Monday, May 27, 2019, p.m., Issue 262 (2024)

The House met at 1:35 p.m.

[Mr. Speaker in the chair.]

Routine Business

Introductions by Members

J. Yap: All members know of the very good work that Rotarians do around the world, and certainly here in British Columbia, through their Rotary Clubs. They’re in every community represented here in this House.

I’m delighted to welcome to this House a group of visiting Rotarians. There’s a group from the Lower Mainland that are part of the Rotary Friendship Exchange team from district 5040. There’s also a group from the Philippines, who are visiting here for the Rotary Friendship Exchange from district 3810 of Rotary.

With us today from the greater Vancouver area, including my community and my riding of Richmond, are Elena Agala, Davinder Grewal, Bridget Jacob, Elizabeth Scott, Joyce Alisharan, Kathy Moir, Ajit Thandi, Lorna Simms. Also, visiting from the Philippines, some for the very first time to Canada, are the following Rotarians: past district governor and team leader Josie Ang, assistant team leader Eric Co, Mylene Co, Mark Co, Aida Go, Leslie Rivera, Emily Sy, Ruby Bairan and Armie de Castro. Would the House please offer a warm welcome to these Rotarians.

L. Reid: I have the absolute privilege to talk about an organization that only brings joy into the lives of British Columbians and Albertans today. It’s the B.C. and Alberta Guide Dogs. We’re joined by Bill Thornton, the CEO; Mike Annan, who leads the Vancouver Island Compassion Dogs, which is now a division of B.C. and Alberta Guide Dogs; and Cathy Nidoski, who’s the development officer. I’d ask the House to please make them very, very welcome.

Hon. A. Dix: You know, of course, that in an emergency, every second counts and that paramedics face challenging situations every day, not only providing amazing care in times of emergency but are important parts of our community care system, highly trained and skilled.

This week is Paramedic Services Week, May 26 to June 2. I want to introduce paramedics in the gallery with us today: Jon Deakin, Scott Swake, Anna Stef*ck, Paula McTaggart, Brad Cameron and the communication representative, Kathryn Alverson. I know everyone in the House will want to wish all these amazing ambulance paramedics welcome.

R. Coleman: Joining us in the precinct today are 27 grade 6 students and 13 adults from Topham Elementary School, along with their contact, Ms. Allison Black. They will be in the gallery somewhere around 2:10 p.m., so be on your best behaviour for the latter half of question period. Would the House please make them welcome.

Hon. K. Chen: I’m very, very thankful to have the opportunity to introduce two very special people in my life: my husband, Sky, and my five-year-old son, Yoann, who are joining us for question period today.

I know many, many members in this House work very hard and are dedicated to the work we do. In order to do the important work we do here, sometimes we sacrifice a lot of time away from our family and loved ones.

During the past two years, I’ve been really, really thankful — and thanks to my husband, especially — that they’ve been travelling back and forth, between Burnaby and Victoria, with me. But this is going to be their last week to do this regular travel. My son is going to go to kindergarten in September, which is really exciting. It also means that I’m going to miss him, not being able to see him ride his scooter around the Legislature, popping up outside of my office window. Also, my husband’s homemade lunch won’t be available anymore. And they’re probably going to miss the ferry ride home with my Surrey and North Delta colleagues every Thursday after work.

I want to really take this opportunity to thank them for supporting the work I do every single day. I love you so much. Welcome. I hope all the members will make them very welcome, and hopefully, my five-year-old will behave during question period.

Tributes

JACK DOAN

M. Stilwell: It’s with a heavy heart today that I share the news of the passing of a devoted volunteer and dear friend, Jack Doan. Jack passed away on May 16 at the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital after a short battle with pancreatic cancer.

Jack created many lifelong friendships and acquaintances through his worklife as a welding instructor and dean of vocational programs at Malaspina University College as well as his participation in sports as a competitive curler, an avid golfer and his volunteer work. He devoted more than 20 years as an active member and volunteer with the B.C. Liberal Party, serving as a regional organizer for many of those years, assisting ridings in the north Island region.

Jack was actually the first person I met who officially talked to me about what my life in politics would be like. Jack went on to be my campaign manager, my riding president and the dearest of friends.

[1:40 p.m.]

He was supportive of all things positive, a family man and a thoughtful and caring friend. He believed in community and giving folks a hand up.

I hope that the House will join me in passing on condolences to his wife, Jean, his children and his grandchildren. He was truly one of a kind, and he will be greatly missed and fondly remembered by all those who knew him.

Introductions by Members

Hon. D. Eby: Joining us today is Mark Stockbrocks. He’s a really neat guy that’s got a non-profit called Access Stickers. He was joining the accessibility event out on the front lawn. He’s from Vancouver–Point Grey.

In his non-profit, he visits local businesses, and he has two stickers. One is “Access hero,” and one is the sticker you wouldn’t want, which is “Access zero.” His approach in engaging businesses around accessibility has made many businesses much more accessible wherever he goes.

I wonder if the House would join me, first of all, in welcoming him but also congratulating him for his work on behalf of all people with disabilities.

J. Thornthwaite: I have some special guests I’d like to welcome to the Legislature on behalf, also, of my colleagues from Columbia River–Revelstoke, Parksville-Qualicum as well as Surrey–White Rock. They will be meeting with them later. From the Canadian Media Producers Association are Liz Shorten, who’s the senior vice-president of operations and member services; Joely Collins, who is branch council member and founder of Million Faces Productions; and Kim Roberts, who’s also a branch council member and producer at Sepia Films. Could the House make them welcome.

S. Chandra Herbert: I see a friend up in the gallery today. He’s rather subdued, I must say. His purple-sequined suit — really, I’ve never seen something so drab. No, just kidding.

I want to welcome Yogi Omar to the House. He’s here with a group of folks who’ve been pushing for equality, accessibility and inclusion in all sorts of different ways. He works in the film industry, providing talent to all those folks who need talent. I just want to welcome him and everyone else here today.

Hon. C. James: I have two guests in the gallery today. The first is Caitlin Croteau. I knew Caitlin as a volunteer extraordinaire, but she’s also very active in the arts community here in Victoria. She has a friend with her today, Jack Hayes, who is visiting from Toronto but originally from Ten Mile Point. Would the House please make them very welcome.

Tributes

ALEX EWASHEN

Hon. M. Mungall: Well, Creston lost one of its great citizens on May 20. At the age of 87 years old, Alex Ewashen passed away. Along with his wonderful wife, Julie, and his large family, Creston and all of the Kootenays will be mourning this very happy and vibrant man.

He was born to a Doukhobor family on a farm in Nanton, Alberta. Alex was a long-time auctioneer and business person who worked with people throughout the Kootenays after he and Julie settled in Creston.

He eventually wrote and published his memoirs for his grandchildren, titled Rags to Riches…My Way. One of his most wonderful stories and experiences, as told in the book, was joining a peace caravan in 1984 that travelled 50,000 kilometres throughout Western Europe and the communist bloc.

Over the past 11 years, I got to know Alex through his political activism, and everyone in Creston agrees that Alex knew the best spots for campaign signs and was always the first to get there. He also taught me many good auctioneering tips as we sold homemade pies for many good causes.

He is going to be very, very missed. I ask that the House join me in sending condolences to his family.

BRANDON BASSI

R. Kahlon: I, too, rise on a sad note. A few days ago we lost a young man in our community of North Delta, a young man named Brandon Bassi, age of 19 years old. He passed away in a single-car accident.

Brandon Bassi was a real soccer talent. He graduated from North Delta just last year, a basketball champion. He got a full scholarship for soccer at SFU. Just last week he had won the provincial championships with his Coastal FC club, and he passed away in a car accident.

The community, the family, everyone is quite shook up about the passing of Brandon. The Whitecaps posted a message. Soccer Canada and SFU have all been sharing their condolences.

I ask that the House please join me in sending condolences to the Bassi family.

[1:45 p.m.]

Introductions by Members

S. Malcolmson: On a happier note, I’m glad to have two leaders from Vancouver Island joining me in the House, shadowing my work today, Ella Van Horne and Sophie Steele.

Both are involved in student council and the ME to WE movement in their high school. They’re now both heading to university in the fall, one in environmental science, hoping to be involved in protecting our marine environment, and the other to Guelph for a bachelor of commerce, hoping to be involved in public service and possibly in the law.

I particularly want to recognize Ella Van Horne as a recipient of Zonta’s Young Women in Public Affairs Award. That is a Nanaimo organization that is supporting young women moving into higher education.

Also in the gallery is my friend Janina Stajic from the central Vancouver Island chapter of Equal Voice, a group committed to seeing more women occupy the seats of legislatures and parliaments like this. It’s due to Equal Voice’s work that I have two present and future leaders shadowing me today in the House.

Would the House please make them welcome.

Tributes

BRANDON BASSI

Hon. H. Bains: I also would like to add my voice to the member for Delta North’s. I had the opportunity to meet with Brandon and his older brother Derrick, who is a star in his own right. A huge loss to sports fans, especially to the soccer community. Brandon was, in a true sense, a hero and a role model for many younger people coming behind him.

He went in a very untimely fashion, and his parents are devastated. The whole community is devastated. I think that after helping win provincials, he was on to the nationals, as was mentioned, and many, many, young stars looked up to Brandon. I just want to say that people like Brandon come only once in a while. He was a rising star, and he will be sorely missed in the sports world but also as a true human being.

I just want to add my voice, and I’m asking the whole House to join with us. In one voice, we send our deepest condolences to the Bassi family and hope that they will find the courage to carry on with the legacy that he left behind so that other stars will follow in his footsteps and continue to become role models.

I personally would like to say how sorry we are to see such a rising star leave so early in a single-car accident. It’s hard to find words to describe the loss of this young man. Beautiful family. They provide so much support to the community and to the other players. I just want to say our deepest condolences to the family.

Introductions by Members

Hon. D. Donaldson: Joining us in the gallery today is Christine Anonuevo. She’s the executive director of the Upper Skeena Development Centre in Hazelton. Very nice to have a Hazelton person here today. The Upper Skeena Development Centre works on the local economy, provides employment services and works towards defining what sustainable employment means for remote, rural communities and people who live in those communities.

She’s here to meet with the Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction and to take in — what shall we call it? — the proceedings today in the Legislature. Would the House please join me in making Christine welcome.

S. Furstenau: I rise to acknowledge and recognize two extraordinary Cowichan Valley women. First of all, it’s Tricia Datene’s birthday today, the constituency staff person in my office. She is nothing short of a superhero for the incredible work she does in Cowichan. I wish her a very happy birthday.

[1:50 p.m.]

Secondly, in the gallery today, we have Sandy McPherson. I recently spoke about her, but I’m going to go into a bit more depth. Sandy has worked on at least a dozen different non-profit organizations and government committees. She’s been a municipal councillor in Highlands. She puts her efforts into organizations that work to connect neighbours, support women and create food security and waste management in Cowichan Valley.

She and her husband, Alan Philip, who is also here today, walk the talk in sustainable living, having installed energy alternative systems on their property, from a solar system to heat pumps to a biodigester. And if that’s not enough, Sandy and Alan have created local investment support through small loans in the Cowichan Valley to what one of the recipients of their funding now says must be in the millions of dollars.

Perhaps most significantly, Sandy does this without looking for recognition, which is why it’s even more special that a few weeks ago she was one of the 24 recipients of the B.C. Community Achievement Awards, hosted at Government House by the Lieutenant-Governor of B.C. She was selected out of 150 applicants across B.C.

I am so proud to know Sandy, to live in a community with her and to marvel at the extraordinary work that she does to make Cowichan a better place.

A. Weaver: I have a number of guests in the House today. First, I’d like to welcome Stuart Cameron, a former head boy from Glenlyon Norfolk School and a student at UVic. He’s joined, as well, by Andrea Piccinin, who’s a professor of psychology at the University of Victoria, and her daughter Emma Hofer. Would the House please make them feel very welcome here today.

I’d also like to thank a few people who are here to support a bill I’ll be introducing shortly. They are: Nicola Spurling, president of the Tri-Cities Pride; Christina Winter, chair of the B.C. Green Party equity and diversity committee; Peter Gajdics, a conversion therapy survivor and author of the book entitled The Inheritance of Shame.

My friend from Vancouver–West End mentioned Yogi Omar, a queer activist and vice-president of the Vancouver Men’s Chorus, and LGBTQ2S+ advocates Sabine Möller, Bob Warwick, Matt Watson, Jade Lacosse, Alexa Powell and Ryan Clayton.

Thank you all for your courage and your tireless advocacy. The work you do is important, and I am so humbled and honoured to be in your company today.

I’d also, and finally, like to welcome two federal Green candidates, David Merner and Racelle Kooy, both of whom are in the gallery today.

Would the House make all these wonderful people feel welcome.

A. Olsen: I also would like to make an introduction of a number of young leaders who are joining us in the House today and who are here in the gallery somewhere. They’re here to learn about campaigns and to be involved in the upcoming federal election. They also wanted to see the B.C. Legislature in action, so they’re here today.

Today in the House we have Elyse Robinson, Kevin Fran­ceschini, Maddie Turenne, Kiara Nazon, Sara Merner, Samantha Burns, Sierra Harvey, Karli Mann, Leah Friedman, Emma-Jane Burian and Mackenzie Kerr.

I’m inspired by these young leaders. I had the opportunity to meet them before lunch. It was a great conversation. Would the House please make them all feel very welcome.

Introduction and
First Reading of Bills

BILL M218 — SEXUAL ORIENTATION
AND GENDER IDENTITY
PROTECTION ACT

A. Weaver presented a bill intituled Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Protection Act.

A. Weaver: I move that a bill intituled Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Protection Act, of which notice has been given in my name on the order paper, be now read a first time.

Conversion therapy is an abusive, dangerous practice that must be banned to protect the safety and health of British Columbians — children and youth, in particular. This is, fundamentally, an issue of human rights. Medical and scientific associations, including the American Psychiatric Association and the World Health Organization, condemn the practice, but it continues to this day, and it continues to this day in British Columbia.

It’s particularly important and timely to be advancing this ban today, as we hear news that the United Conservative Party of Alberta is walking back the previous government’s commitment to end the practice there.

This bill seeks to ban the practice of so-called conversion therapy by prohibiting the provision of the treatment to minors and the payment or reimbursem*nt of conversion therapy through health insurance or MSP. All British Columbians deserve to be loved, supported and accepted, not persecuted for who they are.

I’m honoured to be standing alongside LGBTQ2S+ advocates, including survivors of conversion therapy, as we reaffirm the rights of all British Columbians to be who they are and to live in safety. It is because of your advocacy that we are here today.

Mr. Speaker: The question is first reading of the bill.

Motion approved.

[1:55 p.m.]

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

Bill M218, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Protection Act, 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.

BILL M219 — ADOPTION
AMENDMENT ACT, 2019

D. Barnett presented a bill intituled Adoption Amendment Act, 2019.

D. Barnett: I move that the bill intituled Adoption Amend­ment Act, 2019, of which notice has been given in my name on the order paper, be introduced and read a first time now.

I am pleased to stand in this House to reintroduce the Adoption Amendment Act. I first brought this bill forward on November 21, 2018. This bill removes the legislative stipulation that disqualifies adults over the age of 19 from formally being adopted if these individuals were not supported as children by their prospective adopter during their youth.

It increases the ability for consenting adults to have the freedom to define their family relationships and have them recognized by the state without the unnecessary and arbitrarily restrictive legislation exclusions currently present in the Adoption Act.

If passed, consenting adults who enter into adoptions will have the ability to have equal access to state benefits afforded to families. This will align British Columbia with other Canadian jurisdictions that already have allowances to adulthood adoption in place, such as Manitoba, Alberta, Ontario and Saskatchewan, among others.

This bill will allow for the same protective safeguards against abuse of the adoption process that are already granted to the adoption of minors to remain in place for adults by allowing the courts to determine the validity of the motivations of prospective adult adoptions.

Finally, and most importantly, this bill has been brought forward due to the fact that in my constituency, I have adults who wish to be adopted, and under the current system, it is difficult. I see no good reason that these individuals should not be allowed to define and have recognized their consenting familial relationships.

Mr. Speaker: The question is first reading of the bill.

Motion approved.

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

Bill M219, Adoption Amendment Act, 2019, 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.

BILL M220 — HOMEOWNER PROTECTION
AMENDMENT ACT, 2019

L. Throness presented a bill intituled Homeowner Protection Amendment Act, 2019.

L. Throness: I move that a bill intituled Homeowner Protection Amendment Act, 2019, of which notice has been given in my name on the order paper, be introduced and read now for the first time.

Police have estimated that there are 20,000 grow operations in B.C. With the legalization of cannabis, there will be many thousands more. This causes a problem for home­owners, because most banks will not provide a mortgage for a home that has previously been used as a grow op. Home­owners also have difficulty getting insurance. This all makes selling a former grow op very difficult for any buyer who cannot pay cash for a house.

My bill would task an existing government office, the new homes registry, to develop remediation standards in consultation with industry. After remediation work is done at the owner’s expense and inspected by a provincially licensed home inspector, the office will certify that the home has been safely and completely remediated.

This will give comfort to lenders and insurers, allowing them to mortgage and insure these homes at prevailing market rates. This will, in turn, have a positive effect on the availability of housing, as thousands of previously inaccessible homes across B.C. are brought onto the market for new homeowners to enjoy.

Mr. Speaker: The question is first reading of the bill.

Motion approved.

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

Bill M220, Homeowner Protection Amendment Act, 2019, 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.

BILL M221 — PRESERVING BRUNSWICK
POINT FOR AGRICULTURE AND MIGRATING
WATERFOWL HABITAT ACT

I. Paton presented a bill intituled Preserving Brunswick Point for Agriculture and Migrating Waterfowl Habitat Act.

I. Paton: I move that a bill intituled Preserving Brunswick Point for Agriculture and Migrating Waterfowl Habitat Act, of which notice has been given in my name on the order paper, be introduced and now read for the first time.

[2:00 p.m.]

The history of Brunswick Point has been a long and painful one for several Delta farm families. In 1968, the proposal to build a coal terminal at Deltaport and a railway line through Delta farmland began, and with it came the expropriation of 4,000 acres of prime farmland in west Delta.

Many years later, after realizing this expropriated land was not necessarily needed as part of the port expansion, the government offered to sell most of these farms back to their original owners. However, just over 600 acres of Brunswick Point farmland was held back by the Crown and not sold back to the original owners but rather leased back to the farm families with short-term leases.

Brunswick Point is a triangular-shape piece of land that borders the ocean, the Fraser River at Canoe Pass and has seven kilometres of dike walking trails. This farmland boasts exceptional class 1 soil that grows B.C.’s very best potatoes. Most importantly, this particular area is world-renowned as a resting stop for migrating Canada geese, snow geese, swans and snowy owls. The leftover morsels of potatoes, grain and corn make excellent feed for these resting birds. This parcel of land is also only two kilometres away from the Reifel Bird Sanctuary.

Being precariously close to Deltaport coal and container terminal and a massive warehousing development next door at TFN, it is vitally important that this precious 600 acres of farmland continue to be held by the Crown, be kept an agriculture and wildlife habitat in perpetuity and be offered back to local Delta farmers with long-term leases. This bill aims to protect the Brunswick Point farmland and bird habitat from any future economic development.

Mr. Speaker: The question is first reading of the bill.

Motion approved.

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

Bill M221, Preserving Brunswick Point for Agriculture and Migrating Waterfowl Habitat Act, 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)

ACCESSIBILITY AND INCLUSION
FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES

M. Elmore: I rise today to acknowledge B.C.’s second annual AccessAbility Week. May 26 to June 1 is a week to cele­brate diversity inclusion, to recognize the people and organ­izations who work to make B.C. a better and more inclusive province and to raise awareness about what each of us can do to support the right and opportunity of every person with a disability to live in an accessible and inclusive community and pursue the life they desire.

I want to thank all of the self-advocates and representatives who joined us on the front lawn of the Legislature today to share their work, experiences and ideas for a more accessible B.C. Throughout B.C., we’re seeing improvements in accessible tourism, schools, workplaces and public spaces. We are collaborating with the disability community, First Nations, the business community, individuals and families. Our shared goal is to make B.C. the most accessible province in Canada, but there is still much to do so that everyone can fully participate with dignity in society.

I want to recognize organizations such as the B.C. Aboriginal Network on Disability Society, Disability Alliance B.C., the Neil Squire Society, the Rick Hansen Foundation, the presidents group, Inclusion B.C. and so many more with a deep commitment to access and inclusion in our province.

I hope you’ll join me with a renewed commitment to create and support more accessible, inclusive and welcoming workplaces and communities in B.C. Together, let’s celebrate the significant contributions of British Columbians with disabilities.

PRINCE GEORGE SPRUCE KINGS

S. Bond: Well, it was a season for the record books. The Prince George Spruce Kings made history and created incredible excitement in our community and beyond. For the first time in franchise history, the Kings became the B.C. Hockey League champions. The Kings went 16 and 1 in the playoffs, and no other BCHL team has won the title playing just 17 games. Their only defeat came on March 5 in the third game, when they lost 3 to nothing to Coquitlam.

They went on to eliminate the Express in five games and then won back-to-back sweeps over the Chilliwack Chiefs, Victoria Grizzlies and Vernon Vipers. The Kings then went on to Alberta and won the Doyle Cup championship by defeating the Brooks Bandits. That intense rivalry would continue, as these two teams faced each other in the national junior A hockey championship game.

[2:05 p.m.]

Our team played an incredible game and made an epic comeback. In fact, they scored with less than a minute to play to make the score 4-3. But that is where the scoring ended. While the Spruce Kings didn’t end their history-making season with a national championship, we could not be more proud of them.

Perhaps the best part of the story is that they were a fan­tastic team both on and off the ice. They would regularly attend community events and even served the tea at my annual seniors’ Christmas celebration.

This team was a success for a lot of reasons, including a dedicated GM, Mike Hawes; head coach, Adam Maglio; assistant coach, Alex Evin; and the entire Kings organization. Special thanks to the billet families and the volunteers who provide support for the players every day and at every game.

Congratulations, Prince George Spruce Kings. What a ride. We can’t wait to see you hit the ice again in just a few short months.

TOURISM INDUSTRY

R. Singh: It’s Tourism Week in B.C. and Canada, giving us all a chance to reflect on the contributions this industry makes to life in B.C. British Columbia is a top vacation destination, welcoming 6.1 million visitors from across the globe last year. The industry is an economic engine, with $18.4 billion in revenue in 2017. It is the third-largest employer in B.C., providing 137,000 good-paying jobs.

All of this is possible because of the incredible people who are at the heart of B.C. tourism — people who are passionate about sharing beautiful B.C. with visitors and helping them create memories that last a lifetime. As locals, tourism gives us the opportunity to experience things people travel from all over the world to see and do right here in our own backyard — things like community and Indigenous arts and culture festivals, opportunities for outdoor recreation through world-class trails and ski hills, major sports competitions like the rugby sevens and beautiful parks, gardens and public art displays.

The province is also working to grow this sector even further. The new strategic framework for tourism in B.C. sets out a vision for a prosperous and sustainable tourism sector over the next three years. I would like to thank everyone in the tourism industry for their work in growing the sector and sharing its benefits with all of us. As we celebrate Tourism Week in B.C. this year, I encourage everyone to get out and explore everything that beautiful B.C. has to offer.

RICHMOND CARING PLACE

L. Reid: Richmond Community Services Centre Society was established in 1985 with the intent of establishing a purpose-built community services building as a permanent, cost-efficient home for health and social service agencies serving Richmond, where they could share services, programming and meeting space.

Many communities had converted spaces in buildings to share space, costs and services, but this was the first group in Canada and North America to actually enter into a fundraising program to design and build a purpose-built facility to meet the needs of these agencies. Louise Young, representing the then Richmond information and volunteer centre, was elected as president. Office space was donated by a local accounting firm, Leversage and Co. Strong support and advocacy was provided by councillor Bob McMath and MLA Nick Loenen.

At this point, however, there was only $100 in the bank. Caring Place ended up with a $5.3 million campaign, including all the agencies and even high school students Khalil Shariff, who’s now the CEO of the Aga Khan Foundation Canada, and Shachi Kurl, who’s the executive director of the firm Angus Reid.

Professional fundraisers Mitch and Liz Karris were brought on board in the early stages of fundraising and guided the fundraising program through to the end. Major donors to the campaign were Maureen and Milan Ilich of Progressive Construction, Helmut and Hugo Eppich of Eppich Industries, the McPhail family and the province of B.C. through a community grant.

It took this group of dedicated individuals seven years to raise the funds, design and build the building, opening the doors in May of 1994 with cost-sharing arrangements similar to how a strata corporation works. It was decided to officially call the building the Richmond Caring Place, as the campaign was so successful. Thus, the name of the society was changed to the Caring Place Society.

The experiment has proven to be very successful with the majority of tenant agencies in the building today being the original tenants. The Richmond Caring Place has been their home for the last 25 years. Happy 25th anniversary, Richmond Caring Place. Your agencies make a difference every day.

COMOX VALLEY
GROUND SEARCH AND RESCUE

R. Leonard: This spring I had the pleasure of meeting with Paul Berry and Bronwen Beedle, two well-respected leaders with Comox Valley Ground Search and Rescue.

[2:10 p.m.]

They invited me and legislative intern Gagan Lidhran, who has a particular interest herself, to tour their impressive base of operations.

As the weather gets warmer and more people head out to the back country, we recognize the hard work, dedication and skill that the Comox Valley Ground Search and Rescue team puts into making sure people in our community are safe. Like all 80 ground search and rescue teams across B.C., the Comox Valley SAR team is on call 24-7, 365 days a year to respond to calls. They hone their skills in weekly trainings and are involved in outdoor education programs. In 2017, 60-plus Comox Valley SAR volunteers contributed over 12,000 hours to search and rescue operations, educational programs and community events.

At the time we met, they had just aided in rescuing a stranded photographer from the Courtenay estuary when the tide rose and he was stranded, perched on a log in the water. Next thing you know, members attended in the rescue of an injured mountain biker on Forbidden Plateau. Their equipment and expertise were critical in bringing the biker down through the rugged terrain.

These are some of the many stories that make up the community of Comox Valley Ground Search and Rescue. They impressed upon us that people need to reach out and not fear that they can’t afford to be rescued. To support ground SAR’s best efforts everywhere, more provincial resources on top of the base funding, $16.9 million to be exact, have been dedicated over the next three years. So when recreating in the Comox Valley, be prepared, have fun and know that the brave men and women of our ground search and rescue have your back if trouble hits.

CHILD CARE PROVIDERS

L. Throness: In 2012, the government proclaimed the month of May as a time to celebrate those who care for children in our province. May was a time for me to visit with providers and listen to their stories. I hear often from people like Amanda, who said: “We have created child care spaces from our hearts and are driven by the passion we have for the education of our youngest and most vulnerable citizens.”

Corinne writes: “I love my role as a caregiver. We have raised three wonderful children, who are loving, kind, contributing, productive members of today’s society. The same skills that raised my family have kept me employed in this industry for years.”

Early childhood educators also expressed to me their enthu­siasm for their often difficult work. Last week the Standing Committee on Children and Youth travelled across B.C. to hear from agency providers and parents who care for children with special needs. During our hearings, we heard from many, like Bernadette O’Donnell, who, on a volunteer basis, founded and still leads the Okanagan Valley Assessment and Support Society, advocating for people, including children, with FASD.

Parents, many of them lone parents, told stories of personal sacrifice. For decades, they forgo their own well-being in order to provide a happy and secure environment for their children, who suffer from multiple and profound health barriers. My heart went out to them, in particular, but I was also inspired by their passion, dedication and love for the most needy children in our society.

I was reminded that there are many problems to solve in this field, and we have a responsibility to find new ways to help. But I’m also filled with hope at meeting so many wonderful people doing amazing things every day, not just for children in their care but for all of us, because children are the future of B.C.

Today, near the close of Child Care Month, we recognize, thank and pay tribute to caregivers and children, and we renew the commitment of this House to them.

Oral Questions

ACTION ON GAS PRICES AND COURT CASE
ON TRANSPORT OF DILUTED BITUMEN

A. Wilkinson: It’s no secret that British Columbians will be spending this summer paying the highest gasoline prices in North America. Meanwhile, this government is spending tax dollars on an apparently futile lawsuit, which went down to a 5-nothing defeat in the Court of Appeal on Friday.

This is all an attempt to block a pipeline that is 65 years old, that supplies the vast majority of fuel in British Columbia, the replacement of which would improve our fuel supply. The Court of Appeal decision was a total defeat for this government’s agenda.

The obvious question is: is this government prepared to admit defeat and move on or continue this futile fight at British Columbia taxpayers’ expense?

[2:15 p.m.]

Hon. G. Heyman: The people of British Columbia expect, as all Canadians do, to have a government that will stand up and protect their environment, their economy and the interests of the people of the province.

We have always said that this was a question that we believed would end up in the Supreme Court. In fact, we invited the government of Canada to do a joint reference to the Supreme Court. They, unfortunately, declined. This case will go forward because it’s important to all British Columbians.

Interjections.

Mr. Speaker: Members, please.

The Leader of the Official Opposition on a supplemental.

ACTION ON GAS PRICES AND
B.C. UTILITIES COMMISSION INQUIRY

A. Wilkinson: This debacle in the courts has proven to be a big humiliation for this government. No dissenting judgment. The unanimous judgment of five Court of Appeal judges who told this government that it’s barking up a dead tree.

At the same time as the Premier tries to block pipeline capacity to relieve the high gasoline prices in British Columbia, he has told the B.C. Utilities Commission to investigate…

Interjections.

Mr. Speaker: Members.

A. Wilkinson: …the issue of gasoline prices but not including provincial policy or taxes or anything to do with the pipeline. We couldn’t have that. The quote: “The commission may not inquire into the effects of provincial enactments or policy….”

This commission is a sham. Why is that?

Hon. G. Heyman: As I’ve said before in this House and as the opposition leader should clearly know, the expansion of the pipeline is not intended to transport refined product. In fact, in a submission…

Interjections.

Mr. Speaker: Members.

Hon. G. Heyman: …to the National Energy Board, Trans Mountain stated clearly that refined product shipments would not increase as a result of the Trans Mountain expansion project.

The opposition can try to whip up hysteria among British Columbians because they’re facing very real challenges. What the opposition apparently is not willing to do is to stand up to the big oil companies that have been gouging British Columbians for years.

Mr. Speaker: The Leader of the Official Opposition on a second supplemental.

A. Wilkinson: The Minister of Environment clearly doesn’t want to address the issue of this commission of inquiry because he knows it’s a sham. It’s a stall tactic to get this government through the summer and pretend the problem is going to go away. Well, it’s not going to go away.

We have the highest fuel prices in North America for good reason, and this government doesn’t want to talk about it. This government has been all over the map about the reason for those prices and has no answer.

Will the minister or someone on the government side finally put the truth forward and say that they have no plan, no goals, no purpose in trying to manage fuel prices? They are simply trying to buy time and hope for the best.

Hon. G. Heyman: The opposition leader’s conflation of different issues is astounding. It has always been astounding, and it astounds us to this day.

Are we talking about an expansion of the transport of diluted bitumen, which would put tens of thousands…

Interjections.

Mr. Speaker: Members.

Hon. G. Heyman: …of jobs in British Columbia at risk and billions in the British Columbia economy at risk? Or are we talking about the highest margins for refining of anywhere in Canada, which has nothing to do with the Trans Mountain expansion project? The Premier has rightly asked the B.C. Utilities Commission to investigate the impacts on the prices of gasoline in British Columbia so we can get a clear answer.

What the opposition won’t do is tell British Columbians just what would be sacrificed through their facile and disgraced solution of cutting taxes to turn even more profits over to gas companies. And take away from what. Do they want to give up road construction in rural B.C.? Do they want to give up transit in the Lower Mainland? Do they want to give up taxes that go to health care in British Columbia?

We will continue to stand up for British Columbians, because that’s what they deserve after 16 long years of neglect.

[2:20 p.m.]

T. Stone: Well, unfortunately for British Columbia’s taxpayers, this government is going to continue to lose in the courts. The Trans Mountain project is both federally and provincially approved. It does offer a safer alternative to more oil by rail. If the Premier was actually genuine in his promise of a year ago that he would provide that relief at the pumps, then he should end his opposition to this pipeline expansion and he should cut taxes.

Now, instead, he continues to pursue these losing court cases. There wasn’t even one jurist that was willing to side with the government’s position at the Court of Appeal — not one jurist. The Premier continues to pursue these losing court cases. He raises gas taxes. He asks the BCUC to look into all of the reasons why fuel prices are so high here in British Columbia and then bans the BCUC from looking at his own government’s policies and taxes. That would be like trying to figure out why you’re going broke without looking at your expenses.

How does this government explain blocking the commission from looking at the government’s own policies and taxes when it comes to high fuel prices?

Hon. G. Heyman: How does the opposition explain all the years they spent in government blocking the BCUC from looking at anything at all?

Interjections.

Mr. Speaker: Members.

Hon. G. Heyman: The Premier has referred the question of gasoline price gouging to the B.C. Utilities Commission.

We continue to stand up for British Columbians, as they expect us to do, by referring the very, very important question of a provincial government’s ability to regulate impacts to our environment and economy to the highest court in the land. British Columbians expect and deserve a provincial government that will continually defend their interests, that will leave no stone unturned. To use the courts to determine what is provincial interest….

Interjections.

Mr. Speaker: Members. Members.

Hon. G. Heyman: After 16 years of the opposition being in government, doing anything but looking after British Columbia’s interests, they finally have a government that will.

Interjections.

Mr. Speaker: Members.

The member for Kamloops–South Thompson on a supplemental.

T. Stone: Well, it takes one to know one.

This Premier and this government continue to make it up as they go along the way, blaming everything, blaming everyone around them for record-high gas prices here in British Columbia, instead of actually taking action. The Premier has offered a long list of excuses for doing nothing to ease pain at the pumps. His farce of a BCUC review is a cynical delay tactic that does nothing for British Columbians paying these record-high gas prices. We’re heading into summer, so British Columbians can expect that gas prices are likely going to increase.

As analyst Dan McTeague told the media, “He’s short-circuited” any thorough study, “and as a result, the outcome is going to be predictably useless, irrelevant and…lead to even further questions as to what the Premier has to hide.”

My question is this. Why is this government afraid to let the BCUC look at the government’s taxes and policies as key reasons why fuel prices are as high as they are in British Columbia?

[2:25 p.m.]

Hon. G. Heyman: Well, we’ve raised gas prices 2.2 cents per litre since we took office.

What did the opposition do?

Interjections.

Mr. Speaker: Members.

