HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 29, 2003
STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS
Mr. William Estabrooks
Mr. James DeWolfe
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. I bring regrets from Mr. Steele who is unable to be here today. He has a family commitment and he has been travelling for a while.
The purpose of this meeting is to determine the agenda for this committee for the next number of weeks. We have had circulated various lists, some of them that are photo enhanced for the chairman, which is much appreciated, seriously. (Interruption) Well, my left arm is longer than my right arm. Mora, if we can use it this way, who do we have on the back burner, if that's the appropriate expression?
MS. MORA STEVENS (Legislative Committees Clerk): What we had done the last time we had the agenda-setting priorities meeting on October 9th, out of the ones that we had previously approved, we made a list of the priorities. The only ones that haven't come are the Air Access Fees for Service, Department of Transport, and I had a little note at the bottom of this that says I've written them a letter and over the phone they have given me a response that no, they would prefer not to come at this time. They have not sent me anything in writing. This happened the last time we tried to get the Department of Transport in before the Public Accounts Committee. They are not a very co-operative lot, if I could say that.
On the second page of this are items that have been approved but were not prioritized at the last meeting. So the second page, everything was approved. We are waiting for the Strait Regional School Board's forensic audit to be completed. Energy Strategy, they would come at any time. Our Department of Transportation and Culture for the air access issue, although it would be a little . . .
MR. JAMES DEWOLFE: Do you want to have that first?
MS. STEVENS: Yes, the committee decided they wanted to have the feds in, if they could, first so you would have to discuss if you want to have the Air Access, maybe even wait for feds but that is certainly up to the committee.
The Debt and Credit Ratings was put on but the Department of Finance, usually in January or February, this is budgeting time so they usually request, now I haven't contacted them about it, but standard procedure over there is they usually request that they don't come at this time just because it is in the middle of budgeting. I could always call.
The Nova Scotia Health and Research Foundation, Initiatives for Access to Justice. AgraPoint, which we just had before the Resources Committee yesterday. They were also approved for here once the Resources Committee had looked at them. Also, the Nova Scotia Sport and Recreation Commission capital contribution to facilities. So those were the issues that had been approved from the last agenda.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Okay, that takes us to where we are with things on some kind of priority. I have received, I assume you all have received, various submissions of potential witnesses. Perhaps Mr. DeWolfe you could lead off for the government caucus for who we have here.
MR. DEWOLFE: The government list you have before you there. We lead off with the P3 leases, Department of Education. That might be appropriate. Number two on our list is the Infrastructure Works, Department of Transportation and Public Works. We have RIM Funding, Department of Transportation and Public Works. There may be a couple of items there you want to combine.
The Culture Division and Culture Programs, Department of Tourism and Culture. Number five, we had Early Childhood Development Initiative, Department of Community Services. The program strengthens the early childhood development system in Nova Scotia through the federally-funded Early Childhood Development Agreement. Community Sports for Adults Renewal Initiative, Department of Community Services and number seven is the 911 program, Emergency Measures Organization.
Mora, did we - if I might ask through you, Mr. Chairman - deal with 911 at one time before, at one point in time back a couple of years ago? Somehow I have a recollection of that. As Jim said, we've been on this committee for a long time. (Interruption) It may have been through another venue.
MS. STEVENS: I have that vague recollection as well.
MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: I believe that was tied in with the Department of Health.
MR. DEWOLFE: It may have been.
MR. MACKINNON: It was brought in under a Department of Health issue when it was first introduced.
MS. STEVENS: I know in several committees it has been on lists as sort of a standard thing to have been on . . .
MR. MACKINNON: As a component of the new ambulance service.
MS. STEVENS: Correct. It was not specifically 911 by itself. I think it was just around the time after they built the new building in Bedford, but it wasn't by itself, on its own. It would have been in conjunction with . . .
MR. DEWOLFE: It was 2001 when government began receiving 100 per cent of the 911 program costs.
I guess what we should do, Mr. Chairman, if I might, maybe for some expedience now, I'm just seeing the other caucuses' lists for the first time right now so it's hard to absorb. I wonder if we should look at ones that are common.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Yes, exactly. That's where I'm going.
MR. DEWOLFE: Then we can get our thoughts together around those common issues and take the rest back for consideration.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Yes, Mr. MacKinnon.
MR. MACKINNON: If I may, Mora asked for us to submit our lists by Friday of last week. We endeavoured to do that and we are just getting the other two now. I think rather than having too much delay, we are looking at the PC list here now, there are some ones there that would certainly fall under Public Accounts and we would certainly give some quick consideration to if that's what you want.
MR. DEWOLFE: And there may be some common ones there with the other lists.
MR. MACKINNON: Well, that's what I mean. Would you be willing to look at yours and then we will take so many that we feel comfortable with, that would fall in under this purview and then go to the next one and then we can come back and maybe by then we will have covered . . .
MR. DEWOLFE: We can firm up some of the agenda for a good month or two ahead right now.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Well, I hope we could get some consensus without . . .
MR. MACKINNON: If I could think aloud here to kind of get the ball rolling.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Please.
MR. MACKINNON: Items two, three and seven, that would be the infrastructure . . .
MR. CHAIRMAN: You are on what list, Russell?
MR. MACKINNON: On the PC list, the infrastructure works, the RIM funding and the 911 would certainly fall in under Public Accounts. There is the issue of value for dollar and I see that the Tory caucus also has the P3 issue there. We've dealt with it before but if we feel comfortable pushing it back on the agenda again, seriously.
MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: It's on the NDP's list, too.
MR. MACKINNON: Is it? (Interruption) Well, we didn't because we already had it on Public Accounts once before, twice actually.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Did you have a question, Mr. Hurlburt?
MR. RICHARD HURLBURT: No, no.
MR. MACKINNON: Well, our clerk is agreeing with my note. We did have it on twice already.
MR. DEWOLFE: Which one, Mora, was that that we had on twice?
MS. STEVENS: P3, but that's been over the years.
MR. MACKINNON: If there's a burning desire to go back to that again, we have no problems with that. So that would give you, there are four that we could readily agree with right there - one, two, three and seven. That would be enough to kick start.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Wait a minute now - one, two, three and seven. Okay. We are looking at the PC list as the topic of conversation here. I guess I should ask you, Jim DeWolfe, are these in order of priority?
MR. DEWOLFE: They are not. Priority is something the committee can work on at a later date. These are ones that we are prepared to move ahead with.
MR. CHAIRMAN: If I may, I know I'm speaking from the Chair, I'm interested if we could go to the NDP list, and I don't think we have to go through them at length but I'm interested in, and these are in priority, from our caucus, that the Orenda issue is not on the PC list at all. Does it have any kind of priority with the government caucus, Jim?
MR. DEWOLFE: We never gave it any consideration for this particular venue.
MR. MACKINNON: I'm wondering if that's for the Economic Development Committee.
MR. DEWOLFE: We did deal with that issue yesterday at the Resources - not Orenda, that's right. (Interruptions) I will pull that back.
MR. MACKINNON: We can scratch AgraPoint, I would think.
MR. CHAIRMAN: I agree with you on that. Is that agreed? AgraPoint is off the list. Do you have anything, either Dr. Smith or Mr. MacKinnon, to add from your list of potential witnesses? Russell.
