The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Public Accounts -- Wed., Feb. 2, 2000

[Page 1]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2000

STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS

8:00 A.M.

CHAIRMAN

Mr. Russell MacKinnon

MR. DAVID MORSE (Chairman): Good morning. I will be sitting in for our regular Chairman, Russell MacKinnon, who is not able to be here today. I would like to start by recognizing the people who are sitting in for regular members. First of all, Howard Epstein, no stranger to the Public Accounts Committee, is sitting in for John Holm; Paul MacEwan is sitting in for the regular Chairman, Russell MacKinnon; and Cecil O'Donnell is sitting in for Bill Dooks.

If I could please recognize that today we have Art Fordham here. Art is going to be assisting us in making sure that we stick to the subject matter because parts of this report go into an ongoing criminal investigation. It is important that we remember that this is a value-for-money session. We should be careful not to name specific individuals who may be involved in this and generally use a certain amount of common sense. With that, I would like to ask Mr. Dempster to please introduce the witnesses.

MR. MICHAEL DEMPSTER: Today, I am pleased to have Fergus Ford with me who works in my office, the Compensation for Victims of Institutional Abuse Program. Fergus will be assisting me this morning and that is as far as my witnesses go. Paula Simon is here as the former director of the program. Do you want the guests as well?

MR. CHAIRMAN: We should perhaps invite the guests to introduce themselves.

MR. DEMPSTER: Immediately behind me is Lorna MacPhee, Office Manager of the Compensation for Victims of Institutional Abuse Program; next to her is Michele McKinnon, the spokesperson for the Department of Justice; and in the rear is Elizabeth Mullaly who works in our office also as an assessor in the program.

1

[Page 2]

MR. CHAIRMAN: Would you like to perhaps make an opening statement or presentation?

MR. DEMPSTER: I would, thank you. I thought it might be of interest to the committee to get a sense of the organization of our office and perhaps a very quick overview of the process that a claim goes through from the start to the finish of a settlement. I would ask that we do an overhead on that. Is that all right with you, Mr. Chairman?

MR. CHAIRMAN: Yes.

MR. DEMPSTER: The first slide will be a very small printed version because it covers the whole process and we will go on to other slides right after that. So this first one is an overview and you have copies of those in your packages, I believe. As you can see, you can't fit everything on this slide so we will break it down into two other slides that actually get into more detail here. We will go with the second one, Fergus, please.

As you can see, the progress of the applicant claims, this overview, by the way, is one that we often use to explain the program to anyone who is unfamiliar with it. It is particularly interesting because it does touch on only the main points of the process so that you can get a sense of the claim processing that we follow. December 18, 1996 was the date that individuals who were registered in this program had to have sent us their name, that they were interested in filing a claim with us. So as of that date, it was their last opportunity to submit a demand for a compensation claim. Obviously, there were individuals who were already in the program at that time and that was the date that we cut off any further applications into this program.

Those individuals who are in the program initially, as soon as they are accepted in the program, they are eligible for interim counselling with a maximum of $5,000 that is available to them for psychological counselling until they reach a settlement date.

The second step, the investigators are assigned cases, and these are individuals who are called investigators because they take statements from the initial application and that is when they will take the video statement of the individual who is making a claim for compensation. The demand, then, is created by the counsel for the claimant who submits that demand to our office, the Compensation for Institutional Abuse Program. The investigation would then continue, as the case is reviewed. The investigator would forward the completed investigation materials to an assessor in another part of our organization, it is another separate section but all reporting to me as of August 4, 1998. The assessor reviews the case against the records and the various documents and other witness reports that will have been gathered. There is a considerable amount of documentation that is brought forward as part of the investigative process and the analysis phase of the assessment.

[Page 3]

When required, the assessor may require that further information be gathered by an investigator if clarification of a particular statement has to be researched and if additional witnesses or even if a further statement must be taken. The assessor then reviews the material that is finally brought before that person and they would review that with other assessors - we call them the peers, in our office - to ensure that we have a consistent decision-making process.

The assessor sends the response, then - that is our departmental response to the demand that was submitted by the claimant's lawyer - and the claimant's lawyer then consults with the claimant. There are several things that can happen at this phase of the process. The lawyer and the claimant, together, could decide to accept our offer which may or may not be the exact amount claimed. If so, an initial cheque is issued to the person and at that time the person is eligible for long-term counselling, that is attached to their awarded settlement and we initiate a payment process to them.

That payment process is described in the guidelines for you. Essentially what it is, is an initial payment of $10,000, if the award is that high, or 20 per cent of the value of the settlement offered, whichever is greater. The remaining balance, if there is a balance that is still to be paid, would be paid over the next 48 months. It is at the option of the claimant whether they want to receive that on an annual one-time basis payment, once every year for the four year period or on a monthly basis over the next 48 months. We call those scheduled payments.

We could end up with a negotiation situation, where we would negotiate with the lawyer, if the lawyer for the claimant decides that the offer we are making in our response is not acceptable to them. If that happens, we could come to some sort of an agreement. Essentially that can happen. If you look at the categories we categorized in each of these types of settlements, there is a range that is possible for payment. We can negotiate within that range. That is possible and sometimes it does happen. If we reach agreement during that process, then there is an initial payment again, the same process that I described earlier occurs, i.e. a settlement is issued and the payment schedules are put in place.

If no agreement is reached at that stage, the claimant's lawyer will, on advice and instruction from their client, choose to go to file review. This is a third party arbitration process that is allowed under the guidelines. If that happens, the claimant's lawyer would send documentation, and so would the department, to the file reviewer for consideration. During this process, the claim is reviewed by the file reviewer. That file reviewer has the opportunity, as would the claimant's lawyer, to see all of our documentation that has been gathered during the assessment process and the investigation process. There is full disclosure at this point, in other words.

[Page 4]

The file reviewer is going to assess this claim on its own merit, and consider all of the documents that have been put forward from either side. If they reach a decision and they will, we always have a decision, it is a binding decision that both sides must adhere to and a cheque is issued, et cetera. At this time, although we have seen it happen before where the claimant and his/her counsel decide that they will withdraw from the program, they don't wish to proceed, and we will have situations where they will discontinue their application.

That is roughly a summary of the process that is followed in the compensation office. I have a couple of organization charts that I would like to put up too, and that will only take a second. They are snapshots in time, and you have copies of them again in your package. One is as of 1998. I am showing you this one because that is the effective date where, as you saw in the Auditor General's Report, there was a change in the organization reporting relationship in the compensation program in that at this point the investigative team that was part of the Internal Investigation Unit proper, reporting to police and public safety prior to this date of August 4, 1998, was halved off and specific investigators were assigned to the compensation team itself.

The reporting relationship changed at this particular date. Prior to that there was a different structure where the investigators were reporting to a different director, but they were assigned to do work for the compensation program as well as other work. In this particular organization chart, you get a sense of the types of positions we had there, and I will be glad to try to answer any of your questions that you may have about those.

The next slide shows the organization chart as of September 10th, and as you will see the numbers have dropped. The reason the numbers have changed is that we were at the stage of downsizing the program due to the completion of the claims. The claims were fairly well settled at this particular date. As a matter of fact, we were down, as you can see, we had reduced the number of assessors to four instead of, I think the previous chart was 10. The investigators had been reduced from 11 down to two.

Since then, I can report that all of the claims have been responded to, and we are in the final clean-up mode where the staff has been reduced to essentially a couple of people doing the remaining claims because extended dates for decisions that are allowed under the process require us to maintain a couple of people to complete those claims. Those are the slides that I have, Mr. Chairman.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Would there be anybody else who would like to make an opening statement? Ms. Simon.

MS. PAULA SIMON: Copies have been made of my statement, for distribution. I understand that I have been asked to appear before this committee to address my involvement in the compensation for victims of institutional abuse. I expect that you will appreciate that my involvement dates back almost five years, to the spring of 1995 and lasted 18 months. I

[Page 5]

am relying on my recollection of these events. I am prepared to answer any questions that the committee has for me within the time-frame of my involvement.

In late April 1995, I was asked, in my role as Director of Victims' Services, along with a senior solicitor with the Department of Justice, to attend a conference in Toronto on sexual assault in institutional settings. We were to gather as much information as possible from the legal and program perspective to bring back to the department. At some point after that, in May, we were assigned, in addition to our other responsibilities, the task of coming up with an ADR model for compensating survivors of abuse at provincial institutions.

At that point, in terms of research made available to me, I had the conference notes and some information from Ontario. I was told that Justice Stratton was going to submit his report to the minister by the end of June 1995, and that a public commitment had already been made to put an ADR process in place. Therefore an ADR program had to be developed and approved by Cabinet for the minister to announce shortly after Justice Stratton submitted his report.

While the solicitor involved worked on legal research regarding case precedents across Canada, I canvassed other jurisdictions in the country for program models. From the program perspective at that point, the jurisdiction with the most experience was Ontario. The Ontario Attorney General's Department had participated in the negotiation of two agreements. I spent three days in early June in Toronto with Mr. Tom Marshall, a senior solicitor with the Attorney General's Department and other staff researching the two programs.

Mr. Tom Marshall came to Nova Scotia the last week of June 1995 to brief the minister and the Department of Justice management team on his experience. In addition, a special meeting of the Priorities and Planning Committee was set up and all members of Executive Council and some senior government officials were invited to attend. The purpose of the meeting was to brief the decision makers on the complexity of the ADR process and get approval in principle to continue the development of the ADR process.