Hon. G. Heyman: The opposition did what’s expected of British Columbia’s governments, and that’s to ensure that we have the resources for health care, for road construction, for transit.

No less an authority than the Sauder School of Business termed the opposition’s plan to return taxes by saying it wouldn’t really change the prices. It would boost the profits of the oil companies, and it would do absolutely nothing for consumers.

In our opinion, we have a plan to look at what’s happening to gas prices, and it doesn’t include a discredited suggestion from the opposition that would cost British Columbians in every corner of this province in terms of public services, while simply adding to the profits of oil companies.

GOVERNMENT APPROACH TO
TEACHERS’ COLLECTIVE BARGAINING

A. Weaver: Last week we heard from the BCTF that this government is putting forth essentially the same proposals in contract negotiations that the former government did in 2014. In particular, government has tabled larger maximum class sizes and fewer specialty teachers.

In 2014, the now Minister of Education stated that class size and composition was a “central issue” in the ongoing teachers strike at the time and that it was “critical” and that “class size and composition do impact learning outcomes.”

My question is to the Minister of Education. Starting in 2002 and culminating in the landmark Supreme Court of Canada decision on November 10, 2016, the BCTF fought hard to restore provisions regarding their ability to bargain class size and composition. What was government thinking when they tabled their class size and composition proposals, and what does he think this will do to the morale of B.C. teachers?

Hon. R. Fleming: I thank the member for the question. He did indeed go through a litany of damaging years in public education in British Columbia that stand in stark contrast to the record of our government over the last 21 months. Let’s remember that for 16 years, that government over there, the opposition now, fought with teachers, ripped up contracts….

Interjections.

Mr. Speaker: Members. Members, the Minister of Education has the floor.

Interjections.

Hon. R. Fleming: I think they’re a little sensitive, Mr. Speaker, about losing in court…

Interjections.

Mr. Speaker: Members.

Hon. R. Fleming: …three times. Three times, Mr. Speaker.

Interjections.

Mr. Speaker: Members.

Minister of Education.

Hon. R. Fleming: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It’s really sensitive, because they lost three times in the Supreme Court.

The point is that they wasted 12 years. They ripped resources away from kids and families, they demonized teachers, and they lost. We’re taking a different approach.

Interjections.

Hon. R. Fleming: I think the member who asked the question would like an answer. I think he would appreciate it, and here’s what the answer is. In 21 months, our government has added $1 billion of annual resource….

Interjections.

[2:30 p.m.]

Hon. R. Fleming: We’ve hired 4,000 new teachers and 1,000 education assistants. Funding for students with special needs is up 23 percent. Rural education funding is at a record high and up under our government.

Interjections.

Mr. Speaker: Members.

Hon. R. Fleming: I would ask the members opposite to read some headlines they might not want to read — the Delta Optimist, the Kelowna Courier. Each one of them is saying that for the first time in 15 years, they don’t have to cut budgets. They don’t have to fire teachers. They’ve got funding and a government that’s on their side.

Mr. Speaker: The Leader of the Third Party on a supplemental.

A. Weaver: I thank the minister for the answer to the question. I’m not sure it was the question that I asked, but at least there was a long answer there. I do appreciate the words and the facts being brought forward.

In 2014, the current Minister of Education spoke passionately about how the B.C. budget of the day “robs from the pocketbooks of ordinary British Columbians and fails to invest in the future.” He was talking about the lack of education supports, specifically the lack of school support workers at the time.

According to the BCTF president, Glen Hansman, the new position of the B.C. government would “wipe out each and every word that teachers got back through the Supreme Court of Canada decision and replace it with watered-down language that’s worse than what exists in most school districts across the province.”

On March 17, the Minister of Education told the Globe and Mail this: “The table is set different than any set of negotiations in the last 16 years. Our government is not seeking any concessions. We are seeking changes that will benefit teachers and students.”

My question is to the Minister of Education. How does he reconcile this quote with the claims of the BCTF president?

Hon. R. Fleming: I thank the member for the question again. He’ll know, as somebody who was a former negotiator himself for labour, that bargaining is best done at the table. What I’m proud of, as our government, is that we have gone to the table in this round of negotiations earlier than ever before. We have set the table with record levels of funding. I can go through that list again for the members present. They’ve all been at school announcements in their ridings, so they know about it firsthand.

We have also demonstrated respect to the teaching profession. We have now, I’m pleased to say, 197,000 public servants in British Columbia who have signed on with tentative agreements under the sustainable services mandating agreement. We have 25,000 CUPE K-to-12 education workers who are included in that group.

I would say to the member to also listen to Mr. Hansman. He said, going into the weekend, and I would echo this message with him: “We’re still optimistic that there will be a deal. We have five weeks until the end of the school year. The good news is that both sides have scheduled a lot of dates, so there’s a lot of room to talk. That’s positive. We didn’t have that in the last few rounds.”

I will respectfully allow elected trustees, who we restored democratically to the bargaining process, to do their work. They understand teachers. They work alongside teachers. The previous government fired them, and I think that was a huge mistake. That is the stark contrast that we have here.

If members want to think back exactly five years ago, they locked out teachers. They cut their pay. They provoked British Columbia’s education system, and it was a disaster. It led to the longest shutdown of schools in British Columbia history. We’re in a vastly different place, where we want to work with teachers and school districts and get a good deal that’s good for everyone.

GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO ALLEGATIONS
REGARDING CITIZENS’ SERVICES MINISTER

S. Bond: The Attorney General is developing quite a record of not knowing what he’s talking about. One has to look no further than a 5 to 0 ruling at the B.C. Court of Appeal. But let’s take a look at another example. The AG’s response to very serious allegations against the Minister of Citizens’ Services is a perfect example.

[2:35 p.m.]

On May 14, the Attorney General stood in this House and lectured us. “I can’t think of a better place to look at these concerns.” The Privacy Commissioner has “all the tools necessary.” Well, the AG was wrong, and he obviously had absolutely no idea what he was talking about. Three days later the commissioner said not only does he not have the tools to investigate, but he’s actually been asking for them.

It’s time someone on that side of the House stood up and made sure that these incredibly serious allegations against the minister are properly investigated. Will the Attorney General do that today?

Hon. J. Sims: I have spent the last two weeks fielding questions and unfounded accusations from the members opposite. The opposition plays an important role, but they have a responsibility to base their work on facts and not carelessly make unfounded accusations.

This morning my former employee’s lawyer received a letter from the B.C. NDP caucus lawyer outlining the unfounded and defamatory allegations that the members opposite have been helping to spread. That includes the claim that three of the ten visa applicants were on a security watch list. We have followed up with the Member of Parliament’s office. They have verified that, in fact, there was never any reason to believe that the visa applicants were on a watch list or subject to any security concerns. This is yet another unfounded allegation that the opposition has been spreading.

What they claimed was a cash-for-access event was a charity fundraiser for the Vancouver Children’s Hospital. They talked about donations that don’t exist. An invoice was supposedly for work on a website, but the invoice shows that’s not true. The registrar of lobbyists found that the claims were not true. Other independent officers have responded that there is no evidence of anything for them to look at. Even the Information and Privacy Commissioner said that no evidence has been provided of an issue around freedom of information.

I have spent the last two weeks taking questions on this and have demonstrated that there is no evidence to support these unfounded claims. As I have said before, this was an extremely difficult human resources situation in my constituency office with a staff member who only worked for me for six weeks. The opposition keeps grasping for a gotcha moment, but repeating false accusations is irresponsible.

Mr. Speaker: The member for Prince George–Valemount on a supplemental.

S. Bond: What’s irresponsible is this government failing to do what they should do for the people of British Columbia, which is challenge a minister who has constantly flaunted the rules and done exactly what she knows she shouldn’t have.

She can stand in this House….

Interjections.

Mr. Speaker: Members.

S. Bond: This minister can stand in this House and read from a prepared script, but let’s just review what’s led to the concerns that we have.

On Monday, May 13, the Premier claimed there was no investigation. On Tuesday, the Attorney General incorrectly said that the Privacy Commissioner was the only one who could investigate. On Wednesday, the Minister of Citizens’ Services finally admitted that Geoff Meggs had investigated two months ago but didn’t bother telling anyone, apparently including the Premier. By the end of the week, the commissioner was compelled to announce that he wants to investigate but lacks the authority.

The responsible thing to do today would be to give the commissioner the tools he needs to investigate the serious allegations against this minister.

[2:40 p.m.]

Hon. J. Sims: The opposition also has a responsibility to the people in our communities. Today’s letter to Mr. Sorochan outlines that his client and the members opposite have carelessly helped share unredacted documents with private personal information, including full names, email addresses, birth dates and passport numbers. These people did not ask to have their names dragged into gotcha politics and shared all over the Internet.

Even worse, the member for Richmond-Queensborough chose hate and division when he made deeply offensive comments in this House. I have been told….

Interjections.

Mr. Speaker: Members.

Minister.

Hon. J. Sims: I have been told he tried to explain his com­ment at a community event before being forced to apologize…

Mr. Speaker: Minister, the member has withdrawn his comment.

Hon. J. Sims: …as if there is an explanation for something that is so inexcusable.

The Leader of the Opposition then told the Pakistani-Canadian community that the member regrets his comment but only because they distracted from their political games.

Mr. Speaker: Minister, thank you.

COMMUNICATION PRACTICES OF
CITIZENS’ SERVICES MINISTER

M. Polak: Perhaps a straightforward question might get a straightforward answer.

Does the minister still maintain that she never uses WhatsApp or iMessage to conduct business with her government staff?

Hon. J. Sims: I’ve been very clear that these claims that have been made over the last few weeks are unfounded. I follow the rules and use government accounts for government business and document government decisions appropriately.

Mr. Speaker: The House Leader for the Official Opposition on a supplemental.

M. Polak: Well, unfortunately for the minister, the evidence suggests otherwise.

One of the things that the Privacy Commissioner outlined is that to use personal communications platforms like that instead of government is what he calls “extremely poor practice” when dealing with government business and urges all ministers not to do so.

What I have are screen grabs from a WhatsApp group that was actually put together, it looks like, by the minister’s executive assistant, perhaps ministerial assistant. The team is actually named after the minister. There are quite a number of messages back and forth dealing with just that — government discussions or discussions she’s having as a minister with her staff.

In addition to that, what’s maybe even more alarming and concerning is that there’s also a group that has been set up on iMessage. In this case, not only are there some screenshots of what are communications back and forth with her EA and MA, but in the upper left-hand corner, it actually indicates how many more messages there are on there. There are 99.

We’ve spent two years asking for any messages that the minister has between her staff on WhatsApp with her, and we’ve received nothing.

How does the minister explain this?

Hon. J. Sims: I follow the rules and use government accounts for government business and document government decisions appropriately. I do not use WhatsApp for government business.

[End of question period.]

Tabling Documents

Hon. H. Bains: I have the honour to present a report, the WorkSafeBC annual report, 2018.

Orders of the Day

Hon. M. Farnworth: I call third reading, Heritage Conservation Amendment Act.

[2:45 p.m.]

Third Reading of Bills

BILL 14 — HERITAGE CONSERVATION
AMENDMENT ACT, 2019

Bill 14, Heritage Conservation Amendment Act, 2019, read a third time and passed.

Hon. M. Farnworth: In this chamber, I call committee stage on Bill 8, Employment Standards Amendment Act. In Committee A, the Douglas Fir Room, I call committee on Bill 28, Zero-Emission Vehicles Act. And in Committee C, the Birch Room, I call continued debate on the estimates of the Ministry of Attorney General.

[2:50 p.m.]

Committee of the Whole House

BILL 8 — EMPLOYMENT STANDARDS
AMENDMENT ACT, 2019

The House in Committee of the Whole (Section B) on Bill 8; R.Chouhan in the chair.

The committee met at 2:54 p.m.

On section 1.

J. Martin: Welcome, Minister and staff, as we explore Bill 8 in a little greater detail.

[2:55 p.m.]

Section 1. This amendment act defines “temporary help agency” as “an employer whose employees work on a temporary basis for or under the control or direction of another person, but does not include a farm labour contractor.”

Can the minister tell us what actually it means by temporary? What length of time does this encompass? Is this less than a year, less than a month, a week? What is temporary?

Hon. H. Bains: A temporary help agency employs people to assign them to perform work on a temporary basis for clients of the agency. The temporary help agency includes agencies that provide unskilled casual day labour, office or administrative services and health care and social assistance services. These are employees that are supplied by the temp agency and that come in to provide temporary relief, based on a number of days or longer.

J. Martin: Thank you for that, Minister. Has there been an increase in the occurrence of these temporary help agencies that are operating contrary to the Employment Standards Act and that prompted their inclusion now?

Hon. H. Bains: The employment standards branch has heard a number of times that these are employees that, right now, we have no record of. No one knows how many and who. I think the whole idea here is to have these temp agencies registered or licensed so that we know who they are, we know where they employ those employees of theirs, who their clients are.

It’s no different, I think, in a sense, than right now we have contractors for farm labour. They are actually required to be licensed so that we know that they follow the rules. We know who they are. We know where they work, where their employees are working and for which client. I think it just will be able to give employment standards the tools to know where those employees are and if they follow the law.

J. Martin: Based on the definition of “temporary help agency,” does this mean that projects built under community benefits agreements, whose workers would be employed by B.C. Infrastructure Benefits Inc., would make B.C. Infra­structure Benefits Inc. a temporary help agency?

Hon. H. Bains: The example the member used — I don’t believe it fits the definition here, because what the member has described is: you have a company, they have their employees, and they are actually working on that project in an employer-employee relationship.

[3:00 p.m.]

Here what we are talking about is if employer A needs some temporary help because of a surge in production and this temporary agency has some employees to fill that gap, they would contact this temporary agency, and they’re working for that employer for that day. But tomorrow they could be working for another employer, once this employer doesn’t need their services anymore.

It’s quite a different situation — what we are talking about here and what the member has described.

Section 1 approved.

On section 2.

J. Martin: Under the definition of “gratuity,” there’s the option to add other payments by regulation in the future. Can the minister tell us what other payments are being considered that may be added in the near future?

Hon. H. Bains: We have tried to come up with a definition of gratuity, and that definition will apply. We don’t have any other situations, at this particular point, or an intention to move into different areas. We have given us enabling language in the event that we have missed something.

I think the idea, again, here is that the servers work, and they are given a gratuity or tips as part of their service. It becomes part of their income. The idea is to protect that income from an employer who wishes to hand over the tip or gratuity to the employer or have a share in the gratuity. There are exceptions. The employer can participate in the tip pool if they are working similarly to the work that the employees are working.

J. Martin: I’m curious about some of the protocol around this. My father spent his entire life working in the hospitality industry. Whenever he pays a restaurant bill, he uses his credit card, and he tips with cash. The cash is never included on the actual receipt.

I’m wondering how this is going to be tracked and how the legislation is taking into account the different ways people show their appreciation for service.

Hon. H. Bains: I think nothing has changed in that situation. What we are trying to do with the change here is…. The tips that are left behind stay with the servers or the employees. Whether it’s the situation that the member described, we expect that that money will be transferred over to the employees. The employees who receive that tip in cash…. It would become part of their tip, and if there is a tip pool, they will be dividing among themselves, rather than the employer requiring them to share that with the employer or hand over to the employer.

The whole idea here is that the tip that is left behind for the servers is for the income of the servers. So the employer does not take that away from them.

Section 2 approved.

On section 3.

J. Martin: Can the minister explain, please, why special clothing has been added to the list in section 3?

[3:05 p.m.]

Hon. H. Bains: I think when you compare the last changes made in 2002 to the employment standards, special clothing was missing. But if there’s a collective agreement that mentions all of those areas — hours of work, statutory holidays, annual vacations, seniority retention, recall — and if there’s special clothing mentioned in the collective agreement, this means that that collective agreement must meet or exceed the requirement of the employment standards.

Sections 3 and 4 approved.

On section 5.

J. Martin: Under this section, “Promoting awareness of employment standards,” the director “must develop and carry out policies to promote greater awareness of this act.” So wouldn’t an employee be aware of their rights under the Employment Standards Act through the efforts of the director under this section 5? And therefore, isn’t the addition of section 6, “Informing employees of their rights,” somewhat redundant?

Hon. H. Bains: I think this is a very important section. If employees understand their rights and if employers understand their obligations — this section is a requirement that the employment standards, rights and obligations are made available to employees and employers — there will be a chance of less violation of the employment standards and also resolving the problems before they even become problems or disputes.

The employees will know whether what they’re asking or demanding is according to the employment standards, and the employer will know if they’re denying the employee certain things that they know are in the employment standards. If they have that information available readily, I think it helps both parties and helps the whole system. I think that’s the whole purpose behind it.

The member knows…. Let’s take an example of students coming out of high school or college. It’s not necessarily that they have a copy of the employment standards in their hands or that they study the employment standards requirements and they know what their rights are, but I think through this…. This will be a form that will be approved by the director so that it is non-biased and it is something that is truly factual so that the employees will have that information.

Section 5 approved.

On section 6.

J. Martin: Can the minister tell us who he has consulted with, to date, regarding the change of allowing 14- to 15-year-olds to engage in light work?

[3:10 p.m.]

Hon. H. Bains: Two things. So how we arrived at this. A lot of work was done by BCLI. And we also did our own work, looking at what the United Nations convention calls for, international labour organizations and all other jurisdictions. They’re all right here. And going forward, how do we define what is “light work,” what is “dangerous work”? It’s something that we would be, again, engaging all those who are involved or affected by these changes going forward — employers, workers, other jurisdictions.

I think that’s how we will be defining what light work is and what dangerous work is and where a 14 and 15 can work.

J. Martin: I think the minister has to acknowledge there’s a certain level of subjectivity here. I mean, I was at an event with the cadets on the weekend, and there was a 12-year-old, 6-1, 205 pounds. I think the definition of what constitutes light work might be very different for that individual than other 12-year-olds.

I’m just wondering how the minister and the ministry are going to actually determine what light work will be defined as for this particular age group, 14- to 15-year-olds.

Hon. H. Bains: I think the member needs to understand: we’re not reinventing the wheel here. All of the jurisdictions already have that. They already have a definition about what light work is for 12, 14 and 15 years. They know what dangerous work is, and they have already defined it within their jurisdictions. International labour organizations have already talked about this, and other countries have done this.

Now, I understand their economies are different and the jobs are different, going from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. I understand that. That’s why the consultation with all stakeholders, the workers, the industry and those who are active as the parents. I think that work will take place so that that work and that consultation will guide us. What is defined as light work, as the member has just talked about? What about someone working in their parents’ grocery store, stacking the shelves, or working on a farm?

I think all those things will be considered, because others have already done that work in Canada. I think that’s what we will be looking at and taking guidance from — other jurisdictions and, again, consulting our own. We are different in British Columbia, different industries here. We are going to talk to different stakeholders to make sure that we do it right.

J. Thornthwaite: I have another question specifically to the light work, because this has come up with some of my constituents. I’m wondering: does the minister have a definition of what light work is?

Hon. H. Bains: The definition of “light work,” if I could read it to the member, means “prescribed work or a prescribed occupation that the Lieutenant Governor in Council considers is unlikely to be harmful to the health or development of a child who is 14 or 15 years of age.”

[3:15 p.m.]

Now, I could give you some examples that come to mind quickly. For example, a clerk in an office or retail store; a delivery person for small goods and merchandise for a retail store; delivering flyers, newspapers, handbills; certain duties in the restaurant food service industry — a host, hostess, cashier, dishwasher, busing tables, a server or waiter, providing customer service, assembling food orders and cleaning. And there will be some others, as I said. Someone is going to bring us something, “But what about this? You missed that,” during the time of the debate. “What about that?”

I think that’s what we will be working on. We will work with the industry. We will work with the workers and all of the advocates and look at the other jurisdictions. And then that’s how we are going to put that list together.

J. Thornthwaite: Well, the minister probably knows that when second reading came up on this bill, I mentioned some key stakeholders that were very concerned about this bill and this particular section with regards to ages. These are the referees, the youth referees, in all sorts of sports — the soccer community provincewide, referees for hockey, etc.

They were very, very concerned about that, and that’s why I was looking specifically at what the definition of light work is, because a referee is sometimes going to get jostled around. He’s running back and forth. He’s making calls in the game. Sometimes parents aren’t too happy about that. That might not be classified as light work.

I’m very much concerned about that. I actually have an amendment that I’d like to present to the minister. The amendment is for section 6.

[SECTION 6 is amended by striking the words “14” and “15” and substituting “12” wherever it appears.]

[3:20 p.m.]

The Chair: Members, we are getting the copies made of the signed document, and then we will proceed with it. Give us a few minutes.

Members, on the amendment proposed on section 6, it reads: “Section 6 is amended by striking the words ‘14’ and ‘15’ and substituting ‘12’ wherever it appears.”

Interjection.

The Chair: Do you want to speak further on that, Member?

J. Thornthwaite: I’d like to speak to it.

The Chair: Absolutely.

On the amendment.

J. Thornthwaite: Just to reiterate, the issue here is for referees for youth sports. I’ve got a letter here that is supported by numerous organizations. The North Vancouver Football Club, the North Shore Girls Soccer Club, West Vancouver Football Club, Bowen Island soccer, Sunshine Coast Youth Soccer Association, Whistler soccer, Pemberton soccer and many soccer associations actually are supportive of this amendment.

The reason is because a lot of these youth are 12 years old. My daughter was also a referee for North Shore Girls Soccer when she was 12. I’d like to read a little excerpt from the president of the Sunshine Coast Youth Soccer Association. He has said: “Our support for the valuable skills the kids learn as referees and the benefit they bring to youth sports…. This is not an exploitation of child labour but a really great opportunity for young people to learn responsibility and leadership while supporting effective youth sports in the community.”

As I said, most of these kids start when they are 12. The associations are very, very concerned that this bill, in this section, will negatively affect these youths’ opportunity to not only get employment and employment skills but also will negatively affect the organizations because they won’t have any student referees.

[3:25 p.m.]

That is the reason why I requested that the years 14, 15 be changed to 12, because that’s the age where the kids in youth soccer start refereeing. I would hope that the House would support my amendment.

Hon. H. Bains: First, I firmly believe that this amendment should be ruled out of order because it does not meet the House rules. The legislative counsel is available to all members to draft proper language. The way it’s written, it is not going to serve the purpose that is in the bill. For example, I’ll read you one line here: “(2)(b),” where it says “who is 14 or 15 years of age.” And with this amendment, it will read “who is 12” or “12 years of age.” It does not make sense, so I think it should be ruled out of order.

They had all the time. We had a whole week last week to come up with an amendment and do the proper language.

The concern that the member brought up — I understand that, and that’s what the consultation process is going to be. We will be consulting all of those people who have written to the member, and we will be making the appropriate definitions at that particular time.

I think this amendment cannot be accepted as it is written.

J. Thornthwaite: Well, we were under the impression, this side, that this bill was going to be coming up tomorrow. We were told at 11:45 this morning that — uh-oh — this bill is now coming up today. I was preparing the amendment, but because the government decided to fast-track this bill, that’s the reason why I had to come up with the amendment very, very quickly. So I would very much hope that the government and all sides of the House would support this amendment.

Interjection.

The Chair: Okay. Member for Peace River South.

M. Bernier: Thank you, Chair. There are quite a few people that might want to speak to this while a determination is being made.

As the minister knows, there are numerous examples in this House where amendments have been made in the House without notice after discussions that have occurred on the floor of the House. That’s the whole point of committee stage, where we get to hear things moving forward. Typically, if there’s a situation when we’re looking through this, we can do some amendments. And there has been an amendment — I know it will be discussed a little bit later — that is like that. But this is not precedent-setting by any means, and the member will know that when he was on this side of the House, numerous times they made amendments while they were over here as well, based on discussion.

Speaking to this amendment, I think the minister has to acknowledge what this is doing for a lot of the people in British Columbia. If it’s that much of a concern, this whole section could be struck right out, because what the minister continuously says is that decisions will be made at a later date. There’s a reason why so many people are contacting us and saying they can’t support this section because there are too many unknowns. And every time the minister has been asked publicly, he keeps saying that this will be done by order-in-council, be done by cabinet at a later date. Businesses can’t function that way.

I’ll give you an example. What happens in — maybe it’s all communities, but I’m going to reference what I know — small northern communities that are struggling already to find staff?

Now, let me put the caveat there. Of course, every employer and every person in this House wants to have a safe working environment for anybody of any age. This is not just about anybody under 16. It’s anybody. There are examples when I was an employer, when I was hiring people who would be 40 and 50 years old and moving into a new profession, who might not know that profession, that you had to spend the time with to make sure they were adequately trained for the safety requirements of that job. So it doesn’t matter whether you’re under 16 or whether you’re over 16. The safety requirements and training need to be there in place.

I look at the minister, and I look at the government. I’m trying to think of examples like myself — my children, so many children I know in small northern communities who look for opportunities to get some experience in life. By the minister’s own wording here, if I was to understand this correctly…. When I was 12, 13 years old, I was actually helping out at construction sites. I was working, packing lumber. I was working, hammering in nails. I was doing a whole bunch of odd jobs.

[3:30 p.m.]

Under this, it might not be considered light duty, but what it did was it inspired me into a profession that I thought I’d like to take some day, at 12 or 13 years old. I ended up talking to my parents. I ended up going to BCIT and doing my carpentry apprenticeship, based on experiences in my youth. That’s what I think should be allowed.

More importantly, it should be up to the parents, not the government, to tell people that your child is not suitable to be working in the province of British Columbia. The government — and this minister — is trying to hide this whole notion of under-16 around safety. Again, this is not that we’re against this. We’re against the fact that the government is trying to dictate to people, to employers and to parents what their kids can or cannot do, which is inappropriate.

[J. Isaacs in the chair.]

In my riding, again, in the service sector — now, the minister said it might or it might not be — I look at a place like McDonald’s or A&W or KFC. Three of my children worked at those organizations under the age of 16 to earn a little bit of extra pocket money. If there was something that they wanted that I wasn’t able to afford, they could buy it.

I got contacted last week by a couple of single parents who said: “Is this government now going to help me, then? I’ve got my 13- and 14-year-old daughter and son who are working part-time after school in community jobs, and this government has not been able to put forward and confirm whether they will still be allowed to do that.” This single mom, and in one case a single dad, said: “How am I now going to be able to help, under my limited income, my kids, when they’re working not only getting experience but also working to help afford the little extra things that I, as a single parent, can’t afford?”

These are stories that we’re hearing right across the prov­ince. The reason why we’re hearing them is because under this bill, there has been not enough information put forward to answer the questions. I’m sorry, to the minister, but people aren’t going to, in this case, say: “Trust us. We’ll make the right decision later.”

My colleague, who put the amendment here on the floor, has a valid point. Is this going to be considered? We don’t know. Is McDonald’s going to allow the 14- and 15-year-olds who maybe only work a couple of hours a week? Well, the minister is saying yes, but he hasn’t been able to stand in this House…. He keeps saying maybe those decisions will be made afterwards. Has the minister stood here and said what is not light duty? Maybe after we’re finished this debate, he can sit there and maybe put the whole list of things that won’t be allowed, because right now all he’s saying is maybe it will be allowed.

Right now that’s why this amendment is being put forward. The way things are working right now in the province, parents have a say. I, as a parent with five kids…. If my child wanted to work at 13 years old, and I chose that I thought they were able to, if I looked into it and I figured they were going to be safe, if I looked at it and said: “Here’s an opportunity for my child to get inspired into something that might be a career opportunity when they go forward….”

I mean, I see the Minister of Education. He and I, I think, will agree on this. We’re doing everything we can — and when I was the minister — to try and instil in our youth what they might want to do when they grow up. We have jobs plans. We have career fairs. We have all these…. Why do we do that if we’re going to tell kids they can’t work anymore until they’re 16 or older?

I think this is a very reasonable amendment, because it’s going to what the crux of the issue is. It’s putting the decisions back with the parents. It’s putting the decisions with the youth in those discussions with the parents. And it also allows the organizations to ensure they have the safety mechanisms in place for all those students.

I know some of our colleagues have talked about what this is going to mean for the agricultural industry. There is going to be a whole bunch of different sections that this minister has been unable to answer, and that’s why this amendment is important, with the lack of details.

With that, I’ll take my seat.

S. Bond: I want to stand and support the amendment that my colleague has introduced. The minister sits and says: “Don’t worry about this one. Don’t worry about that one.” What we’re worried about are the words in this legislation. What it says, and we should be clear with British Columbians what it says….

It says: “In this section, ‘light work’ means prescribed work or a prescribed occupation that the Lieutenant Governor in Council considers is unlikely to be harmful to the health or development of a child who is 14 or 15 years of age.”

Let’s translate that language for British Columbians. What that says is the cabinet of this government is going to determine the list of occupations, prescribed occupations, that are unlikely to be harmful to the health or development of a child.

[3:35 p.m.]

We should be clear about what we are arguing on this side. The section 7 explanatory note points out that the bill, section 9.1, “sets out rules respecting the hiring of children in a hazardous industry or hazardous work.” There is not a single MLA in this Legislature that does not agree that that is unacceptable — having children in hazardous workplaces. But what we want to argue is the fact that this government has decided, arbitrarily, that 14- and 15-year-olds need to be treated differently, that they’re going to decide with a list of some gigantic list of occupations.

Does the minister honestly expect us to believe that the cabinet of British Columbia is going to sit down and they’re going to talk about referees? I’ll tell you, my colleague has introduced that issue. That is an enormous issue. She’s listed groups in her constituency. But I can assure the minister that that is a concern felt across British Columbia.

The issue isn’t whether you’re 14 or 15 years old, in our opinion. The issue is: is it a hazardous workplace? The minister hasn’t defined that. I heard the minister muttering over there: “Well, mining.” There are jobs in the mining industry that are not hazardous that would allow for young people today to begin their work careers at an earlier age. And I happen to believe that, actually, parents should have a say about whether or not they have a role to play in deciding.

Is the minister going to allow cherry-picking? Heaven knows, they may have to stand on a ladder. Is that considered unsafe? Who is the government of British Columbia to decide the development of a child? These are legitimate concerns. The minister can shake his head and be concerned about what we’re saying, but there are no definitions in this bill. He continues to reference light duty. That can mean just about anything. It’s open to interpretation. It’s open to creating regulations behind closed doors.

Once again, we see employers and families being left out of this discussion. I would urge the minister to actually listen and take the advice related to the amendment and spend some time talking about this. I’ve actually been the Minister of Labour, and I can assure the minister that we looked very seriously at the age limit.

We’re talking about, for example, children who participate in the film industry. Not all of them are in hazardous situations. But how is that classified in the minister’s list? This bill has zero definition when it comes to the prescribed occupations.

I just think that when we live in a province where there are all kinds of opportunities for young people that are 14 and 15 years old, we suddenly have a government who thinks they know that they can have a definitive list. How’s that going to work? Every time another suggestion comes up — whether it’s cherry-picking, whether you’re a referee…. Who knows how many occupations there are for young people who are getting their first paycheque or getting some degree of work experience?

This is about the legislation. It’s not about: “Well, the opposition’s just standing up to complain.” There is a lack of definition. And rightly so. Legislation should not contain prescriptive lists because every time the government has to amend that list or change it or add another one, it would require it to be done in the Legislature.

So what does that mean? That means this government is going to go back, and they’re going to do what they’ve done with all the other bills. They’re going to start creating regulation. I don’t think that’s fair. I don’t think it’s fair to business owners who encourage young people to work for them.

The minister may not know this, but in many of those small businesses, or even in larger businesses, those owners check to see how kids are doing at school. They ask for copies of their report cards. They see it as part of their part in developing young people in British Columbia.

Now, arbitrarily, this bill says: “We’re going to sit behind cabinet doors, and we’re going to come up with a list that the Lieutenant-Governor-in-Council considers is unlikely to be harmful to the health or development of a child.” The last time I checked, and certainly when I looked at the qualifications of cabinet ministers, who over there is going to be able to decide what is harmful to the development of a 14-year-old?

All we’re asking is for this to be a pragmatic approach. In our view, there has been zero discussion about changing the age range. What we need to do is to take a step backwards.

[3:40 p.m.]

If the minister would like to go and start talking to the people who are going to find themselves on one list or another…. They’re either going to be on the permitted list or the not permitted list.

From our perspective…. If the minister can stand up today and tell my colleagues that referees are going to be considered light duty, then we’d be relieved to hear that. I’m sure that my colleagues can all get up, and we can all give the minister an example. Hopefully, today he can give us an answer. “Yes, MLA, that one will be okay.”

When you stop to think about the process that’s implied by this bill…. From our perspective, it makes absolutely no sense. The amendment makes sense, and I think it’s time the minister took a step back and supported the amendment of my colleague.

T. Stone: I, too, would like to take my place here today and support my colleague from North Vancouver–Seymour in her amendment, which I believe is very reasoned.

I do find it concerning that the minister would just make an outright suggestion that it is inappropriate and out of order and that this is not the place or the time to be moving these kinds of amendments. If I was paid a dollar for every time, as a former minister, I stood on the other side of the House and had members of the minister’s party move amendments, maybe I actually wouldn’t have sought re-election last time around.

This is exactly the place where we should be discussing these issues. This is exactly the time, in committee stage, where we should be discussing this very important issue. I’m proud of the member for North Vancouver–Seymour for moving this very reasonable amendment.

The issue is this. We are all hearing from lots and lots of British Columbians in our respective constituencies who really believe that this particular provision of Bill 8 is completely and totally misguided. It’s unreasonable.

Now, I haven’t had a single parent call me up and say: “I don’t believe that there should be protections on industrial worksites or worksites where there’s significant potential for physical harm or where you really are required to exert yourself strenuously. There shouldn’t be protections in place to ensure that children, let alone any…. British Columbians shouldn’t be protected in those situations.”

This provision sets up that false dichotomy, which essentially goes to saying that…. If you’re under the age of 14, you must not be able to work on any particular worksite and do anything work-related around the province, unless the NDP government, in its infinite wisdom, with its deep wells of intellectual capabilities, decides that that worksite is an acceptable worksite for a kid.

I speak, as I say often in this House, as a parliamentarian. I also speak as a dad. I have three daughters. I have my middle daughter, who is a soccer fanatic. If she can’t be playing in a game on her team, she wants to be at a practice for her team. If she can’t be at a practice for her team, then she is happy, as a 12-year-old, to be a referee for younger kids in the Kamloops Youth Soccer Association.

She doesn’t do it because she’s desperate for the $18 per game that she’s paid. She does it because she wants to be in the game. She wants to be in the middle of the soccer match. She loves it and breathes it. So do so many other kids, not just in soccer but in all kinds of sports around this province, whether it’s hockey, lacrosse, football. Pick a sport. Children — 12 years old, 13 years old — yes, are often engaged in refereeing.

