Back to top
26 janvier 2005
Comités permanents
Comptes publics
Sujet(s) à aborder: 

HANSARD

NOVA SCOTIA HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY

COMMITTEE

ON

PUBLIC ACCOUNTS

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

LEGISLATIVE CHAMBER

Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage

Printed and Published by Nova Scotia Hansard Reporting Services

PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE

Mr. Graham Steele (Chairman)

Mr. James DeWolfe (Vice-Chairman)

Mr. Mark Parent

Mr. Gary Hines

Ms. Maureen MacDonald

Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid)

Mr. Daniel Graham

Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay)

Ms. Diana Whalen

[Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) was replaced by Mr. Stephen McNeil.]

In Attendance:

Ms. Mora Stevens

Legislative Committee Coordinator

Ms. Dianne Chiasson

Audit Manager

Office of the Auditor General

WITNESSES

Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage

Ms. Kelliann Dean

Deputy Minister

Ms. Dianne Coish

Executive Director of Culture

Ms. Marsha Andrews

Executive Director of Tourism

[Page 1]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 26, 2005

STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS

9:00 A.M.

CHAIRMAN

Mr. Graham Steele

VICE-CHAIRMAN

Mr. James DeWolfe

MR. CHAIRMAN: I will call to order this meeting of the Public Accounts Committee. We are very pleased to welcome today representatives of the Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage and I would like to begin by recognizing the Deputy Minister, Ms. Kelliann Dean. Ms. Dean, welcome, and I would like to ask you to introduce the colleagues you have with you today.

MS. KELLIANN DEAN: Okay. On my right is Marsha Andrews. She is the Executive Director of Tourism and on my left is Dianne Coish and she is the Executive Director of Culture.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much. I would like the members to introduce themselves, starting with the member for Annapolis.

[The committee members introduced themselves.]

MR. CHAIRMAN: I'm Graham Steele, the member for Halifax Fairview and the Chairman of the committee. In the course of the introductions, we were joined by Maureen MacDonald, the member for Halifax Needham.

Ms. Dean, you have up to 15 minutes, if you wish, for an opening presentation.

1

[Page 2]

MS. DEAN: Good morning, everybody, and thank you very much for allowing us the opportunity to make some brief remarks and to appear before the committee. I have introduced both Marsha and Dianne who are with me today. They have both previously appeared before the committee. I have not. This is my first appearance.

I have been Deputy Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage for just over a year now and during those 12 months, I have to say that I have been impressed with the dedication and the professionalism of the staff of this department. Located in communities throughout the province, our staff serve an extensive client base, a client base that includes visitors, the general public, community groups, municipalities, heritage groups and tourism and cultural organizations and industries. The programs and services of the Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage touched the lives of most people in Nova Scotia, either directly or indirectly, so whether it is taking the family to one of our museums, enjoying a local festival or event that is supported by the department, researching your family tree at our Public Archives or helping musicians export their music, it's all part of what our department provides to Nova Scotians.

The department was formed in 1999, bringing together the natural combination of Tourism, Culture and Heritage. Our tourism promotions entice people to come and visit us and to experience Nova Scotia's culture and heritage along with our beautiful scenery and our natural friendliness. The department's activities also have a tremendous impact on the province's economy. Tourism revenues reach about $1.3 billion a year and a significant portion of this revenue is generated by people from out of province. The direct and indirect impact of the culture sector in Nova Scotia, measured by the contribution to GDP, was estimated at almost $1.2 billion in 2001. So these two sectors alone provide employment for thousands of Nova Scotians and generate millions of dollars in tax revenues.

The department is responsible for managing a wide range of provincially-owned capital assets valued in the millions of dollars. These assets include over 200 heritage buildings, three provincial resorts, 11 visitor information centres, the Bluenose II and Upper Clements Park. These assets are managed by the department directly through agreements with the private sector and with not-for-profit societies and we continue to look for ways to improve the accountability and overall management of these assets.

With a budget of just over $41 million, an economic impact valued at over $2 billion, and with tens of thousands of people employed in the tourism, culture and heritage sectors, no matter how you look at it, the department is engaged in a significant business and we take this business very seriously. So we continue to identify more efficient ways to deliver our programs and services and to better measure our efforts and our results.

As with all government departments and agencies, there are a number of checks and balances to ensure accountability and we welcome the scrutiny given to our department and the great advice and suggestions that come from this continual examination of our programs

[Page 3]

and services. We will certainly be pleased to address the findings in the June 2004 audit and have already used the information and recommendations to make improvements in the way we do things in our department.

I would like to talk a little bit about the business of tourism, culture and heritage. Economic growth, stewardship and governance and accountability are the three main outcomes of our department's annual business plan. Our economic efforts focus on improving Nova Scotia's competitive position in the tourism, culture and heritage sectors. We continue our stewardship role by preserving, sustaining and promoting our unique natural and cultural heritage to a diverse audience of all ages. To ensure fiscal responsibility, accountability and good internal management, we adhere to informed decision making while also ensuring effective third party governance and accountability. Developing our business plans is an ongoing process involving senior management in consultation with all staff and when one business plan is completed, we take a deep breath and then begin developing the next one. This continuing process keeps us focused on our goals and objectives while monitoring the results along the way.

We have stepped up our efforts to ensure all of our staff are aware of the business plan and aware of their role in achieving our goals and objectives. We were pleased when the results of the 2004 government-wide survey by the Public Service Commission indicated that our department scored the highest in the area of employees' awareness of the business plan goals and their role in achieving the plans' objectives.

So our employees not only understand our business plan, they also understand the link that our plan has with the government's vision of a healthy, prosperous and self-sufficient Nova Scotia. So we are continually adjusting and improving our performance measures to make them more relevant and clear. These efforts are focused on developing accurate measures that clearly indicate the impact of the investments we make. For example, we are now tracking the value of exported cultural products as an indication of the success of the province's culture sector in developing international markets. We know there was an average of 13.8 per cent annual growth in the value of our cultural exports between 1996 and 2002 so our performance target in this area is to maintain that average.

One of our main priorities is to achieve value for the investments we make with taxpayers' money. A significant portion of the department's budget is invested in community and provincial organizations and activities and we monitor and assess the results of these investments. Our goal is to increase the relevance of our investments for our clients and to improve our return on investment.

Many of our investments do not provide 100 per cent support for an organization or for an activity. As well, the demand for investment support from the department is always greater than we can provide. Most organizations and individuals, though, are now aware that our support should be used to leverage additional support from other sources and most are

[Page 4]

successful with this approach. For example, in 2003-04, our Industries Program supported over 80 projects that were undertaken by cultural organizations and businesses and those investments of $450,000 levered additional industry investments of nearly $3.9 million.

Another priority for the department is return on investment. A clear example of delivering a strong return on investment can be directly linked to our tourism advertising campaigns. In 2003, for example, those campaigns generated 260,000 enquiries and this translates into an estimated $136 million in advertising-generated tourism expenditures, a return on investment of $27 in revenues for every $1 of media investment.

Still with tourism, as another example, we invested $70,000 in 2004 to entice travel media from around the world to write about Nova Scotia. Last year this province was featured in travel magazines and the travel section of major newspapers throughout the world that potentially reached over 130 million people. The estimated value of that coverage, if we were to buy an equal amount of advertising space with those publications, is over $42 million. That is a huge return on investment. I'm not even going to attempt to quantify. But these are the types of performance measures, achieving value for investing taxpayers' money, leveraging additional support and delivering a solid return on investment that are part of our department's business plans.

I would like to take a moment to talk about partnerships because they are critical to the way that we do our business in our department. Our business plans have to be in step with our stakeholders and our partners. Partnerships such as the Nova Scotia Tourism Partnership Council and the Nova Scotia Arts and Culture Partnership Council are a key feature of many of our projects and initiatives. These partnerships are based on common goals and we share

responsibility for planning and developing initiatives that benefit all Nova Scotians. Since 1997, our department has worked effectively with the Tourism Partnership Council. Each year this industry-government partnership develops the province's tourism plan. Each plan is based on extensive consultation and research. 2004 has definitely been another challenging year, with mixed results, for tourism in Atlantic Canada and around the world. However, Nova Scotia fared relatively well, with visitation up 5 per cent and revenues up 1 per cent at $1.29 billion.

[8:15 a.m.]

Even with more visitors this year, room nights sold in the province are down by 2 per cent. Last month, as you probably heard, a multi-million dollar additional investment in tourism was announced during the annual tourism conference. This much needed support will be used to boost marketing, product development and assist regional tourism initiatives. The goal is to ensure that tourism in this province continues to be an economic generator and a competitive player in the global industry. The 2005 tourism plan developed in partnership with industry will guide where much of that new support will be invested. The long-term goal of this government-industry partnership is to double tourism revenues in the province

[Page 5]

by 2012. While meeting this goal will be challenging, these challenges are certainly much better addressed in partnership with the tourism industry.

Another key partnership is the Nova Scotia Arts and Culture Partnership Council, a partnership between the department and the arts and culture sector. The partnership council consults with the sector, reviews the department's culture programs and makes recommendations to the minister. Recently the council completed a significant program review, which resulted in the establishment of a new program for operating assistance to cultural organizations. We certainly value their input and their recommendations. They helped us refine our evaluation procedures and criteria. For example, in the past in order to obtain financial assistance, cultural organizations were treated and reviewed inconsistently, some small groups and organizations were reviewed by peer juries, others were reviewed by staff, and all had different criteria. The council did an exhaustive review, and now all cultural groups and organizations that apply for funding will be reviewed by peer juries or independent panels using consistent judging criteria.

