MR. CHAIRMAN: I would like to call the Subcommittee on Supply, the debate on estimates for the year 2002-03, to order. This is now day five. The time in debate so far is 15 hours and 49 minutes. Today's date is Monday, April 15th. When we adjourned, we had 13 minutes remaining in the NDP's time for asking questions of the minister. We are debating Resolutions E10, E12, E14, E15, E17, E22 and E28. Honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage, you have 13 minutes in your time, and the time is now 14:54.
The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.
MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Chairman, I wonder, just going back for the record, I don't think we were able to put on the record the answer to the question - I think it was with regard to the Court Services Administration.
MR. CHAIRMAN: The honourable Minister of Justice.
HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Chairman, just for the record, the answer on that was that it was purely a posting change as a result of the transfer from Transportation and Public Works to the Department of Justice of the leasing costs for court facilities, so it was purely a bookkeeping area. In a previous year, it would have been shown under Transportation and Public Works. The costs of those leasing costs are now covered under the Department of Justice budget, but the actual cost would not necessarily have changed.
MR. DEVEAUX: So, for example, in Dartmouth where you have a court facility based in a professional building, you have to pay rent and that cost used to be covered by Transportation and Public Works and now it's covered by your department directly.
MR. BAKER: That's correct. Another good example would be in Bridgewater. There's a provincial building which is obviously, overall, the responsibility of the Department of Transportation and Public Works, however, part of that space in that building would be, for example, used by Probation Services of the Department of Justice, the actual percentage of the square footage of that building which is attributable to the Department of Justice would then be allocated to the Department of Justice so that it gives a better representation of what the actual cost of operating the Department of Justice is. Before, of course, it was all hidden under the department - not hidden, but it wasn't accurately shown.
MR. DEVEAUX: One of the other questions I asked on Friday was with regard to the $1,000 grant last year through the Fatality Inquiries Act administration. Is there a response to that?
MR. BAKER: Yes, it is a posting error, I am told. It was a very, very good job on your part of sleuthing and that posting error has been corrected. It was just simply a posting error and it should be posted to Restorative Justice. The expense is there, it was just posted to the wrong account. By the way, just in order to answer another question that you had from the other day - it was with respect to the Victim Assistance Fund - I will provide the copy of the sheet to Mr. Deveaux, but it indicates for example the disbursements from the fund and where they've gone. Perhaps if Mr. Deveaux has any questions about that information he can ask that in supplementary questions, Mr. Chairman.
MR. CHAIRMAN: I have requested it before. I asked that any information provided be provided to all three caucuses, regardless of who asked the questions.
MR. BAKER: We try to do that. I wasn't here to hear that, so I would be more than glad to do that with any further information.
MR. DEVEAUX: With the 10 minutes I have left in my hour, I just have a couple of other small points that I wanted to bring up. I see Ms. Carrigan is here, so I assume the Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal comes under your heading, and I have a couple of quick questions on that one. How many adjudicators or decision makers are there now employed by WCAT?
MR. BAKER: Twelve full-time.
MR. DEVEAUX: So there are no part-time?
MR. BAKER: Plus, of course, the chief of the Workers' Compensation Appeal Tribunal.
MR. DEVEAUX: I don't know how they judge it, whether it's based on the annual year or fiscal year, how many decisions would have been rendered in the last year?
MR. BAKER: They don't have the figure for this fiscal year, so for the previous fiscal year, it was 2,306.
MR. DEVEAUX: Decisions?
MR. BAKER: Decisions.
MR. DEVEAUX: That would be for 2000-01?
MR. BAKER: That would be for 2000-01, yes.
MR. DEVEAUX: Now there was, in theory, a backlog that was being dealt with, so we would expect that those numbers would have gone down probably more accurately in the last year.
MR. BAKER: My understanding is that there is presently no backlog at the workers' compensation Appeal Tribunal. The outstanding decisions there are simply - and there are obviously outstanding cases before the tribunal - those cases where one or both of the parties are not in a position to take them to hearing. So there would be situations where, for scheduling reasons for example, the appellant isn't ready to take the matter to hearing.
MR. DEVEAUX: Are there many decisions - because I find sometimes in Workers' Compensation what happens is you have a test case that's being run up the ladder so to speak, and I'm thinking of the Martin case in particular, which is going to the Supreme Court. How many others are maybe waiting to hear on that one before they sort of want it dealt with? Is there any of that happening?
MR. BAKER: No, what happens is those cases are decided by WCAT based upon their own internal precedent, then those cases are appealed to the Court of Appeal and my understanding on those cases is, when they get to the Court of Appeal, the Court of Appeal simply stands those cases on the Court of Appeal docket until they have heard the decision in the Supreme Court of Canada or in the Court of Appeal, at which case a decision is rendered based upon that new decision.
MR. DEVEAUX: Can you tell me briefly what the status of the Martin case is? Has it gotten leave from the court?
MR. BAKER: Yes, it has gotten leave.
MR. DEVEAUX: Has it been argued?
MR. BAKER: It has not been argued. They understand that it would likely be - of course we all know they are not certain - heard at the Fall sitting of the Supreme Court of Canada, so that is the Fall of 2002.
MR. DEVEAUX: So we're talking another year anyway before we get a decision.
MR. BAKER: I would think it would be a year, because it will be six months likely once the Supreme Court of Canada has actually heard argument before they render a decision.
MR. DEVEAUX: I was listening to the news yesterday morning at 8:30 a.m. I think that is all the questions for WCAT. Thank you - has there been any money budgeted for compensation for Clayton Johnson? Has there actually been money set aside in your budget for compensation for him or other people who have been wronged? Where does the money come from if tomorrow or two months or two years from now your department determines that they will compensate him or anyone else for wrongful conviction - or however you may want to term it - where does that money come from?
MR. BAKER: It would ordinarily be taken care of out of central funds. There are two reasons, of course. One would be the issue, very simply it would be like labour negotiations, that if you were to carry the item identified as John Smith - we will use a hypothetical name - John Smith's case, then automatically John Smith would know that John Smith could do no worse than X, and therefore it would be used as a floor. That would be the first and obvious reason, and the second thing is that it's up to the Department of Finance largely to ascertain the accounting that they take for that.
MR. DEVEAUX: So let me be clear, to bring this back to a budget issue - this is all hypothetical, of course - if Mr. Johnson or anyone else was to receive a fairly large compensation, that would have a dramatic impact on your overall global budget of the government wouldn't it? Are you telling me that you have not budgeted for the compensation of any wrongfully convicted individuals in this year's budget?
MR. BAKER: The Department of Justice does not. I did not say the government has not, I simply said the Department of Justice did not.
MR. DEVEAUX: Would your department be involved in anything if there was any money set aside for that?
MR. BAKER: We would obviously have a discussion with the department concerned, but that would ordinarily be booked under Finance.
MR. DEVEAUX: Let me ask, has your department had any discussions with Finance with regard to allotting some money for compensation of people who are wrongfully convicted?
MR. BAKER: That would be subject to solicitor-client privilege and I would not be in a position to indicate that, and I think you can understand the reasons for that.
MR. DEVEAUX: Actually, I have to ask, maybe you can explain how that is a solicitor-client privilege, because I'm not absolutely sure of that?
MR. BAKER: Well, because this is a situation where you have the probability, which is what we're really talking about, of someone being entitled to compensation. It would be dependent upon legal advice as to the merit of the claim. So obviously the advice, which would be the fundamental underpinning from the point of view of the Department of Justice on the merits of a person's particular claim would be subject, in my view, to solicitor-client privilege. It is no different than if you were being asked for an opinion as a solicitor to determine whether or not Mr. X had a case of merit or not. That would be subject to privilege. I should also say, by way of clarification, I used the word error before with respect to the leases - it's not an error, it was simply a matter where it was included as a single global picture, and in fact it was determined to be more accurately reflective. It was based on a department-by-department budget for the record's sake as much as anything.
MR. DEVEAUX: I have two minutes left, Mr. Chairman?
MR. CHAIRMAN: You have two and a half minutes.
MR. DEVEAUX: I may have another question, but just on that point, your dealings with the Department of Finance are presumably, they're being asked for as a budget item whether there needs to be a setting aside of a certain amount of money - whether it be for Mr. Johnson or, hypothetically, for anyone - a pool of money for that issue. I'm not absolutely clear why that would necessarily be a solicitor-client privilege, and I'm not going to press the point, but in my mind if they were related to a specific case, maybe I could see that, but if that's your answer with regard to that . . .
MR. BAKER: In short - and I won't prolong the discussion - it would be fundamentally based upon an assessment of the likelihood or lack of likelihood of being successful in obtaining compensation through the courts. It's a liability determination issue, so obviously I would take the position that it's ultimately an issue of solicitor-client privilege.
MR. DEVEAUX: Okay. Let's see if I have a couple of quick snappers before we finish. Under Administration, I know we have a short time, but the numbers have gone from - on Page 18.3 of the Estimates - Salaries and Benefits under Administration has increased
about $1.5 million from last year and I guess I'm hoping for you to explain to me why the large jump?
MR. BAKER: The largest measure, that is simply the increase in salaries for staff for lawyers because of course lawyers are administration in this case, and of course the lawyers in keeping with the Public Prosecution Service have had a very significant increase in compensation and that of course is reflected. The other one is that there would be additional cost for FOIPOP administrators because we have engaged additional FOIPOP administrators and we anticipate more particularly with respect to the Shelburne school case, plus there are additional solicitors who have been engaged to serve departments, child protection being the biggest area, and that item would have been shown differently in the past.
MR. DEVEAUX: Under Administration comes actual legal services being provided, not just . . .
MR. BAKER: Pardon me?
MR. DEVEAUX: You're actually identifying lawyers who are providing legal services to various parts of government under Administration, not under some other heading?
MR. BAKER: Under Administration you have the Minister's and Deputy's offices, Legal Services, Library Services, Policy Planning & Research, FOIPOP and Information Management. As you can appreciate, that would be a fairly large chunk of the department.
MR. DEVEAUX: Thank you. I think that's all my time.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Your time has expired. Now to the Liberal caucus for questioning.
The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes. The time is 3:08 p.m.
MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Thank you Mr. Chairman. I may be sharing my time with one of my colleagues. Good afternoon, Mr. Minister. I'm here in my capacity as Aboriginal Affairs Critic. My first series of questions is with regard to that responsibility.
MR. BAKER: Could you talk into your microphone Mr. Boudreau? The acoustics in here are terrible, so I wasn't able to follow you, I'm sorry.
MR. CHAIRMAN: I will have "control" upstairs put him up a little bit, maybe tone down the bass and put up the treble.
MR. BAKER: Sounds like a rock and roll band. Go ahead, Mr. Boudreau. I'm sorry to interrupt you, it was just that I couldn't hear what you were saying.
MR. BOUDREAU: It's not a problem, Mr. Minister. A lot of people think you're not listening anyway.
MR. BAKER: Well, I was actually trying to listen, at least.
MR. CHAIRMAN: For the purpose of Hansard, they do ask us to keep the microphone rather close.
MR. BOUDREAU: Thank you. Could you provide a breakdown of the Aboriginal Affairs' budget please?
MR. BAKER: I don't know where to start, but I will go through it by saying that there are 12.1 staff members. I'm not so sure in particular what your question relates to, but I can go through each individual item. We can provide detail, I can break out any part. Obviously Salaries and Benefits are $672,000; Operating Costs are $1,042,000; and Grants and Contributions are $460,000, for gross expenses of $2,174,000. I can provide more detail beyond that - those are the big categories as you can appreciate, I have two sheets of detail that I can give you with respect to any particular item you would like.
MR. BOUDREAU: Okay, perhaps I can help you out here, if I may. Could you tell me how much of the budget consists of salaries, including the deputy minister's, and other administrative costs?
MR. BAKER: That would be the $672,000 figure. Included in that $672,000 would be civil servants of $439,659 and OIC appointments of $104,871 - which I believe is the deputy - and casual, $44,000. Then there's fringe benefits and PSSP which is Public Service Superannuation Plan and that is $31,000. Basically, in simple terms, you have the deputy and then the rest of the civil servants.
MR. BOUDREAU: So, am I correct there's over $1 million in salaries? Is that correct?
MR. BAKER: No. The two items for salaries, direct cost would be $543,000.
MR. BOUDREAU: Could you indicate how much you're prepared to spend this year in economic development?
MR. BAKER: The single biggest part of economic development that would be part of a government program would be the gaming agreements, because they pump nearly $20 million into Aboriginal communities for economic development purposes. Those would be the agreement with respect to the Sydney Casino profits and also the VLT revenue-sharing with the communities having the VLTs and the province having a flat cost for the machines. The Office of Aboriginal Affairs does not have a significant other amount of money for
development. It's an office that's not particularly program-oriented, so for example the Office of Economic Development would continue to have some programs which would be for Aboriginal economic development, but those would not be part of the estimates for the Office of Aboriginal Affairs simply because they're economic-development related, but there is an economic development function to the gaming agreements.
MR. BOUDREAU: Could you indicate how many bands signed the Sydney Casino agreement?
MR. BAKER: It's 11 of 13 that have signed the Sydney Casino agreement.
MR. BOUDREAU: How many bands are in Nova Scotia?
MR. BAKER: Thirteen.
MR. BOUDREAU: So what do you do on the two reserves that have not signed the agreement?
MR. BAKER: Those communities were offered an opportunity to share and they have elected not to do so.
MR. BOUDREAU: So there's no economic activity or support at all from your government or the Gaming Corporation for those reserves?
MR. BAKER: Well, there would be none under the gaming agreements. There would be no economic development under the gaming agreements because those communities have elected not to avail themselves of the money that's there.
MR. BOUDREAU: But don't you feel you still have a responsibility for economic development on those other two reserves?
MR. BAKER: Yes, there would be, under the tripartite economic development or community development. There is a tripartite forum and part of that money would be provided to communities out of the Economic Development budget, and other government budgets as well. They wouldn't be getting - to the extent that the gaming agreements have a particularly Aboriginal function relative to the Office of Aboriginal Affairs - that money simply because they choose not to want it.
MR. BOUDREAU: Could you tell me which two did not sign?
MR. BAKER: Bear River and Afton.
MR. BOUDREAU: Could you tell me how much money your department put into those two areas last year for economic development purposes?
MR. BAKER: Our department wouldn't be putting money into those communities. There would have been no direct grant money to those communities from the Office of Aboriginal Affairs.
MR. BOUDREAU: So basically what you're saying is that those two communities are losing out because they did not sign the Sydney Casino profits agreement, is that correct?
MR. BAKER: Yes, those would be the agreements that were based upon - the former administration developed a model agreement which at the time was created with agreement of all the Aboriginal communities. The plan was designed so that every community which opted in would have to opt in on the model agreement, the reason for that being that none of the communities would sign on unless they knew they were all coming on the same terms, and that was an agreement that had been structured by the former administration.
MR. BOUDREAU: Could you tell me how much your department spent on negotiating treaties and other negotiations, how much travel and that sort of thing that staff and yourself compiled?
MR. BAKER: Certainly we have staff in our office whose responsibilities include a broad range of negotiation and discussion kinds of responsibilities. So yes there are significant responsibilities where people have that. Clearly, one of the things that we're looking at as a government is we're hoping to find an umbrella agreement with the communities in Nova Scotia and we would anticipate that agreement being entered into in the next three or four months.
MR. BOUDREAU: So you are negotiating now?
MR. BAKER: We've pretty much completed the discussions with respect to the first stage of the agreement; in other words there will be an initial agreement, if you want to call it that, and then there would be further discussion leading to the agreement in principle, if you want to call it that, and then finally there would be a final agreement. That's the phasing that would be going on. We have community support for the umbrella agreement.
MR. BOUDREAU: What about social development, have you spent any money in regard to social development?
MR. BAKER: Again, the social development money would be the gaming money, the casino money, whatever you would like to call it; the office itself is not primarily focused on direct grants. It's not like the federal Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, which is where the largest of their budget or the largest part of their reason for
being is to actually deliver programs. Other departments in government would deal with the programs, for example the Department of Education has initiatives dealing with Mi'kmaq education and those kind of things, which they deliver, whereas of course education programs with the federal government would mostly be delivered through the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.
MR. BOUDREAU: Are you aware of the changes in the housing aspect of Aboriginal Affairs this year?
MR. BAKER: I'm sorry, I didn't hear you.
MR. BOUDREAU: The changes to the housing program?
MR. BAKER: Oh, yes. Ki'knu. It's not part of my responsibilities because it would be in the estimates for the Minister of Community Services because it was out of his budget, but I am aware of it, yes.
MR. BOUDREAU: So you were consulted on this change?
MR. BAKER: I was aware that the Department of Community Services was making that change.
MR. BOUDREAU: Were you asked for your opinion on this issue?
MR. BAKER: I'm not sure that would be the right way to describe it. Obviously the Minister of Community Services is responsible for administration of his budget, so I was aware he was making it, and clearly he believed it was the best decision for the budget he administers. I guess it was not my decision to say yea or nay to. That's not a criticism of the decision by the way, it is just simply not something that was within the scope of my responsibilities.
MR. BOUDREAU: Housing, the previous way that the service was delivered, wasn't that your responsibility?
MR. BAKER: No, the program delivery for housing is completely vested with the Minister of Community Services, who is the housing minister for Nova Scotia, so that that program was not in any way, shape, or form, ever an Office of Aboriginal Affairs program. It was always funded as a housing program and it was inherited by the former Department of Housing as part of the Rural and Native Housing program of the federal government, so it never was lodged at all with the Office of Aboriginal Affairs.
MR. BOUDREAU: How much money for last year did it cost to deliver this housing service?
MR. BAKER: I couldn't tell you, it wouldn't be part of my budget estimates.