[3:45 p.m.]

Now, as my very able colleague from Prince George–​Valemount just mentioned moments ago, certainly, we would be thrilled to hear the minister state very clearly on the record that refereeing in youth sports will be one of the exempted situations for employment for those under the age of 14. But it’s not here. He hasn’t said that to this point, and simply nodding as we are talking is not good enough. So we would challenge the minister to be very clear, in this particular example that I’m citing, that when it comes to refereeing in youth sports, our kids will still be able to do it.

By the way, these parents who have contacted us — and I say this as a parent as well — are also quick to point out that it’s hard to get enough referees as it is. You take the 12-year-olds and the 13-year-olds out of the mix, and we’re going to have serious issues in ensuring that youth sports are properly and adequately refereed or staffed from a referee perspective. That is very, very concerning.

For goodness’ sake, we train kids as young as 11 to babysit. We say to that 11-year-old, that 12-year-old: “Go and take a course. Here’s the course that provides you with the life skills. Here’s what to do in the case of a health issue with the child you’re looking after. Here’s what to do if there’s a fire in the house. Here’s what to do to keep the home safe while you’re looking after the children under your care.” We say that to kids who are as young as 12 years old — in some cases, 11 years old. My two older daughters have been through those programs, and they’re entrusted with looking after, in many cases, newborns.

By the way, the going rate is about ten bucks per child for babysitting. No one is getting rich, but as refereeing is, it’s an important opportunity for our children to learn about responsibility, to learn what it means to actually give your word and show up on time and do what’s expected of you and to actually earn a few dollars along the way. Are parents now expected to wait with bated breath, to hope that the NDP cabinet excludes babysitters from this provision? Or will they be included as well?

My colleague from Peace River South mentioned the challenges related to finding workers in the hospitality industry and restaurants. I hear that, too, in Kamloops. I hear from not just the big chains but a lot of the ma-and-pa shops as well, and little cafés.

A sporting goods store owner came to me the other day. He’s really concerned, because he has a couple of kids who are under 14 who work a couple of hours a week. What do they do? They make sure that the right shoes are in the right boxes. They clean up the showroom in the store after hours, put everything away, put things back on hangers. Is that considered a hazardous work environment for those 12-year-olds, those 13-year-olds? Is he now going to have to wait for the NDP cabinet, again, in their infinite wisdom, to deliberate over this and determine whether or not that’s an acceptable exclusion to this new provision that the government wants to bring in? We wait with bated breath.

How about the folks in the agriculture industry? I’ve got folks in my constituency — and I know in other constituencies — where it’s very much a part of growing up, the family farm. Going out and picking berries and getting paid for picking those berries. Going out and helping with chores around a cattle operation. No one puts their kids in with the actual cattle, which comes back to a point that’s been made a few times.

That’s: where did we lose faith and trust in parents to make decisions for their children, to understand what’s right and what’s wrong, what’s an acceptable level of risk and what’s not an acceptable level of risk? Where did that responsibility that parents have go? Since when does government always know best? Since when is it the NDP cabinet that knows better than the parents of British Columbia as to what an acceptable level of risk is for their kids?

[3:50 p.m.]

I will circle back to my opening point. That was — as the member for North Van–Seymour indicated in moving this amendment, which I support — that I also really want this minister and this government to hear loud and clear that we’re very concerned about this section.

We’re very concerned about increasing the age limit to 14, in particular, from the perspective of youth sports and our kids being able to step up, often in what is their first job, and get paid 15 to 20 bucks per game to run up and down the sidelines of the soccer pitch. It’s, frankly, no more strenuous than actually being on the soccer pitch in the game in the first place.

It’s an opportunity that I know with my daughter has taught her tremendous responsibility and discipline. It’s something that she enjoys, that she looks forward to, and it is certainly not a hazardous worksite for her.

With that, I wholeheartedly endorse the amendment that my colleague from North Van–Seymour has moved, and I would encourage all members of the House to do so as well.

I. Paton: I’d like to speak in favour of the amendment, that ages 14 and 15 would be substituted with 12 wherever it appears.

Being from an agricultural background, I believe that the government in place in this House right now has already made enough mistakes with the agriculture community in this province with overhanded rules and regulations that are falling into place regarding agriculture in this province.

It always amazes me, since I’ve come here to Victoria to take my role as an MLA, the amount of red tape and bureaucracy that’s being created in this country, not only in B.C. but in all of Canada — how big a house you can build, what you can do with your land, what you can do as a landowner, how old your kids need to be to work. I cannot get over some of the bureaucracy and red tape that we’re thrusting upon people in this country. We’re apologizing for just about everything.

I am not going to apologize for the way I was brought up. I’m not going to apologize for the fact that my son and daughter both started working when they were 11 or 12 years old. That’s the backbone of the agriculture industry in this province.

The people in Surrey that we fought for with Bill 52 and now we’re fighting for with Bill 15…. Yet the minister here is going to the people of the agriculture community in Surrey and Langley and Abbotsford and all over this province, saying: “We’re going to tell you, we know better than your mom and dad and we know better than your grandfather and your grandmother about how old you should be to be able to work in agriculture or in the sports industry.”

I grew up playing my first hockey game at age six. I’ve pretty much played hockey my entire life right up until now. I still play on an old-timers team. My children went through minor hockey. It was always so good to watch the kids — my son growing up playing minor hockey. The neat part of it was that you could never find enough adults, people in their 30s or 40s or 50s, that could come and referee hockey games at six o’clock on a Saturday morning. Same with soccer.

The beauty was that the young kids that were aged ten, 11, 12 learned to become referees, whether it was hockey, whether it was soccer. This was a big deal for them. Somebody actually gave them a uniform with black-and-white stripes and said: “You’re the linesman. You’re the referee. You are only 12 years of age, but we’ve got you refereeing the peewee hockey game on Saturday morning at eight o’clock.”

[3:55 p.m.]

These kids were so excited. To get your first paycheque, whether you’re refereeing soccer or whether you’re refereeing hockey, is a big deal. And it’s a big deal to the associations, because they can’t find people that are 18 or 19. They’ve got better things to do on a Friday night than get up on Saturday morning to referee games. So it was great to see these young people given the opportunity to become referees of ice hockey, ringette, soccer and all these different sports that we’re involved in.

Growing up on the farm, as I did — I’m still living on the farm that I was born and raised on — we had dairy cattle, we had sheep, and we had a huge chicken operation. My dad, my grandfather, were in the layers. We produced eggs. The next-door neighbours, right across the street, were dairy farmers. Literally, as a farm kid — that’s what’s so great about growing up on a farm — we were driving pickup trucks when we were 12 and 13 years old. I think we put blocks on our shoes so we could reach the gas pedal.

This is what we need to get back to. Quit creating bureaucracy and red tape and more rules about how big a house you can have and all these different things.

Surely the minister understands, from an agricultural background…. Look at the families of the South Asian community that go out in the summertime — grandma and grandpa that go because they enjoy picking berries on the blueberry farms. They take their grandsons and their granddaughters with them to earn a few bucks. Getting your first paycheque at age 12 or 13 or 14 is so important.

Think of the things that kids are getting into nowadays who aren’t getting their first jobs. Look at the gangs we have in this province. Look at the social issues we have with kids that are sitting around on a Friday night and a Saturday night and that have never even contemplated getting a job. What do they do? They get mixed up with some kids that are maybe into the bad end of town. “Let’s go do this. Maybe we’ll do a B and E at a local convenience store or something.” This is where kids get into a bad way — by not getting into the fact that they have a job at a young age.

We’ve talked this afternoon about kids getting their first job at McDonald’s or at a fast-food restaurant, but today I want to talk a bit about children and agriculture.

When I grew up, as I said, we learned to do a lot of things at a young age. We were proud to have that opportunity. I remember at age ten, 11, 12 years old, we were always out picking potatoes for the neighbours. My parents taught us how to milk cows, how to do chores. Then as time went on, the neighbours would come and say: “Hey, I need some extra help. Would you come and work for me?” It was so cool to have the opportunity to have a job at a young age, well below the age of 16, and to be able to get that paycheque.

As a farm kid, that paycheque meant so much. You’d open up your bank account. I don’t know if some of you remember before ATMs and whatnot. You’d go to the bank on Friday afternoon with your little book, and you’d check to see how much money you had in your bank account.

It was so important to have that opportunity, when I was a kid growing up, to have all these different jobs before I reached the age of 16. It just gave you such a good feeling to be able to earn a paycheque at age 12 or 13 or 14, when you’re on the farm picking berries, picking fruit, milking cows, doing chores. All those different things were so important growing up.

I’ll give you a good example. A couple of summers ago I went to FCM in Saskatoon. A good friend of mine had moved out to Saskatoon from Abbotsford. He’d bought himself a dairy farm just outside of town in Saskatoon. We travelled on a long, dusty road to get to this dairy farm. I brought the mayor of Delta with me and a couple of other councillors. We got out there, and we had a little tour of this dairy farm. A bus started coming down this long, dusty road. Off the bus came three kids that belonged to this family.

I said hi to the kids, and they went into the house with their books and their school clothes on. I’ll never forget the look of the people that I was with from the city of Delta when these three kids, about seven minutes later, came out of the house with their coveralls on, their boots on, and they went straight to the barn.

That’s what good farm kids do. They put down their books. They changed their clothes. They went to the barn, and they started getting the cattle ready for milking time. The kids started doing chores. I thought: “Wow, that’s what made this country great.” That’s what we need to do to keep this country great, giving young people an opportunity to work on the farms.

[4:00 p.m.]

Another example. Farming families are one of the last bastions we have in this country of self-employed businesses that are actually owned and run by the farm, by the farm family. I can tell you that even all over the Fraser Valley, and in my riding of Delta, farmers that grow potatoes and vegetables…. I’ll just explain how it works.

BCfresh is a huge company that you ship all your potatoes and whatnot to, to be shipped out. Farmers will get a call at four o’clock at night from BCfresh and say: “Look, we’ve got an emergency order for six tonnes of russet potatoes, and we could use them tomorrow morning. Can you help us?”

As a farming family, you’re not going to call up your contractor at 4:30 at night and say: “Hey, I need a crew to dig six tonnes of potatoes. I’ve got to have a load tomorrow morning to take to BCfresh.” What do you do? You grab grandpa and grandma. You grab your kids. You grab your niece. You grab your neighbour — whatever. You need eight people to work on the harvester. One guy drives the tractor. Somebody drives the truck. You’ve got six people on the potato harvester, and that’s how you get that load put together to go to BCfresh the next morning.

You don’t have time to run around looking for kids that are 16 years old or phone your contractor for contract help. That’s where family members get involved. That’s where kids that are 11, 12, 13 are part of the family. They get on the harvester, and they help pick that load of spuds that are needed for the next morning.

Even as a kid growing up, not only did I work lots on the farms, but I had all sorts of different jobs. It was fun. I mean, I did so many different things. It’s unbelievable. I built fish boats on the Fraser River when I was in university — wooden hulled fish boats. I worked as a greens keeper on a golf course because not too many guys knew how to drive a tractor. Also, my dad was the auctioneer at a stockyard in Vancouver.

A lot of people will never believe this. At the foot of Fraser Street, there was an old bridge called the Fraser Street Bridge. It went from No. 5 Road over to Fraser Street.

There was a stockyard called McClary Stock Yards. My dad was the auctioneer. At age ten, I would go with my dad, in the summertime, into the stockyard. They actually gave me — I think it was — my first job. I would help to hustle the cattle out of the auction ring, after they’d been sold, and down into the correct pens they had to be in, into the pen of the new owner of the livestock. That was kind of cool, working with my dad at a stockyard in Vancouver, believe it or not. That stockyard, in about 1967, finally folded up and moved to Abbotsford. It’s still out there today, called McClary Stock Yards in Abbotsford.

One other thing I did that I’m pretty proud of, besides all the different jobs I had…. Growing up in a farming community, we had a volunteer fire department in east Delta. It just kind of served all the farmland, but it also served the George Massey Tunnel and Highway 99 almost right to White Rock.

Talk about growing up fast. We had a beeper that went off in the house when there was a fire call. As volunteer firemen at age 16, we’d jump in the truck and go to the fire hall. They weren’t always burning buildings. We saw some pretty horrific stuff. It made you grow up to be a man real quick when you attended horrific car accidents at age 16 at the volunteer fire hall. You saw some pretty gruesome stuff that made you become a man quite quickly.

Without too much further ado, I want to say that this country has got to get back to some realistic initiatives. Cut red tape. Cut bureaucracy. Quit making new rules. Quit making it tough for everybody in agriculture, especially for the South Asian community. This is something that…. I cannot believe the minister would not stand behind this amendment with the South Asian community that knows it’s important to keep their kids out of the bad end of town, keep their kids out of gangs and whatnot, to give them the opportunity to work and get a job even at age 12, 13, 14 and 15.

A. Olsen: I stood and intended on speaking to this. The previous comment there is just absolutely offensive. I just can’t even believe that those kinds of words are being spoken in this House. We’re talking about how we need to get this country back to the way it was, make it great again. That rhetoric is just absolutely absurd. The comments that were just made from the member for Delta South — offensive.

The fact of the matter is, I have a 12….

Interjection.

[4:05 p.m.]

A. Olsen: It’s disgusting? Really?

The reality of this is that to pick out a community in this province and suggest that they….

The Chair: Member, are you speaking to the amendment?

A. Olsen: Yes, I’m speaking to the amendment. I’m speaking to the comments that were about this amendment. I’ll not be supporting this amendment. It’s absurd. The fact of the matter is that the official opposition has pulled out aspects of this, and they’re trying to rile up the tensions of this place.

The fact of the matter is that this province has been called a pariah by those around the world for moving the age of work so low. We are a pariah in the world because of that. The rules that are created here, the official opposition would like to pretend that there aren’t conditions….

Interjections.

A. Olsen: An outcast. The fact of the matter is, here, there are ways….

Interjections.

The Chair: Members.

A. Olsen: There are ways, for the options that are outlined here, for kids under the age of 14 and 15 to be able to do the things that they said that they are not going to be able to do. The reality of it is that while the former government was in, they created a bunch of laws that then were regulated. That’s what’s happening here. What’s happening here….

Interjections.

A. Olsen: It’s all good. It’s fine.

Interjections.

The Chair: Members, come to order.

Proceed.

A. Olsen: The fact of the matter is that what’s being changed here is not as the members of the official opposition are suggesting that it is. It’s very similar to the way that they used to create legislation. They’re legislating the age, and then they’re going to regulate certain aspects of the industry.

I’ve got a 12-year-old son. I trust him. He’s a smart kid. He can operate very, very well in this world. There are certain things that I think…. When I think about him working in a restaurant, for example, when I think about him working in some of the places of work that have been raised here, I have got serious concerns. So as an active parent, I’ll be able to work with my son to be able to pick the kinds of things that he can do and that he can’t do. That’s what’s being allowed in this legislation.

In this world over here, they pretend like that’s not even part of the conversation — completely recreating a whole world over here that is just not even existing. The reality of it….

Interjection.

A. Olsen: It’s not ridiculous. The amendment here is to change the number to 12. Well, our labour laws are already being criticized for being 12. The fact that this government is trying to strengthen the laws to allow for parents and for there to be more protection for our children should be celebrated, not amended to younger, not amended to 12.

Then to pretend like we can come into this place and we can raise an issue of umpiring, which is something that I did, or refereeing, which is something that I did, and pretend like that’s not going to be considered as something that a youth will do. That’s ridiculous. How do…?

Interjections.

A. Olsen: Fire it up.

The Chair: Members. Members will come to order.

Interjections.

A. Olsen: It’s right in front of me.

Interjections.

The Chair: Members. Members will come to order.

A. Olsen: Yeah, it did hit a nerve. That’s right.

Anyway, I’m going to leave it at this. The arguments that I’ve heard coming from the official opposition in support of their amendment are absurd, and I will not be supporting them.

[4:10 p.m.]

S. Chandra Herbert: We have legislation…. The Minister of Labour is proposing legislation which seems to follow the actions of such radical outliers as Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, even Alberta and Saskatchewan as well, so most of Canada. But the Liberal opposition seems to suggest any restriction on somebody working at the age of 12, 13, 14 is somehow ridiculous. Oh, sorry — 13, 14, 15.

Interjections.

The Chair: Member, could you pause for a moment. The House will come to order.

Proceed.

S. Chandra Herbert: It just bothers me that such outlandish claims have been made by the opposition about legislation which, on the face of it, makes it clear that what we’re trying to do is protect kids, trying to give parents rights, trying to give involvement of facilities, and making sure that we actually consult the public, something which I know the government, anytime I asked them when they were on the government side… But they’ve forgotten so soon. I guess they’re getting used to life in the opposition, and I wish them many happy years there.

I get it. It’s their job to criticize in opposition. But when you actually have consultation processes to set the terms of how legislation is going to go, that’s what regulations are for, and that’s how legislation and regulations get crafted.

But to suggest, as the opposition does, that any job should be done by a 12-year-old, any job should be done by a 13-year-old…. That’s just fine by them. The amendment here suggests that anybody is here….

Interjections.

S. Chandra Herbert: I’m going based on the amendment. I know the member is speaking not from his seat, but he never follows the rules in this case anyways. It’s better to just bark out unfounded arguments.

Reading the amendment here, what this suggests is that somebody who was under…. Now, they changed the legislation here to basically say that there could be no rules for anybody who is above 12 years old. That’s what the amendment says. I know it’s a badly crafted amendment, and it’s not one that’s gone through legislative counsel. It’s not something that’s been done in a good way.

I understand the opposition is concerned that while we were in opposition, we didn’t go through legislative counsel. To put it on the record, they never offered us that opportunity. I’m glad that the Attorney General has offered that opportunity for people so we can get better laws, but I understand they want to go to the “make it up, write it, scratch it down quickly and pretend you’re a lawyer,” pretend that it’ll just somehow work.

I worked when I was 13, I worked when I was 14, and I think it worked out pretty well. But that was with restrictions. That was with things. Suggesting that a 12-year-old should be able to do any construction task…. There’s a reason why so many young people ended up getting hit, injured, damaged at work and in front of the Workers Com­pensation Board.

Unfortunately, the opposition seems to be so keen to just allow a process, which almost nowhere else in Canada follows, to continue here. That’s children getting injured. That’s children being impacted by dangerous, hazardous work. And they want it to continue. I think it’s shameful. I’m supportive of the minister’s approach here. And I think that ensuring that we can find good ways that young people can work in a safe way, where we consult parents, we consult employers…. I think that would be a more sensible approach than just the Liberals’ knee-jerk approach to say, “Let’s just keep doing what was the process before,” which led to children getting injured across British Columbia.

I don’t support kids getting injured at 12 or 13 or 14 on a construction site, and I don’t know why anybody else would. Let’s make this clear in the law as opposed to the anecdote.

Interjections.

The Chair: Members. Members, come to order.

Earlier the Minister of Labour raised a point of order and maintained that the amendment moved by the member for North Vancouver–Seymour was out of order, that the amendment was defective and did not achieve the desired effect. As members know, an amendment can strike out words and substitute words or simply strike out certain words or add words.

It is not the role of the Chair to determine if the amendment achieves its intended legal effect. The role of the Chair is to decide on questions of order. While the point of order is not well taken, members can keep the minister’s remarks in mind when voting on the amendment.

If there are no further comments or speakers, the question is, Members, on the amendment proposed by the member for North Vancouver–Seymour to section 6.

[4:15 p.m. - 4:20 p.m.]

Amendment negatived on the following division:

YEAS — 40

Cadieux

de Jong

Bond

Polak

Wilkinson

Lee

Stone

Coleman

Wat

Bernier

Thornthwaite

Paton

Ashton

Barnett

Yap

Martin

Davies

Kyllo

Sullivan

Reid

Morris

Stilwell

Ross

Oakes

Johal

Redies

Rustad

Milobar

Sturdy

Clovechok

Shypitka

Hunt

Throness

Tegart

Stewart

Sultan

Gibson

Thomson

Larson

Foster

NAYS — 44

Chouhan

Kahlon

Begg

Brar

Heyman

Donaldson

Mungall

Bains

Beare

Chen

Popham

Trevena

Sims

Chow

Kang

Simons

D’Eith

Routley

Ma

Elmore

Dean

Routledge

Singh

Leonard

Darcy

Simpson

Robinson

Farnworth

Horgan

James

Eby

Dix

Ralston

Mark

Fleming

Conroy

Fraser

Chandra Herbert

Rice

Malcolmson

Furstenau

Weaver

Olsen

Glumac

Point of Privilege
(Reservation of Right)

R. Chouhan: I reserve my right on a point of privilege to speak on the comments made by the member for Delta South at a later point.

The Chair: Noted.

[4:25 p.m.]

Debate Continued

M. Bernier: I want to, before I move on too much…. I know we’ve got other parts to this, but I want to make sure, as I lead into a question here, since we’re still at committee stage…. I definitely want to make a couple of points here.

It was absolutely appalling hearing what some of the members opposite, during their speeches, said. At no time did any single person on this side of the House say they wanted to put a child at risk. At no time did anybody on this side of the House say anything other than wanting to ensure that we have a safe workplace and opportunities for our youth.

For the member for Vancouver–West End to stand up and basically say to this House that that’s where we were at is completely insulting and offensive, and it’s beyond him. I am so surprised.

Interjections.

The Chair: Members. Members will come to order.

M. Bernier: I’m so surprised by that member — that he would do that.

So hon. Chair…. See, this is what’s really exciting here.

Interjections.

M. Bernier: I’d love to get to my question as soon as the members on your side of the House actually stop.

The Chair: Members, just to clarify, we are on section 6, and Peace River South has the floor. Thank you.

M. Bernier: Thank you, Chair. We are still on section 6. The amendment to change to 12 did not pass, but it garnered some good discussion, which is going to lead to a few more questions on this section.

For the member from the Green Party, for Saanich North and the Islands, to say in this House that anybody who employs somebody 12 years old is actually supporting child labour is absolutely insulting to the people out there in this province. This is about making sure….

Interjection.

The Chair: Member, please come to order.

M. Bernier: This is about making sure we have a bill in front of us that’s going to meet the needs….

Interjection.

M. Bernier: You just can’t control yourself, can you? No, obviously you can’t.

Interjection.

The Chair: The member for Nanaimo–North Cowichan will come to order.

M. Bernier: That is completely out of order. That member should be withdrawing his comments. That is completely offensive, and you should be withdrawing.

Interjection.

The Chair: Member. Okay, Member, you need to leave the chamber.

Point of Privilege
(Reservation of Right)

M. Bernier: Good thing he left. I’m not allowed to say that, but good thing he left. That is absolutely offensive, and I will be reserving my right on a point of privilege.

The Chair: Member, pause for a moment.

The House will come to order.

Proceed, Member.

Debate Continued

M. Bernier: Now, in light of the few people who stood up during the last debate who were very supportive, on the NDP and Green Party side, of making sure parents don’t have choices anymore for how their children are going to maybe have opportunities…. Everybody else that spoke said that they’re very supportive of this minister’s bill. They seem to know what’s going to be allowed and not allowed.

Will the minister stand in this House right now and give us a list, then, please, of what’s heavy duty? What’s not light duty? I’d like to see the extensive list, because, obviously, the members of the NDP in cabinet have already made this list known to their members. They’ve, obviously, in their million-dollar secretariat, already shared that with the Green Party, because they’re supporting this.

Can the minister at least table in this House the list of all of the jobs that children under the age of 16 will no longer be able to work at?

Hon. H. Bains: It is quite concerning that on an issue like this, there is such an emotional discussion. At the end of the day, we are talking about our children. We are talking about their health and safety. I don’t, for a minute, believe that any member in this House wants to have their children subjected to dangerous workplaces where they could get hurt.

[4:30 p.m.]

The members know this. Over ten years, over $5 million in claims was paid to 15 years and under who were injured at workplaces. We were cited by international labour organizations for a lack of protection for our children — and our regulations and legislation. That gave us a black mark in the international community, but we continued on with that.

Members, you had 16 years to fix this and didn’t do anything. All we’re trying to do is actually catch up to other jurisdictions, catch up to the world. That’s exactly what this bill is trying to do.

[R. Chouhan in the chair.]

I have listed a number of areas of light work. I read that here; I could do that again. But it’s not foreign to those members on that side, especially the ministers, that legislation is passed in this House and then the regulations are developed after. That is a normal procedure of running a government. That is a normal procedure of having legislation passed, and then you develop regulations to deal with the areas that need to be dealt with later.

Why don’t we have a complete list here? It’s because we haven’t consulted with the people that you want us to consult with. B.C. Law Institute consulted far and wide, and they came back with a recommendation that we need to have this type of legislation in place. I could go on and give some other lists here, but again, you need to find and then develop that list by consulting these sports teams and the people who run the sports and the tournaments. Refereeing is one of them that will continue to be allowed.

Again, you have to look at: where is the employer-employee relationship — that’s what we’re trying to work here — and what is dangerous work? We know what dangerous work is in many cases, but then there are some areas that could be borderline. That’s where the consultation piece comes in, I think — what we’re trying to do. The amendment that was proposed here, which was defeated, doesn’t solve it or give you the list that you’re looking for. It simply lowered the age. That’s all it asked for. I mean, it does not solve the problem that you are raising here. That would continue. Even if the amendment were passed, that list would still be developed through regulations, with that amendment.

I don’t understand what the opposition is trying to achieve here. All you’re trying to do is lower the age. That’s all you’re trying to do here. The international community has cited us — that we are offside with them. We’re completely offside with the international rules, the international conventions and other jurisdictions. That’s fine; they can continue to take their position. What I’ve said is that this is what we are doing and trying to achieve here, and that 12- and 13-year-old children can work with the permission of their parent and the director. I just don’t understand where the problem is coming from on that side. That’s what the bill talks about.

Anyway, I could go over the list that they’re talking about, but it is not a complete list. The complete list will be developed after consultation with all of those different areas and the people that are involved in employing children who are 12, 13, 14 or 15 years of age. That’s what we’re trying to do here.

M. Bernier: I’ll thank the minister, first of all — his colleagues, unfortunately, don’t seem to want to withdraw their unfortunate comments — for acknowledging the fact that on this side of the House, we do have the same goals and the same objectives as the minister and, I would say, as every MLA in this House: to ensure that we have a safe work environment for everyone under 16 and over 16.

My one question, then — and I know there are a few more — to the minister is around flexibility. He wanted to know why we put this forward. Part of this is about allowing for opportunities and flexibility for parents.

I’ll give him this very specific example, then. If my 13-year-old child wants to work somewhere that is not on a list somewhere and I, as a parent, figure that I am willing — I know of the job, I know of the opportunities for my child, and I know that I’m supportive, as a parent — to allow my child to work in that environment, is the parent going to have a right to decide what their child can or cannot do? Or are they going to have to, on every single job, locate a list somewhere that may or may not exist at a future date?

[4:35 p.m.]

If the job is not on the list, how do I, as a parent, now decide with my child if they can work or not? Even worse, if it is on the list and it’s in a small community like mine that has a hard time and I, as a parent, have said that I think it’s safe and I, as a parent, am working with the employer of my child to allow them to work, how can I now be exempted from this government’s list that they’re going to put together?

Hon. H. Bains: It is with the permission of the parent and the director for 12- and 13-year-olds. If both of you agree that that is an occupation that is suitable for a 12- or 13-year-old, that child can work, then.

S. Bond: I, too, want to thank the minister for at least clarifying the fact that not one single person on this side of the House would ever suggest that a child be in a hazardous working condition or in a place that puts them at risk. Those were inappropriate and offensive, frankly, to those of us on this side of the House, who work incredibly hard on behalf of our constituents.

This is about the process that’s engaged in determining what “light work” means. Could the minister describe for me the process that he will use to determine what prescribed occupations may be “harmful to the health or development of a child”?

Hon. H. Bains: As the member, who was the minister here before, the Minister of Labour, knows, it’s enabling language that gives us the authority to develop that process. Now, if the member and other members have any names, any organizations that we should be consulting, we will be more than happy to consult and take their input.

There will be an employers group that we will be consulting, a parents group that we will be consulting and workers’ representatives that we will be consulting. I think that’s the process, as the member is very familiar with, that we will be developing and making sure that we can give opportunities to every person out there who is interested in this particular area to give their input and ask those questions. Would this particular occupation be part of the exceptions? Or is it part of light duty? All of that information will be taken in, and then we will develop regulations accordingly. That’s when it’ll go to the cabinet.

S. Bond: I appreciate the minister’s answer. Ultimately, he is saying that the cabinet of British Columbia will decide whether or not a particular prescribed occupation is harmful to the development of a child. Is that correct?

Hon. H. Bains: It will be — after taking input and consulting with parents, with employers. That’s how; it is an OIC. Once it’s passed, you can always amend that in case you’ve made a mistake. You could add; you could delete. That’s what the process is.

[4:40 p.m.]

We will be learning from other jurisdictions. Alberta just did this only, maybe, a couple years ago — the most recent one. We have all the other jurisdictions that have developed this process and developed a list of light-duty and dangerous work for 12- and 13-year-olds. I think we will be taking guidance from them, guidance from parents and guidance from employers and other interested groups to make sure that we do it right.

At the end of the day, we want to encourage children to be introduced to the agriculture industry, for example — many mentioned that here — because it’s a very, very important industry. You want to make sure that our youth and our children are introduced to the industry so that they show interest, they develop interest, and they want to participate in the agriculture industry.

The idea here, again, is the employer-employee relationship that we need to develop because it applies there, largely. But working and helping on a farm, working in a parents’ grocery store, doing all the other chores — refereeing, babysitting, paper route, entertainment industry…. All the exclusions that are there will continue to be there.

We will be developing, after taking the consultation and input from the wide range of stakeholders…. That’s how this will be developed. Then the cabinet, at the end of the day, needs to be convinced that what we’re doing is right. That’s the OIC system — the way it works.

S. Bond: I have two other questions. Can the minister describe whether or not there are extensive lists in other jurisdictions? Do they have comprehensive lists of jobs that are prescribed occupations? Does it include the definition or does it include a reference to the health or development of a child?

The minister has talked…. I know he’s very passionate about this, as are many of his colleagues. So are members on this side of the House. But having a debate about the words in legislation actually matters, because what happens is that this gets interpreted by people. Our concern is that right now, we have concerns about the language in this bill. We agree, and the minister has acknowledged, that we actually care about kids being safe, too, in the workplace.

Do other jurisdictions include in their definition, or in their section that talks about prescribed occupations, the development of a child?

Hon. H. Bains: The ILO convention has that wording. Alberta adopted that just recently. I think, again, Member, it is about us. It depends how seriously we want to consult. We have shown a pattern here of doing a really proper consultation, even arriving at this bill, and looking at the input and the reports from all kinds of different organizations out there who are really serious about the Employment Standards Act. They have a suggestion — many of these.

Now, we will be consulting. The stakeholders, the parents and others will have an opportunity to guide us. We will look at the other jurisdictions, and that’s how we will be developing that list.

S. Bond: Well, I’m sure the minister could understand how we are concerned about a scope that includes not just harmful to health but also development when we have no idea what that means. The minister has just basically admitted that he doesn’t either, but it’s now going to be the law.

It goes on. It gets better, because when we get to the next section…. I know my very capable colleagues will go through and discuss that. Not only that, but we’re now talking about, when we look at hazardous industry…. It’s not just health and safety. It’s the morals of a person under the age of 16. Our point is simply that this is going to become law in British Columbia, and not one person in this Legislature, including the minister, can describe exactly what it means.

That is a concern for us, and it should be. It’s not about whether or not we want children to be safe. It’s about how that is going to be done. What are the rules? How do we understand what that actually means — the development of a child? I know that I don’t have expertise, despite having been a very long-term cabinet minister. I’m not in a position to decide whether or not…. I’m certain this minister isn’t either.

[4:45 p.m.]

Now cabinet is going to decide after hearing from somebody about what that means. Words matter, and the minister knows that.

My last question relates to the issue of director’s permission. I would like to know whether there’s been any modelling done or any homework done. Because what this legislation, again, says in sub (2) is: “A person must not employ a child who is under 14 years of age without the director’s permission.” Could the minister explain to us how many…?

You know, if we just look at this bill from a broader perspective, we’re talking about countless jobs that kids do. There’s no prescribed list anywhere, the minister has said, so we’re going to have somebody go through and create a giant list of what’s on and what’s off. Not only that but employers now, if they’re going to hire a young person under the age of 14, have to get the director’s permission to do that.

Has there been any modelling done? What kind of workload does that entail for government? Who’s the director? And how on earth are employers across British Columbia, including hockey organizations who are going to, for example, “hire” — in quotations — referees…? Do they now have to write to the government and provide forms for every single young person who’s going to lace up a pair of skates and become a referee?

Hon. H. Bains: The member knows full well, being an ex–Minister of Labour, that the director issued permits before. The only thing we’re doing is changing the age. So that process remains. Before, it was required for anyone under 12 that director permission was needed. So that process is in place. That system is in place right now. All we are doing is raising the age from 12 to 16 — and then director’s and parent’s permission for anyone under 14. And 14 and 15 do not require a director’s permission.

I mean, we’re not reinventing the wheel here. The system is already in place. All we are trying to do is catch up to other jurisdictions and international convention, which we have been cited for time and again. That’s the only difference. The system’s already in place. We inherited the system that was there when I became the minister. That system isn’t changing.

S. Bond: Thank you to the minister for that. The question was actually: has any modelling been done? The minister, the ministry, the government is adding a whole new class of kids to that process. So the question I asked was if anyone has done any modelling to look at the impact of workload, the impact on employers who hire children who are now captured in this category.

[4:50 p.m.]

Hon. H. Bains: One thing we do know is the number of permits that were issued up until now. We also know what the other jurisdictions are doing. Certainly it will increase the workload, because now there will be more applications for permits. But we received extra resources in the last budget, so we’re fully set for it.

I think the idea here, Member, is that we want to make sure that we consult the right people, that we make sure we get the information we need so that we can develop the right kind of model so that our children will be, at the end of the day, again, safe when they go to work, and their health and safety is protected.

J. Thornthwaite: I just want to clarify. I think I heard what the minister said, but because I don’t have Hansard here, I can’t clarify it. This bill is all about interpretation. The only reason why I brought up all of this list of soccer associations in British Columbia is because they looked at the bill and thought and interpreted it that all of the referees that are under the age of 16 would not be allowed anymore, once this bill is passed, to referee in British Columbia. That’s what they think.

What I would like to get on the record from the minister is: is the minister confirming that the youth referees, starting at the age of 12, will be allowed to do so?