The partnership council will continue reviewing other culture programs, and will be making recommendations to the minister in other areas that are important to the sector. For example, an education task group has been established to examine the importance of arts education in our school, a government task group will look at ways in which organizations can be helped to establish better governance policies and procedures, leading to greater sustainability. A resources task group has been formed to examine ways in which to engage government, the private sector and the public in support of the sector.

Our Heritage Division is currently building a stronger relationship with its sector, and continues to meet and consult with different heritage groups and organizations. In fact, we are working closely with the Nova Scotia Federation of Heritage to identify strategies to help further develop the heritage sector in our province. As an example of how we partner at the community level in Heritage, our staff worked in partnership with the local community to advance the nomination of Joggins as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Those efforts paid off when Joggins was named to the Canadian short list for final application to UNESCO in early Spring 2004.

The department also works in partnership with other federal, provincial and municipal government departments. As an example, we established a partnership with Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations to process tourism accommodation licenses and streamline the licensing process. This partnership will reduce red tape, expand government single-window service offerings and achieve efficiencies within government.

So to wind up, Nova Scotia's tourism, culture and heritage sectors are vital to a more prosperous Nova Scotia. Through our investment programs, our services, through expert knowledge, the department is focused on stimulating economic growth and export development in our tourism and cultural industries, and on preserving and promoting Nova

[Page 6]

Scotia's rich and diverse natural and cultural heritage. We provide services to an extensive client base, which results in creating lasting benefits for all Nova Scotians. The department also serves visitors and Nova Scotians alike through an extensive network of visitor information centres and museums in communities throughout the province. This extensive network also includes the Nova Scotia Centre for Craft and Design, and the Nova Scotia Art Bank. Initiatives and activities in support of these key sectors are undertaken in partnership with businesses, organizations, community groups, municipalities, other government departments and other levels of government.

In tourism, Nova Scotia continues to compete globally for market share. We recognize we are currently only scratching the surface in some of our core markets and need to continue to offer exciting new tourism experiences to our visitors.

Nova Scotia's culture sector continues to make great strides, contributing to our well-being and to our economy. Our cultural events continue to draw new and larger audiences, while our artists and cultural producers are raising their profiles, both here at home and around the world. The sector is recognized as fast-growing, with the potential to diversify our economy and stimulate job creation.

The impact of culture on our quality of life cannot be overstated, with strong links to social cohesion and innovation.

The department is supporting Nova Scotia's first music strategy with the Music Industry Association of Nova Scotia. This strategy will encourage export activity and help artists develop the skills they need to continue to grow the industry here at home. In partnership with communities, the department will continue to strengthen the presence of cultural activities in communities throughout the province, and increase opportunities all Nova Scotians have to share in our cultural resources and participate in local cultural life.

Preserving Nova Scotia's natural and cultural heritage is a fundamental role of the department, which maintains the province's collection of over 800,000 artifacts and more than 200 heritage buildings. More and more, people are visiting Nova Scotia, Nova Scotia museum sites around the province, while the department's virtual museum is also attracting significant interest.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Excuse me, your 15 minutes are up now. Could you wind it up, please.

MS. DEAN: To conclude, I just want to say that the department's service is really shaped by the recognition that Nova Scotia's beautiful landscape, diverse cultures and rich heritage add tremendous value to our quality of life. These attributes position us as a great place to live and a world-class destination for Canadian and international travellers. I welcome any questions that you may have.

[Page 7]

MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much. The first 20 minutes belongs to the NDP caucus.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Chairman, I apologize for being late. I'm Dave Wilson, MLA for Sackville-Cobequid. I want to start off with a little bit about agreeing with you about being a world-class destination here in Nova Scotia. There's a lot of groups and organizations that promote our culture and heritage, and in that, that's where some of my questioning is going to be. There's a lot of great groups that are fighting to maintain what they have been able to provide, not only for our residents but for tourism and tourists who come to our province.

I want to refer to the Auditor General making reference to eight organizations that were given grants without the normal process of grant approval. I'm just wondering, what were these eight organizations that received grants that the Auditor General made reference to?

MS. DEAN: I don't have a list of the organizations with me that you're referring to. What I understand from the audit, though, is that the audit referred to the process that was followed. During that time, when these organizations were applying for funding, there were changes that were undertaken to the programs. So we had gone from a system where organizations had come to rely on obtaining a certain amount of financing over the years to an application-driven process, and so what was happening is that some of the organizations weren't used to the new process, they missed deadlines, and for one reason or another some of these organizations fell outside of the application process, but they were, nonetheless, considered for financing.

The comment in the audit related to the process itself, and certainly did not talk about the merits of any of the organizations. To my knowledge, all of those organizations were worthy of funding, they met the program criteria, they just may have, for one reason or another, missed a deadline and didn't follow the exact process.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): There's a lot of organizations in dire need of funding, like I said, to maintain the festivals they bring or the plays or whatever they're working on. Could you tell me what percentage do we turn down in the province when it comes to grants coming forward?

MS. DEAN: I don't have that particular information. Can you handle that one?

MS. DIANNE COISH: Good morning. Across our program areas, we're approving somewhere between 25 per cent and 40 per cent of incoming applicants. It really depends on

[Page 8]

the program itself. Some are more successful in terms of upping those numbers and others are not.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): You're not able to give me the eight organizations, but are you able to inform us of the locations of these organizations, are they

throughout the province? Do they congregate in one area?

MS. DEAN: I don't have the list here, but I understand that they are represented throughout the province.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): The only concern we have with knowledge of certain organizations kind of foregoing the process of being awarded a grant is that there are so many applying for grants and what they want is just to have an open, fair process. It's kind of discouraging that some of these organizations. I'm not saying that the eight that received it aren't worthy but for some reason or another they may have missed the deadline, as you said, or hadn't met some criteria which they, after the fact, have.

We have some concerns with other organizations that may have been turned down. I am wondering why, since they followed, kind of, the rules that these organizations were singled out and able to gain access to grants. Were these eight organizations - was this under the minister's discretion, approval, or was it through the normal process of the Arts Council?

MS. DEAN: Dianne, do you want to speak to that?

MR. CHAIRMAN: Ms. Coish.

MS. COISH: Thank you. You know, I can see the list in my head and if I named an organization I would be wrong so I'm not going to do that. I can tell you they were spread across-the-province, that in each of these cases it was simply a matter of them not meeting a deadline. But they did undergo a thorough staff review using all of the criteria that other organizations used at the time.

To follow up on what the Deputy Minister was saying, at the time, we went through a number of program changes. I will just refer to the organizations program for a second. A number of organizations consistently, year after year, received funding for their operations. When we brought in the new organizations program three years ago, setting deadlines for applications, we, in fact, had to, for the first little while, remind organizations - some significant organizations in this province - that they, in fact, missed a deadline but, nonetheless, went back and said, were you aware that there is a deadline on this program. In fact, they weren't so we gave them the opportunity to apply outside of that deadline.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Are you able to provide this committee with the list of these eight organizations in the future?

[Page 9]

MS. DEAN: We will get that to you.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Do you know the amount of the fundings that were allocated to these eight organizations?

MS. DEAN: I will confirm that as well.

What I would like to add though is, again, this reflects activity that was done in the previous fiscal year and since that time, we have communicated the deadlines very clearly to our clients and will make every effort to ensure that they are aware of upcoming deadlines. The application process is working now. Our clients are aware of how it works and the occurrences are not there any more of people coming in after deadlines and not being taken into the right program. So it has been evolving, it has been a learning process for the clients, it has been a learning process for staff as well, but I am confident in the way that the system is working now and the procedures that we have in place for gathering the applications, for screening them and for allocating the funds accordingly.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): You had mentioned that there was a staff review of these applications. So does the minister have the final say of approval or is it through staff alone, or does the minister have that authority to approve grants?

MS. DEAN: Dianne, perhaps you could explain the way the process works with juries, independent panels and. . .

MR. CHAIRMAN: Ms. Coish.

MS. COISH: Thank you. It varies across program areas. In the case of a new program for funding for cultural organizations, recommendations will be made to the minister by an independent panel, so in that case, the minister has final say.

More and more in our various program areas we are calling out to the sector and getting them in the room with us to make recommendations and/or decisions. In the case of arts programming where decisions are made based on artistic merit, those decisions are made by peer juries and when the decision is made a list is provided to my office and we requisition cheques from the Department of Finance. So it really varies across program areas.

[8:30 a.m.]

I can tell you that the Arts and Culture Partnership Council is in the process of reviewing all of our program areas and, in fact, that was the body that made the recommendation that in the case of cultural organizations, independent panels be convened to review those applications.

[Page 10]

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Along with the eight organizations that received funding, there were three organizations that received grants and then in addition, received more funding after the fact. Could you elaborate on that, on these three other organizations that received funding after approval of an initial grant?

MS. COISH: I would have to go back to the file. I really can't recall which three organizations they were or the circumstances surrounding that decision.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Is that a normal process to award additional funding after a grant was approved, initially?

