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May 9, 2017                                                               GOVERNMENT SERVICES COMMITTEE


Pursuant to Standing Order 68, Derrick Bragg, MHA for Fogo Island – Cape Freels, substitutes for Carol Anne Haley, MHA for Burin – Grand Bank.


Pursuant to Standing Order 68, Barry Petten, MHA for Conception Bay South, substitutes for Steve Kent, MHA for Mount Pearl North.


Pursuant to Standing Order 68, Scott Reid, MHA for St. George's – Humber, substitutes for Betty Parsley, MHA for Harbour Main.


Pursuant to Standing Order 68, Kevin Parsons, MHA for Cape St. Francis, substitutes for Keith Hutchings, MHA for Ferryland.


The Committee met at approximately 6:09 p.m. in the Assembly Chamber.


CHAIR (Edmunds): Okay, we'll get started here.


Welcome, everyone, to the Estimates for the Office of Climate Change, Government Purchasing Agency and Service NL. We're going to go through all the headings for the Office of Climate Change to start off and we'll call for a motion after each section.


I'll start off with the introduction of the Government Services Committee, starting off with the front row.


MS. HAYDEN: Veronica Hayden, Executive Assistant.


MR. PETTEN: Barry Petten, MHA for CBS.


MR. REID: Scott Reid, MHA for St. George's – Humber.


MS. MICHAEL: Lorraine Michael, MHA, St. John's East – Quidi Vidi.


MR. MORGAN: Ivan Morgan, Researcher, NDP Caucus.


MR. BRAGG: Derrick Bragg, MHA, Fogo Island – Cape Freels, substituting in for Carol Anne Haley, Burin – Grand Bank.


MR. KING: Neil King, District of Bonavista.


CHAIR: Okay, thank you.


I'd just like to point out that, as Mr. Bragg said, he's substituting for Carol Anne Haley. Mr. Barry Petten is substituting for Mr. Steve Kent. Mr. Scott Reid is substituting for Ms. Betty Parsley and Mr. Kevin Parsons is substituting for Mr. Keith Hutchings.


What I'll do is I'll call for the first head and then I'll ask the minister to have opening remarks, starting off with the introduction of your departmental staff. I'll have 10 minutes overview and then we'll switch back and forth between the Government Services Committee on line-by-line or general questions.


CLERK (Hammond): Executive Council, 2.5.01.


MR. TRIMPER: Okay, thank you very much.


I think everyone knows me, but my name is Perry Trimper. I'm the minister responsible for the items in this agenda this evening. So we're tackling Service NL, the Government Purchasing Agency and the Office of Climate Change. I'm very pleased – before I go any further, I want to introduce the team around me. I have a great team around me.


Immediately to my right is Sean Dutton, he's the deputy minister for Service NL. To my left is Julian McCarthy and he's assistant deputy minister. He's responsible for Regulatory Affairs within Service NL. To his left is Roxie Wheaton, she's an ADM responsible for Government Services with Service NL.


Behind Roxie and representing the Government Purchasing Agency is Patricia Hearn. Behind her is Marlene Hickey, she is the chief review commissioner with workplace health and safety commission. Behind myself is Robyn Hayes, she's a departmental controller. Gerald Crane is right here behind me. He's the director of Climate Change and one of the senior guys in that office.


Then I also have Ian Murphy as executive assistant to myself, Marc Budgell is Communications director and Wanda Trickett who's right over there. So that's my team. Thank you very much. Perhaps I'll start with a few opening remarks and we'll dive in.


It's my second time going through this. I found the exercise very interesting last year and I'm sure for everyone concerned. I'd like to, as I did last year, be as transparent as possible. If you have questions, I'm going to do my best to answer them. I do have a string attached to my leg and if somebody else here has a better answer, they may jump in. It's very much of a team atmosphere and I certainly don't want to say things or leave things short if there's more to be said.


I'd also like to thank the Members opposite for joining us. I think it's a very important exercise of how we do business in the House. It's a good opportunity for us to explore several issues.


I'm going to go right to my remarks on Climate Change, as we feel this is perhaps a little bit more straightforward, but we'll see. I'll talk a little bit about what goes on in this office.


As you're aware, climate change is certainly one of the greatest issues. I would argue it's probably the greatest issue facing society right now in the world. This province is taking the matter very seriously. Just last year we stepped up and started to introduce legislation. As you all know, we have expectations and obligations as a provincial government to contribute to what the rest of the country is doing with the Pan-Canadian Framework. There's a lot of attention on this small group but very important one right now.


We have four lines of business in the Office of Climate Change; one is to lead the development of climate change policy and strategy. We undertake focused research and analysis to enable the province to maximize opportunities and minimize risks from the impacts of climate change and move towards what we call the low-carbon economy.


This group also works with all other departments in government to better integrate climate change and energy efficiency considerations into the current and future programs and legislation. Then our final line of business is to advance the province's interests and priorities in regional, national and international forums on climate change and energy efficiency.


The quality and impact of the office's work has been recognized by external organizations. I must say, I have some nice lines here but I wanted to make a personal note. That when I've had the pleasure of representing Newfoundland and Labrador at a national table, I'm always struck by how the other government representatives want to come over to the Newfoundland and Labrador table and speak with people like Gerald Crane or Jackie Janes. We are very lucky to have such strong backgrounds and so well respected in the country. While we are small, we are very well respected.


We've been working on a variety of priority areas. As I just mentioned, a lot of our work on the FPT, the federal, provincial, territorial working group, is to work towards this Pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change. That was signed by our Premier in December 2016.


As I indicated, we passed legislation last June dealing with the Management of Greenhouse Gas Act, and we have just released the reporting regulations which capture onshore large industry in this province. That work is all rolling out nicely. The next area we're looking towards doing is, of course, now responding with our Action Plan and how we're going to get that in place with everything that the federal government wants to do and our own initiatives.


A couple of other things that are going on within this whole framework are the development of the carbon offset system in the province which is pursuant to the act, and we're working with consultants on that. We've created a new Web portal which has received a lot of acclaim. It's called Turn Back the Tide. We just recently upgraded that website. We work a lot with schools, a lot with organizations in the province and it's a great tool for communicating. It's very interactive, and we find it's very well received.


I've recently, along with Gerald and others and my staff, we've teamed up with the Canadian Home Builders' Association-Newfoundland and Labrador, the Newfoundland and Labrador Construction Agency and others to incorporate energy efficiency in the construction of homes, small buildings and large buildings.


We also, last year, completed a series of consultations on our Climate Change Action Plan, and these are all feeding in to what will be our commitments under The Way Forward.


I guess it was about a month ago, as part of the budget we've developed two new energy efficiency programs that are going to help homeowners reduce their energy costs. These are referred to as the Home Energy Savings Program that will provide low-income households with grants of up to $5,000 for cost-effective upgrades in existing homes with electric heat. The other is a loan program, it's called the Home Energy Efficiency Loan Program and that provides low-interest financing for energy efficiency and home upgrades.


So that's just some high level comments on the Office of Climate Change. With that, I guess, Mr. Chair, we're ready to proceed to go through the – unless anyone has any questions right now or do we –?


CHAIR: Okay, I'll open the floor to the Government Services Committee members.


Mr. Petten.


MR. PETTEN: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.


Thank you, Minister and staff.


There's not a lot in the line by line, but I have some questions as well. So I'll just start off with section 2.5.01 and then I'll revert to some other questions I have, if that's okay with you?


MR. TRIMPER: It's fine.


MR. PETTEN: Under the Salaries line, why such a drop of $190,000 from last year's budget?


MR. TRIMPER: So there are two activities there that have caused that decline in the amount allocated to Salaries. One is there's been an annualization of prior year decisions. If you need any clarification on that, I could ask Robyn perhaps or one of the team. The other is just changes to management structure, so some $178,500. We've dropped a couple of positions in this department.


MR. PETTEN: What positions were they, Minister?


MR. TRIMPER: Gerald, we lost a – I'll let you –


MR. CRANE: We lost one director post, the director of government relations. That's subsumed in my post, and we lost one analyst position, an HL-21.




What did you say about the annualization?


MR. TRIMPER: Wanda Trickett, if you could.


MS. TRICKETT: That's in relation to prior year budget decisions that annualized out into this fiscal year and it would be related to attrition.


MR. PETTEN: Did you say attrition?






Under Transportation and Communications; last year $32,000 was budgeted, $36,000 was incurred. Now, it's not a big increase, but what is – with your Transportation and Communications, what's involved with that? Is it cellphones and just –


MR. TRIMPER: Well, there are a couple of moving parts here. I'm going to start with the answer and then I'll probably turn to Gerald, I think, to explain it.


Certainly, the demands on the office last year were huge. Under the Pan-Canadian Framework and preparing for that, we were required to participate on four separate working groups that fed into it, and we co-chaired one of them. So there were suddenly – you can imagine the timing of the budget. I think the first meeting was in March where the First Ministers set this course, we released the budget and then shortly, thereafter, there's a requirement.


We found our staff travelled a lot last year. There were extensive travel, but we've been moving a few things around. First of all, there's $3,900 reflection overrun from the 2016-17 budget related to higher than anticipated requirements. We found the funding from savings in other areas of the office. We also were able to recover some $2,000 that we identified in our zero-based budgeting.


Gerald Crane, can you comment a little bit on how that moved around?


MR. CRANE: The only other comment I'd make there is that we also did public consultations last year for the new Climate Change Action Plan. For those, we had to go to Corner Brook, Grand Falls, Goose Bay. Yet the savings were just found in other areas of the office's budget to cover that cost as the year went on.




Minister, under Professional Services, what's included under that line?


MR. TRIMPER: Under Professional Services – and I can let Gerald explain the technical details, but you can anticipate knowing, as you do as the critic, something about how some of the various calculations and strategies that feed into what government will determine as its own policy.