In July 1995, Cabinet approved the details of the ADR process and budget. The Minister of Justice announced the plan. This plan was put in place only after Justice Stratton's independent inquiry confirmed that sexual and physical abuse took place at the School for Boys and that in his words, "the staff of the School and officials in the Department of Community Services were aware that abuse was taking place . . .".

In addition, Justice Stratton states in his introduction, "There was a time when the approach to dealing with these 'less valued' members of society was one of 'incarceration and punishment' as opposed to the more modern approach of 'training and treatment'. In view of the change in attitudes, I have been asked whether it is fair to evaluate the past and what may have seemed acceptable in the past by our present views as to what is appropriate. To

[Page 6]

this I would respond that although attitudes may have changed, there is, in my opinion, absolutely no justification for the sexual abuse of children and for acts of physical cruelty against them. Firm discipline is one thing, but physical cruelty is quite another.".

At the time of the minister's announcement in July 1995 we knew that we were just beginning the process of developing an ADR program and that there had been no other jurisdiction that had attempted to deal with abuse in multiple institutions at the same time. It was only at this point that we would begin to get a sense of who was out there in terms of survivors, what they might need for services and what would be appropriate for compensation. All we had to go on was the experience of other jurisdictions, which we knew was of limited value.

In July 1995, Family Services Association was contracted to work with survivors to ensure they received emergency counselling they needed and to begin to talk to survivors about a process that would work for them. The purpose of the government's approach was to develop a degree of trust so that survivors would participate in the ADR process, develop a process that would be timely so as not to revictimize the survivors, acknowledge that they suffered abuse at the hands of people who were entrusted with their care and custody, assist survivors of the process of healing and treat them in a respectful and dignified manner. Throughout this process the senior solicitor and I received instructions from the Minister and the Deputy Minister of Justice. In addition senior officials from the department also had input.

In December 1995, after lengthy consultations with survivors' legal counsel, there was agreement to start negotiations in February 1996. The government's negotiating team was composed of me, a senior solicitor, two junior solicitors and the Director of Policy from the Department of Human Resources who had some knowledge of alternative dispute resolution practices and was there primarily as an observer. We met three or four times in February 1996 and significant progress was made.

However, it became clear that the number of survivors had increased substantially. In March 1996 the Minister, the Deputy Minister of Justice, went back to Cabinet to update it on the progress of the negotiations and alert Cabinet that the number of survivors had changed which was going to affect the bottom line. The department received an increase in the budget and approval to complete the negotiations. It was made clear to us that the government wished to reach an agreement quickly. This was a very intense time and the senior solicitor and I met regularly with the Minister and the Deputy Minister of Justice before and after negotiations to brief on the progress made and to seek instructions.

A Memorandum of Understanding was reached and in May 1996 the ADR program was announced. The program implementation began in June 1996. In October 1996 the Department of Finance became concerned about the project's costs, the projected costs of the program. This led to a two day meeting in mid-October with senior officials from the Department of Justice and the Department of Finance. It became clear that because of the

[Page 7]

new claims the program was going to be over budget and this was not going to be tolerated by the Department of Finance.

The need to stay within budget far outweighed the need to honour the Memorandum of Understanding. It was stated in these meetings that the survivors did not have a lot of public sympathy and, therefore, the government could get away with breaking the agreement. These officials had concluded that it was politically and legally possible to break the Memorandum of Understanding. There is no question that the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding was challenging. However, after winning the guarded trust of the survivors, after negotiating in good faith with the legal counsel, in my opinion the government had a moral obligation to keep its word. I felt breaking this agreement would be totally contrary to the intent of the ADR process which was in part to treat the survivors with respect and bring a quick resolution to this ordeal for them.

I saw this course of action as breaking, if not a legal, a moral agreement with the survivors and as an abuse of process in power. I expressed these concerns to the Deputy Minister of Justice because he had not attended these meetings and as a final plea to stop this from moving forward. On Monday, October 21, 1996, I informed the deputy that I would be leaving the department due to these changes. I felt that I had played a significant role as a lead negotiator in building the trust the survivors had in this process and that I could not participate in a unilateral breaking of the Memorandum of Understanding.

Given what the government had done, it had completely undermined my ability to work with survivors of abuse within government and I could no longer represent them in any capacity. I finished work on October 31, 1996. The last contact I had with the department was a couple of weeks after my resignation. The Minister of Justice called me at home requesting a meeting to seek advice on what to do next. I declined the invitation.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Dempster.

MR. DEMPSTER: I just wanted to add to Ms. Simon's statement, for the sequence of events so you will understand when I started in the program, it was on January 20, 1997. That would be a couple of months after Paula left the position.

MR. CHAIRMAN: So there was a vacancy in the director's position for some two and one-half months?

MR. DEMPSTER: That is correct.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Just to clarify, Ms. Simon, did I understand that you have a commitment this morning that was going to take you out of here at a particular time?

MS. SIMON: No, I am fine.

[Page 8]

MR. CHAIRMAN: Then without further ado, I guess I would turn it over to the NDP for the first 20 minutes. Mr. Dexter.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Chairman, I guess I would like to start with some basic questions in terms of trying to understand some of what you have given us in your statement. In October 1996, who was the minister at the time?

MS. SIMON: It was Jay Abbass.

MR. DEXTER: He was at these meetings, the minister attended these meetings that you . . .

MS. SIMON: The meeting that I referred to, no, he was not at this particular meeting that I referred to in my notes. Are you referring to . . .

MR. DEXTER: The October 1996 meeting.

MS. SIMON: Of the officials from the Department of Finance?

MR. DEXTER: Yes.

MS. SIMON: No.

MR. DEXTER: Can you tell us who was at that meeting?

MS. SIMON: I am trying to recall. There was Mary Muise, who was I think the Director of Auditing; and there were two other people from the Department of Finance; Bob Barss was at that meeting, who was the Executive Director of Policing Services at the time and the head of the IIU; I think Fred Honsberger was the Executive Director of Corrections;. I was in attendance at the meeting; I believe Doug Keefe was in attendance, the Executive Director of Legal Services; I think Michele McKinnon might have been at that meeting; and I am not sure if Kit Waters was at the meeting. That is the best I can do in terms of who was there.

MR. DEXTER: When you say that it was made clear to you that the budget of the ADR was cast in stone, you did not say exactly those words, but when you say that they were not going to tolerate any overexpenditures, did someone say that this was a directive from the department? Did they give you anything in writing to that effect? What I am trying to establish is, was this just a feeling that you got from the manner in which the conversation took place or was it a clear directive to you that they would not tolerate overexpenditure of the budget?

[Page 9]

MS. SIMON: I was participating in that meeting, but what was happening was the Department of Finance was making it clear that this was not going to be tolerated and that some other way had to be found. That was the bottom line, that there was no way that the overexpenditure was going to be able to be tolerated, that it was important that this program come in on budget that year. The minister and the deputy were not in the room, but it was very clear that they were exploring alternatives to what was presently in the memorandum because there was no way, if they kept the agreement, they could come in on budget.

MR. DEXTER: On Page 7 of your statement you say, "It was stated in this meeting that the survivors did not have a lot of public sympathy and therefore the Government could get away with breaking the agreement.". I guess that leads to two questions. One is, was that a statement that was actually made by somebody in that meeting and, if it was, who said it? Did they give any justification for it? Secondly, in what way were they anticipating that the Memorandum of Understanding would be broken?

[8:30 a.m.]

MS. SIMON: It was a day and one-half of meetings and lots was said. I don't have my notes from those meetings but I remember, clearly, that that was the sentiment, that those kinds of words were used in terms of anticipating what they could do and what they could not do.

There was some discussion around taking the survivors' awards and spreading them out over time at that point, which was, clearly, a breaking of the memorandum, for the purpose of balancing the budget. Does that answer your question?

MR. DEXTER: Was it common for you to have discussions that would be with members of the department which could be cast as political in nature or having to do with political considerations, as opposed to just the operational requirements of the program?

MS. SIMON: No, these discussions were new. The program was operating and, as I said, it was implementing a very difficult program. Then, all of a sudden - I felt, very quickly - the Department of Finance stepped in and, basically, wanted to have meetings to resolve this. It happened very quickly. It was a day and one-half of meetings. It was clear that this thing was going to be stopped and it was.

What I had to say about the considerations in that meeting, about the fact that they were breaking a Memorandum of Understanding and that they should think twice about that, I just felt I was not being heard.

MR. DEXTER: Up until the time that you left the program, how many claims had been resolved at that time?

[Page 10]

MS. SIMON: I don't think I can answer that question. I know that the last estimate and budget approval we had received was for 500 claims and those claims had not all been processed by the time I left. I think, maybe, in the 300 range, I don't know, I can't come up with an exact figure on that.

MR. DEXTER: In fact, claims were still being received after you left?

MS. SIMON: I think they were receiving them and not processing them, but that was a decision made after I left. I think that is what I recall seeing in the paper, but I was not part of that decision.

MR. DEXTER: Thank you. I'm going to move now to Mr. Dempster, if I may. I think, in your chart, you said that the claims had to be received by December 18, 1996?

MR. DEMPSTER: That's correct.

MR. DEXTER: Do you know what actual number of claims were received by that date?

MR. DEMPSTER: Yes, there were 1,457.

MR. DEXTER: So, by far the bulk of the claims made would have been processed and adjudicated, and awards made sometime after that date?