MS. COISH: Not today, but yes. One of the difficulties in the Culture Division is that though we felt, I think, at one stage that our programming guidelines, criteria and assessment criteria were pretty clear, they are getting a whole lot clearer now that we are going back and working with the council and working with the sector in terms of finding out what's not clear for them and what's not clear for us, and what doesn't make a good process at the end of the day. So I would say, yes, at one stage that probably was and I wouldn't say common practice but it certainly happened. It's not happening today.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Again, I'd like to emphasize the fact that there are a lot of organizations that are in dire need of funding and a lot of them making applications for small amounts of money. I believe the three organizations that received additional funding, in the range of about $13,000. So, again, I have to emphasize that these organizations throughout the province that put on many of our festivals, plays and works of art that are exhibited throughout the province could have used a lot of that funding. Again, I would like to emphasize a clear, transparent and fair process really needs to take place when funding is awarded to some of these groups and organizations.

Another question - a little bit around the Auditor General's Report - was on the Art of Gallery of Nova Scotia. I believe there was an external firm contracted to review the Art of Gallery of Nova Scotia. Could you maybe inform us of who did that audit and how much that cost the province to have that audit of the Art Gallery done?

MR. CHAIRMAN: Ms. Dean.

MS. DEAN: Certainly. The audit was conducted by KPMG after a tendering process was undertaken and the cost was about $60,000.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): In that review, reading through the Auditor General's Report, it was indicated that many of the recommendations in the review were covered by the Art Gallery's strategic plan. So it kind of begs the question of the necessity of a review when the Art Gallery did have a strategic plan and a lot of their

[Page 11]

recommendations at the review came forward that was in their plans. Do you have any comments on that?

MS. DEAN: Well, I think that both the Art Gallery and the province - we worked together on that, our department and the Art Gallery's board - felt that it was important to conduct an audit to explore other areas, potentially, that the Strategic Planning Committee hadn't captured in its strategic plan. So it was a comprehensive audit.

Again, as a measure of accountability and due diligence, it was important for us to have a common benchmark and a place where we could go forward and implement some of the recommendations of the audit. Both the board and our department were fully engaged in this and undertook this in partnership. It is certainly extremely important to the Board of AGNS to implement the findings of the audit, in conjunction with some of the findings that they had in their strategic plan.

Basically, the audit covered broad areas of management planning and control. It addressed some of the internal controls and also looked at a governance framework. So these two elements together, both the strategic plan that the board produced and also the audit results, when they are implemented and acted on, will enhance the operations of the AGNS.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): There was a cut made by government to the gallery's budget last year of approximately $130,000. In my view, wouldn't it have been more beneficial to use the costs of the review or audit towards planning the gallery's strategic plan?

MS. DEAN: Well, I think that it's money well invested to take a look at the governance structure to look at accountability, to ensure that the proper controls and financial reporting systems are in place so that the gallery continues to maximize its operational efficiencies and is accountable to government. So I certainly wouldn't question the value of a $60,000 investment in that kind of initiative.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): I'm sure the gallery would rather have seen the $60,000 not coming off their budget.

Another area I would like to go to was the fact that the knowledge of the savings of about $270,000 with the disbanding of the Arts Council in 2002. Could you tell us how that money was spent after removing that Arts Council and saving that $270,000?

MS. DEAN: It's my understanding that that money was invested directly back in to Arts and Culture programming. Dianne, would you like to add anything to that?

MR. CHAIRMAN: Ms. Coish.

[Page 12]

MS. COISH: Certainly. All of the $270,000 went back into Arts and Culture programming and, in fact, has stayed there.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): So has there been a detailed record of the savings and then that allocating, or does it just go back into the budget for the department, and then you just reallocate it to new ventures or new. . .

MS. COISH: I could provide to you a list of exactly where all of that $270,000 went. I can tell you that all of it went into programming and it stayed there.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Great, that would be worthwhile, actually. That would be great if you could do that.

I would like to pass it over to my colleague.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: I would like to go back to the question of the points raised in the Auditor General's Report around the eight organizations that received investment funding outside of the process and the three organizations that received additional funding.

I want to start by going on the record as saying that I am disappointed that you didn't come prepared this morning with that information. Given that this is the committee of the Legislature charged with the task of really being the watchdog for the public with respect to following up on the points that are raised in the Auditor General's Report, I would think that due diligence and a comprehensive overview would, in preparation for this morning, have told you that that information would be asked for and should have been forthcoming here today. I do want to go on record as saying that I am disappointed, that you are not able to provide us with that information at this time.

I want to ask whether there were any other organizations, besides the eight that missed the deadline and the new procedures that you are talking about, besides the eight that received additional consideration.

MS. DEAN: I am not aware of that. Again, I will have to go back and check that, and provide that information to this committee.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: So, for example, you are not able to say whether or not the uniform courtesy was extended to any other group that may have applied that missed the deadline, that there was no sort of variation in the fact that some people had their applications and the fact that they missed the deadline considered, maybe other organizations not?

[Page 13]

MS. DEAN: I will have to verify that. I'm sorry, I don't have that information with me.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Okay. I would really appreciate knowing that. As you know, and my colleague has said, the importance of having a transparent process where everybody feels they are on an absolute level playing field, I think, is very important in the functioning of these programs and the legitimacy of these programs.

I want to ask, as well, about the department's policy and approach to investing in small and new cultural groups, for example, in the theatre community. What do you have in place to assist and nurture, and bring in new groups? I know year after year we continue to provide support to existing organizations. At what stage in the process do we say to some of these existing organizations, you have to be more self-sufficient, and we need to have some variation in the cultural community, and we're going to be investing in some of the new and emerging theatre forms, for example? Can you elaborate on that a bit?

MS. DEAN: I would like to ask Dianne to elaborate on that.

MS. COISH: We, in fact, hope that the concerns that you raised will be addressed through the new program, Operating Assistance to Cultural Organizations, which was developed by the Arts and Culture Partnership Council. You are correct in that with finite resources year after year the same organizations apply and the same organizations receive funding, and that was one of the issues that the Arts and Culture Partnership Council took very seriously, because they indeed heard that from the community as well.

The new program replaces three programs, Anchor Organizations, and Facilities Program and Sustaining Grants to Organizations and Small Groups. In the new program, there is a cap on how much government funding your project can receive, but there's also a minimum. We are hoping, with the criteria that has been developed and put in place, that with the use of or with the assistance of independent panels, we will in fact be able to make some room in that program to allow new organizations to enter.

MR. CHAIRMAN: That concludes the time for the NDP caucus, at least in this round. We'll move on to the Liberal caucus.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. DANIEL GRAHAM: Thank you for coming. I have three topics that I'd like to touch on. The first relates to the film industry, the second with respect to the Arts Council, and the third with respect to the tourism growth. First, with respect to the film industry, there have been many reports recently about the importance of the film industry and the concern that the bottom is falling out of the film industry in Nova Scotia. There have been calls from ACTRA and other organizations to increase the provincial tax credit from its present rate up

[Page 14]

to 35 per cent or 40 per cent. More recently I think the call has been much stronger to move it to 40 per cent.

Let me just set the stage so that we understand what the parameters are. First, the natural inclination for someone to locate a film in Canada is to locate it in Toronto, unless they need water or some other scenery that might be available in some other place. It's the most natural thing for people to do. While the tax credit in Toronto is 30 per cent, if one goes down to Hamilton, they get an additional incentive, so it's really like being in Toronto. It puts us at a competitive disadvantage. You're undoubtedly aware of the moves that are being taken and anticipated by Manitoba and British Columbia. These are provinces with whom we compete to attract businesses here.

I've received several letters from constituents of mine who are in the film industry, who are saying that we, last year, lost several films because we weren't competitive. We're at risk of losing some this year. A constituent of mine came to my office just this past week, spoke about a $5 million project, a $5 million film that may be going West. This is something that they are urgently calling on the government to show some flexibility on.

The thing about providing a tax credit and a benefit in this industry, unlike other industries that are more fixed, if you're establishing an industry where there is machinery involved, is that it's very difficult after you've provided the incentive for someone to get up and leave. With the film industry, it is completely transient. So you need to respond to the times, and we need to respond to a time, for example, when the Canadian dollar is higher.

So my question to you is, are you anticipating increasing the tax credit sometime soon? If you are, when will we hear about it? If you can, give us a general indication of whether or not that will be generous and respond to the 40 per cent request? Sixty per cent of something is better than zero per cent of nothing, in our view. The supplementary to that, on the film question, is whether or not you're considering providing additional incentives to the Nova Scotia Film Development Corporation to ensure that we are able to more adequately fund Nova Scotia projects and not just create incentives for American projects that locate in Nova Scotia?

MS. DEAN: I would like to be able to respond, but I can't respond on behalf of the Nova Scotia Film Development Corporation because that falls under the auspices of the Office of Economic Development. We're not directly responsible for the film industry through Tourism, Culture and Heritage. We acknowledge the important cultural impact that film development has on the culture sector, but this really is outside the scope of our department. We are not involved in the tax credit piece.

MR. GRAHAM: I would encourage you to, at your deputies' meetings, because this is obviously a cultural question and it's something I think you persuasively spoke about the social cohesion and other benefits that come from enhancing our cultural industry, this is an

[Page 15]

element of that cultural industry, and while there's not a direct line item responsibility, it's clearly within the scope of Culture, which is where your responsibility rests at the end of the day.