These are highly specialized services. We had at least two contracts I can think of that we let last year, and we anticipate more. These are around calculation of various submission levels; what would be the appropriate strategy, vis-à-vis regulations. Gerald, maybe with that introduction, I'll let you elaborate because there were two very technical ones that I can think of.


MR. CRANE: Going into this year, we identified that a carbon offsets system was perhaps the most technical and challenging of the areas under the Management of Greenhouse Gas Act. We had two contracts there; one was a study done by a consultant who was familiar with the systems in other provinces, and that was to look at what would be involved in setting up the governance structure, the management structure and the implementation of a carbon offsets system by looking at what happens in other provinces.


The other piece was to develop what we call a carbon offsets protocol, which is basically the rules of the game by which a system like this is implemented. That was done by a consultant. These are very technical documents and it was done by a consultant who is familiar with that.


We did also have a very small contract; it was an update to a previous year's work. There was some recent information released. So we just reran that; that was just $3,000.


MR. PETTEN: Thanks.


What consultants got those pieces of work?


MR. CRANE: I'm sorry?


MR. PETTEN: What were the names of the consultants?


MR. CRANE: Oh, I'm sorry.


The first one, the comparison work, was done by a company called Viresco Solutions out of Alberta. They're familiar with the Alberta system, the system in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia.


The second one was done by a company called Delphi out of Ottawa – there are only about three consultants in the country, four consultants in the country that can actually do these protocols. They're one of the leading consultants of that group.


The third one, the update study, was done by a company called Caneta Research. They've done all the federal government work related to national building codes, so we were able to contract them for a relatively small amount.


MR. PETTEN: So there are no consultants in the province that can do that work?


MR. CRANE: Not the technical expertise. For the offsets protocol work, we did hire on Topsail Road – the name will come to me in a second. They did local consultations, local stakeholder work. It's probably about 20 per cent of the contract.




Under Grants and Subsidies, the $500,000, what's that amount for? What does that include?


MR. TRIMPER: This is where we've placed $500,000 related to the funding increase related to that Home Energy Efficiency Loan Program. So we've moved half a million dollars into that.


MR. PETTEN: So that is for the Home Energy Efficiency Loan Program?




MR. PETTEN: Even though that was announced by Minister Gambin-Walsh, under the Housing initiative, the funding for the loan program is in your department?


MR. TRIMPER: Yes, I'm going let Wanda or Gerald, whoever feels most comfortable in handling that.


MR. CRANE: In year one there's $500,000 in our budget that we subcontracted with the Newfoundland Power, and they will subcontract with Newfoundland Hydro. There's another $500,000 through the Housing Corporation budget. This is a start-up year, a set-up year, and we felt that it was important to involve the Housing Corporation as well. So it was 50 per cent out of our budget, 50 per cent from the Housing Corporation budget.


In the next two years all of the money will come out of our budget, and none out of the Housing Corporation budget.




I have some questions for you now, Minister.




MR. PETTEN: You're getting used to that now, hey?




MR. PETTEN: When the Department of Environment was dismantled or moved around or whatever you want to call it, there's some confusion and there's been questions asked. You're the Minister Responsible for Climate Change but the office falls under Executive Council. I think I might have it rationalized somewhat in my mind.


What is your role now when it comes to climate change? It's somewhat confusing to us opposite.


MR. TRIMPER: I am; I remain the Minister Responsible for the Office of Climate Change. It has an interesting structure with Executive Council and so on, so it does cross several aspects of government; nevertheless, it's been a continuation of the role I was playing before as Minister of Environment and Climate Change.


Essentially, that department was broken into four units. Modelled after what occurred in New Brunswick by merging environment and community affairs, as it's called in New Brunswick. They created community affairs and environment; we've done similar with Municipal Affairs and Environment.


So of those four units, the Climate Change office remained with my responsibility.


MR. PETTEN: Even though it's under Executive Council –




MR. PETTEN: – you still make all the decisions as minister, in consultation with the Premier's Office, I assume, on that file?


MR. TRIMPER: Oh, absolutely.


MR. PETTEN: Okay, yeah.


You're also responsible for the methylmercury file, I discovered along the way. I know monitoring of the methylmercury file falls under Environment, or it is there now. That's where methylmercury is being monitored. So what role – I guess the thing is during Estimates with Environment, I found out the monitoring aspect of methylmercury was being done by the Department of Environment. So what's your role with the methylmercury file? Is it the spokesperson or is it the expertise or –?


MR. TRIMPER: A bit more than a spokesperson.


What we've done is, because the file of its complexity, my background and so on, we've set it up so that – we actually have two ministers responsible for responding to the recommendations that will come out of the Independent Expert Advisory Committee, which is addressing human health concern around methylmercury.


Minister Joyce, as the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Environment, and myself, Minister of Service NL, the two of us are collaborating, if you like, on all decisions. You might see myself speaking a little bit more to it; but, regardless, his staff and my staff are working very closely on this file, including just an hour ago dealing with some folks.




MR. TRIMPER: It's a shared responsibility.


MR. PETTEN: What is the latest on that issue? What's the latest on the methylmercury file? Is there any –?


MR. TRIMPER: We are essentially concluding the very first and very important step, which is the terms of reference that will guide the terms of how the Independent Expert Advisory Committee will proceed. Associated with that will be a budget and a variety of aspects from the experts themselves, how they'll be selected, how they'll make decisions to the oversight group that will essentially run that entity over the next couple of years.


I'm anticipating being able to speak further, perhaps in the House in the next couple of days, as to some of the elements of this. On Friday, I made a presentation to the municipality in Happy Valley-Goose Bay because there is a role that's been set aside for municipalities to be represented.


As you may know, the provincial government, federal government and three indigenous organizations are involved in the development of this entity. We've now reached out to Happy Valley-Goose Bay to confirm whether or not they still want to remain involved and whether or not they represent the regional municipalities.


MR. PETTEN: Thank you.


MR. TRIMPER: You'll be hearing more I'm sure within the next few days.


MR. PETTEN: Are there any other files, like the methylmercury file, you're responsible for outside of –?


MR. TRIMPER: No, not directly, but Minister Joyce, Minister Crocker and Minister Mitchelmore all inherited elements of what I was doing before. So when asked, I've been offering help –




MR. TRIMPER: – and trying to make sure it goes in that order.


MR. PETTEN: Minister, carbon tax, does that still fall under Climate Change? The carbon tax file, is that –?


MR. TRIMPER: Well, just by its nature –




MR. TRIMPER: – and as you phrase it, you can appreciate that that crosses into just a few departments.




MR. TRIMPER: In terms of the strategy of the Action Plan, which would indicate how the provincial government will respond to the federals – we call it a federal backstop of imposing a carbon tax. We are coming up with a strategy on all aspects of our economy and society that will address the need to incent changes in behaviour. It's all about reducing pollution.


The federal government is basically saying in a very aggressive way, I would suggest, that where a jurisdiction is not taking action as a province or a territory or not taking action on an aspect of their economy's society, they will impose a carbon tax as you say.


So my role, as responsible for the Office of Climate Change and working with people like Gerald and Jackie Janes and others, is to come up with strategies that will reflect our very unique situation that we have in this country. Most of our population is on an island. We are very much trade exposed. We have several competitive disadvantages and advantages. We are working very diligently. I can tell you there's a lot of intense activity happening right now.


So it's a combination of ministers. The Minister of Natural Resources is also heavily involved, the Premier's office and so on; but in terms of developing and pulling the plan together, that is falling within our office.


MR. PETTEN: So there will be some form of a carbon tax, carbon pricing, by 2018 as per the federal government's –


MR. TRIMPER: If you recall, this is a federal government initiative.




MR. TRIMPER: And some jurisdictions are arguing – and, frankly, with our own legislation that we passed last June, we argued and have asserted that in terms of onshore industry in this province, the strategy that we're using to address reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is more effective and less expensive than a carbon tax, as you say.




CHAIR: Okay, we'll go to Ms. Michael, if she has any questions.


MS. MICHAEL: Okay, thank you very much, Mr. Chair.


Thank you, Minister, and your staff for being here tonight. I don't have any line item questions because they were taken care of, but just one – the two positions that are gone because of the changes in the management structure, are there individuals who've gone as well because of that? Well, were jobs lost?




MS. MICHAEL: Besides the positions being eliminated, were jobs lost?


MR. TRIMPER: That is correct. We lost two good people.


MS. MICHAEL: Okay, thank you.


How much history did they have?


MR. TRIMPER: Sorry, I'll get clarification, if I could.


Go ahead, Gerald.


MR. CRANE: One individual moved to another department in government and one individual was not successful in finding another position.




And may I ask how much experience did they have in this department?


MR. CRANE: In the Office of Climate Change?




MR. CRANE: Both of them had less than two years in the office.


MS. MICHAEL: Thank you very much.


Minister, with regard to the act, the June 2016 act, we know now that there has to be reporting from the large emitters. Was that able to be started in 2016?


MR. TRIMPER: Was it able to be started?


MS. MICHAEL: Yes, has there been reporting in 2016, since the act came in place?


MR. TRIMPER: Yeah, we just introduced our reporting regulations some –


MS. MICHAEL: That's what I thought you said, yes.


MR. TRIMPER: – what, two months ago, Gerald?


MR. CRANE: (Inaudible.)


MR. TRIMPER: Yeah, about two months ago. So large industry now with emission levels of 15,000 tons or more are obligated to start reporting under our structure. We're still working with the federal government because these industry were already reporting to a federal obligation. What we are doing now is to make sure that there's a single point of reporting, so we're combining our ask with the federal ask as we move together and work closely with Ottawa.


MS. MICHAEL: Okay. They've been reporting. If you needed access to that information that's already been reported, you'd be able to have that, obviously?


MR. TRIMPER: Yes, and we have a lot of that now. We need it in a different format often, so that's what we're looking specifically for.




Under the new act, we were hoping to have penalties in place for those who emit more than 25,000 MTs. Will you be ready by 2019 to impose those penalties?


