conversation that’s happening within the cultural aspect of our government — have good performance indicators on this file.

J. Shin: Now, on that, if I’m understanding the minister correctly, the performance measure or the ministry’s goal for 10 percent reduction this fiscal year and at least committing to zero net increases is more of an evolving commitment. That’s what I’m hearing, which is good in a sense. It sounds like the ministries are working together to make sure this continues to be a priority as opposed to any sort of hard-set goal, so to speak.

Now, on that, I see that CFIB is included in the report as another performance measure as to the grade that it provides for the reduction effort. I do want to take the opportunity that…. I’ve had a chance to communicate with CFIB on a number of occasions now. The work that they do is important. I believe they have about 111,000 members across Canada from coast to coast over the last 40 years or so.

I bring the same concerns to CFIB as I do to the minister about making sure that the advocacy body — as much as it claims to be a big voice for the small business — when they look at their membership, reflects the kind of diversity that I think is so important in a file like this.

The reason that I just want to talk a little about CFIB is that this is the body that I think government, as well as other business stakeholders as well as their membership, continue to rely on for surveying, polling, data analysis, trends and projections, and so on and so forth. On that, I find it is important to be aware of the reports that CFIB generates. They do a great job.

Also, at the same time, I’m curious to find out if the government does any sort of in-house polling or data analysis, which I think is very important, given the position that you’re in with access to information from across the ministries, where you can have a look into the number of small businesses that may start with the registrations that come through but also, at the same time, be able to keep track of how many of those businesses survive past three years or past five years or even meet the ten-year mark.

I’m not sure if there is any tracking system within the ministry or somewhere else in the government. I think as much as we talk about a robust, vibrant small business community…. I speak from experience. My parents, when they immigrated here, it was part of their immigration or citizenship requirement to invest in the local economy by starting a small business and hiring X number of Canadians.

What that means is, given that we have a great number of immigrants that come through, I’m wondering how many of the businesses that report on numbers are actually successful businesses or businesses that have to survive the tough climate, even if they’re not profitable in any shape or form, but they kind of have to stick through the tough time to fulfil whatever immigration requirements they need, and so on and so forth.

[1725]

I’m quite keen to see if there are any data available through government — because I haven’t been able to find it elsewhere — that keeps track of sort of the turnover rates or the survival rates of small businesses in B.C.

Hon. C. Oakes: Going back to the comment of CFIB, it’s difficult when, as a government, there are a lot of stakeholders that are paying attention to the work we’re doing and making sure that they’re holding us to account, as they should.

I am pleased that we were the only jurisdiction in Canada, again, to get a grade A for the work we are doing. But it means that we are held to a very high standard and that we are on a national stage of what type of work we are we are doing about reducing the regulatory count and the net-zero commitment we have.

I think it’s important that while great work has been done, it sets a really high standard, and it sets precedence.
[ Page 11588 ]
It means we must continuously work to strive to not just achieve but to go beyond what we put out there as performance indicators.

Our ministry, in collaboration with B.C. Stats, is responsible for generating the small business profile. That captures key small business–related stats such as small business growth by region and industry composition of small business sector. We also track annually the number of women business owners and aboriginal-owned businesses.

We don’t specifically capture small business failures. The Canadian superintendent of bankruptcy does track insolvency rates for businesses and publishes this on line. For 2015, B.C. saw a decline in the overall number of business insolvencies from 226 in 2014 to 222 in 2015. They don’t report on the size of the businesses that are filing for insolvency or other personal details like gender or ethnicity. The statistics are available by sector, but only at a national level.

[J. Yap in the chair.]

The member raises a good point. Again, we are working towards being exemplary and leading the country as being the most business-friendly jurisdiction. To look at how we raise that bar…. I think information is critically important.

[1730]

If there are stakeholders you may know that collect data that we could perhaps work with, I encourage the member to provide that. The member opposite mentioned earlier that on the multicultural side, there are lots of organizations, business organizations that work…. If there is data collected and they wish to share that, I think it would be interesting, in the profile, to see what that looks like.

I know the member opposite likes numbers and to know where we’re at. We had 382,600 small businesses in 2015, and 199,900 were sole proprietors. The percentage of jobs provided by small business was 54 percent. We ranked No. 1 with small business per capita. The percentage of GDP generated by small business, 33 percent, and the value of exports shipped by small businesses, $11 billion.

The other thing is we reached out to Futurpreneur. I think that’s also an interesting statistic. The member had raised to me previous about what the five-year rate of success is with small businesses. So we went out to Futurpreneur, because we know that that’s a lot of start-ups and young entrepreneurs, to see that survival rate. It’s at 50 to 60 percent. We’ll continue to work with our stakeholders and other stakeholders that the member opposite may wish to bring forward, because I think it’s an important one.

And 37 percent of self-employed small businesses are women. The percentage of small and medium-sized enterprises owned solely by women is 15.5 percent. The percentage of women-owned small and medium-sized enterprises with one to four employees is 59.2 percent, and the percentage with less than 20 employees is 92.7 percent.