Let me move on then to the Arts Council question. Three years ago, perhaps the most controversial decision that has come out of your department for some period of time - I know, Ms. Dean, you weren't present as the deputy at the time - was the decision to sack the Nova Scotia Arts Council and replace it with the Nova Scotia Arts and Culture Partnership Council. There was some mention, I think, in your presentation about a review, which led to some further enhancements. I'm wondering if you could tell us, briefly, if that was a comprehensive review, whether it was a program review, and whether or not you're able to make that available to us?

MS. DEAN: Certainly, we're working with the Arts and Culture Partnership Council on a number of initiatives and are really quite pleased with the work plan that they've developed. Dianne, I'm going to ask you to speak specifically. You've been working very closely with them over the past year.

MS. COISH: The Nova Scotia Arts and Culture Partnership Council has been in place for roughly two years now. This is a group of volunteers from the sector who meet on a monthly basis, unless of course it's Winter in Nova Scotia and they can't get out for the meeting, which was the case last week. The Partnership Council is involved on a number of levels, one being a detailed review of all of our existing arts and culture programming. The first substantial review was involving the funding for cultural organizations, which I referred to in a previous answer.

In addition to that, the council will be looking forward, what are some of the things that we, together, can do, and in fact we, together with the sector, can do to improve the lot of the culture sector in Nova Scotia. If I could, I will get you a copy of their work plan. I did bring a copy here today, but I would like to cite just a couple of examples of some of the things that they are working on today. As the deputy minister indicated before, there's an education task group set up to examine arts education in the schools. We do not have a whole lot of reliable data on hand, and the question is, is there more or less arts education in the schools? When we say more or less, do we have more than we had 10 years ago, do we have more than we had five years ago? If not, why not? And, what is the value of that?

A governance task force established to look at ways to help organizations in the culture sector develop governance models that will ensure their sustainability or longevity, a resources task group, looking at ways to build a case for culture in Nova Scotia, and how do we involve or how do we engage government, how do we engage the private sector, and how do we engage the public in cultural activity in this province? So there's a lot of work going on at the council level through their various task groups.

[Page 16]

MR. GRAHAM: I would ask that you provide to us, through the Chairman, please, a copy of that plan or review, whatever has been done, and I would suggest, for what it is worth, I'm not sure whether it will be accepted by the political folks who would have to sign off on this decision, that given the controversy around the Arts Council having been sacked and replaced by another organ, it would be appropriate at this stage, three years later, to do a comprehensive review of whether or not, in fact, there have been improvements under the new plan as opposed to the old, and any sort of review like that would have to be independent.

Let me move on to the final area of questioning that I had some concerns about, and I believe my colleague, Mr. McNeil, may have some additional questions with respect to that. You indicated, Ms. Dean, that revenue in tourism was up by 1 per cent this year. It's noteworthy that inflation is certainly running at a higher rate than that 1 per cent. Five years ago, the Premier indicated, when the industry was a $1.2 billion or perhaps a $1.3 billion industry in Nova Scotia, maybe it was $1.1 billion, I'm not sure, that he would, in the first mandate, take the tourism industry to becoming a $1.5 billion industry. That commitment obviously hasn't come about. It was a modest commitment, frankly, given that that would really be close to the rate of inflation, if we had grown by that amount. We haven't even kept pace, I would argue, with inflation.

The new plan that is being unfolded to double revenue, I note, is put out for eight years or so. Depending on what inflation does, while one might suggest that that's a lofty objective, I would say that it is a modest one on the whole. It isn't one that really takes a look at all of our potential, and I know that much of this isn't in our control, when you look at gas prices and the cost of a dollar and that sort of thing.

But the concern amongst many Nova Scotians, particularly those who operate in this industry, is that we haven't been sufficiently aggressive, that we have fumbled this ball over the last number of years, that apart from those matters that we can't control, that I described a moment ago, we haven't marketed ourselves in a way that makes it attractive for Nova Scotians. I recall that just two years ago the marketing investment for the Provinces of Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick were going up, and their tourism numbers were going up substantially at a time when our marketing numbers were going down and so were attractions to Nova Scotia.

I apologize for not having more recent data than the stuff from two years ago, but it highlights, I think, an anxiety that is out there, that these objectives are modest and we're not realizing our full potential when it comes to tourism more generally. Can you comment on whether or not there are actual plans to change the way that we do business to ensure that we reach our objectives this time?

MS. DEAN: I'll make a few introductory remarks, and then Marsha, you may want to elaborate on this. We work very closely with the industry in developing our tourism plans,

[Page 17]

so this is not something we do unilaterally, we do this in consultation with the industry, with extensive research, extensive consultation. They are partners with us in developing the plans that we have. The vision for tourism growth for the Province of Nova Scotia is something that the industry and government, we all, buy into. We all believe in the potential to grow the industry. It isn't without its challenges, as you have noted. There are factors that we cannot control, but we are confident that we are doing everything we can with the resources that we have to maximize value and to ensure that, working with the industry, we have plans in place that they also buy into. Marsha, I'm wondering if you'd like to elaborate on that.

MS. MARSHA ANDREWS: The vision that you refer to that was unveiled in 2002 is, it remains today in fact, to double the revenue in the industry within 10 years, that's by 2012. It is an overall industry initiative. It was driven by the industry, it's where the industry believes they should be. As a department, we are but one of three key partners, in making that vision happen. To be perfectly honest with you, it's neither going to be TIANS nor our department nor the Tourism Partnership Council that is going to do it alone.

There's a great deal of momentum that's required within the industry, within the traditional industry, within operators, with restauranteurs, with people who are operating attractions and looking to build and operate attractions. Part of the real work of the tourism vision team, honestly, and the vision to get us moving is to generate a momentum in nontraditional areas, have people who have great influence right now in the tourism industry, bankers, investors, people who consider themselves perhaps right now on the periphery of the industry and are not necessarily involved in it to see their role in it and to, in fact, join in the momentum. I think that we very much share the momentum that's going on, the urgency within the industry to reach this vision and support it immensely.

MR. CHAIRMAN: We'll turn the floor over to the member for Annapolis, with a little under six minutes remaining.

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Thanks for coming in and doing your presentation. To carry on with that line of questioning, you mentioned 2002, and at that point the revenue for tourism was $1.3 billion, last year it dropped to $1.27 billion, we're a little bit up now, we're talking about wanting to double it by 2012, and yet when I look at the budget and the estimate, there's $1 million less budgeted this year in your estimate for marketing than there was last year. That's a contradiction. It doesn't seem to coincide - you're saying one thing and your actions are leading to another. I'd just like you to expand on that a little bit, if you wouldn't mind.

MS. DEAN: Well, actually, the budget now is $10 million more than it was, and the $10 million investment that was announced is going to go a long way to enhancing our marketing efforts and our product development efforts, all of the things that we need to do to continue to make some headway towards those growth figures. I'm quite . . .

[Page 18]

MR. MCNEIL: You're talking, I assume, about the $15 million investment that was just announced by the minister, over a three-year period. That was not in the picture during your budget session of a year ago. Let's be honest, that money has come available because the federal government has sent money to Nova Scotia and it needs to be spent prior to this budget year, and it's getting out there. That had nothing to do with the vision of the department.

Back when the budget was being developed last year, there was a $1 million taken out of marketing, that doesn't reflect the vision that you're saying, that you want to double tourism by 2012. I'm wondering, how could those people out in the field have any confidence in what's coming out of the department?

MS. DEAN: Well, in budget discussions that were held regarding marketing last year, when we were establishing the budget figures, there were different efficiencies that we would be saving, and some of those savings were realized in different areas throughout the budget. Now, I'll have to go back to the budget figures and verify that or provide you with further information on that, if you'd like.

MR. MCNEIL: That would be great. Just around the actual number of $1.2 billion this year, in speaking to the RTIAs around Nova Scotia, I found only one whose numbers were up. Everyone else's numbers have been down in their regions, substantially down. Yet, provincially we're saying we've increased revenue a little bit from last year, which was down from 2002. The numbers that are coming out of the department do not reflect what I'm hearing and the numbers I'm getting from the RTIAs. I wonder if you could clear that up for me, why there would be such a discrepancy between the RTIAS and your department?

[9:00 a.m.]

MS. DEAN: Certainly, I think that there are different areas of the province that experience different results throughout the year. We're reporting on the overall results for the province, but there are differences regionally in visitation, visitation patterns. Marsha, would you like to elaborate on that?

MS. ANDREWS: With all due respect, the RTIAs are reporting, in many cases, anecdotal information that they receive from visitation to local visitor information centres and those kinds of anecdotal sources. The information that we collect is on a monthly basis and we report back to the industry, actively, once every two weeks in a fax or an e-mail in a communication that we deliver to the industry once every two weeks, we actually are measuring room nights, as recorded by operators around the province. We are measuring entrances into the province through entrance points, through North Sydney, through Amherst, through Yarmouth, and collecting those, as well as a number of others. I think that the job of the RTIAs is not to keep very detailed track of numbers of people moving through their areas, besides which it is difficult for them to do that.

[Page 19]

MR. MCNEIL: With all due respect, the RTIAs are dealing with people on the ground, the people who are running those bed-and-breakfasts, and to somehow suggest that they're not in touch with what's happening in the region when you're using numbers saying that tourism numbers are stagnant because of the price of gas, and yet automobile visits are up, motorcoach visits are up. We're also saying the reason tourism is up is because our airport traffic has gone up.