MR. TRIMPER: That is our plan. Cabinet, ultimately, based on the results of these reporting data, will be presented with two questions. One will be: What would be the specific target in terms of how low we ask each of these industrial emitters to attain? And then also: What price would we assign per ton of carbon?


MS. MICHAEL: Right. Okay, so still a lot of work being done.


MR. TRIMPER: Still a lot of work to be done. There's a lot of work with industry happening, a lot of work with the federal government. Gerald and his team are back and forth and certainly on the phone often. We're talking to other jurisdictions. There's a lot of nice alignment. Frankly, our legislation is copied primarily off British Columbia and Alberta.




MR. TRIMPER: So we've taken a lot of lessons learned from them and I appreciated that very much.




Minister, have you got any reading on how companies may opt because they will have choices, won't they? They can either reduce their emissions or pay a technology fund or make green investments. Have you got any sense of how companies here in our province will respond?


MR. TRIMPER: We are meeting regularly with industry. Frankly, as I think about it – and, Gerald, I'll get you to comment as well – I'm seeing a variety of strategies that they're speaking to us about for each of them, because each one is different. Some of them have certainly invested quite substantially just in recent years, so they've already done a lot to reduce their emissions.


Some of our challenges then are to take that entity – and I'll take the refinery as an example. It's the only one in North America that does not have a source of natural gas.




MR. TRIMPER: So that puts them at a disadvantage right off the bat; yet, they've invested substantially in their industry. So we need to find an apple to compare, and right now we just have oranges. It's an interesting technical challenge for us.




Mentioning the refinery, and this probably is not in your jurisdiction to ask this question but I'll ask it anyway. How stable are things now with regard to ownership?


MR. TRIMPER: Well, we're speaking with the owners. There had been rumours a little while ago of some, perhaps instable that was being offered up for sale. That's not our understanding at all. I met with an owner as recently as within the last week.




MR. TRIMPER: So we're proceeding.


MS. MICHAEL: Great, thank you.


MR. TRIMPER: Just to throw in there, if I may, I compliment the office. I think, Gerald, the number was – we've had something like 29 meetings between the provincial government and NARL since 2009. So it's extensive interaction.




MR. TRIMPER: To ensure, first of all, that we're aggressive to meet our targets, but we also are not so aggressive that we throw these companies out of business.




With regard to that, we do have a commitment to reduce our emissions from 10.6 million tons to 8.6 million by 2020. Is that still our target? Can we meet that?


MR. TRIMPER: It remains on the books. I would propose that following the release of our Action Plan we'll be able to provide clarity as to whether or not that's still achievable. There are so many moving parts right now and a very honest answer, I'm not sure.




MR. TRIMPER: It is aggressive, as we find ourselves at this point, but it's also a whole new situation with the federal government finally stepping forward because for a decade there had been no action in Ottawa, and now they're there and they're moving very quickly. So we'll have to see. There's a big calculation to be done.




I don't have any more questions, Minister, but I have to say that I feel a lot of optimism. I feel excited about what we've already heard here tonight.




MS. MICHAEL: Thank you.


MR. TRIMPER: Gerald, did I miss anything?


MR. CRANE: No, the only point I would add –


CHAIR: Okay, anymore questions, Mr. Petten?


MR. CRANE: The only points I would add are with regard to industry. We have very few industrial facilities.




MR. CRANE: But they're really large.




MR. CRANE: And a lot of them are new or expanding.




MR. CRANE: It's really challenging to go into a new facility, like Long Harbour that just invested a substantive amount, and say: Reduce your emissions overnight. So there's a phase-in piece where you have to wait for capital stock to be turned over.




Now if I may, one more question, please, Mr. Chair.


Mentioning that, are the rigs under the provincial jurisdiction?


MR. TRIMPER: The offshore?




MR. TRIMPER: The offshore rigs, it's a shared responsibility through the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board.


MS. MICHAEL: Of courses, yes.


MR. TRIMPER: Following the passage of our bill, we've sent a letter to Ottawa inviting them to discuss with us an approach for the offshore industry.




MR. TRIMPER: We anticipate releasing that strategy, along with our Action Plan, at the same time. So it's a shared responsibility.




MR. TRIMPER: We can't act unilaterally.


MS. MICHAEL: Right. Thank you very much.


Thank you, Mr. Chair.


CHAIR: Mr. Petten.


MR. PETTEN: I just have a couple of quick ones. Minister, we were trying to find the salary details for the office. We couldn't seem to locate them.


MR. TRIMPER: Wanda, do you have any idea where or –?


MR. CRANE: ATIPP requested them in the past. We can provide that information.


MR. PETTEN: Yes, it weren't in the information we had. Yes, if you could provide that it would be great.


I have a note here to ask for your binder. I'm not sure what you'd have, but any information you have on the Climate Change file for the Estimates portion.


MR. TRIMPER: Oh, for my binder?




MR. TRIMPER: Oh, yes, I have a copy for you.


MR. PETTEN: That's my part for Climate Change.


Thank you very much for your answers, as usual.




MR. TRIMPER: You're welcome.


CHAIR: Okay.


Mr. Parsons.


MR. K. PARSONS: Minister, I have one question on climate change myself. I'm just very interested in the whole process. I know when it was first introduced to you in Ottawa it was kind of a shocker-type of thing to the province. My look at climate change is each province is a bit different. We're a lot different than Ontario. You also said earlier a good portion of our province is an island and also the effects of Muskrat Falls on our project, which is supposed to be 98 per cent green.


What effects and how are we negotiating with the federal government when it comes to stuff like what we're actually doing here, eliminating hopefully Holyrood and stuff like this? Will that have an effect on the whole overall? It is not every province has to be on the one page or the one – I'm wondering if that's what the negotiations are with the federal government.


MR. TRIMPER: If you want to get an understanding of what each of us are doing, go to the annexes of the Pan-Canadian framework that was signed in December. If you look at the one for us, for example, you'll see in there mention of several key elements that we were concerned about and/or had concern about referenced back to October 3 when I was in Montreal with the Climate Change team, and the sudden announcement of the federal backstop of this carbon tax and its sliding scale.




MR. TRIMPER: What caused this great concern that day was that the statements of the day and many of the assumptions, frankly, did not reflect our economy, and I look for an example. I'll turn right to the Chair and his district whereby there had been a reference that communities, for example, which were reliant on diesel would be exempt and have special, sort of, consideration; but there was no mention to the 45 communities, I believe it is, in this province that are reliant on diesel and no special exemption or accommodation for them.


Why this is important and why you come up with a tax is you apply a tax when you want to change behaviour. For the Chair living in Makkovik or Nain and a community reliant on diesel, well, you have no option.




MR. TRIMPER: All you're doing by putting a carbon tax on a community like that, you're just making it more expensive for them to live there or for us to support them there. So that was a lot of our consternation.


It was only through subsequent months and a lot of meetings to get to where you see we are now on the annexes, which is an understanding that: Hey, we have communities on diesel too. They're south of 60 degrees and we need that consideration in Ottawa. So that was why I was concerned on that day, as one example.




I was just wondering on the whole thing. I know we're really proud of what Muskrat Falls will bring to the province as clean energy and everything else, and I know what's happening out in Holyrood, if you live in that area. So I was just wondering if we were all going to be treated on the same level as every other province in Canada or –?


MR. TRIMPER: Well, yes, I would say that will be the case. Each Premier spends a lot of energy making sure they're not missing out on a particular advantage that one of the other jurisdictions has; hence, that's the importance of these guys and gals all being in the same room together and that's what we all look closely at.


If BC got a deal, we want in on it, for example. So that's all set up for the negotiation.




CHAIR: Okay, any more questions on Climate Change?


I call for the heads.


CLERK: 2.5.01, Executive Council.


CHAIR: Shall 2.5.01, Executive Council, carry?


All those in favour, ‘aye.'




CHAIR: Carried.


On motion, subhead 2.5.01 carried.


CLERK: The total, Office of Climate Change.


CHAIR: Shall the total for Office of Climate Change carry?


All those in favour, ‘aye.'




CHAIR: Carried.


On motion, Office of Climate Change, total heads, carried.


CHAIR: Okay, thank you very much.


We'll move on to Government Purchasing Agency.


Okay, we'll give the minister some opening remarks, 10 minutes, and then we'll go the Government Purchasing Agency.


CLERK: 1.1.01


CHAIR: Shall 1.1.01 carry?




MR. TRIMPER: Thank you very much.


As I indicated, Patricia Hearn is here with the Government Purchasing Agency. She leads the shop right now, and it's a very interesting part of government. I'm proud to say Ian and I were over and had a tour a little while ago. I'm looking forward to spending some more time with their team.


GPA is responsible for managing government's procurement process. It conducts purchasing activities for all government departments, municipalities, academic institutions, schools and hospitals. There is a tremendous amount of stuff that goes on there. It operates in accordance with the Government Purchasing Agency Act and the Intergovernmental Joint Purchasing Act, the Public Tender Act and related trade agreements.


You may recall that this government has passed legislation dealing with public procurement. Once that act is proclaimed – so this will be the last year, I would expect, that it will be called the GPA – it will, in future, be referred to the Public Procurement Agency. This act will replace all of the other acts with a statutory framework which will enable public bodies to achieve best value, transparency and accountability in procurement.


With that, I'm ready for any questions.


CHAIR: Okay.


Mr. Parsons.


MR. K. PARSONS: I will just ask a couple of general questions first. I want to know if there were any positions added or eliminated in that department.


MR. TRIMPER: I'm going to divert right to Patricia.


MS. HEARN: No, we remained the same during this process.




Now, I know the act hasn't been proclaimed yet, but is there any update on what's happening with the whole procedure?


MS. HEARN: That's true; the act received Royal Assent, as you know, in December of 2016. We're currently drafting the regulations, as promised, and we're very close to having a completed set of regulations that we will do consultations with the entities and the governmental bodies that are responsible under them as well.