MR. DEMPSTER: Yes, actually, up until today we probably responded to - and when I say responded, that is an initial response that counsel has to discuss with their client and it was probably processed within the last week or two - we had almost all of them responded to by the end of December 1999. There are still a number that have to be settled. There is a difference between a response and a settlement, you understand, I am sure.

MR. DEXTER: As I am thinking about it, there was one thing that did arise from Ms. Simon's statement. I am sorry to go back and forth here but you did mention throughout here that the Memorandum of Understanding was negotiated by yourself and a team. You refer a number of times to a senior solicitor who was involved. Can you tell us who the senior solicitor was who would have been involved in the negotiations of the Memorandum of Understanding?

MS. SIMON: Allison Scott.

MR. DEXTER: You mentioned two junior solicitors.

[Page 11]

MS. SIMON: Amy Parker and Mark Covan. Mark Covan didn't continue for the whole process of the negotiations, he did a lot of the research on the precedents. Heather de Berdt Romilly was the Director of Policy.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Dempster, there is a question that has come to this committee before and I think is being widely asked in the public at large and certainly widely asked among the staff who served at these institutions over the years. The question that they ask is, who in this process was to safeguard the interests of the staff of the institutions?

MR. DEMPSTER: I have to caution myself before I respond to say that there is an ongoing investigation and review being done by Justice Kaufman and there are several investigations that are continuing with the police agencies. Obviously the Public Prosecution Service has a role that they are going to, and are actively pursuing at this time. I wouldn't want to prejudice any of those works or put any of those processes in any sort of jeopardy.

I would ask for direction from the Chair.

MR. CHAIRMAN: I think that we better stick with the concept of value for money, and I think we may be straying a little bit.

MR. DEXTER: What we have seen here is a chart that is set out and there is obviously a process that you followed and particular parts of your bureaucracy were charged with certain responsibilities. We spent money on all of those, including the Internal Investigation Unit. I am not asking for anything about specific claims or a specific element of an investigation, I just want to know who in your bureaucracy, if anyone, was charged with the responsibility of safeguarding the interests of the staff, and whether or not there was a budget allocation in the bureaucracy for that to take place.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Could you perhaps explain how that relates to the value for money?

MR. DEXTER: The whole process cost money. If there was somebody allocated, then there would have been some kind of an expenditure for the individual or individuals who were there in order to safeguard the interests of the staff at the institutions.

MR. CHAIRMAN: I think that perhaps we are starting to delve into an area that is under investigation, and I have been advised by Mr. Fordham that perhaps we should be cautious in this area.

MR. DEXTER: I am just asking an organizational question, about the organization of the process. I don't see how that could possibly impinge upon any investigation that is taking place.

MR. CHAIRMAN: I would ask you to please stick to the forensic.

[Page 12]

MR. DEXTER: Well, then what I will do, I guess, is put my question this way. I conclude from the chart that I have seen that nobody was charged with the responsibility to safeguard the interests of the staff. Do you disagree with that?

MR. CHAIRMAN: I think that we are going through the same exercise again. Your skill as a solicitor is showing up in the meeting, but I am going to ask you to please revert more to the subject and to please move on.

MR. DEXTER: The examination of a program to determine whether or not we get value for money includes looking at the operation of the program. How am I to determine whether or not the public at large is getting value for the money spent if I can't ask questions about the operation of the program? That is the problem I have, Mr. Chairman.

MR. CHAIRMAN: One of the drawbacks to doing this at this time was that there were going to be certain restrictions on where we could go.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Chairman, how much time do I have left?

MR. CHAIRMAN: You have six minutes.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Dempster, can I ask, who did the IIU report to?

MR. DEMPSTER: The IIU reported to the Executive Director of Police and Public Safety throughout the program. The IIU, Internal Investigation Unit as it is referred to, was actually divided into two sections on August 4, 1998, so that a portion of that group was assigned directly to me. We changed the name to the Validation Investigation Unit in order to make a distinct identification difference between those investigators who would be working within the former IIU umbrella of the Police and Public Safety organization, which I do not have any responsibility for and those that were investigating compensation claims strictly for the assessment process.

MR. DEXTER: Who takes responsibility for those would be a split, depending on the work that they actually did. You would be responsible for the investigators under what you called the VIU . . .

MR. DEMPSTER: That is correct.

MR. DEXTER: . . . and, I am sorry, you said?

MR. DEMPSTER: The Police and Public Safety sector, if we can call it that, or section had the responsibility for the investigative group called the IIU at that time. They retained the original name and they maintained the same people, it is just that they split the organization in half. I ended up with 10 investigators out of that, with some support people.

[Page 13]

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Epstein has some questions he would like to ask.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Ms. Simon, I wonder if you could help me, about the discussions, the two days of discussions you had in October 1996, with officials with the Department of Finance? By that time, you had been operating under a program since May, so you had about four or five months of experience of processing claims under the MOU. When the Department of Finance raised its concerns, you characterized these as concerns over the total cost of the program and the projection of going over budget.

Did anyone from the Department of Finance raise any concerns at that time about the nature of the claims that were being processed or the validity of the claims or safeguards that ought to be in place, or did they characterize their concerns only in terms of total budgetary amounts? Can you help me with that?

MS. SIMON: In that meeting there was a wide-ranging discussion around all of those issues. The Department of Finance was mostly concerned about the projections in the budget. I can't remember, I think they did come in and look at our files. The program actually didn't start implementation until some time in June, but I remember the Department of Finance bringing in a couple of auditors. They went through our files in terms of how we were processing claims. They had no concerns, I remember, about the way we were processing claims at that point. They didn't bring up the issue of concern around fraudulent claims. That issue was discussed in those meetings, but it wasn't brought up by the Department of Finance.

MR. EPSTEIN: So it was brought up by people from the Department of Justice, is that right?

MS. SIMON: Yes.

MR. EPSTEIN: Can you tell me at what point there arose any managerial concern about fraudulent claims?

MS. SIMON: Well, the Executive Director of Policing Services who was leading the IIU at the time had some concern that there might be fraudulent claims. The difficulty was that at the time, he had nothing more than concerns. I think there was one that he felt that he had enough evidence that it may be moved forward, but that was it. There was some talk about it but there wasn't, in my opinion, anything that would set off alarm bells.

MR. EPSTEIN: You said that one of the thrusts of the discussions with the Department of Finance was to change the MOU. Is that what I understand from your statement?

MS. SIMON: Yes. Well, because in order to accomplish what they wanted to accomplish, the Memorandum of Understanding would have to be changed.

[Page 14]

MR. EPSTEIN: How, exactly, were they proposing that the MOU be changed?

MS. SIMON: Well, there wasn't a lot of discussion around how the whole program would change other than the fact that there was some brainstorming - I guess that is what you would call it - from them, around the fact that you might change it to make the payments over time in order to make the amount of money going out less.

MR. CHAIRMAN: We are just about at time. Perhaps you would like to continue in the last segment, Mr. Epstein.

MR. EPSTEIN: Well, were there any other specific suggestions made by the Department of Finance as to how the MOU could be changed in order to control the number of dollars?

MS. SIMON: Not that I recall.

MR. EPSTEIN: Okay, thank you very much.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: On a point of clarification, I understand this morning that committee members are not permitted to ask questions about staff - former staff, present staff and employees - who worked in the residential institutions who may or may not have been wrongfully accused.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The concept is to look at the process and determine whether we had value for money. If we start getting specific and coming up with names, no, that is beyond the context of the committee. So we have to be careful in that area.

MR. TAYLOR: Thank you for the clarification. I just wasn't sure about that particular concern, what we are and are not permitted to ask.

MR. CHAIRMAN: It is best to ask before we do. I would like to recognize the Liberals.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

DR. JAMES SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Dempster, for coming this morning. It is good to see you again. I would just like to pick up regarding the Memorandum of Understanding. Could you give us a brief overview of what some of the problems and some of the issues you were facing when you arrived? We hear tell of the Memorandum of Understanding being broken unilaterally. Is it your impression that that, in fact, is what happened or did not happen, and what were some of the reasons for the hiatus? There was a hiatus of two and one-half months, I believe. Do you have some understanding of that that you could share with the committee here this morning as to why that was done at that time?

[Page 15]

I have heard some hearsay this morning, I have not heard much fact, as to what, in fact, was happening prior to that and why this was put on hold at that particular time. Would you mind sharing with the committee some of your thoughts on that?

MR. DEMPSTER: To the extent that I do have personal knowledge, I can do that, Dr. Smith. I would hesitate to try to describe the circumstances and the ongoing workings of the department in this program prior to my arrival on January 20, 1997, because I was not party to or knowledgeable of the discussions that may have taken place at that time, prior to my arrival.

When I arrived on January 20, 1997, there had been a period of hiatus, as you mentioned, in that, as I understand from the deputy minister of the day I was part of a search that the department had conducted to try to find a new director for the program and that had been ongoing for a couple of months. The department had announced some modifications to the MOU by that time. The minister of the day had issued certain press releases around that time.

I know that on December 6th, I think - I don't have them with me - there were several releases that were issued on or about that date and in January as well, describing some of the modifications or changes that were made to the MOU and I think the minister and the department at that time described the rationale and the reasons for those. I don't have them with me, but I can certainly provide them, if necessary, to the committee, if you would like, so you could have the exact statements that were made.

Those statements, I think, I certainly have read them, were part of my orientation to understand the position and the role of the program director. I understood that we, at the time, were being asked to operate under a modified approach, based on experience that those who were involved in the program had gained. Does that help explain that a little bit better?