Hon. H. Bains: Again, I think the important part here is that there has to be an employer-employee relationship, okay? A 12- or 13-year-old refereeing will be allowed by having a permit from the director and from the parents.

J. Thornthwaite: My question is, then: with regards to these youth soccer associations, or hockey or whatever, who is the director?

Hon. H. Bains: It’s the employment standards branch.

Section 6 approved on division.

On section 7.

J. Martin: In this section, we have “hazardous work” and we have “hazardous industry” both being defined by: “…is likely to be harmful to the health, safety or morals of a person under 16 years of age.”

Can the minister please explain to the House what this means — harmful to the morals? What morals? Whose morals?

[4:55 p.m.]

Hon. H. Bains: Again, we are following the International Labour Organization convention. I think what we are looking at is where liquor is served and the adult entertainment industry, that kind of stuff.

J. Martin: Well, in my three decades teaching criminology, I came across an awful lot of definitions and understanding of morals and morality, and we’ve certainly seen changes with that through popular culture, through literature, through entertainment, through the film industry. Basically, from the beginning of the recorded word, we’ve seen shifting definitions of morals and what constitutes moral upbringing, what constitutes corruption of morals.

I’m wondering what definition the ministry is going to land on here, because this is quite transitory, and should this government go the full term till the fall of 2021, I suspect that there are going to be some new definitions of what is and is not moral in an ever-changing, ever-evolving society. So where is this definition coming from? Is this a new definition? Is this the ministry’s preference over a previous definition?

Hon. H. Bains: The word “morals” was in the international convention. So that’s where we picked that up. Again, as we had the debate over the previous section, we will be consulting widely so that we get the input and the presentations from people involved who would be helping us. Then we would…. Actually, again, it is enabling language for us to go out there and consult and come back and put some language together so that we are protecting children and their health and safety.

J. Martin: We have a recurring theme with this piece of legislation. There’s an awful lot of unknowns. There’s an awful lot of very vague terminology without any fixed definitions, and we have another one in section 7, talking about hazardous industry and hazardous work. I don’t know if the minister has ever been around a commercial deep fryer, but I can tell you that that’s a pretty hazardous place to be, and working the deep fryer in McDonald’s is probably the first employment of the majority of young people in North America. So who’s going to come up with the definition of dangerous or hazardous work, hazardous industry?

Hon. H. Bains: I think, again, we are working in the same theme as previously. Again, we will be consulting, and, again, the definition of hazardous work and a hazardous industry will be developed through consultation. We will work with the WCB as well, because they have quite a bit of knowledge and expertise in helping us where these children can be working, what is considered to be hazardous for them.

Member, as you know, I have said this before. The WCB paid $5 million in ten years to those who are 14 and 15 years and under who are injured at workplaces. So I think the purpose here is to ensure that we don’t subject our youth to workplaces that are hazardous for them and that are not considered to be safe and healthy for them.

J. Martin: Okay. So we’re of the understanding that this is a work in progress with a lot of “to be determined at a later date” pieces to it. What is that later date? When are we going to have some regulations and some completed definitions in place so that people are very clear on what this legislation means?

[5:00 p.m.]

Hon. H. Bains: I think the need to develop the timelines would be balanced by the need to fix this problem and, at the same time, to have a proper consultation. So we will have a proper consultation. Through that consultation…. My goal is to do it as soon as we can, after having all of the information available to develop these regulations. I think it will be determined — how long it will take. Again, I don’t want to put a time limit on it, because somebody could come back with “That’s not enough time to consult.”

The idea here is to reach out to as many people as possible who are concerned about this issue, and then we develop the regulations that are the right thing to do to fix this problem.

Personal Statements

CLARIFICATION OF COMMENTS
MADE IN THE HOUSE

I. Paton: I made some comments earlier in this debate….

The Chair: You’re not on section 8? You are making a comment.

I. Paton: A comment.

The Chair: Okay. Proceed.

I. Paton: I made some comments earlier in this debate. I would like to correct a misunderstanding of my comment regarding youth under 16 having the opportunity to have a paying job. Families of all ethnicities have kids who work on farms.

Many families in my constituency are South Asian. It was my intention to portray that all youth of any ethnicity or in any municipality in B.C. need to keep busy with the opportunity to work.

Debate Continued

Sections 7 and 8 approved.

On section 9.

J. Martin: To the minister, when will the registration process be available for which a person operating a temporary help agency can become fully licensed?

Hon. H. Bains: Part of this will require developing infrastructure, a website and where these agencies can find help and come and register and then get licensed. So it’ll take some time, but we’re looking at some time later this year.

J. Martin: Has there been any thought given to what types of licensing fees and other monetary costs associated with this step of the legislation?

[5:05 p.m.]

Hon. H. Bains: Section 36, actually, going down further…. The existing section, 127(2), gives us the authority to establish terms and conditions for licences. That hasn’t been determined yet. I think that will be part of the consultation, depending on how many there are.

Just like with the temporary foreign workers, we started that process, and we are doing that with the recruiters right now. That process is almost over now, and then we will be looking for the employers to register, which will be some time in the fall. The same thing will apply here. We will develop the terms and conditions for licences, and then that will be developed later.

Sections 9 to 14 inclusive approved.

On section 15.

J. Martin: To the minister, what other jurisdictions have similar provisions on gratuities that resemble what’s being proposed in this section?

Hon. H. Bains: Newfoundland, Labrador, Quebec and Ontario have it. I think the member probably knows that the B.C. Law Institute report unanimously recommended these changes.

J. Martin: What “prescribed employees or classes of employees” are being considered exempt from receiving gratuities? That’s word for word in the section?

Hon. H. Bains: Member, proposed section 30.4(2) of the act provides for the power to make regulations regarding “prescribed employees or classes of employees” who are prohibited from taking part in pooled gratuities.

Right now there are no regulations that are contemplated at this time. But this will give us the enabling language. Again, in the event that we need to fix that area, then we can do that.

[5:10 p.m.]

J. Martin: I’m curious about those situations where the owner may, during a busy time of the evening or the afternoon, jump in behind the counter and wash some glasses, take some orders, fill some drinks, etc., and then once things kind of settle down and everyone’s caught up, goes back to his paperwork upstairs. No one’s really clocking. This could be 15 minutes a day. It could be a couple of hours a day.

If the owner decided that they were going to share in the tip pool because they’re performing some of the same work that servers are doing down there, what would be the process to calculate what portion of the tip this person may be entitled to?

Hon. H. Bains: I think that the intent behind here is this. The owner…. There are mom-and-pop coffee shops all over the place. If they’re doing exactly the same work as their employees on a regular basis, then they can share in the tip pool. But if they are only managing and the employees are performing all the work in the kitchen and serving, for example, in the restaurant, then those are the employees who would be sharing the pool. The idea here is that the owner and the managers who do not perform similar work, the same work, as the employees on a regular basis shall not be sharing in the tip pool.

Sections 15 to 17 inclusive approved.

On section 18.

J. Martin: On 18, with the addition of this new section, 52.11 says: “Critical illness or injury leave.” It indicates a certificate needs to be issued by a medical or nurse practitioner before leave can be requested, much like compassionate care leave. How much personal information needs to be disclosed to fulfil the requirements of this section?

Hon. H. Bains: Member, I think if you take a look broadly on this one, these are the members who would qualify under the federal EI benefit program, and they need to meet that requirement. So I think that it’s just sufficient information so the employer understands that there is an illness in the family. And if they are satisfied that they need to care for that member, they can do that.

Again, the medical certificate, if it’s required, should actually state that the health of the family member has significantly changed, that their life is at risk and that the required care or support can be provided by a person who is not a medical professional and indicate the period for which the family member will need care. Again, like I said, the requirement is consistent with the requirement that the employee must meet or qualify for the related employment standards benefits.

Section 18 approved.

On section 19.

[5:15 p.m.]

S. Cadieux: Just as I start my remarks, I want to state for the record my general support of Bill 8 and the work it intends to do — most certainly on this section regarding an acknowledgment of the very real physical and psychological toll of domestic violence. I believe that this section providing unpaid leave for victims is a very legitimate and reasonable thing to do. I would like to think that any reasonable and compassionate employer would do this for the right reasons, regardless of whether or not it was law. But I also recognize that sometimes that’s not the case. Therefore, I think it’s reasonable to include this section.

I also think, though, that it might be important just insomuch as to give certainty to a victim that, indeed, they were eligible for that and shouldn’t feel like they couldn’t ask for that or be fearful that they would be at risk of losing their job and their support. So, broadly, I support this section.

Of course, as I noted in second reading, I believe there was an oversight. Back in 2015 when our government introduced an amendment to the Residential Tenancy Act respecting domestic violence, I believe it was an oversight at that time to not include sexual violence. The member for Oak Bay–Gordon Head has proposed an act to fix that, and I’m supportive of that, of course.

Likewise, I’ll propose an amendment here today. Hon. Chair, I’ll move it to section 19 standing in my name on the order paper with a note that there is a slight correction in punctuation under the definition of “intimate partner” that strikes out “, or” and replaces it with a semicolon.

[SECTION 19, by deleting the text shown as struck out and adding the underlined text as shown:

19 The following section is added:

Leave respecting domestic or sexual violence

52.5 (1) In this section:

“child” means a person under 19 years of age;

“domestic or sexual violence” includes

(a) physical abuse by an intimate partner or by a family member, including forced confinement or deprivation of the necessities of life, but not including the use of reasonable force to protect oneself or others from harm,

(b) sexual abuse by an intimate partner or by a family member any person,

(c) attempts to physically or sexually abuse by an intimate partner or by a family member,

(c) attempts to commit

(i) physical abuse by an intimate partner or by a family member, or

(ii) sexual abuse by any person, and

(d) psychological or emotional abuse by an intimate partner or by a family member, including

(i) intimidation, harassment, coercion or threats, including threats respecting other persons, pets or property,

(ii) unreasonable restrictions on, or prevention of, financial or personal autonomy,

(iii) stalking or following, and

(iv) intentional damage to property;

“eligible person” means, with respect to an employee,

(a) a child who is under the day-to-day care and control of the employee by way of agreement or court order or because the employee is the child’s parent or guardian,

(b) a person who

(i) is 19 years of age or older,

(ii) is unable, because of illness, disability or another reason, to obtain the necessities of life or withdraw from the charge of the person’s parent or former guardian, and

(iii) is under the day-to-day care and control of the employee, who is the person’s parent or former guardian, and

(c) a prescribed person;

“family member” means any of the following:

(a) with respect to a person,

(i) the spouse, child, parent, guardian, sibling, grandchild or grandparent of the person, or

(ii) an individual who lives with the person as a member of the person’s family;

(b) any other individual who is a member of a prescribed class;

“intimate partner” means, with respect to a person, any of the following:

(a) an individual who is or was a spouse, dating partner or sexual partner of the person, or;

(b) an individual who is or was in a relationship with the person that is similar to a relationship described in paragraph (a).

(2) In addition to experiencing domestic or sexual violence in the circ*mstances described in the definition of “domestic or sexual vio­lence” in subsection (1), a child who is an employee or eligible person also experiences domestic or sexual violence if the child is exposed, directly or indirectly, to domestic or sexual violence experienced by any of the following individuals:

(a) an intimate partner of the child;

(b) a family member of the child.

(3) If an employee or eligible person experiences domestic or sexual violence, the employee may request leave for one or more of the following purposes:

(a) to seek medical attention for the employee or eligible person in respect of a physical or psychological injury or disability caused by the domestic or sexual violence;

(b) to obtain for the employee or eligible person victim services or other social services relating to domestic or sexual violence;

(c) to obtain for the employee or eligible person psychological or other professional counselling services in respect of a psycho­logical or emotional condition caused by the domestic or sexual violence;

(d) to temporarily or permanently relocate the employee or eligible person or both the employee and eligible person;

(e) to seek legal or law enforcement assistance for the employee or eligible person, including preparing for or participating in any civil or criminal legal proceeding related to the domestic or sexual violence;

(f) any prescribed purpose.

(4) If an employee requests leave under subsection (3), the employee is entitled during each calendar year to

(a) up to 10 days of unpaid leave, in units of one or more days or in one continuous period, and

(b) in addition to the period of time referred to in paragraph (a), up to 15 weeks of unpaid leave.

(5) A leave under subsection (4) (b) may be taken by the employee in

(a) one unit of time, or

(b) more than one unit of time, with the employer’s consent.

(6) An employee is not entitled to leave under this section respecting an eligible person if the employee commits the domestic or sexual vio­lence against the eligible person.

(7) If requested by the employer, the employee must, as soon as practicable, provide to the employer reasonably sufficient proof in the circ*mstances that the employee is entitled to the leave.]

On the amendment.

S. Cadieux: If I could continue to just address the amendment. I believe that my amendment fixes that oversight and eliminates the unintended consequences of creating two tiers of victims of sexual violence.

There are moments like this today when we realize that despite the vast resources and competent legislative drafters and all of the lengthy process that government goes about in proposing legislation and bringing it to this House, sometimes things get missed. I think this is also an example of where MLAs, even in opposition, have the opportunity to make legislation better. We can have an impact regardless of our status in the House, and I think that’s important to recognize.

I am appreciative of the indications of support for this change that I’m proposing today from all sides of the House. I do believe that this is the process at its best.

Hon. H. Bains: I want to thank the member for Surrey South for this amendment. I think it just shows that when we’re working together, we make progress. This is a real example, because the intent behind the changes that we are proposing is exactly that. It is that those members who have some difficult personal situations at their home or outside — that when they’re dealing with those situations, sexual violence is one of them.

Being a male, I can’t even imagine the trauma of those who go through it, who face that type of violence. Domestic violence is another area, whether personally experiencing it or whether their loved ones are subjected to domestic violence. The last thing they should have on their mind is worrying about their job to go back to.

[5:20 p.m.]

I think that’s what the intent behind this is. The one area that was missed here I think the member has brought to this House as part of the amendment, and I fully support that. I can assure you that members of my government will support this, I think, because this is the right thing to do. It’s not a partisan issue. This is an issue that has been sitting there for so long that we needed to fix. Like I said, we talked about, here, where we are in the eyes of other jurisdictions. We are catching up, in many of these areas, to other jurisdictions. They have moved ahead.

The times are changing, the needs of families are changing, and the needs of employers are changing. Our laws must reflect and meet the needs of those changes, and those changes are fast. But, I mean, these are the areas that we are talking about today, in particular in this area. They’ve been there, with this society, for a long time. Sometimes they were buried under the carpet, and people didn’t want to talk about this. But the reality didn’t change. So I think that by bringing this out and by having these changes to the employment standards….

I think it’s our duty as legislators to make sure that for those members who are facing those difficult situations at home or outside, there is job protection for them to go back to. So I support the amendment, and I really, really thank the member for bringing this amendment forward.

A. Weaver: I, too, rise to stand in support of this amendment. I thank the member for Surrey South and the minister for speaking in favour of it. I concur with the member for Surrey South and the minister that this is important, if nothing more than an oversight. This does show the good work that can happen when government is open to thoughtful ideas that are brought forward. I commend the member for Surrey South for bringing this forward.

As she mentioned, it is very similar to an amendment that we have before us in the Residential Tenancy Amendment Act, which was good work done by the previous government, setting up the regulatory environment to allow the breaking of leases. It was nothing more than an oversight that perhaps, in the case of certain conditions that had not been foreseen, an extension and a broadening of what is actually involved in household violence was important to bring forward.

I think it’s pretty clear to me that we have overwhelming support here. I know my colleagues and I have discussed this, and we’re wholeheartedly behind the amendment, so thank you to the member for Surrey South.

Amendment approved.

Section 19 as amended approved.

Sections 20 to 23 inclusive approved.

On section 24.

J. Martin: I’d just like to ask the minister the rationale for adding the provision which allows the director to extend the time to deliver a complaint even after the time to deliver has expired.

[5:25 p.m.]

Hon. H. Bains: The intent here is to provide greater clarity. For example, there could be situations where someone could be suffering from serious physical or psychological injury and they are not able to fulfil the time limits on it. Again, the director will be assessing if an injustice will occur in failing to provide that extension.

I think it will be a special circ*mstance that the director will be considering. Those will be some of the examples that I can come up with.

Section 24 approved.

On section 25.

J. Martin: So (1.3) makes reference to the alternative dispute resolution process. Has this been determined what the actual process is going to be, or is that something that is still a work in progress?

Hon. H. Bains: Further under section 25, 76(3), there are different provisions in there where the director may refuse to investigate a complaint if, for example, the act does not apply to the complaint, the complaint is frivolous, vexatious or trivial or is not made in good faith.

If the director decides to take that action, to say, “Well, we are stopping the investigation because of those reasons,” then that’s the end of the story. But if the director doesn’t make that decision of stopping the investigation because of those reasons, then, in that situation, the director must investigate that complaint. That’s what section (1.3) talks about.

Hon. M. Farnworth: I move that the committee rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again while we make way for calling other business.

Motion approved.

The committee rose at 5:29 p.m.

The House resumed; Mr. Speaker in the chair.

Committee of the Whole (Section B), having reported progress, was granted leave to sit again.

Reporting of Bills

BILL 28 — ZERO-EMISSION
VEHICLES ACT

Bill 28, Zero-Emission Vehicles Act, reported complete with amendment, to be considered at the next sitting of the House after today.

Hon. M. Farnworth: In this chamber, I call continued committee stage on Bill 8, Employment Standards Amendment Act. In Section A, the Douglas Fir Room, I call committee stage on Bill 22, Forest Amendment Act.

Committee of the Whole House

BILL 8 — EMPLOYMENT STANDARDS
AMENDMENT ACT, 2019

(continued)

The House in Committee of the Whole (Section B) on Bill 8; J.Isaacs in the chair.

The committee met at 5:33 p.m.

Sections 25 to 28 inclusive approved.

On section 29.

J. Martin: With section 29, the B.C. Law Institute project recommended something different than this legislation, where the time period covered for which wages must be paid is from six months to 12 months. What was the rationale for, in this case, not going with the committee’s recommendation?

[5:35 p.m.]

Hon. H. Bains: Member, let’s look at the real intent behind this. What we are talking about is the wages that were owed, legally owed to employees that weren’t paid. Not only is this the right thing to do to protect the workers, make sure that their wages are protected and paid according to the law, but also, all the good employers who obeyed the law, who paid the wages according to the law, now are actually left at an unfair disadvantage over these few bad employers who take advantage.

That’s why all other jurisdictions, or most other jurisdictions — New Brunswick, Northwest Territories, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan — all have a 12-month wage recovery period. Ontario has 24 months. Before 2002, British Columbia had 24 months.

I think the idea here is that if you pay your employees according to the law, no one should worry about it, whether it’s six months or 12 months or 24 months. But it is the right thing to do. In the event somebody is cheating their employees, they actually pay according to the law, and they are made to pay according to the law, not only to provide justice to the workers but also to support the good employers.

I want to be on the side of good employers, because the majority of them are good employers. They look after the health and safety of their workers. They pay according to the law. Why give an advantage to a few of those who take advantage of undercutting good employers and then having to pay only six months while they could owe wages for much longer? I think that’s the intent here.

Section 29 approved.

On section 30.

J. Martin: We have, in section 30 here, new definitions for “director” and “officer” with relation to a corporation, section 96(4) of the act. Does this extend to directors or officers of societies?

Hon. H. Bains: The director or officer of a corporation is what we are talking about. It means a corporation as defined in the Business Corporations Act and includes a corporation that, under section 95 of this act, the director treats as one employer. So if the society fits that corporation definition, then it will apply to them.

Sections 30 to 39 inclusive approved.

On section 40.

[5:40 p.m.]

J. Martin: Section 40. The transitional provision indicates that the amendment in section 29 apply to section 80 of the Employment Standards Act once the bill receives royal assent. I’m just wondering how many determinations by the director under sections 76(3) or 79 are still outstanding that will be impacted by that change in time period covered going from 6 months to 12 months, for which wages must be paid.

Hon. H. Bains: I think the way it works, Member, is if the investigation has concluded and the decision is made, then this does not apply to that. But for those where complaints were taken in and the investigation has started — the decision isn’t concluded and the final decision made — this will apply.

Also, there’s a backlog that we inherited. There are hundreds of them. Some of them may fit here. I don’t know how many. I think they need to go back and start the investigation, and then they determine which ones would have provisions here apply and which ones isn’t….

Sections 40 to 44 inclusive approved.

Title approved.

Hon. H. Bains: I move that the committee rise and report the bill complete with amendment.

Motion approved.

The committee rose at 5:43 p.m.

The House resumed; Mr. Speaker in the chair.

[5:45 p.m.]

Reporting of Bills

BILL 8 — EMPLOYMENT STANDARDS
AMENDMENT ACT, 2019

Bill 8, Employment Standards Amendment Act, 2019, reported complete with amendment, to be considered at the next sitting of the House after today.

Hon. M. Farnworth: I call committee stage, Bill 15, Agricultural Land Commission Amendment Act.

Committee of the Whole House

BILL 15 — AGRICULTURAL LAND
COMMISSION AMENDMENT ACT, 2019

The House in Committee of the Whole (Section B) on Bill 15; J.Isaacs in the chair.

The committee met at 5:49 p.m.

On section 1.

L. Larson: In section 1, you’ve kept the same geographic areas from before. So why was it necessary to change the term from “panel region” to “administrative region”?

[5:50 p.m.]

Hon. L. Popham: First, I’d like to introduce my farm team who I have with me. I have Wes Shoemaker. He’s my deputy minister. I have James Mack. He’s my assistant deputy minister, agriculture science and policy division. I have Arlene Anderson here, director, legislation.

Thank you for the question. For about 20 years, the Agricultural Land Commission referred to them as administrative regions, so we’ve just gone back to that terminology. There has not been any change in geographical definition.

L. Larson: If there is no reason, if they were already the way they were, why do this? What is the implication of changing how we define the area from regional to administrative? If it’s not actually effecting any difference, why are we doing this?

Hon. L. Popham: Thanks for the question. The changes from regional panels to administrative regions give flexibility in order to have regionally represented regions, and it gives flexibility for the Agricultural Land Commission to bring in expert panels. For example, if there was a situation around a dairy farm specifically, it would allow the ALC to have the flexibility to bring in dairy experts in order to deal with a certain application or situation.

L. Larson: The panel system that was in place did have local people who are very familiar with the farmers and everything that was happening in that local area. Is this, then, just specific to something very specialized and will not be used in a general form? Is the idea of doing this from this level to create specialized abilities? Like you said, the local panels did have, certainly, knowledge — local knowledge. So is the main focus of this, then, to create the ability to have specialized panels?

[5:55 p.m.]

Hon. L. Popham: The change to allow for regional representation really allows us to choose representatives from each region so there is localized representation. Then, if need be, the flexibility is there to bring in experts into a situation. But I agree with the member: the local representation is critical, and we have allowed for that.

L. Larson: If we’re broadening the scope of this administrative region versus the panel region, are there cost implications?

Hon. L. Popham: The good news is that we may be able to see some cost savings moving from a fixed-panel system to a single commission. But again, it allows for flexibility. There have been studies in the past, under previous governments, that show that if you move to a single commission, there in fact could be savings there.

L. Larson: Just to be a little bit more specific, perhaps, on that one. It would appear, certainly to me, that specialized panels would be more costly than what was currently happening to take a look at applications, etc., in a region.

Perhaps the minister could expand a little bit on just exactly how you save money under the new system.

[6:00 p.m.]

Hon. L. Popham: What we believe is that the six-panel system is a very rigid structure, and when there is more of a workload going to some areas and not others, this new system will allow the commission to move people around, if need be, while maintaining the independence of the commission.

M. de Jong: It’s no secret there has been a fairly healthy legislative parliamentary exchange around this bill — certainly an exchange of views that has extended beyond this chamber in the public. The minister has articulated her view, on behalf of the government, for why the provisions are necessary and commended them to the House and the opposition. I have had some fairly critical things to say about the bill, and we’ll have a chance to canvass that over the course of the days ahead.

What I’d like to do, as part of the discussion around section 1, though, is perhaps explore, in ways that I don’t think have taken place in this chamber since the minister became Minister of Agriculture, the manner in which section 1 and, by implication, other parts of the legislation actually find their way into a bill — the drafting exercise, as it were. It will have application for the section we’re on, but it will also have a relevance for the sections that follow, some of which will consume a great deal of parliamentary attention.

Maybe my first question is, with respect to section 1 and the bill in general, if the minister can explain to the committee the approval process by which the ideas that she presumably had and brought to her post manifested themselves into the legislation that we see here. By that I mean, was there a request for legislation? Was she the author of that request for legislation? Is there a legislative review committee that she would have submitted the drafting to prior to the bill landing on the floor of the Legislature? A description of the process by which she, as minister, presumably said to her officials, “Here’s what I want to do. Now let’s turn those ideas into legislative form” — in this case, Bill 15; and in this particular case, section 1 of Bill 15.

[6:05 p.m.]

Hon. L. Popham: Thanks for the question. To answer the question, I received a mandate letter from the Premier. Part of that was a directive to revitalize the agricultural land reserve and commission. At that point, I struck an independent advisory committee. That committee went around and did provincewide consultation. They provided an interim report, which included recommendations on legislative and regulatory changes.

My staff, at that point, worked together and also worked with other ministry staff to come up with policy suggestions that were informed by the work that the committee had done. This gave authority to draft the legislation. It then went to the legislative review committee, and the result of that work is the legislation that we see before us in this chamber.

M. de Jong: That’s helpful. I should say that my interest, for the purpose of this line of questioning, begins where the minister indicates that the committee presented her with a report that generated some internal work. I’m not going to pursue any questioning about the committee or the activities of the committee.

[6:10 p.m.]

I think the minister said that staff took what I think she characterized as an interim report and recommendations and created policy options. I will assume…. But one is always cautious about making assumptions. Those policy options were then presented to her as minister, and she would have made decisions about which of those options to pursue. Is that correct? Or were those options presented to someone else or another body for the purpose of making decisions about which options to pursue?

Hon. L. Popham: Thank you for the question. I presented options to cabinet around policy, and as far as the policies that involved any decisions on cannabis, I have recused myself from that part of the file since becoming minister. And those decisions were made separately.

M. de Jong: To the minister: thank you. That’s helpful. I wasn’t intending to pursue anything other than the bill and the matters before the committee today, but I thank the minister for that additional information.

The minister has indicated that following the receipt of the report and recommendations, and the work by the staff, she then presented options to cabinet. At that point had…? Was that prior to or after the creation of a request for legislation?

Maybe the first question is: was there a formal RFL, or request for legislation, prepared with respect to Bill 15? If so, I’ll ask a series of questions. The minister can answer as best she can or as many as she can. Was there a request for legislation, and if so, who signed off on that RFL, and when was that signed off?

[6:15 p.m.]

Hon. L. Popham: Yes, there was an RFL, and I did sign it. It went through the usual cabinet process. I would have signed it sometime last summer. We don’t have the exact date, but we can certainly get that for the member.

M. de Jong: I’m going to ask the minister to explain for the committee what the usual cabinet process is. I think that’s the term she used — the usual process or the “usual cabinet process” that she just alluded to.

Before I do that, perhaps I should just clarify or ask the minister to help me clarify the sequencing. She signed the RFL, the formal request for legislation, last summer. When did she receive the report from the committee in relation to the RFL?

[6:20 p.m.]

Hon. L. Popham: As far as the way that the cabinet direction works when legislation is being worked on…. We get our policy direction from cabinet. This gives us the authority to start drafting legislation.

As far as how we ended up at cabinet, we did have a…. The independent committee was able to give me regular updates as they did their work. That happened all along. On April 21, they were able to give me a preliminary draft of what they were thinking. We got an interim report on July 31. That report focused on legislative and regulatory changes.

I move that the committee rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again.

Motion approved.

The committee rose at 6:24 p.m.

The House resumed; Mr. Speaker in the chair.

Committee of the Whole (Section B), having reported progress, was granted leave to sit again.

Committee of the Whole (Section A), having reported progress, was granted leave to sit again.

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

Hon. M. Farnworth moved adjournment of the House.

Motion approved.

Mr. Speaker: This House stands adjourned until 10 a.m. tomorrow morning.

The House adjourned at 6:25 p.m.

PROCEEDINGS IN THE
DOUGLAS FIR ROOM

Committee of the Whole House

BILL 28 — ZERO-EMISSION
VEHICLES ACT

The House in Committee of the Whole (Section A) on Bill 28; R.Kahlon in the chair.

The committee met at 2:54 p.m.

On section 1.

Hon. M. Mungall: I’ll just introduce my excellent staff from the ministry who are joining me today. We have Les MacLaren, who’s the ADM, electricity and alternative energy division. And we have Christina Ianniciello, who’s the director of clean transportation.

[2:55 p.m.]

They have just done tremendous work on this bill, which is our Zero-Emission Vehicles Act. I’m so grateful for the work that they’ve done.

Of course, what this act does — we spoke about it in second reading, and I’ll just quickly highlight — is it creates a mandate for when we are going to achieve full sales of new vehicles for zero-emission vehicles. We want 100 percent of new vehicles, light-duty vehicles — your average car that someone like myself or yourself would buy…. For all of those types of vehicles, brand-new sales would be zero-emission vehicles by 2040. We also have benchmarks along the way so that it’s phased in.

The work to pull together brand-new legislation is not an easy task, so I very much appreciate the work that staff have put into it. I also appreciate the work that various people around B.C. have put into advocating for this as part of our opportunities for our CleanBC plan and what we can be doing, each single one of us in British Columbia, to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions in this province.

With that, I won’t take all kinds of time speaking, because I know the members opposite have quite a few questions. So I’ll let them get started.

P. Milobar: Recognizing that the definition of “supplier” is actually section 2, I’m just wondering, though, if the minister can explain the mindset behind “address for service” for a supplier. My understanding is the supplier is actually the manufacturer.

Last I checked, we don’t have manufacturers in British Columbia. They certainly have some corporate footprint but not necessarily where they might want to have correspondence on a regulatory issue like this going back and forth. So what was the logic of mandating that a British Columbia mailing address is necessary versus one within the Canadian operations of a supplier — or, in other words, a manufacturer?

Hon. M. Mungall: The rationale for this is about where we can serve legal notices. We need to be able to do that in British Columbia. All of the major manufacturers have an address in B.C. that would be sufficient for that. We also, obviously…. Electronic addresses are acceptable as well. We should point out, though, that the storage of those records doesn’t have to be in B.C., but they can be at their corporate HQ, wherever those may be.

P. Milobar: The zero-emission vehicle definition, or ZEV — can that be amended in time by regulation, or would it have to be back done by legislation, in terms of other newer technologies coming on in terms of what would be propelling a car? This is a window that’s looking till 2040. So obviously, we’re expecting a whole lot of other technological advancements to be happening.

Hon. M. Mungall: The legislation does allow us to have that flexibility in regulation so that should technologies that we can’t even foresee today change, we are able to make that change. Right now a ZEV vehicle is considered a fully electric vehicle, a plug-in hybrid or a hydrogen fuel cell.

Section 1 approved.

On section 2.

[3:00 p.m.]

P. Milobar: I’ll kind of do a two-part question rolled into one. The one is an assumption that this is essentially saying that the supplier is the manufacturer of the vehicle, not the dealer, not the storefront that you would think of in terms of the consumer walking into a Honda or a Ford dealership on the street in their neighbourhood. This is actually dealing with the manufacturer of the vehicle and, ultimately, the distributor of the vehicle.

With that in mind, then, could the minister let us know…? So “(b) the person who is deemed under the regulation to be the supplier” refers to a person. Is that meant to be more in the corporate sense of the person versus an actual physical person? If not, when would a person actually qualify as a supplier?

Hon. M. Mungall: The supplier is the manufacturer. In part (b) of section 2, where we acknowledge who “the person” is, it would be pursuant to the Interpretation Act that would identify a person as a corporation.

I just want to give the member a little bit more information on why this is here. It’s because, recognizing some things that have happened in the past and how they may unfold in the future, we want to make sure that the act will be able to address that. For example, we need to identify who would be the regulated party in a situation where, maybe, two manufacturers are collaborating on a particular vehicle. So if you might recall, Pontiac and Toyota collaborated, and they came up with the Vibe and the Matrix, which are actually the same car. My husband drove a Vibe, and I drove a Matrix, which were essentially the same car but two different manufacturers.

We, as a government, then have to know who exactly we’re going to be regulating in this particular situation, for example, or when maybe one car manufacturer buys a majority share in another one. That’s why that’s there.

Sections 2 to 4 inclusive approved.

On section 5.

P. Milobar: Just trying to get into a bit here with…. I’m not sure which exact section, so I thought I’d better err on the side of caution and do these questions now. During the briefing, there was talk that this would only apply to a certain number or a certain percentage of suppliers. You need to produce a certain amount to actually fall under this legislation. Is this the section that would qualify which supplier would actually have to follow this act or not?

[3:05 p.m.]

Hon. M. Mungall: Section 5 does allow us the power to prescribe classes of suppliers. The reason is that not all suppliers, not all manufacturers are operating at the same number of cars that they make, for example.

Our intention is focusing on the larger car manufacturers, which covers — oh goodness — almost all. I can get the exact number in terms of percentages for you, but almost all of the ZEVs out there. However, there are also smaller manufacturers who are not as big as, for example, Nissan or Kia. For example, Tesla would be a smaller manufacturer.

That’s what part 2 of section 5 is about. It’s allowing those smaller manufacturers to opt in voluntarily, should they choose. I imagine Tesla would want to do that, for example, because that’s the type of vehicle that they’re making.

P. Milobar: That’s my understanding. A Tesla could opt in, because they would generate credits which they could then turn around and sell to a Ford or a GM or whoever that needs to acquire those credits. But they’d have to opt in to be able to have credits to sell.

My understanding was that there were going to be thresholds. So is the minister saying, then, that the cut-off point of who will automatically have to abide by this legislation…? Has that not been set out yet? Do we not know which manufacturers, what the sales threshold is? What is going to be the mechanism for manufacturers to know whether they have to abide by this legislation or not?

Hon. M. Mungall: Thank you to the member for asking about thresholds. That would be prescribed in regulation. Again, this is to recognize things in the future that may unfold that require a bit more of a flexibility and a more quick response than what we can do in legislation going forward, so we want to be able to keep that in regulation. Our intention, as I said earlier, is to start with the larger manufacturers and allow for that voluntary opt-in for the smaller manufacturers.

Section 5 approved.

On section 6.

P. Milobar: I’m wondering what safeguards a light-duty motor vehicle…. My understanding is a half-ton pickup or under, so a Ford F-150, a GM or Chev 1500, a Dodge 1500. Those would be your typical truck numbers. I guess Nissan would have — what is it? — a Titan, or something like that.