As you know when we debated that in the House, the biggest issue was that the regulations themselves. Will we be able to see a copy of the new regulatory part of this? I know the bill itself is proclaimed and everything else, but I think the biggest issue that most Members had was the regulatory part of it. We were wondering what the regulations actually were. So is there any update that we can say that we can see what the new regulations are?


MS. HEARN: My understanding is that the regulations will go through the House of Assembly, when they're prepared, for final approval. But during the process of consultation, they will be out for discussion.




Minister, you can correct me if I'm wrong on this. I'm not sure if they have to go to the House to be regulated –


MS. HEARN: Oh sorry, yes, Cabinet.


MR. DUTTON: Just to clarify. So there are two sets of regulations under the act. There is the Lieutenant Governor in Council regulations, which I think is the main one you're speaking about.




MR. DUTTON: And they also have some of the more detailed rules around how procurement activities will be conducted.


There would also be a set of ministerial regulations around the establishment of the Procurement Advisory Council. So they aren't approved by Cabinet; the minister goes to Legislative Counsel. When they're completed, they would also be made public and they'll have the force of law. So all of those documents would be made public. There would be a plan on stage proclamation of the act.


So in addition to the development of those two sets of regulations, we also have to update our policies and procedures for the agency. All of that work has to be ongoing over the next year or so. We would expect that much of that will be done this year. We're also doing training around how the new rules are going to work that will be done with both municipalities, other government bodies and with industry.


Some of the provisions in the act around the new appeals process and supplier performance would be proclaimed a little bit later, about six months after the other measures to give more time for public bodies to prepare for those new aspects of the rules.


We also, under the act, have to develop an electronic notification system – that's another name for a website – where we'll essentially publish all of the rules, including the act, the regulations, policies, procedures, trade agreements that inform the rules around procurement decisions, and public information about procurement activity, as well as a portal where people will be able to see what opportunities there are for public bidding at that point in time.


So the parts of the act around that will be proclaimed whenever we have that system built. That could be sooner or later than the middle of next year, depending on how long that procurement process takes.




Are you doing any consultation with municipalities and agencies on the regulatory part of the bill itself?


MR. DUTTON: Yes, and we've had some requests from various municipal groups, regional councils and that sort of thing that our staff have met with sort of upon request. We certainly engage with MNL around the act itself, and we've had a number of requests from industry groups including the CME – or Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters – who have a procurement committee that involves a number of other groups, like the Environmental Industry Association, Board of Trade and others.


So we've been meeting with any of those groups on request. We met with the Organization of Women Entrepreneurs in I think it was late November, and we've just been continuing to meet with groups as they've come forward with questions and responding to any suggestions people may have.




So all the regulatory parts that have to go to Cabinet for, I guess, final approval of it will go to Cabinet. Will that become public knowledge before the bill gets proclaimed?


MR. DUTTON: The normal procedure would be that after Cabinet has approved them, they would be published, but there would be consultations on what the components of that may be. So certainly when we've met with groups, we've given them an indication of the sorts of things we will have to seek Cabinet's direction on and they provided their feedback. The legal wording is something that is still is a work in progress.




Is there a time frame on when you're looking at having everything put in place?


MR. DUTTON: Well, I guess for those initial parts of the act to be proclaimed, we'd be looking at some time later this year and then probably by the middle of 2018, the provisions around supplier performance. So I think June or July of 2018, I believe, was the date for that.


Again, the date is to be determined on the notification system because it does depend on the procurement process for having that system built.


MR. K. PARSONS: I know that municipalities I've been speaking to are interested in this act itself because, obviously, it's the best bang for the buck type thing.




MR. K. PARSONS: And they're very interested and I think they're looking forward to this getting proclaimed so it's not necessarily the lowest bidder but the best bidder that gets the work. It would be interesting to see what the time frames are.




MR. K. PARSONS: The longer it gets dragged out, it's a concern of the municipalities that I've spoken to because there are portions of this that they really – especially when you're dealing with small towns and small budgets, you want to get the best you can. So I think the time frame would be important too.




MR. K. PARSONS: Even let them know when you're doing different bids whether it's snow clearing, garbage collection or anything like that, it's important for the municipalities,




This will hopefully also give them additional tools to make decisions and also ensuring performance if some of their suppliers maybe aren't meeting their expectations, there would be some ability to hold them to account for that as well.




It's also important probably too for municipalities to get their proper training.




MR. K. PARSONS: Because there will obviously be some training involved in this to make sure that when you're dealing with small towns, conflict of interest and stuff like that, that needs to be – because, right now, with the election coming in September, municipalities will probably have new people on and the whole conflict of interest is very important when you talk with municipal leaders, especially in small towns and stuff like that. So they'll want to know that.




MR. K. PARSONS: Okay. I just want to go to the line-by-line items here. Just looking at last year's budget and the amount that was budgeted; however, the revised was a lot less and then we're back up again. Can you just give me an explanation of that line?




As was mentioned earlier, staff complement is unchanged at this time. So there are some areas where there were less money spent last year than projected, but we are accounting for this additional activity we intend to complete during the year in terms of training.


For example, under Transportation and Communications there's a slight increase from budgeted last year, a significant amount more in relative terms to what had been spent because of the activity we expect to do for consultation and training throughout the year.




On the salary line itself there's a difference of almost $330,000 from last year, and then it's brought back up. Were there positions or something that were added or eliminated?


MR. DUTTON: No. The decrease last year was that there were a number of recruitments in process during the year, so it's really the vacancy factor that led to not spending the entire amount. For the year ahead, again, the staff complement remains basically the same. There were some vacant positions related to the purchase card implementation that are not being filled and that's been offset by providing funding for some of the positions that had been unfunded the year before.


So the overall staff complement is unchanged. We have 32 funded positions, of which I think 9 are vacant at the current time.




I just want to go through a few lines – I know when we get down later on we're going to get the same answers as we go through but the first couple I'm ready I'm going to focus on all the lines.


Employee Benefits, can you explain the variance there, the decrease?


MR. DUTTON: In terms of the revised number, just lower membership fees than had been anticipated for the year. Then in terms of the expenditure for the year ahead, it's just a forecast adjustment made through the line-by-line review and the zero-based budgeting process to reflect what we would anticipate spending in the year ahead.


Most of those are around memberships, conference fees and that kind of thing.




There's nothing that you have eliminated that you're not going to attend this year that you normally attend?






I know you mentioned Transportation and Communications; can you explain the difference here?




Again, in general in terms of the year past, the decrease was just about travel that we had anticipated for the consultations and where that is starting a bit later – based on projections from the year before, we did get the bill passed in December and we're doing some more work on the regulations. We expect, as we get the regulations further advanced, we'll have more and more consultations and training, so that's why we have a slight increase for 2017-18.


CHAIR: Okay, we'll go to Ms. Michael.


MS. MICHAEL: Thank you.


Just one question; I'm not sure if you, at this point, can give me the answer to this yet, but I'll go ahead anyway. Obviously, one of the things about the new act that was so exciting was getting rid of the notion of the lowest bidder and certainly the regulations, I'm sure, will have to deal with that.


Like I said, I don't know if you can answer this yet. Will the regulations give a sense of areas that should be considered in evaluating, not just the quality of the work that's being done, but attention to environment, women's employment, those kinds – not only women's employment, I would say, but other groups that are sort of disadvantaged when it comes to the workforce. Will that kind of thing be spelled out in any way in the regulations?


MR. DUTTON: Well, I think some of those questions may end up being answered in the policies and procedures manual. Certainly, the act provided that procurement activities will be conducted in a manner based upon the social, economic or environmental priorities that the Lieutenant Governor in Council may direct.




MR. DUTTON: So the Cabinet may give some policy direction on things that they want to evaluate. I guess, in general, we want to have standardized processes for how requests for proposals, tenders and other types of public calls are made. Some of that will be done through the policies and procedures.


Regulations may spell out some of the issues around things like how you break a tie, how you determine having an open process, how many people need to be present when you have to open the envelopes and that sort of thing.




MR. DUTTON: All of that will be part of the public framework and it will all be posted on the agency's website.




That's the only question I have.


CHAIR: Okay.


More questions, Mr. Parsons?


MR. K. PARSONS: I just want to ask another on the line by line there. I'm just looking at Professional Services. Can you explain what the difference is there?


MR. DUTTON: Certainly. In terms of the expenditure in 2016-17, the increase there was $87,300. There was an increase in auction fees, and you're going to see a corresponding result in terms of the revenue there. There was a Deloitte review of information communications technology for the government; that was $40,000 expenditure. A consultant was hired during the first quarter to work on the Procurement Act; that was $27,900. We had support for a Hewlett-Packard records manager that was $6,400.




On the next line, Purchased Services.


MR. DUTTON: Purchased Services was less than anticipated. The decrease was just savings through ongoing work and identification through the development of the new procurement system and then, in the new year, the expenditure is back up closer to the budget of the year before. It's just an $1,800 decrease on the overall budget from the line-by-line review and zero-based budgeting was applied in this area as well.


Again, some of the expenditure will tie to the work to be done on the new procurement framework.




I'm always interested in revenue and where the revenue comes from. So if you could let me know about the revenue line there; where does that money come from?




This year there was a slight decrease from the budgeted amount. It's from the disposal of government assets, so primarily revenue from auctions. In the year ahead, we anticipate an increase. Part of this is a $40,000 increase from the Purchasing Card implementation.


One of the initiatives the agency has undertaken is developing a Purchasing Card; it's a credit card that's in the name of individual employees, but it's not for travel purposes, as most people are familiar with, but for petty cash type of purchases up to small dollar amounts for the departments. The billing goes directly to the agency so we have some good oversight. It's less red tape internally to do the payments and we get a rebate from the company that won the contract.


MR. K. PARSONS: Do you have limits on those cards?


MR. DUTTON: Pardon?


MR. K. PARSONS: Do you have limits?


MR. DUTTON: I think it's purchases up to $2,000.


MR. K. PARSONS: It's $2,000. Okay.




MR. K. PARSONS: It's good to have limits.