MR. MACKINNON: We put down ours in order of priority. First, the Millennium Scholarship. That seems to be the general consensus from within caucus, that it's an issue of concern because, first of all, there's no specific application per se for any Millennium Scholarship. Everything is internal and there seems to be a considerable lack of accountability. I will give you an example. Last week, I had a student who more than qualified for what she felt were all the terms and conditions of the Millennium Scholarship and was turned down and couldn't get a detailed explanation why. I tried myself, through the department, and that didn't prove very successful either.
It seems like there is a pool of money there, but nobody seems to get clarity on how they make a decision on how to access it, other than a list of criteria which nobody seems to be able to check to see if we're really getting value for dollar. I think it's an issue that was raised by all caucuses on a previous day, this issue about the Millennium Scholarship. We thought that would be an important issue.
The other one is with the Department of Finance, because I know the Minister of Finance has indicated on different occasions that he has no problem appearing before any committee to answer. With all the increased revenues that are coming, even the latest media reports today about the increased revenues from natural gas and so on, I'm just thinking that it would be a good idea to really get an in-depth view as to what really is the situation there.
I believe we had representatives from the petroleum industry before the Economic Development Committee, which gave us an insight.
MR. TAYLOR: It's more like home heating oil.
MR. MACKINNON: Yes, but that was only one aspect of it. I think it would be interesting to really see what our revenues are there and are we getting value for dollar.
Legal Aid funding - there's a lot of argument back and forth between the federal government and the provincial government as to who is shirking the responsibility. It seems like there is a lot of cutting of the funding there that has a trickle-down effect. I know various members of the legal community are starting to express concern about the impact on the justice system. Perhaps somebody from Legal Aid or somebody from the Department of Justice could come and give us some explanation as to what is the problem between the federal and the provincial governments, and what is the impact. That was another one.
Physician recruitment - I can leave my colleague, Dr. Smith, to speak to that one. Obviously, it must be an issue because it was in the news again today, where the deputy minister is recommending increasing the seats at the Medical School.
MR. TAYLOR: For nursing?
MR. MACKINNON: No, doctors and nurses, I think, and other specialists. That was in the news first thing this morning, that there's going to be an interim report making recommendation that the Dalhousie Medical School expand its seating. Again, home care - Jim, if you would like to speak to that one.
DR. JAMES SMITH: I think it speaks for itself. The Home Care Program and whether it's in a position to receive more funding, either federally or provincially, I think we've addressed it. It's always an ongoing issue within home care. It's down there as number five on our list.
MR. MACKINNON: Number six, we can incorporate that in the P3 scenario that you have there. I think it would kind of catch two of them at once, because it's essentially the same, just looking at two different scenarios, P3 versus the traditional capital school construction program.
DR. SMITH: I wonder if I could comment on the P3. One thing that I've never had explained to my satisfaction, within P3, and I don't know if we could address it. It looks like it may be one of the ones that's common to the three caucuses, the maintenance of schools, and that's also on the NDP list, the second one from the bottom, facilities maintenance. In the
P3s you have your maintenance program built in with the financing. The way we're doing it now, again, is we're back to the old way where schools will become mouldy, some will fall down or down through the earth or whatever. I would like to have some understanding - I know I've asked this of the Auditor General on one occasion in this room before - as to how it might shape up and how the two programs, side by side, would look.
It's very popular in this province now to kick the heck out of the P3 program. It was an initiative of our government, so we are sensitive. You might be surprised that we support that coming. I think the idea was good. I think it was like the alternative dispute resolution mechanism, it depends on how it's administered and how it's improved as it goes. Rather than improve it, it's just sort of been kicked out. I still feel that the maintenance of schools is an issue, and I think the cost of maintenance of schools is ongoing. You get to the end of the 25 years and you look back - or 20 years, whatever - and you have schools that are in probably better condition, hopefully, with the cost built in. In other words, you pay as you go. It's all part of the leasing.
I would like that addressed if we go to P3, I would like to see some comparison. I don't know if that makes any sense or not, but I've never had an explanation of that. We know that the previous government with the schools that they built, many of them deteriorated very rapidly, it's been a major concern in this province about mould and the deterioration of schools. Some of them probably weren't very well . . .
MR. TAYLOR: I wonder if that would be better debated when we actually deal with the issue instead of trying to resolve it here this morning.
DR. SMITH: I don't think that I'm going to get a response.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Excuse me, Brooke, I think that Jim is making a couple of points in terms of priority.
DR. SMITH: I think if we go to P3, I would like that to be incorporated. That's my point. I would like some explanation and I would like the Auditor General's comments on that again. There's Hansard from this room that shows that we've discussed that before. He said it was a point, I think, but had no further comment.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Hurlburt, then Mr. Taylor.
MR. HURLBURT: Mr. Chairman, on the P3, I would also like to see, on the agenda that day, if they do appear before the Public Accounts Committee, the community use of schools and the costs reflected back to the communities from community use of schools from the owners.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Taylor, Mr. DeWolfe.
MR. TAYLOR: That's the point, Mr. Chairman. I think it should be all encompassing. Having said that, I think maybe Dr. Smith would agree that if we're going to focus on P3, I understand that there's - I guess what I'm trying to say - a divergence in the contract between, perhaps, Mr. Armoyan and another developer/owner and it wouldn't be wise to just come in and select, if you will, one. I think we should really have a good overview. It may take us some time to examine the different contracts, if we're going to talk about value for dollar. Just through the media, we understand that there is quite a divergence in the contracts that have been arranged through that P3 model.
It would be appropriate to bring in, I suppose, the people who would be able to answer the types of concerns members have, and there are many, like Mr. Hurlburt mentioned, that's a concern out there and the value for dollar, the comparison, which would be important to get a better handle on it.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. DeWolfe and then Mr. MacKinnon.
MR. DEWOLFE: I agree with Mr. Taylor's comments. I'm thinking that already we've created two meetings on schools and perhaps we could look at incorporating perhaps the NDP and the Liberal's suggestion for a session and also with ours, I don't think we could run the three of them appropriately together and come up with a satisfactory resolve, I think there is just too much to deal with. At any rate, we have the P3 on our list and it's at the top of the list for no reason other than it's first on the list. If you wanted to go with P3 in the near future, we would be glad to do so.
MR. CHAIRMAN: I just want to interject, if I may, before Russell speaks. Mr. Taylor, has a good point here, we say P3 but there are different contracts, there are different methods of operation. The perspective of who would be brought in would be the key one. Would we be bringing in the negotiators on behalf of the government at the time, or would we be bringing in one different contractor as opposed to another. Mr. MacKinnon.