What safeguards in this legislation are there to prevent something as simple as a rebranding? There used to be a heavy half-ton — that’s what they called it — which was really kind of a three-quarter-ton in disguise. What safeguards in this legislation are there that, essentially, all full-size pickup trucks don’t suddenly become deemed the same as what a Ford Ranger or a Colorado mid-size truck is currently?

[3:10 p.m.]

Hon. M. Mungall: These would be prescribed in regulations. What we’d be using is the gross vehicle weight, so it’s not really something that the manufacturer or anybody can rebrand. The weight of a vehicle is the weight of the vehicle. That’s the safeguard. The member is wondering what we’re going to have, and that’s what it would be.

P. Milobar: With that answer, my understanding — and it’s a little rudimentary with vehicles, albeit — is that the bigger difference between, say, a three-quarter-ton and a half-ton pickup truck has more to do with the suspension and the towing capacities than the weight of the actual vehicle. Is the minister saying now that a three-quarter-ton and a one-ton pickup truck actually would be subject to this if they had the same weight as a half-ton pickup?

Hon. M. Mungall: I appreciate the member’s question. It really highlights why you can’t always have hard-and-fast rules and why you actually need to have regulations so that you can address different situations. This is precisely one of those situations that, as we consult with the car manufacturers in terms of how that would happen….

The member pointed out how a three-quarter-ton truck and a one-ton truck might have the same actual gross weight as a quarter-ton pickup, but they are very different vehicles. Their purposes are very, very different, so in terms of regulation, we wouldn’t just always limit it to gross vehicle weight. We would actually look at other things. For example: what is the vehicle’s purpose?

I don’t want to get overprescriptive, because we need to go into consultation once this legislation is passed, if it is today, and then consult with auto manufacturers to make sure that those regulations that we do have recognize those different uses of vehicles as well.

P. Milobar: Well, that’s, frankly, a little concerning. This is a piece of legislation that’s been worked on for quite some time. It’s based on California and Quebec models of what they’ve done and the amendments California has had to make over the better part of about 15 years that they’ve been working with this type of legislation. To not have a better definitive answer around what constitutes a light-duty vehicle, as legislation, puts a whole lot of faith into the regulation piece of this. Because once this bill is passed, it can be somewhat irrelevant what the industry may be saying to the minister and to government. But if there is not a….

I think most people recognize that there should be the ability to have a fully electric half-ton, pickup-truck-sized vehicle for people to use for their everyday garden and yardwork and hauling extra hockey gear to practice, and things like that, but I don’t think there’s a lot of confidence that there’s going to be that same ability for the needs of a three-quarter and a one-ton pickup truck.

I’ve owned a three-quarter-ton diesel. I’ve owned a half-ton gas. I’ve owned a half-ton diesel. I’ve owned a lot of different trucks, and the minister is correct that the usage of a three-quarter and a one-ton is completely different. It’s predominantly for people in work trucks. It’s predominantly for people going out into the bush to do work.

[3:15 p.m.]

They won’t necessarily have the confidence around an electric vehicle, no matter how well they’re tested out. Even their diesel breaks down, and they have Tidy Tanks in the back and the range. There’s no station for them to plug into to recharge when they’re getting to and from work, way back in the bush. I know the minister is from Nelson, knowing full well what that’s like with the industry around Nelson as well.

Why was there not a better definition, then, around what a light-duty vehicle is, other than “we’ll look at it in regulation, moving forward,” when to this point, everybody has been under the understanding that it would be a half-ton pickup or less? But by the minister’s first answer, there’s no guarantee that that is actually going to be the case.

Hon. M. Mungall: Both Quebec and California, which have had a longer history with this type of legislation…. In their experience, what’s defining a “light-duty vehicle” is that gross vehicle weight. That’s what they…. The feds have a different approach to it.

We want to do this in regulation. What I’m hearing from the member is concern that we’ll put this in regulation, as opposed to legislation. I think it’s more prudent to put it into regulation. The reason I think that is because as soon as you have something in legislation, it’s very difficult to go and change that in the future, should a government of the day wish to do that. To be able to be flexible and, also, to be able to respond to consultation with the auto manufacturers, with people so that we have an understanding that we’re not solely looking at gross vehicle weight — again, that’s not what’s in the legislation — and that we are actually looking at a variety of ways in which to understand how vehicles are used.

The member gave some excellent examples, and these are things that I think about as well.

[3:20 p.m.]

We want to be able to keep this in regulation. I think that’s the more prudent approach. I think that allows for the flexibility, allows for the consultation and allows us to make sure that we are not creating a situation where people who work in rural areas, like his and my own — although he has more urban than I do — are not, essentially, penalized, unable to get the type of vehicles that they need for work.

Section 6 approved.

On section 7.

P. Milobar: A couple of questions about the targets. I’m just wondering if the ministry had modelled how the ZEV sales would be progressing, regardless of this legislation. If so, how does this modelling differ from the legislative targets? I guess it’d be not too realistic to think there was very accurate modelling done for the 2030 or the 2040 target, but I would assume there must be some discussions and modelling done with the ministry and manufacturers around 2025, about what we’re seeing happening in terms of the 4 percent of overall sales last year and moving forward — what their projections were.

Hon. M. Mungall: We’ve been using our 2018-2019 sales to do that modelling, as the member rightly suspected that we have been doing. Based on that modelling, the 2025 sales targets are definitely feasible. We’re starting to be able to do a greater amount of modelling for 2030 and 2040 than we have in the past because we’ve also seen some updates in terms of pick up for interest in purchasing ZEVs in the last little while. So we’re taking those newer numbers to do further modelling for 2030 and 2040.

I also want to let the member know that the purpose, ultimately, for this legislation is about making sure that we have supply to meet the demand in our province. We know the demand is high in the province, but we haven’t been able to get the supply as quickly as we would have liked. What we’ve been seeing since we introduced this legislation is that supply has picked up. This has already had a positive trigger to get the vehicles that people want to buy here in B.C.

P. Milobar: If I heard the minister’s answer correctly, the modelling would indicate that with or without this legislation, the 10 percent in 2025 was a target. That leads me to the question, then, of was the modelling done with the assumption that there would be a subsidy program in place all the way through 2025?

[3:25 p.m.]

Hon. M. Mungall: Our modelling includes this legislation, because as I said, this legislation is about getting that supply to meet the demand. We can have a very large demand, but if we don’t have the supply of vehicles to meet it, the sales won’t be there.

Any type of modelling is going to have to acknowledge that there’s that supply. This is the mechanism that gets that supply into this province. Our modelling was done with the basis of this legislation going through. In terms of the subsidy…. Because we used numbers from 2018 and 2019, and at the time, the subsidy program was to go to 2020, our modelling only uses the subsidy program going to 2020 and not beyond.

P. Milobar: I think I can see why some dealers are getting a little worried that the legislation will be the hammer with no carrot or stick with no carrot, given that there’s no modelling done with the subsidy in place from 2020 on.

In fact — what is it? — since the beginning of the month, I believe, it’s been about $9 million drained down of the CEV program — $5 million of the new money, actually. It got topped to $10 million, on the last Thursday that we were here, of the $42 million as budgeted in CleanBC over the three years at that rate.

In estimates, I indicated to the minister previously, it would be about 17 weeks. Under the new volume structure, it would be about eight weeks before that money is completely gone in CleanBC, which has a 156-week budget. I think the car dealers might be interested to know that there’s been no modelling done past 2020 to get them to the 2025 target.

To that end, I guess I’m wondering what exactly are the yearly targets then? I know there’s another section coming up. I’ll ask some further questions around this. What is the yearly target then for manufacturers to be in compliance? What is the 2020? What is the 2021? What is the 2022? Or do they just need to make sure they’re at 10 percent by 2025, and they’ll be in compliance? Are there interim measures that they have to be hitting? If so, which section are those targets in, in this legislation?

Hon. M. Mungall: We’ve put the three target dates of 2025, 2030 and 2040 into legislation. What we are doing is the annual targets, putting that into regulation and going to be developing that regulation, as I was saying earlier, with a consultation with the manufacturers.

The reason why we wanted to leave this to regulation is because things are changing quite rapidly. In fact, the demand is a lot higher, as the member pointed out, than originally anticipated, and that’s a good thing, right? British Columbians are eager to do their part to reduce their own carbon emissions. They’re also eager to get a vehicle that has less maintenance, so therefore, is more affordable on the maintenance side, that has less fuel costs, so therefore, more affordable on the operational side.

[3:30 p.m.]

They’re also eager to have a vehicle that, might I say, is quite peppy when you’re driving through mountains like in my riding. So that’s a good thing that people are very eager. But it also poses a problem that, as government, we need to be able to be flexible and respond to. That’s exactly why we want to leave those annual targets in regulation and do that on the basis of consultation.

P. Milobar: Well, again, that is a bit concerning for a couple of reasons. April sales were pretty stagnant, because everybody was waiting to see if there was going to be a subsidy program federally or not. In May, things have been booming. We haven’t actually got an update on the SCRAP-IT program, which is $6,000 of the $16,000 we hear about, and whether or not that’s going to run out of money or how that will continue on.

We’ve heard from the minister that there’s no modelling with the subsidy program after the 2020 year, yet the 2020 model year is when this will be in full effect. We’re hearing that the manufacturers won’t know until after this is law what percentage target they have to hit for 2020 of overall sales. So there are a lot of unknowns.

I know previously in opposition, the now government certainly had a lot of issues about legislation that was being left to regulation. This seems to be a whole lot of regulation and “wait for the answer later,” which will create a bit of uncertainty.

Again, I’m going to assume this is in 7 — a relevant question. If not, the minister can guide me to the right section that it should be in.

Because this whole piece of legislation is based on ratios. It’s based on percentage of sales. Just to use round numbers instead of actual sales numbers, if there were a quarter-million vehicles sold in our province in a year, that means in 2025, 25,000 of them would have to be a ZEV with this legislation — 10 percent.

Now, there are two ways to get to 10 percent. You can have 25,000 units sold of 250,000 units. As the minister pointed out, there was a demand yet not a supply of electric vehicles. One could assume that the manufacturers could do the reverse to make sure they hit their target number of a percentage of sales.

The manufacturers — and I’ve talked to just about all of them, or a great many of the big ones, anyways — have all said the same thing, that they corporately do not pay fines. The fine structure in this bill is very punitive, so they will not be paying fines. They’ve made that very clear. They will make sure that they hit the right percentage either by credits or making sure their sales numbers match.

If they’re on track to sell 20,000 units in 2025 of an electric vehicle, is there anything preventing them from making sure that they only then sell 180,000 gas-powered vehicles to make sure they’re at 200,000 vehicles sold in the province of B.C. and that they’re 10 percent of sales sold? They’ve not added any electric vehicles other than what the consumers were going to put on the road.

They’ve made their dealers feel the pain of people coming in and not getting a vehicle they would like. That does happen right now even with gas vehicles. Some are very hard to source out and get, and people wait a long time to get them.

The way this legislation is written, there does not appear to be any mechanism to prevent that from happening and auto manufacturers from still being compliant. Is that correct?

[3:35 p.m.]

Hon. M. Mungall: First, I just want to address an issue that the member brought up, before I answer the question, and that’s just about regulation and things being in regulation or in legislation. I think it is the responsibility, a very important responsibility, of anybody in opposition to always ask the question of government during this committee stage: should that item be in legislation, or should it be in regulation? We know that we use both of those tools. There’s also a variety of other tools that are used, such as policy, practice guides, and so on.

It’s very important for the opposition to ask these questions to, therefore, have a better understanding for the public on where we’re going to address the particular issues that they bring forward — legislation, regulation or some other mechanism — and then to determine whether the government is providing sufficient responses to suggest why something should be in regulation as opposed to legislation or in another mechanism as opposed to legislation.

The member commented that when we were in opposition, we would always ask these types of questions and perhaps be disappointed that something wasn’t in legislation that was in regulation instead. I would argue that it’s important for any opposition to provide that critical analysis of whether something ought to be in regulation or not, and that opposition and government are charged to often disagree. For that disagreement to occur is perfectly normal. I would argue that the places that we are using regulation are actually quite appropriate in conjunction with the legislation.

In terms of where we’re going to be dealing with a variety of pathways to compliance, the particular issue that the member brought up is actually in section 10. We’ve already put on the order paper some amendments to address challenges that manufacturers might experience to compliance, in having a year where they can have a deficit year and a year to make up for that.

As we go through this legislation, what we will see is that there’s a variety of pathways to compliance. It’s certainly not what the member is suggesting, where a manufacturer might pull back on selling non-ZEV vehicles even though there might be a demand for them. In fact, that’s just not been the case and practice in other jurisdictions.

P. Milobar: Well, the question isn’t whether or not it’s the practice in other jurisdictions. The question is whether or not, under this legislation, the manufacturer has the ability to still be compliant by not actually increasing any of their current volume of ZEVs. Let’s say in 2025, when they need to have 10 percent under this legislation, one way to get to 10 percent if they can’t find credits…. We know they can buy credits to get to 10 percent. We also know that there’s no modelling done with an incentive program after 2020.

But is it allowable under this act? Would they still meet their target if they just restricted access to an electric vehicle, sold fewer units? It would actually impact the B.C. dealers and the employment of the B.C. dealers and all of their employees and their families by restricting new car sales to make sure that their ratio, their percentage of sales of ZEVs, actually complies with the act in 2025.

Hon. M. Mungall: The answer to the member’s question is yes, that could possibly be the case. Has that been the case anywhere else? The answer is no. What we see are manufacturers wanting to make sure that they can meet the demand of their customers. They would be hard-pressed to stay in business if they were refusing to do that.

P. Milobar: Well, just a couple of answers ago the minister said they were doing exactly that with electric vehicles. Now there’s a supply, and this bill is meant to force them to put the supply into the market where there was a pent-up demand. So if they were doing it with an electric vehicle, I’m hard-pressed to understand why they would not do it with a gas vehicle when there are already certain models of gas vehicles that are very hard to source in some jurisdictions, as their allotment gets sold out, because the other jurisdictions get very protective too.

[3:40 p.m.]

All 50 states and the provinces and territories in Canada want access to certain vehicles as well, and their dealers start to make demands of the manufacturers. So the fact that it hasn’t happened yet, with the potential of $1 million fines out there and a mandate from the manufacturers to pay no fines, doesn’t mean it won’t happen and doesn’t mean it can’t happen.

To that end, back to the ratios, I just want to get clarification from the minister. The 2020 model year, which are already starting to roll out some models…. Some manufacturers have already started to launch 2020s. The launch date gets earlier every year. It used to be, kind of without fail, the end of September. Now it’s into the summer, and they’re starting to launch 2020 models, which will be captured by this.

I’m hearing from the minister that there is no set-out percentage of sales yet for 2020. That is still left for discussion with industry after this bill becomes legislation. I guess the question would be: why, at a minimum, would the dealers or the manufacturers not know what their 2020 target would be, given that they’re already starting to put 2020 models on their lot?

Hon. M. Mungall: First off, just in terms of the member’s comment around how manufacturers may very likely reduce their overall non-ZEV car sales to make sure that they’re in compliance, we have to deal with reality. That has not happened anywhere. The manufacturers have not said that that is exactly what they’re going to do to achieve compliance at all.

More importantly, when I’m listening to the member’s comment about how for some vehicles, you have to wait a long time…. There is high demand but not a lot of supply. These are often very limited types of vehicles, and to extrapolate that to all non-ZEV vehicles, I don’t think is an appropriate modelling for the basis of his question.

I want to stay within what’s actually going on in other jurisdictions and what manufacturers are actually telling us in terms of compliance. That is why we have created many pathways to compliance. The member also pointed out that the manufacturers themselves are saying: “We’re not going to be paying fines. We’re going to get to those pathways of compliance.”

In terms of dealing with the model year for 2020, it was actually the manufacturers who asked us to leave this model year to regulation so that we could consult with them on that very pathway to compliance.

Section 7 approved.

On section 8.

P. Milobar: I recognize that, obviously, we’re past March 31. I’m wondering what is the date, then, that the 2020 model year will be the target, or is this meant to be a retroactive target? As I read this, it says: “On or before March 31 in each year….” It’s about the reports to cover the immediately preceding calendar year.

[3:45 p.m.]

Is this meant that March 31, 2020, will be the report that covers the 2020 model year? Or is it that March 31, 2020, will cover 2019?

Hon. M. Mungall: This section is not about compliance. What it is, is about public accountability and making sure that we’re transparent in what’s going on in British Columbia. The compliance reporting is separate. It’s not in this section. What this is, is a public reporting mechanism, and it’d be using ICBC data for the calendar year. So the previous calendar year’s data would then be reported out as of March 31.

P. Milobar: I get that. So March 31, 2020, will…. I’m just wondering how this transition year is going to play out because we’re midyear when this gets enacted, but it’s for a calendar year, which means it’s only going to be a six-month report. Does that mean that the tail end of 2019 will…? I mean, you can obviously do a six-month report. But is that what is intended by this? And then moving forward, it’ll be for the previous full calendar year in terms of the reporting.

The reason I ask that is because it’s got to be a report based on targets set out for the last six months of 2019, and we don’t know what those targets are yet. So I’m assuming those have to sync up together as well.

Hon. M. Mungall: The first report — again, not about compliance but just about public accountability, a public reporting mechanism. Our first report date would be March 31, 2020. It would be for the full 2019 calendar year. And I think that this is a really good point, that we are doing this, actually, because what it does is it creates a baseline of data before the act comes into force. Then we can compare how we do, year after year, in years with the act in force, to before.

Section 8 approved.

On section 9.

P. Milobar: Just to clarify, this clause does not prohibit any dealers or manufacturers from selling used internal combustion engines in the province of B.C. in 2040?

Hon. M. Mungall: That’s correct.

P. Milobar: I’m assuming, and I believe, that the definition of what currently is a used vehicle is still contemplated in this. That may change over time or whatever, but that’s fine. There’s nothing to prevent the sale of a used vehicle or a one-year lease return, a two-year lease return, being imported in from other parts of the country. It can be trucked in, as they do. They move vehicles all over the place.

The public perception is that 100 percent of vehicles in 2040 being sold are going to be ZEVs, but in actual fact, this legislation is strictly 100 percent of new vehicles being sold. If you want to buy a used vehicle, you’re totally fine doing that. If you want to buy a brand-new combustion engine, you just have to go to a different jurisdiction and register it in British Columbia after and pay your provincial tax once you cross the border. Is that correct?

[3:50 p.m.]

Hon. M. Mungall: That’s correct. I know that there’s a bit of — not misinformation — a misunderstanding for some people in the general public. But we’ve been very clear in all communications from our ministry and from government that this is new, light-duty sales.

People can still buy an internal combustion engine, used, if they so choose. For example, maybe the technology, by 2040, won’t be ideal for people who live in some of the more remote parts of British Columbia. It might be hard to charge, and so on. I wish I could predict what’s going to happen, exactly, in 2040, but I can’t. Recognizing that we might not be as built out as we’d like to be, so that option to buy a used internal combustion engine will still be there.

Section 9 approved.

On section 10.

Hon. M. Mungall: I move the amendment to section 10 standing in my name on the orders of the day be moved.

[SECTION 10, by deleting the text shown as struck out and adding the underlined text as shown:

Supply of ZEVs

10 (1) This section applies on assessment under section 19 [assessment by director] or reassessment under section 20 [reassessment by director].

(2) At the end of the compliance date for a model year, a supplier must have a balance that contains the following numbers of ZEV units:

(a) for each vehicle class, zero or more ZEV units;

(b) for each prescribed vehicle class, if applicable, zero or more ZEV units of each prescribed ZEV class.

(3) If Subject to subsection (3.1), if a supplier has a balance on at the end of the compliance date for a model year that contains less than zero ZEV units of a vehicle class and ZEV class,

(a) the supplier is subject to an administrative penalty in an amount determined under section 26 [automatic administrative penalties], and

(b) on payment of the administrative penalty, the balance of ZEV units of the vehicle class and ZEV class is increased by a number of credits of the model year, vehicle class and ZEV class, which may be the unspecified ZEV class, that is equal to the amount below zero.

(3.1) Subsection (3) does not apply to a supplier in relation to a model year, vehicle class and ZEV class unless the supplier had a balance at the end of the compliance date for the previous model year that contained less than zero ZEV units of the same vehicle class and any ZEV class.

(4) An increase under subsection (3) (b) takes effect on the day after the compliance date to which the administrative penalty relates.]

On the amendment.

Hon. M. Mungall: Just to let everybody know what this amendment is about, and before I do, I just want to thank the auto manufacturers, the suppliers for giving us feedback when we first introduced this bill. We’ve been able to take a look at their feedback and note some places where we do need to make amendments, and this is one of those places.

What we’re doing here is providing additional flexibility to the manufacturers who do not meet their target in a given compliance year. It would be giving them one extra year to make up their deficit before facing any type of administrative penalties.

As you’ll recall, Chair, and the member will recall, I was speaking about the need to make sure that we have multiple avenues, multiple pathways to compliance. The manufacturers don’t want to be paying fines. We don’t want them to be paying fines, because that means that this has not been a success. We want this to be successful. So one of the avenues to compliance that we are responding to from feedback from the auto manufacturers is allowing for this makeup year, so to speak, where, if they are in deficit one year, they’ve got a year to get back in compliance.

Amendment approved.

On section 10 as amended.

P. Milobar: One question on this. I’m just wondering how the revenues from the administrative penalties are intended to be used.

Hon. M. Mungall: At this point, we haven’t designated any other location other than general revenue, payable to the Minister of Finance.

Section 10 as amended approved.

On section 11.

P. Milobar: This appears to be somewhat connected in with section 26 as well. But the size of the administrative penalties in this section, or as established in 26, seem to have a correlation to this formula. I’m just wondering how the government is going to determine the compliance ratio in the legislation for the various model years and vehicle classes, and also, is this a tool that can be used for scaling up the supply of ZEVs available to consumers?

[3:55 p.m.]

Hon. M. Mungall: The compliance ratios will be finalized in consultation with industry. I want to just note for the member that industry is very familiar with the formula that is listed here, the reason being that it’s what’s used in California and Quebec. It’s something that is already in existence.

What it has done here, especially…. I think this is going to be really important for British Columbia. It’s designed to get those longer-range ZEVs into our market. We both come from rural areas, so I don’t need to explain to him how important it is to get a longer-range ZEV into our market here in B.C., where you can drive for a very long time, and all you see are trees and mountains. People who come from more populous parts of the world are always surprised at just how long you can drive in Canada and only see nature on the side of the road.

In terms of his question — would it be a tool used to scale up supply? — in a word, yes.

Sections 11 to 13 inclusive approved.

On section 14.

Hon. M. Mungall: I move the amendment to section 14(2)(b), standing in my name in the orders of the day.

[SECTION 14 (2) (b), by deleting the text shown as struck out and adding the underlined text as shown:

(b) increasing use or consumer sales use, sales or leases of zero-emission vehicles in British Columbia.]

On the amendment.

Hon. M. Mungall: Just before we discuss that, I’ll just let the member know that the amendment is for clarity, to ensure that increasing the sale of used ZEVs can be included in the initiative in grievance.

Amendment approved.

On section 14 as amended.

P. Milobar: I’m wondering how the minister or the direc­tor or both are going to determine whether credits awarded through an initiative agreement with a supplier adequately offset the potential negative credit balance that the initiative agreement helps a supplier mitigate.

[4:00 p.m.]

Hon. M. Mungall: This section is actually unique to B.C. It’s not something that’s found in other jurisdictions. While we have cribbed quite a lot from other jurisdictions, being able to learn what works well, something that’s kind of new is happening. Auto manufacturers have asked for this approach that we’re taking in terms of these agreements and needing to consult on how these agreements would be structured — and then the results of that consultation coming forward either in regulation or in a policy guide that, of course, is very transparent so that everybody knows exactly what to expect in terms of these agreements.

I’m going to give the member an example of something that’s different in the modern market as opposed to maybe just a few years ago. We want to make this a pathway to compliance. If an auto manufacturer wants to maybe extend their business to car-sharing, like Modo or car2go in Vancouver — Modo is also here in Victoria — and they want to extend their business to that car-sharing model exclusively with ZEVs, we want them to be able to use that initiative to count towards their compliance, because they are getting more internal combustion engines off the road, and they are putting more ZEVs onto the road.

That’s precisely what this is about, and it allows us…. Not just that, but that’s an example of how things change and how we need to make sure that we’re able to respond to that. That’s why we want to make sure that we have that transparently put into regulation or into a policy guide following appropriate consultation.

Section 14 as amended approved.

On section 15.

P. Milobar: If I’m reading this right, this is a section where the director overseeing this program will be able to negotiate credits with manufacturers, suppliers, to make sure that they can stay compliant. What method will be used to determine what the price per credit will be?

Hon. M. Mungall: The price per ZEV credit will be in regulation, the reason being that this is another one of our unique-to-B.C. components of this legislation. So in my view, it would be inappropriate to move forward in legislation without proper consultation that is the result of that regulation development process.

P. Milobar: I recognize that 16 seems to be about credits between supplier and supplier. I’ll get to that when we get to 16. But am I reading this section correctly, then, that this is an agreement between the supplier and the director — i.e., the government — in terms of a purchase of credits off of the director or the government, whichever term you want to use, versus a supplier-to-supplier credit purchase?

[4:05 p.m.]

Hon. M. Mungall: The member is correct to conclude that this is about purchasing ZEV units from government. Yes, as I mentioned earlier, many pathways to compliance, and this would be seen as a very last-resort alternative mechanism to that compliance.

P. Milobar: So these kind of floating-out-in-the-ether credits that exist now that government controls — how many will there be? Is it an unlimited number of credits?

The minister has mentioned “pathway to compliance” non-stop today, so I’m assuming that a goal of this bill is to make sure that manufacturers are compliant, which is a good thing. But the other part of this is to try to actually get ZEVs on the road. There’s compliance with no new ZEVs on the road whatsoever and just a whack of credits being bought and traded, and then there’s compliance because we’ve got a whack of ZEVs on the road and people are actually driving ZEVs.

Is there a cap to how many credits the government has access to? How is the government…? Do they just get to create a new credit any time they deem a manufacturer has a good case to why they should be able to purchase credits, or is it a capped number?

[4:10 p.m.]

Hon. M. Mungall: I appreciate the member’s question, and it’s a very good question. We certainly don’t want a situation where everyone’s in compliance and there are no ZEVs on the road — obviously not. We want this to be successful for the very purpose of having ZEVs on the road and replacing internal combustion engines.

One of the biggest mechanisms to make sure that that happens is, obviously, public accountability. We’re all accountable to the public. I think the member can agree, as critic, he would make sure that if that’s what happened, that would be one heck of a scandal that he’d get to uncover.

How do we make sure that that doesn’t happen, however, in terms of a more regulatory approach rather than just the usual public accountability and cut and thrust of politics? Well, we’re going to be focusing on that in regulation. Right now there’s no cap, or cap on limit as well, for use of ZEV credits from government in this legislation. But it will, in regulation…. Once again, this is a bit of a unique-to-B.C. situation.

I want to give the member an example of when it would be used — just to highlight the last-resort nature that it’s intended to be and what he and others can anticipate seeing in that regulation. So if a manufacturer makes very best efforts to be in compliance but an unforeseen circ*mstance causes them not to be, we want to be able to assess that and not over-penalize them for something that was just unforeseen happening.

For example, they have a shipment of ZEVs coming over from wherever they’re being manufactured. Say it’s overseas, or it’s in the U.S. They’re coming up. Or say it’s in Ontario, wherever. They’re transporting them, and something happens to that shipment: boat sinks, train derails, truck falls over the side of the highway. Those vehicles have been destroyed, and they’re not able to be sold whatsoever.

We want to acknowledge that the manufacturer has made a very strong effort to ensure that the supply was here and to ensure that their sales — that they were going to be in compliance. We want to make sure that they’re not going to be overly penalized for something that was literally completely out of their control.

P. Milobar: The concerning part, though, is that this seems to be loosely worded and to open the door for contradictory language when it comes later on around the more punitive side of the bill, when it comes to levying fines. Will all manufacturers be treated equally with this? There’s no cap on the number of credits available, so it’s not first come, first served or “Sorry, we’ve sold out. There are no more credits for you. Too bad. You should have talked to us sooner.” There’s none of that.

There’s nothing in this section that talks about good faith. There’s nothing in this section that spells out what would be a trigger to actually be a yes or a no from the minister or the director in terms of this. It just says that an agreement needs to be struck.

The concern I have is…. It’s based to try to drive compliance, as the minister has just indicated in previous answers — which, again, is fine. But so are some of the other sections that are supposed to drive compliance with fines. When you have a $1 million fine looming over your head, and you could spend….

[The bells were rung.]

P. Milobar: I guess we’ll have to come back.

The Chair: Members, we’ll take a short recess.

The committee recessed from 4:15 p.m. to 4:29 p.m.

[J. Rice in the chair.]

P. Milobar: Back to a question on section 15. We have an unlimited supply of credits that the government can sell and has access to. There’s no cap. It’s at the discretion of the director and the minister whether or not manufacturers have access to those credits to stay in compliance.

You’ve heard the minister say several times today that compliance is the key to all of this. But in later sections, when we get to adjudication and fines that can be levied, those are done by the director as well. So the person that’s in charge of selling an unlimited amount of compliance credits is also now going to be the person that’s in charge of whether or not there are going to be administrative penalties levied.

[4:30 p.m.]

There seems to be a potential legal problem there. I’m no lawyer, and I’ve never played one on TV. But I would like to think that if the same person who is responsible for an unlimited number of credits is also the person that’s responsible for levying potential $1 million fines and turns down an automaker from, say, accessing $100,000 worth of credits to be compliant, the fine is not going to stand up, given that they could have taken a much cheaper route to achieve compliance.

Was there any vetting done between the contradictory nature that appears to be here, where the director can choose to work with an auto manufacturer at a much lower cost, potentially, than the fine structure? And how did that get reconciled with them, assuming lawyers within the government?

Hon. M. Mungall: I don’t see the points the member is making — what he calls contradictory — as contradictory. I see it, rather, as flexibility. Here’s the reason why. We don’t want to just be levying administrative penalties without understanding why a manufacturer or a supplier may not be in compliance. That was my point in my first answer to his previous question.

We want to have an understanding of why somebody might not be in compliance. If they’re not in compliance because they just didn’t make any effort to sell ZEVs or they didn’t make any effort to bring supply in, then they would have to face an administrative penalty. If they made every effort possible but some unforeseen circ*mstance arrived, such as their supply being shipped to B.C. was destroyed for some reason, we want to be able to acknowledge that.

I think what the member is concerned about is an application of fairness and having some transparency. In terms of transparency, while it’s not in legislation, it will be in regulation — in terms of any cap and or any limitation in how this type of pathway to compliance would be used. There will be a transparent component, and it will be in the regulatory side of things.

I also want to make sure the member knows that should a manufacturer…. If they have been fined, they are able to appeal that to the Environmental Appeal Board.

P. Milobar: Well, I’m glad, post-break, that it sounds like there might be a cap to these credits. Pre-break there was not going to be a cap to the credits. But the section still stands. There is nothing in section 15 that talks about best efforts — any of that.

[4:35 p.m.]

I do have very real concerns that manufacturers will be able to point to how the legislation is written, in spite of how regulation gets drawn up, to point to the fact that they have access to a compliancy mechanism that does not require fines and that does not require good-faith efforts at all. It just says that they need to enter into an agreement and purchase credits at an unknown price in an unknown quantity and that, in fact, the government can issue those out like they were BCRIC shares, and people can get them as needed.

I guess the final question on section 15, potentially, that I have is…. The money from these phantom compliance credits — where will the money from these purchases go? Will it just go into general revenue as well, as the other revenues that I asked about earlier?

Hon. M. Mungall: Yes, it would go into general revenue at this point.

Section 15 approved.

On section 16.

P. Milobar: Section 16. So these are the credits that transfer from supplier to supplier. Is there any cap on what the price, minimum sale price, of the credits is? Or is that left for the suppliers to negotiate amongst themselves?

Hon. M. Mungall: This is built on a free market model, so the price would be negotiated by suppliers.

P. Milobar: They, obviously, have to record this with the director. But is it just a simple case of recording? Does the director have any ability to block or otherwise prevent the transfer of credits between suppliers?

Hon. M. Mungall: No, the director would not be able to block a sale, but the director does have the ability to assess a transaction, following the transaction taking place. The reason…. An example for the member to understand why that might need to take place is that one supplier might sell credits that they actually didn’t get. So that would need to be assessed, and action would likely need to be taken.

P. Milobar: If it turns out that, for whatever reason…. I know this sounds like a weird hypothetical, but you never know when these things start to roll out — just to make sure it’s been thought about or not. You could have a situation where a supplier goes to the government and buys some credits because they assume that they’re not going to meet their target for the year, their supply year. They do some year-end reconciliation, and they realize that they didn’t really need to buy those credits from the government.

They now have a surplus. Are they able to…? Let’s say they bought ten credits from the government, but they found out that they really only needed to buy five. Can they transfer five over to a different supplier that, for whatever reason, may not be able to access those same credits under section 15?

[4:40 p.m.]

Hon. M. Mungall: I’m going to refer a little bit back to section 15 to answer the member’s question, because the hypothetical scenario that he laid out, in theory, based on what’s currently in the legislation, could take place. However, the legislation isn’t going to be the standing-alone governance of our zero-emission vehicle mandate, as we’ve talked about. We’re going to have regulation.

In section 15, it actually outlines our ability as government to prescribe terms and conditions to the use of ZEV credits that government issues. So as we issue ZEV credits, we would not allow for that type of scenario to take place. That term and condition would be found in our regulatory system.

Chair, before the member asks another question, I’m going to request a 15-minute recess. I think all the members in this House know what happens for me around this time in the afternoon. If the member doesn’t mind, if we could please have a 15-minute recess.

Interjection.

Hon. M. Mungall: Oh, yeah.

Section 16 approved.

The Chair: This committee will now recess for approximately 15 minutes.

The committee recessed from 4:41 p.m. to 4:59 p.m.

[J. Rice in the chair.]

On section 17.

P. Milobar: I’m just wondering if the minister can detail how the reporting requirements in this bill compare with other jurisdictions, notably California and Quebec. Are these reporting parameters more onerous or less onerous, especially for the suppliers?

[5:00 p.m.]

Hon. M. Mungall: Virtually, this is the exact same type of reporting that you’re seeing in other jurisdictions, with an exception in subsection 17(6)(b). That “initiative agreements” — that’s unique to British Columbia, the reason being that these initiative agreements are unique to British Columbia. Otherwise, it’s virtually the same.