MR. BOUDREAU: For last year, 2001?
MR. BAKER: I can't tell you how much it would have cost to administer because the program is not part of the estimates for my department, so all I know is that that would be something that you would have to ask the Minister of Community Services in his estimates.
MR. BOUDREAU: How much of the budget was spent on off-reserve Aboriginal people?
MR. BAKER: I can tell you that with respect to Aboriginal and Intergovernmental Relations, the total amount of $505,442, but we don't segregate out of that on-reserve or off-reserve. It's not broken down between the two.
MR. BOUDREAU: Why not?
MR. BAKER: I suppose the reason is because from our point of view, they are all Mi'kmaq Nova Scotians and we are responsible to deal with them all. So we deal with those issues as they arise, depending on where they are; we simply deal with them on that basis.
MR. BOUDREAU: Could you tell me the last time the bands received their share of the Sydney Casino profits? When was it?
MR. BAKER: September 2001, they would have gotten the funds for the year 2000. The reason for that is because, under the agreements, the communities have a responsibility to provide financial records, so it takes a number of months for them, after the year has ended, to get the information to the Office of Aboriginal Affairs.
MR. BOUDREAU: Could you tell us how much each band received?
MR. BAKER: Yes, sure. I can give you the breakdown for the communities and the amount of revenue each community got with respect to VLTs, and we're looking for the casino part. We will undertake to provide the other. For Acadia First Nation, the net revenue was $3,157,549.80, and they had 50 VLTs; Annapolis Valley, their net revenue was $1,385,852.90, and they 18 VLTs; Chapel Island had $755,607.40, and they had 32 VLTs; Eskasoni had $2,399,403.05, and they had 81 VLTs; Glooscap First Nation had $433,985.50, and they 18 VLTs; Indian Brook First Nation had $967,206.70, and they had 49 VLTs; Millbrook First Nation had $7,754,858.10, and they had 110 VLTs; Wagmatcook First Nation received $529,745 in net revenues, and they had 22 VLTs; and Waycobah First Nation had a net revenue of $1,159,052.05, and they had 44 VLTs. The total amount received, Mr. Boudreau, would be $18,543,260.50, and that would be based on the revenue for 424 VLTs.
The Sydney Casino revenues - and we can give you the breakdown on that as well, but we will have to undertake to provide that - on top of that $18,543,000 would be an additional $1.8 million; 50 per cent profit of the Sydney Casino. So, as you can see, I'm doing very big rounding, but it would be over $20 million in total, the profits distributed amongst the First Nations.
MR. BOUDREAU: Were there any difficulties in processing the claims?
MR. BAKER: There were some delays in processing claims while issues between some communities were resolved. All of the claims, ultimately, were paid.
MR. BOUDREAU: Were there any deficiencies in the amounts paid out?
MR. BAKER: I'm sorry?
MR. BOUDREAU: Were there any deficiencies in the amounts paid out to what was requested?
MR. BAKER: I don't understand, deficiencies, there was a time delay with one or two communities in particular that I'm aware of while there were discussions about information being provided but, ultimately, all the money was paid. I haven't heard of anyone who believes they are owed any of that money. All of the communities have received the money and, to my knowledge, believe they have received all their money.
MR. BOUDREAU: So the amounts requested were the amounts that were paid out to the reserves? Is that correct?
MR. BAKER: At this point, for that fiscal year, I'm not aware of anybody who has any outstanding claim for any money.
MR. BOUDREAU: Okay, but they weren't disputed by your department either?
MR. BAKER: There wasn't a question about the amount. There was a delay in paying with respect to at least one or two communities until information was provided. There was never, I don't think, a dispute about the amount of money entitled. It's all based upon a formula. So, the VLT revenue, as an example, is simply paid - because Atlantic Loto can keep records of the amount that is made by the machines, and the administration fee is determined by an agreement that they've all signed on to. So to my knowledge there is no dispute as to how much each community was entitled to. I'm not aware of any dispute.
MR. BOUDREAU: Last year you announced a new process for addressing issues around Aboriginal rights and other treaty-related issues.
MR. BAKER: I didn't catch the last part, Mr. Boudreau.
MR. BOUDREAU: Last year, you announced a new process for addressing the issues around Aboriginal rights and other treaty-related issues. What is the new plan, and what work has been done on this plan, to date?
MR. BAKER: Yes, there was a meeting in Truro in January of last year at which time all of the parties at the meeting, which would be the 13 communities, the federal and provincial governments, agreed on our undertaking to pursue an agreement. Those discussions appear to be successful and would lead to an umbrella agreement, which, as I said, we are hoping will be ratified completely in the next number of months. So I guess that process started or certainly got kicked off officially last January, that would be January 2001, and within the next couple of months it should be successfully completed.
MR. BOUDREAU: Originally, though, didn't you indicate that by March 31, 2001, all the parties would have completed work on the restructuring?
MR. BAKER: Yes.
MR. BOUDREAU: So you're late?
MR. BAKER: An agreement requires three parties to agree. I guess we were all late in getting an agreement, but I'm pleased to report that it appears we have reached that agreement.
MR. BOUDREAU: What are you, as the minister, doing to include Aboriginal people in negotiations involving the fishery?
MR. BAKER: With respect to the fishery, clearly we are engaging this three-party process, which I alluded to earlier. That three-party process would involve stakeholders in that process - the federal, provincial and the communities. That is obviously a forum for discussion of those issues. Obviously, the federal government, as the primary constitutional responsibility, has discussion with the communities as well. I might also add that the Minister of Natural Resources, I'm well aware of the fact that he has had discussions with the communities as part of that process. So the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, both as the resource departments, have had discussions with communities.
MR. BOUDREAU: Could you indicate what you're doing, as the minister, in regard to the oil and gas industry?
MR. BAKER: Again, we would be fostering a process for dialogue between the communities. The actual day-to-day discussions involving oil and gas or any other segment would be handled by the provincial department primarily responsible. So, for example, Aboriginal Affairs would facilitate discussions but those discussions would ultimately be principally based upon initiatives of the Petroleum Directorate.
MR. BOUDREAU: So this new process that you're talking about, the three-party process, is this now a signed agreement?
MR. BAKER: No, we anticipate the agreement will be ratified in the next number of months, before the summer.
MR. BOUDREAU: Is this process agreed to by all Aboriginal people?
MR. BAKER: My understanding is, yes.
MR. BOUDREAU: So what's the tie-up then, and who's the third party? Is it your government?
MR. BAKER: The federal government; we need the federal minister.
MR. BOUDREAU: You're kind of confusing me, though. You're telling me that you're negotiating on behalf of this three-party process, but now you're saying it's not in place, officially. So, which is it? Is it in place or not?
MR. BAKER: What I tried to indicate was that it is a three-party process involving the federal government, the provincial government and the Mi'kmaq. My understanding is that all of the parties have indicated their acceptance of the principals of this agreement and we're waiting for official ratification of the agreement by all of the parties, which we anticipate will occur before the summer and, frankly, involves scheduling the federal minister. I'm sure he will be coming to Nova Scotia when his schedule permits.
MR. BOUDREAU: So do you have a signed agreement from all the original representatives in the province?
MR. BAKER: The agreement is not signed. That's what we're waiting for, the ratification or signing process. There would be an appropriate opportunity for everybody to sign.
MR. BOUDREAU: Is this the same process you used to ensure the Aboriginal people had been consulted on changes in housing?
MR. BAKER: This is not the same process, no. As I said before, the housing issue is an issue with the Minister of Community Services.
MR. BOUDREAU: How did the government consult with Aboriginal groups with regard to the changes coming forth this year in housing?
MR. BAKER: Again, I indicated it wasn't my area of responsibility. I do understand as much by the grapevine as anything that the Department of Community Services did have discussions with the Native Council and that consultation has taken place, to my knowledge.
MR. BOUDREAU: Not according to the Aboriginal people I speak to. I want to be clear. You regard it that it's not your responsibility to ensure, as minister, that the Native Council of Nova Scotia and the other groups, you don't regard it your responsibility to ensure there was any consultation with these groups? That's not your responsibility?
MR. BAKER: I didn't indicate that there wasn't any consultation. I think what I indicated was that the primary responsibility rested with the Minister of Community Services. I understand that consultation did occur and I understand this matter is now before the courts. So I'm not trying to not answer your question, but there's going to be a point at which I think what you're really doing is asking questions about a matter that's before the courts.
MR. BOUDREAU: Are you personally aware that groups were consulted?
MR. BAKER: My understanding is that there were discussions between the Department of Community Services and the Native Council, yes.
MR. BOUDREAU: Do you feel it's your responsibility to ensure that these groups were consulted with prior to any changes?
MR. BAKER: I think it's a moot question because they were consulted, to my knowledge. So I guess it wouldn't matter whether the answer were yes or no, in fact they were discussed.
MR. BOUDREAU: Is it your responsibility, Mr. Minister, that's what I'm asking you? It's not whether they did or they didn't; was it your responsibility to ensure that the Native people are consulted prior to changes similar to the housing issues that are ongoing this year?
MR. BAKER: I believe they were consulted and I believe it is desirable that Native people be consulted about program changes if possible. It's important to remember this is not a treaty right. It's a contractual right in this particular case, but it certainly is desirable that people be consulted, and I can tell you the Office of the Aboriginal Affairs, that is the primary reason for its existence, that there be consultation.
Obviously, consultation does not always mean that people will necessarily agree at the end of the day on the change. I understand in the case of Ki'knu there obviously was not agreement between the Native Council and the Minister of Community Services, but the fact that those discussions took place was something that we encouraged, I guess is a good way of saying it.
MR. BOUDREAU: Would these changes have any effect on your staff?
MR. BAKER: I'm sorry?
MR. BOUDREAU: Will the changes in housing have any effect on the staff in your office?
MR. BAKER: No.
MR. BOUDREAU: No?
MR. BAKER: None, positive or negative, because it's not our program. That's the thing; it's a program of the Department of Community Services.
MR. BOUDREAU: Okay, so you do believe it is your responsibility to consult with the Natives prior to any changes? From my previous question, is that a yes?
MR. BAKER: I think I've answered it, but . . .
MR. BOUDREAU: It's a yes, is it?
MR. BAKER: . . . to take it out of the - long ago, Mr. Boudreau, as a lawyer, I learned that nobody is obliged to answer any question yes or no. But I will answer the question by saying that our strategic goals, as an office, are to facilitate and support a coordinated approach within government on matters related to Aboriginal Affairs. I believe in that, and, in this case, that happened.
MR. BOUDREAU: Are there ongoing negotiations with the various Native Councils in regard to gas tax relief.
MR. BAKER: Certainly I am aware of those discussions and those discussions are very, very far advanced. Eskasoni, obviously, which is in the honourable member's constituency is one community that will be significantly benefited by this. My understanding is that we are in the very last stages of arranging for the smart cards which would allow individuals and communities to purchase gas on reserve without paying the provincial gas tax.
MR. BOUDREAU: What about previous taxes paid? Are there negotiations ongoing in regard to refunds?
MR. BAKER: There are discussions ongoing with respect to that; what amount of money that would be outstanding, and, again, my understanding is that those discussions are underway. I believe they're being held, it's a three-departmental committee. On one part, of course, is Service Nova Scotia, because they have statistics and tracking; we have Finance because of course it involves tax and a liability of the province; and the final area would be Aboriginal Affairs because obviously it's our responsibility to coordinate negotiations and discussions with Aboriginal communities. So, in short answer, those three agencies are all represented at the table. My understanding is that they're making progress.
MR. BOUDREAU: So your government regards these as legitimate claims?
MR. BAKER: I think there's no question that we recognize that there are court decisions which indicate that Aboriginal people, status Aboriginal people, living on reserve who purchase fuel are not subject to provincial fuel taxes purchased on reserve. We acknowledge that and that's why we're having the discussions because it's one thing to acknowledge that, it's another thing to figure out how much is owing and to whom. For example, there are some individuals who, as I understand it, individual Nova Scotians who feel they are entitled to a rebate of funds as well, not just the communities, but individuals.
MR. BOUDREAU: Do you have an amount of how much this could possibly cost the government?
MR. BAKER: I think that it would be impossible because they, meaning Aboriginal people, would have an idea, and of course we would have an idea and that's why we're negotiating. In all fairness, there's an exchange of information going on. As you would be aware, some of that part-of-the-time record keeping was imperfect. I think that would be a very nice way of putting it. When you get back into the 1950s you are talking about information that's 50 years old. Now about the amount of fuel that would have been consumed and, as you can appreciate, to try to figure out how much fuel would have been consumed in any community in Nova Scotia in 1950 - pick a year - is a very difficult thing.
MR. BOUDREAU: But your government does recognize that a rebate is in order?
MR. BAKER: We recognize that those people were entitled to an exemption, yes.
MR. BOUDREAU: Okay, in regard to Eskasoni, Mr. Minister, when you were there and I was at a meeting, last year, you indicated your support for several issues in regard to the Eskasoni community. The first thing that comes to mind is a sidewalk. May I ask what activity you have undertaken to ensure that this community receives a sidewalk and the other issues that were discussed at that meeting?
MR. BAKER: With respect to the sidewalk, I can indicate to you that I passed what the community was asking for along to the Department of Transportation and Public Works and the Minister of Transportation and Public Works and his staff would have been involved in any discussions after that and they are still, I think, in discussions. There are safety and design issues about sidewalks and roads in Eskasoni, for example. My understanding is the Department of Transportation and Public Works would still be engaged in those discussions. You would have to ask the Minister of Transportation and Public Works where those discussions are at the moment. Those are operational issues with respect to the department and all I know is that the matter was passed along.
MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Minister, that's approximately one year ago. Don't you think that's long enough to ask the Minister of Transportation and Public Works to send along a report on these issues?
MR. BAKER: My understanding is that the federal government has asked for the communities to submit a redesign of the proposal and that that is the holdup, in fact, or one of the parts of the holdup. My understanding, again, is that that redesign has been submitted recently and they're waiting on federal government response, because the federal government obviously has a large measure of responsibility with respect to infrastructure on communities.
MR. BOUDREAU: Absolutely, I agree, but I also believe that the minister - if you are aware of these issues that are affecting Eskasoni or any other reservation that it would be your responsibility to promote this type of development on these reserves. I guess my question is, what have you done to ensure that these issues will be dealt with?
MR. BAKER: We've passed on the matter to the Department of Transportation and Public Works and we've kept abreast of the fact that there are ongoing discussions with the Department of Transportation and Public Works and the federal government about design issues. So I guess we have done something and I feel we have done what is my responsibility and what is the responsibility of the Office of Aboriginal Affairs, which is to make sure the dialogue is kept open.
MR. BOUDREAU: Are the negotiations ongoing for employment opportunities for Aboriginal people?
MR. BAKER: The Economic Development Committee of the tripartite forum would be the primary forum for those discussions. Obviously, communities would also come forward from time to time with proposals to various provincial departments, such as Economic Development.
MR. BOUDREAU: What about royalties relating to the natural resources for Aboriginal people?
MR. BAKER: I'm sorry?
MR. BOUDREAU: Royalties relating to Nova Scotia's natural resources?
MR. BAKER: That issue, of course, is at least partly the issue that is underlying the famous logging case that is winding its way through the courts, which is the issue of ownership and Aboriginal title and all those kinds of things. Certainly, there is a fairly wide difference at the moment between expectation, at least of some people, and the delivery, but there have been no direct royalty discussions - well, there have been discussions with communities about natural resources, but there are no royalties in payment as far as I know.
MR. BOUDREAU: So there are no negotiations ongoing in regard to royalties?
MR. BAKER: There are no negotiations ongoing, however, the three-party agreement I talked about before, the agreement that's hoped to be signed shortly, that agreement would be a venue for discussion of royalty issues, land title issues, natural resource issues, fishing issues. All of those issues would be subject to discussion in that process. All of the issues would be subject to discussion at that time.
MR. BOUDREAU: You have me a little confused. Is the process in place or isn't it? You indicated before that the process was ongoing and it really wasn't completed yet because you didn't have a federal commitment, I believe is what you said. Now you're sitting there saying you're using this process. How can you use a process that is not finalized?
MR. BAKER: The difficult part is that there is a tripartite forum process which is still in existence. What the parties are on the verge of at least ratifying would be an umbrella agreement which would involve a three-part process which would involve discussion on any issue that either party wanted to talk about. That, for example, could include natural resource ownership or royalties; it could include fisheries ownership and division of resources and taxation issues, which, of course, was one of the things, and that process would have three components - agreement in principle, final agreement and then, obviously, an implementation phase.
MR. BOUDREAU: So are there are any negotiations in regard to royalties relating to Nova Scotia's natural resources for Aboriginal people? Are there negotiations ongoing?
MR. BAKER: Not yet, but it is assumed that will be happening or potentially will be going on in the near future.
MR. BOUDREAU: Okay, I'm going to switch over to Justice now, Mr. Minister, if I may. I want to ask you about the Bailey report. Could you please indicate how much this inquiry is costing taxpayers?
MR. BAKER: The following are the figures for the investigation of the Bailey matter. It cost $114,439. The Bailey inquiry to date - and by the way these are "to date" figures, because, as you can appreciate, it's not complete - is $361,591. That's in addition to the $114,439 for the investigation.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Could I ask for clarification. Is that over one fiscal period?
MR. BAKER: That's over two fiscal periods. The investigation cost was almost all within 2000-01. Obviously, the inquiry costs have all been, with very modest exception, within 2001-02.
MR. BOUDREAU: Could you tell me how many lawyers are involved in this process?
MR. BAKER: I'm not going to count the lawyers who are members of the Police Commission because there are some people on the Police Commission who are also lawyers . . .