MR. MACKINNON: That's fair, I agree with my PC colleagues across the floor. I think we can do it in two sessions, one on the P3 - the strengths and the weaknesses - and one on the traditional capital construction. I think that is essentially where Mr. Taylor was going. We already had the Acting Deputy Minister of Education of the day before the Public Accounts Committee, to speak to the issue of P3, in considerable detail. He came in at the request of the Progressive Conservative caucus so we may want to review the Hansard on that. His first name escapes me but he was the acting minister at the time, I believe Mr. Morse was on the Public Accounts Committee and he was the one who introduced (Interruption) Doug Nauss. Mr. Morse was the one who introduced the motion to bring the department in to speak to the issue of P3. Since that amount of time has passed we can probably broaden the scope and keep it as all-encompassing as possible and that would certainly capture some of the local concerns like community use, depreciation and so on and so forth, that's fine with us.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Do we have some consensus at the top of our list, in light of what we have also that Mora has already arranged, that we would like to have - did I hear correctly - two sessions involving P3?
MR. DEWOLFE: That would be appropriate.
MR. CHAIRMAN: And what is the direction to Mora for each session? What is the direction of each of these sessions? Mr. Taylor.
MR. TAYLOR: Just a helpful suggestion, maybe . . .
MR. MACKINNON: One is P3 and one is traditional capital construction.
MR. TAYLOR Well, I think it was you, Russell, who mentioned that maybe we could look at the strengths and weaknesses and deal with perhaps the P3 concept model, almost dedicate a hearing to that. It would have to be all-encompassing so we could . . .
MR. MACKINNON: That would be the first session.
MR. TAYLOR: . . . if there are strengths and weaknesses, which there are but we should deal with the whole thing, I think.
MR. MACKINNON: And the traditional capital, so we compare the two different systems.
MR. TAYLOR: Subsequently you mean? Deal with . . .
MR. MACKINNON: Yes, do the P3 first and then do the traditional capital construction.
MR. TAYLOR: Sure.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Hurlburt, did you have something to add? This is your point about . . .
MR. HURLBURT: I'm just listening. I want to see it on the agenda, by all means, and as soon as possible, the P3.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Two sessions, though?
MR. HURLBURT: Well, there's no way you're going to handle it all in one session in my estimation.
MR. MACKINNON: We're going to have two sessions on P3. One will be P3 and then the second session to compare the traditional conventional, that's essentially the one that we had.
MR. HURLBURT: Who are the witnesses we're going to have, that's the key to it, I think.
MR. CHAIRMAN: I'm sorry, I wasn't listening, Richard.
MR. HURLBURT: Who would be the witnesses?
MR. CHAIRMAN: Dr. Smith.
DR. JAMES SMITH: I was just going to say, the purpose of having P3, is it to kick hell out of the previous government on something that was started that didn't get - if that's the purpose then it's a very political decision. If you want to do the politics here, then fine. If it's an attempt to find a way out of how to replace schools in Dominion that are falling down through the earth and things like that, then maybe I could see it. That's my point.
With the P3, if you want to go back and do the political thing again, well, let's do it. Those are the things we have to, as a government, be responsible for. We have to say, we started something, we were earnest in trying to do something, it may not have been perfect but it was an attempt to replace schools and it was a way to help the maintenance, the mould in the walls that was making students and staff ill. If there is a broader scope to it then I certainly would support it.
If you want to see the difference in developers, just as an aside, has anybody taken a drive out to Hemlock Ravine lately and look at the moonscape out there? Did any of you hear Whalen on the radio the other morning, speaking on her area, about the difference in developers. There is a lot of difference in how people do business. But if you want to see something that might astound you, when the snow is gone go out and look at Hemlock Ravine.
MR. CHAIRMAN: It was an interesting interview but it's not on topic. Mr. DeWolfe, then Mr. Taylor.
DR. SMITH: I thought I would throw it in anyway.
MR. DEWOLFE: Just in response to Dr. Smith's comments, I was of the understanding here this morning, through the conversation around the table, that we were going to compare the two models. We will do one session on the P3 and one on the conventional and see where we go, let the chips fall where they may.
DR. SMITH: That's fair.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Brooke.
MR. TAYLOR: I just want to point out that the honourable member knows quite well that it can become a political forum over at the Legislature, as well as it can at the committee level. I don't think we're in any position, members of any political stripe, to guarantee there won't be some discussion about decisions made by the government, decisions made about the former government. Jim, you know that's the nature of the beast and I don't think that when we're discussing strengths and weaknesses obviously, if there are strengths you want to take credit for that, so let's not fool anybody to think it's not a political forum or that there will not be politics.
MR. MACKINNON: We'll do the P3 the first session, all the strengths and weaknesses and then the traditional capital construction program in the second session, the strengths and weaknesses and whatever politics evolve from that, that's . . .
MR. TAYLOR: Neither model withstands subsidence, I think we all agree with that.
MR. CHAIRMAN: You're deep, Brooke. Just like the coal mine under Dominion.
MR. MACKINNON: We could even call in John Buchanan to answer to that one.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Do we have some consensus that we'll have two sessions involving school construction?
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Agreed.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Agreed. Can we move on then to priority three, four and five.
MR. JON CAREY: Can I ask one question?
MR. CHAIRMAN: Yes, Mr. Carey.
MR. CAREY: I'm wondering who will come to explain this because to bring someone out of the Department of Education, in my understanding probably wouldn't - unless you know somebody who knows more than I have met over there.
MR. CHAIRMAN: So what are you saying? (Laughter) We'll be sending copies of that to the department.
MR. MACKINNON: I believe I hear what Mr. Carey is saying, it would be difficult to have staff from the Department of Education come in to make a presentation advocating one particular issue and then to come in and advocate a counter position, knowing what the government policy is.
MR. CAREY: Yes, I'm wondering are we talking about bringing in the developers or who are we talking about here? Who has the information and who's going to give it to us?
MR. CHAIRMAN: Would anyone like to volunteer some witness names?
MR. MACKINNON: Perhaps, Mr. Chairman, if we could call on the Auditor General's office to perhaps make a suggestion because they've done some audits on this process and maybe an independent voice may be helpful here.
MS. ELAINE MORASH: I guess if I was going to suggest a witness it would be John Traves, who was the lawyer who negotiated the leases on behalf of the department. That's the person I found with the most expertise at the department on the content of the leases.
MR. MACKINNON: That's for P3s?
MS. ELAINE MORASH: That's for P3s, yes.
MR. MACKINNON: Okay, what about for the traditional capital construction?
MS. ELAINE MORASH: It would have to be someone at the department, probably Charles Clattenburg, who is the Director of Facility Maintenance and his boss is Darrell Youden, who is the Executive Director of Finance, or Senior Executive Director.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Russell.
MR. MACKINNON: Well, I'm quite happy with that. That seems to give a good balanced view, if that's agreeable with the Conservative caucus. Okay. So, we will attempt to go with those two different personalities that the AG's office suggested.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Mora, is that enough direction on those two topics?
MS. STEVENS: It is.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Hurlburt.
MR. HURLBURT: Mr. Chairman, will the two witnesses be at the same meeting as the P3? I don't care if the lawyer is there for one, but I would like to see somebody from the Department of Education in there too, at the same meeting.
MS. ELAINE MORASH: They are the same people. It was the capital construction division that was responsible for the implementation of the P3, and they're also responsible for the traditional model as well. You're really looking at the same witnesses. If you want more detail in terms of how you could compare Armoyan's agreements with some of the other developers and that kind of thing, John Traves would be your person who would have the detail. I would expect that he would come with representatives of the department, from the school capital construction division.
MR. DEWOLFE: Perhaps that should be part of the request.