It’s interesting to get some of these stats. We need to continue to build on this as we drive to be the most business-friendly jurisdiction in Canada.

J. Shin: Thank you for the answer. The second thing, on the whole theme of how we can maximize the ministry’s work with limited funds but in a special position to be able to work with other ministries in the government, is the topic of the small business awareness strategy, which I understand is a commitment from the government, for this ministry.

When I tried to learn more about the strategy, I couldn’t get past the usual rhetoric of what’s outlined in the strategic plan. It’s definitely mentioned in the plan, but I couldn’t see, necessarily, the performance measure attached to it, or what have you. If the minister can please share with us any sort of timeline or what those strategies look like, what stakeholders are being engaged and where, and what kinds of outcomes the ministry is hoping to achieve through this particular strategic effort.

For myself in this job, I very quickly realized that it was one thing for me to advertise: “I have an open house today” or “I’ve got a round-table discussion that I want to host, and I invite all of you to come and join us, and let me know.”

I piloted this particular conversation with the North Road stretch where there are a lot of Korean shops and other minority-owned businesses that are very active. There are about 400 businesses in that small stretch. I thought: “Well, if I can get 40 folks out, that would be great.” RSVPs weren’t coming in. Obviously, a lot of these business owners were: “If I go and do your consultation, public hearing, who is going to watch my shop for me in the meantime?”

Often it became an issue that…. It’s not a lack of awareness or lack of interest, but it was just simply a lack of availability for a lot of these small business owners to participate in those events. What that meant was the validity of the so-called public consultation or the hearing, which I was hosting with all good intentions, was fairly limited.

[1735]

Instead, the room turned out to be filled by stakeholders who already had voiced their opinions through other venues and had decided to throw in another voice at my event, or folks that I’ve already talked to. For me, I figured at some point that this wasn’t going be the way that I genuinely engage with people that haven’t had a voice or just can’t get around to engaging with us.

When I got the file in Small Business, that’s when I decided: “You know what? Instead of putting on another event, I’m just going to hop in my car and literally drive through town.” The minister and I had a good chat about this. I did count my klicks. I think it’s about 12,000 klicks that I put on my little Fiat.
[ Page 11589 ]

My mom is very upset, because the car is full of dents now and has cracks on the windshield. I wear them proudly, because I was able to visit 54 communities throughout B.C., although there were scary moments through the rural communities, where the roads are nothing I’ve driven before. I nearly killed myself driving on the gravel road. Brakes on gravel road is not good.

When I tallied up the number of businesses that I actually…. I would just park on one side of the street and zigzag into every single one, and the numbers tally up to be 400 businesses that I visited personally at their shops. I was just chatting with them very casually as they were pouring coffee for their clients or tallying up their inventory or their stocks.

The kinds of conversations that I was able to engage in through entrepreneurs at their stores are quite different from a formalized setting in a round table or in a public hearing where I’m doing most of the talking and the audience is sort of on the receiving end. For myself, that’s the privilege and the luxury that I have as an opposition MLA, and I understand it’s not the reality for the ministry staff to get in their cars and visit all the communities. That’s not what I’m suggesting here.

What was really interesting from my conversations with the business owners is that when you pose an open-ended question about what kind of ticks you off or bugs you most, or what are you worried about, the open-endedness of that question sort of leads to all sorts of things you didn’t even think were an issue before. That’s why I find that a lot of the service that we put out, including our stakeholders, with all the good intentions, can be too prescribed, where we almost prompt for a specific type of answer.

If you send out a multiple choice sort of questionnaire or rate from one to five or what have you, and only put in so many indicators that you think are important but do not necessarily capture all of the other array of issues out there, then the kind of feedback and the kinds of polls and results that we get back — how valid are those? It’s something that I think we always need to pay attention to.

The reason that I just wanted to share this piece a little bit with the minister, as I have before, is that when we talk about small business awareness strategy, I think it’s important for the ministry to keep in mind and always look objectively at the kind of feedback they receive and the kind of outreach they believe they’re doing. How valid are those efforts? That’s really what it comes down to.

Sorry about being really long-winded about it, but if the minister can please share what this strategy really looks like, and where we are at with this particular strategy, that would be great.

[1740]

Hon. C. Oakes: My first comment is that, again, I commend the member opposite for going out and visiting 54 communities. You’ve put on a lot of kilometres.

I think what is incredibly relevant to what the member said — and I’ve certainly found it myself — is…. We have multiple approaches to how we reach out to stakeholders and how we engage on the small business front, but I think by far the most effective is just to get out and to talk to a business and to keep that question open and just to have dialogue, have a conversation — similar to what we’ve done today.

I think it’s important to engage, because when you go into their small business shop, whether it’s trying to access an employee or they’re having problems with a specific element of government, everyone’s circ*mstance is different.

One of the things that I made the commitment to as a new minister was, as part of the round table consultations where we’d go out into communities, to also make sure I built time in just to go and walk down the street and to walk into the businesses and to have that conversation. You’re right. They’re really busy running their store. A lot of times when we do consultations, it’s associations or it’s groups that represent small business that provide us feedback. It’s critically important for all of us.

