March 16, 1978

?

Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

Amendment (Mr. Leggatt) withdrawn.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PRIVATE BILLS
Sub-subtopic:   BELL CANADA
Permalink
LIB

Denis Éthier (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ethier):

Is the House ready for the question?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PRIVATE BILLS
Sub-subtopic:   BELL CANADA
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Question.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PRIVATE BILLS
Sub-subtopic:   BELL CANADA
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LIB

Denis Éthier (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ethier):

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the said motion?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PRIVATE BILLS
Sub-subtopic:   BELL CANADA
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

March 16, 1978

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PRIVATE BILLS
Sub-subtopic:   BELL CANADA
Permalink

Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Transport and Communications.


LIB

Martin Patrick O'Connell

Liberal

Mr. O'Connell:

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I believe standing order 103(1) requires a one week's delay to intervene after second reading in the House before a Standing Committee can consider a bill sent to it.

I would like to ask the House whether it would be prepared to give unanimous consent to waive that provision of Standing Order 103(1), in view of the possible tight time bind in which we may find ourselves with the House recessing on Wednesday next week and this notwithstanding the desire of most members of the House to move the bill to committee stage quickly.

In asking for that unanimous consent I might say that it would be contingent upon the committee being willing to receive the bill with less than one week's notice. I have not been able to consult the committee chairman beyond discussing with him generally that the bill will likely come to him some time soon. He does not know that it will be prior to the one week's interval. Therefore, I would like to ask the House if it would give unanimous consent to waive Standing Order 103(1) on the condition that the committee is willing to receive the bill.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PRIVATE BILLS
Sub-subtopic:   BELL CANADA
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NDP

Stanley Howard Knowles (N.D.P. House Leader)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre):

Mr. Speaker, we are prepared to join in giving that consent. The hon. member for Scarborough East spoke to us about it a short while ago. There was one other point which was part of the understanding and that was with respect to the times of any meetings of the committee. They would be arranged by consultation, bearing in mind the possibility of members being present and the possibility of the availability of certain witnesses. So far as the waiving of the one week's requirement is concerned, as set out in Standing Order 103(1), we are prepared to agree to that.

We have an excellent example today, Mr. Speaker, of how useful it is to consult and to get together when there is an important problem before us.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PRIVATE BILLS
Sub-subtopic:   BELL CANADA
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PC

Steve Eugene Paproski

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Paproski:

Mr. Speaker, we agree also.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PRIVATE BILLS
Sub-subtopic:   BELL CANADA
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LIB

Martin Patrick O'Connell

Liberal

Mr. O'Connell:

Mr. Speaker, it is understood and agreed that the witnesses would have to be available.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PRIVATE BILLS
Sub-subtopic:   BELL CANADA
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LIB

Denis Éthier (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ethier):

Hon. members have heard the suggestion of the hon. member for Scarborough East (Mr. O'Connell). Is it agreed and so ordered?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PRIVATE BILLS
Sub-subtopic:   BELL CANADA
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

Veterans Affairs

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PRIVATE BILLS
Sub-subtopic:   BELL CANADA
Permalink

PRIVATE MEMBERS' MOTIONS FOR PAPERS

LIB

Harold Thomas Herbert

Liberal

Mr. Hal Herbert (Vaudreuil) moved:

That an Order of the House do issue for copies of all correspondence, notes, minutes of meetings and other communications relating to the decentralization of the Department of Veterans Affairs to the Province of Prince Edward Island.

He said: Mr. Speaker, this notice of motion for the production of papers was put on the order paper because, in my opinion, the decision which was made to relocate most of the Department of Veterans Affairs to Prince Edward Island was made without adequate prior study. I fully support the program of decentralization. Equally I am happy that the Department of Veterans Affairs will, in large measure, be moving to Prince Edward Island. However, it is my opinion that before any such large move is made, proper studies should be conducted so that the full implications would be known before the decision is taken and the decision surely should be contingent upon the study.

The relocation of the Department of Veterans Affairs to Charlottetown was announced on October 28, 1976. A departmental task force was set up in November of that year to co-ordinate with the province and the municipality to monitor social, economic, physical activities and impacts. The site selection was due in the fall of 1977.