DR. SMITH: Yes. I was wondering if there was a process in place for changing the Memorandum of Understanding or if, as we are hearing here this morning, it was going to be broken, or allegedly broken; I was just wondering if that is what happened or whether there were changes made in consultation through that time?

MR. DEMPSTER: It would be difficult for me to verify one way or the other the actual process that the department went through because I was not a party to that.

DR. SMITH: But there are statements and maybe the committee could receive those statements, Mr. Chairman, as to what happened there.

MR. DEMPSTER: Yes.

[Page 16]

DR. SMITH: Was there any evidence, in some of the concerns that were being expressed about the program at that time, that the claimants coming forward were making claims with no evidence of physical or sexual abuse and still receiving compensation? Had you had any evidence of that prior to your arrival?

MR. DEMPSTER: Again, it is difficult to confirm that for you because I was not there at that time and I would not want to speculate, in a sense that I would prejudice the kind of review that is in place right now. As I understand it, that review will delve into those kinds of issues and I would not want to make any kind of statements that would prejudice that.

DR. SMITH: I understand that and I have great respect for the process and the sensitivity of that. That was certainly the media perception at that time - and that this came before the committee, I think - that there were letters circulating from one claimant to another that if you list certain things, then you are going to get a certain amount of money and there were some recommendations from the investigative wing that had not found abuse and still the claimants had received compensation. Now, the committee has had information on that.

MR. DEMPSTER: Yes. You are referring to some articles that had been written and so on, in the media, I imagine. I can attest to the fact that the process itself, as I described earlier, dealt with hard evidence and the records of the days when the particular claimant was a resident of either of those institutions. The investigations that we went through were certainly comprehensive and took considerable time to reach a conclusion when we did an assessment.

In my estimation then, I would verify that our process was extremely careful, well thought out and based on the record of fact.

DR. SMITH: The counselling awards, that was an integral part of the compensation package. Did that continue under your administration, as well, that it was pretty well steady throughout as the type of . . .

MR. DEMPSTER: That's correct. Yes, it did.

DR. SMITH: Was that going to a particular group like the Family Services Association, or was that individual counselling, as well, on the private side? Were there enough counsellors, because I am looking at a total of $9.5 million in awards. Was that a difficult challenge to find adequate and proper counselling?

MR. DEMPSTER: Not at all. As a matter of fact, we, first of all, have a contract that we renew and negotiate every year with the Family Services Association, as our agent responsible for locating counselling services, therapists, et cetera, for those claimants who are enrolled in our program or part of the program. They have the responsibility, based on their expertise and their national contact that they have in place, because that is a national

[Page 17]

organization and they can, quite adequately, find the kind of counsellors required based on the particular need of the individual who is taking part in our program.

DR. SMITH: This has always been interesting to me because, having been in family

practice, it is so difficult to get counselling, and yet we see this amount; I suppose it is the method of payment really that encourages the service. It is a non-insured service for families in Nova Scotia generally and the waiting times are quite long. So it has always interested me that we are able to mobilize, I hope, adequate people to do the counselling. I know counselling would be very difficult for many of the damaged claimants and I understand that. So, thank you, Mr. Dempster. I didn't want to put you on the spot and ask you any questions, particularly that would interfere with Justice Kaufman's inquiry but I think there was a feeling that things were out of control and that some accountability needed to be brought in. I think the period of time and the course pursued later was a fair one and it was a just one. I think you would agree with that.

MR. DEMPSTER: Absolutely.

DR. SMITH: But there were some real concerns that there was a lack of accountability. Ms. Simon, I was just wondering, did you join the Justice Department first when you worked with government? Was that your first place of employment?

MS. SIMON: I joined the Department of Justice as Director of Victims' Services in the spring of 1989.

DR. SMITH: Then, as you recounted for us, you became involved with the process. What was your training at this juncture? Many people think you are a lawyer. I have been asked that question many times and I know respectfully that you are not. What was your training that you brought to that position?

MS. SIMON: In my professional training I have a Masters of Social Work.

DR. SMITH: On Page 7 again, as our colleague from the NDP mentioned, was it your understanding that the Memorandum of Understanding was unilaterally broken? Was that what I understood you to say? Could you clarify that for me. I wasn't quite clear.

MS. SIMON: That is what I said.

DR. SMITH: That it was, in fact, unilaterally broken?

MS. SIMON: Not when I was in the employment of the Department of Justice, but that is what was being contemplated and that is why I . . .

[Page 18]

DR. SMITH: Contemplated. Do you have anything written down to that effect, that it was . . .

MS. SIMON: Maybe if I could just finish answering your question. The reason I left the Department of Justice was because the discussions were that this Memorandum of Understanding was going to be unilaterally broken. I clarified my understanding with the deputy minister. He confirmed that understanding.

DR. SMITH: I will go back to my original question.

MS. SIMON: Okay.

DR. SMITH: Is it your understanding at this juncture that the Memorandum of Understanding was unilaterally broken?

MS. SIMON: My understanding at this juncture is that that Memorandum of Understanding was unilaterally broken. What I mean by that is that there were no consultations with the survivors or their counsel that were part of the development of that memorandum before that memorandum was changed.

DR. SMITH: On Page 7, further down, you mentioned that you expressed concern to the deputy minister. Do you have any correspondence available to the committee on that?

MS. SIMON: I did write a letter to the deputy minister. Unfortunately, I don't have a copy of it. It would have been dated October 18, 1996, and in that letter I outlined my concerns about what I had just witnessed in the day and a half of discussions with the Department of Finance and that I did not hear anything raised in those meetings that we did not already know as we implemented this program or in our negotiations with the survivors' lawyers and that I thought it was a very big mistake to unilaterally break this agreement. I don't have that letter, but that letter does exist.

DR. SMITH: Has anyone ever expressed concerns to you that claimants received payments, compensation, without evidence that there was either sexual or physical abuse at the school?

MS. SIMON: While I was an employee of the Department of Justice?

DR. SMITH: No, just ever. If we are looking at Department of Justice time, I could rephrase the question to be while you were in the employ, if you wish, yes.

MS. SIMON: Bob Barss, who was the Executive Director of Policing Services, had concerns about fraudulent claims.

[Page 19]

[9:00 a.m.]

DR. SMITH: Which were?

MS. SIMON: That there may be some fraudulent claims. When negotiating this agreement and coming to terms with the process that was put in place for this agreement, it was understood that there would be fraudulent claims. It was also understood that there was a need to expedite this process and that for the benefit of survivors there was a need to move this process quickly and that the percentage of fraudulent claims would not outweigh the need to compensate the survivors as quickly as possible and move this process forward to completion. So we did expect fraudulent claims in this process.

DR. SMITH: I think that was generally acknowledged that there would be some. Was there ever a time when you were director that there was a recommendation that there was no evidence and a claim was not warranted, that compensation, in fact, was paid?

MS. SIMON: I would have to say no. The difficulty was that there were very few files available from the institutions and the institutions' files lacked completion.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. MacEwan.

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Chairman, I am here this morning as a substitute member for Mr. Russell MacKinnon. I visited him yesterday and one of the outcomes of that visit was that he assigned me to represent him here today. I don't come armed with a file on the subject. It is a very important subject, a sensitive subject, perhaps too important a subject for someone to wade into without adequate preparation so I am going to pass at this point to the Progressive Conservative caucus if they have questions to ask.

MR. CHAIRMAN: To the government caucus, perhaps Mr. Langille would like to start.

MR. WILLIAM LANGILLE: Mr. Chairman, I believe the member next to me has the first question and would like to go.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. O'Donnell.

MR. CECIL O'DONNELL: Mr. Chairman, the statement by Ms. Simon on Page 3, "This plan was put in place only after Justice Stratton's independent inquiry confirmed that sexual and physical abuse took place at the School for Boys and that in his words, the staff of the School and officials in the Department of Community Services were aware that abuse was taking place . . .".

[Page 20]

Going back to when this independent investigation first was announced in 1994, one of the goals of the investigation was to determine what happened and who was responsible. I guess it is obvious to me that the focus of this investigation was mainly on the front-line workers at the Shelburne Youth Centre and away from government and department officials which showed on the chart have the responsibility of the care and protection of the children in all provincial institutions. I guess the question I would like to ask is, was there any part of this independent investigation that addressed the issue that the Department of Community Services was aware that abuse was taking place in the provincial institutions?

MS. SIMON: Justice Stratton submitted a report. This is a quote from his report.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Would you please answer the question.

MS. SIMON: I thought I did.

MR. CHAIRMAN: That is fine. We were just having a little legal discussion as to whether we were going in the right direction. My apologies.

MR. O'DONNELL: Just a follow-up question, Mr. Chairman. I am not sure of the exact amount of dollars spent, but I understand that government did possibly spend millions of dollars, at least a couple of million dollars, for lawyers who were representing the claimants concerning allegations of abuse at the Shelburne youth centre. I would like to know if - well, maybe not the same amount - a comparable amount of funding was made available to the past and present employees so they could defend themselves of these allegations.

MS. SIMON: That is an issue I had no responsibility for.

MR. CHAIRMAN: I wonder, perhaps, if that should be directed to the current director. Are we still within the scope of our mandate? Perhaps that could be directed to Mr. Dempster.

MR. DEMPSTER: I think you have a list of the payments that were made to all of legal counsel representing claimants. It shows you the exact amount. I am not personally involved with what I am going to tell you right now but I understand that the department has entered into an agreement with the union representing the employees and that legal counsel arrangements have been negotiated with them.

