NOVA SCOTIA HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Printed and Published by Nova Scotia Hansard Reporting Services
COMMUNITY SERVICES COMMITTEE
Ms. Patricia Arab (Chair)
Mr. Brendan Maguire (Vice-Chair)
Mr. Stephen Gough
Mr. Allan Rowe
Ms. Joyce Treen
Mr. Eddie Orrell
Mr. Larry Harrison
Hon. Denise Peterson-Rafuse
Mr. Gordon Gosse
[Hon. Denise Peterson-Rafuse was replaced by Ms. Lenore Zann.]
[Mr. Gordon Gosse was replaced by Hon. Dave Wilson.]
Ms. Kim Langille
Legislative Committee Clerk
HALIFAX, TUESDAY, JANUARY 21, 2014
STANDING COMMITTEE ON COMMUNITY SERVICES
Ms. Patricia Arab
MADAM CHAIRMAN: I’d like to call the meeting to order. This is the Standing Committee on Community Services. My name is Patricia Arab and I am the Chair of this committee.
Today’s meeting is going to be an organizational meeting and the committee’s purpose today is to set an agenda for witnesses who will be coming up before the committee.
I’d like to remind committee members and those in attendance to please make sure their phones are on “vibrate”, as all of these proceedings are being recorded by Hansard.
Maybe we could take a few moments just to have everybody on the committee introduce themselves.
[The committee members introduced themselves.]
MADAM CHAIRMAN: I’d like to welcome you all. Our clerk has provided members with a reference manual which contains committee information and procedures, so I’d just like to take a few minutes to go over those. As I stated, our meetings are recorded and transcripts are prepared of our meeting proceedings.
Our mandate: “The Community Services Committee is established for the purpose of considering matters normally assigned to or within the purview of the Departments and Ministers of Business and Consumer Services and of Municipal Affairs and matters relating to the Human Rights Commission and the Nova Scotia Sport and Recreation Commission.”
In 1998, the Speaker, as Chair of the Legislature’s Internal Economy Board, gave the Community Services Committee written permission to also consider matters within the purview of the Department of Health and the Department of Community Services.
The Standing Committee on Community Services meets on the first Tuesday of the month, from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. when the House is not in session, and from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. when the House is in session. The committee will call witnesses to appear before it to provide presentations on topics that fall within the committee’s mandate. Members will have an opportunity to ask questions of the witness once the presentation is concluded.
Members wanting to ask a question will signify to the Chair, who will maintain a list of those wishing to speak. The Chair will direct the questioning. Questions should be directed through the Chair, and the Chair will recognize members and witnesses prior to their speaking. The red tally light on your mike will be lit when you are speaking to record your comments. If your mike is not lit, please wait to speak until it has been activated. The Chair will reserve time at the end of the meeting to deal with any committee business.
Witness selection process: members of each caucus were asked to submit a list of potential witnesses for the committee’s consideration. This list has been circulated to the members and a copy is in front of you today.
A witness will be put forward by each caucus beginning with the Liberals, then the PCs, and then the NDP. There are usually two or three rounds of selection for witnesses and today I’m going to propose that we each select two witnesses to take us for the next six meetings.
If there are no objections to the suggestions put forward, a motion can be introduced to approve all of the suggestions, and if there is an objection with a suggestion that is put forward, a motion will need to be introduced to deal with that issue. For those of us who are new, we’ll make sure Kim will hook us up; she’ll make sure that we know what we’re doing if that happens.
I want to review the evacuation procedure. Should there be a need to evacuate the building, please leave the Red Room and proceed down one flight of stairs and exit through the doors onto Granville Street. Please gather in the parking lot across from Province House and remain at the parking lot until further instructions are provided.
A note from Hansard: we are asked not to bend our microphones, and don’t get mad at me, Hansard - it’s okay if we do this, but don’t do that. (Laughter)
I’m going to ask for witnesses to be put forward from each caucus. Given that a request to appear has been received - and you should have that letter in front of you - we’re going to possibly consider the request in conjunction with our witness list. I received communication from Wendy Lill on behalf of the Community Homes Action Group, so if you want to just take a minute to look this over.