I would say one of the things I encouraged all of the MLAs on our side of the House during the Christmas holidays is…. I gave them Business Walk forms, and I said: “When you go back home, here’s a Business Walk. Meet with your business improvement area or your economic development. Meet with your local government. Target ten businesses and just go out and meet with them. Ask them how they’re doing. Ask them, ‘Are you expecting to grow over the next year? What are the challenges that you see that are coming up?’”

Maybe that’s something that both sides of the House could take on, because here’s the first thing I can tell you: As the member opposite alluded to, as the minister, it is incredibly difficult to get out to every to single community in British Columbia. Our requirement is to be in the House and to be bringing that voice of what we’re hearing. It’s always that tension or that challenge I feel as a minister.

Again, though, let’s empower our colleagues. Let’s empower our MLAs that sit in the House to go out and to do that on-the-ground biz walk in their community and bring back that feedback. I think it’s critically important as part of that small business awareness strategy that we do.

There are a couple of things again — just stats, because they’re interesting to note. Part of the small business awareness strategy that we did is…. We did do that welcome package, if you’re a new business. We’ve had, to date, 8,500 packages that have gone out since we’ve launched that, which I think is fantastic. We distribute it electronically through B.C. registry services to all new business registrants, including small business resource handouts that include valuable resources for small businesses.

In 2015-2016, the small business branch also participated in Small Business Information Expos that were in Vancouver, Victoria, Langley and Nanaimo. The Small
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Business Roundtable in 2015 — we created a subcommittee to look at how you create that plan to get out there and do these regional consultations as well.

[1745]

As we talked about a little bit earlier, we’ve got a Small Business Roundtable that is representative of a number of different stakeholders across the region. How do we empower them to go out in their communities? Whether it’s a particular issue that we’re trying to gauge or get information on or if there is something that we need to pay particular attention to, they’re a great resource as well.

The small business branch staff attended the B.C. Tech Summit in January to raise awareness of Small Business B.C. I think it’s interesting maybe to put on record, to talk a little bit about, B.C.’s technology and small business. We’ve talked a lot about where are we going in society and what does that look like in technology and the importance of that.

The B.C. tech sector is a very large component of B.C. small businesses. So 6,700 of the 9,700 businesses in the tech sector have less than four employees. Another 2,500 have less than 49 employees. So 95 percent of the businesses in the tech sector are small businesses. The number of small businesses in this sector is growing — an 8.1 increase in 2013 alone.

The number of large businesses in this sector with more than 500 employees, it’s interesting to note, is actually declining. You’re seeing a growth on the small business side, and they’re all across British Columbia, which is wonderful to see. So 92 percent of the business in this sector are service-orientated, which is generally, by definition, smaller. We are proud that we had the opportunity to work with the ministry and attend that tech conference.

In December, we announced the creation of $100 million B.C. tech fund, because again, when we went out to talk to small businesses, one of the things that we heard was that it was difficult to get access to that kind of capital. We’re really proud of the work that we’ve been able to do with other ministries on ensuring that we’re continuing to grow and support these very, very important small businesses.

I read out where we’re at on the small business accord, which again, drives the culture within government to make sure you have that small business lens and, if we’re putting policies forward, that we understand what that impact will be on small business.

I think it’s important to note that the member opposite raised a number of things that I think we also have to bring back into this awareness strategy — things like: how do we grow the stakeholder list? What are some of the tools or pieces that we can look at to grow that? What does the best practice employee guide that the member opposite raised and we made that commitment to create…? I think that’s part of the small business awareness strategy.

I think this is an evolving awareness strategy. I think it’s important to note, as well, that I will be meeting with the federal minister again to look at what kind of initiatives we can be working on with the federal government in support of small business and to help achieve goals of making sure that we continue to be the most business-friendly, growing small-business sector.

J. Shin: Thanks to the minister for her answer.

Another thing that I just wanted to probe a little bit was on the tax panel. There were the 2012 recommendations. With the new panel being called upon, there is some concern, or at least a healthy curiosity, as to what recommendations…? As they stand from 2012, what’s the justification for another tax panel being called upon? And what are some existing recommendations that the government can focus on?

If the minister can please let us know a little bit about where that’s heading, the details too, I think that would be great.

[1750]

Hon. C. Oakes: I can’t speak specifically on the 2012 and would refer the member opposite to the Minister of Finance. What I can say, which I think is really important to note again is that we heard, when we opened up the dialogue around reducing red tape…. A number of things came out of that.

For example, we have a changing economy in British Columbia. When you look at technology…. When we look at new markets and we look at what’s happening even around time zones and how we are transforming, it’s important to have an opportunity to review what those changes are and to look at: are we competitive? Are there opportunities for us to be more productive, looking at increasing investments in our new modern economy?

We heard that through the process of opening up, talking to citizens across British Columbia. We’re pleased that the commission to explore tax competitiveness, through the Ministry of Finance, has really identified that. They want to have that dialogue. I certainly look forward to what that conversation will entail. I think you’ll also find…. I think that goes back to an earlier conversation that we had, that if you go on, sometimes, a website…. Is it business-friendly?