MR. DUTTON: Yes, and again the billing – while the cards are in the names of the individuals, all of the billing is monitored by the agency. So there's more scrutiny of that than with your travel card where you have to incur the expense upfront and then you put in the claim and that's the point at which the review is done.


MR. K. PARSONS: Okay. No, I have no problem with that.


A final question now – the whole department itself this year, in this particular area, there should be a lot of changes and like I asked earlier about training and stuff like that. Under zero-based budgeting – I'm still understanding zero-based budgeting. When I went to a meeting with the Department of Finance, the idea of the zero-based budgeting is it's going to be a job to find any money. It's not like before in government where you could move money around and the minister has a pot of money that he could move from one department to another department.


In this particular area, it's going to require training and it's going to be requiring information flow to let people know what the regulations are and everything else. Where are you going to find the money in this – where can the money be found to implement the changes in the department?


MR. DUTTON: The implications of the zero-based review for Government Purchasing Agency were, I guess, relatively modest. The Minister of Finance has released the results of the overall impact. Zero-based budgeting was $29,700. So it wasn't a big impact. I guess there was some recognition on the part of government that, again, this is an important initiative and we need to have the resources, particularly for this year as we do the training and implementation.


Overall, I feel the budget plan – through the zero-based process we had to present our plan and why we needed the funding, and that was virtually untouched. So I think there were sufficient resources there to implement this year.


MR. K. PARSONS: Okay. So the money that's needed to do anything here, you figure you can find it within the line to line here.




MR. K. PARSONS: All right.


When I was asking questions in Finance, the one thing they emphasized was that departments won't have the ability to move funds from one area to another to pay for things like training, moves, equipment, anything that's needed in that department. That's the reason why zero-based budgeting starts off and this is what it's going to be. There's no way you can do it unless the money comes up. Somewhere in Government Purchasing it's going to require a lot of additional funds, I believe anyway, to implement what you're trying to do here.


MR. DUTTON: Yes, and I guess when you look at the comparison, while that's a reduction in the budget compared to the expenditure, there is more money available this year than what was expended the year before. So I think that room is there again because we will need to have that additional activity during the year.




I'm good.


CHAIR: Okay.


Call the heads for the Government Purchasing Agency.


CLERK: 1.1.01.


CHAIR: Shall 1.1.01 carry?


All those in favour, ‘aye.'




CHAIR: Carried.


On motion, subhead 1.1.01 carried.


CLERK: Total.


CHAIR: Shall the total carry?


All those in favour, ‘aye.'




CHAIR: Carried.


On motion, Government Purchasing Agency, total heads, carried.


CHAIR: Okay, before we go on to Service NL, we're going to give the boys and girls in the Broadcast Centre a short break, and we'll come back and resume.




CHAIR: Okay. We'll resume Estimates, and we're going to Service NL. We'll go 10 minutes for the minister to have some opening remarks and then we'll go to Ms. Michael to start off the line by line of general questioning.


Minister Trimper.


MR. TRIMPER: Okay. Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.


People often describe Service NL – and I think I heard the Member for the beautiful District of Cape St. Francis indicate this afternoon that Service NL really is all about everything between being born and dying, and in between and so on. So he's absolutely right. It's an amazingly diverse department. I'm enjoying it very much and an incredible number of very capable people in there.


The other good news, and further to your point about revenue, is that in 2016-2017 Service NL generated revenue of over $141 million through such functions as issuer fees, Registry of Deeds, and especially transactions at the Motor Registration Division. This revenue would have been included in the Estimates for the Department of Finance.


Our department's mandate includes: consumer protection; regulation of the financial services industries; Motor Registration Division services, including driver licencing and vehicle registration; highway safety; maintaining the province's commercial and vital statistics registries; printing services for government; and through the Government Services Centre, a one-stop location for permits, licences, approvals and inspections for public health and safety, building accessibility and environmental protection, amongst many other matters.


Service NL also encompasses the Occupational Health and Safety division, or ‘osh' division. We say ‘osh', although it's O-H-S, but anyway. That should be O's division, but it's OHS Division, which is responsible for health and safety inspection and enforcement programs. OHS Division establishes through legislation codes and standards, and practices the minimum acceptable safe and healthy working conditions.


Also, I guess as part of my legacy as I bump around here, and very pleased to say that we now have incorporated within this department the Office of French Services. It's been recently added to Service NL, and this office provides French language training and translation services to government and serves an important role for the 3,100 francophones in this great province of ours in terms of providing services to them en français.


Finally, we also have the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Review Division, and that's where Marlene comes in. They adjudicate appeals from workers or employers and the decision is undertaken by WorkplaceNL.


Through all of these roles, Service NL has thousands of transactions every year, ranging from inspections of restaurants to maintaining the registration of deeds. The department's mandate is driven by more than 175 statutes and regulations – and I don't have those memorized yet – as well as standards and codes of practice for which we are responsible.


The Motor Registration Division, where I was this morning, is perhaps our most publicly recognizable service centre and we complete more than 1 million transactions there every year. There have been several accomplishments for the department already in 2017, including what I mentioned this afternoon in the House that we introduced this morning, online appointment bookings and a new text message alert feature at the MRD in Mount Pearl.


We will be soon introducing changes – I'm sorry, we recently introduced these – changes to the Highway Traffic Act to reduce impaired driving in our province and we've been introducing legislation to regulate payday loans in our province.


So with that, I look forward to your questions.


CLERK: 1.1 –


MR. TRIMPER: I'm sorry; if I may, Mr. Chair. Ms. Hickey, who's here with me, I wonder if I could ask for everybody's co-operation, she needs to leave. I wonder if we can start with tab 4.1.01, Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Review. Is that possible?


CHAIR: Yes, that's no problem.


MR. TRIMPER: Make her a happier camper.


CLERK: 1.1.01.


CHAIR: Shall 1.1.01 carry?


Okay, section 4 –


MR. TRIMPER: 4.1.01.


CHAIR: Okay, Ms. Michael, if you're okay with that, we'll start off with section 4.1.01.


MS. MICHAEL: Yes, I have no problem at all starting off with that.


There's really not much to question here.


In Professional Services, there was a slight revision downward, about $50,000 down – $52,200 I think – and then coming back up to $140,000. So could we have an explanation, Minister, of that line – number one, what the professional services are.




That decrease, it's about $52,200 and that reflects less than expected costs due to delays in putting review commissioners in place, as costs are based on the number of cases heard.


I don't know if you have any other comment, Marlene.


MS. HICKEY: Certainly.


The number that we assign or the funding that we require for professional services varies each year and is dependent upon the number of applications we receive and the availability of review commissioners to conduct the hearings. So if our caseload is down or our review commissioner numbers are down, our professional services costs are down.


We try to keep it at a level of around $140,000 to be in line with what we traditionally, typically, receive every year.


MS. MICHAEL: Great, thank you very much.


MS. HICKEY: You're welcome.


MS. MICHAEL: Could we have the details of the Revenue – Provincial, where that revenue comes from?


MR. TRIMPER: The revised from last year, the numbers that you – oh, I'm sorry, the actual revenue, I'll go with Marlene, please.


MS. HICKEY: The operations of the Review Division are funded through the Injury Fund of WorkplaceNL, so it's revenue that comes back to government by way of billing out to WorkplaceNL, on a quarterly basis, for the expenses associated with the operations of the division.




And now, Minister, yes, if we could have an explanation of why it wasn't all spent last year, or I mean all taken in last year.


MR. TRIMPER: Sure. That increase that we saw last year in our revised budget, that's about $71,100, reflects again, as Ms. Hickey indicated, less revenues from that Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission as expenditures were less in '16-'17. The decrease that you see projected for this year – I'm sorry, it's the same in number this year; it just reflects a rightsizing under that zero-based budgeting approach for '17-'18. So it's only $100 less than what we had originally and we're just moving it back to, I think, as you indicated, sticking with a trend.


MS. MICHAEL: Oh, that's right, $400 instead of $500. Thank you.


That's all I have in terms of the lines, but I just would like to ask a question or two with regard to the Labrador West silica study. Is this study finalized?


MR. TRIMPER: That is an Occupational Health and Safety question, do you want to hold off or I can –?


MS. MICHAEL: But we're doing Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation?


MR. DUTTON: If I may, it's being done through the Occupational Health and Safety Division.




MR. DUTTON: So it's another subhead. I'd be happy to answer the question, but just if we wanted to complete the review commission first and then we can come back to it.


MS. MICHAEL: That's fine, sure. No problem.


Well, then that's all the questions I have right here at this moment.


CHAIR: Okay.


Mr. Parsons.


MR. K. PARSONS: (Inaudible) I'd like to ask. First of all, I'd like to thank Ms. Hickey; I had a couple of cases here where we had some issues and it was really nice to get the co-operation we did from your division. I know one in particular, we had to put off and come back again and I have to say, we worked really well. I appreciate all the correspondence we get whenever a case comes through; it's pretty thorough.


Just a couple of questions I'd like to ask. How many cases did you hear last year?


MS. HICKEY: We heard 165 cases last year. It was down slightly from the year before.




Is there a wait-list?


MS. HICKEY: No, there isn't a wait-list; that is not news. We have in the past had a backlog. When we had a backlog, we were up to 230 cases in backlog. We're now down to about 150 cases actively being managed. If you apply for an appeal right now, you'll probably have a hearing within six months.


MR. K. PARSONS: Six months.


How many commissioners are presently now on the –?


MS. HICKEY: We currently have four commissioners, including myself.


MR. K. PARSONS: Four commissioners, okay.


And that's the norm for – there are no added ones, that's the normal commissioners that –


MS. HICKEY: Yeah, the panel of commissioners can consist of up to seven and it seems to be a moving number all the time with review commissioners. There are three vacancies right now, but efforts are underway to have those vacancies filled.


We've already had the recommendations put forward to the minister by the Independent Appointments Commission. The minister has them and we hope to have that finalized shortly, I would imagine. The minister can speak to that.