MR. HURLBURT: Absolutely.
MS. STEVENS: Sure. When I ask for witnesses, I always contact the department saying, the committee has specifically outlined this person but if they feel there are other people who would like to come and be there. Sometimes the deputy minister himself will come or send other staff. They always know, it's never a surprise that we're just bringing in that one person. It's to get that all-around sort of effect. I will let them know this, because this is a public meeting they can read the transcript as well, so they will know what you want. In that way it's not a surprise, and they can sort of feel out who they should send, depending on what you specifically want.
MR. MACKINNON: I think it would allow you an opportunity, Richard, to be able to examine the witness on some of these local issues that you've already addressed. Am I correct on that, Elaine? Yes. And that would be your concern, to be able to do that.
MR. HURLBURT: Absolutely.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Let the record show that Elaine nodded in approval with Mr. MacKinnon.
MR. DEWOLFE: Mr. Chairman, I think we have to be clear though, we're not going to ask if someone would like to come. We're going to suggest that we want someone from the department.
MR. MACKINNON: It's a formal request.
MS. STEVENS: Definitely.
MR. CHAIRMAN: If I may ask as the chairman, do you have anybody to suggest from the department who should accompany this particular lawyer?
MS. ELAINE MORASH: I would think that you would want Charles Clattenberg as the director of school capital construction, and you would also want Darrell Youden and John Traves, who is a lawyer with Justice - that's where John is now, I think, Alan, yes, I think he's with Justice - and he was the one who negotiated with the developers.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Are we okay with that? Okay.
MR. DEWOLFE: You're making tremendous progress, Mr. Chairman.
MR. CHAIRMAN: We want to leave here with six or eight in the hopper, to use the expression. We're one-quarter of the way there. Any other suggestions?
MR. MACKINNON: You folks have infrastructure works on there. Perhaps you could give us a little more detail.
MR. DEWOLFE: The Infrastructure Works Program, Transportation and Public Works.
MR. MACKINNON: Are you talking about the federal-provincial agreements, are you talking . . .
MR. DEWOLFE: Yes.
MR. MACKINNON: Is that what it is?
MR. DEWOLFE: Yes. That's what we're talking about.
MR. MACKINNON: That's fine.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Who would you suggest as possible witnesses, not to put you on the spot, for that topic?
MR. MACKINNON: We agree with that.
MR. HURLBURT: If I may suggest, Mr. Chairman, there's a provincial committee with the federal and the provincial body that makes recommendations and sends them off to Ottawa. I think those are the people who should be here as witnesses. (Interruptions) And the federal government.
MR. TAYLOR: To include the three levels, Richard?
MR. HURLBURT: Well, the local levels - they just pass on their wish list. It goes to this committee and then it gets dropped somewhere between here and Ottawa. I think it's the local committee for the Province of Nova Scotia that should be before this committee.
MR. MACKINNON: My understanding is that a representative from the UNSM, representing the municipalities, there's also a representative, or maybe a couple, there may be more than one but let's look at it in the singular for the sake of joining the dots. There's representation from the provincial and there's also representation from the federal, so all three levels are on this committee.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you for that, Mr. MacKinnon. I heard a name.
MR. DEWOLFE: Marvin MacDonald.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Taylor.
MR. TAYLOR: Just in the name of having an all-encompassing hearing, I think it's important that we have representatives from the three levels. As you know, the municipalities allegedly prioritize these lists, then they're passed on to the senior levels of government. I think, in the name of fairness and balance, that three appropriate representatives, I've heard the name Mr. Marvin MacDonald and I have no trouble with that, that would be appropriate, I think. These are supposed to be locally-driven initiatives, and I just feel there may be some questions pointed in the municipal representatives' direction, maybe not, but if there is, then we would be prepared.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Are there any other comments on topic two, Infrastructure Works, DOT?
MR. MACKINNON: Agreed.
MR. CHAIRMAN: I heard one strong agree and we're going to go with that one. Could we continue with the possible topic four, according to the list that I'm running right now?
MR. DEWOLFE: What about the 911 program, Mr. Chairman?
MR. CHAIRMAN: Okay.
MR. MACKINNON: What's the purpose?
MR. DEWOLFE: Well, back in October 2001, we starting recovering 100 per cent of 911 program costs through the 43 per cent subscriber, just to look and see where that has gone. It has gone to a separate fund, administered by an advisory committee and so on. I think it would be interesting to see how that program is working.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Taylor.
MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Chairman, Mike Myette would be appropriate.
MR. DEWOLFE: He may be the person for consideration.
MR. CHAIRMAN: And Mr. Myette is?
MR. TAYLOR: I guess he's the manager of Emergency Measures Organization.
MR. DEWOLFE: Director or something. I see a head shaking over at the Assistant Auditor General's table.
MR. TAYLOR: I know he responds to concerns if you write a letter.
MR. CHAIRMAN: I would just like the response from the AG's department, please.
MR. ALAN HORGAN: I was just confirming that it's my understanding that Mike Myette is the Chief Executive Officer of the Emergency Measures Organization.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you. All right, further suggestions?
MR. DEWOLFE: Mr. Chairman, I'm looking at the two lists, the NDP list and the PC list. The Department of Tourism and Culture, Arts Council replacement body. On the NDP caucus list I think it's number five on their list, the Department of Tourism and Culture. Then ours is Cultural Division, Culture Programs, Department of Tourism and Culture, on our list, which is number four. Maybe we could do those, set that out as a possible agenda item.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. MacKinnon.
MR. MACKINNON: We already had the department in on this issue before.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Mora.
MS. STEVENS: I know we've had them in at the Human Resources Committee. Have we had them in at the Public Accounts Committee?
MR. MACKINNON: I think we had departmental staff at the same time we had the representatives in from the Museum of Industry.
MS. STEVENS: Oh yes, that's right.
MR. MACKINNON: And we had them as a follow-up. Then we got into all this, we deal with this.
MS. STEVENS: That's right, it was on the museum issue and where some of the funding was going there. Then we did a Tourism aspect in TIANS, and incorporation with the Liquor Corporation as well.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Barnet.
MR. BARRY BARNET: Just on that issue, I know that we will all recall that there was a significant amount of debate in the past couple of sessions about the cultural sector and the fact that we changed the delivery mode of that particular program. Considering the amount of debate that's been held and the fact that we've changed it, it's more than appropriate to have it on our agenda so that we can compare it to the way it was delivered in the past.
MR. DEWOLFE: Are you referring to the Arts Council?
MR. BARNET: Yes.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Mora, you had something to add to Mr. Barnet's comments.
MS. STEVENS: It was actually previously we had dealt with the arts councils and some of the arts things in the Human Resources Committee as well, specifically, more so than what we did in the Public Accounts Committee, just for the committee members who weren't on that committee.
MR. MACKINNON: Bear in mind, the mandate of the Public Accounts Committee is to deal with past expenditures as opposed to what Mr. Barnet is suggesting, dealing with what is ongoing within a department.
MR. BARNET: What I suggested, if I might, Mr. Chairman, is the fact that we have changed the program, it's been changed now for quite some time.
MR. MACKINNON: What do you mean, quite some time?