Part of my problems probably stems from the fact that the original announcement was made without any prior information given to interested members, myself included. In my riding there are many veterans, and there is also a large veterans hospital. Because of these contacts, I have constant communication with many of the employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs in Ottawa.

I received many phone calls concerning the announcement. I knew nothing about it. As the newspapers reported, I was especially irritated that the announcement should be made first in the media without concerned MP's being made aware of it. It was not alone. The Dominion President of the Royal Canadian Legion stated the Legion's opposition to the move. He said that the proposed move was not anticipated and the minister's announcement came as a complete surprise. The Dominion President made it clear that he was not opposed to the program of decentralization or the fact that the department was moving to Prince Edward Island, but the fact there had been no consultation was of concern.

The employees were eventually consulted. A questionnaire was given to them. Language concerns and possible disruptions to family life were seen as the main reasons for an overwhelming majority rejection of the move. Some 90 per cent of those responding to the questionnaire were opposed to the transfer. They had, of course, a multitude of reasons for their rejection. One of the obvious reasons why public servants might be

March 16, 1978

Veterans Affairs

unwilling to move was indicated by the fact that a quarter of the employees had members of their families working in the Ottawa area so that they too would be disrupted by the move.

Employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs were also concerned about the disruption to schooling. Many of the children from families affected by the move were enrolled in school systems either in Ottawa, Ontario, or in Hull, Quebec. The minister admitted himself that the department had not analysed the implications of the relocation on DVA staff, and that no employer/employee assistance policy had been adopted. In my opinion this is not the best way to proceed if we want to maintain morale in the department.

Of special concern to me was the subject of language. The Minister of Finance (Mr. Chretien) on November 25, in connection with the decentralization plans into the province of Quebec, stated that the government was presently negotiating with Quebec. He said that if there is no agreement to permit English speaking public servants who will be going into Quebec to send their children to English schools, there will be no move. If there is to be decentralization in another province which does not provide for education in French for French speaking people, there will be no decentralization. He went on to say "except where personnel for decentralized units could be hired locally."

I questioned that move to Prince Edward Island. I put many questions on the order paper. 1 wanted to know what the department or the President of the Treasury Board (Mr. Andras) had done to ensure there would be adequate French language schooling facilities available in Prince Edward Island. Prince Edward Island, which has four members of parliament in this House, one of whom is a minister, is smaller than the constituency that I represent and has far fewer persons living in it. Because it is a province, it has a lot more clout than my constituency. I would think it would be possible to make some arrangements.

We talked many times about what might have been done. After much prompting and a lapse of several months, the then president of the treasury board, now the Minister of Finance, was in communication with the premier of the province of Prince Edward Island. He stated that we now have to face up to the issue and asked what the premier was going to do about it. The premier stated that he was prepared to provide French language instruction in the province of Prince Edward Island for those children who needed it.

It is disappointing that we have continually to make these representations and bring pressure to bear in areas where these matters should be looked after in advance. In other words, before considering a move into Prince Edward Island, such subjects as language of instruction for children should have been looked into and some assurance obtained from the premier of that province. I know some will say the situation is different in Quebec because of their bill 101. I suggest whether or not there is language legislation, any province can in a

practical fashion exclude teaching in the second official language by not providing the facilities.

For many years in the province of Ontario, discrimination was practised with money. They did not need a bill 101. The same situation continues in many of the other English speaking provinces today. To say there is not the same problem in Prince Edward Island because there is no bill 101 just does not hold water.

There are many other areas about which we asked questions and where answers should have been given before an announcement was made. The department uses 660,000 square feet of office space. In Ottawa alone, about 180,000 square feet of office space is used. It costs $800,000 per annum for the space they are presently utilizing. We all know of the concerns of the people in Ottawa because of the space that will be vacated.

I would like to know whether the relocation is going to affect, for example, Saint John, New Brunswick where 21,000 square feet of space is occupied at a cost of $154,000 per annum. In Toronto, something less than 40,000 square feet of space is occupied at a cost of $200,000 per annum. I could give similar statistics for areas of other provinces. So far these questions have been unanswered.