I agree with the member opposite. I don’t think a small business owner sets out to not comply with what our taxation system is. I think it is generally, in most respects…. Sometimes it’s difficult to understand what is being put out. That is a lens that I think I’d like to see our team, when we’re looking at how you reduce those frustrations, put a laser focus on that.

If you increase compliance through education and empowerment and that engagement piece that the member opposite talked about before, we’re going to grow our GDP. You’re going to see greater small business success, and quite frankly, there’s going to be more revenue into the province.

I’m encouraged by this conversation that’s going to
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happen. I’m sorry that I can’t answer the specifics about the 2012 but would be happy to pass that message on to the Minister of Finance.

J. Shin: Something that I actually missed that was identified in goal 1 for the strategic plan for the ministry was the LNG–Buy B.C. program. Again, that particular line item didn’t come with performance measures that I could pick up from the plan. If the minister can please tell us a little bit about how this program is going so far.

[1755]

I do appreciate the fact that the industry had a major downturn last year. With that said, though, what are some definitive plans or the advocacy that’s being done by the Small Business Ministry? That would be great.

Hon. C. Oakes: Currently my ministry is working closely with MIT and JTST to develop the action plan for the buy-LNG tool to ensure that we are meeting the needs of small businesses. I continue to be a strong advocate on that front to ensure that the types of tools that will be included on that will effectively meet what is happening on the ground.

Maybe I can go to a kind of more personal story on this particular one — really, probably back to the boots on the ground, what LNG looks like, the opportunities and what we’re seeing in some of our smaller resource-based communities.

We had a crane company that was looking at bidding on some of the larger projects that were happening in the northwest. One of the things that was identified early on is that in order to prequalify, they needed to be of a certain size. They had to have a certain amount of equipment and a certain amount of employees. It was sometimes difficult for a lot of the small businesses to put that bid in, and we were seeing that.

One of the things we have been working on…. This is kind of the essence of what this tool can provide. You now start getting a listing of all of the small businesses that may connect to that whole industry. It’s expanding the scope, as well, of what service providers are.

But in our instance, the crane company actually found a couple of other companies that were operating in northern British Columbia. What they did was, through a supply chain connector, they got together and pooled their resources. Instead of being competitors on a large, major project, they joined forces, put in a bid and were able to get a significant large contract up in the northwest.

That is something that we’ve identified. We heard through both the round table and quite frankly…. We heard out on the ground: how do we make sure our small businesses are getting access to some of these large, major projects that are happening in British Columbia?

[1800]

Having tools like this where we can connect small businesses to other small businesses to help support them through that bid process is important.

These are the types of conversations we’re having, with the action plan for the buy-LNG tool, as well as, again, that same idea, that package: what are the resources available to you as a small business owner? We’ve certainly heard that, that sometimes we have multiple websites out there. If you’re a small business owner and you’re just looking for help, you might google one particular product and it creates lists.

One of the things we’re trying to work closely with across ministries is: how do we make sure…? It’s almost like you have that one-stop piece of information where you can go to if you are looking for small business information. We continue to work with that.

I think the strength of this particular buy-LNG plan in my mandate letter, the value of that, is that I can have those types of conversations with multi-ministries to drive that advocacy and to drive that change.

J. Shin: Thanks to the minister for her answer. That’s such a common struggle. I think it’s a challenge — that is, how to have resources and programs and services, as great as they are, and make sure that our small businesses, or those who need those programs, are aware of them. How accessible is it, as far as their level of awareness or their level of literacy and availability, to make a bid for those things? I think it’s definitely a challenge I can agree with the minister on. It’s no easy feat.

With that said, though, what I can tell the minister is that over the past three years…. When I first got elected, small business was actually one of the first files that I was given at the time. I moved with the minister to the culture file and then moved back to small business when the minister made the move as well.

Something that I’ve noticed is that when anybody types in “small business in B.C.” in Google, just an average user, the kind of search results that Google would generate — for example. There has been an improvement. I’m pretty sure it’s nothing that’s intentional. I think it’s more organic. But search engine optimization is one of the things that stakeholders and some folks….

Some of the younger entrepreneurs have mentioned that sometimes…. In the meantime, while we are trying to put everything together in a streamlined format, it can actually be quite as simple as just fine-tweaking, which you can do for search engine optimization through most of the web browsers.

That can help produce, at least on the first page of results, the kinds of things that you would want British Columbians to see when they type in popular key words in a Google search. It’s something that definitely, I think, will bring dividends that go far beyond the kind of investment that it requires, which is very minimal for simple SEO functions. On that, another thing that I wanted to probe a little bit more on….
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Actually, before we move on to the next topic, just going back to the LNG-Buy B.C. program, I want to put it on the record that we expect this ministry to stand up and advocate hard for local procurements and to make sure that our local communities benefit, their full share and beyond, when we do have contracts that come in from the resource sector.

As far as the next topic is concerned, it is also in the ministry’s mandate to work with the Minister of International Trade to look for ways to increase the ability of small businesses here in B.C. to export to new markets. I’ll be curious to see where the ministry is at with that.