MR. BARNET: Six or eight months.
MR. MACKINNON: So it's current, it's not past expenditures.
MR. BARNET: No, what I'm saying is that this will give us an opportunity to examine the way it was delivered before, prior to our change and even now that we've changed it, we can compare the two of them. So it fits very well with the mandate of this committee.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. MacKinnon.
MR. MACKINNON: I understand what he is saying but it's void of the mandate of the committee. You would be better off taking this back to the Human Resources Committee or the Resources Committee. If you are going to open up the door for current expenditures, put that on the table . . .
MR. BARNET: I'm not saying current expenditures. Obviously you're not listening to me.
MR. MACKINNON: We've had a new process in place for less than one fiscal year and you want to start doing a comparative analysis of what was in the past to what's ongoing. Now if you do that, then you open up the door to getting into current budgetary matters.
MR. BARNET: Well let's simply remain in the past then, I don't care. Either one.
MR. MACKINNON: Well, then we've already done that. That's the point that was made.
MR. BARNET: Not since I've been on this committee.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Just a point to clarify here.
MR. MACKINNON: On other committees.
MR. CHAIRMAN: We haven't done it as a committee but am I correct on what you were saying, Mr. MacKinnon, to identify that this issue has appeared in front of another committee of the Legislature?
MR. MACKINNON: Yes.
MR. CHAIRMAN: I see your head shaking, so, Mr. Barnet, you have the floor.
MR. BARNET: I think what he's referring to is the fact that the cultural sector has been before the Human Resources Committee. As a former member of the Human Resources Committee, what we did is we actually examined and had a number of sectors within the
cultural community come before it but we never had the department, that I understand, come or at least we didn't have a summary of it or we didn't even examine whether or not we were getting value for dollar. We had the different sectors come before us and they made presentations and recommendations but we never had the department come to examine value for dollar. This is where that happens, right here at this committee.
MR. MACKINNON: That's fine. All I'm saying, Mr. Chairman, is if that's what you want to do, that's fine. If the department's staff comes before the committee and starts getting into current budgetary matters then you, as a representative from the government side, have opened up the door for other committee members to go in that direction. Put it on the table. If that's what you want to do, we'll go there. It's not within the mandate of the committee but if it's the unanimous consent of the committee, that's fine but be very cautious. You're the one who has opened up the door.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Are you okay with that?
MR. BARNET: Yes, great.
MR. MACKINNON: So that's agreed?
MR. CHAIRMAN: Silence is golden.
MR. MACKINNON: We need clarity here.
MR. CHAIRMAN: I'm with you. I'm listening.
MR. MACKINNON: Is that a motion?
MR. BARNET: We haven't had any motions yet, have we? (Interruptions)
MR. MACKINNON: We have to be clear on what we are going to be debating when they appear before the committee. I think that's a fair question.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. DeWolfe.
MR. DEWOLFE: My opinion is that I want to take some of these topics back for consideration and this is one that I want to look at a little deeper before I make a decision on it.
MR. MACKINNON: Okay, so we will just put this one on hold.
MR. DEWOLFE: Put this one on hold.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Could I say that on the basis, and I'm thinking from Mora's perspective here, we've come up with, according to the list that I have, four potential witnesses here. Is Mora going to be leaving this meeting to move on those four or is she going to be waiting for a follow-up meeting to confirm that this is the priority witness list? (Interruption) I would like, if I may, Brooke . . .
MR. TAYLOR: It's a good point and I understood that we did have an agreement on the P3 and the conventional schools. I don't think we have to take that back for further deliberation to our various caucuses. Is that where you're going, Mr. Chairman?
MR. CHAIRMAN: Yes, and that we have the infrastructure from DOT and that we have the 911.
MR. TAYLOR: Okay, so let's not further procrastinate on those four.
MR. MACKINNON: Those three are approved.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Four. Let's give the agenda-setting session for what it's worth and let's lay it out here for seven or eight sessions as opposed to taking time and having another one of these sessions within the next month or whatever. That's all I'm trying to say.
This particular topic, if I understand what Mr. DeWolfe is saying, with regard to the Tourism and Culture, you don't want it as one of our definites, that Ms. Stevens can go ahead with. Is that correct, Jim?
MR. DEWOLFE: That's correct. I think we should just have another sober second look at this. Some of these items we're just seeing for the first time today, and I think it's only fair that we have some time to digest and sort out, prioritize each item.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Taylor.
MR. TAYLOR: I would just like to suggest another one that caucuses might consider - not make a decision on today - could be the Highway No. 104 alignment and that whole issue. The Auditor General raised it in his report, concerns that he had. I would like to take that back to caucus. I see it's on the NDP list. I don't know how other members feel about it, but I think it's something that we should discuss, perhaps not make the decision, but tolls seems to be topical in some circles these days. (Interruptions)
MR. MACKINNON: We agree.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you, Russell.
DR. SMITH: Particularly if it involves highway safety. Maybe Mr. Taylor, in the meantime, can work on the value of the 50 lives saved and how much . . .
MR. TAYLOR: Jim, we'll debate that if we bring it back at the hearing, I'm sure.
MR. CHAIRMAN: A little order here, before the trucker expert takes over here. Mr. DeWolfe has the floor.
MR. TAYLOR: Sorry, Mr. Chairman.
MR. DEWOLFE: Mr. Chairman, I just want to suggest that some of these items - we can come back here and probably deal with in five or 10 minutes at the end of another session.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Okay.
MR. DEWOLFE: Because we're all going to know where we're going to go with them at that point. We don't need to debate them, we can vote on them.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Okay. I have a potential six here with the top four as definites. Mr. MacKinnon.
MR. MACKINNON: So far we've approved four of the Conservative's and two of the NDP's. Could we maybe take a look at one or two of ours and see if there's any consensus there. Then, like you say, Jim, we . . .
MR. DEWOLFE: We have done number six, the Department of Education, school capital construction.
MR. MACKINNON: Oh right, I'm sorry. I do apologize.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Do you have something else to suggest, Russell?
MR. MACKINNON: Well, either one, two or five. Jim, would you like to speak to five.
DR. SMITH: I will just basically speak to five. It's number five, and we did put ours in priority. I think it's the type of an issue that is relevant, relative to federal-provincial cost-sharing and monies that may be coming into the province, as to how that program would, number one, now be in need of federal assistance, and if that was forthcoming, how that would be used. I think it might be a time to look at the program as it is now in Nova Scotia. There has been a lot of change relative to the VON administration and the involvement with the for-profit group delivering care as well, nursing care specifically, from a different type of program.
This might be one to look at, so I bring that forward. But Russell is taking the lead on this. If he feels strongly on a couple of the others, then I would defer to him. Home care was addressed in the last Auditor General's Report as well, and I think it bears consideration.
MR. CHAIRMAN: On this topic of home care, can we consider it as a potential topic, Mr. DeWolfe?
MR. DEWOLFE: We can consider it as a potential topic and look at that one. Mr. Chairman, while I have the floor, on this area of air access, I think we should probably turn up the heat a little bit with the federal department.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Okay, we're back on . . .