Last question I have: Once a decision is made through the council, how long does it take the commission to respond with the decision?


MS. HICKEY: You mean with respect to the implementation of a decision?




MS. HICKEY: The commission usually allows 30 to 60 days for the implementation. It's usually 30 days, depending on the complexity of the matter.




That's all I got.


CHAIR: Okay.


We'll go back to 1.1.01 and start over.


MR. K. PARSONS: Do you want to pass this one first?


CHAIR: What's that?


No, we'll do it at the end.




We're going to go to 1.1.01, Minister's Office.


CHAIR: Yeah.


MR. K. PARSONS: Okay, are we ready?


CHAIR: Yeah.


MR. K. PARSONS: First, I'd like to just go and do the line by line again, the Salaries. I know now, Minister, there was a bit of a difference last year on the Salaries itself because of the department. I'm going to just ask some general questions first on this.


Your whole department has changed, and I know in other Estimates that I've done through Municipal Affairs and other ones, I'm wondering if you can give us an overview of the department and where the changes are. Because I know when we did Municipal Affairs there were a lot of things moved in, like Crown Lands and stuff like this. So what is added to Service NL this year that hadn't been there last year and areas that we should be informed of?


MR. TRIMPER: I'll start with this and then I'll turn to my deputy to comment, but I would suggest probably the biggest change is that you now have a minister sitting there. Last year, the department was shared between the services of Minister Joyce – Municipal Affairs and Service NL. They were essentially sharing that guy. So now they have myself as a full-time minister.


That's been the big change. There haven't been a lot of other structural changes, but I'll turn to the deputy for any specifics.




Well, as the minister referenced in his opening remarks, the Office of French Services had previously been in Human Resource Secretariat, that's now, since February 22, a component of Service NL and came with it, the four positions that were existing there previously.


Over the course of last year, in October, there was a reduction in the assistant deputy minister complement. There were three; now there are two. And as part of the management reductions in February, there were six positions eliminated. There were no involuntary departures. There were two people who were eligible to retire who were in acting positions, they could have stayed but when their permanent positions were eliminated, they opted to retire.


In the other cases because of retirements and vacancies, we are able to combine some roles or eliminate vacant positions.




So in the department, we have a section now called Regulatory Affairs. What's new and where did that come from and what other –?


MR. DUTTON: Regulatory Affairs is a result of the combination of the roles of the assistant deputy minister for Occupational Health and Safety and for Consumer and Commercial Affairs. Julian McCarthy was previously ADM for Consumer and Commercial Affairs and now he has taken on the responsibility for Occupational Health and Safety, in addition to that.




Last year, do you have the number of employees that were in the department versus the number of employees that are in the department this year?


MR. DUTTON: The number fluctuates quite a lot because we have so much turnover, given the number of staff. I think in last year's departmental salary details it listed 423 or thereabouts. There were a number of vacancies, which aren't captured in that number. This year's salary details lists 457, so a number of those jobs had been filled in that intervening period of time. Still, within that, there are a number of vacancies as well. But again, in terms of positions that were actually eliminated, that number was seven.


MR. K. PARSONS: Seven?




MR. K. PARSONS: All right.


How about contractual positions, what's the total number? Are there a lot of contractual positions in the department?


MR. DUTTON: There aren't a lot, no. I think in the number of the four employees in French Services, I think three, if not four, are contractual. A part of that is a factor in that they are funded partly out of revenue from the Government of Canada through a federal-provincial agreement on French language services. Because the agreement is not permanent, then the positions aren't permanent. But it's been a long-standing service and we would expect that to continue well into the future.


MR. K. PARSONS: Always, we are wondering about the attrition plan that was brought in, in 2015.




MR. K. PARSONS: Has there been much in the department when it comes to attrition?


MR. DUTTON: Yes, we had targets arising from Budget 2015 over a five-year period to meet, so within our salary budget as a result of that. In order to stay within our salary plan, again we've had a number of retirements over time and we have some vacant positions that we're proposing to keep vacant for part or all of the fiscal year to stay within our salary vote. Which positions may be filled or unfilled will vary over time as different people depart, and we'll fill the highest priority positions as we go.


We have some further reductions again as a result of 2015 decisions that we would have to make in next year' s budget and the year after, absent some other decisions, to increase the salary projection.


MR. K. PARSONS: That was my next question partially answered.


When it comes to vacancies, how many are not being filled and have any of these vacancies, due to restructuring in the department, been eliminated?


MR. DUTTON: In terms of the total vacancies, I guess at this point in time we have about 498 positions, of which maybe 20 are unfunded, vacant positions and probably 36 that are funded but vacant. There's ongoing recruitment going on for a number of those, again resulting from people resigning or retiring that are in critical-to-fill positions.


MR. K. PARSONS: So when you were looking at 56 positions, you say 20 are unfunded; does that mean that those positions are eliminated or going to be eliminated? Is that what –?


MR. DUTTON: No, not necessarily, but if they're vacant today and there are other people who have not departed – as people leave, we'll look at those two jobs and decide which one is the priority to fill based on the highest need. And we've tried to put a focus on filling those front-line service positions: highway enforcement officers and other positions that are providing front-line service.




Minister, I'd like to get an organizational chart of the department. I find that really helps us when we do any – to look and see where we have to go in order to ask a question or to give someone direction where to go in the department.


So I'm wondering if you could supply us with an organizational chart with the branches and divisions and the responsibilities of people in the department. Because sometimes when you get a call or I know myself, I hate bothering the minister all the time, but if there's some way we can have an organizational chart from the department and understand the responsibilities of each position. Is that possible?


MR. TRIMPER: Sure, you will have it before you leave this evening.


MR. K. PARSONS: Okay, perfect. Thank you so much.


Again, I know in some other Estimates, there were some errors. I'm wondering if there are any errors that should be noted in your Estimates that you know is there and something we should be told, beforehand. It could be something small, I know –


MR. TRIMPER: Do we make mistakes?


MR. K. PARSONS: You don't make mistakes. Okay, you're perfect. That's okay. Minister, that don't surprise me.


MR. TRIMPER: I just had to get a confirmation here.


No, we're not aware of any, seriously.


MR. K. PARSONS: Okay, thank you very much.


I'll let you go on to the –


CHAIR: Okay, we'll go to Ms. Michael.


MS. MICHAEL: Thank you very much.


I'm just going to go line by line and then I may have questions sort of mixed in with those.


The first thing I wanted to look at is 1.2.01 under Executive Support. It has to do with the Revenue – Provincial. What is the source of that revenue?


MR. DUTTON: That's from WorkplaceNL.




MR. DUTTON: So the cost of executive positions in this area that would be doing work on occupational health and safety matters.




MR. DUTTON: Then the portion of our salaries would be charged back for that purpose.


MS. MICHAEL: Okay, thank you very much.


In the Salaries line, there's quite a drop in the revision. No, not a drop, the revision is up but then the drop is in the Estimates for this year. We have a difference of $220,100, I think. Could we have an explanation? Are there positions eliminated? Are the jobs lost?




The increased expenditure last year was due to retirement severance costs, so there were some people that left during the year. The reduction in the overall budget for '17-'18 is related to the elimination of the assistant deputy minister of Occupational Health and Safety, as we mentioned earlier.




MR. DUTTON: That was a full executive position eliminated.


There was also a secretary to the assistant deputy minister position that was eliminated in February. Again, it was a vacant position at the time. So those are the main things, and the other is some of the incumbents are at lower steps than their predecessors.


MS. MICHAEL: Right. Thank you very much.


Just curious, under Professional Services, it's not a very large line item. What is covered under that?




The decrease last year of $5,500 was spent, so expenses were lower than anticipated. I think the main expenditure there was around commercial appraisal of Sandy Cove fish plant property. It's a vacant property that reverted ownership to the Crown and before we would be able to make a decision on whether to dispose of it, we need to do evaluation of it. So that was the main expenditure there, then, for the year ahead, just a slight decrease from the previous year through the zero-based budgeting exercise.


MS. MICHAEL: Okay. Thank you very much.


Then coming down to Purchased Services, it was revised downwards by $7,000 and the new budget is $25,000 rather than $19,000, so it's $6,000 over. Can you explain, please?


MR. DUTTON: The main change here is as a result of the reorganization of the Office of French Services, they had a photocopier with Xerox that's been returned. They've been hooked up to the other copiers we have in the office on the second floor of the West Block.




MR. DUTTON: So those charges will be incurred here through the overall contract for Managed Print Services.


MS. MICHAEL: Okay. Thank you very much.


Are we going on to 1.2.02?


CHAIR: Yes, carry on.


MS. MICHAEL: Okay, I missed the call.


Under 1.2.02, again, looking at the Operating Accounts: Property, Furnishings and Equipment, last year $200,300 was budgeted and it was revised upwards, $77,800 more, and then this year it's down by $135,000, so if we could have an explanation.




This is primarily for the purchase of vehicles that are used by staff in their duties.




MR. DUTTON: There were 12 vehicles purchased last year. We have a budget this year for purchasing two to three vehicles, one of which will be for the Occupational Health and Safety Division. That's why we have the offsetting Revenue – Provincial in this area.




MR. DUTTON: And there's a review being undertaken among the fleet management across government, so that may inform future decisions on what's required here.




How many vehicles in all are there in government? Are they all under your division?


MR. DUTTON: I think the ones that are purchased are charged here, but there'd be a number of vehicles that have a long life throughout the department.


MS. MICHAEL: Not under your budget.


Right, okay, under the department's –


MR. DUTTON: They are just one-time expenses when they are purchased. There are expenses throughout the budget for vehicle maintenance that would be found throughout the department under the activities.


MS. MICHAEL: Right. But you're only accountable for the vehicles that used by Service NL?


MR. DUTTON Yes, that's correct. But I guess overall there are a lot of departments that operate vehicle fleets and there is some consideration being given to how that's being managed across government and whether there's a more efficient way to do it, if you look at it, government wide, instead of just department-specific.