MR. O'DONNELL: I will pass to my colleague.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Langille.

[Page 21]

MR. LANGILLE: I guess when you sit in the back row, you have to stand because the cameras can't reach you, which makes it rather difficult when you are trying to read your notes.

I would first like to direct my question to Mr. Dempster before I get on with costs and so on. The question that I have is for Mr. Dempster. This has cost the taxpayers of Nova Scotia an exorbitant amount of money for this program and my question to you is first, what has it cost the taxpayers so far?

MR. DEMPSTER: I have provided a document that shows the cost breakdown as of this date and I think you should have that before you. It is an update, if you like, to the Auditor General's Report. I don't know how we identify that. It is called Costs of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Program - Updated, Draft. Do you have that? In that, it shows that September 1998 the total cost that was reported in the Auditor General's Report was $42.9 million. At the end of December 1999 the total cost is $56.1 million.

MR. LANGILLE: It has cost $56 million?

MR. DEMPSTER: It has cost $56.1 million. Those are the rounded off figures as of that date, yes.

MR. LANGILLE: That is correct. I understand that the investigations are still ongoing.

MR. DEMPSTER: That is right. Those costs are broken down on that sheet, as you can see, where we talked about compensation awards themselves, the direct awards that are made to individuals who settle with the program. It was $25 million in September 1998 and currently it is $30.7 million. Then we show the counselling awards that were made, therapy, et cetera. That was $7.3 million, currently $9.5 million. The cost of the administrative side, my office, if you like, to run that operation and all the related costs associated with that were $2.6 million at the time of the audit; now, at the end of the last calendar year, $4.1 million. Then we get into the Internal Investigation Unit, which I can only report on this particular sheet as not being my direct responsibility, you understand, but we have obtained these figures for you today and you can see that it was $3.3 million at September 1998, now $4.7 million.

Then we have provided a breakdown of the costs, as I mentioned, for claimants' lawyers where the payments were made to those who represented claimants in this program. In September 1998 it was $2.4 million and at the end of December, that had averaged out to $3.6 million and there are other costs. The file review process, we engaged lawyers for that process, as I described earlier; $400,000 had been spent on that process at the end of September 1998. It is now $0.8 million or $800,000. There are other costs that have been charged against this particular line item in the Justice budgets and I have outlined those there

[Page 22]

but I cannot provide detailed information on those because I am not directly responsible for those activities.

MR. LANGILLE: The next question is about the Chambers report. Has that report been released to the Justice Department?

MR. DEMPSTER: I don't know what you mean by the Chambers report. Can you explain it to me?

MR. LANGILLE: Well, isn't there a report? We had the investigation, RCMP and the HRM police? Is that investigation concluded on their behalf now?

MR. DEMPSTER: I really would caution about discussion about that because I have no knowledge of it myself.

MR. LANGILLE: Well, I am not discussing . . .

MR. CHAIRMAN: Excuse me, I am just wondering whether we are perhaps straying again and getting into the criminal investigation. I am sure nobody here wants to prejudice the outcome of that investigation.

MR. LANGILLE: That is fine. I wasn't going in the content of the report. All I was asking was, is it completed? I will withdraw that question.

I would like to address my next question to Ms. Simon. You were the first program director, were you?

MS. SIMON: For the compensation program?

MR. LANGILLE: Yes.

MS. SIMON: Yes.

MR. LANGILLE: Okay, and you were program director for 18 months, approximately?

MS. SIMON: I was involved for 18 months. I wasn't program director until sometime in July, in terms of going full time into the program.

MR. LANGILLE: It is my understanding that you met with a person from the Attorney General's Department from Ontario, a Mr. Marshall was it?

MS. SIMON: That is correct.

[Page 23]

MR. LANGILLE: And you had discussions with him and you also went to Ontario and you were trying to learn their processes. They had just been in a process, is that correct?

MS. SIMON: They had negotiated and completed negotiations, had a formal agreement in two programs, yes.

MR. LANGILLE: It is also my understanding that when we started this program that claims were given out and not being investigated. Were they given out to somebody making an allegation only?

MS. SIMON: Do you mean payment for compensation?

MR. LANGILLE: Payment for compensation.

MS. SIMON: No, there was a process outlined in the Memorandum of Understanding that had to be followed.

MR. LANGILLE: Would this be prior to the Memorandum of Understanding?

MS. SIMON: No claims were paid out without the Memorandum of Understanding being in place.

MR. LANGILLE: When was the Memorandum of Understanding negotiated?

MS. SIMON: It was negotiated between February and May.

MR. LANGILLE: So what you are saying is that the first claims were investigated prior to being paid?

MS. SIMON: There were no claims paid out before the Memorandum of Understanding was in place. Once the Memorandum of Understanding was in place, the process outlined in that memorandum was followed before claimants received any compensation.

MR. LANGILLE: It is my understanding also that after the Stratton Report, you had 89 claimants in 1995.

MS. SIMON: No. Justice Stratton identified 89 survivors of abuse. They were not claimants at that point.

MR. LANGILLE: They were not claimants at that point.

MS. SIMON: No.

[Page 24]

MR. LANGILLE: Okay, this mushroomed in 1996 to 500. Is that correct?

MS. SIMON: In 1996, we went back to Cabinet with an estimation of a budget that would accommodate 500 claimants.

MR. LANGILLE: That was June. I also understand that . . .

MS. SIMON: No, that estimate went to Cabinet in a memorandum in March, I think.

MR. LANGILLE: Okay. I have here in the Auditor General's Report, " . . . on June 17, 1996, . . .", and then it goes on, ". . . At the time the MOU was finalized, the estimated number of claimants had increased to 500.". I want to jump ahead to December 19, 1996 where this also mushroomed into 1,457 claimants.

MS. SIMON: I was no longer with the program then.

MR. LANGILLE: I understand that you left in October 1996?

MS. SIMON: That's right.

MR. LANGILLE: This is on December 19th, there were that many. So in fact when you left, prior to that it was mushrooming and there were more claimants coming onstream?

MS. SIMON: That's correct.

MR. LANGILLE: I also understand that when this program first started, you were to pay out a maximum of $50,000. Is that correct?

MS. SIMON: No, that is incorrect.

MR. LANGILLE: What was your payment?

MS. SIMON: The maximum claim that could be made was $120,000.

MR. LANGILLE: That was after the Memorandum of Understanding?

MS. SIMON: That's what was negotiated, yes.

MR. LANGILLE: I would like to talk about the negotiation of the Memorandum of Understanding.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Just seven minutes if you are planning on sharing out the time. I just wanted to give you that count.

[Page 25]

MR. LANGILLE: Thank you, I'll keep going. The Memorandum of Understanding, who negotiated that contract?

MS. SIMON: I was the lead negotiator and we had a team put together. The senior solicitor was Alison Scott; the junior solicitors were Amy Parker and Mark Covan; then there was the Director of Policy for the Department of Human Resources, Heather de Berdt Romilly. But as I stated in my opening remarks, Heather was an observer.

MR. LANGILLE: Now I have a bit of a problem with this next one and I would like some clarification on it if I could, please. In 1996 the going rate for a legal aid lawyer was $55 per hour.

MS. SIMON: Right.

MR. LANGILLE: The negotiated settlement for a lawyer to represent the claimants was $175 an hour.

MS. SIMON: Yes.

MR. LANGILLE: Also, an articling student who made $23,000 per year was paid $75 an hour. That was negotiated. Now, do these figures not seem exorbitant to you?

MS. SIMON: Not within the context of our negotiations, no.

MR. LANGILLE: What was your context of negotiations, at $175 an hour, and $75 an hour for an articling student?

MS. SIMON: The legal fees for this initiative were of great concern to the lawyers. It was important at the time - this was all done in the process of negotiation and you have to remember that the government was very interested in resolving this issue quickly - and the legal fees were a very important part of the negotiation. Most of the survivors who were represented by lawyers around that table had contingency fees in place, contingency agreements in place, and it was our feeling those contingency agreements would range probably to a maximum of 30 per cent of the survivor's award.

It was our feeling that it was important that those survivors not have to pay a substantial amount of money out of their award for legal fees. So we negotiated with the legal representatives of the survivors that they would waive their contingency fees and settle for far less in terms of legal fees. So the result of that was that we were willing to engage in a fiscal amount of a maximum that we thought would be 10 per cent in additional costs for legal fees, but would be far less than what the lawyers would have normally received from those claims.

[Page 26]

MR. LANGILLE: I understand there are also some firms that made hundreds of thousands of dollars on this. Is this correct?

MS. SIMON: I have no idea what a firm . . .

MR. LANGILLE: I think it was published in the paper at one time. (Interruption) Yes, I haven't had time to read the chart because it was handed to me just a while ago.

MS. SIMON: I would say that they made a whole lot less than they would have made.

MR. LANGILLE: Can you repeat that, please?

MS. SIMON: I am saying that they would have made a whole lot more if they had been allowed to have their contingency fees in place and those awards would have come out of the survivors' awards.

MR. LANGILLE: Now I understand you have a masters in social work. Is that correct?

MS. SIMON: That's right.

MR. LANGILLE: In your opening statement, you mentioned survivors 16 times in eight pages and you keep repeating it. When you are talking about survivors, are you talking about claimants?

MS. SIMON: Yes, I am.

MR. LANGILLE: So you can use the word claimants or survivors? I am just bringing that up because of your social background, you would probably use the word survivors more than claimants, where a lawyer would use the word claimants rather than survivors.