MR. DEWOLFE: Let's go back to that one, because that is one that we were going to look at for two sessions. I think it's very important. We're coming up to the Spring of the year and a lot of tourist travel will be starting up again. I think air access to this province is very important. I don't know how we can be more firm with them, but maybe we should remind them that we could subpoena to get them here.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Mora.
MS. STEVENS: They're outside of Nova Scotia, and that's one of the reasons why they sort of laugh at us. On the air access, I forget his name, it just escapes me at the moment. It's Gerald something or other. He's located in New Brunswick.
MR. MACKINNON: Moncton.
MS. STEVENS: Yes, in Moncton. That's where their local offices are. We really can't subpoena them unless they're in Nova Scotia.
MR. MACKINNON: The problem is, Mr. Chairman . . .
MR. CHAIRMAN: Russell.
MR. MACKINNON: I agree with Mr. DeWolfe, but the fact of the matter is none of our efforts, either by formal request, subpoenas or whatever, have any jurisdiction or any muscle with the federal government because they are beyond reach, legally, for us, within the mandate of this committee.
MR. DEWOLFE: Nevertheless, we can try.
MR. MACKINNON: As you recall, the last time, when the chairman of the Halifax Ports indicated, and the CEO came, and we held up the meeting for 15 minutes, he didn't
even notify us he wasn't coming. He was supposed to be there and he never showed. It kind of gives you an indication of what we're dealing with.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Just for clarification, if I may, the list that we have that Mora's been working on, are any of these people committed to, or topics - I'm looking particularly, if I may, as the chairman, at the Nova Scotia Sport and Recreation Commission, capital contributions to facilities. That was on the list. Have they ever been contacted? This is on the list that Mora brought to our attention, where we saw air access, energy strategy and so on. Do we have any commitment from any of these people that they will appear?
MS. STEVENS: Just that they have been approved. They were contacted when they were approved to say you have been approved to come before the Public Accounts Committee, it's just a matter of scheduling, so sort of prepare yourself, as well as with the Health Research Foundation and things like that. They know they've been approved.
MR. MACKINNON: What about the Petroleum Board? I think you gave indication on a previous day that they had agreed to come.
MS. STEVENS: The last time we discussed that, I think Mr. DeWolfe can probably elaborate more, it was relayed to me that they would be more than happy to come at any time, that was the energy strategy. That was, I do believe, just when they became their own entity.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Taylor.
MR. TAYLOR: Just a couple of things, Mr. Chairman. On the Sport and Recreation, facilities development grants, going into capital, that information is readily available. You wouldn't have to do a FOIPOP, if that's a concern about where those monies are going. That information is readily available. That seems to be where whoever suggested Sport and Recreation is going, it seems to be zeroing in on that particular area. That's information, for the last fiscal year at least, and that's what we would be talking about. I would just point that out, Mr. Chairman.
Also, just so I'm clear, just to shift back a little bit. We moved from home care to air access there. Just on the home care, Jim, because we will take it back to our caucus, you were talking a bit hypothetically. If you said, so you want us to take it to caucus, if the federal government was to put more money into health care, what was the next caveat there?
DR. SMITH: I was saying it is an example of a program that's on the federal and provincial agendas in every province. It's at various stages of development throughout. Manitoba is way ahead of other provinces in this country, generally considered to be. Number one, there's a province wish list, would they like to have some federal money targeted to this program that would go specifically to that? It also has to do with the issue of targeted programs from federal funding, and it deals with accountability and the transparency of that
as well. Then you look at some of the concerns of the administration of it in this province per se, as to where we are today.
MR. TAYLOR: But I'm just wondering, your colleague raised a concern earlier on with Barry, regarding the current budget year, if you aren't kind of going down that same road. If you're talking of matching dollars, obviously right now it's money that the province doesn't have, it's money that they may be asked to partner up with or dedicate to a specific fund. I think we might be getting the cart a little bit ahead of the Public Accounts horse here.
DR. SMITH: I think your point is well taken, but it is a component of long-term care. The NDP has also addressed issues of long-term care. They have home care on their list as number two, within that continuing care. I think your point is well taken, but it would move, perhaps after dealing with the accountability of what has happened in the past, to deal with these issues of targeting funding from the feds and what's the wish list there. It may be out of the mandate of this committee, I think your point is well taken but it's an issue that's not going to go away, it's an integral part of long-term care. We have not made the progress in this province that other provinces have and it may be interesting to see why, what can be done in the future, and what's our wish list.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. DeWolfe.
MR. DEWOLFE: Can we go back to the energy strategy. I'm sorry for bouncing around a little here but looking at Mr. MacKinnon's list, the Liberal's submission, number two, Department of Finance: additional revenues, oil, gas, propane, and so on. That looks like something that we could incorporate into the energy strategy, if you would agree on that.
MR. MACKINNON: Sure.
MR. DEWOLFE: So would everyone agree that we could do that and give direction to Mora to include that in the energy strategy and maybe that's something we could move forward on, it's already been approved.
MR. MACKINNON: That's fair, Mr. Chairman, we would certainly welcome that.
MR. BARNET: And examine value for money there, right?
MR. DEWOLFE: Examine the value for money, yes.
MR. MACKINNON: You're catching on, Barry, a few more meetings (Interruptions)
MR. CHAIRMAN: Before you move ahead, Brooke, please . . .
MR. TAYLOR: Just on that very same topic, the Liberal's witness submission indicates additional revenue, oil, gas, and propane. Unless I'm (Interruption) Well I think we're talking two different things entirely here, so let's not mislead ourselves into thinking that we're going to be talking about an energy strategy and perhaps the members opposite may be more interested in HST and things of that nature.
DR. SMITH: You mean of a more political nature.
MR. TAYLOR: I think it's one, if I could, Mr. Chairman, that again should be deliberated back at the respective caucuses. It is a new addition to the witness list and with all respect to the vice-chairman, I would like to see us do that.
MR. DEWOLFE: We could put that down as a consideration.
MR. TAYLOR: As a discussion topic for the various caucuses, especially ours. I would like to see us take that back. (Interruption) Number two on your list there, additional revenue, oil, gas, and propane.
MR. MACKINNON: That's fine. The reason why I agreed is because I think Mr. DeWolfe is right, rather than extrapolate it to the point where you just get into a whole lot of micromanagement, that's why I agreed and depending on what witnesses the department would like to send over. We're still proceeding with the energy strategy, right?
MR. DEWOLFE: We are. It's just a matter of whether we want to plug another component in and there will probably be a place for it if we can clear that matter up rather quickly, I'm sure.
MR. MACKINNON: We've already agreed to incorporating that and if you people - I don't mean that in a negative sense but if your caucus agrees to incorporate that between now and then, that's fine, just consider it done.
MR. HURLBURT: Mr. Chairman, would you just clarify for me, what are we doing with air access?
MR. CHAIRMAN: Air access is a topic that was listed from before. Where are we with that?
MS. STEVENS: It was divided into two various categories: one was air access, the fees and the services concerning the federal Department of Transport and we wanted to have them in to have an overall picture of it. The second part was once they came in, have our Department of Tourism and Culture, and Transportation in their relationship overseeing
what's happening in Nova Scotia, as well as their relationship with the federal government in airline services and licensing of carriers. So it was a split meeting but having the federal department in first.