MS. MICHAEL: Right. Thank you very much.


A question – we have here the salary report, which is very helpful actually.




MS. MICHAEL: I know it's posted by the Department of Finance, but do you check and make sure it's up to date?


MR. DUTTON: They are a moment-in-time reports –




MR. DUTTON: – which vary as they go. What is published in the departmental salary details, the way they do the format now is specific to positions that are filled at the moment that they generated the report. So as people depart or other people are hired because of the vacancies, then the number will go up and down as the year goes on.


MS. MICHAEL: Right, okay. And then it would be the Department of Finance of course who is doing all of that?


MR. DUTTON: Yes. They would generate out of the payroll system –


MS. MICHAEL: That's right, of course.


MR. DUTTON: – so they're getting the data from the same place, but they have to hit print at some point and the number changes the next day.


MS. MICHAEL: Right. Well, what's great then; it keeps it up to date.




MS. MICHAEL: Okay. Thank you very much.


MR. DUTTON: Thank you.


MS. MICHAEL: Did you call the next ones?


CHAIR: No, we'll call it at the end.




MR. K. PARSONS: (Inaudible.)


CHAIR: She still has three minutes.


Do you want to carry on, Ms. Michael, for another three minutes?


MS. MICHAEL: Into 2.1.01?


CHAIR: Okay.


MS. MICHAEL: I didn't know if you had called that section.


MR. K. PARSONS: (Inaudible.)


CHAIR: We're going to do it at the end. If you want to go back when your turn comes, fine.


MR. K. PARSONS: Okay (inaudible).


CHAIR: Go ahead.




2.1.01, once again, Salaries first; I mean you gave us a general description of the Salaries, but when we come to a line I'd like to know what's happening specifically here. In this line under Consumer Affairs the budget is down $106,000 approximately from last year. Could we have an explanation?


MR. DUTTON: Yes and –


MS. MICHAEL: And it went down in the revision as well.


MR. DUTTON: Sure. Yeah.


Just the reduced expenditure in 2016-17 was attributed to delays in recruitment. The reduced number for 2017-18 is a result of the zero-based budgeting process. Also, this is where one of the management positions was eliminated; there was a manager position there that was temporarily vacant. The incumbent was the acting director. He chose to retire and so we went through a competitive process to fill that job on an acting basis.


MS. MICHAEL: What was the area of responsibility for that position?


MR. DUTTON: Consumer Affairs covers residential tenancies. They also field complaints from consumers about bad business practices and that sort of thing.


MS. MICHAEL: Okay. Thank you.


Purchased Services is not very much but $20,000 budgeted, the revision was down to $14,000 and the budget this year is $5,000 less than last year's budget item. Could you explain?


MR. DUTTON: Sure. I guess for '16-'17 there were less spending demands than anticipated and for the year ahead we went through the zero-based budgeting exercise to attempt to rightsize that. In terms of the Purchased Services, that's where we're funding things like rental of meeting and booth space, repairs to furniture and equipment, the photocopier rental, printing and graphic design services, that sort of thing.


MS. MICHAEL: Okay. Thank you very much.


I know it's boring.


MR. DUTTON: That's okay. Not to the staff that work there.


MS. MICHAEL: Okay. No, that's true.


Under 2.1.02, the Financial Services Regulation, again, an explanation of the variation between budget, revision and the budget for '17-'18.


MR. DUTTON: Sure. In terms of 2016-17, there were vacancies during part of the year. In 2017-18, some positions are being kept vacant for a portion of the year to stay within the attrition management targets: manager of financial analysis and a senior insurance examiner. They may be filled later in the year.


MS. MICHAEL: Okay. Thank you.


Well, I have nine seconds left, I'll finish there.


CHAIR: Okay.


We will go back to Mr. Parsons.


MR. K. PARSONS: Okay, let's go right back, Executive Support; just a couple of questions here. I know you did the Salaries and increases and decreases, but what positions were eliminated? There were some positions eliminated in this department and some added, can you tell us what they were?


MR. DUTTON: Yeah. So as mentioned earlier, there was an assistant deputy minister for Occupational Health and Safety. That role has effectively been merged with one of the other assistant deputy ministers.


Similarly, a secretary to assistant deputy minister position was eliminated. That position was merged with – we had one secretary to the assistant deputy minister; today, it works for both.


MR. K. PARSONS: Okay. Good stuff.


I'm going to go back again now even to the Minister's Office. The question I have to ask is when you look at 2016 budgeting, on Transportation and Communications there was a difference of $29,000. I'm wondering why there was such a difference – actually, a difference of $34,300.


MR. DUTTON: In 2016-17, this was less travel than anticipated between the minister's district in St. John's. There was also a pilot project about doing some meetings through Microsoft Lync, so that helped to reduce the cost. That was a pilot, however, so we're looking at $61,000 for the year ahead. People have probably found it's not that cheap to get from Goose Bay to St. John's.


MR. K. PARSONS: Okay, I'll get the question right now.


Last year's budget budgeted for $29,000 and this year it shows the budget was $63,000. But last year, when the budget book was done up, it was –


MR. DUTTON: Yeah. There's an accounting restatement that's done as part of the Estimates. So this reflects the travel budget that Minister Trimper had in Environment and Climate Change last year.


MR. K. PARSONS: Oh, okay.






MR. DUTTON: I guess in terms of the history of the Minister's Office – because I understand last year while Minister Joyce had both Municipal Affairs and Service NL, the salary was charged to Service NL, not to Municipal Affairs.


MR. K. PARSONS: So that's the reason –


MR. DUTTON: He had an office in both locations.


MR. K. PARSONS: I understand.


Okay, let's go to section –


OFFICIAL: 1.2.01.


MR. K. PARSONS: – 1.2.01? I've got all those asked (inaudible).


Okay, 1.2.01, let's go to Employee Benefits. Can you explain the increase? This year there was only $800, so what's the difference for this year than what was revised?


MR. DUTTON: The decrease last year was just through fewer conferences attended and we would still anticipate that number might arise. Again, we had some vacancies in the executive ranks during the course of the year that would have contributed to the lower expenditure last year.




I know you already said about the revenue. You did give us an explanation of the revenue on that line?


MR. DUTTON: Yes, from WorkplaceNL.


MR. K. PARSONS: Yeah, okay.


The other question I have there is Purchased Services, can you explain the difference there and what the increase is going to be?


MR. DUTTON: Sure. The decrease was just lower than anticipated requirements in '16-'17. Again, the increase is attributable to the photocopier costs for the Office of French Services, where they had their own dedicated device previously that's been returned to Xerox. Their photocopier charges will be showing up in this line item.




In section 2.1.01, I have some questions there. Last year, there was going to be a review of the legislation to go along with other jurisdictions. Has this been done? Last year, there was supposed to be the review of the Consumer Protection Division.




So there was a mandate letter commitment to conduct that review. One of the first things we had identified was the absence of regulations on payday loans, which led to the bill that was passed in the House of Assembly last fall and we are continuing to review other areas to see where there may be further opportunities to strengthen consumer protection. So that's referenced in The Way Forward document as well.


MR. K. PARSONS: There was also going to be an online searchable database that was supposed to be implemented too just for bad business practices. What's the status on that?


MR. DUTTON: Well, we're continuing to look at how to proceed with that. The department has issued a number of statements around risky activities. Non-binary options is one area and when Consumer Affairs becomes aware of stock promoters or other financial promoters actively calling people in the province about ventures that may not be appropriate to draw attention to that. So those statements we're putting on the main page of our website so they'll get a little more attention.


MR. K. PARSONS: Are you saying that database is current now that people can go in and look at –


MR. DUTTON: No, it's part of our plan to look at what we would develop in the long run.


We've also had some discussions with the Better Business Bureau who also maintain a website that includes a lot of information about companies that may be conducting bad business practices, or those they were rated that get the Better Business Bureau seal of approval.


So we'll have some further discussions with them about where there might be some opportunities to supplement that information they put out.


MR. K. PARSONS: Has there been any additional – I'm really interested in the landlords and tenancy complaints. We get a fine lot of them at our offices all the times with landlords and stuff like that.




MR. K. PARSONS: And the response you get is it seems like they're waiting and there's a long wait.


So what's the status of landlords and tenants when people have complaints and stuff like that? I know there's a separate –


MR. TRIMPER: I can give you a little update.


When the previous administration did that review back in 2012, there were a variety of items that came out of that. So what we're doing is getting ready to commit to continue to review that legislation and we do want to bring forward a series of amendments. So you're going to see action quite soon on that, I would suggest.




Again, Minister, I know you're familiar with it too, you get the same calls I get in a lot of cases, with constituents and it's always a problem when somebody goes in and – I had one the other day that there was $35,000 worth of damage done to – obviously, I advised the person to go the legal route, which is probably the best way to go. But there are a lot of issues out there in the public and I guess a lot of the landlords, and sometimes with tenants also getting kicked out, there are a lot of questions to be asked.


MR. TRIMPER: Yes, it's incredibly complex, this relationship. There's no question that on both sides, whether you're a tenant or a landlord, we can find more than our share of trouble and it's finding an approach to deal with the problems in both areas and making sure that those who are essentially living by the rules can be protected. So I don't know, I'll look to my colleagues if they have anything.




MR. MCCARTHY: I'll just make a comment with regard to the complaints side. Anyone who contacts our office and leaves a message – we have a toll-free number – we commit to 24 hours that the person is contacted. We have a hearing scheduled, which I'm being told is probably one of the best in the country with regard to timelines with regard to you go in, there's a mediation process if you want to go through that process. If you don't want to go through the mediation process or that fails, go through an adjudication process, the hearing process and that.


We have strict time limits on that. We try, best efforts, to have someone's hearing within 30 days and that may be bumped up depending of the nature of the request.


Yes, there are a lot of issues with the landlord/tenants, but I'm not hearing that we're getting complaints about dealing with them from the context of legislation.