Given that with the LNG-Buy B.C. program it sounds like, from what the minister has said, that we can look forward to some sort of a strategic plan in the coming year. If we can get a sense of where we are for that conversation with the Ministry of International Trade, that’d be great.

[1805]

Hon. C. Oakes: For the question around the export side of the mandate letter, currently there are 5,882 businesses in B.C. that export, which is only 3 percent of the 190,400 companies that have at least one employee. Nationally, B.C. is under-represented in the number of businesses that export. We absolutely can be doing better. MIT, in its jobs plan strategy, has committed to increasing the number of companies that export. As the Minister of Small Business, I will continue to be a strong advocate for supporting our small businesses in the export strategy.

We did conduct a survey to understand which businesses export and how they currently access services to help them with that exporting. The results reviewed and confirmed, as we talked about, that businesses actually find it really difficult to navigate the maze of services available. They strongly endorse the province’s initiative to streamline this. So we recognize that we need to do better.

Some of the other things that we heard is that there are lots of services out there on the export side, but we heard that they aren’t visible enough. We heard that it’s difficult to navigate what is available. There’s no single window. There are generalized services available, but businesses also want specific, actionable support.

We also identified that it’s not always necessary to spend more money on programs that already exist. We need to look at how it’s easier to access those that already exist — exactly what the member opposite was referring to. I also think it’s important, as government, to identify when we’re not doing as good in a particular area as we could be.

I think it’s also important to note that as a minister…. We certainly did it on the red-tape-reduction piece, and we’ve certainly done it here. We want to go out and talk to small businesses. We want to hear — even if it’s the negative — because that’s how we improve things. I think this is a really good example of listening to what small businesses are saying and ensuring that we’re able to take that back.

As the Minister of Small Business, it is my responsibility within my mandate letter to make sure that when we do the survey out again, we are increasing the number of small businesses that export and that it’s easier to utilize our services.

J. Shin: Going back to the mandate letter, one of the follow-up pieces that I wanted to touch on was after the introduction of the very long-awaited and also very important Franchises Act that came into the session last year. I think I’ve canvassed this with the minister during the committee stage of the bill — making sure that it is communicated clearly.

[1810]

It’s not an overnight job, and I understand this is not solely the ministry’s job, in the sense that it needs to engage with other stakeholders to make sure that the messages do go out and that the new legislation, in effect, is reinforced, and to make sure that people are aware of it.

The minister at the time, during our committee stage, has committed to making sure that there will be some active engagement from the ministry to hold accountable our partners that we rely on, to make sure that the new Franchises Act is communicated to anybody who is seeking a franchise business.

If the minister can just let us know a little bit about what some of the ministry efforts were on that file so far, for follow-up, and if there any indications, or even just feedback, from the industry about what the results of this legislation were. Has it been proven to be worthwhile and effective, or can we do better in our communications, and so on and so forth?

[1815]

Hon. C. Oakes: Thank you for bringing forward the Franchises Act and to receive an update on that. It’s great that the member who introduced…. I enjoyed going through committee stage with the member opposite on that.

There are two parts of where this process is. Currently JAG, the Attorney General’s office, is working on the regulation piece to enforce this legislation. I think what worked really well with the Franchises Act that was introduced is we had such a strong group of experts that helped support us on getting the legislation right. The B.C. Law Institute and others were really thoughtful, engaged experts that we could rely on.

I think it’s equally important that currently we’re working closely with the advisory group to develop the regulation. That is in process currently. Once the regulation is completed and improved, and the franchise and the legal communities have time to learn about the new law, the regulations will, of course, come into force, which goes to the communication side, which is what the member had asked the question about.
[ Page 11593 ]

We are going to work closely with the Attorney General’s staff to develop the plan. Compliments to the member opposite for ensuring that I made the statement when we were going through that — that on the educational piece to that plan, we needed to have a strategy that reached out to different ethnicities and that from an educational engagement and empowerment strategy, we are doing those wraparounds.

Like I said, it’s difficult to create all of that education material until the regulation comes into force and we learn more about what the expert panel is recommending for regulations. But we’re starting to lay that groundwork on what will be necessary as far as stakeholders that we need to reach out to. We canvassed that earlier as well.

We’ve got, obviously, the legislation. We’ll continue to develop the materials and the webpage development with, again, that focus on making sure, as we continue to engage with the ministry on what the regulation is going to look like, that where our piece comes in, we’ve got a good educational plan that is in place once that regulation is put forward.

I encourage the member opposite, when we’ve got that package, if you would like to review that and if you have ideas on how we can make sure that it is something that is for the ethnic community, we’d be happy to work with you on that.

J. Shin: Thanks to the minister for her answer.

The reason that I think that we can use that particular legislation is that it’s an opportunity for us to call on the ministry to really think about their communication efforts. Again, it’s about doing good work and making sure that people know about that good work. It is the ministry with contractual obligations. They engage with advocates in small business like Small Business B.C. to do much of that legwork. They are the front-line experts that the government relies on.