AN HON. MEMBER: Former candidates.
MR. BAKER: No actually, none; no former candidates.
MR. BOUDREAU: Could you explain why you are not going to count the lawyers on the Police Commission?
MR. BAKER: Because they're not acting as lawyers.
MR. CHAIRMAN: You have 15 minutes remaining in your time.
MR. BAKER: They just happen to be lawyers. They are not acting as lawyers. For example, I am a lawyer, but I'm not here acting as a lawyer.
MR. BOUDREAU: Good.
MR. BAKER: We don't have the detail. We can supply that to you. We can indicate that legal services were $274,613.03 and there are five or six law firms involved.
MR. BOUDREAU: Five or six law firms?
MR. BAKER: Yes.
MR. BOUDREAU: Were all these tendered? Did these law firms win this by a tender process?
MR. BAKER: That would be up to the Nova Scotia Police Commission. I didn't get involved in that process for the obvious reason that I felt that it is important that the Nova Scotia Police Commission, as the impartial third party, would deal with that issue.
MR. BOUDREAU: Are there any lawyers there representing your department?
MR. BAKER: No.
MR. BOUDREAU: So the government doesn't have any legal . . .
MR. BAKER: No, there are lots of lawyers there, but there are no government lawyers there, aside from the fact that, obviously, some of the commissioners are lawyers.
MR. BOUDREAU: So who would hire the lawyers?
MR. BAKER: Well, for example, the family has legal representation there. My understanding is that some of the other parties involved in the proceedings have been on TV and have counsel, the CBRM police, for example.
MR. BOUDREAU: There is a process in place for a public inquiry, is there not?
MR. BAKER: That's right. This is not a public inquiry, but there are a great deal of similarities to a public inquiry in the sense that there is counsel there. There is argument. There is evidence from witnesses. The process is very similar in many respects to a public inquiry, although this is not a public inquiry.
MR. BOUDREAU: Why did the Bailey family have so much difficulty obtaining documents related to the investigation?
MR. BAKER: I didn't know they had any difficulty, frankly. That would be up to the Police Commission. The Police Commission has the power to issue subpoenas for information. I'm not being evasive, I can assure you, Mr. Boudreau. Those issues would be
issues that would be matters that the lawyer for the family would have brought before the commissioners for decision.
MR. BOUDREAU: For instance, the medical report and the autopsy report were withheld from the family. Why?
MR. BAKER: I have no idea.
MR. BOUDREAU: Did you interfere in the normal process?
MR. BAKER: Excuse me?
MR. BOUDREAU: Did you interfere in this process?
MR. BAKER: The answer to that is easy. No.
MR. BOUDREAU: I will now pass. Thank you for that answer, Mr. Minister.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Are you passing your time to the honourable member for Lunenburg West? Mr. Downe, you have 11 minutes remaining in his first hour allotment.
The honourable member for Lunenburg West.
MR. DONALD DOWNE: Thank you very much, Mr. Minister, and to the room of staff that you have brought here today. I'm sure that the wheels of justice have just ground to a halt here with these proceedings. But my question to you is in relationship to the court facilities. As you recall, over the years, prior to you being involved with the political arena, from an elected point of view, I might add, there were discussions ongoing with some Chief Justices and so on and so forth with regard to the court locations and upgrading and there is a court fatigue issue in the Province of Nova Scotia. Are you familiar with that, Mr. Minister?
MR. BAKER: Yes, the honourable member can be assured that before I became minister, I had a very practical exposure to the state of court facilities in Nova Scotia because I had occasion to visit various court facilities, most notably the ones presently located in Lunenburg and Bridgewater and in Liverpool on a very regular basis.
MR. DOWNE: Mr. Minister, are you familiar and have you familiarized yourself with the studies that have been ongoing for a number of years within departments as to the priority lists of reconstruction and renovation for court facilities in the province?
MR. BAKER: I have looked at those documents and I can tell you from past memory that my understanding is that the facility in Port Hawkesbury was previously the number one priority for court construction in Nova Scotia. With the announcement of the construction of a court facility in Port Hawkesbury, Lunenburg County moves up the list to the number one priority for new construction.
MR. DOWNE: The specific location in Lunenburg County for the next on the list is where?
MR. BAKER: Lunenburg County, there is a facility in Bridgewater and it would be a replacement for that facility.
MR. DOWNE: So are you saying that the facility replacement for Lunenburg County will be in Bridgewater?
MR. BAKER: I don't think I said that. I certainly didn't say it's not going to be in Bridgewater. What I've indicated is that there is a process which was used in other communities and the process is once, and I want to underline once, there is approval for the capital spending - because without the capital spending, there is nothing to talk about, once there is approval of the capital spending, the courthouse users committee, which is composed of judges, lawyers, other court users, would have discussions with Transportation and Public Works about the best sites for building a court facility.
MR. DOWNE: Mr. Minister, are you aware that prior to the funding approval, that there have been discussions as to where the most logical location should be for Lunenburg County within your department?
MR. BAKER: I'm not sure I know the question, but the department, while I've been here, we certainly haven't taken any position on where it's been. In fact, when the discussions with the users committee began, I told them it was fruitless to discuss locations because we don't buy a site in advance of a capital approval. So, for example, I know I have had individual members of that committee write me a letter suggesting that the Government of Nova Scotia should buy a site on spec in case the site was approved. While I think the site that was pointed out seemed a very good site, we don't buy sites on spec.
MR. DOWNE: Who wrote you that letter?
MR. BAKER: Mr. Rafuse, who's from Nova Scotia legal aid in Bridgewater.
MR. DOWNE: He specified a specific location?
MR. BAKER: Yes, he did.
MR. DOWNE: And what was that location?
MR. BAKER: It was next to the community college. It's a property next to the community college on High Street.
MR. DOWNE: The province didn't feel inclined to . . .
MR. BAKER: Well, first of all, we wouldn't have had the money to buy the site because that's a capital purchase in itself. But, aside from that, it would be like buying the property to build a school. If you didn't have approval to construct the school, you would end up with a lot of real estate and no money to build on that real estate.
MR. DOWNE: Where is the Supreme Court for the Western Region held now?
MR. BAKER: The Supreme Court for the Western Region is held in Bridgewater and at least, certainly in my day, was held occasionally in Lunenburg.
MR. DOWNE: But a majority of the Supreme Court hearings are in Bridgewater?
MR. BAKER: Yes.
MR. DOWNE: What percentage, would you say?
MR. BAKER: It's very high. This is anecdotal, but it would have to be over 90 per cent.
MR. DOWNE: Over 90 per cent of the Supreme Court. So where would the administrative centre in the Western Region be when you're comparing Bridgewater and Lunenburg? What would be the administrative centre?
MR. BAKER: If you're talking about the present situation, for most areas, it would be in Bridgewater.
MR. DOWNE: So the majority of the administrative structure is already in Bridgewater?
MR. BAKER: Yes.
MR. DOWNE: So what is there in Lunenburg?
MR. BAKER: There's a courthouse.
MR. DOWNE: But besides the courthouse, what else is there?
MR. BAKER: Well, to go on an historical anecdote, there was justice administration in Lunenburg until sometime in the mid-90s when the government of the day removed justice administration from Lunenburg to Bridgewater.
MR. DOWNE: Your riding is what riding?
MR. BAKER: Lunenburg.
MR. DOWNE: Lunenburg, yes. Okay, I see. So, there might be a little parochial attitude or political attitude . . .
MR. BAKER: No, no, not at all. It was just a history lesson.
MR. DOWNE: I see, yes. You're familiar with Mr. Carver, Mr. Minister?
MR. BAKER: I'm very familiar with Justice Carver.
MR. DOWNE: Have you met with Justice Carver on court facilities?
MR. BAKER: Yes.
MR. DOWNE: Has Justice Carver indicated that the most logical location for a court facility would be in Bridgewater? A new court facility.
MR. BAKER: I don't recall him saying that actually.
MR. DOWNE: You don't recall Justice Carver ever saying a new court facility is required for Bridgewater?
MR. BAKER: Oh, I certainly recall Justice Carver indicating that a new court facility for Lunenburg County is required on innumerable occasions, I remember him saying that.
MR. DOWNE: And he . . .
MR. BAKER: I don't - and I'm not being glib, I'm being honest - I honestly don't remember . . .
MR. DOWNE: I know you can't play hockey, but you're awful close to it right now.
MR. BAKER: I don't remember him specifying the location, although it wouldn't be a surprise to me if he believed it would be Bridgewater. But I don't remember him saying that.
MR. DOWNE: So what would be, you know, the decision on location according to - the infrastructure for the court facilities are all in Bridgewater. The majority of the lawyers are in that general area. All the other aspects of what's required for court facilities are in Bridgewater. What could possibly be the argument that would make you agree that Lunenburg would be the location?
MR. BAKER: I didn't say Lunenburg. You suggested Lunenburg.
MR. DOWNE: You didn't discount it.
MR. BAKER: One of the factors . . .
MR. DOWNE: Are you telling me then that Lunenburg is definitely not going to be a court . . .
MR. BAKER: I don't think I said any place was definitely . . .
MR. DOWNE: Okay, so you haven't discounted it.
MR. BAKER: I haven't discounted it.
MR. DOWNE: Okay, well then, it's still on the table then so maybe you can explain to me, what would be the logic in putting it in Lunenburg?
MR. BAKER: . . . the issue in siting - to put a more helpful focus on this - is that in Port Hawkesbury one of the fundamental factors that allowed that facility to be constructed was that the municipal government stepped up to the plate and was a partner with the province in the location of that facility, in fact, provided the land to the Province of Nova Scotia for that facility. I would anticipate that any municipal unit that was looking for a facility in Lunenburg County would be prepared to be a partner in that facility.
MR. DOWNE: But you just finished mentioning a minute ago that it would be foolhardy to even consider acquiring land even if it was given to you without it being first a capital decision of government to go ahead and build a facility. And, secondly, you're basically saying that if any municipality or town that says to you, as Minister of Justice or to the department that, by the way, I've a block of land that you can put a courthouse on, even though all your studies indicated Bridgewater was the location, that you would consider going somewhere else?
MR. BAKER: I can indicate to you, for example . . .
MR. DOWNE: Just say yes or no would be great.
MR. BAKER: Very quickly, it would be up to a municipal unit to come forward if capital were approved to determine whether or not they were prepared to be a partner.
MR. DOWNE: So if the Municipality of the District of Lunenburg - I think your campaign manager is a councillor on that - if he were to come to you and say to you, Michael, we would like to have this facility built in your riding and here's the land the municipality will give you, you would consider that?
MR. BAKER: Absolutely because it allows us to build, it gives us more capital money to put into building and the building is the way the facilities are. It's a factor in siting, it's whether or not the municipal unit is prepared to be a partner.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. The time has expired for the Liberal caucus. We will now go back to the NDP caucus.
The honourable member for Halifax Needham. The time is 4:08 p.m.
MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Minister, I have a copy of a letter that was sent to you on December 4, 2001 from the chairs of the Metro Inter-Agency Committee on Family Violence after reviewing the framework for action that was completed by Dawn Russell and Diana Ginn. In this they are essentially applauding certain aspects of your government's response to the Russell report, but at the same time they are expressing as well disappointment that the resources that are required to implement seven of the recommendations were not forthcoming. This was prior to the reduction in money for services to community agencies that play a very important role in the provision of services to victims of family violence.
Essentially, this is the area that I would like to begin my questioning around, to ask you some questions around . . .
MR. BAKER: Could I see the letter please? I'm not . . .
MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Certainly. I will have somebody make a copy - it's my only copy so we will get you a copy of it. At any rate, one of the things we can start with while we're waiting for the letter perhaps, generally speaking, because I've listened to you in the other Chamber talk about the initiatives that you think are important, I'm still very curious to find out why the aspects of the recommendations that more services and more resources are required to keep women and children secure, why those recommendations have not found favour in your department, or with you, as minister, or in your government.
MR. BAKER: I guess what I'm going to try to do, with respect to the answer, would be that we have, certainly within my department, allocated more resources, considerably more resources, to that. In fact, we have put $300,000 into a justice learning centre, we have
$40,000 for statistical research and we have an additional $158,000 in funding for community programs throughout the province.
Those community programs would be delivered through police agencies - two and one-half positions with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, one-half position with the Town of Truro police force and one-half position with the Cape Breton Regional Municipality police force.
MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Then I'm assuming that those are the three and one-half additional positions that were referred to back in the Fall when we did the domestic violence legislation.
MR. BAKER: Yes, that's correct.
MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: So, has the decision been made where those positions actually are going to be geographically in the province?
MR. BAKER: Certainly with respect to two of them - the Cape Breton Regional police force is getting one-half position, Truro is getting one-half position and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police is getting two and one-half positions. My understanding is that it will be primarily up to them to determine where those go and to my knowledge, they haven't made that decision yet. They will make the determination where they believe they can be most efficacious.
MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Besides the police forces themselves, who was involved in the consultation with respect to the allocation of those positions?
MR. BAKER: I think the simple answer was that with respect to Truro, that was a situation where, obviously, that was where the Maxwell case started. It was deemed to be a shortcoming with them and we're trying to assist them in responding. My understanding with respect to the Cape Breton Regional Municipality is the half position they get is relatively equal to their statistical proportion of offences and that was their proportionate share, if you want to call it that. Then the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, which provides the services to the rest of Nova Scotia, outside of, I guess, what you would call the centre of Halifax-Dartmouth, receives the remaining balance of funding.
MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Okay, but that still doesn't answer my question. My question wasn't just about the rationale that underpinned the allocation of the resources, but it was about who was consulted and who was involved in the process of the allocating of those resources.
MR. BAKER: This was primarily through consultation with the chiefs of police or RCMP. This is a result of an analysis of the cases in Nova Scotia and it came as a result of the fact that the Maxwell case involved, I believe, 17 calls to governmental agencies at the broadest level, meaning police, Community Services, et cetera. Unfortunately, in the Maxwell case, no one ever tied all of those referrals to a big picture and this is to provide police agencies with a greater ability to make the contacts necessary to ensure that the big picture is seen.
MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: One of the things that was discussed in the Russell report was specialized courts, specialized domestic violence courts and there has been no response from your government with respect to that recommendation. Can you elaborate on why that's the situation?
MR. BAKER: The difficulty with a domestic violence court is not the setting up of the court itself. A domestic violence court obviously involves an array of services connected with that. Quite frankly, we lack the economic resources to be able to afford that array of services that would make a domestic violence court truly effective. Of course, frankly, we have a lack of capacity in the Family Division of the Supreme Court and the reason for that is primarily the inability of getting the federal government to appoint additional judicial resources to that court. I would more than like, and have approached the federal minister on numerous occasions, to have them appoint more judges to that court because it significantly limits the ability of us to do all the things we would like to do in family law as a whole in Nova Scotia.
MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: I want to go back to the 3.5 positions though because I know that the report itself, the Russell report, in fact, recommended that there be victim services attached to every police department, to all of the major police departments around the province. So my concern, I guess, especially now that we've had the disastrous proposal of the redesign of services out of the Department of Community Services, I think it's totally impossible for 3.5 positions in the province to be able to provide the kind of victim service supports that was envisioned by Dawn Russell. I mean, how on earth can a half position in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality provide the kind of victim services from Port Hawkesbury to Cape North or 2.5 positions to the RCMP for the vast majority of the province. I simply cannot understand how women and children are going to be safe inside this particular model that is clearly so inadequate. I can't imagine being in the shoes of one of these victim support workers attached to a police department where you have such incredible geographic areas to cover.
MR. BAKER: The purpose of these workers is not to be a support for the victims, it's to assist the police in drawing together cases to ensure that the appropriate referrals and connections are made with other governmental agencies. So, clearly, 3.5 positions are designed to allow the police to do a more effective job in delivering their services. The police are mandated to do this in any event. This is additional assistance that the police are getting
from the provincial government to do what is their responsibility as a police service. So, for example, the Halifax Regional Police Service is responsible to do this. It is part of what they're responsible to do. Having said that, we are giving additional resources, particularly because in some police services in Nova Scotia it was determined to be very helpful to assist those police services to better coordinate that police response. So this is not the classic program designed to - it helps, obviously, the victims, but it helps in the indirect way of helping the police service to respond to the problem that the victim has because, clearly, assaults are criminal matters and they need to be dealt with by the criminal justice system, in addition to other responses, obviously.
MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Yes, I understand the Halifax Regional Municipality, the police service here in fact has a full-time victim services worker, which probably comes out of their budget.
MR. BAKER: It does.
MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: She works very closely with Bryony House, but she also works with Avalon Centre and a variety of other organizations like Coverdale, like Elizabeth Fry and what have you. She has a variety of services to call on, I guess, and to draw on. What I guess I'm suggesting in some ways is that you have a limited resource here in communities that are going to lose those services that this person would have to draw on, which would then back up the kind of pressure that this particular person will be under, to find the resources for the necessary response. I mean, the response is not only a response in terms of the police and getting into the courts, but it's also finding all of those other supports that will allow somebody to go through that process. So it seems to me that, first of all, to have such a small number of people spread so thinly in the various areas, like one-half person for all of Cape Breton, one-half person for the Truro area and two and one-half for the rest of the province and now to compound that thinness of resources on the ground with the fact that they're not going to have the same quantity of services to draw on will leave people, I think, both these workers and the people in the situation, vulnerable. In some ways, the expectations have been raised by the Russell report that there will be a better response than what was available when the Maxwell tragedy occurred. So I guess my point is that not a lot has been learned, perhaps, from the Maxwell situation if government is not prepared to actually provide the whole spectrum of programs that are required to meet the needs of people in these situations. Wouldn't you agree?