I also wanted to know the estimated cost of the relocation. I was told the total estimated cost is $816 million. Without any further explanation I am inclined to question the figure. I very much doubt whether any consideration has been given to the dislocating effect of such a move.

I was interested in whether there would be any organizational changes in those departments being decentralized. I asked the question whether changes were necessary in the organizational structure of senior management personnel in departments affected by decentralization. The answer was no. 1 asked whether decentralization necessitated a change in reporting lines and responsibility of such personnel. The answer was no.

As an individual who operated a company with offices in several provinces of this country, I find it extremely difficult to imagine a major move of this nature going ahead without some changes in the top organizational structure of the department or in the reporting lines of those personnel. Surely just distance itself will affect in some way the reporting lines of the senior personnel.

My concern was directed to certain other areas. I asked the estimated cost and the approximate number of square feet of the new building which is to be constructed in Charlottetown, P.E.I. The answer was:

-not known at this time as detailed accommodation requirements have not yet been identified by Department of Veterans Affairs.

I asked whether land had been purchased or an option taken on land in Charlottetown for the construction of the new building. The answer was no. I asked what amount of land acquisition and construction costs, if any, would be charged by the Department of Public Works to the Department of Veterans Affairs in connection with this move. I was told "none".

March 16, 1978

The reason was that the Department of Public Works was responsible for cost of land acquisition and office space for the Department of Veterans Affairs and under current policy, the cost of providing and maintaining office space would be carried in the budget of the Department of Public Works as long as the facility was required. If I do not know now, how am I going to know later? It is going to be in the budget of the Department of Public Works? I am a member of the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs but that information is not going to be in the estimates of the Department of Veterans Affairs. I suppose one could float between committees and maybe finally get the question to the Minister of Public Works (Mr. Buchanan). Of course, he will say that decisions are being made by the Minister of Veterans Affairs (Mr. MacDonald). This is the run-around we sometimes get between committees.

In any major move of this nature, we have the stated policy of government that we are going to decentralize. Surely the next move should be a study and questioning of employees. When the study has been completed in reasonable detail, the announcement can then be made based on our findings, the availability of space, the cost of moving, the availability of educational facilities and so on.

Let me give hon. members another example in connection with Place Guy Favreau in Montreal. We shall be spending multi-millions of dollars in the construction of this building, which is an illustration of decentralization in reverse. I asked the minister what departmental offices were scheduled to occupy space in that project. The answer was: "We cannot at this early date identify specific government offices which will be relocated into complex Guy Favreau." The answer continued:

Public Works does not to date maintain records of numbers of personnel in client premises ... an analysis is currently under way which will recommend renegotiation of economically favourable leases and relegation of some Crown-owned properties. The allocation of space in Place Guy Favreau will be made after this analysis has taken place.

I mention this for two reasons. First, we have decided to put up a building in Montreal at a cost in excess of $100 million before deciding who should move into it. That, Mr. Speaker, is reverse decentralization. The responsible department, the Department of Public Works, does not know what it is doing in this case because it has received no information from the other departments. So in one case the Department of Veterans Affairs passes the buck to the Department of Public Works, while in the other the Department of Public Works passes the buck to departments generally.

I suggest, Mr. Speaker, that I have good reason to place my motion on the order paper asking for the production of papers so that a little more light might be cast upon this whole issue. That is why I asked for the correspondence, the minutes of meetings and other communications relating to the decentralization of the Department of Veterans Affairs to the province of Prince Edward Island.

Veterans Affairs

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' MOTIONS FOR PAPERS
Sub-subtopic:   COPIES OF CORRESPONDENCE RELATING TO DECENTRALIZATION OF DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
Permalink
PC

Heath Nelson Macquarrie

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Heath Macquarrie (Hillsborough):

Mr. Speaker, long before I came to this House I was an academic and a firm believer in having before me the fullest documentation possible before arriving at a judgment on any subject. I am, therefore, in agreement with the motion. I am also much committed to the idea of freedom of information to the fullest possible extent with respect to government and government transactions.