I do believe that it’s equally important for the ministry to have leadership on accountability to make sure that communication…. It’s teamwork. It’s not just the ministry. It’s not just Small Business B.C. It’s the opposition MLAs. It’s all MLAs and all of us, including the stakeholders, that advocated for this — like the Law Society, for example — to make sure that this information and the news goes to the people who will benefit from that extra level of awareness and the new standards that came into effect after so many years of just heartbreaking stories.

[1820]

The intent is to make sure that the awareness is there so that these heartbreaking stories don’t happen anymore.

On that, I will ask the ministry to prioritize, among many other priorities, that…. For every new legislation of interest to the small business community, regardless of which ministry the announcement comes from, there’s got to be a government-based clear communications strategy that leaves no segment of the population behind — again, another special call-out to the minority communities.

For my part, what I’ve done is…. I checked in with Small Business B.C. to see how that announcement has gone through at their end with their clients that they service. They did disclose that translating all the pieces was a challenge. Also, making sure that they can leverage the minority media is, again, a challenge. I was able to bridge Small Business B.C. with some of our volunteers. Funding is always an issue, but we have some great volunteers that were able to translate the pieces into Chinese and a couple of other languages.

I pushed that particular piece out, in my own ways, through the contacts that I had in different minority communities. Not only is it my own responsibility as a member in this House, but also, at the same time, I believe that the ministry needs to take leadership and initiative in making sure that there is a streamlined process that all of us can rely on for the communication to go out as it should.

On that note, I just want to get the minister’s attention to another thing, which is about funding. We are looking at a ministry with 20 FTEs, as far as the staff structure is concerned, and a budget that’s a little over $3 million. The leverage here is not so much about the contractual obligations or the grants for the ministry. It’s about what the staff right here can do. On that, before we…. I have some ideas that I just want to bring forward on that.

On the actual spending side, I just wanted to touch on this before we move on. Are there any plans the ministry can see in the foreseeable future as far as funding allocations for the Jobs and Training Ministry versus some of that coming over to the small business area, where I believe it could be catered to better, personally? I find that in between ministries, I think there are missed opportunities and, potentially, duplication or overlap of intent. I see that the chamber of commerce has a formula that I don’t quite understand but that’s administered through the Jobs and Training Ministry but really speaks to the stakeholders that this particular ministry services.

Also, during the core review on discretionary spending, if this particular ministry sees any cuts in the future that the minister may be aware of or what have you…. So beyond the ministry’s budget that we have at hand here, if the minister can let us know of any potential changes — whether cuts or additions or reallocations of funds — that you might be able to share with the House, that would be great.

[1825]

Hon. C. Oakes: Thank you to the member opposite for the question. The Minister of Finance determines the allocation during the budget process — on how the ministry’s allocation of funds are distributed. I would say something but my staff have advised me that….

I think you asked also about the team of individuals that we have working through the Ministry of Small
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Business and Red Tape Reduction. It is a very lean team. It’s a very small ministry, but I have to tell you I am so incredibly impressed every day by the work and the efforts that they’re all doing, given very large tasks. Again, small business covers so many aspects of our economy.

What I can tell you is that all of the economy sector ministries work really, really closely together. We canvassed a little bit earlier about the export strategy, and I think it’s an important one. I think what that speaks to is the need for us really to not be working in silos as government but looking at how we can work laterally: leveraging resources, finding better ways, finding efficiencies, looking amongst the teams within government and who has the expertise on the specific files. I think that’s where we will see success on that.

Thank you for your support of the ministry and the budget.

J. Shin: I believe we have just a little over 15 minutes left. I do have a closing statement that I should share. I also expect that the minister has her piece as well.

This piece is really for our stakeholders and for the British Columbians who I will be communicating with as to the importance of this estimates process that we had today. The kind of conversation and the dialogue that…. I think we had a very candid one, which I really appreciate. It’s to highlight all that.

Like I said before, time and time again, when one speaks of small business, most people aren’t picturing a company with 40 employees or with $4 million in revenue, which under the current classification would be defined as small. Like most, I picture instead the likes of a tiny ice cream store that I used to help my parents operate in a struggling mall. I picture instead the dozens of little mama-and-papa shops lining the North Road in my constituency.

According to Statistics Canada, small businesses, as we all know, make up 98 percent of all businesses in this province. A lesser-known fact is that, of course, 55 percent of these — amounting to 290,000 businesses — have no hired help or paid help. It’s a one-man operation.

I think this is the piece that I, again, go back to the ministry — as far as making sure that these voices are heard. These voices are missing in your round tables, they’re missing in public hearings, they’re missing in public consultation, and they’re not the ones with memberships taken out at different advocacy organizations. It’s a significant number, and the ministry needs to make sure that the ones without voices are the ones that it puts first and foremost in its considerations.

There are approximately 1,700 people estimated to be working in family businesses without collecting any pay to keep their family business going. I speak from experience. We did whatever it took to make sure that it survived.

[1830]

From the heavy incorporation and accounting paperwork to the Commercial Tenancy Act, articulated in very complex language with mainly, to date, largely landlords’ interests…. A lot of these entrepreneurs, especially the older immigrants who come to this country in their 40s and 50s with significant language barriers, are not only disadvantaged in understanding the policies and the rights that they have for effective negotiations and protection; they’re also least likely to claim, let alone to be even aware of, all of the services and programs and resources that we have in this great province or to have the time to participate in accessing those programs and services.