MR. BAKER: I guess I wouldn't necessarily agree with all of what you said because I'm not so sure that in the Maxwell case one of the difficulties that was highlighted was not a lack of resources in the community, but the fact that there was a failure to coordinate those resources; in other words one agency was not talking to another agency and even within the same agency, meaning the Truro Police Service, there was a failure to communicate. I'm talking about the Truro community particularly here now, I think there was a wide range of services available in that community. The difficulty was that Ms. Maxwell, and indeed the
whole family, did not receive the coordinated response which may have made a difference if it had been coordinated.
So one area where the Russell report I believe is signalling an encouragement is to do a better job of case management for example, and I know the Truro Police Service has made real strides in trying to improve those kinds of things, and I want to commend them for doing that because that's one of the things, you know it's not only a question of having services in the community, if those services aren't properly coordinated then you oftentimes don't get the maximum effect, and I think we would probably both agree on that.
MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Yes, that's true. Mind you, I guess if you remove a lot of services, it makes it a whole lot easier to coordinate services.
I want to ask you - because you talked a lot about the justice learning centre - when the justice learning centre will be in place, what that looks like and how it's actually going to work and who will benefit from that and how soon will we see the benefits of the justice learning centre, because various people who have been doing this work in the transition houses for example, have for years been providing training with police departments, with Crown prosecutors, with barristers who work in legal aid and in the private bar as well, so I guess the question is how will the justice learning centre work, when will it be on stream and what benefits will we see that are different than the kind of work that has been done for years by people who actually know a fair amount about the whole issue of violence in the family?
MR. BAKER: Yes, we have hired a coordinator who will be operating out of the community college campus in Truro. That coordinator will be developing a curriculum which will be used in distance learning through the community college system in Nova Scotia to provide training to Justice personnel, modelled on the program that had been in place at one point in time, and I believe Dawn Russell indicated that that was a good program, what it needed to be done is to be continued, because it had stopped. So this is to provide the continuity for that program, and obviously the reason for using the community college as part of that is because they're located throughout Nova Scotia and provide a physical infrastructure that allows us to deliver the program, not just in Truro but to deliver it in Yarmouth, or Halifax, or Sydney, or wherever. Family violence obviously is a first issue that that justice learning centre is going to be focusing on because of the importance of that issue to the community.
MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Are you saying that it will be a learning centre though that will deal much more broadly than family violence?
MR. BAKER: It could be expanded to other areas of the justice system, yes.
MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Is that the plan?
MR. BAKER: That certainly would be a part of what we hope to have it expand to, including obviously an ongoing . . .
MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: And it will be used as an in-service kind of vehicle, it will be used to train people who are working in the justice system?
MR. BAKER: That's right, to provide programming because clearly, for example you're talking about curriculum, there would be a lot of people in the criminal justice system or the justice system as a whole who would not have been working the last time this training was provided. So it's not just a question of providing training today, but you have to continue to provide training over time, (a) because there are changes and it has to be updated, but (b) because obviously there's turnover in personnel and you don't want to have new personnel coming on who haven't had a chance to receive the training.
MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: I know that last week you spoke about your convictions that women and children will be safe in their homes . . .
MR. BAKER: I didn't say that.
MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Well, I will give you an opportunity to clarify it then, what you did say, because certainly in listening to what you had to say it appeared to me, my perception is that you have strong convictions that the justice system is a system that can protect women to stay and be safe in their own homes, and that's not the view that many other people have about what's required for women and children to be safe. There is a substantial body of research on violence against women. There are periods in the cycle of violence when women and children will be more at risk than at other points in the cycle of violence, and in fact the research seems to indicate that the point where women and children are most at risk in domestic violence situations is actually at the point where the relationship is ending and where the woman in the situation has made it clear that she wants it to end and she's not prepared to stay in a violent relationship any longer. It's during this period of time when quite often if women are murdered in fact that that's the period in the breakup of a relationship where women can be at the most danger and at the most risk.
I think probably you know this as a lawyer and as the Attorney General and as just a person in the community, because this has been something that has been fairly well-documented and discussed and has become part of our public knowledge. In those situations those are the points in time when it's most important that women have a safe place if that's what they require, and what they feel they require, what others advise them that they require in fact, and given that reality I was very concerned about what I saw to be your attitude, that in fact the court process can protect women and I've always - you know I've done some of
this work myself - felt that the courts are one piece and a strong justice response from the police and the court system is very important.
Certainly it's not the whole thing by a long shot, and a very, very important piece to keeping women and children safe is not just relying on those legal structures, but in fact having a strong basis of community-based social services safe houses and other kinds of places, not only because that's where women can be safe but that also is a place where women can meet other women who are going through the same situation, where they share the experience of what it is they're going through and they draw from one another the strength to be able to keep going through that process, where if you take that opportunity away where people meet each other and get strength from one another and people are dealt with as legal cases in a legal framework, where they are very isolated and quite often they are lay people in a highly legalistic situation where they feel inadequate, they don't understand the legal processes and it's very adversarial where their partner, in fact, has representation and has often certain rights of due process and that kind of stuff where it becomes quite a competitive and highly conflicted kind of situation, I think that the possibility for women not to be able to stick with the process because of the isolation and because of their feeling of inadequacy through that process becomes greater.
So I will give you an opportunity to clarify what it is that you did say, because what I heard you say is a very heavy reliance on a judicial process to deal with these cases when I can tell you that it's only half the story and I think that's what people in this province are very, very concerned about, that you're only seeing things in a very technical, legalistic way when we know that the justice system cannot adequately protect people. They need more than that to be able to break free from these situations of great violence and danger.
MR. BAKER: I guess I'm going to begin by indicating that my belief - and this is my experience based on having done family law and having talked to large numbers of people involved in the justice system as a whole - is that the majority of people, the vast majority of people, and we're obviously talking about women here as the largest, single group in family violence, want the opportunity to stay in their own home and be with their children in their own home. There should be an opportunity for women who believe that their safety cannot be protected in their own home and there obviously needs to be an opportunity to provide other safe accommodation for them.
In many cases - in my experience again - many of these women will choose to go with family for example, or friends, over a transition house, not because there's anything wrong with a transition house, but because they as individuals choose that kind of safe place to go to. The judicial system has an obligation to do everything in its power and, in fact, does a remarkably good job, although not good enough obviously in some cases, but does a remarkably good job at protecting women and children from violence, although I would agree with you that one case of serious violence after a separation is too many.
So it's not a question of saying the record is perfect, but I think that given the amount of, unfortunately, domestic violence that occurs in this province, the people involved in the justice system do a remarkably good job of reacting to that. It can be better, and I think we both would agree on that, that it can be better, and part of that better is to give an opportunity to those women and children who wish to stay - key being "wish" - in their own home, to provide every form of legal protection to those people to ensure that the perpetrator is the one who's punished, not the victim. Again, I think we would probably agree that it's appropriate that the perpetrators be the ones who suffer the loss by having to leave their home, not the victim and, if the victim chooses, there should be appropriate support to allow them to live in their home.
That is not right in every situation because life tells us many things, but one thing that it teaches all of us, I think, is that every situation is different and the situation of the violent spouse, the situation of the abused spouse, the family situation, the other supports in the community, the dangerousness of that spouse, are all things which can be, or at least partially, gauged by that person themselves and the police have a certain very important role in that.
I know from past experience that the police will oftentimes suggest to a victim whom they believe is at risk that they should leave. So that's part of the mix. However there are many times when the reason people don't leave is because they don't have custody of the kids, or because they don't have any way to get to work because they can't get the family car, or because they can't get some other legal result quickly enough, and what I was indicating is that I think as a justice system we have an obligation to ensure that those people have access to all of the legal protection, including police protection, that allows those people to choose to stay in their own home.
I was never suggesting that in every circumstance it would be possible, but I do believe that in many situations the women, if they could make their choice - and in the past they haven't been able to make that choice because frankly you know there's nothing more terrifying than dealing with these situations and the prospect of losing your children is absolutely, in my experience, devastating and I think that the idea that there's legal protection for the custody of those children is critical, whether that person is in the home or in a transition house it is critical.
I should also say that I think this is an issue where a lot of women in rural Nova Scotia would recognize that from the point of view of living in a community is very important, it's a support that's very important to people and I will give you an example. In Bridgewater there's a transition house and that is not the community where people in Caledonia in Queens County, or the extreme end of Lunenburg County, in Hubbards for example, would be part of their community and they may go there temporarily, but it's not really part of their community. Those women would rather, I think, if they could have outreach services available to them in Hubbards, or in Caledonia, or in Liverpool, in some
cases than a transition house. But safe accommodation which, is really what we're talking about, is critical to some women who are facing violence.
So it's not a cookie-cutter approach in my view, but I do believe that part of the solution is clearly there and that is to provide more protection for people in their homes. I think it's 7 per cent approximately of cases, to the police at least, who choose to go to transition houses. The majority of those obviously, 93 per cent of those pick another housing option, whether it's family or staying in the home, or going to an apartment of their own.
MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: I think that it is true that people in a perfect world would want to stay in their own home, but unfortunately for lots of people it's very difficult for example if you're a tenant in public housing to feel safe in a situation where perhaps there are other people in other units who are part of an extended family let's say - and rental accommodations, quite often it's difficult to remain in rental accommodations in some situations where perhaps the landlord becomes more concerned about who is the person who is on the lease and whether or not they're going to get their rent, and all of those kinds of things are really true. But I think part of my point as well was that trying to again deal with the things that need to happen to become free of violence is very difficult sometimes at certain points in the breakdown of a relationship.
When I worked at Dal Legal Aid, we used to talk about Sarah MacKenzie, whom you will know, the wonderful late Sarah MacKenzie. Sarah and I used to talk about making a path from the waiting room to the intake room, that we would call the garden path, for women who came to legal aid for representation in domestic violence situations, and we would walk them along this path and say you know at this stage he's going to send you flowers and at this stage he's going to buy you groceries, at this stage he's going to find God and he's going to say he will never do it again, and at this stage this is going to happen, because we had seen all of these patterns and we're very clear that the pressure that women who have been abused would be under to withdraw their applications in the court, to withdraw the charges they had laid, to come back, to come home, if you will, and try again would be very, very strong. I think this is a feature in many of these situations that's the human element, and that's not something that you can quantify in the kind of numerical data that gets collected but it's definitely part of the pattern of the cycle of violence that people are very familiar with.
I think as well you made mention of the fact now that women will be able to know that the custody of their children is secured. I think that's a very important point and it's a point that the transition houses themselves brought here to this table last year when the domestic violence legislation was brought forward. They pointed out that was a serious weakness in the legislation, and I'm pleased to say that was a weakness that was addressed. Let's hope that makes a difference in women's lives.
I guess I want to move from this question and just ask - I noticed in the Public Accounts, this is off the family violence . . .
MR. BAKER: Just one footnote before you leave that, I must tell you that I remember one of my proudest days as a student at Dal Legal Aid was when Sarah MacKenzie baked me a lemon loaf. I can remember how proud I felt having gotten a lemon loaf, because that was the ultimate mark of accomplishment as a student when you could get a lemon loaf. Anyway, I guess that's an anecdote that maybe only those of us who (Interruptions)
MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: No, no, it was the lemon loaf award and it was for closing a file that was sort of one of those persistent and perennial files that changed hands from student to student over terms and that could never get closed or finished. Well done.
MR. BAKER: It's funny how the small accomplishments of one's life seem to be the most memorable sometime. Anyway, I'm sorry.
MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: I have the lemon loaf recipe.
MR. BAKER: It was very good, by the way. Maybe that was because I was a poor student at the time, but I remember enjoying both the satisfaction of success and the taste of the lemon loaf. It just happened that she was a first cousin to David Walker, with whom I practised in Lunenburg County, anyway that's a small piece of trivia. I'm sorry, Ms. MacDonald, but it's taking us down memory lane.
MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: There's lots of Sarah lore we could go through.
AN HON. MEMBER: Do you have the lemon loaf there?
MR. BAKER: Unfortunately, no, the lemon loaf is long gone.
MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: I noticed going through the Supplement to the Public Accounts for your department that there still were payments being made from the Institutional Abuse Program last year - Page 105 of the Supplement to the Public Accounts indicate that almost $5 million was paid out last year, and I'm interested in knowing where that whole program rests at the moment, where it sits. As I understand it, there are still persons who were incarcerated in the institutions who are receiving and who are in need of counselling services, so I'm wondering if you could explain where the program currently sits, how many people are still receiving counselling, or any programs, and what modifications have been made to that program in light of Mr. Justice Kaufman's latest report?
MR. BAKER: The department is sticking to the 1997 guidelines which provide training, counselling, psychological, employment assistance, and medical and dental assistance. Those payments are ongoing out of the fund according to the guidelines that were established in 1997.
MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: So if somebody has been found to have been victimized, an individual plan of some kind would have been developed and they're in receipt of counselling or whatever, then that will carry on for the duration of the program, there hasn't been some shift in policy with respect to what people are entitled to, given the Kaufman report?
MR. BAKER: No, the Kaufman report hasn't precipitated any change. There hasn't been any change in the program as a result of the Kaufman report. I think that's your question.
MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Okay, thank you.
MR. CHAIRMAN: I understand you're passing your time to your colleague, the member for Eastern Passage-Cole Harbour. Your time is 4:51 p.m.
MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: So, I have how much time left?
MR. CHAIRMAN: You have 17 minutes.
MR. DEVEAUX: Thank you. I have a couple of questions. I guess I will stick with the Public Accounts estimates. There are a few things in here that I needed to clarify. I'm sure there are good answers, but I just need to clarify. On Page 107, the last page of the Justice Public Accounts, sorry, Supplement to the Public Accounts: VON - Victorian Order of Nurses - Amherst Branch, $11,000; Tri-County Branch, $31,600; Truro Branch, $31,900; Yarmouth Branch, $8,000. Are the Tri-County and Yarmouth two different ones? When I think of Tri-County, I think of Shelburne, Yarmouth, and Digby. My second question is why were these particularly paid money?
MR. BAKER: I'm only guessing - with respect to that one is that there has been a significant amalgamation in VON in the province. It may have been that partway through the year the VON in Yarmouth amalgamated with other VONs in western Nova Scotia, so part of the year the bills would have been received for the VON from Yarmouth, and then later on they would have been divided by the VON for the Tri-County area. I can tell you in Lunenburg County there has been an amalgamation of VONs. I think that's the answer to that one.
The next question is why VON? They provide nursing services at the correctional centre in Yarmouth, as required. For example, inmates who would require nursing assistance at the correctional centre, we would contract with the VON to deliver those nursing services to the institution.
MR. DEVEAUX: The same in Cumberland and Colchester Counties as well, I presume?
MR. BAKER: Exactly, because one of the differences with the new Burnside correctional facility, of course, because of the existence of the hospital on-site, we are actually able to partner with the Capital District Health Authority for provision of those services in Burnside, and so that we provide security services to the hospital, the hospital provides health services to the correctional centre, but outside of the capital district, because there's no DHA or health on-site, we have to have a partner to contract with.
MR. DEVEAUX: Going down just to Walker Dunlop, it's a law firm in Halifax, $27,186, obviously there are many law firms noted in the Public Accounts, that would just be for legal services provided, per diems for Crown work, what would it be?
MR. BAKER: Those were submissions to Justice Kaufman that were engaged by Justice Kaufman from Walker Dunlop.
MR. DEVEAUX: So it wasn't work done by the government?
MR. BAKER: No.
MR. DEVEAUX: It was done by Kaufman, okay. Three more down, Wayne's Barber Shop, $5,115. Someone named Wayne is going in and cutting hair at the correctional facility?
MR. BAKER: That would be it and if you ask me who Wayne is, I have no idea who Wayne is, but Wayne obviously does a lot of hair cuts at some correctional facility.
MR. DEVEAUX: So you're confirming that that is what that's for?
MR. BAKER: Yes, that's exactly what it's for.
MR. DEVEAUX: Over on the other page, Page 106, Rossignol Sales Ltd., $24,734.52?
MR. BAKER: Rossignol Sales Ltd. is in Queens County, I believe.
MR. DEVEAUX: Is it?
MR. BAKER: It's a car dealership.
MR. DEVEAUX: Is it, okay, I was thinking of the skis. That's why I was wondering.
MR. BAKER: No, no, no, no. Rossignol Sales is a car dealership in Queens County.
MR. DEVEAUX: Okay, so you bought a vehicle from there, I take it, at some point?
MR. BAKER: I'm guessing that, but I . . .
MR. DEVEAUX: Not you personally, you . . .
MR. BAKER: No, no, no, no, I assure you my vehicle does not come from Rossignol Sales, but I do know what Rossignol Sales is, and that would be a vehicle that would have been purchased probably on tender for one of the (Interruption) sheriffs' vehicles, yes.
MR. DEVEAUX: Also on that page, Nova Scotia Barristers' Society, we talked about this off the record last week, but I want to put it on the record. When I was practicing in Ontario, I can't speak if it's still the case now, but 10 years ago the Ontario Government didn't pay fees to the Barristers' Society. I think you're paying about - at least I recall year's ago it was $800 per lawyer, I think, you pay in a fee, maybe it's higher now. Maybe I will start by asking that; how much are you paying per lawyer for a fee to the Barristers' Society?
MR. BAKER: There are the Bar fees and then there's the insurance fee. Which one are you talking about?
MR. DEVEAUX: I just see here Nova Scotia Barristers' Society, $82,000. I'm assuming that that's either a lump sum payment or maybe it's a different payment?
MR. BAKER: I don't think there's any question that in order to stay as a practising lawyer in Nova Scotia you have to pay your bar fees. The issue, I think, is the insurance fees.
MR. DEVEAUX: Right, insurance.