Are there any questions about this letter and the request that’s being made? I’m going to open it up to the committee in terms of if we would like to put this pairing of witnesses onto our list, if there is any caucus that - if you refer to our agenda items, I believe that the Nova Scotia Association of Community Living is one of the witnesses put forward by the PC caucus. If you choose to go forward and have them be one of the first to appear, is there any opposition to have the Community Homes Action Group be paired with them or would you like to take a minute? Mr. Orrell.
MR. EDDIE ORRELL: That should be fine.
MADAM CHAIRMAN: Ms. Zann.
MS. LENORE ZANN: I was going to say I think that’s a great idea as well, I’d love to have them come forward as well.
MADAM CHAIRMAN: I don’t want to put any pressure on you guys. Mr. Orrell.
MR. ORRELL: If we’re going to move that forward, do we still get two other choices, I guess, is what I’m saying? You’re saying we’re going to go around and get two choices each. This is a committee group that’s deciding to put that on there as one and it just happens to be that it’s one of ours, so do we still get two other choices?
MADAM CHAIRMAN: That would take us into seven witnesses.
MR. ORRELL: Is it a problem to have seven witnesses?
MADAM CHAIRMAN: Mr. Wilson.
HON. DAVID WILSON: Since the committee got correspondence, could I make a suggestion that the committee could vote on any correspondence that comes in for requests to meet, but hold true to each caucus list, so potentially put seven witnesses forward over the seven meetings. Is there an issue about having only six? So as a committee, if we all agree, then maybe anything that comes forward we could vote on, if you wish, and then go to our lists and have two from each caucus so there would be seven, I guess, is what I’m saying.
MADAM CHAIRMAN: Yes, that would be fine, from my position. Is there anyone on the committee who would have an objection to that? Mr. Maguire.
MR. BRENDAN MAGUIRE: I think what we’re trying to do is, just in the short term, plan out who we’re going to have in front of us up until the summer hits. Right now it looks like we’ll have six weeks of committee meetings. We just don’t want to get bogged down and have three or four different witnesses here. I have no objection - I’m just saying that was the whole purpose of having six.
MADAM CHAIRMAN: Ms. Zann.
MS. ZANN: If that was the case, I would suggest that we, as the NDP, could take this one on and I’d choose this one as one of our first ones. Mr. Wilson probably has another one that he would like as well.
MS. JOYCE TREEN: Are you not asking that they can just join in on the other witness list of No. 3 on their list? Are they going to do a joint one at the same time; you’re not trying to add an additional one? Are you trying to create a joint one?
MADAM CHAIRMAN: The letter is requesting that these two groups come in. It’s the groups themselves that are requesting it. My initial ask to Mr. Orrell and to the PC caucus is, assuming that they were going to have the Nova Scotia Association for Community Living as one of their two witnesses, would they be okay with those two groups coming in? That’s also on the assumption that that group would have been the two that they chose.
We also have the option, too, of just each caucus picking one and then having this group come in as a witness as well and then after we’ve gone through that witness list we can then have another agenda-setting meeting and move on to our next.
MS. ZANN: From the message that I’m getting from the letter, this is an urgent issue and I think it will affect a lot of people in a good way if we can bring this forward so I would like to see this one brought forward as quickly as possible, as they request, which is why I say if other people aren’t willing to put it on their lists that are already chosen, I don’t mind using it as one of ours.
MS. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Wilson, are you in agreement with that or would you like to take a moment to take a short recess? We can take a brief recess.
MR. DAVID WILSON: I don’t mind going ahead with - I think you suggested it - putting them on the list, one from each list and have another meeting down the road. You can have it right after our regular meeting and that way, if you have any changes to anybody wanting to come in.
What I found over the years is, often you do find yourself stuck to place somebody who can’t come this month or next month. That’s why my option was to have seven if potentially one of our witnesses can’t come, but that’s fine. I would rather see one from each and then this one and then come back at a committee. That’s another suggestion so I’ll put that on the floor first.