Sections 17 and 18 approved.

On section 19.

P. Milobar: I’m wondering if the minister can let us know: approximately how long after model year reports and supplementary reports are delivered to the director can the supplier expect to receive back the assessment from the director? What’s the anticipated turnaround time with the director and their workload?

Hon. M. Mungall: There’s no specified time frame in the legislation. We would expect a timely response.

I also have an amendment to section 19 that’s on the order paper. I’m happy to answer any further questions that the member has before we move to the amendment. Or I can move the amendment now. I’m just looking for a nod. Okay.

I move the amendment to section 19(1)(f) standing in my name on the orders of the day. This is a technical amendment simply to align this section with the previous amendment to section 10.

[SECTION 19 (1) (f), by adding the underlined text as shown and deleting the text shown as struck out:

(f) if the supplier has not complied with section 10 (2) and sec­tion 10 (3) applies to the supplier, a statement

(i) notifying the supplier that section 10 (3) applies, and

(ii) specifying the amount of the administrative penalty determined under section 26 [automatic administrative penalties] and requiring the supplier to the pay the specified amount.]

Amendment approved.

Section 19 as amended approved.

Sections 20 to 22 inclusive approved.

On section 23.

P. Milobar: Could we get a sense from the minister of what type of triggers there would be for the director to call an audit on a report?

Hon. M. Mungall: It’s hard to say what would trigger an audit, because this is a section that exists in other jurisdictions’ legislation, but to the best of our knowledge, nothing has yet triggered a type of audit. But why could it possibly exist? Something could come to light in the marketplace. For example, maybe a manufacturer has misrepresented the range for their vehicle, and therefore, an audit would need to take place.

[5:05 p.m.]

I just want to emphasize, though, that this section exists in other jurisdictions’ legislation but has, to the best of our knowledge, not been used. Everybody has been very forthright, and everything has been quite upfront. There have been no concerns that would require audits at this time.

P. Milobar: That somewhat answered my follow-up question. Just to clarify, then: the intention or the plan is not to have regular audit scheduling or a randomized regularity to them, where you draw the name out of a hat. This year it’s Ford, next year it’s GM, and next year it’s Kia or whoever. This is just strictly a clause in case there is deemed to be a problem but is not meant to be an annualized or regular function of the director?

Hon. M. Mungall: That’s correct.

Section 23 approved.

On section 24.

P. Milobar: It appears that it’s the supplier’s responsibility to report to the director. Are the inspections limited to the premises of suppliers, or can dealers expect to have inspections conducted on their premises as well?

Hon. M. Mungall: This section would apply to suppliers and not to dealers.

P. Milobar: Is the director or the person that’s been given the power to conduct an investigation required to identify their reasons for conducting an inspection ahead of the inspection?

Hon. M. Mungall: The legislation does not require advance notice of an inspection. We want to remain flexible. There might be a very legitimate reason why we don’t want to give advance notice. There may be activity that is in contravention of the legislation, not just in terms of non-compliance. There may be some other activity that we might be concerned about, and the appropriate, best way to do an investigation is not to provide notice.

That being said, I do want to make sure that it’s on the record that we have no intention of using that power, that lack of requirement to give notice. We’re not going to do that inappropriately. We want to make sure that we’re using that responsibility very judiciously. We want to maintain a good relationship with suppliers, and we want to make sure that we are working with them and not against them.

Sections 24 and 25 approved.

On section 26.

P. Milobar: We’re into the penalty sections, and I only have a couple of questions. They might not be on the exact sections, so I thought I’d do it on the front end again…. It does loop back a bit to section 15 as well.

With section 15, we heard that it’s the best efforts of a supplier or manufacturer to meet the intention of the legislation, the targets of the legislation. But there are some manufacturers out there that don’t need a ship held up at sea to not be able to be compliant. They do not actually have enough product line to be compliant unless they shift all of their EV sales to the one vehicle they may have. Would that be deemed, in the early years, to be best efforts, recognizing that they can’t retool their whole production line?

[5:10 p.m.]

Can those manufacturers expect that instead of section 26 or some of the other penalty clauses in this section applying, they would have access to the section 15 credits and be able to purchase credits from the director to be compliant, given that they were making their best efforts to be compliant and that they just physically do not have the product mix yet to make that happen?

Hon. M. Mungall: Say, for example…. In the exact example that the member gave, they would be able to either purchase ZEV units from government, as in section 15, or from another supplier, as in section 16, or have an initiative agreement, as well, to avoid any type of penalty.

P. Milobar: If I hear that range of options, then, that means they would not be blocked from section 15? It will not be an arbitrary block from that, forcing them directly into a section 26 infraction, given that there may not be very many industry-to-industry credits available in the early years of this program?

Hon. M. Mungall: Our modelling right now is saying to us that there should be enough credits in the marketplace for a supplier-to-supplier purchase, under section 16, to maintain compliance. If that should happen to not be the case, we wouldn’t block somebody, as the member is suggesting, from section 15. But I do want to make it clear that the parameters around accessing those types of credits, as I said earlier, are subject to regulation. We’re going to do those regulations based on consultation with the industry.

P. Milobar: Can I get some clarification, then, from the minister? If about 4 percent of sales last year were these styles of vehicles and you have some manufacturers that have very high-volume sales with not much product line that would actually fit the parameters of this legislation, how is it possible that we would already have a surplus of credits?

I understand Tesla, but that’s predicated on them voluntarily coming into the market. They would be about the only manufacturer that I can think of that’s 100 percent electric and that would be 100 percent supply for credits. I’m just wondering how the math works — given the high volume of some of the manufacturers that don’t have much option for people to choose from at this point — with sales at 4 percent.

[5:15 p.m.]

Hon. M. Mungall: To the member, sorry for the delay. We were just getting some very interesting numbers I think he would appreciate hearing.

How do we have an existing base of credits that people can access, that suppliers can access to make sure that they’re in compliance? That’s what he’s trying to get at. I said that our modelling shows that there would be enough credits in the marketplace for that supplier-to-supplier sale of credits to take place in the early years. But how do you do that when this is a relatively new thing and only 4 percent of vehicle sales in 2018 were ZEVs?

Already in the first quarter, 6 percent are ZEVs, but it’s different between manufacturer and manufacturer. Mitsubishi, for example. Forty percent of their new car sales have been ZEVs, so they have quite a few credits to sell. Over 9 percent for Volvo. GM is at 4 percent, and Nissan is at 7.37 percent. Kia is at 4.82 percent, Hyundai at 4.11. BMW is at 3.76.

[5:20 p.m.]

There’s quite a lot of popularity that is above where we would anticipate a baseline for 2020 to be, so I’m feeling very confident that there are enough ZEVs within the marketplace to address compliance. This will likely be the most popular pathway to compliance if it’s not through direct sales.

Sections 26 to 45 inclusive approved.

On section 46.

P. Milobar: I’m just wondering how the early action credit time frame, set out in (1), compares to other jurisdictions. In the discussions I’ve had with the auto manufacturers, they’ve said that other jurisdictions allow for early credits to be granted four to five years prior for regulations coming into force.

There was some concern that modelling has shown that in Quebec, with their system, it might actually only withstand the two-year and then they’re in trouble. There were some concerns around this being the way it is in that it’s not more in line with, say, California, with the four or five years prior to regulation coming into force. Could we get a further mindset into this section?

Hon. M. Mungall: The member is wanting to know why we have gone the route that we have with this legislation. There are two things. One is that our legislation is coming into force with a more mature market — relatively speaking, more mature. I think we have a long way to go and, hopefully, a fast way to go — or it will happen quickly — to get to a mature market. But it is definitely more mature than the other jurisdictions when they brought in their legislation.

[5:25 p.m.]

Because we have that maturity, it influences how this legislation will actually play out in life a little bit differently. But more importantly is that a key goal of this legislation is to start driving down — no pun intended, or maybe there is, because I do see a member down the way who enjoys puns — our GHG emissions. If we start bringing in credits from previous years, that’s not going to achieve the goal that we need to set, going forward, which is reducing our greenhouse gas emissions.

Sections 46 to 48 inclusive approved.

Title approved.

Hon. M. Mungall: I move that the committee rise and report the bill complete with amendment.

Motion approved.

The committee rose at 5:26 p.m.

Committee of the Whole House

BILL 22 — FOREST AMENDMENT ACT, 2019

The House in Committee of the Whole (Section A) on Bill 22; J.Rice in the chair.

The committee met at 5:35 p.m.

On section 1.

Hon. D. Donaldson: I’d like to start off by introducing staff. We have Chris Stagg, who is an ADM in the ministry; Deidre Wilson, a legislative natural resource specialist; Peter Jacobsen, executive director in the ministry; and Jason Steele, director of legislation.

J. Rustad: There will be a number of questions that will come throughout the bill. As we had discussed, I’d like to give an opportunity for my colleague from Prince George–​Valemount to have a chance to get a few questions in. It will be across a number of sections, but it’s probably appropriate to have them in right at the beginning.

With that, I’ll turn it over to my colleague.

S. Bond: Good afternoon. Thank you very much to the minister for his willingness to have a conversation. I’m hoping that’s what we can do.

Certainly, the bill has generated a lot of discussion in communities that I represent. I want to, rather than try to peg the questions to certain sections…. I’m wondering. I know the minister has had this discussion previously with the critic, but one of the things in my conversations over the past week, in particular, that people remain concerned about is the definition of “public interest” and how that’s going to be determined.

When we think about it, it actually is a term that underpins many of the decisions the minister is going to make, yet it’s difficult to ascertain what a clear definition of the public interest is. Obviously, there are lots of people who have interest. There are stakeholders. There are partners. There are communities. There are all of those people who have an interest.

Would the minister provide for me, perhaps, a better sense of what he means by public interest and how that will influence the decisions he will be asked to make with this new law?

Hon. D. Donaldson: Yes, we discussed jumping around within the committee stage. What we agreed on, the critic and I, is that we’d address these questions now and not have to cover them again when we get to these sections.

We’re in section 7 right now, about what is meant by public interest. Public interest is about looking beyond the private interests of people involved in the transaction.

This means government must consider how the allocation of harvesting rights resulting from the transaction would benefit the people of B.C. This includes social-economic benefits, First Nations concerns and other matters, and it’s specific to the transaction. It can be very situational, but it’s allowing the companies to come in with the proposal…. It’s up to the companies to come in with the proposal about how they’re addressing public interest. They know the First Nations, the communities and the labour market best in the areas that they’re operating.

[5:40 p.m.]

J. Rustad: There will be additional questions with regards to some of these topics. We’ll try not to cover off the same questions. But I think it would be better if we had the opportunity for my colleague to be able to group her questions together, because they’re specific around a particular case, and then to be able to go forward, as opposed to myself and my colleague from Cariboo North that may have to jump in and carry out questions back and forth.

Just for the flow, if the minister would agree, that would be the process that I would suggest just so that we aren’t having to overlap and jump back and forth on questions.

Hon. D. Donaldson: I’m ready to accommodate that as long as we agree that when we get to section 7, we won’t be asked again what the public interest is.

S. Bond: Again, to my colleague, the critic, and the minister, I appreciate that flexibility. With the three Houses, it’s hard to be in three places at one time, so it’s very much appreciated.

In the context, when we talk about public interest generally, who ultimately is responsible for determining what’s in the public interest? Is that a ministerial decision? When we talk about…. This was causing a great deal of consternation, as one can imagine, because it’s almost esoteric. It’s people’s values. People look at things differently.

What is the decision-making matrix? What process is used when we’re talking about the public interest? What I think is important and valued may differ completely from what my colleague may think. So I guess I want to understand as best I can. For my constituents, how will they know what the context is for the decision-making process, and ultimately, does it land on the minister’s desk?

Hon. D. Donaldson: There were a couple of questions there. First, yes, the consideration of the public interest is on the minister’s desk. Companies know that when they’re considering a disposition or a corporate change of control, public interest is defined as public interest of communities, First Nations in that disposition, or corporate change of control. This will allow us to have a meaningful dialogue with those companies before that happens.

There are other examples within legislation of where there’s a public interest consideration. For instance, in the Oil and Gas Activities Act from 2008, there’s a public interest consideration, and it’s not defined specifically in that legislation either.

[5:45 p.m.]

S. Bond: I appreciate the minister’s answer. Could the minister also indicate whether or not…? Let’s suggest the minister goes ahead and makes a decision based on his or her views related to public interest. Is there a reconsideration process? Is there a place for an impacted company to come back and say: “Well, just a minute. What about this? Or what about that?” Is there a reconsideration process? Is there some other mechanism for the accountability that the minister would face, or is the decision final, and when the minister makes that decision, there is no further discussion about that?

Hon. D. Donaldson: Just to preface the answer, this legislation is intended to create the dialogue when companies are considering a disposition or a corporate change of control when it comes to tenure. Therefore, that’ll provide a process for asking questions back and forth between the minister and the ministry and the companies, and understanding the circ*mstances so that the companies are laying forward. So that’s creating the dialogue to get to a decision point. It’d be anticipated that there’d be a back-and-forth to get to approval of the disposition or corporate change of control.

However, in answer to if there is a reconsideration process, there’s no reconsideration in the discretion of the minister’s decision when it comes to public interest. No other legislation has that when public interest consideration is involved.

Just to add one more point. There is, of course, the ability for a company to take the process of a judicial review.

S. Bond: I appreciate the minister’s candid response. I think he can, I’m sure, relate to the fact that that is a very powerful decision for companies and for communities that will rest on his shoulders, which leads me to the reason I wanted to better understand the public interest issues. I know and I understand…. I’ve had some great conversations with my colleague the Forests critic to better understand the need for government’s action, which was to basically introduce a bill with little or no consultation and then immediately enact orders-in-council.

I’m not sure that the minister has heard the stories on the ground, but there are people who are now caught by this legislation that are in mid-transaction. I find that to be an issue of basic fairness. I personally spent some time with one person who is now absolutely uncertain about what to do, what the next steps are, because, to be candid, the ground shifted under his feet.

I understand the need to protect market-moving information, those kinds of things, but we’re talking about a person’s business interests that are now in the hands of this minister, as I understand it, because of this bill.

[5:50 p.m.]

I don’t believe that’s fair, and I want to know whether or not the minister can confirm for me that this transaction is now captured. Or is there a grandfathering clause? Is there some provision that allows those businesses that were in mid-transaction to continue with that process without the interference of this bill?

Hon. D. Donaldson: We’re on to sections 24 and 25. And under section 24, if there is a disposition, the current legislation requires the company to give notice. So if that notice was already given, then these new amendments don’t apply.

Under section 25…. That’s on a change in control. The current legislation does not require notice to be given. That’ll be changed as far as the new amendments go. If the change in control happened before this bill was introduced, then the old legislation would apply. But if the change in control happened after this bill was introduced, then the new requirements would apply.

As far as a person’s business interests go, again, we’re getting to the fact here that this is tenure over a public resource. The tenures are not private property. As far as overall, the new amended act does not apply to existing tenure. It’s just for when a disposition or a change in control occurs.

S. Bond: Thank you to the minister. Again, I appreciate his indulgence in skipping to two other sections.

I guess the answer for my constituent is that because there hasn’t been a change of control at this point but they are in those negotiations, including confidentiality agreements…. They were in the process of a business transaction — in the middle of it. And what has happened now is this bill will be imposed.

It doesn’t need to be a long answer. So describing the transaction in that way, that there has not been a change of control…. It’s in the middle of that transactional discussion.

[5:55 p.m.]

I guess I would like to just ask, respectfully: what would the advice of the minister be to my constituent and to the company that that discussion is taking place between? I mean, this was a complete surprise. They’re in the middle of a business transaction, and now there is a law enacted immediately. Could the minister give me some sense of what directions I should give my constituent?

Hon. D. Donaldson: I can’t speak to the specifics of the business transaction that the member is alluding to, because I’m not aware of the details. However, what I can say and re-emphasize is that if there is a change in control, then the legislation as introduced will apply — when it was introduced at first reading.

What I would say is that if there are businesses that are considering a change in control now that we have the new legislation in place that came into effect, we would ask companies to come and talk to us so we could fully understand the benefits to B.C. and to the parties that the change in control could create. That’s what we’re asking for — a discussion around that. The advice I would have to anybody, including the person that the member discusses, is to come and see us in the ministry and talk to us about how the change in control that they’re proposing would benefit B.C. and the parties involved.

As far as bringing in regulations or legislation that impact people who already had business dealings underway, it happens already under tax law. It happens under regulatory changes when it comes to securities, for instance. So it’s not a unique situation we’re talking about here.

J. Rustad: I want to thank the minister for the ability to do that and to go through those questions. So we’ll go back to section 1 of the bill.

I’m just curious. Under the definition of “marketing of fibre,” under “(b) the buying and selling, within British Columbia, of timber or wood residue,” I’m just wondering, is that…? The buying and selling of timber or wood residue, in terms of marketing fibre — obviously, that isn’t a tenure. That is something that would be logged, or I’m assuming that’s something that would have been logged. So I’m curious whether or not there is a line between tenure and deals associated with tenure, and deals associated with the timber or wood residue.

Now, this is just in the definitions. There are other sections where this will come up, but I thought I would start with it.

[6:00 p.m.]

Hon. D. Donaldson: This is a change in definition or the addition, actually, I guess, of a “marketing of fibre” definition. The definition is designed to clarify that the provincial government’s competition focuses on matters within B.C. and does not involve competition matters in markets outside of B.C. We’re trying to focus it on our constitutional jurisdiction within B.C.

The reason we’re talking about marketing of fibre is, obviously, when it comes to competition, the concentration of tenure relates to the production of the products of that fibre on that tenure. So when we’re considering competition focus as part of our considerations of approval of dispositions or concentration to control, then we have to be able to judge that competition when it comes to the marketing of the fibre.

The Chair: Minister…. The member for Nechako Lakes.

J. Rustad: It’s okay. It’s been a few years since I’ve been called minister, but I appreciate that, hon. Chair.

I’m curious. I probably should ask this under a different section, but I’m going to ask it here, under “related person,” where it talks about control of a corporation or a subsidiary. As you know, many companies have divisions, whether it’s a division that has a sawmill and operations and it might have four, five or multiple divisions. How are those divisions handled if, say, a division were to close or change, and does that fall under this related person or the structure?

What I’m trying to get at — and it’ll likely come up more in other sections — is…. I’m trying to understand the relationship that may trigger a review or a concern with tenure, if there is a division of a company that closes down but it’s still within the same company, as opposed to a structure. I’m just wondering if this related person is related in that, because it talks about “a person who controls a holding corporation whose subsidiary is the corporation.”

I’m a little confused on that. So I’m asking for some clarity, if that makes sense.

[6:05 p.m.]

The Chair: Minister, for real.

Hon. D. Donaldson: That’s all right. The first — how long? — few weeks I was not calling my critic opposite “Member.” I was calling him “Minister,” if he recalls, in question period.

Anyway, there are a couple things going on, I think, in the question. We’re not talking about, in this definition, divisions within a company when it comes to related persons, like a sawmill division or a pulp division or a woodlands division. Because those aren’t a division…. We’re talking about the holder of tenure, not components of the company.

If a division within a company shut down, as the member’s example gave, the holder of the tenure would still be the same. We’re not interested in internal organizational operational changes, administrative changes within corporations. We’re interested in the holder of the tenure, the external holder of the tenure overall. I think some of the further clarification of that will come in section 3.

Sections 1 and 2 approved.

On section 3.

J. Rustad: A couple things on this. Just for some clarity, could I ask the minister to provide a definition of an “agreement,” as is discussed in this section?

Hon. D. Donaldson: An agreement under this section would include all section 12 agreements under the Forest Act — I’ll go through a number of those; it’s all types of tenures — and, in addition to that, pulpwood agreements. Section 12 agreements under the Forest Act include forest licences, both replaceable and non-replaceable; tree farm licences; community forest agreements; First Nations woodland agreements; woodlot agreements; forest licences to cut. Those are examples of agreements under section 12.

J. Rustad: For many of those agreements, there is a time period associated with those agreements, I believe, for renewable tenure; a different time frame for non-replaceable tenure; a different time frame, of course, for tree farm licences.

[6:10 p.m.]

The agreements — for example, renewable tenure…. I’m wondering if the minister can confirm the length of time associated with those agreements and also that those agreements provide a company or holder of the agreement with the right to harvest trees for that particular period of time within the agreements that are in place.

Hon. D. Donaldson: I just want to emphasize that under the proposed legislation we’re going through committee stage on today, there’s no change to the length of time periods for the various licences that I already described in the last answer.

For instance, a forest licence remains at up to 20 years, a tree farm licence up to 25 years, and the list goes on. We could provide that list, but I just want to make the point that there’s no change. The legislation doesn’t change the right to cut and harvest as it is now — that companies have to get the cutting authority and cutting permits being issued and all that kind of process. It’s the same under this new legislation that we’re contemplating as it was under the previous.

C. Oakes: I appreciate the opportunity to have had a briefing from staff, and this is our opportunity to ask a few more specific questions on some of the intent. Around the corporate relations component of this section, what was the intent…? Obviously, this provides significant reach of the minister. There was some discussion around the concentration of tenure. Is it also the concern of the minister around the concentration of people on board and agreements?

[6:15 p.m.]

Hon. D. Donaldson: This isn’t any change from the existing act. Under the existing provision, the definition of “control of a corporation” is currently located in section 53. This section that we’re discussing now combines all the corporate relations that are relevant for determining the determination of concentration, the degree of control over annual allowable cut under agreement.

In other words, this just incorporates what’s already in the act. What we’re trying to get at is who is really the controlling mind over the corporate control. But the provisions that we’re using and describing here were already in the existing legislation.

C. Oakes: As it pertains to UNDRIP, how will that be related into looking at corporate control?

Hon. D. Donaldson: I want to make sure we give the right information. So if the member could just clarify what exactly she means by her reference to the UN declaration.

C. Oakes: In the briefing, we talked about corporate control and what one of the elements of the changes of this act would look at, and it’s about how we make sure that this Indigenous population gets recognized in these discussions, as well as a strong recognition that British Columbians are recognized. Whether it’s in this portion of the corporate relations part…. Or it could come up in the third section. I also recognize that that is another part where I know that we’ll be discussing this. I’m just trying to lay the foundation of that relationship.

The Chair: Noting the hour.

Hon. D. Donaldson: We were having so much fun, I thought we’d be going on for another couple of hours tonight, maybe. What do you guys think? Maybe these guys have other family matters to attend to.

This section 3 and the corporate relations section, 53.2, that’ll be under section 3 under this proposed legislation relate to private corporations. The First Nations piece that I believe the member is referring to comes later on, around the public interest considerations.

Noting the hour, I move the committee rise and report progress and seek leave to sit again.

Motion approved.

The committee rose at 6:19 p.m.

PROCEEDINGS IN THE
BIRCH ROOM

Committee of Supply

ESTIMATES: MINISTRY OF
ATTORNEY GENERAL

(continued)

The House in Committee of Supply (Section C); R.Glumac in the chair.

The committee met at 2:50 p.m.

On Vote 15: ministry operations, $490,716,000 (continued).

J. Yap: Thank you to the minister for making himself available with staff to canvass some estimates for the budget of the Ministry of Attorney General. We’ll start out with the Liquor Distribution Branch — I guess, now, liquor and cannabis distribution.

I want to start out with cannabis. It’s a new area, I understand. Still a learning process, I’m sure, for the LDB, for government. We’d like to canvass a few questions. First of all: what is the organizational structure of LDB that now has been set up with the mandate to distribute cannabis throughout the province?

Hon. D. Eby: I’ll read this out to the member. Just to advise that not all of these positions are filled. I’m advised that there are about a third vacant. Recruitment is a challenge right now because the economy is so successful. It’s a very exciting time for British Columbians, but it also means that it’s a difficult time for recruitment, especially in a sector that’s new and developing. People aren’t quite sure about what’s going on in the sector, so recruitment has been challenging. Despite that, we’ve had some very talented people come in. But just to advise: just because I’m reading a position doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily filled.

On the whole LDB side, management includes cannabis and alcohol. So the general manager and CEO oversees eight executive directors, two financial officers, and so on. There is an executive director of cannabis operations at the ADM1 level. Then underneath that executive director of cannabis operations, there is a director of merchandising for cannabis operations, a director of retail operations, a director of the supply chain, a director of distribution, a director of digital operations, an executive admin assistant and an admin assistant.

In terms of cannabis operations for distribution, there’s a director of distribution for cannabis operations. Then under that director of distribution, there’s a manager of retail e-com logistics, and there’s a manager of warehouse operations. There are two, actually, managers of warehouse operations.

[2:55 p.m.]

The manager of e-commerce logistics supervises two logistics coordinators. The manager of warehouse operations, the first one, supervises five operations supervisors, three wave planners, an inventory control supervisor and, then, six inventory control specialists. The second warehouse manager supervises an operations supervisor times two and a maintenance supervisor that supervises two separate maintenance workers.

For cannabis operations merchandising, there’s a director of merchandising of cannabis operations that I mentioned, who supervises three category managers for cannabis operations, who each supervise replenishment analysts and merchandise analysts.

For cannabis operations, retail operations, the director of retail operations, who I talked about earlier, supervises a senior manager of store operations as well as two regional managers. The senior manager of store operations supervises three store operations analysts or coordinators.

On the supply chain side, the director of supply chain cannabis operations supervises the manager for pricing. That manager for pricing supervises two pricing analysts, a manager for customer experience that has no direct reports and a senior manager of supply chain and planning that supervises five employees — vendor-relations analysts, demand planners — in those categories.

Finally, cannabis operations, digital operations. The director of digital operations supervises three managers: e-commerce operations manager for cannabis, manager of customer care centre and digital marketing manager. The e-com operations manager has three direct reports. The manager of customer care centre has a number of team leads, customer service agents and a quality assurance manager that has three quality assurance analysts that are reporting, as well as a workforce manager that has two analysts reporting. The digital marketing manager has a digital marketing specialist, a graphic designer and a digital marketing specialist reporting.

Now, that all sounds very complicated and abstract just to hear it in words. So what I will do, if the member wishes, is send the org charts over — again, with the caveat that not all these positions are currently filled.

J. Yap: I thank the minister for that. Can the minister tell us what the planned increase is in full-time-equivalents, FTEs, for the cannabis division of LDB, and how many of those FTEs have been filled?

Hon. D. Eby: I’m advised that there are 79 full-time-equivalent employees at the head office who work in relation to cannabis, that each store has about 14 full-time-equivalents and that there are 40 full-time-equivalents at the warehouse.

The advice I’m receiving is that there is no plan to increase the numbers in terms of the head office or the warehouse. We just don’t need them at this time. The increases will come as more stores open. So as each store opens, the member can assume that there will be 14 additional full-time-equivalent employees joining the workforce.

[3:00 p.m.]

J. Yap: How many B.C. cannabis retail stores have been opened to date?

Hon. D. Eby: There’s one store open currently. The current plan — and take it with a grain of salt; there are a lot of moving parts — is an additional store in June, four in July and three in August.

J. Yap: What is the plan for retail stores? The minister has mentioned stores that will be opening in the coming months. What is the plan for the number of stores, the timing? And where will these stores be located?

Hon. D. Eby: I’ll read off the stores where we have municipal approval, which are, from our perspective, currently a full go.

An additional store in Kamloops in June; a store in Campbell River in July; a store in Cranbrook in July; a store in Port Alberni in August; a store in Courtenay in August; a store in Kamloops in September-October; a store in Williams Lake, August-September; a store in Terrace, Skeena Mall, August-September; a store in Powell River, September; a store in Fort St. John, October-November; a store in Quesnel, October-November; a store in Penticton, October-November; a store in Vernon, November; Prince George, November; Trail, November; Prince George, February-March; Salmon Arm, July-August 2020 — dates are approximate only for these ones because they’re new-build stores — and Sechelt, September-October 2020.

J. Yap: What is the goal in terms of the number of government cannabis stores throughout the province? Can the minister tell us if there is a goal in mind?

Hon. D. Eby: There is no target. The availability of government stores is entirely dependent on whether or not municipalities want government stores or private stores or a mix in their community. It’s an option available to them, and it depends on whether there’s a reasonable market for a government store in the particular community.

The expectation is that there is possibly a market for as many as 75 to 80 government stores. But that’s not a target. That’s just sort of looking at the locations and the municipalities that are receiving proposals from LDB. That number could change. It’s not a target. It’s just what the demand is out there in terms of municipalities across B.C.

J. Yap: How many licensed, private cannabis retail stores have been approved and opened?

Hon. D. Eby: So 27 licences have been issued. There are 26 stores in operation. The last licence was issued on Friday last week, so they may not be open quite yet. But they’re imminently open — the 27th store.

[3:05 p.m.]

J. Yap: How many applications for private retail stores are in process? I know the minister indicated that one just got approved. What is the expectation for approval, the number of stores and the timing of approval of these applications?

Hon. D. Eby: We have received 489 paid applications. That means they’ve initiated an application with government to pay the $7,500 application fee. Of those, 356 applications are deemed complete. In other words, all required information has been submitted by the applicant for the application processing, and the processing of the application has been able to start.

There are 17 applications that have completed the fit-and-proper determination, which is a full security screening and financial integrity assessment, and they are likely awaiting a positive local government or Indigenous Nation recommendation or approval. This is mandatory. You have to get the local government approval before you are allowed to open. There are 13 that have completed that step and have approval-in-principle. They’ve substantively completed their application, they’ve completed their fit-and-proper determination, they are waiting on an inspection of the site, and there’s a minor outstanding licence requirement like floor plan approval or a licence cap or plans check, that kind of thing.

There are 16 where the licence has been approved in principle, and the only remaining licence condition that’s outstanding is a store inspection by an inspector. The applicant initiates that inspection. They’re just waiting on the applicant to say that they want to have that inspection happen. The LCRB can schedule most store inspections within 24 hours of an approval-in-principle issuance. There are 16 stores that are just waiting on that request for the inspection.

As I mentioned, there are 27 licences issued where the licence fee has been paid, the store has been licensed — usually within 24 hours of a successful inspection — and the licensee can order stock from the LDB and open the store.

J. Yap: What is the budget planned for cannabis operations for LDB? If the minister could advise the planned budget for cannabis on the wholesale and also on the retail side.

[3:10 p.m.]

Hon. D. Eby: We don’t have a broken-out wholesale and retail net income number. But the budgeted number is $12.376 million for net income from cannabis in the 2020 budget. That includes wholesale and retail.

J. Yap: The planned income the minister just mentioned, $12 million, I presume is for the fiscal year. We now are into the first number of months of cannabis as a legal product. What have been the initial results, the actual financial results, for cannabis for the province to date?

Hon. D. Eby: The budget for month 1 was a loss of $400,000. In fact, the province lost $500,000.

J. Yap: What level of marketing expense is being planned to promote B.C. cannabis?

Hon. D. Eby: The federal government has placed significant restrictions on marketing. As a result, the answer is zero.

T. Shypitka: Thank you, Minister, for the opportunity here. Just going to speak about my riding in Kootenay East. Since the applications have been accepted for non-medical use operations, there have been lengthy delays, as the minister would probably agree to. My riding, Kootenay East, is no different. A constituent of mine has had some major setbacks in his application since he handed it in, in September. As the application is for a franchise, can the minister tell me the challenges the ministry has faced in regards to franchise applications?

Hon. D. Eby: We can’t talk about any specific licence application. But I can advise the member that staff here are familiar with the applicant that the member is talking about, and they’re working very closely, directly with the applicant. Beyond that, I can’t make any particular comment about any particular licence applicant.

I can say, certainly, that the security screening and the financial reviews of applicants are taking a long time. We made a decision early on that we wanted thorough screening of applicants to ensure that organized crime did not become involved in the cannabis trade in British Columbia, so these screenings are in depth. They are taking an extensive amount of time.

In this situation, although this is not specific to that application…. Generally speaking, if you have a corporate organization, like a franchise or a corporation with a lot of people involved, all of those people need to be screened, go through this lengthy screening process. So it is taking a significant amount of time for some applicants to go through this process.

It’s also a learning process for staff as we go through and we work out what is useful information in terms of making that security assessment, and what isn’t.

[3:15 p.m.]

The pace of approvals has been increasing as we work through that process. But we made the decision not to rush approvals out the door — to do a careful security screening. That’s the approach we’ve taken, and it has meant a longer wait for some applicants for their licences.

T. Shypitka: Yeah. The minister has touched on the frustrations that my constituent has had — a lengthy process, unclear process, when you’re talking about a franchise. You’ve got many stakeholders, many shareholders, many cor­porate people that are involved in a franchise, and through that, there comes some transparency with those stakeholders, those people who are involved with the organization. Criminal checks would be one of those things.

This constituent agrees that it is lengthy. It is rigorous in some shape or form. This process was never outlined to the applicant, and he argues that it was never clear to him that this process was part of the application. So this has cost the applicant a considerable amount of time — eight months — a considerable amount of money, some financial stress, and it’s been not very complimentary to the applicant. He feels that it’s been pretty hard on him and his family and all those concerned.

He does, however, say that he has been treated very nicely by…. I think it’s the director general or the deputy general manager, Dugald Smith. I don’t know if he’s here somewhere. Okay, hi. High five to Mr. Smith from the constituent. He says he’s been more than accommodating — very well received. But by the same token, this constituent has now abandoned the franchise application. Now I believe he’s going more on an individual basis.

That brings it to the next one, access to banking. This is something else that was unforeseen by the applicant. The ministry has said that these are legitimate businesses — non-medical-use businesses are legitimate. These businesses need access to banking, and they can’t get access to banking until they have a licence of acceptance from the ministry.

I guess the question to the minister is: have they been able to speed up this process?

The Chair: I’ll remind the member that you have to high-five through the Chair.

Hon. D. Eby: Staff were telling me that they’re certainly open to looking at improvements in the process in terms of ironing out wrinkles like the ability to access financing before you’ve got a formal approval, those kinds of things, just given that there is a lag between applying and…. Especially when you start from zero, and everyone files their applications on day one, and you’re working your way through a backlog. So they’re certainly willing to entertain discussions like that.

[3:20 p.m.]

There’s another issue that has been raised for me, which is just whether or not a bank will deal with a cannabis retailer at all. Most cannabis firms, I understand, are dealing with credit unions, and some credit unions are hitting their leverage limits in terms of the amount of money they’re able to lend to small businesses.

This is something that we’re raising with the federal government, about the fact that they have legalized cannabis but that the banks appear not to be willing to engage with cannabis retailers the way we would hope so that they could access the legitimate economy, as is our intention. It is a serious issue on that side as well.