MR. BAKER: Yes, and the item you're looking there for, $82,000, I think represents the Bar fees portion of the insurance. (Interruption) Yes, I am advised that is both, bar fees include both the practising fee, whatever you want to call it, and includes insurance, and there's a very, very significant reduction in those fees that had been negotiated, I can't tell you, it was a year or two ago now.
MR. DEVEAUX: How much of it is insurance as a percentage or as a flat rate?
MR. BAKER: I would have to provide that information. It's a flat amount which was significantly reduced as a result of dialogue between the government and the Bar Society. I would have to give you the proportionate amount that's insurance and regular fees. So I can provide that, I can undertake to provide that.
MR. DEVEAUX: Has there been any analysis as to whether it's cost-effective to be paying for insurance at all or whether self-funding would be something that might be more appropriate in the long term?
MR. BAKER: There have been discussions between the government and the Bar Society. A decision had been made, there is an insurance function, they have provided insurance to the government particularly with respect to the Public Prosecution Service and, clearly, they would be available to respond to negligence claims against those practising lawyers. I guess it was one of those things that the government and the Bar Society, while we have reduced significantly the cost as it formerly existed, we felt that it was important to maintain the practising standing of government lawyers.
MR. DEVEAUX: Were there any claims against the insurance fund for Crown or Justice lawyers from the province in the last fiscal year?
MR. BAKER: Successful claims?
MR. DEVEAUX: Yes.
MR. BAKER: I can't tell you. I can undertake to provide you the answer to that. (Interruption) No, none.
MR. DEVEAUX: Can anyone recall the last time there would have been a successful claim against a Crown or a Justice lawyer?
MR. BAKER: There have been claims filed against . . .
MR. DEVEAUX: Oh, I understand. The old saying, anyone can sue, but can you win, right?
MR. BAKER: That's right, although with insurance it's like, I keep fire insurance on my house in case my house burns down, not because I want it to burn down.
MR. DEVEAUX: Yes, that's true.
MR. BAKER: I think it's the same idea with the $82,000, and it's not $82,000, it's not the insurance portion, it wouldn't take much of a successful claim to burn through the insurance portion of that. I guess that's the risk . . .
MR. DEVEAUX: True, but if it's once every 10 years, or once every 15, and potentially it could be, that's all I'm saying.
MR. BAKER: Yes.
MR. DEVEAUX: The odds of a successful claim against a Crown lawyer representing the Crown is much lower than it would be for someone - in most cases you're not representing anyone, your client is not the Queen.
MR. BAKER: Yes, I think the only situation that you - certainly in the criminal law area it could be argued, I suppose, if people are being deprived of liberty as a result of an error by the Crown there may be some (Interruptions) and malicious prosecution, of course, is another significant source of potential claims.
MR. DEVEAUX: Anyway, I will just leave it with you. It's something ever since I got called here to Nova Scotia I've always wondered why we were paying insurance at all as Crown or public lawyers when in other provinces they don't.
MR. BAKER: No, good point.
MR. DEVEAUX: Even though the fee is fairly reasonable, I agree, it just seemed to me like it was something that didn't have to be and it's one small way the government could save some money.
MR. BAKER: Thank you.
MR. DEVEAUX: On Page 104, there is the Diocese De/of Yarmouth, $20,088. Can you tell me what that's for?
MR. BAKER: My understanding is that the Fine Options Program, they in fact provide supervision services to the government for the Fine Options Program and so we contract with them to provide supervision of that program.
MR. DEVEAUX: The Law Reform Commission last year was down for $150,000, on Page 103 under Grants and Contributions. I thought there was an announcement that you guys weren't going to fund The Law Reform Commission anymore?
MR. BAKER: That was the last year it was provided.
MR. DEVEAUX: So there's no money for The Law Reform Commission, that was it, okay.
MR. BAKER: That's right, but that was the last year. We're just making the payment based on the commitment that had been made to them.
MR. DEVEAUX: A little bit about, maybe we will go with FOIPOP. I'm trying to make sure I have the right book, on Page 18.3 of the Supplementary Detail you have FOIPOP down as an item. There is nothing there as a cost in the previous year. This year you have $242,900. Can you just explain why this year, is it just some bookkeeping transfer or why this year there is down a cost that wasn't there before?
MR. BAKER: There is an additional $100,000 that was transferred from another budget area, plus there are another two bodies that are provided to with respect to that budget.
MR. DEVEAUX: But there is nothing in the previous years at all?
MR. BAKER: It was under a different category. It was under Minister and Deputy; $100,000 of that money was included under Minister and Deputy.
MR. DEVEAUX: So Mr. Doherty who's here, I take he's a full-time FOI officer?
MR. BAKER: Oh, yes, he's very much full time; being the FOIPOP administrator at the Department of Justice is a full-time job.
MR. DEVEAUX: Not necessarily because of the work we do, but I'm sure we're part of the efforts.
MR. BAKER: I'm not pointing fingers, I'm just simply saying it is a full-time job.
MR. DEVEAUX: So now that includes his salary and the salary of a couple other people.
MR. BAKER: Exactly, and those two additional positions.
MR. DEVEAUX: So with regard to overall FOIPOP, are you the one who's in charge of the administration of the . . .
MR. BAKER: I think under one of my various hats I'm probably in charge of FOIPOP.
MR. DEVEAUX: We heard a number early on when you decided to increase fees for FOIPOP. There was $900,000 actually being spent on freedom of information to tabulate and gather information. Do you actually have a breakdown by department?
MR. BAKER: No, I have a breakdown of the cost estimate, but I don't know if it breaks down by department. I will make a copy of that, but just for the record's sake, there was Nova Scotia Justice, one and a half staff; Nova Scotia Environment and Labour, one staff; FOIPOP administrators, the cost was $440,000 and that was based on a survey; the review officers annual grant of approximately $200,000, which came up to $790,000; and then, of course, there was an additional staff of approximately $235,000. So when it all nets out it comes to $885,000.
MR. DEVEAUX: How much are you going to bring in from the new fees?
MR. BAKER: I think people find it very hard to estimate the recovery simply because up until now there was no break between personal information, which is not affected, and other requests for information. Every projection I've seen would lead us to believe that it is very, very, very short of cost recoveries. It was never intended to be full-cost recovery and, in fact it's anticipated it will be very much short of that. I can tell you it is a difficulty next year because of course we will have a year with the new system, but it's hard to anticipate because there's never been a breakdown.
MR. DEVEAUX: Was there some debate with you as a minister about whether it would be fully cost recovered? Was that ever debated?
MR. BAKER: Clearly we looked at that but, of course, what happened is that, even looking at rudimentary numbers, we believe that it would be too expensive for the applicants to do that and so we decided to - there would be those who disagree with me, but in the interest of making sure the system still remains accessible, to keep the system far short of cost recovery.
MR. DEVEAUX: Okay, I think that's my hour.
MR. CHAIRMAN: The time has expired for the NDP caucus. Could I ask the NDP caucus if they anticipate having more questions for this minister tonight?
MR. DEVEAUX: Yes, we do.
MR. CHAIRMAN: It is time now for the Liberal caucus. Mr. Downe from Lunenburg West, you are continuing your questions.
MR. BAKER: Mr. Chairman, what time did we start, just for my curiosity here as much as anything?
MR. CHAIRMAN: We called it to order at 2:53 p.m. and they started at 2:54 p.m. with the questions.
The honourable member for Lunenburg West.
MR. DONALD DOWNE: If the minister wants to take a Baker break, he's welcome to.
MR. BAKER: No, he doesn't want to. Absolutely not. I'm getting too smart, Mr. Downe, for that.
MR. DOWNE: Mr. Minister, are you familiar with this document, Department of Justice, Courts & Registries Division report? That was the Courts & Public Offices, Restructuring & Reorganization, March 1995.
MR. BAKER: Am I familiar with it? I knew the report was done, I don't believe I've ever read it.
MR. DOWNE: Are you familiar with the Department of the Attorney General, Courts & Registries Division, Court Reform - Phase 11, Courts & Public Offices Review, Proposals and Recommendations, February 1993?
MR. BAKER: Again, I was aware there were reports done at those periods of time, but I can't tell you that I've ever read them.
MR. DOWNE: Mr. Minister, are you aware of what the order of priorities are with regard to court facilities in the province; the top five?
MR. BAKER: They are Port Hawkesbury, Bridgewater, Kentville and then New Glasgow. I can get the others after that, but that's the order of priority.
MR. DOWNE: That would follow along the areas of the reports that I've seen to date in the priority list? Port Hawkesbury was the location that was chosen. Port Hawkesbury is the location that the facility . . .
MR. BAKER: Port Hawkesbury was chosen after the municipal unit there came forward and volunteered to supply land, a former school site, as the site for the courthouse.
MR. DOWNE: So the Bridgewater location that specifically mentioned Bridgewater for a number of criteria, is it conditional that Bridgewater would not be chosen unless the Town of Bridgewater provides the land?
MR. BAKER: What I indicated is that it is a significant factor in court selection. It is a factor, not the only factor, but a factor.
MR. DOWNE: It's a significant factor. So, in other words, it's not an insignificant issue. It's a significant issue that the town . . .
MR. BAKER: It's a significant issue, the ability to provide that facility can be significantly affected by whether or not there's a municipal unit prepared to provide service land to the Province of Nova Scotia.
MR. DOWNE: In reviewing the document - Mr. Minister this is the restructuring and reorganization - reading over some of the criteria, location of the justice centres, they have a list of criteria: the area of population; concentration of lawyers and other professionals within the area; major businesses location; highway location; location of police agencies; location of other government offices, provincial government offices, federal government offices; distances people would have to travel to receive service, volumes of work in each office and effective consolidation on volumes of staff, impact on staff, so on and so forth. In reading over this, I've never seen any indication in the criteria that getting the land is an issue. Is this a new Progressive Conservative policy?
MR. BAKER: Clearly one of the factors we look at in determining whether or not to site a justice facility is whether or not the municipal unit is prepared to partner with us in that location. For example, in Port Hawkesbury, that community came forward and was prepared to partner with us. In Yarmouth, the location of the new correctional centre, that community was prepared - community because both the municipality and the town were prepared - to partner with us. Clearly, all of the factors that you indicated in the reports, for example, would equally apply to areas just outside the Town of Bridgewater that would be in the Municipality of Lunenburg. For example, because in many of those cases you could look at all those factors and many of those factors would apply there, I can tell you that a significant - we want to be very financially responsible, if there's somebody who's prepared to provide serviced land to the Province of Nova Scotia, financial responsibility would lead one to take that into consideration.
MR. DOWNE: I take it, Mr. Minister, that you definitely don't want this to go to Bridgewater, but it says here . . .
MR. BAKER: No, I didn't say that.
MR. DOWNE: They talk about the western region, they don't refer to any other area but Bridgewater.
MR. BAKER: I guess they weren't being financially responsible in those days, were they?
MR. DOWNE: Well, the same staff who are with you now were there then, so I guess maybe if you want to insult them, that's the way to do it. I think they were pretty responsible then and they're pretty responsible now.
MR. BAKER: It's not the same staff, but that's beside the point. The issue is that we want to make sure - and I think Bridgewater has many fine qualities. I don't want anything I say here to be interpreted as being, I can assure you, Mr. Downe, anything against a Bridgewater location.
MR. DOWNE: You're telling me, Mr. Minister, the only way it's ever going to get to Bridgewater is if the town provides the land for you.
MR. BAKER: No, I didn't say that, I said that it would be a factor.
MR. DOWNE: But you said that it's a significant factor.
MR. BAKER: That's right.
MR. DOWNE: So the significant factor, if the town does not provide the land and the Municipality of the District of Lunenburg provides the land, that will make a significant difference in your decisions based on the fact that you just said that all the criteria that are used are equally available in other jurisdictions; not to the degree that it is in Bridgewater, but it's equal in your mind. That's what you just said.
MR. BAKER: I said that there are many of those criteria that would apply to locations outside of Bridgewater. I have no reason to believe the Town of Bridgewater would not be interested in providing a site for the facility. I think it's important to know that one of the things we have to look at when we site facilities is, does the community really want it? Because, there are enough people in this day and age who want justice facilities that we can go where a community wants us. We witnessed an example of that with respect to a siting of correctional centres. There are lots of people in Nova Scotia who would like correctional facilities, in fact I don't have enough correctional facilities to site them all. The fact that a community is prepared to come forward and is interested in siting a correctional facility should be a factor in determining where it goes.
At this point, there's no reason to have discussions with the Town of Bridgewater, and I can tell you I have no discussions with anyone else either about the siting because there is no funding for that facility today.
MR. DOWNE: Mr. Minister, have you talked to anybody of the Municipality of the District of Lunenburg Council and/or the Town of Lunenburg about what it would take to get a court facility in any area other than Bridgewater? I've heard a lot of musing myself from people who allegedly your name was attached to. I'm asking you, as a Minister of the Crown, have you talked to anybody with regard to what it would take to put a court facility anywhere but in Bridgewater? I think you're under oath here too, Mr. Minister.
MR. BAKER: I don't think I'm under oath but I would answer truthfully regardless. I don't need to be under oath to tell the truth.
I don't recall any discussions where any municipal unit has ever been approached . . .
MR. DOWNE: No, anybody in a municipal unit, I'm talking about . . .
MR. BAKER: I have not spoken to, for example, councillors. Let's call a spade a spade.
MR. DOWNE: Well, your campaign manager is a councillor.
MR. BAKER: That's right. I have not approached any councillor in any municipal unit in Lunenburg County and asked them to come up with money or a suggestion . . .
MR. DOWNE: Or land.
MR. BAKER: Land or anything else for location of a justice facility.
MR. DOWNE: Have you had any discussion with any of the above persons we just talked about, about what it would take to have the location go, contrary to the Department of Justice recommendations . . .
MR. BAKER: I have not pursued the location of a courthouse anywhere in Lunenburg County at all. That was one of the reasons for frankly having told the committee that it was too preliminary to get involved. I've heard lots of speculation. There's a tremendous amount of speculation, by whom, I'm not aware, that I have some pre-design as to where a court facility should go and I can assure you that it is nothing but speculation. People speculate, they assume that one will do something improper. That doesn't mean one is doing anything improper.
MR. DOWNE: So if it wasn't in Bridgewater, it would be improper, that's what you're referring to.
MR. BAKER: No, I'm simply suggesting that suggestions being made that somehow there's been some collusion with someone, and there has been no collusion with anyone because, frankly, there's nothing to collude about. There's no money.
MR. DOWNE: Mr. Minister, you're on the Treasury Board?
MR. BAKER: Yes.
MR. DOWNE: You're chairman of the Treasury Board?
MR. BAKER: Yes.
MR. DOWNE: The Treasury Board discusses all major capital strategies with regard to . . .
MR. BAKER: The Treasury Board doesn't deal with capital budgets.
MR. DOWNE: Doesn't deal with capital budgets per se, but it deals with the areas of where capital is going to go. You play a vital role with regard to the budget process.
MR. BAKER: Well, I mean, finance is . . .
MR. DOWNE: I know, you're not Minister of Finance but, clearly, as chairman . . .
MR. BAKER: I think, certainly, the Treasury Board staff do some analysis, but Finance is the lead one, actually, with respect to capital funding.
MR. DOWNE: Right. But you are aware of the capital funding priority list?
MR. BAKER: Yes.
MR. DOWNE: Can you tell me what the priority list from your position as chairman of the Treasury Board with regard to court facilities is?
MR. BAKER: I think there are no capital funds in the 2002-03 budget for any court facility anywhere in Lunenburg County.
MR. DOWNE: Is there any discussion about 2003-04?
MR. BAKER: Yes, there's been discussion, but there has been no decision made.
MR. DOWNE: The discussion is centred around court facilities?
MR. BAKER: That would be one, but it's not the only one.
MR. DOWNE: Oh, absolutely not, but . . .
MR. BAKER: I'm speaking from the Department of Justice's point of view. There are other capital priorities.
MR. DOWNE: Absolutely. Could be an election year that time, so I just was wondering if you knew. So there is the discussion of court facilities in that period of time. So, if you're looking at possible capital for court facilities in that time - because there is a fatigue out there, there is a court facility fatigue, we all know that, that's not new.
MR. BAKER: I might add that there has been a very - and I probably can get you the number - large amount of money expended in Bridgewater on the Bridgewater courthouse in the last year with respect to renovations. I think it's $110,000 plus an additional 47 - so it's roughly $115,000 in the Bridgewater courthouse because the facilities are so inadequate.
MR. DOWNE: Also, when you closed Centre jail you ended up having to add additional facilities to the courthouse to house inmates when they came to be arraigned or to be interviewed. Is that true?
MR. BAKER: No, that's not entirely true. When I was actively practicing law in Lunenburg County, the courthouse was grossly inadequate. So inadequate in fact, that I remember on one occasion when a lawyer was bitten on the leg by his client while interviewing him in the Sheriff's Office, which was the anteroom to the holding cell. So, that leg bite occurred (Interruptions) no, no, the inmate didn't die, nor did the lawyer. They both recovered, but I think the inmate had a new lawyer shortly thereafter.
MR. DOWNE: I'm aware of all that stuff, Mr. Minister.
MR. BAKER: I guess my point was that the changes to the court facility were not solely occurring as a result of the change to lock-up.
MR. DOWNE: Can you tell me the dollar cost associated with the closure of Centre jail with regard to the renovation requirements and the safety provisions that were brought into the court facility in Bridgewater?
MR. BAKER: I can tell you we spent $115,000 last year, and it cost just under $1 million to operate the Centre correctional facility.
MR. DOWNE: Can you tell me the additional cost to the Sheriff's Office for transportation to and from the correctional facilities for these inmates?