MADAM CHAIRMAN: Both are viable options so what I would propose to the committee is that each caucus picks one witness and we will have Ms. Lill’s organization be a fourth witness to come in and speak to our committee. Are there any objections to that? So we will add the Community Homes Action Group and the Nova Scotia Association for Community Living to our witness list.
Can I have the first witness being put forward by the Liberal caucus? Mr. Macguire.
MR. MACGUIRE: I’d like to put forward the Family Resource Centre and the witness would be Natalie Brown from the Fairview centre.
MADAM CHAIRMAN: So the second witness on our list will be the Family Resource Centre, Natalie Brown representing the Fairview Family Centre.
Could I have a member from the PC caucus put forward their first witness? Mr. Orrell.
MR. ORRELL: We’ll take the Department of Community Services on services for persons with disabilities.
MADAM CHAIRMAN: That’s the Department of Community Services, services for persons with disabilities. And the NDP caucus, Mr. Wilson.
MR. DAVID WILSON: Thank you. We’d like to put forward the Human Rights Commission.
MADAM CHAIRMAN: Mr. Maguire.
MR. MAGUIRE: In regard to the Human Rights Commission, could we just get some clarification on what it is and who it is that we’re going to bring forward?
MR. DAVID WILSON: I don’t know what the title is - the director? - to give an oversight of what’s going on. I think we’ve all witnessed in the last little while there have been a lot of cases around the Human Rights Commission and some of the work they do. So it’s basically, I think, the executive director, or the director - I don’t think it’s the deputy minister level, but the head of the Human Rights Commission.
MR. MAGUIRE: So basically just an oversight of what they do, that’s what we’re looking at. Okay.
MADAM CHAIRMAN: So the witness for the NDP caucus will be the Human Rights Commission. Are there any questions or comments about any of these witnesses? Could I have someone move a motion to accept this witness list?
MS. ZANN: So moved.
MADAM CHAIRMAN: Ms. Langille.
MS. KIM LANGILLE (Legislative Committee Clerk): I just wanted to clarify the order. I’m assuming that the request that came in is number one and then Liberal, PC and NDP, is that correct? Unless there’s some issue with when they can come but yes, okay.
MADAM CHAIRMAN: So if we could take a look - I believe you all have a calendar in front of you - and look at our future meeting dates. As I stated earlier, the Community Services Committee meets on the first Tuesday of each month. However, we have a conflict already for our next meeting; on February 4th we will have members who will be out of town for an out-of-town caucus. So I’m suggesting that we change the 4th to February 11th at the same time.
The meetings typically are the first Tuesday of every month, as you can see highlighted on your calendar, but for February we’re asking that the February date be February 11th instead of February 4th. Mr. Orrell.
MR. ORRELL: Is that date going to interfere with any other committee work - any other meetings then?
MADAM CHAIRMAN: There are no other committees, no.
MR. ORRELL: Thank you.
MADAM CHAIRMAN: Ms. Langille.
MS. LANGILLE: The Economic Development Committee will be meeting that morning, I think, but we meet in the afternoon so that should be fine.
MADAM CHAIRMAN: Is everyone in agreement that our next meeting will be Tuesday, February 11th, at 1:00 p.m.? Ms. Treen.
MS. TREEN: I heard we don’t meet in the summer - is June considered summer or are July and August summer?
MADAM CHAIRMAN: The summer months are July and August.
Are there any other conflicts with any of the dates that are listed here? (Interruption) Oh, I’m sorry, I have the highlights, you don’t. So our next meetings will be February 11th, March 4th, April 1st, May 6th and June 3rd. All good? Excellent.
Are there any questions, concerns, anything that anyone would like to bring up before we adjourn? Is there anything that I’m forgetting? No, okay.
So since we have concluded our business, I move that today’s meeting be adjourned.
[The committee adjourned at 1:20 p.m.