You also quoted from Judge Stratton. I will go back to this quote, and actually I am taking it from Judge Stratton's report, not your opening statement, . . .

MS. SIMON: Right.

MR. LANGILLE: . . . where I believe you got it from and I just want to repeat it, "There was a time when the approach to dealing with these 'less valued' members of society was one of 'incarceration and punishment' as opposed to the more modern approach of 'training and treatment'.". I guess that rings pretty loud because I think when we were growing up, we had corporal punishment in schools and that. I can remember getting the strap for something and that was the norm whereas today, we do not take that type of approach. I believe that's all I have to say. Thank you very much.

[Page 27]

MR. CHAIRMAN: Well, I wonder whether the government caucus would like to defer to the NDP and perhaps make it up at the end of the session. There will be another 10 minutes. Right now, there is less than one minute. So I recognize the NDP, starting with Mr. Dexter.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Chairman, I want to go back to the MOU for a second and try to clarify that a bit. There was a negotiating team in place. I assume that you would have relied on Alison Scott for legal advice and on the members of her team, which would essentially be the two junior lawyers and herself.

MS. SIMON: That's correct.

MR. DEXTER: I believe you told the committee that she, in fact, was researching case law around the country, trying to determine what the amounts of payouts were for claims in these matters?

MS. SIMON: What she had was a body of knowledge of precedents through court proceedings, yes.

MR. DEXTER: With respect to fees paid to lawyers, would you also rely on legal counsel for information with respect to fees and to the appropriate payment amounts for lawyers in these matters?

MS. SIMON: There was a lot of discussion around contingency fees and hourly rates, yes.

MR. DEXTER: When you say a lot of discussion, you would be getting advice about this from these people, would you?

MS. SIMON: Yes, but we took final instructions from the deputy and the minister.

MR. DEXTER: You engaged in a little bit of information about the MOU and the contingency fees and their relationship. The idea was, if I can state this as a proposition - and you can tell me whether I am right or wrong - that if you got rid of the contingency fee agreements and you negotiated a fee with the lawyers, it would ultimately cost the program less because if the contingency fees were left in place, the amount of compensation paid to the survivors would have to be greater, understanding that a percentage of that was going to go to contingency fees. Is that fair?

MS. SIMON: That was one option, that the contingency fees would be paid in addition to the survivors' claims. The other option was that the contingency fees would have to come out of the survivors' awards.

[Page 28]

MR. DEXTER: Which would mean that the awards would have to be greater than they were?

MS. SIMON: There was a maximum award of $120,000. They wouldn't be greater than that.

MR. DEXTER: That was what was negotiated in the MOU, is that right?

MS. SIMON: Right.

MR. DEXTER: At the time the negotiations were taking place, I assume that lawyers would have said well if you leave the contingency fees in place the maximum awards will have to be greater because what is going to be netted to the clients is going to be less, if the contingency fees are left in place.

MS. SIMON: That would be one perspective, but generally the contingency fee is an agreement that clients have with their solicitor and that we would be outside of. Those contingency fees would normally come out of their awards. In other jurisdictions, that is what happens.

MR. DEXTER: You were speculating about what the amounts of contingency fees may or may not be, they weren't disclosed to you during the . . .

MS. SIMON: No, they weren't disclosed.

MR. DEXTER: What you knew is that if you paid the amount and you calculated that at about 10 per cent of awards, then you had a fairly good idea of the amounts that were going to be paid. It would appear from the graph that you were right, that they amounted to about 10 per cent of the overall awards.

MS. SIMON: Yes. There was a lot of calculating done. In the Memorandum of Understanding there is a fair bit of detail on how many hours a solicitor could attribute to a particular piece of his work or her work in this program.

MR. DEXTER: Who signed the Memorandum of Understanding on behalf of the Government of Nova Scotia?

MS. SIMON: The Minister of Justice.

MR. DEXTER: I know you left the department in October, but do you know whether or not the terms of the memorandum were in fact altered, and if so, how that was done?

[Page 29]

MS. SIMON: The answer to that question is only from what I could read in the newspapers and what I see in the Auditor General's Report, and that is that the terms were altered. I was not privy to the discussions after I made it clear that I wouldn't participate in the changing of the memorandum.

MR. DEXTER: Perhaps I will ask Mr. Dempster that then. He came in in January 1997, I think you said January 20th. At that time, certainly you would have been presented with the memorandum that existed and that was negotiated, I think between February and May 1996, and any new memorandum. Was there an altered or amended memorandum in place at that time, when you came in?

MR. DEMPSTER: There wasn't a completely changed Memorandum of Understanding, rather there were announced modifications to it.

MR. DEXTER: Announced modifications. Were these announced modifications negotiated with those people who negotiated the original Memorandum of Understanding?

MR. DEMPSTER: No, they were not.

MR. DEXTER: These announcements came from the minister at the time?

MR. DEMPSTER: That is correct.

MR. DEXTER: They were described earlier as unilateral changes to the Memorandum of Understanding. That is a fair analysis, wouldn't you agree?

MR. DEMPSTER: Sure. Yes.

MR. DEXTER: Just to clarify one last point, Ms. Simon you indicated that you were actually the director of the program from July 1996 to October 1996, is that correct?

MS. SIMON: 1995.

MR. DEXTER: From July 1995. That is when you left your full-time position as the Director of Victims Services?

MS. SIMON: Yes. But I was working on it for a couple of months before, with my other responsibilities.

MR. DEXTER: I am going to turn it over to Mr. Epstein.

[Page 30]

MR. EPSTEIN: I would like to make it clear that I don't think either my colleague or I carry any mandate to speak in favour of lawyers charging high fees to anyone let alone the government, but I do want to ask since one of the other members of the committee raised a comparison with the fees paid to lawyers who are brought in from outside to service legal aid clients. I would like to ask why it is that that might or might or not be the appropriate comparator?

It seems to me that the government uses lawyers external to the Department of Justice on a fairly regular basis for many things and that legal aid is only one of that range of things, and that although the hourly rate might be quite low at $55 an hour for legal aid lawyers, that rate is not likewise limited in other contexts. Mr. Dempster, I wonder if you can give us an idea of how the $175 per hour compares to the rate paid by the Department of Justice for outside lawyers in civil litigation, which is what we are talking about here?

MR. DEMPSTER: I will give you my opinion. I wasn't part of the original negotiation when those rates were established, however, I certainly have been responsible for the payment of those fees for the last three years, and also have looked at some of the adjustments that we made in the program which affected those payments somewhat as well.

[9:30 a.m.]

As you know in reading the documentation, in the MOU you will see that not only were the rates established at a certain dollar value, they were also capped as to the number of hours that were allowed to be billed so that a lawyer could only bill us for 10 hours maximum, under the MOU. That was subsequently amended again when we issued the new guidelines in November 1997 to allow a maximum of 15 hours to lawyers representing claimants.

In my personal experience in dealing with a great many lawyers who were working on these kinds of files, I learned that many of them were spending considerably more than 10 hours and considerably more than 15 hours per claimant, working on the file. For information, I think one should know that a file could last for one or two years in research, analysis, additional documentation research and so on, witness location and discussion with a client, so that in fact the payment - I can't address the value, the hourly rate per se - but I can say that probably one would think that a great many of counsel involved in this process in fact worked considerably longer hours than one might normally expect.

Also the relationship was quite different between the lawyer working for a claimant in this case rather than for the Department of Justice directly, because that is not the relationship. The relationship is that they are working on behalf of and for that client of theirs who is a claimant to the program.

[Page 31]

MR. CHAIRMAN: May I interject? Would it be possible to let the Auditor General make a comment?

MR. EPSTEIN: Sure, always happy to hear from him.

MR. SALMON: I just want to comment on the issue of hourly rates for professionals, because $175 an hour for a lawyer is not out of line with what is being charged. Professional accountants who are in the same ball game from the point of view of income, many of them charge significantly more than $175 an hour. We have commented in previous reports that $55 an hour for legal aid is very low. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

MR. CHAIRMAN: There is one minute left.

MR. EPSTEIN: That doesn't leave a lot of time. Let me quickly just turn to one other point, just to nail it down. This is the question of the contingency fee part as well. You do have a legal adviser with you, although I think, Mr. Dempster, you are an administrator not a lawyer yourself, but you do have a legal adviser with you. Let me just suggest that the way contingency fees work in this province is that there are court-mandated guidelines with respect to contingency fee agreements that essentially recognize that they will normally be in the range of 20 per cent to 35 per cent of the award, but that they are ultimately reviewable by a court for their reasonableness, but those kinds of parameters are what the courts in Nova Scotia have recognized as potential kinds of contingency fees but that they are in the 20 per cent to 35 per cent range. If anyone has any different information, I would be happy to hear it. Is that not your understanding as well?

MR. DEMPSTER: Yes, it is my understanding.

MR. CHAIRMAN: That is time. I would like to pass it over to the Liberal caucus. Who would like to start? Dr. Smith.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Chairman, during the election, at the South Shore, when I visited my old homestead, you would hear on the radio this was a very hot item. It became a part of the election process. I am just wondering, I gather, Mr. Dempster, I could refer to you as the senior member of the Justice Department here this morning, although I saw the deputy was down to be here but I don't believe is with us. I am just wondering if that was an issue during that time, during the summer, if there was consultation, to your knowledge, by the Justice Critic for the Progressive Conservative Party regarding information that was later used in the election campaign? Were you aware of that campaign that was done by the staff of the . . .

MR. CHAIRMAN: Excuse me, I am getting a nod from our legal counsel. I think his question is, how does this pertain to value for money?