I listened carefully to what the hon. member had to say. He intimated he was not opposed to the move to Prince Edward Island, but-it was a substantial "but" for a three-letter word. I cannot understand why he should be surprised that this proposal should be made. It is long ago since this chamber first discussed the decentralization of the administration to various parts of the country. A number of departments are already functioning from one end of the country to the other. It is past my understanding that this move to Charlottetown, the cradle of confederation, should cause so much consternation or that it should be held up as an example of inflicting pain and anguish upon public servants. I can understand that great difficulties might arise over family matters, children's education, and so on but there are not many operations in the private sector or, indeed, in the government itself where guaranteed geographical security is part of the job commitment. I never had a big business empire such as the hon. member referred to but I am wondering whether in that empire extending all across the country there are not many people who were called upon to move very suddenly from one part of Canada to another.

The move to Prince Edward Island will not take place suddenly. I hope all those concerned will be able to make suitable arrangements to provide for their families, their children and so on. But I do not accept with good grace the suggestion that Prince Edward Island is incapable of offering language training for those who will be working in the Department of Veterans Affairs. Instead of quibbling about things like this I believe this House and the country should applaud the honourable and gallant Minister of Veterans Affairs (Mr. MacDonald) who has arranged for the transfer of the department to the city of Charlottetown, a city where the per capita representation of veterans in the Boer War, the first world war, the second world war and the Korean war was very high.

It is very fitting that a minister of such great military distinction should be the man responsible for the initiation of such a move, it is conceivable that the move will be finished under another government, but those are the fortunes of political warfare. Before I leave this place I want to salute the Minister of Veterans Affairs for the action he took and say to the mover of this motion that any public servant now living in the national capital who finds that his work will take him to the city of Charlottetown is very much blessed.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' MOTIONS FOR PAPERS
Sub-subtopic:   COPIES OF CORRESPONDENCE RELATING TO DECENTRALIZATION OF DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' MOTIONS FOR PAPERS
Sub-subtopic:   COPIES OF CORRESPONDENCE RELATING TO DECENTRALIZATION OF DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
Permalink
PC

Heath Nelson Macquarrie

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Macquarrie:

His real income will not change but his psychic income will be greatly increased. I have not lived in Charlottetown for a hundred years-

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' MOTIONS FOR PAPERS
Sub-subtopic:   COPIES OF CORRESPONDENCE RELATING TO DECENTRALIZATION OF DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
Permalink
?

An hon. Member:

It just seems like that!

3852

March 16, 1978

Veterans Affairs

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' MOTIONS FOR PAPERS
Sub-subtopic:   COPIES OF CORRESPONDENCE RELATING TO DECENTRALIZATION OF DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
Permalink
PC

Heath Nelson Macquarrie

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Macquarrie:

-but these people will be well treated. Those who join the department from Prince Edward Island will include many fine people who will maintain the quality of service which is provided. This is a department dedicated to looking after a select group of Canadians, those who bore hardship and endured the struggle at times of national peril. While I think it is wise to have all the information before us, nobody concerned should consider that they were taken by surprise. Sooner or later, decentralization was bound to strike Prince Edward Island. Surely somewhere along the line, if Camrose, Alberta, or whatever it is called up in the north, which the Minister of Industry, Trade and Commerce (Mr. Horner) is presently representing, can get the Farm Credit Corporation, Prince Edward Island is entitled to something.

I am firmly convinced that the decentralization of bureaucracy is a good thing. The more we can get the Canadian people to look upon this great structure of government as being their own, the better. We saw the cabinet moving about the west-

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' MOTIONS FOR PAPERS
Sub-subtopic:   COPIES OF CORRESPONDENCE RELATING TO DECENTRALIZATION OF DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
Permalink
NDP

John Gilbert

New Democratic Party

Mr. Gilbert:

At public expense!

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' MOTIONS FOR PAPERS
Sub-subtopic:   COPIES OF CORRESPONDENCE RELATING TO DECENTRALIZATION OF DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
Permalink

March 16, 1978