I know the member’s comments really related to that length of time that you’re waiting to get your licence and you can’t access financing. If there is some way that government could provide support during that lag time, to support an application for financing, it would be appropriate if staff were willing to have those conversations.

T. Shypitka: I apologize, Chair. Any future high fives will be through the Chair to the minister and/or staff.

Thank you to the minister for the answer there. I look forward, maybe, to some new tools to get access to banking through some of these applicants. I listened to the minister’s list of applications that are being run through in the next little while — all the way up to September of 2020, I believe, or something. I didn’t hear the applicant that I’m referring to in that queue. Maybe I’m mistaken.

Hon. D. Eby: Those were public stores.

T. Shypitka: Oh, is it in there?

Interjections.

T. Shypitka: Oh, those were government. Sorry. I believe this applicant cracked the top….

The Chair: I remind the members to speak through the Chair.

T. Shypitka: Sorry, Chair.

I believe the applicant cracked the top 40 in the applications that were submitted at the beginning. I have the application number if the minister needs it, but I think he’s aware. Can the minister give some clarity at all to this guy — this applicant that has been more than patient, I believe, in this process — to where he sits in the queue for his application?

Hon. D. Eby: The list that I gave were government stores. They weren’t private licensees. There is no list like that for licensee stores. An indicator of where we’re at, in terms of the approval process, is that in the last three weeks we’ve doubled the number of private licences that have been issued. We’re starting to see that ramp-up of the number of licences issued and the pickup in the pace of the issuing of government licences.

Aside from that, I’m not sure how much more I can share with the member. I know that I can’t share anything about any particular licence application, but we are seeing a significant acceleration in the number of licences that government is getting out the door here. This brings another challenge, of course, which is supply, once we have a significant number of stores on line, but LDB is working hard on that as well.

T. Shypitka: One last, final question. Can the minister or staff give me any indication at all that going to…? It’s not a reapplication, but it’s going from a franchise to a sole proprietorship, I believe. I’m not too sure what the structure is. Will that hinder his application time at all, in any way, shape or form?

Hon. D. Eby: What we’re finding as the big determining step, the rate-determining step for our licence applications, is the fit-and-proper and security screening. That’s the piece that’s taking the longest. Without speaking particularly about this application, any applicant that has been through that process wouldn’t lose that because they had to resubmit some documents that changed the corporate structure or changed the structure of how their application was going. They wouldn’t lose their spot in the queue.

Staff are really focusing on those applications that are most ready to go, where people have been through the screening and so on, to try to get as many licences into circulation as possible. What I can tell the member is that his constituent, under the broad principle that if the constituent had to resubmit some documentation, that wouldn’t cause the constituent to lose place in the queue. The big rate-determining piece is whether or not you’ve been through the fit-and-proper security screening, and you don’t lose that just because you’ve changed the corporate structure of what you’re proposing to open.

J. Yap: Carrying on with one more question on cannabis, my colleague the member for Cariboo-Chilcotin has received a letter from the mayor of Williams Lake. I’ll just read some excerpts into the record here.

[3:25 p.m.]

“Re: Timely processing of cannabis applications.

“The city of Williams Lake has received several inquiries from potential investors regarding significant delays in processing their liquor and cannabis regulation branch, LCRB, applications. As you’re no doubt aware, Williams Lake has been hard hit by the pine beetle epidemic, a reduction in annual allowable cut, a reduction in mining production. In addition, we continue to feel the effects of the 2017 wildfire events and, as a resource-based community, must dedicate our efforts to diversifying our economy if we are to succeed.”

The mayor goes on to say:

“To date, the city of Williams Lake has received five applications and has been prompt in bringing them before council for consideration. The first approved application was returned to the LCRB on November 23, 2018. Since then, three more private stores have been approved, along with a provincially operated store, a plan to operate in the Boitano Mall location. The RCMP has supported each application approved by council.

“Despite the efficient processing by the city of Williams Lake, subsequent provincial delays are impeding the timely opening of these stores. On several occasions, the city has inquired with the LCRB regarding these delays, and we have not been given any reason other than ‘staff changeovers.’

“This is unacceptable. I’m quite certain that we’re not alone in experiencing the frustrations in what should be a fairly streamlined process. The continued delays threaten the city’s opportunities to attract investors, increase employment and help our economy thrive in challenging times.

“I look forward to your timely response.

“Walt Cobb, Mayor

“City of Williams Lake”

I wonder if the minister could give an update to our mayor of Williams Lake.

Hon. D. Eby: I’m not aware of staff turnover causing issues in terms of licence approval processes. What has been holding us up are the fit and proper security screenings of so many people in a very short period of time. This includes a full financial assessment of where their money is coming from and making sure that money is not coming from organized crime, that we’re not involved in facilitating, for example, money laundering, which is a significant issue in the province.

It is taking a while, and my understanding of the mayor’s comments is one that, certainly, I share with him. I wish we had more licences out sooner, and I believe that Williams Lake will see licences soon. The challenge that we face as a province is the balance between ensuring that we keep organized crime out of the cannabis retail in our province and getting as many licences out as quickly as we can in those communities that support them.

I want to thank the mayor of Williams Lake and the council there for engaging with this process and proactively working with the RCMP and with applicants. It does make life easier for the LCRB, in terms of approvals, when the community is on side and the police are on side and everyone agrees on what should be going ahead. Those are the communities that see stores sooner. I do appreciate very much when we have constructive engagement from municipalities like Williams Lake.

D. Barnett: Thank you, Minister. Yes, the city of Williams Lake — mayor, council, chamber of commerce, RCMP — have all worked together on this file. Could you possibly give us a more concrete time frame?

We, of course, live in communities that are being desecrated by the forest industry, wildfires, and because of certain elements, we can’t have any resource industries.

This is one opportunity that the city of Williams Lake has that it’s going to lose in the not too distant future. Investors have been working on this, well, pretty near almost a year. They watched the government liquor store being turned into a cannabis store in Williams Lake, which will probably be fully operational, yet the private sector, which wishes to invest money in Williams Lake, is being turned away or it’s taking a long time.

So could you possibly give us a more concrete time when a licence will be available for the private sector in Williams Lake?

[3:30 p.m.]

Hon. D. Eby: It’s important to recognize that there are two separate processes underway. There’s no connection between the licensing approval processes of the LCRB and the LDB’s government store activities. I guess that’s the end of that story.

The key is that government recognizes, very clearly, that this is an economic opportunity for Williams Lake and for communities like Williams Lake. We understand the priority. We’re grateful that Williams Lake has worked very hard on this and worked hard with their applicants. The challenge, obviously, is making sure that all the applicants get through the fit and proper screening process.

There is only one government store in the entire province. There are 27 private stores currently. There are more coming, including in Williams Lake. So the ratio of 27 to 1 gives you some indication of where we’re at. There is not some preference for government stores in terms of the approval processes.

We’re just working our way through a very significant number of applications and a very challenging background check process that we’ve put in place to make sure that we keep organized crime out of the cannabis retail industry. That is no particular comment on anyone who’s applied from Williams Lake, just to say that there’s a rigorous process. It takes time to go through that paperwork and to do that work.

I’m grateful to the public service for doing it. I’m especially grateful to the applicants for their patience and to Williams Lake city council for their work with the RCMP there to ensure that the applications are complete and supported by the local community.

J. Yap: Switching gears back to liquor, in 2018, the minister commissioned Mark Hicken to conduct a panel review of B.C.’s liquor policy. The report was released in June of 2018. The report made 24 recommendations and concluded that there were significant challenges with the centralized wholesale distribution model.

What is the status of these recommendations, knowing that in February of this year, the government implemented one of them, which is the recommendation to allow liquor agents in the province to purchase liquor for their industry tasting events at wholesale prices and to use excess liquor at subsequent industry tasting events or charity events? What about the other recommendations?

[3:35 p.m.]

Hon. D. Eby: The member is right. We’ve done the special events tasting, the leftover product issue. We’ve addressed that one. The member will know that we currently have engaged a third-party business firm to do a review of our warehouse and delivery system and how spec product is handled. The member, as a former critic, will be familiar with that term. If not, I’m happy to go into detail.

The engagement around the minimum brewing requirement is underway currently. Imminently I expect a consultation, an engagement, on the minimum price recommendation that was in the report. There are a number of other initiatives that are underway, that are in various stages of development, that I look forward to announcing over the next year.

One of the challenges that we’ve faced is that the same group of policy staff that I had hoped would be working on this have been consumed by cannabis policy work in preparation for the launch of legal cannabis and the implementation of the cannabis strategy. So we’ve really just started, in a very dedicated way, the BTAP work, now that cannabis is starting to settle down a little bit.

It has meant that the reforms that we hoped to do sooner rather than later on the liquor side have been held up a little bit by cannabis, but we are still working on the plan that industry came up with and recommended to us. We’re working our way through those recommendations.

J. Yap: Would the minister confirm that Mr. Hicken is not doing further review? And if the minister could identify who is doing the review that he referred to.

Hon. D. Eby: The work is…. We have our ADM for Crowns here, Doug Scott, as part of that on the government side. That work is being managed. Then elements of BTAP, depending on where the recommendation impacts are, are being handled by LDB directly or LCRB. If it’s a licensing issue, it’s LCRB. If it’s something around pricing, for example, for hospitality, then LDB is looking at that. So it’s really spread out among several different groups, but the coordination is happening through our ADM for Crowns’ office.

The member had another part to that question. The first part was coordination, and the other part was….

Interjection.

Hon. D. Eby: Oh, right. Yes. Mr. Hicken is not engaged with government anymore on this file. However, just today, actually, I saw a letter from Mr. Hicken. He’s asked for a sit-down with government to get an update himself on where we’re at. We’re maintaining engagement in the sense that Mr. Hicken and his group are industry leaders and regularly engaging with industry as well, so we’re trying to keep him up to date on where we’re at in this process and having regular back-and-forths with them. But he’s not engaged as counsel anymore, providing advice on this or coordinating BTAP.

J. Yap: Would the minister give us an update on the new Delta warehouse that LDB has moved to? What has been the cost of relocating distribution warehousing operations to the Delta location? Also if the relocation is complete and the centre is up and running.

[3:40 p.m.]

Hon. D. Eby: End of fiscal year last year, $47 million had been spent. The budget was $57 million. Our actual, as of today, is $55 million. So still $2 million under budget. That budget is for all capital costs. There are no salaries in that expense. That is equipment, HVAC, racking, floor, and so on. It also includes software-related expenses. Still to come, is a software upgrade for Kamloops so that all the warehouses are on the same system. The expectation for that upgrade is, once things have stabilized at Delta, likely around January, to bring them on to the new warehousing system in Kamloops.

The update, in terms of where we’re at on implementation for Delta, is they’re 100 percent up and running. There are no stores being serviced out of the old location anymore. It’s all out of the new location.

J. Yap: It’s good to hear. I think I heard the minister confirm that the relocation, setup capital costs to the Delta warehouse, I heard, came in within budget, but will be on budget. The minister has confirmed that. That’s good to hear.

With regard to wholesale liquor distribution, for some time, licensees have complained about unsatisfactory service from LDB which affects their businesses. To quote their representative, and I’m quoting from a letter that I know the minister has received: “These supply issues have caused serious business difficulties for the hospitality industry and threaten the viability and success of these businesses. Moreover, disputes and disharmony between wholesale customers and the LDB have unfortunately increased over the past year as a result of these supply issues.”

So what steps are being taken to address these serious concerns of industry?

Hon. D. Eby: Part of the challenge is if an agent has an issue getting a shipment in or if ContainerWorld has an issue, because LDB is shipping out product, they wear everything, in terms of someone’s not getting the product that they ordered. The LDB takes a lot of the blame. So when LDB says, “Well, you know, it’s this issue with ContainerWorld,” or, “It’s this issue with this producer,” or whatever it is, people are not inclined to believe it. They think: “It’s LDB’s fault.”

The way to deal with this, I think, appropriately —and it was recommended in BTAP — is to get a third-party firm in with expertise.

[3:45 p.m.]

They can bring in expertise around logistics, distribution, to review what we’re doing and make recommendations based on that. We have DeLoitte, which is in right now, doing exactly that work, looking not just at how we are handling distribution out of the Delta warehouse but also looking at how spec product — product that’s not regularly stocked by LDB — is handled and whether there are ways for us to improve that. I think there are ways that we can improve that.

I’m very hopeful that this process will provide a couple of things. One is that it will provide some independent advice to industry and to government about what the issues are — the real issues that we can take action on in relation to distribution, how we can improve the service that government is providing through the LDB in terms of distribution and, specifically on the issue of spec products, whether there are things and initiatives we should be looking at to improve that experience for customers as well. That work is underway as we speak.

Our expectation is that hopefully, around the end of October, we should have a report back from Deloitte on that. Then we’ll have something to look at and act on in terms of potential improvements to the system.

In the meantime, one of the things that customers are going to notice is a significant improvement from movement to the new distribution centre. The old distribution centre was incredibly overcrowded. It was too small. It was left too long in the condition that it was in. Having the new distribution centre with a modern facility and adequate space is going to improve service for stores across the province. It’s only going to get better going forward as we bring Kamloops on line with this new, modern distribution system as well. That’s the good news.

Another big challenge that we had was that Container­World was subject to a ransomware attack that locked their computers. They were working entirely paper-based for almost two months, which was, obviously, an unanticipatable nightmare, I imagine, for them. I can’t even imagine if that happened to us. It would be awful. Certainly, our hearts went out to them, but at the same time, it created a lot of headaches, especially for hospitality customers and agents who were dependent on ContainerWorld. A lot of that angst about what was happening with ContainerWorld splashed onto the LDB as well, when there wasn’t really an issue at LDB.

What we’re trying to do is to get to the core of the issues that we can fix. I’m hopeful that this third-party review will get us there.

J. Yap: I appreciate the minister’s commentary. He may have already touched on it, but my question is this. In the minister’s mandate letter, it calls for him, through LDB, to “ensure efficiencies for wholesale and hospitality customers can be tracked and reported against.” My question is: what does this tracking look like? What metrics are in effect and tracked? Will this tracking be transparent and made public?

Hon. D. Eby: There are two key metrics that are measured and are in the service plan. One is delivered to the window — that delivery is within a two-hour window. Did the delivery hit earlier or within the delivery window time, or did it not? Was it late? The other is fulfilment. What percentage of your order that you ordered did you actually get? These are the key metrics that are publicly reported. Yes, they will be publicly reported.

J. Yap: Can the minister tell us how many LDB retail stores are currently in operation?

[3:50 p.m.]

Hon. D. Eby: It’s 197.

J. Yap: How many stores will be opened? What is the plan for opening stores in the current year and the next two years?

Hon. D. Eby: There is one store that’s closed for redevelopment. There’s a tower being constructed in downtown Vancouver, and once the tower is complete, the store will be reopening. It’s in downtown Vancouver on Bute, Cardero — West End area.

J. Yap: How many rural agency stores are currently in operation? What are the plans for rural agency stores?

Hon. D. Eby: There are 226 rural agency stores. It’s really up to a rural community store whether or not they wish to apply. If they do, then it’s measured against the criteria in the regulation. If they meet the criteria, then there’ll be a new rural agency store, and if they don’t, then there won’t. So the plans for rural agency stores are really up to the private sector.

D. Ashton: It’s my understanding that a licence to a retail store can be purchased and moved anywhere in British Columbia and that a licence to a retail store cannot move within one kilometre of another licenced retail store or within one kilometre of a proposed licenced retail store, and a licenced retail store cannot move within one kilometre of a B.C. liquor store. But a rural agency is not taken into consideration when a new LRS licence is granted, so an LRS can move within that one kilometre footprint of a rural agency store.

I would just ask the minister if there would be consideration taken into that to protect the rural agency store’s zone of customers, as with what is taken into consideration with an LRS.

Hon. D. Eby: The history of the rural agency stores, as I understand it, is that they’re given a special exemption to sell alcohol in a mixed-product store because the community that they are located in is underserved from the perspective of being able to purchase alcohol.

The reason why they are not protected from an LRS moving in, although they don’t lose that licence when an LRS moves in, is that they don’t have to put the same investment into bricks and mortar, and so on, to sell alcohol that an LRS does.

By definition, a rural agency store community is underserved for liquor, in terms of the definition of the regulation. Therefore, an additional LRS store would not be seen as being a serious problem from that perspective, although now the rural agency store would certainly be in competition with that LRS.

That’s what I understand the process has been for a long time and why it is that a rural agency store is not protected. This is a special exemption given for an underserved area.

[3:55 p.m.]

D. Ashton: Minister, thank you for the comments. They’re appreciated. But those rural agency stores are asked to follow the same rules as LRSs and government liquor stores. There are substantial investments in these smaller communities by individuals. Maybe they’ve put their whole net worth into the store to try and service their community. I would just ask for consideration that, in the future, if the government has the opportunity, they consider the same rules for everybody so everybody plays underneath the same rules, especially when it has to do with liquor.

Again, I would just like to thank the minister for his comments.

Hon. D. Eby: I just wonder…. I feel like the member is talking about a specific situation or scenario somewhere. I’m just kind of curious if he wanted to put on the record anything that he wanted us to look at as an example of what he’s talking about.

D. Ashton: Yes, there is a specific situation. It transpired with the possible sale of a store in Naramata, a good family that’s been there forever. The sale actually collapsed because of the lawyer’s advice that there would be a preclusion with the massive development that’s taking place in the Okanagan, including in Naramata with the co-op space being redeveloped, and an opportunity for an LRS to move in.

Like I said, these are smaller communities that have been serviced by families for a long time. I just think it needs to be a playing field. But I would leave it with the ministry, for the future, to look at. Thank you, Minister, again.

Hon. D. Eby: I thank the member for that. We’ll have a look.

J. Yap: Can the minister tell us what the current definition of “craft brewer” is in the province of B.C. and when this definition was established?

Hon. D. Eby: I guess, in British Columbia, it’s one of those things you know when you see it. From the government’s perspective, there is no formal category of craft brewer. Our markup system is based on worldwide volume. It’s not based on a designation of craft, which is a distinction from craft distillers. There are very specific requirements around craft distilleries in British Columbia — for example, 100 percent B.C. inputs — and if you’re designated a craft distiller, you get a different markup. So there are some significant distinctions on the distillery side, but there’s no equivalent on the craft brewery side.

The only area where I can think there might be a definition is not a government definition, but there’s the Craft Brewers Guild in British Columbia that would likely have some kind of definition for membership in that group. It’s typically associated with production volumes, but we don’t have any distinction or legislated definition for “craft brewing” in British Columbia.

J. Yap: The minister is correct in referring to the volume-based in regards to the markup applied. Using that definition of smaller brewers or craft brewers based on volume, how many craft brewers are there in the province?

[4:00 p.m.]

Hon. D. Eby: In 2016-17, there were 114 breweries at fewer than 350,000 hectolitres. In 2017-18, there were 135 breweries at less than 350,000 hectolitres. And in 2018-19, there were 151 breweries at less than 350,000 hectolitres. I also note that there are 29 brewpubs in British Columbia as of 2018-19.

J. Yap: What is the status of the local craft- or small-brewery promotion program that LDB had instituted a couple of years ago?

Hon. D. Eby: The program that the member describes has been expanded to additional stores and markets in British Columbia.

J. Yap: What percentage of beer sales are from the small-brewery sector versus the national, global brands?

Hon. D. Eby: Well, I’m sure the member will find this simultaneously reassuring and not satisfying at all. The number is growing, but we don’t have the number with us. I will provide the member with that number. The LDB will crunch the numbers and provide it, and the break point we’ll use is that 350,000 hectolitre number.

J. Yap: I appreciate that follow-up information. Just for the record, my understanding was around an 80 percent, 20 percent split between the national, global brewers and…. Twenty percent for the small craft brewers. But we’ll await the number crunching from the LDB and the ministry. I will look forward to that.

Turning to craft spirits, what is the current definition used by government for what a “craft spirit” is, and when was this definition established?

[4:05 p.m.]

Hon. D. Eby: B.C. craft distilleries meet strict criteria. All products produced by the distillery are fermented and distilled at the licensed distillery site using 100 percent B.C. agricultural inputs. Those that produce fewer than 50,000 litres, annually, remit zero markup on their direct sales to consumers or to the private sector. Those with total annual production of between 50,001 litres and 100,000 litres are subject to a graduated markup schedule. None of the craft distilleries have yet to produce over 50,000 litres.

J. Yap: The minister is no doubt aware of the concerns of the craft spirits sector in regard to the lack of markup relief for those that don’t fit the current definition that requires 100 percent B.C. and that it be produced 100 percent on site. What is being done to address the concerns of members of that sector of the industry?

Hon. D. Eby: In British Columbia, a “craft” distillery — it’s a term of art in the law — is defined, as I set out earlier. In order to use the craft distillery label and access those benefits you have to fall within those criteria. The member will be familiar with them. I forgot to mention these in the answer to his previous question. I believe it was 2014 when this came in, and I believe he was the minister responsible at the time.

The challenge around expanding the definition is that it is certainly a potential trade irritant and a significant risk of…. Pardon me, in 2013. It is certainly a significant trade risk to expand that definition to include non-B.C. inputs.

S. Thomson: Thank you to my colleague for allowing me a quick question here. It’s on the same subject as the craft distillers.

I know the minister has met recently with the Craft Distiller Guild. I think there’s been significant growth in the sector, from five craft distillers to now around 60 craft distillers. In my view, there’s a significant opportunity here for growth in the sector, both in terms of jobs and economic activity, but also related to some real opportunities for the agricultural sector in utilization of ALR land that is maybe unproductive now and can be used for the product, because it is 100 percent B.C. product, farm to flask.

I’m just wondering if the minister could advise on the status of the consideration of the policy recommendations that the Craft Distiller Guild has brought forward. They made a number of recommendations related to production limits, to what’s called the hangman’s clause, to markup policy and those sorts of things. I know there was a commitment that it’s being looked at. The question really is: can the minister give an indication of the timing and the status of the policy review? I think that at this point the current policies really are providing some constraints to those growth opportunities, and the guild is looking forward to a response to the policy recommendations that they have made.

Hon. D. Eby: Well, I thank the member for the question, because I’m certainly familiar with the Craft Distiller Guild and their contributions to the province, economically and culturally. I’m very grateful to them for their time and effort on our business technical advisory panel. They helped craft recommendations — no pun intended — around BTAP. Sorry, I heard the groan.

I met with the guild in April of this year and they provided some addition proposals around the craft distillery policy. It’s an ongoing dialogue that we have with this sector. I can tell the member that these are actively under consideration and analysis. There are certainly some complexities with trade obligations and otherwise that come forward, as well as our social responsibility mandate, but I do expect to be providing a formal response to the guild’s latest proposals very soon. Of course, the door is open for future meetings with them.

[4:10 p.m.]

I thank the member for his advocacy on their behalf, because they are a very good organization. I agree with him that there are opportunities for that sector in our province, to support tourism and hospitality, and I’m very hopeful about this work.

S. Thomson: Thank you, Minister, for the response. I’ll probably just have a bit of a follow-up, in terms of what “very soon” means. That could be quite a range, in terms of that consideration. I acknowledge the important work that the distiller guild did into the recommendations in the BTAP report and things that address some of those critical issues that they brought forward. I would just again stress the urgency, I guess, in terms of providing some response to the recommendations that they brought in.

I think they’ve brought ones that could have some very positive consideration and could lead to that growth in utilization of ALR land, focused on 100 percent use of B.C. product. I guess I’ll just add, then, that I’m hoping that “very soon” means sooner rather than later in the consideration. I think they’re anxiously awaiting it because it’s holding up the next level of investment that could take place in the sector.

Hon. D. Eby: I appreciate the urgency the member is bringing to this. I do mean in human time “soon,” not government time “soon.” I regret to not be more specific around the timing, but I’ve just been in this job long enough to know that as soon as you promise a date, then you’re going to blow past it. My goal is to get this to them as soon as possible, and I share the member’s urgency around this.

J. Thornthwaite: I have a question from one of my constituents, who owns a restaurant-bar in Vancouver. I’ll just give a little bit of a preamble, then I’ve got a question.

In 2017, the ministry’s office contacted Mark Hicken to conduct a liquor review. He arranged for a number of indus­try leaders to join him in order to frame the future of liquor manufacturing, distribution, sales and effects on the hospitality industry in this province. The report is dated April 30, 2018, and is yet to be discussed in the Legislature. Only one of the recommendations has been implemented. The report has 24 recommendations, some of which require legislative approval; others don’t.

These are the three issues that he has a concern about. Direct delivery. The distribution network is broken. Bars, restaurants and private retailers are constantly waiting for products to be delivered — sometimes seven or eight weeks.

Wholesale pricing. Virtually every other hospitality sector in the world receives some form of wholesale pricing. Bars and restaurants in this province are required to pay the full shelf price for all alcoholic beverages.

Licensee-to-licensee sales. This is the biggest issue facing the hospitality industry. We know that the LDB stores cannot shelve and supply all of the thousands of products that come in to our province.

The private liquor stores do not have the infrastructure in place to take on the role of our government stores. The hospitality industry is not advocating that they disappear. Government liquor stores play an integral role in the hospitality industry and are recognized as such.

The question that my constituent has is in three parts. Why can’t bars and restaurants purchase from any licensed retailer in the province? Will the minister make these simple changes in order to help this industry? Will you at least allow licensees to purchase their specialty items from private liquor retailers?

Hon. D. Eby: I thank the member for the question. We had an opportunity earlier to go over the business technical advisory panel progress. We have a number of initiatives underway, which have been publicly announced. If they haven’t been discussed in the Legislature, then I’ll do a better job of bringing them up — maybe in question period.

The issues that the individual raises are serious issues that I care about a lot as well. The elimination of wholesale pricing by the previous government was a significant policy change. We’re looking at how to bring it back. That is not a minor piece of work, as the member will know, because there are revenue implications around wholesale pricing. But we’re engaging in that challenging work right now.

The issue of direct delivery or licensee-to-licensee sales…. Really, I think, what the individual is asking about are spec products as well — these specialty products that maybe you’re using to make a special martini, a mixed drink or a certain whisky that’s not otherwise available.

This is part of the mandate that we gave to Ernst and Young, in terms of their evaluation of our distribution system. These are questions that are squarely in front of a third-party business firm that’s, actually, actively evaluating our entire distribution system as well as providing recommendations around specialty products.

[The bells were rung.]

Hon. D. Eby: I don’t know what vote that is, Mr. Chair, but it sounds like a good one.

The Chair: Division has been called in the main chamber. This committee will now recess.

The committee recessed from 4:15 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

[M. Dean in the chair.]

Hon. D. Eby: My critic, the member for Richmond-Steveston, raised a point that I hadn’t yet introduced our staff here. My oversight. I thank him for pointing that out — a chance to introduce our hard-working staff.

Joining me today and assisting me, starting with the back row behind me: Josh Huska, Dugald Smith and Mary Sue Maloughney from LCRB; Blain Lawson and Roger Bissoondatt from LDB; Megan Harris, David Hoadley, Salman Azam, Doug Scott and Richard Fyfe from the Ministry of Attorney General. My appreciation to them and then all the other staff who aren’t in the room who are also assisting and have assisted in putting together materials for estimates.

The Chair: Member.

J. Yap: Thank you, Chair. Welcome to the chair.

How many VQA store licences are in existence now, both in grocery stores and stand-alone stores?

Hon. D. Eby: VQA-specific licences. There are 17 in grocery stores and four stand-alone stores.

J. Yap: What will be the impact, if any, of the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement on the so-called VQA licences?

Hon. D. Eby: There was a side letter agreement in the CUSMA negotiations. We expect to meet that obligation — but I emphasize that no decision has been made yet by cabinet — that the in-grocery-store VQA stores will be able to sell both imported as well as domestic wine under those licences.

J. Yap: I thank the minister for that.

What is the status of the non-VQA, the wine licences where wine could be sold on shelves in a grocery store? I believe there were 18 of such grocery-store-licensed wine outlets, again, under the new trade agreement. What is the timing of the possible changes that will allow wine other than B.C. wine to be offered on these shelves under these licences?

[4:35 p.m.]

Hon. D. Eby: In total, there are 29 grocery stores with licences. As I mentioned, 17 of those are for VQA; 12 of them are SWS, special wine store licences, which the member was just asking about. They both currently sell 100 percent B.C. wine on shelves, and they’re restricted from selling imported wine.

However, government will be eliminating measures that restrict the sale of wine on grocery store shelves to B.C.-only wines by November of 2019. I also note that we won’t be issuing any further licences that would restrict sales to B.C.-only liquor products. This is in order to avoid further challenges with trade partners.

J. Yap: I thank the minister for that answer. I just want to close by thanking all the staff for all of their great work in supporting this important part of the ministry’s mandate.

That concludes our discussion of LDB and cannabis. With that, I suggest a recess while new staff come to support the minister for estimates debate on the B.C. Lottery Corp.

The Chair: This committee will take a five-minute recess.

The committee recessed from 4:36 p.m. to 4:40 p.m.

[M. Dean in the chair.]

Hon. D. Eby: I’m joined by staff from our regulator, the gaming policy and enforcement branch: Jillian Hazel, executive director, strategic policy and projects; Dave Boychuk, executive director, operations; and Sam MacLeod, ADM and general manager, gaming branch. Also, folks from B.C. Lottery Corp.: Cynki Taylor, director of finance; Laura Piva-Babco*ck, director of communications; and Jim Lightbody, president and CEO of the B.C. Lottery Corp.

I want to thank staff for assisting me in preparing for estimates and also, I understand, briefing the critic as well.

J. Yap: What changes have occurred in the board membership of BCLC since last year?

Hon. D. Eby: The changes since…. Well, it’s like a day before last fiscal. Peter Kappel joined as chair. The original appointment was May 31, 2018; Joan Axford, October 19, 2018; Hilary Cassady, same day; Fiona Chan, December 31, 2018; Lisa Ethans, October 19, 2018; Teresa Kelly, December 31, 2018; Mario Lee, October 19, 2018; Gregory Moore, November 30, 2018; and Coro Strandberg, October 19, 2018.

J. Yap: Referring to the senior management of BCLC, what changes have occurred in the last year?

Hon. D. Eby: Susan Dolinski was the former VP for communications and social responsibility with B.C. Lottery Corp. She’s no longer with BCLC. She left last fiscal.

J. Yap: What is the FTE, full-time equivalent, of BCLC? How has this changed over the last year?

Hon. D. Eby: As of April 1, 2019, 958 full-time equivalent employees.

J. Yap: Could the minister indicate the change, year over year, to that figure?

Hon. D. Eby: Fiscal year 2017-18, 900 full-time equivalents. And 958 as of April 1, 2019.

J. Yap: With the focus on anti-money-laundering — AML, for short — how have the human resources at BCLC changed? What FTEs within BCLC are dedicated to AML, and how has this changed year over year?

[4:45 p.m.]

Hon. D. Eby: On the B.C. Lottery Corp. side, for 2018-19, 34 FTEs on the AML investigations unit, and then 84 employees on the corporate security FTE count. Then 2018-19, 86 employees on the corporate security FTE count and 35 employees on the AML investigations unit FTE count.

J. Yap: So with the acceptance of the German report, what has been the increase in FTEs to enforce the recommendations made by Dr. German on anti-money-laundering?

Hon. D. Eby: The member has heard the numbers from B.C. Lottery Corp. The increases to respond to the German recommendations on the gaming policy and enforcement branch side are 12 new gaming inspectors. The current state of play is nine active and three letters of offer outstanding to fill the remaining three vacancies. They have been staffed up, and they’re going through a regular cycle of attrition and then rehiring. That’s just where we’re at, at this point in time.

There are four full-time-equivalents on the policy and legal side on the anti-money-laundering team that have been added at the gaming policy and enforcement branch as well, so a total of 16 additional FTE resources. Then, within the Ministry of Attorney General, there’s an anti-money-laundering secretariat of 2½ full-time employees that are overseeing the implementation of the German recommendations and policy work related to that.

J. Yap: I appreciate the minister’s data in terms of FTEs. I wonder if the minister can tell this committee the budget that has been set aside for anti-money-laundering for the current year and for the next two years.

[4:50 p.m.]

Hon. D. Eby: I apologize for the delay. It’s spread out over multiple departments. Gaming policy enforcement branch, GPEB, has access to $2.268 million in resources in contingencies. That is for the staffing that I was talking about earlier primarily, although not exclusively. There are additional pieces that may still require additional funding, such as the regulatory framework recommended in German 1. B.C. Lottery Corp. has $4.256 million allocated this year for AML. Ministry of Attorney General has $450,000. Those are salary costs associated with the staffing I told the member about earlier.

J. Yap: One of the key recommendations of Dr. German was the staffing of casinos on a 24-7 basis with inspectors who will be able to be right there on site to deal with any issues arising that could be suspicious. What is the status of this recommendation, the implementation? Have all the casinos that were to have been staffed with such inspectors on a 24-7 basis been staffed up?

Hon. D. Eby: There are 12 FTEs that are doing this work now for gaming policy enforcement branch, providing a consistent presence in casinos. They’re providing a presence of 14 hours a day. This was something we went back to Dr. German about, to make sure that we were using resources appropriately. And he endorsed our approach of focusing on peak periods, both in terms of traffic and through looking at the transactions and when they were taking place. So that’s how we ended up with the 14-hour-a-day staffing model. That’s in the downtown casinos in Vancouver and Richmond.

I also want to note that for the remaining eight hours a day, gaming policy enforcement branch is available, is just a phone call away. They can get people out there right away if a casino requires any assistance. This approach has already paid off in identifying cheat at play incidents and resulting in charges and bannings from facilities. So we’ve seen some return already on this investment in terms of providing immediate response to casino service providers in the province to make sure that the regulator is available.

J. Yap: The minister anticipated my next question, which was: can he share with us some examples of the success that these new positions are having in cracking down on AML?

[4:55 p.m.]

Hon. D. Eby: It’s a challenging area because staff advised that they’re not able to talk about, obviously, active investigations. But I can advise the member that there have been gaming policy and enforcement branch staff that are on this model that were involved in detecting and working with police of jurisdiction on an arrest related to allegations of cheat at play at downtown facilities. They are tied in closely with the enforcement unit, with JIGIT, and they’re working closely with them on investigations and detection of illegal activities in and around casinos.

J. Yap: Can the minster confirm that Dr. German has completed all of the review work that he was contracted to do? Can the minister confirm the amount that was paid to Dr. German for all of the work that he did in regards to money laundering?

[R. Leonard in the chair.]

Hon. D. Eby: These totals are what were paid to Dr. German’s firm that did the report. There were a number of different contract researchers and accounts, and so on, that assisted experts in various areas. So for report 1, the contract is complete, and the total was $235,400.96. For report 2, the contract is still open, but the report is complete. It’s $277,530.88. That’s where we’re at, currently, on that report. That’s not a final number.