MR. HURLBURT: And they've refused to come in?
MS. STEVENS: Yes.
MR. HURLBURT: Do you have that in writing?
MS. STEVENS: No, I do not. As I said, I sent them a letter when it was first approved and over the phone, which is basically what happened the last time we tried to get them in, back in about 1995-96, it was like, you know, you're not really going to get a response from us but we really aren't going to come.
MR. HURLBURT: Mr. Chairman, I can't quite understand this. Moncton centre looks after all of Atlantic Canada and they're responsible for air service to this province and they will not appear before this committee?
MS. STEVENS: They had no intention of doing so at the time. That's what had been forwarded to me.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Hurlburt, have you finished?
MR. HURLBURT: No.
MR. CHAIRMAN: That's why I'm letting you go.
MR. HURLBURT: My community has been almost three months trying to get a new air carrier operating from Yarmouth to Halifax. Moncton centre refused to come to our community, they had to send central centre from Thunder Bay, to Yarmouth, to address the concerns of our community and a new air carrier. Now they flew three people from Thunder Bay into Yarmouth, put them up for a week, then they forgot to go to Sydney to look at the air facilities in Sydney. So now they would only license them as of 4:30 yesterday afternoon, from Yarmouth to Halifax and back. So now they're saying Moncton centre has washed their hands of this, they are now going to have to get Thunder Bay to come back to assess the air services that they have in Sydney. Like, I don't know who's leading the horse here, if it's Air Canada, if it's the Minister of Transport or who it is, but I think somebody should be accountable to this province for air service. I just disagree with that statement that they refuse. We cannot subpoena them if they have jurisdiction over this province?
MR. CHAIRMAN: Is that a question to Mora or . . .
MR. HURLBURT: I don't know. It's a question to somebody, somebody should . . .
MR. CHAIRMAN: Well, leading the horse is the analogy I'm listening to and I don't mean to make fun, certainly that's where you're coming from as a spokesman for your community. Mr. MacKinnon, you're on my list on this topic.
MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Chairman, we don't have jurisdiction but I agree with Mr. Hurlburt. I think perhaps the committee should at least, if they are refusing to attend, we should send a letter through yourself, Mr. Chairman, with the full consent of the committee, to the respective partner and also a letter to the federal minister responsible, asking that the federal minister direct this agency's representatives to appear before this committee and outline the reasons why.
MR. CHAIRMAN: On this topic, Brooke.
MR. TAYLOR: On this topic, Richard made a good point, I think. He asked a question, do we have jurisdiction. They are responsible for provincial - are we clear on that, do we have counsel advice on that? I know federal jurisdiction we don't, but where they're interrelated, do we know what the legal . . .
MS. STEVENS: I can ask Gordon Hebb again but from what I recall, we cannot serve the subpoena, it doesn't come into effect until they actually step into Nova Scotia. It was back when we were dealing with Nova Scotia Resources Limited and Jim Livingstone, the first time or when he actually was appointed to be Chairman of Nova Scotia Resources, or president. He walked into the airport and he was asked to come before the Public Accounts Committee and there had been a whole kerfuffle and a subpoena was served on him and yes, he would come and he would walk into a meeting, no problem but we couldn't actually serve it until he stepped foot in Nova Scotia. So if somebody comes to the province and we can find them, we can serve the subpoena. (Interruption)
MR. HURLBURT: Well, they're here in Nova Scotia all of the time.
MS. STEVENS: That's my understanding but I can find out from Gordon Hebb what the actual ramifications are but we have dealt with other agencies, such as Atlantic Loto and their head offices are in Moncton, but they have always been more than willing to come, so there's a difference there.
MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Chairman, I appreciate that explanation but I'm not satisfied at all. Richard has been working hard on this file for a long, long time. We don't know for sure whether or not we actually have jurisdiction. Maybe there is somebody in Nova Scotia right now, today. I'm sure they're not tied or chained to Moncton, so I think it's something we should investigate. Get a legal interpretation and see if we can in fact, what jurisdiction we do have.
MR. MACKINNON: I would certainly support the motion asking the minister responsible . . .
MR. TAYLOR: I certainly do support that, I'm just thinking that maybe we're empowered that we can subpoena somebody.
DR. SMITH: Maybe we should get two legal interpretations.
MR. TAYLOR: Well, that might be a good idea, Jim.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Before I send you to Amherst to lure them over the border - excuse me, this is an issue of some consequence and I think we should clarify it. I would like Mr. MacKinnon and I heard Mr. Hurlburt say he would second the motion but could you give us a formal motion on this topic.
MR. MACKINNON: Yes, Mr. Chairman. I move that this committee direct the chairman to write to the representatives for air access in the Moncton centre, to appear before this committee. We also write a letter . . .
MR. CHAIRMAN: Russell, give us the motion before you editorialize on it.
MR. MACKINNON: And also the chairman be directed to write a letter to the federal minister responsible for this agency requesting the federal minister to direct representatives of this agency to appear before the Public Accounts Committee to address the concerns raised by Mr. Hurlburt and other members.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Okay, and it's seconded?
MR. HURLBURT: Yes.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Okay, now you can do your editorializing, if you wish.
MR. MACKINNON: I've already done that.
MR. TAYLOR: Is there a question on his motion, Mr. Chairman?
MR. CHAIRMAN: Yes, we are on the motion.
MR. TAYLOR: Richard, maybe you know, do we know for sure that there is not a Nova Scotian representative who actually would work out of the province with air access?
MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Hurlburt.
MR. HURLBURT: I can't answer that but I can sure get you the answer. I know now, like I'm in the aviation world, and every time we have a request, anything, we have to go to Atlantic Region, and their home office is in Moncton. I have the chap's name up there who you contact so I can get Mora that if it would help.
MR. TAYLOR: I think that might be helpful, Mr. Chairman.
MR. CHAIRMAN: The motion states - we are not waiting for any of those names. We are proceeding. The direction has been there. We are to be in contact with those appropriate people, as was suggested by Russell, and I am going to go ahead with that as the chairman. Are there any other comments on the motion?
Are you ready for the question? Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.
The motion is carried.
MR. TAYLOR: Just as a follow-up to the topic, Mora, did you indicate you were going to check or double-check, I mean we can do it by agreement, it's just that Jim suggested a couple of legal opinions.
DR. SMITH: We might get the one we want if we ask enough lawyers. (Laughter)
MR. TAYLOR: That's the way some of the polls that are requested . . .
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order. Just wait a minute now. Dr. Smith, it's a good point. Do you have anything to add to what you said . . .
DR. SMITH: No, absolutely not.
MR. CHAIRMAN: . . . that I could get on the record so that Hansard has it. (Interruptions)
According to the tally I have, we are at four definites and four that we are going to take back to caucus. Is that correct?
DR. SMITH: Can we just review those?
MR. CHAIRMAN: We can. Mora is going to review it for us, if you wouldn't mind.
MS. STEVENS: Okay. What has been approved today in dealing with P3, there are two meetings. One is dealing with the leases and the P3 overall and that would be with John Traves and also officials from the department in that half. The second half would be the capital construction-type/maintenance and other questions and that would be with the school capital construction people: Darrell Youden, Charles Clattenburg, as well as other departmental officials if they so choose to send them. So that's two meetings.