Let me read to you what it says, how you decide whether that's a tourist, the number of people embarking at the Halifax International Airport includes visitors to Nova Scotia, residents of Nova Scotia returning home, or travellers transferring from other flights. So somebody leaving Nova Scotia, for example, I'd like to know how many times the Premier has been counted as a tourist in Nova Scotia this year, how many times he's left Nova Scotia and come back and been counted as a tourist, or any other minister of the government. How many times has someone stopped in Halifax, transferred flights to leave, and been counted as a tourist? How many times have Nova Scotians flown South, come home and been counted as tourists?

Yet those are the numbers that we're saying are going to double our tourism, yet the men and women who are on the ground talking to the bed-and-breakfast operators are not in touch with what's happening. There doesn't seem to be any rationale for that statement that you made. If you would clear that up for me, I'd appreciate it.

MS. ANDREWS: First of all, I want to go on the record as being absolutely sure that the Regional Tourism Associations and the people who work with them are absolutely in tune with bed-and-breakfast operators and licensed operators and people who work in attractions all around the province. That isn't what I'm saying. What they aren't doing, that they count on us to do and report back to them, that we then balance the information against is actually counting noses of people who come into the province, working with the operators in the province to report, as is per their licence to do, the occupancy and the rate of occupancy. I see it as a balance. I don't think one has the right numbers and one doesn't have the right numbers. Between us, we have a very clear picture, I think, of what's going on in the province.

With regard to the recording of numbers at the airport, we will have people at the airport on a very regular basis, and the airport will help us decipher the people who are moving through versus the people who are moving out versus the people who are moving in through the airport. We aren't talking global numbers of people who are moving through the airport. The Halifax International Airport moves 2 million people a year. Those aren't the numbers that we're counting as our tourism numbers.

MR. CHAIRMAN: We'll move on to the Progressive Conservative caucus now.

The honourable member for Kings North.

[Page 20]

MR. MARK PARENT: Thank you for the opportunity to talk to you. I want to begin by complimenting you, the 2004 audit gave you an adequate mark. I asked what adequate meant, and found out that in the parlance of auditors it meant good. I just want to compliment you on that.

I do want to make a comment, just on what the member for Halifax Citadel said about support for the film industry. I, too, have received numerous letters. We've been leaders in this regard. The problem is that some of the bigger provinces are starting to throw more money at it. This is always a problem of us competing as a small province with larger provinces. I guess my question is, what strategies do we use as a smaller province that cannot put the finances into the programs that larger provinces do? How do we compete? I guess that's a very large question, and really I'm asking for just a very small answer on it.

MS. DEAN: It's difficult, I think, for me to comment on how we would compete, specifically in the film industry. I think generally Nova Scotia is known for some very unique things that we have here. We are branded as an authentic location, a seacoast destination, a place that's friendly, a place where people want to visit, and a place where people want to do business. So, in a broader sense of the word, people looking to do business in Nova Scotia can find skilled labour here, they can find competitive wages in prices, if they want to find skilled labour here, and also they find a quality of life that isn't necessarily available in other parts of the country, certainly in other parts of the world. We do have a lot to offer in terms of Nova Scotia as the brand. But, again, it's difficult for me to comment specifically on the film industry, although I know that there are similar challenges in other industry sectors as well.

MR. PARENT: I want to ask about the RTIAs. My RTIA, the Evangeline Trail Tourism Association, does an excellent job in destination marketing. A question about the funding, they've come to myself recently and my colleague, David Morse, because of funding pressures that they feel. I'm wondering how the funding is allotted, because the RTIAs are so different in size. Ours encompasses Hants County, Kings County, Annapolis-Digby and part of Yarmouth, and there are others that are just single county. How is the funding formula - is it based on population, is it based on county, what is the formula for funding the RTIAs?

MS. DEAN: We've done a lot of work with the RTIAs recently, and have been developing a new funding formula for them. Marsha, would you like to speak on that?

MS. ANDREWS: Traditionally the RTIAs have been funded from the department on a fee-for-service operation. So they provide a number of contractual, in small "c" terms, services, and we will pay them a fee for service. As well, under the Destination Opportunities Program, the RTIAs work with us in identifying particular projects that the province can support through the Destination Opportunities Program that they identify, they define, they operate. We have spent about a year working with the RTIAs, back and forth.

[Page 21]

There's been a lot of dialogue and a lot of valuable dialogue, which, just within the last four months, has settled into a program that everybody has agreed on for funding now that in fact factors in the size of the population that an RTIA services, which may or may not be its membership. The core service of an RTIA is as a ground level, grassroots destination marketer. They take that piece of the province that they know very well and are our best arms and legs to help package it, move it and help to market it under the broader brand of Nova Scotia tourism.

What the RTIAs do in doing that is they serve not only their members, and they are membership-based organizations, but they service their community. So now as we move into the new fiscal year, into 2005-06, we will in fact be factoring into the formula on which we help support the RTIAs, in fact the population that they serve, as well as the services that they provide to deliver the overall tourism plan.

MR. PARENT: Connecting the dots, for my RTIA that should be good news. When is the new funding formula going to be rolled out?

MS. ANDREWS: The funding formula, the RTIAs have already agreed to it. It will be rolled out with the new budget.

MR. PARENT: Moving on to another question concerning the Nova Scotia Arts and Culture Partnership Council, the new one that was formed, and the ability that this partnership gives to give Nova Scotians a greater voice, and I guess the background to this is comments from an artist in my community. Jack Vander Wal is very critical of the old arts system, because he felt it was dominated by a small group, an elite group and a group, in his opinion, that was sort of obsessed with modernistic, post-modernistic art. He is really quite critical of that movement in art, not just here but worldwide, the sort of Dada influence.

Really, I guess at heart he was critical of the autotelic nature of modern art, that there's no reference to any sort of spiritual understanding. Jack Vander Wal was very excited about the changes that we made, that this would allow for far more impact from grassroots artists throughout the province, rather than just an elite based in Halifax. This is his criticism that I'm putting. Can you tell me whether the vision of having a greater say by Nova Scotians and in a sense encompassing a wider geographical distribution has played out?

MS. DEAN: Dianne, would you like to answer that?

MS. COISH: I didn't have a lot of experience with the former Arts Council. I can tell you about the significant difference in terms of mandates, and maybe that'll answer your question. The former Arts Council had arts programming only. The new Arts and Culture Partnership Council has a mandate to work with us on arts and culture programming. In addition, we have a focus on cultural industries. I think that the new system will ultimately - and, in fact, is intended - to make sure that everybody is in the door, no matter what your art

[Page 22]

form or what your dedication is, in terms of art, period. I think it is wider and I think the programs that will come out at the end of the day will, in fact, address a whole spectrum of artistic tastes.

MR. PARENT: How about the geographical basis? It widened out geographically as well?

MS. COISH: In terms of membership on the council?

MR. PARENT: In terms of grants that are given out to various artists and cultural groups. Are we able to track that yet?

MS. COISH: Absolutely. We can, through our database, tell you in every region of the province where grants are being given. I don't know enough about the old. I would have to examine the old to tell you whether or not there has been an improvement.

MR. PARENT: Okay. I just want to express his viewpoints because he was very critical of the old system which surprised me because many of the artists were upset with the change that was taking place and very hopeful for the new system. It was a very interesting conversation we had. He is a wonderful artist, Jack Vander Wal. He actually - much of the imagery in his art, his visual art comes out of his experience growing up as a child during World War II. It is very dark at first but, recently, much lighter. A fascinating individual to talk to and, as I said, very hopeful and very pleased with what our government was doing in this regard.

I was just wondering if we had been able to see the changes. Maybe it might be worthwhile sometime to measure that when you are able to, after you've been in your job a bit longer.

Those are the only questions I have right now, I will reserve the opportunity to come back. I'll turn it over to my colleague for Pictou East.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The member for Pictou East.

MR. JAMES DEWOLFE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Again, good morning ladies and thank you for coming with us today. I certainly agree with your assessment, Kelliann, of the province and the beauty of our province. Until I was plowed out yesterday morning at about 5:00 a.m., I felt like I was living in an igloo but I can tell you this, that I have learned to make really light biscuits and good chili as well. (Laughter) But I felt stranded in our beautiful landscape.

You may probably know that part of the work of our committee is to have briefings from the Auditor General on various departments, and files and audits that he and the staff

[Page 23]

have conducted. Indeed, we did meet with him with regard to your department. During the course of these meetings that we hold with the Auditor General, we hear a lot about accountability, and checks and balances, and areas that may need fine-tuning and this and that, and we take seriously the advice that we get from the Auditor General, as do the departments. I am wondering, does the accountability framework in the Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage meet with the government's reporting requirements?

MS. DEAN: I do recall that the audit did say that we were meeting the requirements. As a matter of fact, we were pleased with the outcome of the audit and any of the recommendations that were made we have taken seriously. We have started to implement those recommendations and consider them very carefully.

[9:15 a.m.]

This audit was a good opportunity for us to take stock of where we were and to see how we could make improvements and how we can improve accountability within our department. We were certainly encouraged by the outcomes and we took the recommendations and observations seriously, and are continuing to work with those. Implementing some of these recommendations will be in our business plan for the next fiscal year. We were pleased with the audit recommendations and results, and look forward to further acting on the recommendations.

MR. DEWOLFE: I am wondering what procedures are in place with the Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage to ensure that funding for the programs are managed efficiently?