MR. BAKER: I could get those numbers, I don't have them.
MR. DOWNE: Could you provide those?
MR. BAKER: Sure.
MR. DOWNE: Can you tell me the additional cost to legal aid to travel back and forth to the facility to hear testimony and to represent their clients?
MR. BAKER: We would have to try to get those numbers for you.
MR. DOWNE: Would you provide that, and a breakdown in the area?
MR. BAKER: I think it's important to remember though, just to re-emphasize what I said earlier, that the improvement of the holding cells in Bridgewater was not occasioned as a result of the correctional centre moving, that change was occasioned as a result of the fact that we had grossly unsafe holding cells at the Bridgewater Court House and it was a health and safety issue regardless of whether the lock-up was built or not - or changed or not.
MR. DOWNE: I was going to ask you did it hurt when you were bitten, but I really won't go there.
MR. BAKER: It was not me. Just for the record, I want to inform everyone that it was not me.
MR. DOWNE: Mr. Minister, I want to state then my concern is that, based on all the criteria I've read in these documents, I've never once had the issue that the town or a municipality to get a significant - the words to make a contribution of land will make a significant difference in the location of where our court facility would be. My concern is that Bridgewater, which has been stated categorically under your previous government review team in 1993 - I guess it was in action for some time - and under our Liberal Government during that time, a review of a review, all indicated that Bridgewater was the location and you're now stating that it's possible to go outside Bridgewater, maybe in another area close by, well in your riding area, that kind of thing.
MR. BAKER: Well, for example in your riding area.
MR. DOWNE: Yes. I have some land in Wileville actually I would donate to you.
MR. BAKER: There's a lovely farm in Wileville, and you know that would make a great site for this.
MR. DOWNE: Yes, yes.
MR. BAKER: Actually, you know, not being glib, it's very hard to tell where Wileville stops when you go over Highway No. 103 and Bridgewater, I mean the areas run into each other. So it's not an issue, it would be hard to say that building the court facility, if you were on one side of the town line or on the other side of the town line, would necessarily make a difference to the services provided.
MR. DOWNE: It might make a difference for the minister wanting to take credit for what's being built in his or her riding.
MR. BAKER: But you're assuming that the motivation would be political.
MR. DOWNE: You would never do that?
MR. BAKER: No, I would never do that.
MR. DOWNE: You would never do that?
MR. BAKER: No.
MR. DOWNE: You've never done that?
MR. BAKER: No. No, I try to make my reasons based on good business decisions.
MR. DOWNE: So you've never made a decision that would be for your political advantage in your riding?
MR. BAKER: I've tried to make the decisions that would be best for the people of Nova Scotia.
MR. DOWNE: The Public Service Commission, can the minister inform us as to the status of the Career Starts Program to help young people?
MR. BAKER: We doubled the number of people from eight to 16 in that program; that was part of the blue book commitment. We did it, and in fact every one of those 16 people who were in the program last year obtained employment.
MR. DOWNE: Thank you, Mr. Minister, I think it's a good program.
MR. BAKER: It is a good program.
MR. DOWNE: Yes, and it's a needed program.
MR. BAKER: And it was obviously very successful in the sense that all the people involved in that program got employment, which is nice to see with young people.
MR. DOWNE: Could the minister inform us how many people have had their master's degrees paid for by the province?
MR. BAKER: The MPA Program you're talking about?
MR. DOWNE: Yes.
MR. BAKER: We have had 23 people graduate from the program and we - meaning the Province of Nova Scotia - have a commitment for 75 places over time in that program.
MR. DOWNE: So 23. I missed that, 75 people over what period of time?
MR. BAKER: Over a three-year period of time.
MR. DOWNE: A three-year period of time. So 25 a year?
MR. BAKER: Yes, basically, and 23 of those have completed at this stage.
MR. DOWNE: And at what cost?
MR. BAKER: It's $1.86 million over the five fiscal years which civil servants would be in the program.
MR. DOWNE: So how are those programs allocated?
MR. BAKER: How are those spaces allocated?
MR. DOWNE: Yes.
MR. BAKER: It's sort of a three-phase process. The individual is nominated by his or her deputy minister or the deputy head of their agency, and at that point in time there's a review committee at the Public Service Commission that reviews those applications to determine whether or not those are the best possible people, and then finally Dalhousie University has their own review process to determine, again, whether or not these people have the qualifications - I guess qualifications is the best way of putting it - to be successful in the program.
MR. DOWNE: So this is an arm's-length process?
MR. BAKER: Oh, this is not done by the minister at all, no.
MR. DOWNE: So it's not like the Tourism and Culture Minister on the Arts Council, this is totally separate?
MR. BAKER: This is completely separate from the minister. I have no idea who's in the program and I have never been asked to look at the list and I have never looked at the list.
MR. DOWNE: And you have never asked to look at the list?
MR. BAKER: I have never even asked for the list.
MR. DOWNE: Can anyone apply or do they have to be selected to actually have their name go forward?
MR. BAKER: They have to be nominated and they have to have had a good performance review, which I suspect would mean that they wouldn't be nominated by their deputy unless they had a good performance review obviously.
MR. DOWNE: How many people do we have currently employed by the province now under the last . . .
MR. BAKER: Are you talking in the civil service?
MR. DOWNE: Yes.
MR. BAKER: Our head count is 6,843, which is actually 6,388.92 FTEs, but the actual number of individuals is 6,843.
MR. DOWNE: And how does that compare to three years ago?
MR. BAKER: It's down - I'm trying to get the number for you. It's a 615-position reduction from last year, but I would have to get you the number over the three years.
MR. DOWNE: These are the full-time equivalent positions, or would they . . .
MR. BAKER: Yes, those are FTEs, those 615.
MR. DOWNE: Mr. Minister, I don't know, this is probably not in your portfolio per se, but maybe I'll try - the privatization or layoffs within the Department of Transportation and Public Works, can you explain to me what is happening there?
MR. BAKER: It's really part of the responsibility of Transportation and Public Works. We know that layoff notices have been delivered. I think we're talking about the changes at Transportation and Public Works as a result of the closure of some of the depots, is that what you're referring to?
MR. DOWNE: Yes, Mr. Minister.
MR. BAKER: Yes, and my understanding is that those positions, a similar number of positions are being actually advertised in different locations, so the depots are being moved but there's not an FTE loss; there may be a position loss for an individual, but there's no FTE lost as a result of that change.
MR. DOWNE: Yes, I won't get into the details of Transportation and Public Works with you.
MR. BAKER: You probably know more than I about the internal workings of the Department of Transportation, being a former minister.
MR. DOWNE: Mr. Minister, you also deal with Communications Nova Scotia?
MR. BAKER: Yes, indeed.
MR. DOWNE: That's why we have so many people in the room here.
The Premier made a statement at one point that your government would never use taxpayers' money for the purpose of politically promoting your agenda.
MR. BAKER: I'm not sure how he phrased it. I think "for partisan and political purposes" was the general gist of what I understood.
MR. DOWNE: "Partisan", yes, partisan. How much did it cost in the promotion for the budget itself?
MR. BAKER: Just one second, the information is coming.
MR. DOWNE: These are all your good staff.
MR. BAKER: As you can see, I have an awful lot of good staff.
MR. DOWNE: I can understand why.
MR. BAKER: I think, Mr. Downe, that's what is known as damned by faint praise.
MR. DOWNE: I think you're overreacting, Mr. Minister.
MR. BAKER: The total was $142,000.
MR. DOWNE: The $142,000, Mr. Minister, do you get to view the material going out to make sure that it wouldn't be perceived as political, you . . .
MR. BAKER: I personally didn't review that material. That material would have been done by Communications Nova Scotia, whose client department would have been the Department of Finance. So the Department of Finance and the minister would be responsible for the contents of that. My responsibilities with Communications Nova Scotia would be to ensure that that happened. We are a service provider, so the design of that information, the contents of the information would be provided to Communications Nova Scotia by the Department of Finance.
MR. DOWNE: But it would also be your responsibility as minister to make sure that the information that is going out, even if the Minister of Finance is suggesting a certain piece of information flow, it's ultimately your responsibility that it's not propaganda, that it's not flying in the face of the Premier's comments that it would not be used for politically- motivated gain.
MR. BAKER: I've looked at that material and I'm satisfied that it is not. It is in keeping with the Premier's commitment.
MR. DOWNE: Does the Premier feel that way as well?
MR. BAKER: You would have to ask the Premier, but I believe it is.
MR. DOWNE: You believe it is?
MR. BAKER: Yes.
MR. DOWNE: This is the same view that you've never done anything that's politically motivated in your riding, like you haven't appointed anybody to any board for political purposes, people who worked on your campaign that you appointed to Police Commissions or things of that nature, you've never done any of that?
MR. BAKER: I've recommended people I thought were very well qualified for positions.
MR. DOWNE: Who had worked on your campaign?
MR. BAKER: Lots of good people worked on my campaign, as I'm sure lots of good people worked on your campaign.
MR. DOWNE: And you appointed them?
MR. BAKER: Yes, I don't think there's any reason to disqualify good people.
MR. DOWNE: And that was never for political reasons?
MR. BAKER: It's because they were well-qualified people.
MR. DOWNE: But that was never for political reasons?
MR. BAKER: I don't know what you mean by "political". If it's political to appoint good people, then I guess I'm all in favour of appointing good people.
MR. DOWNE: Getting back to your comment - I'm bouncing around here, I'm not the Justice Critic, but I'm trying to . . .
MR. BAKER: I know the Justice Critic is not with us, so there are a lot of people who have been trying to . . .
MR. DOWNE: We're just warming you up.
MR. BAKER: What?
MR. DOWNE: I said we're supposed to just warm you up for him.
You did make a comment that I found interesting when you said you've never done anything in your riding for political gain. Is that correct?
MR. BAKER: I think what you are trying to allude to is that the purpose of doing something was solely for political purposes, and I think that public expenditures need to have . . .
MR. DOWNE: No, no. I was just talking in a broad context. You've never done anything, spent any more or done anything in your riding for political gain?
MR. BAKER: Well, certainly I hope there's money been spent in my riding, but I believe the people of Lunenburg, as the people of Lunenburg West, as the people of Chester-St. Margaret's, deserve to receive government services.
MR. DOWNE: Mr. Minister, can you confirm to me that there was indication by the DHA 1 that there was going to be some closures of beds in your hospital and that you had met with the senior medical staff in Fishermen's Memorial Hospital and within 48 hours the board had changed its position relative to those closures? Can you confirm that?
MR. BAKER: I can tell you that I've met with officials from the DHA. Like yourself, I try to communicate with officials in my local area and I've spoken to people in the DHA about things that affect my riding, and any member does that.
MR. DOWNE: Would you confirm that the closures that were slated by the board, very shortly after you met with the medical staff that decision was changed and funding was found to facilitate the concerns of the Medical Society and the medical staff of the hospital whom you met with?
MR. BAKER: No, my understanding that what happened was in fact there were budget reduction targets that had been established by the DHA with respect to the three major health facilities in Lunenburg-Queens, being Queens General, Lunenburg's Fishermen's Memorial Hospital, and the South Shore Regional Hospital. Those budget targets were set by the DHA and, in fact, the proposal that was agreed to by the physicians and staff at the Fishermen's Memorial Hospital is in keeping with the budget proposal established initially by the DHA. There may have been some reconfiguration of that proposal to better suit the needs of the community, which I applaud, but there was no change, to my knowledge, in the actual goal out of the facility.
MR. DOWNE: There are some doctors who would disagree with that.
MR. BAKER: I don't know whether people disagree or not, it happens to be true.
MR. DOWNE: Mr. Minister, under the Department of Justice - this question might have been asked earlier and I don't want to be repetitive - the budget for Administration has increased from Forecast to Estimate by $1.5 million. There are probably very good reasons for this, would you mind just refreshing my memory?
MR. BAKER: Sure. No problem at all. What's happened is estimate to estimate there's practically no change. What happens is that included in the estimate for the minister's and deputy's office at the Department of Justice is a contingency fund for legal aid services; that is what is known as the major case fund. It would be, for example, a criminal defence case, which would be beyond the ordinary kind of cases that legal aid would be expected to fund through their staff lawyers, and what happens is we need to keep that fund internal, because otherwise what would happen is the money might be gone and a case might come in and there would be no money to fund that.
MR. DOWNE: It's kind of like a slush fund for cases that are - that seems reasonable to me, it seems prudent. How much is that money, Mr. Minister?
MR. BAKER: Generally the expenditure out of that fund fluctuates between $500,000 and $800,000.
MR. DOWNE: Pardon me?
MR. BAKER: It fluctuates between $500,000 and $800,000.
MR. DOWNE: And that is based on history?
MR. BAKER: It's based on a sort of cyclical nature, because for example - and I won't name the criminal cases - there have been a number of years when we have had extremely time-consuming files and we simply have to, out of that minister's and deputy's budget, deal with those cases when they come in. Other years, like last year, we've been fortunate, or the people of Nova Scotia more accurately have been fortunate, because we haven't had to spend that money on those cases. But this year of course they could be back, it's simply a matter of luck.
MR. DOWNE: So what happens with that fund in the event that it doesn't . . .
MR. BAKER: It is simply returned to general revenue.
MR. DOWNE: It goes back to general revenue?
MR. BAKER: Yes, because we just don't spend it.
MR. DOWNE: So it's a sleeve inside the department for emergency circumstances and it's geared specifically for court-related, it cannot be used for any other purpose?
MR. BAKER: Public inquiries, those kind of court-related - it's not a fund that is used to do other things.
MR. DOWNE: To put a courthouse up in Lunenburg or something?
MR. BAKER: No, it's not designed for putting courthouses in Lunenburg, or courthouses in Bridgewater unfortunately, right?
MR. DOWNE: Actually, when you compare estimate to estimate the amount is $1 million.
MR. BAKER: I think you're looking at something else, because what happens is there was an increase in legal and a cost of lawyers as a result of the arbitration of Crown attorneys, which then passed through to lawyers, so that number is as a result of salary increases. Those other fluctuations are not in that fund. That administration is for legal salaries and, as you can appreciate, the Department of Justice is simply a large law firm which hires lawyers depending on what our clients' needs are, so for example if the Department of Community Services determined that it was more beneficial to engage lawyers internally at the Department of Justice to do some child protection work, as a result of that you would see a more than proportional drop in the cost of private legal services as you saw an increase in the cost of administration because that would be under administration, but in point of fact we would then bill that cost back to the Department of Community Services as their lawyer.
MR. DOWNE: Do they ever pay you?
MR. BAKER: The Department of Community Services pays us, but it's kind of money in circulation.
MR. DOWNE: Legal aid, Mr. Minister, is a very important part of the department in regard to providing services to those who can't afford it, and I've found over the years that the staff who have been involved in legal aid - and I can only refer to my area - are probably some of the most dedicated lawyers I have ever met and they're certainly not in it for the money you know they could make better money elsewhere I am sure, they're very qualified people and . . .
MR. BAKER: Yes.
MR. DOWNE: . . . they've been under constant pressure for years to be properly funded to do the job. Do you feel there's enough money in the budget for legal aid to properly do its job, realizing for example in my riding they either have to drive to Halifax to interview somebody, which takes time and money, where before when they were at the Centre jail, they could simply go over and deal with the individual, so is there enough money for all that?
MR. BAKER: Clearly more money for legal aid would be highly desirable. There has been a significant increase of, I think, $1.3 million in the legal aid budget and that is primarily salaries, so the lawyers who are toiling away at legal aid are at least toiling away for better compensation now than they were a few years ago. I mean that's a significant increase year over year to their salary budget and that's all salaries, and that's not for more lawyers, that's basically just simply for an increase in their salaries. Could there be more money in legal aid? Yes, and if the federal government would fund any small portion of their
responsibility in legal aid, we have undertaken that every nickel of legal aid funding, the province would not withdraw any money, so if the federal government puts more money into legal aid, we would then not withdraw our provincial share of legal aid funding.
Unfortunately, the federal government, which created the legal aid system, has withdrawn that funding and it's the classic thing that you would be familiar from your days as Minister of Finance with the difficult problem where the Government of Canada withdraws from previously allocated funding commitments, leaving the province to fill the void, and this is a program which is probably the classic example of a program where the federal government has withdrawn. The biggest problem in legal aid is not the salaries at the moment frankly, it's the certificate and those lawyers who work on certificate.
MR. DOWNE: It's always easy to bash Ottawa, and you guys are pretty good at it I must admit - it's either that or 911.
MR. BAKER: Well, I think in this area . . .
MR. DOWNE: But legal aid is a concern of mine in my riding . . .
MR. BAKER: Yes, it is.
MR. DOWNE: . . . and I'm being a little more parochial than in a broader context, but I think the concern about legal aid is just as relevant in my area as it would be in any area of the province, and the concern is that I have people come into my office who cannot receive legal advice, cannot afford to get legal advice, and the ones who take them on retainer, they only take those they absolutely feel that they can win, and invariably they're women who cannot find legal counsel and they're going to court and they're not being looked after, and you know in a society that talks about democracy and fairness of justice, it's not fair justice for all people. It's an observation I would make that I think is not unique to Lunenburg County, but across the board, and it's not maybe unique just to your government, it has been around for a bit, but the progression seems to be going that way and I'm concerned about it, and I don't think you would disagree with me on that.
MR. BAKER: No, no. In fact, you know the significant thing - and this isn't just something that by the way would apply to the present government, it would apply to the previous government as well - is that the Canadian Bar Association, which certainly has been very active on this issue, has never criticized the provincial government to my knowledge, present or former, for their commitment to legal aid; the criticism that the Canadian Bar Association levels is at Ottawa. So I want to make it clear that it's not a situation where the former administration had a problem with their commitment to legal aid either; it's that both the present government and the former government did not have enough commitment from Ottawa to provide the funding for legal aid. And you're right, the people that you - one of the difficulties is that it places an unfair burden on some lawyers who do certificate work
frankly, because that's a real problem with conflicts in family law in particular; it's a real problem.