[Page 32]

DR. SMITH: It has to do with the compensation program announced and one of the promises that was made for review and there was no money allotted for it.

MR. MACEWAN: Cost-neutral.

DR. SMITH: Cost-neutral investigation.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Proceed.

DR. SMITH: The question may be broad but, essentially, it was whether there was information sought from the department to your knowledge in the spring and during the election campaign relative to the accused or those persons working particularly in the Shelburne School for Boys as it was known, if there was information there, that there was research done on that that was forwarded to the group that was later used in the election campaign?

MR. DEMPSTER: I would not know that directly. I can comment that we have definitely dealt with many applications for information pertaining to the program which, as you know, would normally go through the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy process. That is the way we handle those kinds of questions.

DR. SMITH: With the information, I have tried to look through, Mr. Chairman, what we have got this morning, I don't see the breakdown for counselling. I just want to return to that briefly. Would it be possible for the committee to have some idea of (Interruption) Yes, we have that, but with the list of what companies were . . .

MR. CHAIRMAN: Perhaps this is a chance to read it into the record so that the viewing audience would have a chance to share this.

DR. SMITH: These are legal fees. I am looking for the breakdown of the counselling, the $9.5 million spent on counselling and where that went. These are legal fees. Could we have a similar breakdown for counselling?

MR. DEMPSTER: That would be very difficult to get. It is an extensive list. There are several hundred counselling individuals or firms involved plus a great many other non-direct counselling payments that are made on behalf of individuals who use their long-term counselling award for other purposes that are allowed under the guidelines which puts us in a difficult situation because of the commitment we have to individuals who are in this program to protect their privacy.

[Page 33]

I was somewhat concerned about providing that level of detail. If the committee would like to have it in camera, we will do our best to provide that information at another time, but I don't have it with me today and it would take I think some time to develop that list. We can get it, obviously, it is available, but it would take some time.

DR. SMITH: I was not requesting, Mr. Chairman, if that award is made and is negotiated privately by the claimant for counselling, but then there were other initiatives where the arrangement was between the department or . . .

MR. DEMPSTER: The Family Services Association.

DR. SMITH: . . . the program, yes, and the association particularly.

MR. DEMPSTER: Yes.

DR. SMITH: Because I am still quite taken by this. I guess that all of a sudden if there is money in the system, then we have all kinds of counsellors. Having fought for 25 to 30 years in family practice trying to get families into counselling, it is really interesting to see this evolve that there are services there. I guess though I always have had concerns about this as being money well spent, quite frankly, and I think this morning this is very relevant to what we are speaking of here.

Number one, the appropriateness of counselling in certain conditions whether there is health or medical indications for it and if it was used and if it was used appropriately and if there was value for money in this particular service. The claimants I think are one thing. We have gone through that this morning and I thank my colleagues for some of their questions that were certainly my concerns, but the counselling awards, can you describe that program a little bit and how there is some accountability in that system because I see a system of counselling services throughout, whether it is Family Services, Atlantic Child Guidance, IWK-Grace, or whatever, the QE II and all the other services, and then all of a sudden, bingo, it is expanded and it can provide all these services.

I am saying I have not seen anything else in health care outside of maybe Emergency Health Services do that, the paramedics and all the others. Maybe that would be a close one. So I would really, just on the surface, be concerned about the quality of service provided, the appropriateness to the individual claimants, whether there was another way to do that, and just maybe, if I could, without breaching any confidentiality there, or asking you to breach any confidentiality, just sort of give your impression to date of that particular service that has cost us $9.5 million?

MR. DEMPSTER: I will see what I can do in describing it briefly because it is a complicated and complex process. Because of the way we are structured the department opted to enter into an agreement with Family Services Association as a recognized national

[Page 34]

body, not-for-profit organization that provides the kind of service nationally. Realizing that many of our claimants are not located only in Nova Scotia, but are spread out across the country, we needed to have a contact in various parts of the country to deliver this service that had been mandated through the MOU and continued in the guideline. That was a departmental and government decision that was made and Ms. Simon described that process when the negotiations originally took place.

The concept was to enter into an annually renewed contract arrangement with an agent, Family Services Association, to act as our extended arm, if you like, to find suitable counsellors who would be matched based on the needs of the individual who was enrolled in this program so that those types of skills would be commensurate with the individuals' particular problems.

The way that that works is that, first of all, we have an annual contract with Family Services Association whereby they administer these several hundred contracts, or subcontracts, with therapists, work with the claimants directly in assessing their requirements in order to meet with and find a suitable counsellor. They develop a recovery plan for that individual. They assess that plan. They monitor the performance of those services that are delivered by the therapist. They provide training to therapists so that they are adhering to the concepts and proper counselling therapies that are provided to these individuals and ensure that they meet the criteria for an accredited therapist. In other words, the choice or the selection of a therapist is based on accepted standards here in Nova Scotia. So they meet all of those criteria. We ensure that. That is part of the contract that we have with Family Services.

We, in turn, monitor the performance of that ourselves to ensure that the payments are accurate and that the service is being delivered. We do a post audit, internal audit reviews of what the Family Services Association is delivering. We assist them in developing internal accounting systems and monitoring processes so that they are providing value for money for what we are providing them and I, personally, meet with Family Services on a regular basis with my staff to ensure that that is happening. We have frequent meetings to discuss that and I negotiate the contract with them every year on behalf of the minister.

MR. CHAIRMAN: One minute.

DR. SMITH: I would like just to thank Mr. Dempster for that because I think that is very helpful to me and even though I should know and I knew, you have refreshed my memory, because I think this is really an important part of the program, if that is the idea, that money helps sometimes but it does not heal. If there is counselling that will help but it has to be appropriate, like you say, the review. I think, for me, that has been very helpful and I am pleased that the committee could hear this, this morning, of this particular part of the program. I think this is really crucial.

[Page 35]

We did hear this morning, initially, that what would be portrayed as a cold-hearted government was going to unilaterally to break the Memorandum of Understanding. There is nothing that I have heard here, including this last dissertation - you see how this program is thought out, the counselling services and audited and that, that all of a sudden - I think the program was made better and I think it was intact.

I know there are concerns that some of the staff still have and that the committee has. But I just want to say that I have not heard anything here this morning that the program was made worse later, cheaper, or whatever. I think there was more accountability and I think the program was there to serve both the claimants and the staff. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you. We have 12 minutes left and I understand that Mr. Langille has something he, perhaps, wants to table.

MR. LANGILLE: Mr. Chairman, on March 21, 1998, the Halifax Herald ran an article. I would like to just state what this article said, part of it. It goes on and on but it said,"A lawyer with Buchan, Derrick & Ring, which has been paid $505,919 . . ." to date. That is representing 200 clients. I would like to table this, please.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Taylor.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Chairman, after that last statement by my honourable colleague for Colchester North, I would submit to the Auditor General that - just to digress a wee bit, Mr. Chairman - the province is getting an extremely good deal when they get a tandem dump truck, complete with operator, from TANS for $40 an hour. Just by comparison, I throw that out. (Laughter)

I would like to, Mr. Chairman, carry on a little conversation and ask a couple of questions to Ms. Simon. I know it must have been a difficult job coming up with the ADR model. I would never suggest otherwise and I think everybody, certainly, inside these Chambers abhor people that commit acts of violence and abuse on anybody, irrespective of whether it is children, male or female, adults, whatever.

The previous speaker, a member of the Liberal Party indicated that he felt the system was fair; fair to the claimants, fair to the staff and fair to the employees. I pose this question, Mr. Chairman, and trust that you or your legal counsel will not rule me out of order.

Could Ms. Simon tell me who was involved on behalf of staff when the ADR model - who was providing input to you regarding concerns and potential concerns that staff might have, relative to the ADR?

MS. SIMON: Are you talking about during the negotiations? What are you asking me?

[Page 36]

MR. TAYLOR: Well, from your presentation this morning, you indicated that you went to Toronto to a conference.

MS. SIMON: Right.

MR. TAYLOR: You came back. You went back to Ontario for three days with a senior solicitor.

MS. SIMON: Right.

MR. TAYLOR: You explored program models across this country, relative to this type of program.

MS. SIMON: Right.

MR. TAYLOR: I would like to know - and I think some of the staff out there would like to know - who was providing you with information on behalf of staff? Staff are involved. There is no question about that. We all admit that. But when the model was being put into place and developed, approved by Cabinet, who provided input to you on behalf of staff?

MS. SIMON: Are you talking about the employees of the institutions?

MR. TAYLOR: Absolutely.

MS. SIMON: Okay. My job - and the reason I was involved with this process - was to negotiate an agreement on behalf of the government, along with the team for compensation for survivors of abuse. Those were the parameters of my job. I didn't get input from the employees on that issue.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Chairman, when we look at the path down memory lane regarding this whole scenario, I understand Ms. Simon, when she was Program Director, was involved in the compensation process from June 1996 until October 1996, or thereabouts. At that particular time, October, I understand that government gave serious consideration to developing some guidelines to build in more checks and balances regarding justification of abuse claims. Is that your understanding or is that a myth?

MS. SIMON: There was a level of frustration assessing the claims because there was inadequate information in terms of files and documentation available to us, a highly questionable amount of completion in terms of those files. On the flip side of that was that because government did not keep appropriate files, there was no reason to assume that the survivors were lying because government had incomplete files. We had no basis to say no to someone because we couldn't generate a record.