MS. DEAN: Well, we have an application-driven process and I think that that's at the root of good accountability. That means that people that want to apply for our programs need to fill out certain information on the applications. It's open to people on our Web site. Then there are various strict criteria and eligibility requirements. They are reviewed, as appropriate, whether it be by a peer jury in some instances, or an independent panel, or staff, where it is most appropriate for those recommendations to be made and the assessments to be made. I am confident that we do have the systems and procedures in place to ensure fairness and equity.

We review these on a regular basis and, in fact, have undergone a program evaluation within the department as part of our business plan. We constantly look for best practices so that we can be more consistent and we can make improvements on an ongoing basis. This is an evolution. This is something that you always have to look at. Once you do it, you don't just stick it in a drawer and forget about it. Constant improvement means continuously looking at the way you do things, continuously looking at others and seeing if you can learn from those best practices. That's what we continually try to do throughout our business planning framework.

[Page 24]

MR. DEWOLFE: So you have the appropriate accountability procedures also in place for monies that are directed to your various investment programs?

MS. DEAN: Yes, we follow the procedures that we have. As I said, there are intake procedures through the application forms, there are deadlines, there is evaluation, there is criteria in place and there is also reporting mechanisms in instances where those that receive funding need to provide a report back that accounts for what they have done and the results that they have achieved, and we track that.

MR. DEWOLFE: Well, I guess it's not a surprise then, as my colleague said, that the Auditor General has given quite a positive review of the Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage through his 2004 audit work. I guess, perhaps, some other departments that need some fine-tuning could learn great lessons from the work that you do within your structure.

The Bluenose II has been in the news quite a bit lately, starting with the issue of the trademark dispute and, more recently, the Bluenose II operating agreement, which I understand cost the people of Nova Scotia some $650,000 per year but expires in a few months. By the way, just as a quick question, when is the expiration of that contract?

MS. DEAN: The contract expires at the end of March.

MR. DEWOLFE: The end of March, okay. Now last Friday the Premier said that the Bluenose II - like in the song, the Mary Ellen Carter - will be truly sailing this Summer, "sailing once again". One way or the other, the Premier said. I agree with him. He went on to say that the schooner is too important to the people of this province to be tied up dockside in a management dispute. I certainly agree that the Bluenose belongs to the people of Nova Scotia. I feel bad for the people of Nova Scotia that this is happening. I think most reasonable people agree that the Bluenose belongs to the province.

I know that attempts have been made recently to resolve the differences between the government and the Preservation Trust over the operation of the schooner, but they were not successful to date. Maybe you could tell us a little bit about the status of this dispute. It seems to be something that should be able to be resolved easily, yet there seems to be also complications involved. Maybe you could kind of bring us up to speed on that.

MS. DEAN: First of all, I certainly agree with your comments, the Bluenose II, she's a sailing icon, she's an ambassador for the province, she's important to all Nova Scotians, she's an important part of our heritage. It's certainly in everyone's best interests that we protect that. We want to do what's best for Nova Scotians, we want to do what's best for the Bluenose II, we want to make sure she continues to sail. Yes, the contract does expire at the end of March, so what we're currently doing now is looking at what options we have in light of the fact that there is an impending contract expiration date upon us. Again, we are considering very carefully what we might do, but at the end of the day the Bluenose II

[Page 25]

belongs, as you said, to the people of Nova Scotia, and she'll sail. We want to make sure that people have access to her, and that she continues to be a sailing icon, an ambassador and that her heritage and the important legacy that she has for Nova Scotia is protected and preserved and presented for all to see.

MR. DEWOLFE: Do you think another group will take over control of the schooner?

MS. DEAN: As I said, I don't know exactly what will happen at this point. We're exploring what options we have. In a situation like this, you've really got three options. You can continue with the existing entity, you can look for a new entity, or you can take it over yourself. There are a number of options to look at, and each of these options has advantages and has disadvantages, and we have to spend some time looking at that and determining what will be in the best interests of Nova Scotians and what will be in the best interests of the Bluenose. But she'll sail.

MR. DEWOLFE: Are some negotiations going to take place? I know it kind of broke down. Are they planning some more talks in the near future?

MS. DEAN: We're exploring exactly what the options are right now, and we'll probably be in a position to determine a future course of action within the next few weeks.

MR. DEWOLFE: I realize I only have one minute left, and my colleague would like to continue on that subject, so I'll just ask one more brief question. You already mentioned it, but the tourism industry in Nova Scotia, how much money is generated now? Just to reiterate, how much money does the tourism industry contribute to the province?

MS. DEAN: Well, the revenues for the tourism industry are $1.29 billion, and in terms of provincial tax revenues, I don't have that number quickly, but we can get you that as well.

MR. DEWOLFE: It's $1.29 billion that's generated. It's incredible.

MS. DEAN: It's a huge economic generator that employs more than 35,000 people in this province.

MR. DEWOLFE: Where does it fit as an industry in this province, in the scale of things? It must be right up near the top.

MS. DEAN: Well, if you ask Nova Scotians, I think they'd say it's close to the top.

MR. DEWOLFE: It must be.

[Page 26]

MS. DEAN: I don't know exactly where it fits in terms of some of the other industry sectors but I do know that it is certainly a significant economic generator.

MR. DEWOLFE: Thank you very much.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The next round will be 10 minutes.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): I, too, will continue on with the questioning about the Bluenose II and the conflict we've seen it in over the last, I'd say, well, it's been dragging on for quite some time. You mentioned in one of your responses to a previous question about needing time to look at what is the right avenue for us to take on this.

I stood in this Chamber in the Fall of 2003 and asked the minister about his intentions, especially around some of the implications around the trust and monetary gains it was asking from people using the image of the Bluenose. Then there was, of course, the legal battle, and the province stepped in and it kind of defused, somewhat. The minister at the time, last Fall, stated that they were close to having a new body overseeing the operation of the Bluenose II, and it was going to be in the new year of 2004.

In the Spring 2004 session, I again stood in this Chamber and asked the minister the same question. He indicated that they were close to having a deal or a new agreement. I again stood in this Chamber in the Fall of 2004, and the minister stated he was working on it. So, I'm just wondering how much time your department is going to allow to pass before making a decision on the future of the body overseeing our Bluenose II?

MS. DEAN: Well, we do have a contract that expires at the end of March, so there's a deadline in place, for sure. As I said earlier, we are looking at a number of options right now to determine exactly what we will do. The trust has operated the ship for close to 10 years and has done a good job of preserving the Bluenose II. So, certainly we need to take that into consideration. The process that you did talk about, the transition team process was something that we did try to engage in. It was difficult to make that work, and so, as I said, we're still looking at what options we have available to us, and are quite mindful of the fact that the contract expires at the end of March. Again, this is an issue that is important for every Nova Scotian and something that we take very seriously, and we're going to do our best to make a decision that is going to be in the best interests of all Nova Scotians.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): I would agree with you, the trust has done a great job running the Bluenose II over the last 10 years. It's come a long way since their inception. But, what is the stumbling block with coming to an agreement? Is it the department or is it the trust? Who's not coming to the table and trying to work out this deal?

[Page 27]

It's been well over a year and a half. Where are the stumbling blocks, where are the doors that are shut that aren't making it possible to come to an agreement?

MS. DEAN: I think it's really difficult to say. I know that there have been a number of discussions that have been held. I think at the end of the day what we want is a clear accountable contract, a clear accountable arrangement. That means at the end of March we need to look at what we're going to do to ensure that happens and to ensure, again, that Nova Scotians have access to the Bluenose II, that she continues to sail, and that she continues to be a sailing icon for this province.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): In the Auditor General's Report, there was some talk about contracts and agreements, and they said that they had found that contracts were entered into open, tendered process as required by the government procurement policy. Are you stating that this agreement that is up April 1st, which spends $650,000 a year of Nova Scotia taxpayers' money, is it going to be open to the same government procurement policy?

MS. DEAN: What I'm saying is that we've got some options to consider. That's one of them. As I said earlier, we could do a number of things. We could continue the agreement with the trust, we can work with them, we can see if we're going to extend it, we can go and get a private operator and follow that kind of a process, or, again, we may decide to operate her. Again, we have to take a good look at each of those opportunities or options and determine which one we're going to follow.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): As the minister stated and you've stated, you're taking a good look, but what happens April 1, 2005, a couple of months away now? Is it that you have meetings set up for the next two months, on determining what's going to happen after April 1st, or is this contract going to lapse and then you'll find yourself really trying to figure out what to do? We only have two months to go to the maturity of the

agreement.

[9:30 a.m.]

MS. DEAN: We are confident we will be ready.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): It kind of makes us wonder if maybe the minister, especially after questioning over the last year and a half, was just waiting for the April 1st deadline. I would have liked to have seen, before the deadline, a contract or an agreement in effect. Can you say that there are any more meetings scheduled as of today?

MS. DEAN: Not that I am aware of.

[Page 28]

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): And is the minister or your department going to initiate another meeting in the near future, within the next couple of weeks, or are you just waiting to see what the trust is going to do?

MS. DEAN: I'm not aware of any more meetings but I can tell you that we are very carefully looking at what our options are.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Definitely most Nova Scotians are concerned with what is going to happen and I know the Premier has stated that it will sail and it begs one to wonder what is the big issue here, what is the big problem? So I guess we will have to wait until April 1st to see exactly what happens with the operation of the Bluenose II.