M. Lee: I appreciate the opportunity to join my colleague the member for Richmond-Steveston to ask questions in this area. In the briefings that we received from the Attorney General’s staff — one of the briefings — they provided to us, as a follow-on, the status report for the German 1 report. It lists the status.

It does make reference to other recommendations embedded in some of the recommendations, meaning they’re spoken to or they need to be incorporated as part of some of the considerations of the other recommendations. But could I ask…? There were, I think, 13 recommendations that were listed, in terms of being complete, or four of the 13 that are in progress. Could I ask the Attorney General as to what the status is of the other 35 recommendations?

[5:00 p.m.]

Hon. D. Eby: There is an anti-money-laundering deputy ministers committee that signs off on completion reports for various recommendations related to this. That’s where these figures come from. They’ve signed off on nine recommendations to date, which is 19 percent. We expect that 23 will be completed by July 1, which puts us at about 48 percent.

We are hopeful that 35 of the 40 will be completed by December, which is 75 percent, which leaves 13 remaining recommendations. These are component parts of a larger-scale legislative transformation project. Although it seems like there’s only 25 percent left, this is a huge piece of work. The expectation is that that would be in place by 2021.

I’ll note that some of those recommendations are status quo recommendations. There are a couple in there that are basically “continue doing what you’re doing” recommendations, so just be alert to the specific text of the recommendations when reviewing that.

M. Lee: Thank you for that response. I appreciate that that provides a useful outline in terms of how all of these recommendations will be implemented.

I suppose an example of status quo is recommendation 3, which says that the BCLC review the present source-of-funds declaration on at least on annual basis and determine if refinements are required. This is a recommendation of the 48 recommendations from Peter German. Presumably, BCLC would have been reviewing, on an annual basis, the usefulness and utility of its forms. There are some reports that are being recommended for elimination, which I do want to ask about in a moment.

Perhaps I could ask the Attorney General what the understanding is regarding the source-of-funds declaration, as to: was it not being reviewed on an annual basis before? What will be the go-forward plan on that recommendation?

Hon. D. Eby: The way that the recommendation has been interpreted by both the B.C. Lottery Corp. and the gaming policy and enforcement branch is to continually watch to see how implementation of the new source-of-funds declaration form is performing in a live environment.

In 2015, B.C. Lottery Corp. was doing these source-of-funds declarations on a risk basis. That changed with an interim recommendation from Dr. German in December of 2017 that was implemented in January of 2018 that required these source-of-funds declarations, basically saying, “Where did you get this cash from?” for absolutely everything that was $10,000 or more. That was a different approach.

Now every customer that brought in, in excess of $10,000 in cash was completing one of these forms. That change meant that it needed to be monitored more closely, which was the spirit of the recommendation interpreted by both GPEB and B.C. Lottery Corp.

[5:05 p.m.]

For B.C. Lottery Corp.’s part, they brought in Deloitte to do monitoring of how the forms were being implemented by casinos, service providers, in the Lower Mainland and to report back as an independent third-party firm about how that implementation was going.

For GPEB’s part, they interpreted that as increasing the number of audits. They’ve done three audits on these forms since they’ve been implemented to ensure they’re being implemented as expected.

Certainly day-to-day business for B.C. Lottery Corp. pre–January 2018 would have been to review forms and ensure they were up to date and working for service providers, and so on. I think the actual interpretation of this has been for both B.C. Lottery Corp. and gaming policy and enforcement branch more than just having a look at the form but, in fact, doing detailed work to ensure that the form is performing as expected, that the information is being gathered properly, that it’s useful and that it’s complete.

M. Lee: I appreciate that response, and certainly, I appreciate the phrasing of interpretation as to how recommendations are being looked at and implemented.

In terms of something related, at least in terms of reports, is recommendation No. 11, which is that certain reports, the UFT and SCT reports, be eliminated. When I look at page 97 of the German 1 report, which refers, generally, to SCT reports, suspicious cash currency transactions, it does make reference, of course, to the number of reports that were submitted back in a period of 10½ months in 2014 to ’15. Generally, in terms of the section 86.2 reports, 9,872 reports were submitted, of which only 290 were believed to meet the threshold for reporting, including 94 under the Gaming Control Act, 153 cheat at play, 16 illegal lottery and 27 loansharking complaints.

The concern here that Peter German identified was that overreporting wastes resources and prevents GPEB from focusing its investigative energies on those reports which are deserving of investigation. So as a go-forward, is it the view that there will be less reporting in respect of suspicious currency transactions? How will this recommendation be interpreted in terms of implementation?

Hon. D. Eby: I believe the member is referring to recommendation 11(a), related to unusual financial transactions. This is a process that BCLC follows to see whether a particular transaction that’s unusual meets the FINTRAC threshold for a suspicious cash transaction. This is similar to what the banks do when they get exception reports from their branches, and then they do an analysis about what should be sent to FINTRAC and what doesn’t rise to that level.

What Dr. German was attempting to do with this recommendation was to have the unusual financial transaction forms, essentially, or suspicious cash transaction forms, passed directly from the service provider, the operator of the casino, to FINTRAC without going through B.C. Lottery Corp.

[5:10 p.m.]

One of the issues that has been identified is that the federal ministry of finance has the B.C. Lottery Corp. as a reporting entity to FINTRAC. So this has been challenge in terms of achieving the goal of having it sent directly from the service provider to FINTRAC, because the service provider is not the reporting entity; B.C. Lottery Corp. is.

We are still working on implementation, in partnership with the federal government, on this particular recommendation. And it’s an example of some of the challenges in terms of implementing recommendations put forward by Dr. German.

The intent that he had was not less reporting. It was, rather, that the reports go directly from the service provider to FINTRAC and that the responsibility would be placed on the service provider to report suspicious transactions directly.

M. Lee: Just to clarify the terminology, then, is the report, in terms of an SCT report, a UFT report…. Is that renamed in another type of report, or is it already subsumed in a direct report to FINTRAC?

Hon. D. Eby: A UFT is a transactional report that is sent out by a service provider. They’re like, “We think this might be a suspicious cash transaction,” and they send it to the B.C. Lottery Corp. The B.C. Lottery Corp. goes through those reports to see whether they meet the requirement for reporting to FINTRAC, the threshold for reporting to FINTRAC. If it does, they forward it on to FINTRAC. If it doesn’t, then they don’t.

Dr. German’s idea was that you would get rid of the unusual financial transaction at the service provider level — at the counter at the casino. At the casino management level, they would be deciding what got sent forward to FINTRAC as suspicious transactions — whether it met the threshold — and they would be held accountable directly if they were not reporting suspicious cash transactions.

The challenge with that approach — having a direct report from the service provider to FINTRAC — is that the service providers in B.C. are not considered the reporting entity. They don’t have the legal obligations to report to FINTRAC and the attendant responsibilities — jurisdiction, and so on.

As a result, currently our assessment is that that would require a federal ministry of finance change to the reporting entity, but we’re still looking at implementation and still trying to find a way that we can achieve the intent of this — that the service providers share increased responsibility for reporting suspicious cash transactions and that they can report directly to FINTRAC.

M. Lee: Well, I suppose, just to clarify terminology, that when the Attorney General mentioned earlier in terms of the staged phasing in of the implementation of these recommendations, that there is a set of recommendations involving the federal jurisdiction, and that’s at least recommendations 5 through 10, involving FINTRAC. And I believe, hearing the Attorney General describe the direct reporting, that that is spoken to in this set of recommendations.

These particular recommendations refer to completing all necessary reports to FINTRAC, including STRs. So if I’m hearing the Attorney General correctly, the STR is going to be the vehicle through which…. Or any other necessary report to FINTRAC will be the vehicle through which that reporting will occur, meaning that when we eliminate UFT and SCT reports, there will be different reporting that will only be FINTRAC-required.

I just wanted to clarify again: is there any level of reporting or disclosure that is not included in an STR to FINTRAC that would’ve been in an UFT or SCT report that’s now being eliminated or recommended to be eliminated?

[5:15 p.m.]

Hon. D. Eby: Hopefully, we’ll be able to clarify this sea of acronyms. The SCTs, or suspicious cash transaction reports, were a GPEB internal reporting mechanism. They no longer use that. That is no longer a thing in British Columbia. They use the same terminology as the B.C. Lottery Corp. and FINTRAC now, which I will go through.

UFT, unusual financial transaction, is a BCLC internal acronym. It is a transaction report that’s generated by a service provider. The threshold for generating an unusual financial transaction report is if there’s anything suspicious or unusual or weird in the transaction. I added “weird”; that’s my own; it’s not part of the definition. For anything that really seems unusual, the service provider is to record this in the UFT report to B.C. Lottery Corp. and fire it over to B.C. Lottery Corp.

When it gets to B.C. Lottery Corp., they assess it against the FINTRAC reporting categories. The relevant FINTRAC reporting category here is an STR, a suspicious transaction report. What would make B.C. Lottery Corp. turn a UFT into an STR, when just a weird transaction or an unusual transaction gets converted into a suspicious transaction report — that’s FINTRAC’s term — and sent to FINTRAC is whether B.C. Lottery Corp. looks at it and believes that there’s a reasonable likelihood of money laundering or of terrorist financing being associated with this transaction.

If there is, then they create the suspicious transaction report, the STR, and they send it to FINTRAC, which is their legislative obligation. There are only two terms around these transactions now. UFTs are generated by the service providers. For anything weird, they send it over to B.C. Lottery Corp. B.C. Lottery Corp. then does an assessment: “Is this suspicious transaction report–worthy, or is it not?” If it is, then they fire it off to FINTRAC, as they have to do under law, in an STR.

Now, there are two other categories of mandatory reports that B.C. Lottery Corp. must make to FINTRAC. One is large cash transactions. That is anything that’s $10,000 or more in cash in a 24-hour period. They need to report that to FINTRAC. LCT is the acronym; that’s also a FINTRAC acronym. And a cash disbursem*nt report — any time they’re disbursing cheques to players, they provide that report to FINTRAC as well.

I’m hopeful that that will clarify things. Our intent is not to reduce the amount of information. I don’t believe that was Dr. German’s intent either. His intent was to place additional responsibilities on service providers to report suspicious transaction report–worthy events directly to FINTRAC. Currently the assessment is ongoing in the work with Dr. German and government — B.C. Lottery Corp. and the gaming policy enforcement branch — on a policy basis about how to implement the spirit of the recommendation, which is increased responsibility for service providers to report these transactions.

[5:20 p.m.]

M. Lee: I appreciate that response as well. Just to ask, coming back to the 12 investigators as we get the full complement, what is the role of the investigators in respect of these reports, the compliance with filling out these reports?

Hon. D. Eby: The involvement of the 12 gaming policy and enforcement branch inspectors that are on site in casinos 14 hours a day in Lower Mainland casinos…. If there was a large cash transaction or an unusual financial transaction, the casino service provider would have that individual over at the cage and assisting with the investigation and the review of where the cash came from and the appropriateness of accepting it or what should be done in terms of next steps.

The bigger-picture piece about what’s happening now, responding to two separate German recommendations, is that he recommended the establishment of a transaction assessment team. That has been done. It’s called the gaming intelligence group. It’s made up of the gaming policy and enforcement branch enforcement team and JIJIT folks. They’re the gaming intelligence group.

They get every copy of every unusual financial transaction and every suspicious transaction report that is generated. Then every week they meet with the B.C. Lottery Corp.’s team, and they have a weekly discussion about what happened in that week in terms of suspicious transaction reports and unusual financial transactions and whether investigations need to be commenced or continued or what needs to happen in terms of what happened in that week.

Then every month they go over trends and identify strategies to address trends that they’re seeing evolve on the floor in terms of activities related to unusual financial transactions and suspicious transaction reports.

M. Lee: In the area of enforcement and investigation, I appreciate that…. If I could request the Attorney General and his staff to provide…. We could do it now for the record, or it could be just as a supplemental. When he earlier talked about the 48 recommendations and when they would be implemented, I would appreciate receiving just that breakdown per number or category of recommendation. Certainly, we can look at and anticipate some of the ones that are certainly structural and will require more time, like a separate designated policing unit or a new entity — a Crown agency, that is.

If I could ask, first, the Attorney General, if he would please provide that as a subsequent.

Hon. D. Eby: Sure thing.

[5:25 p.m.]

M. Lee: Just to, then, go to the area of enforcement. With these STRs in hand and with the review that’s being done on a weekly and monthly basis, what is the current path, apart from JIGIT and the RCMP and some of the gaps that we continue to see with FINTRAC, in terms of the follow-through on the reports that are submitted? What’s the current plan in terms of following through investigations and enforcement in this area?

Hon. D. Eby: It really depends on the incident. If there’s a criminal offence that takes place in a casino, the police force of jurisdiction is called in. For example, the cheat at play resulted in the police of jurisdiction being called in. If there’s an assault, these kinds of things, that would immediately be investigated by the local police department. But I think the member is asking more about money laundering–related offences and what is the path that these reports follow in terms of the gaps that we’ve seen related to FINTRAC collecting the documents and then what happens next.

With respect to every single suspicious transaction report, every suspicious transaction report goes to three destinations. One is FINTRAC, which we talked about; one is the gaming policy and enforcement branch and JIGIT, their enforcement team; and the other is the RCMP. And obviously, it originates with the B.C. Lottery Corp., so they have it as well. Any one of those groups could potentially be initiating action based on those reports. In terms of policing action, the gaming policy enforcement branch JIGIT team as well as the RCMP are the most likely origins of a police-related investigation.

I note that we obviously have a challenge in British Columbia with federal RCMP resources dedicated to anti–money laundering investigations, which is why, in terms of the casinos at least, it’s good that we have JIGIT and it’s good that we have the gaming policy enforcement branch team with JIGIT, because those are dedicated resources to looking at the activities in casinos.

Where things start to fall apart, unfortunately, is when you get out of the casinos and you have these kinds of issues coming up — we talked about luxury cars and real estate and so on — where there isn’t a JIGIT and where there isn’t a GPEB reviewing transaction reports, and so on.

[5:30 p.m.]

Those are some of the areas that the Minister of Finance is working on improving and where there is a significant need for improvement. But at least on the casino side, there is a dedicated policing team looking at these kinds of things.

M. Lee: It’s been commented on by Dr. German, in the report German 1, that there was support for the progress that JIGIT has been making. What have been the latest statistics in terms of reducing unusual or suspicious large cash transactions in casinos? I appreciate the confidentiality in terms of any particulars, but just in terms of what the global trend line has been in terms of JIGIT’s work or any other enforcement in casinos through what the Attorney General just described, what’s the continued trend over the last two-year period?

Hon. D. Eby: In terms of suspicious transaction reports to FINTRAC…. The first quarter following Dr. German’s interim recommendation was January through March 2018, which was $1.3 million in suspicious transaction reports to FINTRAC. The second quarter, April to June 2018, was $600,000. The third quarter was July through September 2018, which was $2.2 million. And then the fourth quarter, which was October to December 2018, was $900,000.

Just by way of contrast, the lowest total before those changes was $6.9 million, which was in the immediately preceding quarter, October to December 2017. Before that, the lowest one was $10.7 million in October to December 2016, in terms of suspicious transactions. So we’ve seen a very significant decrease in suspicious transaction report submissions to FINTRAC.

The member also asked about large cash transactions following the implementation of the form where people have to identify where their cash is coming from. The large cash transaction buy-ins decreased almost more than four times from the peak — well, significantly more than five times from the peak. In the first quarter of the implementation, it was $50 million, January through March 2018. April through June 2018 was $46 million. July through September 2018 was $43 million. And October through December 2018 was $37 million in large cash transaction buy-ins. That’s $10,000 or more with documented proof of where the cash came from.

[5:35 p.m.]

M. Lee: In chapter 25 of the report, it refers to the software debacle regarding the SAS system. That’s recommendation No. 17 — that there not be any further expense incurred by BCLC with respect to the SAS AML software system.

What is the next step forward with this system in terms of gathering information? What is BCLC utilizing for that purpose?

Hon. D. Eby: There has been no further investment in the SAS system, and the recommendation has been followed.

In a somewhat related piece but not really…. It’s not a system like SAS. It’s an AML-compliant software solution. The B.C. Lottery Corp. is in the process of an RFP for additional software solutions to support legislated anti-money-laundering compliance requirements.

The RFP asks that any proposed software program meet FINTRAC reporting, recordkeeping and monitoring requirements electronically; transition records paid from gaming fund accounts or similar player accounts from paper-based to electronic — currently they’re paper-based; offer robust audit tracking capabilities; provide additional automatic system alerting capabilities; and have the capability to allow for expanded tracking and aggregation of player financial transactions reportable to FINTRAC as well as integrate and extend existing reporting capabilities, intelligence and analytics.

That last bullet is important because we reasonably expect that FINTRAC will be adding additional requirements going forward. The federal government has been looking at this, as has FINTRAC. They’ve been under, understandably, some pressure to improve what they’ve been doing. We do expect that there is a possibility they will be adding additional regulatory requirements, so this system needs to be able to respond to that.

That RFP is underway as I speak.

J. Yap: Can the minister tell us why…? Let me back up. Net revenue for 2018-19 was forecast in 2018 to be $2.478 billion but is now forecast to be $2.587 billion. Can the minister advise us on what areas account for this $109 million increase over the forecast?

[5:40 p.m.]

Hon. D. Eby: One of the significant high performers during the year was the lottery sector. The budgeted ’18-19 total for lottery was $469½ million. The actual total that came in was $536.3 million, which was a variation from the budget of $66.8 million. It was the largest variation from the budget of any of the categories of revenue. The reason was that for a significant number of weeks, 26 weeks of the year, the value of the jackpot was in excess of $50 million for the Lotto Max. That high-value jackpot results in additional people playing and additional income for the lottery.

I’ll note that for table games, which is the sector that casino service providers…. In particular, Parq casino and Great Canadian have identified they were not as high as they expected as a result of anti-money-laundering controls. The actuals for 2017-18 were $492.7 million. The budget for ’18-19 was $451.4 million. B.C. Lottery Corp. budgeted a $40 million decrease, approximately, in revenue from table games. The actual came in at $454 million — so about right in terms of the anticipated decrease on the table games.

E-gaming was another category that did well for B.C. Lottery Corp. revenues. The budgeted amount for e-gaming in ’18-19 was $131.7 million, and the actual was $149.8 million. That took a variation of $18.1 million from budget, as well as slots, interestingly. The budget for slots was…. So $1.381 billion was the budget revenue from slots. The actual revenue was $1.403 billion, which was $21.7 million in excess of the budgeted revenues.

Between slots, which was $21.7 million; lottery, which was $66.8 million; and e-gaming, which was $18.1 million, the member has the vast majority of the difference between the budget and the actual revenue of the B.C. Lottery Corp.

J. Yap: Net revenue for the current year, 2019-20, was predicted last year to be $2.518 billion. In the current service plan, the forecast is $2.637 billion. That’s an upward revision in the forecast of about $120 million.

Can the minister advise what areas of revenues for the current year are expected to grow?

Hon. D. Eby: There are some significant changes this year that result in the increased projected revenue.

Last year we had five casinos on strike. All of those casinos are back in full-time operation, and we don’t anticipate, knock on wood, any work disruptions on those sites.

[5:45 p.m.]

The Lotto Max is moving to drawings two times a week, whereas previously the drawings were only on Friday nights, and e-gaming is expected to show increased strength as well.

J. Yap: For the out-years in the current three-year plan, ’20-21 to ’21-22, net revenue is forecast to continue to rise — $2.684 billion in ’20-21 and $2.719 billion for ’21-22. Can the minister advise where this growth is expected to come from?

Hon. D. Eby: The anticipation is continued growth in e-gaming, as well as the new facility in Delta.

J. Yap: Looking at the current service plan for 2019-20, on page 24, casino and community gaming revenues are on an upward track. For the current year, the budget is $1.984 billion; then for the next year, ’20-21, $2.007 billion; then the year after, ’21-22, $2.030 billion. So it’s on an upward track over the current year and the next two years.

How does the minister explain this increase, as we are now on a path of more enforcement, more restrictions and more strict AML policies that will be implemented as a result of the crackdown on money laundering and the German report?

Hon. D. Eby: Tables are expected to be flat through this period. The anticipated increase in revenue is expected to come from slots, in particular. And a number of service providers are investing in their facilities, making their facilities more attractive for people to want to spend time and, potentially, money there. I’ll also note that the opening of the new Delta facility has an impact on this anticipated revenue as well. But it is lower than it would be if we had not put the controls in on large cash transactions. I went through with the member the impact that that has had on table revenue.

J. Yap: Can the minister tell us how BCLC models revenue projections? What inputs are used? Do they get input from service providers, the casino operators, external industry experts?

[5:50 p.m.]

Hon. D. Eby: I always learn a little bit doing this too. On the lottery side, the B.C. Lottery Corp. uses a Monte Carlo probability model, and they use a normal distribution for that. It’s a method of predicting jackpots. As I said, lotteries can be difficult to predict because, if the lotteries are higher, then you bring in more revenue than you would expect, and if you don’t have as many big prizes, then you don’t have as many players and you don’t have as much revenue. So they use this Monte Carlo probability model for predicting the lottery revenue.

As for casino facilities, they look at the number of slots. They look at whether new facilities are coming on. They look at the growth in e-gaming as well, the growth trends, and model that out. They also look to an external advisory group called HLT Advisory that assists them on modelling economic growth, migration patterns, population changes and macroeconomic factors, including inflation and GDP growth, in the overall projections related to people’s disposable income and what they might be spending on gaming, lotteries, and so on.

J. Yap: Does B.C. Lottery Corp. segment the casino revenues by product, by size of bets and players?

Hon. D. Eby: B.C. Lottery Corp., I’m advised, does look at products individually — products like slots, table games, Lotto 6/49, Lotto Max, as examples. They also look at the popularity of a given product, as well as something called the hold margin. The hold is the profit margin, essentially, for any particular game, given how much it is played.

Then they also look at customer segmentation in terms of new products to ensure that they have products that are appealing to a broad variety of people and to make sure that each customer segment is being addressed.

J. Yap: Has the number of players who bet large amounts, the high-rollers or so-called whales at casinos…? Has that number changed year over year, and what is the trend in this area?

Hon. D. Eby: I provided the member with the large cash transaction report numbers. I’m advised, actually, that despite the name “large cash transaction,” that’s actually everything. That’s cash, bank drafts — not just cash. So that number is a very good marker for people who are gambling in excess of $10,000 in a 24-hour period.

[5:55 p.m.]

You’ll see that there is a decline in people gambling that amount of money in a 24-hour period because there’s been a significant decline in large cash transaction statistics that I went through earlier. I can go through them again if the member needs, but it’s the same numbers.

J. Yap: As we discussed earlier, casino revenues are projected to continue to rise, and there is some element of increased investment — a new casino coming on stream. But the revenues are on an upward track, over $2.03 billion by the third year of the current cycle.

With the minister’s answer on the shift in the size of bets, players with larger bets, is the minister suggesting, then, that the mix of players at casinos is shifting from large-bet players to smaller-bet players?

Hon. D. Eby: The short answer is yes. We’re seeing more people play at lower levels than previously, is what I’m advised. I’ll note that the decline in these buy-ins in excess of $10,000, either bank drafts or cash, from $128 million to $50 million reflects in Q3 2017 to Q4 2017-18. It’s reflec­tive of the drop in people gambling large amounts of money in a 24-hour period, in excess of $10,000. Well, it’s large to me, anyway — in excess of $10,000 in a 24-hour period.

The fact that slot revenue has remained stable and increased slightly but that table games are flat after declining significantly is an indication of some of that transition that we’re seeing in the marketplace, I guess is a good word.

J. Yap: Is the minister implying that most of the large bets are placed at the table games, as opposed to other products like slot machines? I just wanted to clarify that.

Hon. D. Eby: Yes, that’s my understanding from staff who are here. The majority of people who are gambling large amounts of money are playing table games. They’re not playing the slot machines.

J. Yap: This obviously appears to represent good news. Can the minister confirm, then, that the forecast incorporates a prediction that the focused investment in anti-money-laundering policies and enforcement is actually, over this fiscal year into the next two years, going to drive more and more dirty money away from our casino system and that the rise in revenue — albeit modest, but a rise — represents success in terms of getting rid of the dirty money and now getting smaller and cleaner sources of funds from the players that are coming to our casinos?

Hon. D. Eby: One of the things that has certainly come to my attention in this work is that there is a significant potential for illegal or underground gaming sites to pick up when government increases regulation or oversight of cash transactions, for example. In addition, individuals who are attempting to launder money, when they may be shut out of one venue, might move to another venue. That’s something that Dr. German called the Whac-a-Mole effect.

[6:00 p.m.]

I agree with the member that we’ve seen good success in reducing the number of large cash transactions, in terms of actual bulk cash transactions coming to casinos, very dramatically. That is a success story, with a relatively modest policy change that did definitely have implications for revenue at table games and for service providers in the province.

To their credit, the service providers, while pointing out to their investors that they have taken a hit on this, are supportive of the changes that we’re making, and they are working with us on implementing these changes.

I won’t go one step further, which is to say that we have necessarily addressed the issue. My concern is that it may have gone underground, that it may be facilitating money laundering in other sectors of the economy, which is why we’ll continue working on the integrated policing team response to this, to make sure that we have enforcement capacity out there to follow the money, and why we’ll continue with the gaming intelligence group work in partnership with the B.C. Lottery Corp. to monitor the trends.

For example, are they seeing unusual activity with bank drafts or these kinds of things? Can they follow that activity and identify mitigation strategies to deal with it? It’s important that communities know we’re doing everything we can to ensure that safe and responsible gaming is taking place in the province.

I thank the member for his recognition of the work that the gaming policy and enforcement branch and B.C. Lottery Corp. have done to address this, and I do think we are making progress on this in our casinos.

M. Lee: Let the record show the minister didn’t jump in and take credit for this good-news forecast in the current service plan over the next three years. But I appreciate the minister’s overview of where things are, in terms of the need to crack down on money laundering yet still have a profitable, growing B.C. Lottery Corp.

B.C. Lottery Corp.’s management perspective on the financial outlook — and I found this on page 20 of the service plan — talks about business units relying “predominantly on a core, aging player base.” How does BCLC analyze its player demographics?

Hon. D. Eby: B.C. Lottery Corp. has a number of different lines of business. Depending on the line of business, they know either very little about their players or basically every­thing, in terms of core demographic information.

Knowing basically nothing is anyone that’s going to a grocery or a convenience store to buy a lottery ticket. They can do so, essentially, totally anonymously. So B.C. Lottery Corp. relies on third-party research to try to figure out who these folks are who are buying these tickets and get a sense of who they are.

For e-gaming, on the other side of the spectrum, you have to register. You have to provide your demographic information, and so on, to ensure that you’re qualified to play and in order to ensure that young people under the age of 19 don’t play. In between those two categories are casinos.

[6:05 p.m.]

Regular casino gamblers will often register for something called Encore Rewards. In doing so, they’ll provide some demographic information, and B.C. Lottery Corp. can track who is playing and at what age. It really goes from not knowing who these folks are and relying on third-party research to really knowing all that core information.

Through these tools — third-party research and self-registration, whether through a rewards program or in order to qualify for e-gaming — they know that they are seeing an average age increase in a core category, which is slots, one of the biggest categories. You saw me stumble over the $1 billion figure. It is an older crowd, essentially, that’s playing the slots.

The younger crowd is engaging in sports betting, typically. They’re sort of broad categories. Their concern is that when you see an aging population in one of your core lines of business, namely slots, that leads to the note that the member saw in the advice about revenue.

J. Yap: Is there a strategy at BCLC to market to players based on demographics — i.e. age or any other factor, like gender or ethnicity, etc.?

Hon. D. Eby: I’m advised that BCLC more focuses on interest-based advertising. For example, someone that’s interested in sports may see B.C. Lottery Corp. advertisem*nts related to sports betting. They tend to advertise more on an interest basis rather than any of the categories that the member set out.

J. Yap: The “Management’s Perspective on the Financial Outlook” discussion also talks about a “focus on innovation to retain our existing intended players and provide opportunities to increase their frequency of play and the number of different games played, by supporting and enhancing existing products — e.g., replacing lottery legacy systems — and developing new content and experiences. These opportunities require time and investment before we will realize net income growth.”

Can the minister advise how much time and what amount of investment in dollars is contemplated here?

Hon. D. Eby: Specifically on the lottery terminal legacy system project, B.C. Lottery Corp. will be spending about $40 million over the next three years to replace their legacy lottery terminals with new terminals.

More broadly, B.C. Lottery Corp. regularly looks at changing products to respond to consumer demand and interest. For example, the Lotto Max program draws moving to twice a week, new types of scratch-and-win tickets and different slot machine titles are examples of responding to marketplace demand.

J. Yap: Given that lottery revenue is basically flat in the service plan, at roughly $500 million annually, is this innovation and development not considered a priority?

[6:10 p.m.]

Hon. D. Eby: The legacy terminal replacement is really responding to a technological need to sustain the existing income. The existing lottery terminals are aging and need to be replaced to prevent additional expenses and maintenance repair of old, broken-down lottery terminals, in short.

This is money invested to ensure that the lottery terminals are working and sustaining the current income. It’s just a cost-of-doing-business expense as opposed to an expansion expense.

J. Yap: Casinos provide the major portion, still and into the future — about 75 percent of BCLC’s net revenue, as I’ve alluded to earlier. Does the minister consider this dependency on casinos versus lotteries and e-gaming a concern?

Hon. D. Eby: British Columbia is one of a number of states and provinces that offer casino gaming. If British Columbia eliminated casino gaming, it’s reasonable to expect that tourists and others who are interested in gaming as part of their pastime experiences would go to Washington state, would go to Alberta. That would be revenue that would be lost to the province of British Columbia.

One thing I’ll note about our casino program in the province is that I think we’ve done a good job of balancing the need for capital investment and facilities that look attractive and are attractive to people not just for gaming but also for other entertainment experiences — restaurants and shows, and so on — and are part of the infrastructure for tourism that leads to our successful tourist economy here in British Columbia.

I don’t see that casino gaming itself is a problem in the province. In fact, it provides a significant amount of revenue for the province directly, for community groups through gaming grants, and significant employment opportunities throughout the province.

It doesn’t come without challenges. It brings with it signi­ficant need for social responsibility, which is why we’ve increased resources for mental health strategies related to people who deal with addiction for gaming, including increased counselling resources and interventions available for them even on the floor of casinos throughout the prov­ince, and research at UBC about responding to and making sure that gaming is offered responsibly and that we know how people are triggered and how to intervene in terms of problem gaming. In addition, our anti-money-laundering initiatives ensure that our facilities aren’t being used to launder the proceeds of crime.

It brings with it really positive things, but it also brings with it challenges. The key is to find that balance between those two things. I think our government has brought forward a number of initiatives, both on the mental health and addictions side and on the crime prevention side, that British Columbians can be proud of in terms of how we’re operating our casinos.

In addition to this, as I mentioned, is the fact that when you do visit casinos in other provinces, you realize how successful British Columbia has been in encouraging capital investment in properties here to ensure that they’re attractive and a source of pride for the community. That’s something that I hope we have built on with new service provider agreements across the province that reward them for these capital investments.

J. Yap: I do note the hour, and I just have a couple more questions for the minister.

After encouraging signs and, actually, pronouncements that the BCLC head office in Kamloops would be rebuilt, and with lots of community support and expectation based on the minister’s own words…. He was quoted in 2018 saying: “It is full speed ahead. Currently it is all signals go.” “Government is very supportive of BCLC here in Kamloops,” etc. Another quote in regards to the new head office project: “I understand BCLC continues to move ahead with that, certainly with my support.”

[6:15 p.m.]

Then in January of this year, much to the disappointment of folks in Kamloops and my colleagues from Kamloops, the project was cancelled. Why exactly was the proposed replacement of the BCLC headquarters in Kamloops cancelled?

Hon. D. Eby: B.C. Lottery Corp. was looking at building a new head office. They discovered, when they received the bids for building — the parking garage also had to be replaced, and their hopes for an opportunity to overbuild and have space leased out by somebody else were not realized — that the costs were well north of $100 million.

It was more than they had expected, so they brought in Partnerships B.C., a provincial organization that assists the public sector in meeting its infrastructure needs. They did an assessment of the building and suggested that B.C. Lottery Corp. stay where it is right now, that it was more cost-effective for the public to stay in the existing headquarters.

Since then I’ve had a number of meetings with some very thoughtful folks out of Kamloops. I had a delegation come in this year from Kamloops to discuss the future of the B.C. Lottery Corp. in Kamloops.

I had the opportunity to talk to them about how our government has had the highest employee count in Kamloops since 2008 — that we are very committed to Kamloops; that we see, as they do, the contribution of Kamloops to over $100 million in economic benefit to Kamloopsians; and that it’s a great spot for B.C. Lottery Corp. because they can address some of the recruitment challenges that we face, for example, in the Lower Mainland, where the high costs of housing and living deter some people.

It’s actually a point of interest that B.C. Lottery Corp. is located in a beautiful community like Kamloops, which also has the benefit of being more affordable for families.

We’re very excited about B.C. Lottery Corp.’s future in Kamloops — partnerships with the local university, partnerships with local businesses and partnerships with our employees through that Crown corporation there — and proud of the fact that we see such a strong contingent of B.C. Lottery Corp. employees in Kamloops growing every year under our government, something that hasn’t been seen for a while.

This is very good news for Kamloopsians, certainly, that B.C. Lottery Corp. is there. We recognize that. We want it to be there in the future. There are opportunities for expansion, growth and development with B.C. Lottery Corp. and Kamloops. It just won’t be through a $100 million building when they have a good building right now, according to Partnerships B.C.

With that, I move the committee rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again.

Motion approved.

The committee rose at 6:19 p.m.

The Official Report of Debates (Hansard) and webcasts of proceedings
are available on the Internet. Chamber debates are broadcast on television.

Copyright © 2019: British Columbia Hansard Services, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Monday, May 27, 2019, p.m., Issue 262 (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Domingo Moore

Last Updated:

Views: 5959

Rating: 4.2 / 5 (73 voted)

Reviews: 80% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Domingo Moore

Birthday: 1997-05-20

Address: 6485 Kohler Route, Antonioton, VT 77375-0299

Phone: +3213869077934

Job: Sales Analyst

Hobby: Kayaking, Roller skating, Cabaret, Rugby, Homebrewing, Creative writing, amateur radio

Introduction: My name is Domingo Moore, I am a attractive, gorgeous, funny, jolly, spotless, nice, fantastic person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.