[Page 37]

MR. TAYLOR: Now, Mr. Chairman, when the Memorandum of Understanding was negotiated, once again, and Ms. Simon referenced it several times in her presentation, who, on behalf of staff and the employees at these residential institutions, provided input to the negotiators regarding potential concerns that staff might have? Who provided you with input regarding the development of the MOU?

MS. SIMON: Our negotiating team's purpose was to negotiate an agreement for compensation for survivors of abuse. We were not dealing with the issue of employees. That was being handled by the Internal Investigation Unit.

MR. TAYLOR: So once again, Mr. Chairman, I would submit that there was nobody.

Mr. Chairman, Ms. Simon indicated in her presentation that the Department of Finance became concerned in October about the projected cost of the program. I would suggest they had good reason to. As events unfolded, subsequently Ms. Simon decided to leave the Department of Justice but she indicated that officials, and I take it this is Justice officials, had concluded that it was politically and legally possible to break the MOU and I wonder if she would expand a little bit on what she means by it was politically possible to break the MOU? Ms. Simon, what are you referencing there?

MS. SIMON: There were discussions in those two day meetings that the survivors were unpopular and that that memorandum could be broken without a lot of heat coming down on the government. That is what I mean by that.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Chairman, I would say that that is disappointing. A final question or maybe comment will be to Mr. Dempster, the present Program Director. Mr. Dempster, guidelines were established, I believe implemented in December 1996, more stringent guidelines relative to the compensation awards. Could you expand on a couple of provisos, a couple of substantive provisions that were implemented into the process?

MR. DEMPSTER: First of all, I should state that I am not the Program Director today. That contract ended on January 20, 2000, just to clarify that.

MR. TAYLOR: Yes, thank you.

MR. DEMPSTER: The program is pretty well finished so we are in that final mode of clean up with the remaining claims. There were modifications made. It wasn't a new set of guidelines per se. Those were specific adjustments that were made to the MOU after Ms. Simon left and before I arrived. They pertained to a couple of things. The Internal Investigation Unit was now formally required to take statements from claimants in the program. Prior to that there had been an investigative team that did that, they were called Facts Probe Inc., who were responsible for taking initial statements that were converted into demands from counsel for claimants.

[Page 38]

The file review process was amended slightly in that we saw an implementation of a rota system for the selection of file reviewers rather than a simple selection of the person that the claimant's counsel wanted to have as a file reviewer for their case. The processing time to allow a claim to be processed was changed from 45 days to 120 days. That was announced as well. Those were the three major things that were done at that time, that I can recall offhand.

MR. MORSE: With two minutes remaining, Mr. DeWolfe.

MR. DEWOLFE: Ms. Simon, very quickly, you indicated there was a sense of urgency by the Liberal Government to make the situation go away. Were you under any pressure or did you feel any pressure by the minister or deputy minister to expedite the ADR process?

MS. SIMON: I had clear instructions that they wanted this finished quickly.

MR. DEWOLFE: Ms. Simon, you held a position of authority. The protection of the rights of the workers, the employees who could potentially stand to be wrongfully accused of crimes must have weighed heavily on you. Did you give them consideration?

MS. SIMON: It wasn't my job at the time to consider the employees. I was focused on developing a compensation program. This was done in a very condensed time-frame.

MR. CHAIRMAN: I think we are starting to stray, this was a previous topic.

MR. DEWOLFE: I expect that pretty well wraps up our time.

MR. CHAIRMAN: I want to thank all the witnesses for coming in today. I would also like to thank the committee members for the way that they confined their questions, by and large, to value for money.

There is one topic that I wonder whether the committee would like to consider, and that is future agenda items. There was a memo that was sent out to all the members regarding calling witnesses from EHC and the Department of Health to investigate the spiralling costs of providing ground ambulance services. I am wondering whether the committee would like to vote on that as a possible future topic. The committee's wishes?

DR. SMITH: I am sorry, someone was speaking to me at the time. I didn't get your question to the committee, Mr. Chairman.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Would you like me to repeat it?

DR. SMITH: If you would.

[Page 39]

MR. CHAIRMAN: A memo was sent to all the committee members with regard to calling witnesses from Emergency Health Care and the Department of Health to investigate the spiralling costs of providing ground ambulance services as a potential future topic. I am wondering whether the committee would be willing to consider that as a future agenda item, today.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Chairman, I certainly would. I think it is an appropriate topic, but we do have, from our caucus, something I would like to circulate today that I would like to bring before the committee regarding consideration for committee. It basically has to do with the sale of Sysco or the failed sale of Sysco. We had a commitment that the deadline for closure was January 1st, and our concerns are with the failed sale and matters surrounding that where lawsuits are threatened, it is my understanding, from government through the ABN Amro Bank. We are concerned that if that takes place that any information surrounding that sale will be closed to us as Opposition members and we will be unable to hold the government accountable for what we see as a misguided deadline and also the failed sale.

[10:00 a.m.]

I am circulating this to members here this morning, and I think it is an urgent matter that should come before the committee. I bring two points. Number one, that the Public Accounts Committee invite Rick Lawlor of Corus Consulting and Mr. Fred Floburg of ABN Amro to explain what went wrong with the Sydney sale. Number two, as a caucus we would be calling on the Auditor General to conduct a value for money audit, beginning March 12, 1999 and ending January 31st, of the Sysco sale. We see this as the way we are heading, perhaps even up to $1 billion of increased debt to the province this year for this failed sale. We think this is an urgent matter that I bring before the committee this morning.

MR. CHAIRMAN: I wonder whether this perhaps starts to get into government policy, and I also understand it may have been looked at by the Economic Development Committee. You have circulated this, and perhaps the various caucuses could have a chance to look it over and digest it, and deal with the topic next Wednesday. Mr. Dexter.

MR. DEXTER: I just want to be clear, next Wednesday we are doing MacNeils Cove, are we not?

MR. CHAIRMAN: Yes.

MR. DEXTER: Then your proposal is to go on with the subject of the memo that you have circulated. We have circulated a memo with a number of topics on it including the sale of Sysco, although how far down the road you can go with that as an ongoing matter is a question. I think what we ought to be doing is looking at something broader than just kind of one topic at a time. Your caucus has only dealt with one, you have brought back a memo

[Page 40]

that has dealt with one item among the many that we have suggested. Is there nothing else on the list that you see as valuable for this committee to pursue?

MR. CHAIRMAN: I think that the concern - and I am now speaking as the Vice-Chairman and perhaps a representative of the government caucus, is that time is very precious on this committee and if you get booked up too far ahead of time, you may preclude something that is very timely. We have a couple of things that we have agreed on, which is at least four weeks. To go further into that list may tie our hands in the event some urgency comes up. The Liberals have made a suggestion today, you have also spoken about Sysco, so we shall look at that again. There is the policy concern. Would you be willing to entertain the provision of ground ambulance services as a future topic?

MR. DEXTER: I don't see why not. The point I am trying to make to you, Mr. Chairman, is that this committee can change its mind at any time and change the topic that it chooses to hear next week or the week after. What disturbs me is that we have set out quite a list of topics and people that we would like to at least begin going through, and what we get back in return is a memo that deals with one item. I think, in fairness, it is incumbent on your caucus to deal with the other items. If they are not acceptable then tell us and tell us why. If they are, then we can put them in a rotation and get to them over time.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Would somebody like to make a motion on this one?

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Chairman, I didn't catch the honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour when he initially made his comments here. Next Wednesday, I am concerned about our next Public Accounts meeting, who do we have lined up as the witness? Maybe Mora can tell us.

MR. CHAIRMAN: I will refer to Mora Stevens.

MS. STEVENS: Next week we have the people from MacNeils Cove. We are dealing with the Departments of Economic Development, Natural Resources, and Transportation and Public Works. They all had specific areas of dealings in MacNeils Cove so we are bringing in those officials.

MR. TAYLOR: I tend to agree with my colleague, the honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour, about getting a list of potential witnesses lined up. I think all standing committees leave enough flexibility and latitude in the process where if a timely issue comes up, you can bump one that is already scheduled. I think we are all quite agreeable along those lines. Maybe we could, in bringing this to a resolve, come in next week with our lists from the respective caucuses, if it is names of potential witnesses that we in our caucuses have seen and agreed to, then why don't we set up some type of a schedule instead of just . . .

[Page 41]

MR. DEWOLFE: We would have to allow some time at the end, 15 minutes or so.

MR. TAYLOR: Yes, allow time, Mr. Chairman. Well obviously you could or could not be the chairman next week but we should allow 15 minutes or so at the end of the next Public Accounts meeting to set up a schedule. We used to do that in the past.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Well, in view of the fact that it is 10:05 a.m. now, that is perhaps an excellent suggestion. Do you want to deal with this, to put that on the list? Right now we are booked up for a month ahead of time. We have got two topics on at two weeks per topic. That is a month. Do you want to put the ground ambulance services on, which would take us to a month and one-half, and, if so, would somebody like to make a motion to that effect? (Interruption)

The suggestion has been made that we save some time at the end of the next meeting which is going to be more at the discretion of the chairman and the committee at that time - the chairman at that time which will probably not be me - to discuss putting additional topics on the list. I am saying it is past our time, we are six minutes past our normal closing time. Did you want to put a motion forward on investigating the cost of providing ground ambulance services today? If so, would somebody like to make a motion.

MR. TAYLOR: I so move, Mr. Chairman.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Does anybody want to speak on the motion? Question.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

We stand adjourned.

[The committee adjourned at 10:07 a.m.]