Another quick question on a different topic, about rural communities and the effect of tourism in most of these communities. As we know, there is a great out-migration of our young people in these communities and they depend greatly, a lot of these small communities, on tourism money and support from the government to keep their economic viability and to be able to continue providing services for their residents. Is your department ensuring rural communities have the support and funding, especially when it comes to awarding funding in a geographic area? Do you track funding in certain regions of the province and are you ensuring that each region gets its kind of funding that they deserve, especially when it comes to places like the Eastern Shore that receives a small percentage, I think around 2 per cent of the Tourism budget is spent in that area where they have the Sherbrooke Village and that area is greatly dependent on tourism. Are you tracking where the funding is going geographically in this province?

MS. DEAN: That's an interesting question. We can get information on where some of our specific program funds go. We actually are in the process of implementing a new tracking and monitoring system so that we will be able to answer those kinds of questions. Right now, a lot of the records that we keep are in different spreadsheets but we will be doing a centralized database so that we will have all of our programs and projects in this database and we will be able to a little more quickly tell you what geographic area or the geographic dispersion of all of our program funds throughout the department, throughout the province.

I think when you look at the way we distribute our funding now, it is based on application criteria, it's based on need, it's based on the applications that are made to the various programs. There are tourism programs, there are culture programs, there are heritage programs and so all three of those reach out into communities throughout the province. I think if we were to look at that, there would probably be a fairly even geographic dispersion but I don't have those specific statistics at my fingertips right now.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Could you get that for the committee or are you able to process that on a . . .

[Page 29]

MS. DEAN: I will certainly go back and see what I can get.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Okay. Just a point of clarification. I said 2 per cent of the Tourism budget. I meant 2 per cent of the tourism dollars are spent on the Eastern Shore. So with your vision of hopefully increasing tourism to our province, that, I think definitely is an area where we could help support the rural communities, especially the Eastern Shore on trying to generate more tourism to that area of the province. I think it's important that your department realize that these small communities really depend on tourism dollars and when we see in the Auditor General's Report organizations that can kind of have the rules bent a little bit, I would say, with flexibility in criteria, when cuts or pending cuts may happen to some of these smaller communities, you really need to emphasize the fact that you need a clear, open and fair process when you are granting funds especially to organizations in different communities or funding toward tourism ventures, you really need to have an open and fair process when doing this and that way there . . .

MR. CHAIRMAN: Excuse me. I wonder if you could either conclude your remarks or bring yourself to a question since your time has expired.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): What I just wanted to say is that the people need a fair and open process when it comes to granting funds to these communities. Especially in rural communities, they need to be, geographically throughout the province, even. I will end it with that. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much. We will move on to the Liberal caucus for 10 minutes.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Chairman, to continue on in the vein of context that you have entered into, I am interested in the Upper Clements Theme Park. I don't have to tell you how important it is to the Counties of Digby and Annapolis and what an economic generator it has been for those communities. The benefit that the Hanse Society has been in terms of running it over the last 10 years, I think, the success of that speaks for itself. I think if you look at the overall history of it and when the province was running it and when it was run by a foreign entity, there is no question that the Hanse Society is doing the job not only to the benefit of the province but really to the benefit of the community. That contract runs out on January 31, 2006. I'm just wondering where the department is in negotiations or if they have even started negotiations with the Hanse Society.

MS. DEAN: Certainly we are aware of the Hanse Society's role with Upper Clements Park and the incredible job that they have done over the years. We have started discussions on that contract. Marsha, did you want to elaborate on that?

[Page 30]

MS. ANDREWS: I don't know that I can elaborate any more than that. We have a really good working relationship with both the Hanse Society and with the community around Upper Clements Park right now. We, on a very regular basis, understand where the direction of the park wants to go, what the general feelings of the community are, they are very effective in reporting results and timely in reporting results. What we are in the process of doing right now, a little more than a year out, is just sitting down and kind of making sure that we have all the information in the right place, make sure that we know where everything is on both sides, how comfortable they are, how comfortable the department is and we will need to have a discussion internally as well as with the Hanse Society about what the next steps are.

Again, there are a lot of options. You can put these things out to tender. You can work, I guess, with an existing operator if that seemed the best thing to do. Right now, more than a year out, we are actively having a discussion and the important thing is in Upper Clements they are having the same discussion. The community has met a couple of times. The people at the park are out there gathering information, gathering community views, gathering support and input from the community and we are hearing about that on a regular basis, too. So I am quite comfortable that we will come to the best resolution overall for the park.

MR. MCNEIL: One of the concerns I guess that I would have is that a year sounds like a long time and, of course, with the tourism season and preparing, marketing and all of that, the decision needs to happen relatively quickly, really, whether it is a new operator, and my hope is it is the Hanse Society that would be continuing to operate but it gives them a chance to move forward and put together a plan because before long we will be moving through into the 2006 tourism season, really, to prepare for it. In light of what is happening with the Bluenose and we are coming to that deadline and we still haven't got a decision, I'm just wondering if you have a time line in your mind when this needs to be settled?

MS. ANDREWS: We have been talking actively with the Hanse Society now about gathering all of the information that we need. Do I have a time line right now? I agree with you completely that by the time the park closes for one year, it begins planning for the next year so we have to be looking out that far in advance. I couldn't give you a date today. I couldn't say that we have sat down with the board and actually agreed to a date but we are actively working with them on making sure that, as I say, it's the right answer for the park and the operation of the park.

MR. MCNEIL: Perfect. I look forward to hearing that date.

Cruise ship travel, which is up and being promoted quite heavily by the department and the province as being one of the successes, a couple of questions around it. One is, with the cruise ship terminal here in Halifax, I have asked the minister this in the House and really didn't receive an answer. That is, I am curious as to why there is not a visitor's information

[Page 31]

centre right at the cruise ship terminal. Why would we not be promoting Nova Scotian attractions? Why wouldn't we promote, for example, the theme park? Why wouldn't we be promoting Sherbrooke Village at the cruise ship terminal? When many of the visitors arrive, they either get off, they have already had pre-arranged trips to Peggys Cove or somewhere else. Why wouldn't we be taking advantage of that large number of visitors who are coming into Nova Scotia as soon as they step off the cruise ships?

MS. ANDREWS: We don't have a provincial information centre at the cruise terminal downtown or in Sydney as yet. However, a visitor can get information, if they want to get information, certainly at the Halifax cruise terminal.

The nature of the cruise business, for the most part, doesn't give you the ability to do a very long run-out trip, and it's a very highly-managed business. Many of the trips, unless somebody is going to spend the day roaming around the city, most of the trips are sold before the passenger actually arrives in Halifax. The big opportunity that we have, and the one that we are constantly trying to maximize, is to get information into the hands of that visitor so they're here next time for way longer than two or three or four hours.

MR. MCNEIL: That's my point. They've got to search it out. Why aren't we going to them? When they step off the boat, why aren't we laying in their lap every tourist attraction that the province offers? Why aren't we saying, when you return to this province, we know you're on a tight time frame, why aren't we saying to them, we want to you come back, and here are the other attractions that Nova Scotia has to offer to you? That's not available to them, unless they go out and search that out. As you just said, they're on a very tight time frame because that cruise ship has been managed and their time in the province has been managed so tightly. Why aren't we being proactive?

MS. ANDREWS: I believe that we are being as proactive as we can be within the confines of a sector of the industry that's reasonably detailed in how it manages its passengers. You don't have to go too far down on the Halifax waterfront or in Sydney to find yourself a visitors' centre that is full of information. We will offer to anyone who is in the province and leaves the province a form, all they have to do is either call us or write us or e-mail us and they will get whatever information they choose to get. If they end up going to Peggys Cove, which many of them do, there's a visitor information centre there as well. Without actually handing people a travel guide as they get back on the ship, which we actually don't have the ability to do, we're attempting the best we can to encourage them to seek out - not to seek out the information but to have at their fingertips a way to reach the information that they need as quickly as possible.

MR. MCNEIL: I would think one of the roles of government and the department would be not to leave it to chance, do everything possible to ensure that that visitor returns to Nova Scotia. One of those ways would be to be in their face when they arrive in Nova Scotia, be the first thing they see, here's the tourist information. One other question around

[Page 32]

cruise ships, are you doing anything to promote the small ports, for example, like Digby, in terms of cruise ships? One of our resorts, Digby Pines, is there, it's within travelling distance, a very short distance to historic Annapolis Royal, the birthplace of this province and great country. Are you doing anything? Is there anything available through the department to help promote ports like Digby as a destination for the cruise ships?

MS. ANDREWS: The Nova Scotia Cruise Association is the provincial group which, for the most part, is made up of small ports all around the province. The Nova Scotia Cruise Association works with the Atlantic Canada Cruise Association as well in actively promoting any port that any cruise ship in this province would be interested in seeing. Some of the smaller ports are in fact seeing ships. Baddeck is seeing ships. There has been some real interest of late in some of the smaller ports. In many cases it's the nature of the business now, because, yes, we will always welcome a great big cruise ship, but in fact it's the allure of small places that many of the customers are looking for these days, and they're travelling on smaller, more boutique-style cruise lines. Those are the ones that, for the most part, a smaller port is more capable of comfortably servicing. Yes, through the Nova Scotia Cruise Association, we're actively promoting those.

[9:45 a.m.]