Many of these immigrants and these new entrepreneurs make less than minimum wage by the hour. They are the so-called underinsured working poor, with just enough income to be disqualified from exemptions and subsidies. They are, at the same time, crippled by the increasing user fees like MSP, ICBC, hydro, and so on and so forth. Essentially, they are facing the same unaffordability challenges when it comes to housing, daycare, transportation, and so on and so forth, just like the rest of us. But we are in a privileged and a better position with jobs that come with benefits and pension plans, and so on and so forth, that these entrepreneurs are too often without.

The studies do suggest that during uncertain economic times, people turn to self-employment for many reasons: lack of jobs or lack of the credentials for those jobs. This is particularly even more true of immigrants, once again, whose foreign credentials are unrecognized and are often stigmatized at workplaces because of their language or cultural barrier for employment. In 2012, the stats do show that the number of self-employed without paid help was twice that of the self-employed with paid help. This gap seems to be growing over the past decade. It’s noteworthy that this is not just related to the entrepreneurs themselves, but it’s also a reflection of our society’s overall skills development and market readiness as well as the number of jobs that are available.

This is where I have to go with my hard sort of tone. There is no excuse that this government doesn’t already have its critical literature translated into the most commonly spoken languages beyond the five that we have, which is great, but we have so many other minority communities. They’re the ones with the least amount of resources. For some of the bigger minority communities, they have very savvy and well-established minority organizations, but it’s the smaller ones that are really just floundering on their own. This is where I think our government can make a huge difference by saying that no community is too small for the advocacy that they deserve.

I hope that the ministry can make a commitment to ensuring that they continue to improve the accessible literature, whether it’s electronically or through multiple languages, beyond government — also with the partners that the ministry works with. I find that it’s something to be proud of, yes, for sure, but the Internet’s been around for 30 years. It’s three decades coming, all the priorities
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and shifts towards making a lot of the administrative processes available electronically. While it’s something to be proud of, I think it’s also something to be humbled by: that we are actually making up for lost time.

I would continue to encourage the minister to make way on that front, and again, electronic petitioning is the way to go.

Also, given that this is a province with 1.2 million immigrants, and I’m talking about fairly new immigrants…. Almost all of us are immigrants to British Columbia and North America. But in a province as diverse as ours, with people from over 200 countries, 42,000 newcomers every year to this province, the government pulled back on the adult basic education and the English-language-learning programs. While I understand that this ministry has no direct jurisdiction on the decisions there, it is the advocate for small business in the government with a seat at the cabinet table.

[1835]

I do expect and call on the minister to fight hard for programs and services that may not be directly small business but that affect the very entrepreneurs who lack the language skills or who are just a few prerequisite courses away from being able to qualify into better successes that they deserve and they should have as small business owners in B.C.

On that, for me, I love to walk out of any meeting or conversation with action items. I just want to…. I’m pretty sure the ministry staff would love to go through the four, five hours of estimates that we’ve had to see what the action items were, but I thought I can just do it for you, so I summarized it.

On the funding side, I absolutely encourage this ministry to continue supporting the initiative that it already is engaged with, especially Small Business B.C. I’m a big fan of the work they do, with great performance indicators that they continue to meet and go beyond, as well as the other initiatives that the minister has taken on — Futurpreneur and BizPaL, and so on and so forth.

I do call upon the ministry to engage beyond our usual universe of the small business stakeholders and consider engaging, with better leverage, in the BIAs in all of our local communities to include the multicultural communities that we have in B.C. And of course, continue to work with other ministries within the province, as well as our federal counterpart, to continue supporting the programs like the Junior Achievement. I’m a big fan of that particular program.

As well, continue to look for ways to bring back some of the previously well-received programs, like work study, and see if we can find funding models that can bring back some of the already tested and proven programs that will benefit the people of today. This is something that I think that all of us can do better on, which is to grow our reach. The ministry needs to continue expanding their database of stakeholders.

Of course, on the red-tape side, I’ve just got to advocate for what the credit unions have voiced. They expect the ministry to be a strong voice for small businesses with respect to MMBC.

On the data side, it would be great if government can take leadership on the success and the failure rates of the small businesses so that they can fine-tune and have more of an objective to go to the partners with, as opposed to waiting for the partners to come and pitch ideas. I think that the partnership goes both ways, especially given the rich amount of data and the resources that the government has available, which may not be as easy to get for some of the stakeholders that the government works with.

On the communication side, I’m really looking forward to seeing better government guidelines, rich with infographics, simple and easy to understand with great tone that’s empowering and not penalizing, available in multiple languages, electronically available, and of course, to be able to have a communication follow-through protocol so that whenever there are announcements that the government has rolled out, they reach the ears that they’re intended for.