MR. DOWNE: Mr. Minister, one issue brought to my attention recently - and I don't have the document with me here, it's back in my briefcase and I meant to bring it in again - an individual was robbed, they caught the guilty person and they put him in jail and . . .
MR. BAKER: Yes.
MR. DOWNE: . . . the family was awarded - and I discussed this with staff and they're trying to find out - a financial settlement as well as there was incarceration of the individual who was convicted of the assault and robbery. The individual since then has done his time as it were, but has never paid restitution to the courts, what the court had deemed as being the amount that the individual should pay. This is quite some time ago. So what I understand is that those circumstances although maybe not normal, they do happen, and the family has to take this individual back to court to have restitution for the outstanding amount, the money that he owed. The court deemed that he had to pay x number of thousands of dollars - I'm probably not using all the right legal terms.
MR. BAKER: It's a restitution order.
MR. DOWNE: A restitution order, yes.
MR. BAKER: I think that's what you're talking about.
MR. DOWNE: Yes. Is the Department of Justice looking at coming up with any legislation that would deal with restitution orders, that if a court deems them the judge puts it out, that the individual does not have to take that person back to court to get paid, that it would automatically be a guarantee and so on and so forth? The way it is now this particular person is scared to take the individual back to court for fear that he will get beaten up, and that's the bottom line. So they're looking for, you know, why did the court even award them restitution, when in fact he has to go back to court to get paid after a Supreme Court decision said yes, you are entitled to restitution of x number of dollars?
MR. BAKER: I guess - and it's not a cop-out I can assure you - one of the difficult problems with restitution orders is that your remedies, that is what you can do with one of them to collect on it, is within the purview of the federal government, because it would be in the area of what is called, it would be a criminal law area and the federal government legislates criminal law. So what happens is the remedies that the victim of that crime has are established by federal law, so that all the Government of Nova Scotia is responsible for is to, in effect, effect those remedies that are established by Parliament, and unfortunately, in restitution orders in particular you have a system which is a bit cumbersome where you have to take the person back and determine whether or not they're in breach and all those kinds
of things, and unfortunately those things are legislated by the federal Parliament under their criminal law power.
So it's a difficult thing because it's not a situation where the Government of Nova Scotia is not doing something it could do. It would be part of what is, in effect, carrying out the legislation that the federal government has in place.
MR. DOWNE: Your staff has been very helpful in trying to explain to the individuals at hand and has been extremely co-operative and very professional in dealing with this, but it does seem to be a bit of a black hole here and is a problem, and whether it's federal or provincial, you have joint federal-provincial minister's sessions. Would you undertake to take a look at whether or not that's an issue you would bring forward as a potential concern?
MR. BAKER: Sure. I would be glad to do that.
MR. DOWNE: The old terminology, deadbeat dads, they weren't paying and the same thing is true here in these circumstances. It's intimidating and it's costly and to go to court again brings up a whole other set of events for individuals. It's traumatic and it's almost like the victim is a victim again. So I would appreciate if you would undertake that.
MR. BAKER: No problem.
MR. DOWNE: And I do compliment your staff for being very helpful and consulting with the person, but you're the one that needs to bring it to the table at the federal-provincial . . .
MR. BAKER: No problem.
MR. DOWNE: Consider it done?
MR. BAKER: Consider it done and I might say that I think we both would believe that people who commit those kind of crimes should be held accountable and anything that can be done to make that accountability work in the real world is a good thing. So I agree with you and I will see what we can do.
MR. DOWNE: One last question, Mr. Minister, under your Treasury Board hat. One area in the Treasury Board kicks around on capital and one area that's very sensitive to you I know, and to myself, and that is long-term care facilities. Is there any indication in the long term that there are efforts being made to deal with the deficiency of long-term care facilities for level two or level three individuals? I know you're sensitive to that issue, and I think we both are on the same page on that issue. I'm just interested to know if there's going to be any movement along those areas?
MR. BAKER: At the present time, of course, and then 2002-03 fiscal year, there is no capital budget for long-term care. There is money being spent on long-term care, but not on the capital side. It has to do with the funding side that I think the minister has alluded to with respect to the inadequacy of funding arrangements and homes for special care that are on the verge of ruin. Clearly, I'm just speaking, and not as minister directly, but the importance of long-term care, it's an important part of the system because, frankly, it also, as the Minister of Health has said numerous times, represents an opportunity to take some of the pressure off of the acute care side of the system.
MR. DOWNE: Well, it saves money.
MR. BAKER: Exactly, and there's a time and a place at which home care no longer provides the coverage that a person needs. So I guess it's fair to say that it's a capital priority that we're looking at in the long term and we will have to see what happens in the next fiscal year.
MR. DOWNE: User fees, Mr. Minister, and new taxes, your government has been pretty slick at doing that. Can you inform me, under all the hats that you wear, and they're substantial, the list of user fees in each of your departments and your anticipated revenue gain that you're going to receive from that?
MR. BAKER: We will try to do the best we can to provide a list. Some of the ones that are hardest to find are the ones where there's no change.
MR. DOWNE: Yes, but the ones that have no change, you don't need to do those for me.
MR. BAKER: That's right. I thought you were maybe looking for the one. You are probably not as worried about the ones that went down, if there were any, as the ones that were . . .
MR. DOWNE: Absolutely, if you've actually reduced a user fee or a tax. I haven't seen you reduce taxes or user fees yet, but if you have, that's great.
MR. BAKER: We will do the best we can in compiling the list. The only one that I can think of off the top of my head is there were some changes in the court filing costs and those kinds of things.
MR. DOWNE: You just announced a few the other day and they're coming out every day.
MR. BAKER: I don't think we have any more in the pipe, but, anyway, I will try to find a list for you on what the changes would be.
MR. DOWNE: Mr. Minister, can you also inform me if there are any other user fee increases yet to be announced for this fiscal year that we're currently in?
MR. BAKER: I can't think of any at the moment with respect to the areas I'm responsible for. I won't answer for any other departments. I'm advised that, at the moment, there are none planned.
MR. DOWNE: There's no plan.
MR. BAKER: There's no plan to increase any other.
MR. DOWNE: So everything that's out in the public over the last two months or three months . . .
MR. BAKER: I'm not suggesting that. There may be media attention on every issue, but I don't think there are any new decisions to be made with respect to user fees.
MR. DOWNE: So you're not going to go after anybody else?
MR. BAKER: No, I don't think there are any plans to go after anyone else.
MR. DOWNE: Mr. Minister, I think my time is up.
MR. CHAIRMAN: You have eight minutes remaining.
MR. DOWNE: I've got eight minutes. One comment you made in the House the other night stuck with me since you made it. You were very visually shaking when you made the comment. You said that women want to be in their home. I know as a practising lawyer an now as Minister of Justice, you normally don't make comments unless there's something to substantiate that. It bothered me because we were referring to women and children who are sexually or physically or psychologically being abused and they are scared to death to be home but they have nowhere to go. They can't get out. I'm wondering if you would clarify why you made that statement? I know your family. I can't imagine that you would be supportive of women staying in environments that are physically and psychologically and sexually so abusive that it's like hell or earth for these people. So maybe you could clarify that point because it really set me back. It bothered me greatly and maybe you didn't mean it the way it came out.
MR. BAKER: Thank you. What I was referring to was the fact that in my years of practising law, I had occasion to talk to women who when asked why they had to leave the home because there weren't adequate steps taken to ensure that they were safe in their home, these women, what I was referring to was the fact that these women that I had been dealing with, wanted to have the opportunity to stay in their home and to be protected in their own home.
Now, as I said in answer to a question by Ms. Maureen MacDonald earlier, not every women wants to stay in her own home. You obviously indicated that, clearly, no one would want any woman to have to stay in a home environment where abuse was taking place or was contemplated. What we were trying to indicate is that for many women, what they want is to live in the community where they live, in the home that is the home for their children, maybe the only home that their children have known, to stay in that house. I remember how many times I have heard from women who were lamenting why their children were being uprooted, oftentimes having to leave the school where they were going, the friends that they had known since childhood, since birth, in many cases, why those people had to leave while the perpetrator stayed in the house.
For the life of me, in a situation where the woman wishes to stay in the home, I cannot see why the justice system should not do everything that is possible to protect that woman and keep that woman and her children in the home. That was what I was saying. That is a situation where the woman wants to stay in the home, feels that that's the best choice for her and her children. There are clearly going to be situations where that woman, after talking to the police or family or friends, believes that that home is not the place she wants to be. Clearly, we have to provide housing options so those women can feel safe in another location.
But, in many cases, what they, that is the women, want, from my own experience, is they want to know that the police will be there when they need them. They want to know that they've got custody of their children. They want to know that they have the family car because they're living in a isolated community and they can't get to town, to Bridgewater, for example. I don't think that your experience would be that much different than mine in that regard, in the sense that people don't want to leave their home. There's a tremendous disruption to children when their family breaks up and to add to that disruption, the feeling of loss, of having to leave your home, your surroundings, your bedroom, those kind of things. I think that's it's much better that the abuser move out.
MR. DOWNE: There are people that every time they see their bedroom they shake and cry, because . . .
MR. BAKER: For those people they should have an opportunity . . .
MR. DOWNE: . . . that is more of a torture area than a bedroom as we would know it in the average home.
MR. BAKER: For those people, they should move. I think we agree on that. I think the problem is we agree because for people who want to leave or for whom staying in that home is painful, there needs to be housing options for those people where they can get safe, decent, affordable housing. That may be around the corner in that community or it may be in a different community because - it's not a cookie cutter, you have to look at the individual family and transition houses provide one choice for women, but it is not the only choice and that's my point. I was saying that for women who want to stay in their home, I think it is very paternalistic to tell those women that you should get out of your house and let the abuser stay there. I just don't believe it.
MR. DOWNE: The only thing, Mr. Minister, what I'm hearing is that unless we're going to incarcerate those individuals that are inflicting the pain and turmoil on the mothers, the women and children, unless there's some way to put them out of commission right then and there, all the court orders and all the other legal issues you want to do will not help those women who are living in constant fear, constant fear for their lives and for their children's life and safety. Without facilities, they feel that we, as a society, have turned our backs on them. I understand there's the legal thing and the courts, but the bottom line, these are people. Whether you're the Minister of Justice or you're a chicken farmer, the bottom line here is that we have a responsibility as society to find ways to protect women and children and men from abusing again.
MR. BAKER: Absolutely.
MR. DOWNE: Keeping them in their home - everybody likes to be in a home - but, those home environments that we're referring to are not home environments. They're environments from hell. That's why I took exception to the comment you made and unless you can guarantee the safety of those people, that's the concern I have.
MR. BAKER: Thank you. I don't think we disagree that much, honestly. I think that what we're talking about - and I'm not trying to interrupt - but I think that we're not disagreeing that much. I think that what we need to do is to say that women and children who want to stay in their homes, the justice system has every obligation to do everything it can to protect those women and children.
MR. DOWNE: Everybody wants a picket fence and happy, healthy kids, but I don't know - again, this is not your portfolio now. You did speak on this issue as Justice Minister and some of the measures you've undertaken to try to help and I won't criticize some of those things, they're steps in the right direction, but I don't feel in some cases we're going far enough. Especially when we take facilities away, safe homes away, potentially take them
away, then I think we're doing a huge, huge injustice to society and to people who cannot look after themselves.
If you're harassed in school, you see the bullying issues - you're man of good stature, but if all of a sudden you had a bunch of bigger people threatening and bullying you, you feel different all of a sudden. That's how these women feel so I - the bell's ringing, obviously my time is up. I wanted to clarify that question because it did bother me that night and I wanted to understand where you - because you are Minister of Justice and I would hope as the Minister of Justice for the Province of Nova Scotia, the most compassionate aspect of your job should be, and hopefully is, the fact that the people who are the most vulnerable will be protected in our society.
MR. CHAIRMAN: The time for the Liberal caucus has expired. The time is now 6:08 p.m. We have 45 minutes remaining for our four hour obligation. I just wanted to know if you could advise me to alert the next minister on standby, will he be speaking tonight.
MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: I think we will use the 45 minutes with the honourable minister.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Your time is now 6:09 p.m. You have 44 minutes left.
MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Thank you. I want to ask you about the implementation of a plan to provide programs and services to comply with the new federal Youth Criminal Justice Act. I want to begin by asking you what is the allocation of resources to implement such a plan, are there additional resources being allocated? What will the features of this plan will look like, particularly for young people who have a violent history or the nature of their crimes are particularly heinous which I think is the purpose of the new federal Act, to really try to deal with the more violent young offenders.
MR. CHAIRMAN: While the minister is waiting for an answer, could I ask that if you're prepared to leave a few minutes towards the end so it may be an opportunity for the minister to leave any closing remarks or to vote on the resolutions? Or do you want to have Justice back another day?
MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: I can't answer that question until I consult with my colleague, the critic. I will do that - hopefully, he will be here soon.
MR. BAKER: If it helps the honourable member, I think Mr. Corbett had indicated to me that I would be approximately five hours and we'll be at six and one-half hours if that helps you in your deliberations.
MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Now Kevin is here, Mr. Chairman, do you want to just repeat for my colleague what . . .
MR. CHAIRMAN: I just wanted to know if the NDP were planning to finish with the minister tonight, to please allow me a couple of minutes towards the end for the minister to have any closing remarks and also for me to have time to vote on the resolutions before our four hours are up.
MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: What time do we finish?
MR. CHAIRMAN: At 6:53 p.m.
MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: We have 45 minutes.
MR. BAKER: Yes. About $0.5 million is allocated this year for implementation. Although there will be no actual cost to the new Act because the new Act does not go into force until April 1, 2003.
MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Can you tell me where the Restorative Justice Program stands right now in terms of implementation and evaluation? Or, is it too early in the process to sort of evaluate?
MR. BAKER: The program has obviously been rolled out province wide now. There is a data collection but it's too early to evaluate the successfulness, although I will say anecdotally, I hear a very favourable response to restorative justice and so that encourages me that there is a great deal of acceptance of the program and its value, on an anecdotal basis. But, really, I think it's too early to say yes, it is successful on a statistical basis, although obviously, that's one of the things we're working towards.
MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Am I correct in saying that the program applies to youth and young offenders and not so much adult offenders, but there is some plan in a further stage to implement it for adults?
MR. BAKER: That is correct.
MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Okay. As the minister probably is aware, there are concerns among the organizations that work with, again, women who are abused, about the application of restorative justice in those cases. There is research that's being undertaken right now by some of these groups. I think they probably have federal funding, that would be my guess, to look at other jurisdictions where it has been implemented and I would
encourage you to wait until that research has been completed before acting on any plans to implement such a program with respect to that particular group.
I want to move from Justice for one moment and I want to talk about Communications Nova Scotia. I also want to talk about the Public Service Commission.
MR. BAKER: We'll do the Public Service Commission while she gets Communications Nova Scotia.
MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Okay. Last year when I had an opportunity to speak with the minister at that time who was responsible for Human Resources - I think we still hadn't done the restructuring bill - I asked questions and I received some information which I don't have with me, from Mr. Russell, about the representation of racially visible people in the public sector in Nova Scotia. I have to say I was stunned when I saw the lack of people of colour who work for government in this province. It's something that is of great concern to me for a variety of reasons, including the fact that I have a substantial number of very fine people in the constituency I represent - Halifax Needham - who are members of the African-Nova Scotian community as well as, increasingly, members of racially visible groups who are newcomers to this country; MISA is located in my constituency.
I meet people on a regular basis who are very fine people with outstanding qualifications who cannot so much as find entry level positions in the Public Service in this province. I'm very disturbed about how profoundly inadequate our ability has been to recruit and retain and assist to advance all of the diversity of this province and have it reflected in our Public Service. I think that we do our province a grave disservice. I'm not all that happy about the fact that there doesn't seem to be a rigorous action plan that has been developed and is being implemented.
I know this is something that has been raised by the Black Task Force and people certainly in the African-Nova Scotian community are not all that happy about the lack of action. So I want to ask you what, in fact, is the plan, why there isn't a more rigorous recruitment program and whether or not you have considered employment equity legislation as a means to address what is historically an unacceptable situation in our Public Service?
MR. BAKER: Certainly I would agree with you that we have much, much more to do with respect to representing under-represented groups in our work force. We have done a lot at the Department of Justice, for example, with respect to hiring of lawyers. I think the initiative that we've taken with respect to the IBM program - graduates from Dalhousie University Law School - has been widely received by the students of that program as being a positive change. We certainly have worked within government and particularly the Legal Services Division and Public Prosecution Service to try to make our workplace as welcoming to Nova Scotians of all backgrounds as possible.
Certainly, there's more to be done. One of the challenges, of course, of bringing new people in has been the fact that we've been reducing our Civil Service and at the time when you're reducing the Civil Service, it's more challenging to bring in all the people that you might like, but I do think we have had a very aggressive diversity management program and I think in the long run that will bear great fruit. Certainly, could we do better? Probably so. As far as if what you're suggesting is quotas or something of that kind, I don't think that quotas are the solution to the problem.
MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: I understand that probably, perhaps in the Legal Services Division there has been some advancement. I don't know exactly what the numbers are, but I feel fairly certain that the Head report back in the days of the Marshall Inquiry and all of the developments that came from that probably had something to do with that. I think that if you look at the people that work here in Province House, if you look at the people who accompany all of the Cabinet Ministers as advisors, if you look at people who work in the Premier's office, if you look at Communications Nova Scotia, for example, and the people who are getting the message out and providing information, it does not reflect many groups in this province. In addition to that, there are our younger generation of people in the racially-visible groups who are increasingly dissatisfied and feeling disenfranchised if you will. Their educational attainment is improving and they cannot find themselves reflected in this place, in government. I hear this quite often - it's a source of great frustration.
With respect to employment equity, there are many, many models of employment equity; to reduce employment equity to a system of quotas is an enormous simplification and really, a sort of bastardization of the idea, the very essential idea, of trying to redress historical disadvantage. Also, to take advantage of the full range of perspectives - cultural, ethnic, creed, whatever, in the province and I think we're just missing the boat here enormously. I read last week that Bermuda has initiated some kind of a program of tourism around Black history in this hemisphere. I thought what an interesting idea. I've heard this discussed here in the Black community. I'm sure, Mr. Chairman, you've heard this from people. Ideas like this need to be nurtured. They will create economic opportunity for the province in ways we probably can't even think of. In some ways the lived experience of people from those communities who have kept this history and these ideas alive have to find a way to be right at the table where public policy is being made and research is being done and resources are being allocated.
So I think saying we can do better is one thing, but doing better is another thing. I'm very disappointed that the minister hasn't thought about legislation or an action plan that would actually go beyond some dismissal of the notion as just a quota system, because in no way is that, I think, what members of these groups are looking for. They're not looking for a simplistic quota system; they're looking for an intelligent, sensitive and effective response from government. They certainly haven't found it in this government and, with all due respect, they haven't found it in the former government either.
So now I guess that I've had my little rant on the need for employment equity and to address these issues, I'd like to turn to Communications Nova Scotia if the deputy minister is here. Communications Nova Scotia and the amount of money that we spend in terms of communicating is not an easy area to get a handle on, looking at the Public Accounts and the various documents that have been tabled. When I look at the supplements, Mr. Minister, I notice that Communications Nova Scotia, net program expenses, the Estimate for next year is not quite $3.4 million. Is that correct? The Forecast for this year is just slightly above $3.1 million, almost $3.2 million. When you go through the Supplement to the Public Accounts department by department, in every department you see substantial expenditures for Communications Nova Scotia. In fact, when I calculated what has been spent in all of these other departments for advertising, postal services, publication services, creative services, medium monitoring services and administration, it comes to about $9 million. Is that correct? (Interruptions) So, in fact, if you look at what we spent this year in this department it would be approximately $12 million, correct? Yes, okay.
Now I would like to know exactly what some of these categories mean. For example, many departments have expenditures under advertising. I take it that is advertising in radio, television and print, and that would be promotion of their programs in those departments like the Department of Education promoting literacy programs or something like that?
MR. BAKER: The Department of Justice participating in an anti-drunk driving campaign. That would be a good example of a program where the Department of Justice would promote awareness against drunk driving.
MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: So departments spent approximately $1.15 million or so last year on Advertising. Postal Services, is that mail? Is that just postage, $2 million?
MR. BAKER: It could very well be because there are a lot of letters.
MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Apparently so.
AN HON. MEMBER: Or one really big one.
MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Yes, or one really big one, my colleague says. Publication Services, $5.5 million. Creative Services, is this graphic design?
MR. BAKER: You have to be careful that all printing is not necessarily Communications printing. For example, printing forms would be a classic example of something that would be under printing. There would be a huge array of services that would be picked up under printing. Obviously, printing the budget is really not printing for Communications - not that many people sit down at their coffee table on a weekend and stroll through the budget, not unless they've got very, very dull lives.
MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: That's right, exactly. Well, Mr. Chairman, I didn't do this on the weekend.
MR. BAKER: Good to hear that.
MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: So Publication Services you are saying also would include all of the printing of forms, like social assistance applications, and housing applications. Is that what you're saying?
MR. BAKER: Yes, the Department of Justice would have an array of forms.
MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Student loan forms.
MR. BAKER: Exactly.
MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Are Creative Services graphic design?
MR. BAKER: Graphic, video and multi-media would be under that.
MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Media Monitoring Services. What does that mean, Just seeing how good the government is doing on the 6 o'clock news, or how the department is doing?
MR. BAKER: It would include monitoring stories in Nova Scotia and elsewhere that pertain to government.
MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Administration, I guess is the last one and that's pretty self-evident. So I guess my question now is, if we spent about $12 million for Communications Nova Scotia last year and we've seen other government departments take cuts in their budgets and what have you, why is it that it seems that the costs of these programs, or the resources that your government is prepared to allocate for these services, continued to go up?
MR. BAKER: I think it's not necessarily growing. For example, the Communications Nova Scotia budget is actually down a little bit, but when you factor in the cost of salaries, it goes up. So, in point of fact, the actual real dollar expenditure is actually down. It's just as a result of the Civil Service increases.
MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Just inside the net program expenses . . .
MR. BAKER: Apparently, just by way of information, in past years the total expenditure through departments has been up just $14 million. So it is down significantly.
MR. CHAIRMAN: We have 20 minutes remaining for the night.
MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Okay, I will turn it over to my colleague.
MR. CHAIRMAN: The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.
MR. BAKER: Justice?
MR. DEVEAUX: Not Communications, but I do have a follow-up question to my colleague's question from the Public Service Commission. Not on Communications, no. With regard to the Public Service Commission, and I asked this question when it was Mr. Gaudet, the honourable member for Clare, who was the minister a few years ago. I'm not sure if my colleague hit on it or not. I believe back in the mid to late 1990s there was a memorandum of understanding between the Human Rights Commission and the Government of Nova Scotia. The Government of Nova Scotia made certain commitments with regard to - every department, I believe, made certain commitments with regard to implementing an employment equity plan. Can the minister please give me an update as to the status of every department and where they are with regard to implementing that memorandum of understanding?
MR. BAKER: There's a number of different facets to that. First of all, we have what is considered probably the best diversity management program in the country and we've been recognized as that because, I think it's the Canadian Judicial Institute who has in fact picked up the Nova Scotia model for judicial training. I guess each part of the program is done on a department-by-department basis so that each response is done based on the individual employment situation in that sector. We also provide senior executive seminars to senior managers in each department. So there is a fairly wide-ranging government response to ensuring that we have a diverse workplace, also, just completed, a barrier analysis with the union, which is with the NSGEU, to identify any systemic barriers that may be in the workplace so that we can eliminate those. That was a co-operative effort between the Public Service Commission, the government as a whole, and the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union.
MR. DEVEAUX: Okay, great. My question is, I understand there is a memorandum of understanding in every department to develop a plan on how it would increase the diversity within its department. Can you tell me how many departments have created that plan and have started implementing it, how many departments?
MR. BAKER: The Public Service Commission has been responsible to do that, not the individual departments and that is, I guess, a work in progress, is the best way of describing it; it's been done, but not completed.
MR. DEVEAUX: How many departments have a plan in place?
MR. BAKER: We would have to provide you with that information.
MR. DEVEAUX: I'm sorry?
MR. BAKER: We would have to provide you with that information.
MR. DEVEAUX: Thank you. Have any departments got a plan in place?
MR. BAKER: Yes.
MR. DEVEAUX: Thank you, I look forward to it, please. I have another question. It's a very specific one. I'm done with the Public Service Commission for now, thank you. Around court fees - and someone came to me with this one, I'm not clear so I'm actually throwing this out and I don't necessarily know the answer to it - if you wanted to vary a custody order or access order it used to be free, and now there's a fee. Can you tell me what that's about?
MR. BAKER: In a Family Court.
MR. DEVEAUX: So like a Family Court, provincial division, not the Family Division of the Supreme Court?
MR. BAKER: That's right. So what has happened is there was an effort made to rationalize the fee for the same kind of application so that whether it's the Family Division of the Supreme Court, or the Family Court, you would pay the same fee. The idea, frankly, is to produce revenue which is going to help provide some of the services in the Family Court that were available in the Family Division of the Supreme Court.
MR. DEVEAUX: Like mediation?
MR. BAKER: Those kinds of services, yes, exactly. The problem has been that everybody's been waiting patiently, and not so patiently, for the Government of Canada to appoint the new Family Division, and we decided to give up, not that we're giving up hoping for that, but we've decided to stop waiting and start doing, and part of that is to implement the same fee structure so that you would pay the same fee for an application for custody in either court. It would make no difference which court.
MR. DEVEAUX: Is that new this year?
MR. BAKER: That was new this year, yes.
MR. DEVEAUX: How much money are you intending to bring in from the new fee structure within the provincial Family Court?
MR. BAKER: We would have to provide that to you.
MR. DEVEAUX: A ballpark figure?
MR. BAKER: All the new fees, all combined, would be less than $100,000.
MR. DEVEAUX: For the Family Court?
MR. BAKER: Well, the Family Court would only be a tiny portion of that amount, so it would be . . .
MR. DEVEAUX: Okay, so a tiny portion of $100,000, what services do you intend to provide for that amount of money generated?
MR. BAKER: We can provide you with that. We have started rolling out additional services. I know, for example, and this is not parochial, it was done elsewhere, but they've provided some mediation kinds of services in Bridgewater. There's a name for it and it escapes my mind, it's the parent ed course, and the parent ed course is now being offered in places like Bridgewater, for example, and that's part of what's offered in the Family Division, of course.
MR. DEVEAUX: That must cost more than $10,000 or $15,000?
MR. BAKER: It sure does.
MR. DEVEAUX: So you don't expect these fees to cover the costs?
MR. BAKER: Oh, of course not.
MR. DEVEAUX: Do you actually have a time line as to when you will see all these programs implemented throughout the province?
MR. BAKER: When the federal government appoints the Family Division of the Supreme Court.
MR. DEVEAUX: Well, you said a couple of questions ago that you weren't waiting and, therefore, I assumed that meant that you were . . .
MR. BAKER: No, no, we weren't waiting to begin implementation, but we couldn't do the whole - yes, obviously, as you would know, the big money is in the judges themselves; if they elevate all or most of all the Family Court Judges, that's where we get the huge amount of dollars to be able to do some of the very expensive kinds of things that they do in the Family Division.
MR. DEVEAUX: So why did the feds stop, why did they stop halfway through, because right now we have a two-tier court system with regard to family law?
MR. BAKER: Yes, we do. Well, you would have to ask for certainty, the federal Minister of Justice. I think that I have heard that the Province of Ontario, which I think figures very largely in the interests of the federal government, has a demand for a large number of federal judges, or conversions, and that seems to be part of the holdup, but I'm only speculating because, clearly, for eight positions, I think it is, roughly speaking, we could do the whole Province of Nova Scotia and complete the model. It was a classic example of a federal government initiative that seems to have, at least temporarily, lost steam. Frankly, part of that has been the fact that except for the events of September 11th, I think you might have seen some of the money that was in the federal Department of Justice, which has gone into security kinds of initiatives, might very well have completed the Family Division.
MR. DEVEAUX: What if someone cannot pay the fee? There's probably a fee to apply.
MR. BAKER: My recollection is that there are provisions for waiver of fees in the Supreme Court, so that logic would apply to the same fee in the Family Court.
MR. DEVEAUX: What is it, regulations, you mean you . . .
MR. BAKER: There are policies that establish the means test and those kind . . .
MR. DEVEAUX: So who decided that, a clerk, or do you . . .
MR. BAKER: The clerk; the person would present their financial situation and would indicate that they were unable and they would apply the guidelines.
MR. DEVEAUX: I had a couple of questions around the Public Prosecution Service.
MR. BAKER: Yes. You've made Mr. Herschorn's day because that way he didn't waste his time.
MR. DEVEAUX: I was going to say I wouldn't want Mr. Herschorn to have come down here for two days.
MR. BAKER: That's right, it wouldn't be for naught.
MR. DEVEAUX: It's fairly straightforward. You're going into binding arbitration with the Crown Attorneys, I believe.
MR. BAKER: It has been completed.
MR. DEVEAUX: Oh, it has been completed, okay. So what was the end result of that?
MR. BAKER: There is a huge amount, as you can appreciate, individual variation, but the average was around 12 per cent.
MR. DEVEAUX: Is that 12 per cent over the next three years, like 4 per cent per year? Or is that 12 per cent retro, and then . . .
MR. BAKER: I think it was 12 per cent year over year, and then there's an additional $2,000 flat increase as of April 1st. So what happened is that there was a retroactive award, if you want to call it that, which was the 12 per cent, and then there was a two-year arbitration, and then the second year of the arbitration, which is 2002-03, it was a flat $2,000 increment for every individual. So once everybody reached whatever level they were at, then they got a straight across-the-board $2,000.
MR. DEVEAUX: Forgive my ignorance, is there now some form of collective agreement or voluntary recognition, or what would you call your status negotiations with the Crown Attorneys?
MR. BAKER: It is not a collective agreement. I know what not to call it. What there is is an agreement between the Crown Attorneys Association and the government which deals with, primarily, the salary setting mechanism in the Public Prosecution Service.
MR. DEVEAUX: So it's just with regard to salary.
MR. BAKER: That's right.
MR. DEVEAUX: Working conditions and such, there's no arbitration process or anything?
MR. BAKER: There's no arbitration process with respect to other issues. There is an undertaking to have discussions on other issues, such as discipline and those kinds of things but there's no arbitration process for that. It's not a collective agreement. Frankly, at the time we did this, it was a decision by the Crown Attorneys Association that they didn't want the collective agreement.
MR. DEVEAUX: This is a two-year deal. Does that mean you will . . .
MR. BAKER: A two-year deal?
MR. DEVEAUX: Right. Ending at the end of this fiscal year.
MR. BAKER: The salary portion would conclude at the end of this year.
MR. DEVEAUX: So is the goal then to go back into binding arbitration or negotiate something the next year for the . . .
MR. BAKER: The process last time was that there were discussion held between the Public Prosecution Service and the Public Service Commission with the Crown Attorneys. Obviously those negotiations were not successfully completed and the Crown Attorneys Association exercised their option to go to arbitration, and did so; that was the award and we paid it.
MR. DEVEAUX: But is that the recognized procedure that will be used from now on?
MR. BAKER: That's the plan, yes. There's a three month notification period, and I suspect they will give the notice somewhere around January 1st.
MR. DEVEAUX: Just so I'm clear though, is there something legislated with regard to this?
MR. BAKER: No.
MR. DEVEAUX: If your government was to leave tomorrow and another Justice Minister came in, or another Justice Minister came in . . .
MR. BAKER: Clearly, there's been an agreement between the present government and the Crown Attorneys Association, so I won't speak to what the commitment of any other government would be, but certainly we're committed to the process.
MR. DEVEAUX: That's appreciated. I was just curious as to whether there are any thoughts of introducing legislation to make it a more permanent process?
MR. BAKER: No, from my point of view I think the process has provided the desired result in the sense that we now have a system where Crown Attorneys, I think, from my unscientific and anecdotal kind of survey, believe they're adequately compensated. I'm sure you will find that you can always find somebody who believes they're not but, I think, on measure, they do. They're now focusing on doing their jobs.
MR. DEVEAUX: I would agree with that, so why not entrench it in legislation so that we have this long term so it isn't at the whim of a government.
MR. BAKER: Well, I think legislation can be amended at the whim of a government in any event. I think that you have a commitment by the government to do that by contract, and I think that's pretty good where I live.
MR. DEVEAUX: I have a couple of minutes. There are only five minutes left. I will leave it at that.
MR. CHAIRMAN: I would like a couple of minutes to read the resolutions and the vote.
MR. DEVEAUX: I will leave it at that. The minister can wrap up and that will be it from our perspective. That's it for us.
MR. BAKER: Thank you.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Minister, before you have any closing remarks, I would just remind you that any information that was requested of you to provide, provide a copy of it to me as chairman to be filed with Hansard, as well as copies to the three caucus chairmen.
MR. BAKER: I just want to thank all the members of the Opposition for their questions, and indicate that it's been a process which I am not sorry is over. With that, I will conclude my remarks and leave it to the chairman to conclude the resolutions, and the Minister of Natural Resources to take up the torch.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Shall Resolution E10 stand?
Resolution E10 stands.
Resolution E12 - Resolved, that a sum not exceeding $3,419,000 be granted to the Lieutenant Governor to defray expenses in respect of Communications Nova Scotia, pursuant to the Estimate.
Resolution E14 - Resolved, that a sum not exceeding $13,324,000 be granted to the Lieutenant Governor to defray expenses in respect of the Executive Council, pursuant to the Estimate.
Resolution E15 - Resolved, that a sum not exceeding $239,000 be granted to the Lieutenant Governor to defray expenses in respect of the FIOPOP Review Office, pursuant to the Estimate.
Resolution E17 - Resolved, that a sum not exceeding $1,676,000 be granted to the Lieutenant Governor to defray expenses in respect of the Human Rights Commission, pursuant to the Estimate.
Resolution E22 - Resolved, that a sum not exceeding $299,000 be granted to the Lieutenant Governor to defray expenses in respect of the Nova Scotia Police Commission, pursuant to the Estimate.
Resolution E28 - Resolved, that a sum not exceeding $14,255,000 be granted to the Lieutenant Governor to defray expenses in respect of the Public Prosecution Service, pursuant to the Estimate.
MR. CHAIRMAN: The resolutions are carried.
That concludes the business of the honourable Minister of Justice and his various resolutions. We will be picking this up, the following day. Tomorrow, I believe the Minister of Natural Resources is going to be away for a conference, so we're going to Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. We finished a little early; it's 6:51 p.m. We have two minutes to go on the clock. I will close it off there. We still have time on a future day.
We now stand adjourned at 6:51 p.m.
[6:51 p.m. The subcommittee rose.]