Also approved is the infrastructure works through Transportation and Public Works. That would be the provincial committee, Marvin MacDonald and some of the other reps. I'm assuming, and I would like clarification on this, also people from the Department of Transportation at that meeting? Usually we would have them in as a courtesy or would you just like that committee? (Interruption) Yes.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Hurlburt.
MR. HURLBURT: Mr. Chairman, there is a working committee and all three levels of government . . .
MS. STEVENS: Work on that, okay.
MR. HURLBURT: . . . are there and I think that's the people that we should have in.
MS. STEVENS: So that's enough?
MR. HURLBURT: Absolutely.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Russell MacKinnon.
MR. MACKINNON: Again on that, I suspect we will run into a bit of an obstacle with the federal representative appearing. I raise that, I'm hoping that the individual will appear but obviously every time we try to deal with an issue that has some cross-pollination here, or overlapping or whatever term you would like to use . . .
MR. CHAIRMAN: Cross-pollination is okay.
MR. MACKINNON: . . . the feds always renege and they don't appear. I think at some point we should raise this, I don't know if it's through the Premier's Office or directly with the Chairman of the federal Public Accounts Committee or perhaps it's an agenda item for our annual meeting of Public Accounts with other jurisdictions or what, but I think at
some point in time they are going to have to stop treating provincial jurisdictions with the disrespect that they seem to be showing.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Point made. Continue, Mora, please.
MS. STEVENS: The other item that was approved today is the 911, and that would be the Emergency Measures Organization. Those are four meetings that have been approved. There were other issues to take back to the caucuses, such as the Arts Council, Tourism and Culture, and that aspect of it, as well as the cultural division and cultural programs; the Highway No. 104 alignment is going back to the caucuses; home care, as well, with the aspect of continuing care through the NDP; the energy strategy is going back to see if they wanted to add additional revenue, oil, gas and propane. Now whether that's in conjunction with just Energy or with the Department of Finance as well . . .
MR. MACKINNON: Could I speak to that, just quickly, for clarification.
MR. CHAIRMAN: You may.
MR. MACKINNON: If it's agreeable with the Conservative caucus and the NDP caucus, we will agree to proceed with the energy strategy/Petroleum Board. If the Conservative caucus - obviously majority rules - wishes to include that as part of the agenda, that's fine, we will consider it done. If not, well, we will just proceed with the one that's already on the list. Is that okay? (Interruptions)
MR. DEWOLFE: Well, we have enough there right now, Mr. Chairman, to do us. We can make that determination very quickly at a subsequent meeting.
MR. MACKINNON: Sure.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Mora.
MS. STEVENS: The other things that had been approved before this meeting were the debt and credit ratings for the Department of Finance, the Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation, which actually becomes very timely because it's in the Auditor General's Report. It was sort of mentioned when it was approved, that it would be audited in the AG's Report, so that's kind of why it didn't get on the prioritized list the last time we had this meeting, on October 9th. That might be something the committee would consider putting a little bit more forward, because we do have the audit report in now. Again, there were the initiatives of access for Justice that was to be used as a fill-in for an agenda item, and the Nova Scotia Sport and Recreation Commission.
MR. CHAIRMAN: So if I can give some direction here, because Mora is the one who will be doing the follow-up and the work, from the topics you just mentioned, and I assume the caucuses are aware that the NDP is unavailable to meet next week, that you do have something for the following Wednesday from this list that would be available.
MS. STEVENS: What we traditionally have is the follow-up to the AG's Report, which is a two-hour session that's just strictly questions and answers on the AG's Report. There are usually two sessions on that, because the Auditor, of course, gives the big one-hour briefing on the report and the members don't have a lot of time to question. So traditionally that is what would be scheduled next, but that's certainly up to the committee, or they might want to get into dealing with specific sections of the AG's Report.
MR. MACKINNON: Well, we have lots of topics. Why don't we just start picking them and get right to it?
MS. STEVENS: There's also the budgeting issue that the AG wanted to deal with in an in-camera session. It was sort of in conjunction with what was going on at the CPAC conference that we had and his business plan and his budget, and all of those things. He mentioned that might be good for February, but I would have to confirm with Roy on that.
MR. MACKINNON: Would the item that's approved on the agenda initiatives for access to Justice, perhaps for the sake of the issue that we had on there with regard to the Department of Justice, Legal Aid funding, if respective caucuses would at least consider that, maybe incorporating those two, somehow, together, similar to the Energy one, if it's possible. If not, if you want to keep it as a separate thing and stay away from that aspect of it, that's fine. It would seem to me that there's a bit of overlapping there.
MR. DEWOLFE: Mr. Chairman, one other item on our approved list that Mora touched on briefly there was Nova Scotia Sport and Recreation Commission, capital contributions to facilities. I'm just thinking that's pretty important to our constituencies. We're coming up to a new budget year very soon. It might be something that we should deal with prior to that.
MR. CHAIRMAN: If I may, I'm thinking of Mora's situation here, she's coming out of this meeting with lots of contacts to make. Already from this approved list she has some who can appear over the next couple of sessions. From that list that you just went over, are
we prepared to bring in a couple of the groups that already are approved? Can we have some consensus, in lieu of the fact that we have four definites, four back to caucus, what is the scheduled meeting if we are in agreement that we're not meeting next week, the following Wednesday, who will be in?
MS. STEVENS: We're not meeting on February 5th. It would be February 12th, 19th and 26th.
MR. BARNET: When did we decide we weren't meeting on February 5th?
MS. STEVENS: It was a couple of meetings ago. We don't meet when one of the caucuses is out of town and it was at the request of the caucus that is out of town. That is a standard sort of agreement, I just let people know a couple of weeks ago. I'm waiting to find out, by the way, from the other caucuses when their out-of-towns are scheduled. When I know, I'll . . .
MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Chairman, I think we've made considerable progress based on the circumstances and we have approved four, there's no question about that, to take back for some future deliberation. I think where we have no hearing scheduled next week we should leave it in our clerk's very capable hands and perhaps she would advise us as to who she is contacting and who our witness is, rather than speculating any further and doing any more discussion. Would that be okay, Mr. Chairman?
MR. CHAIRMAN: More importantly, not that it's okay with me, are you okay with that, Mora?
MS. STEVENS: I'm fine as long as - it hasn't been discussed that we bring the AG back for the two-hour session, it's the standard thing, or do we want to (Interruptions) Okay.
MR. CHAIRMAN: I think the consensus is that we want to move on to the topics. Mora.
MS. STEVENS: Personally on an ease level, since it has been approved for so long, the Health and Research Foundation and since we recently have had an audit, that would be sort of my little star to go ahead with, just because it had been approved. That way we could have a briefing session with the AG on that specifically and then move into that.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Jim.
MR. DEWOLFE: I didn't hear any response to my suggestion about the Nova Scotia Sport and Recreation Commission that is on our approved list. Is that something we agreed to go ahead with around budget time or before budget time? (Interruptions)
MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Any other topics of subjects. It's 9:20 a.m. and we are adjourning early.
We stand adjourned.
[The committee adjourned at 9:20 a.m.]