Lastly, on the representation and the advocacy side, and this is something that…. I have a joke that I say with my colleagues quite frequently. The joke is that I thought I was a Canadian all my life. I grew up as a Canadian, and never have I been so reminded every day that I’m Korean. I’m of Korean descent. In the beginning, I thought that it was quite ironic. I thought: “Why do they continue to remind me that I’m Korean? I’m Korean-Canadian.”

It’s because there is a real place for advocacy, where there is underrepresentation. The Korean aspect of my Canadian-ness is something that I fully embrace. It’s not that I minimize the importance of Canadian culture as a whole, but as long as there is underrepresentation, you’re going to hear me speak over and over again very strongly about seeing the kind of representation that I believe that we need to see — not just in our roundtables for small business but in our ministry staff, in our board of directors that we appoint. That’s something that, again, I would encourage the minister to pay special attention to and be our advocate where the voices are muted or unheard. So there’s that.

[1840]

On the last bit, on the advocacy side, please continue working with other ministries to look into ways that we can improve the Commercial Tenancy Act for small business owners, how we can continue to call out for better accountability from the banks and other vendors in the kind of charges that they put forward to small business owners, and what kind of disclosure practices they have.

CFIB has actually been quite a champion on that front, but I would also encourage the ministry to be a good partner in that process. So that’s that.
[ Page 11596 ]

It’s been a pleasure to work with the minister. I do want to put it on record that I think that, between the two of us…. I pride myself that we demonstrate the better of the kind of conversations that can be had in this chamber.

It’s not one way. I think it takes both of us, and I appreciate your commitment for that and the kind of openness that you’ve shown for the ideas that I brought forward on behalf of people that I have spoken with.

While I have this opportunity, also the staff the minister works with. The minister, it turns out, doesn’t have a magic wand to fix everything. It really comes down to her colleagues that she works with in the ministry and that she’s going to need to rely on and to depend on for the kind of very, very important work that she does. Every little decision and every little outreach that you do, you’re making a difference in the lives of people.

The Chair: Member, according to Standing Order 45A, 15 minutes is allocated per….

J. Shin: Did I go over 15 minutes?

The Chair: Yes, you have.

J. Shin: Okay. I’ll leave it at that, but I just wanted to say thank you for today, and I’ll take my seat.

Hon. C. Oakes: To the member opposite, first and foremost, I want to acknowledge and tell you how much I appreciate the fact that not just in estimates but ever since I’ve had this ministry you have come forward and advocated for small businesses.

You and I both share a passion for ensuring that we have a vibrant, rich, strong small business sector. I think that, as we drive to be the most business-friendly jurisdiction and successful small business jurisdiction, maintaining our number one place for small businesses, it requires collaboration.

It requires the fact that you hold us to account. To the member opposite: you’re tough, right? The fact that you’ve come and you’ve given very specific items of expectation…. Since I’ve had the privilege to know you, that is your approach.

You come in. “Here are the goals. Here are the objectives. Here is the measurement. Here are the performance indicators, and guess what. I’m going to come back, and I’m going to ask you where you’re at on that.”

I think that is what’s critically important within government. I think it’s important that, with the structure that we have, we do need to be reminded, held to account and to have those conversations.

As the minister, as I mentioned before, I can’t do it alone. I cannot do this job and advocate and bring forward the voices of small businesses by myself. I can’t do it. You have been a strong ally in ensuring that where there are gaps and where there are things that need to happen, we are listening.

I assure you that what you have brought forward…. We will continue to have this dialogue. I know that you are going to continue to push me on making sure that we are moving forward on the things that you identified.

I did note that there were a couple of other things that I had made commitments to the member opposite that we’re going to follow up on, and that includes a best practice employee guide — on what that looks like. We need to absolutely take….

I very clearly have heard what you have said around reaching out to minorities and making sure that the language that we use, the tone that we use, need to be reflective of that. So you have my commitment to work on that. The Franchises Act and the language that we put around that and the stakeholder outreach is critically important, so we’ll continue to work through that as well.

[1845]

On the red-tape-reduction item, I know that I’m sure that there will be some items that the member opposite has folks that put through on that process, and I look forward to seeing that.

I guess, maybe, just a final comment, and I didn’t really know this before today. Probably why we are both so passionate about small business — and I don’t think the member knew this — is that my family moved here as immigrants as well. My great-grandparents actually opened an ice cream parlour in Green Timbers.

Interjection.

Hon. C. Oakes: Yes, I know.

I think that having grown up…. My parents owned small businesses as well. I think it gives us a different perspective. I think we can always do better, and we should always strive higher, and we should always ensure that there are things that we can always be doing better to support our citizens and to support our small business.

I’m very confident that the member opposite will continue to keep us accountable. In fact, I expect that from the member opposite, to ensure that we are on track with all of the things that we’ve identified today.

In closing, I, too, want to thank the staff for doing such a tremendous job.

Vote 40: ministry operations, $3,862,000 — approved.

Hon. C. Oakes: I move that the committee rise, report completion of the resolution and ask leave to sit again.

Motion approved.

The committee rose at 6:46 p.m.

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Hansard — Wednesday, March 16, 2016 p.m. — Volume 35, Number 7 (HTML) (2024)
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