MR. MCNEIL: One of the issues that's been brought to my attention is around some of the attractions, and Sherbrooke Village, as I mentioned earlier, we talked about the Theme Park, Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens, many of these facilities are finding it difficult to operate because they're using some of their operating budget to deal with capital expenditures. The structures are getting older, they're needing to maintain them. Is there any move afoot in the department to have a long-term plan to ensure, before we start building new attractions, to maintain the existing ones that we have to ensure that the many volunteers who are running these facilities are not burnt out just trying to keep the buildings, as opposed to attracting people?

MS. DEAN: We are aware that there are operating pressures on many of those attractions, and Sherbrooke Village, as you identified, is one. I know they're undertaking a study to look at how they can improve their operations and enhance their sustainability. We do have programming within our department that we use and that supports community museums throughout the province and provides operating assistance to many museums throughout the province. Admittedly there are times when that isn't enough to help them keep up with some of the infrastructure challenges that we have.

We also work closely with the Department of Transportation and Public Works, and I know that in some instances they have helped some of these museums with those types of challenges that they have. Certainly as part of some of the strategies that we're undertaking to grow the heritage sector and to look at the heritage sector more broadly, we would

[Page 33]

definitely look at some of the infrastructure requirements that will be necessary over the longer term.

MR. CHAIRMAN: We'll move on the Progressive Conservative caucus.

The honourable member for Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank.

MR. GARY HINES: Mr. Chairman, I'm going to start out with just a comment regarding the Bluenose Preservation Trust. I agree with you when you say that preservation of the Bluenose II has been done well, especially physically, because I understand the boat is in good repair and ready to go back and serve the province another season. However, I applaud you for the negotiations that are going forward to perhaps find a different body to operate as we go forward, because I think there's been a gross assumption of power on the part of Senator Wilfred Moore.

In particular, one of my constituents was abused, almost, by the public dragging through the court process to be able to use the name "Bluenose" which belongs to the Province of Nova Scotia and the people of Nova Scotia. It cost him somewhere in excess of $100,000 in legal fees, and he has not been compensated for that. I think to suggest that the preservation of the Bluenose II has been perfect is not right, because to drag an icon such as this through the courts is wrong. So I'm glad to see that you are looking at other operators or another process and a new working agreement, because this has gone on much too long. It's almost an abuse situation. Anyway, that's my comment regarding the Bluenose II Preservation Trust.

I would like to move on to an area of tourism that is growing and hasn't been mentioned yet here this morning, and that's the motorcycle tourist industry. I have constituents of mine, Harold and Wendy Nesbitt, who publish a booklet, the Motorcycle Tour Guide Nova Scotia. For those who haven't seen it, don't back away from picking up a copy of it because it says motorcycle, because traditionally we believe motorcyclists are dirty old men in leather, and they're not. They are a very active part of our society. Older members of society are getting into the freedom that's given by motorcycle travel.

Now, I had a meeting recently with Harold and the minister regarding the Motorcycle Tour Guide, and perhaps it's already come to your bailiwick to look at. One of the problems that arises is that this booklet that's privately produced by advertising is in direct competition with the Doers and Dreamers Guide. I can tell you that I was at the air show this Summer and the guys who flew in there from the American military, I was talking to them about Nova Scotia, and they were coming back, they thought, and they belonged to a motorcycle club. I sent them a copy of the Doers and Dreamers and a copy of the Motorcycle Tour Guide. I got a request for two dozen Motorcycle Tour Guides, and none of the Doers and Dreamers.

I think we have to look at trying to find a niche where we can fit a publication such as this so I am asking you to look into that niche.

[Page 34]

Now I'm going to move to a question. There seems to be an overlap in what some government departments do and your department, in particular, with Tourism and Culture overlapping with Economic Development and Natural Resources. I think it poses a problem for you to do what you do best and that's promote tourism in Nova Scotia.

I'm going to be involved in the Off-highway Vehicles Act and coming forward with an Off-highway Vehicles Act that all Nova Scotians can live with. There is a great opportunity for economic impact there. Have you had any discussion with the off-road vehicle committee that's put together by the Minister of Natural Resources regarding the economic opportunity? I think it's a two-fold fix; one that operators, users and property owners and so on can live with, but to introduce an economic impact statement along with it. Would there be an opportunity to partner with Natural Resources?

MS. DEAN: I'd have to say I don't have a lot of information on that. I am aware that there is a committee that's going to be looking at that and I think that we have been invited to participate on that committee, and that we have a staff member involved. Marsha, do you know any more about that?

MS. MARSHA ANDREWS: Yes. The senior policy advisor in our office is, in fact, working on that committee right now, so the tourism point of view is clearly there. The Tourism Partnership Council also was involved in presenting its point of view in a piece of information as well to the off-highway vehicle consultations that were done by Voluntary Planning as well, so Tourism has been very actively involved in there.

MR. HINES: I appreciate that and, for your information, there is an organization called the Canadian All-Terrain Vehicle Association and Bob Ramsay has done a piece on economic impact regarding Alberta and, I believe, Ontario, that could provide a model for us in Nova Scotia. It might be an opportunity for you to introduce that to the conversation.

One of the things that you were talking about, grants outside of the deadline process. I find, in my office, quite often I will get calls from people who say, oh, we missed that deadline, because there is a perception out there that when you feel the need for a grant, or participation by one of the departments, be it yours or Economic Development, that you can, in fact, fill out your application and go through that process. They don't realize that there are grant deadlines.

Now, you suggested that you were aggressively pursuing that. Have you a list of those that have traditionally applied for grants and are you awakening them to the fact that you have to meet deadlines or you're going to miss your grants, or we will get into situations like we had last year with. . .

[Page 35]

MS. DEAN: Absolutely. The department has done a lot of work, as I said, working with clients to advise them of the process. The deadlines are posted on the Web site. We make it clear to those who are applying that there are deadlines.

Again, as I said, it has been an evolution because we have gone from a system where there was more of an expectation that they would get a certain grant at a certain time, to there are very clear deadlines. This helps us be more fair, to process it much more efficiently, and to ensure that we are judging people fairly and in accordance with eligibility requirements, and the same kind of evaluation criteria.

Again, what I would just like to add is that, yes, we are trying to ensure that it's very clear when those deadlines are, that it's communicated. Our organizations are getting used to that now. They are understanding that it is different than the way it was before.

MR. HINES: Yes, I think it's more new individuals who might be wanting to access the system and not knowing whether to go to Economic Development or to your department. There is a bit of an overlap problem there that you probably see on a regular basis as well, as to, where can we go to access these things. So I'm glad to hear that you're doing that.

I did have the opportunity to see the roll-out at TIANS and I applaud you for getting the new monies for TIANS. I could see the elation on the faces of the department people there and how excited they were about a new direction.

Anyway, Mr. Chairman, I'm going to pass off to my colleague on my left.

MR. CHAIRMAN: We just have slightly more than two minutes left.

The member for Kings North.

MR. MARK PARENT: Thank you very much. One of the few - it wasn't really a criticism, it was more a suggestion from the Auditor General - was that the economic model used to calculate the impact of tourism on the province, its economy, should be reviewed and updated. You mentioned that you're working on all these. Could you just fill us in on how you're responding to that.

MS. DEAN: Sure. The economic impact model has various inputs. It's the inputs and the data that comes from, as I understand, Statistics Canada that we are using in that model. That's the data that we would like to see updated. We are now expecting that when Statistics Canada does update that, we will be able to then use it in our model. So we are aware that there is an opportunity to update it.

I would want to point out that it is a really solid model that was developed by Gardner Pinfold and it is quite comprehensive, extremely reliable and the data that we use does err

[Page 36]

on the conservative side. While it can be updated, and we look forward to using new inputs when Statistics Canada does provide that information, we are very confident in the model, itself, and the statistics that we do get from it.

MR. PARENT: So there's not a question of changing the model, simply changing some of the assumptions that go into the model and some of the variances.

MS. DEAN: Certainly. Marsha, did you want to add anything on the model?

MS. ANDREWS: No, not really. The model has been in place for some time and we are comfortable that it works but like anything else, it's driven by the up-to-date information that you put into it. Statistics Canada figures that sometime during 2005 they will have their information reworked in a way that it will be input into our input-output model and simply help to refresh it.

MR. PARENT: So once that data comes in mid-November or so, we will see a change?

MS. ANDREWS: Well, no, because then we would need to take that information and go in and rework our own input model. It's a process, it's a real project to do this.

MR. PARENT: Right, okay.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much. That concludes the time available for questioning. I would like to invite Ms. Dean to make a closing statement of up to five minutes, if you wish.

MS. DEAN: Five more minutes? (Laughter) I would like to thank you all for the opportunity to appear here before Public Accounts. I guess, in summary, I did want to address the audit. I said earlier, and I do maintain, that we are pleased with the results of this audit and we believe that the Auditor General recognized that we have positive practices, and that we have made progress in many of the areas, in terms of accountability and governance. Again, as I said, there are areas for improvement, we have studied them and we are certainly in the process of implementing the actions to make those improvements.

We welcome the opportunity to be here, we welcome your questions and I would just like to thank you very much and thank my colleagues for being here with me.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much. Before we conclude, are there any items of business requiring the attention of the full committee? If not, a motion to adjourn.

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

[Page 37]

The motion is carried.

This meeting of the Public Accounts Committee is adjourned.

[The committee adjourned at 9:58 a.m.]