MR. K. PARSONS: Last year, was there any difference in the residential tenancies officers that are out doing investigations and stuff like that and what they are at this year?


MR. MCCARTHY: The number of residential tenancies officers and the adjudicators, no, there was no change from that perspective. There was a management position in the division that was already mentioned was eliminated, but that didn't have an effect on the day-to-day operation.


MR. K. PARSONS: Last question: How many are there?


MR. MCCARTHY: Adjudicators?




MR. MCCARTHY: Adjudicators, there are three in the province and residential tenancies officers, there are five. Of the three adjudicators, there's one in Corner Brook and two in Mount Pearl. For the residential tenancies officers, there is one in Corner Brook, one in Gander and three in Mount Pearl.


MR. K. PARSONS: Okay, thank you.


I'll guess we'll go to Ms. Michael.


CHAIR: Ms. Michael.


MS. MICHAEL: Okay, thank you.


I was lost; I'm finished with that.


Okay, looking at 2.1.04, Commercial Registrations. Again, if we could have an explanation of the salary line because the revision downward in '16-'17 was substantial, $171,500, and then we're back up to $1,406,000 in this budget, still under last year's budget, please.


MR. MCCARTHY: A part of that reflects that we're leaving some positions vacant for a period of time to meet our attrition targets and meet our budget.




MR. MCCARTHY: But we have a large number of clerical positions within the Commercial Registrations Division and there tends to be a lot of turnover. So while we budget for those positions being filled, usually there ends up to be some vacancy factor because of the high turnover within the division.




Are they all permanent positions or do you have temporaries in there as well?


MR. MCCARTHY: Within the Commercial Registrations Division, the regular staff – what I would call – all are permanent, except one.


We have a verification project on the go for the digitization of the deeds records. Everything from 1992 onward is already digitized and that's searchable on the system. We're in the process of having everything right back to, I think, 1875 digitized and eventually they will be searchable.


So we have a project on the go and we have seven temporary positions related to that particular project.


MS. MICHAEL: Okay, thank you.


That's great news, though. Thank you very much.


Maybe this is related, down to Purchased Services, $801,000 last year and $821,000 this year. What are the purchased services and the reason for the change?


MR. TRIMPER: Go ahead.


MR. MCCARTHY: The increase in Purchased Services is with regard to revenue generated directly, so Moneris fees. We've been encouraging online transactions, but with that comes a cost, whether it's credit card or debit card.




MR. MCCARTHY: And we did increase some fees last year. So with those increased fees, there are also increased charges. That's really what the increase is for. It's just to increase Moneris charges.




MR. DUTTON: Just to add to that, this is also where we have a contract with Unisys on the operation of the Personal Property Registry, so that expense is a big part of the expenditure here as well.


MS. MICHAEL: Okay, thank you very much.


Just a question with regard to fees: We understand you have over 120 registered inspection fees; is that correct? Different fees charged by the department.


MR. DUTTON: The fees that the department charges, I think, goes beyond here. The major area of fee revenue is from Motor Registration.




MR. DUTTON: But there is certainly fee revenue from the registry for personal property, that's about $5 million annually. Then the Registry of Co-Operatives, that's much more modest at $2,800 annually.


MS. MICHAEL: That information is in the binder?




MS. MICHAEL: That's fine. Great.


Thank you very much.


MR. MCCARTHY: Just to expand on the – the biggest fee is the Registry of Deeds within Commercial Registrations. That takes in approximately $22 million or $23 million and that increases and decreases with regard to commercial activity and residential activity, in addition to the Registry of Companies.


That Commercial Registrations Division takes in over $30 million in fees.


MS. MICHAEL: Okay, thank you very much.


Occupational Health and Safety, I want to go now over to Workplace and get out my questions from there because they were in the wrong place.


First of all, a couple of line items: The Professional Services, last year budgeted $99,000, went up to $149,000 and this year it's $55,000. Just an explanation of that and what the professional services would be.


MR. DUTTON: In terms of the professional services for 2016-17, there was an increase over what was budgeted for $50,000. There were external experts utilized who had to travel to various parts of the province as part of some ongoing investigations. There was also a contribution of $10,000 to a national occupational health and safety harmonization strategy. This is being done under the council of labour legislation administrators. The Central Inspection System is also being updated and a consultant was required to do that work.


In terms of the year ahead, $55,000 is what we have budgeted. So, again, we went through the zero-based budgeting exercise. Our main requirements include the professional radiology services. We have a cost-shared agreement with Natural Resources Canada related to offshore occupational health and safety regulation development. There's a geotechnical engineers review of underground mines and open pits for ground control and structure and stability.


MS. MICHAEL: If I may ask, Mr. Dutton, the harmonization, is that federal-provincial harmonization?


MR. DUTTON: Yes. So you'll recall the House had passed a number of years ago amendments to the Atlantic Accord act to clarify the responsibilities. I think it's under section 3(1) of the act. It sets out the roles of the minister responsible for Occupational Health and Safety in the province.




MR. DUTTON: There are some more regulations that have to be developed. So there's a coordinated effort, along with Nova Scotia and the Offshore Petroleum Boards to develop the regulations. That's an ongoing project.


MS. MICHAEL: Great, thank you very much.


Looking at Purchased Services, this year there's a drop of $55,000 from last year. What would those purchased services be and why the drop?


MR. DUTTON: Sure, the reduction is mainly as result of the zero-based budgeting exercise.


Purchased services would include things like: advertising, printing, vehicle repairs and maintenance, vehicle equipment rentals, copier rentals and charges, meeting rooms, the lease of our office space in Corner Brook, Grand Falls-Windsor, Wabush; and also other miscellaneous repairs: analysis of hygiene samples, professional development for staff and development and evaluation of human resources and training activities.


MS. MICHAEL: Okay. Thank you.


I assume you did an analysis that said you could cut back.


MR. DUTTON: Yes. So, again, as part of that exercise, we were trying to see where there might have been the potential for a drop balance and try to reduce our budget to the extent possible without impacting front-line service.


MS. MICHAEL: Okay. Thank you.


I have some general questions, now that I'm in the right place, with regard to the Labrador West silica study. I don't think it's finalized yet, is it? We've had partial reports from it.




We're very close to having a final report. All of the review of the medical charts for the participants in the study has been completed. Each of the participants in the study has been notified by the consultant on that. Where there were any concerns identified, then participants were encouraged to contact a medical professional to have that reviewed again. This was a review of existing charts as opposed to a diagnosis per se.


They've completed that part of the review, so they're just finalizing the report. We've been engaged with a steering committee involving stakeholders in the Labrador West region and we're hopeful to have the report finalized and released in the not-too-distant future.


MS. MICHAEL: And is there communication going on between the government and IOC?


MR. DUTTON: Well, IOC is participating.


MS. MICHAEL: They are –


MR. DUTTON: They're part of the steering committee, yes.


MS. MICHAEL: Right. Okay.


MR. DUTTON: When this got underway, Wabush Mines was participating. They subsequently closed.




MR. DUTTON: That's presented some challenges in terms of efforts that have been unsuccessful in obtaining some of the data that they would have maintained on file had they still been open.


MS. MICHAEL: Right. Thank you very much.


I just have one more question. May I ask it? Okay.


Finally, and I'm very happy that we do, we now have presumptive cancer legislation for firefighters, but there's also an issue with regard to first responders and front-line workers with regard to presumptive PTSD. Is that being looked at, at all? It's a serious situation.


MR. DUTTON: I guess that's a WorkplaceNL question, Minister?


MR. TRIMPER: Yeah, we're thinking it sort of beyond the scope of these three departments before us. It's WorkplaceNL that would perhaps look at that question, what might be an appropriate action here. I certainly can carry the question forward to the CEO and come back to you with a comment.


MS. MICHAEL: Thank you.


When the legislation was done for the presumptive cancer, was that under Service NL or under WorkplaceNL? That's what you're not sure of.


MR. DUTTON: WorkplaceNL was the lead on that.




MR. DUTTON: Again, because they don't appear in the Estimates, then they're not part of this process.




MR. DUTTON: They receive some policy support from staff in the Labour Relations section of Advanced Education, Skills and Labour.


MS. MICHAEL: But, Minister, if you're offering to do some communication on this issue, I think that would be great.




MR. TRIMPER: I'll do that and we can report back to you. Do I need to go through this, Mr. Chair, on a response or can I just go to you directly?


MS. MICHAEL: No, you can go to me –


MR. TRIMPER: Okay (inaudible).


MS. MICHAEL: I'm supposed to go to you through your DM.


MR. TRIMPER: Okay, fine.


CHAIR: Okay.


Mr. Parsons.


MR. K. PARSONS: Minister, any response to both –


MR. TRIMPER: Certainly, we'll copy you.


MR. K. PARSONS: Anything I ask for, I'm sure Ms. Michael would want and anything Ms. Michael has asked for, we'd like also.




MR. K. PARSONS: I want to go back to section 2.1.02, Financial Services Regulation. I have a couple of questions here. I wanted to ask you if you could please explain the variance on the Salaries.


MR. DUTTON: Certainly.


Again, a decrease in 2016-17 was attributable to some positions being vacant during portions of the year. For the year ahead, there's a reduction as a result of attrition management targets. There are two positions that are being held temporarily vacant for a portion of the year that may be filled later in the year.


MR. K. PARSONS: What are those positions?


MR. DUTTON: It's the manager of financial analysis and a senior insurance examiner.


MR. K. PARSONS: Under Property, Furnishings and Equipment, could you explain the variance there also? There was $500 and $1,500 was actually revised, then back down to $1,000.


MR. DUTTON: Yes, it's a very modest budget, so the percentage probably looks bigger as a result. The increase in expenditure last year was due to costs for ergonomic assessments. For the year ahead, we had gone through the zero-based budgeting and looked at what the costs might be for ergonomic chairs, and these expenditures tend to vary from year to year.




The next section, 2.1.03, again, the Salaries are very small, the difference – why would there be such a small difference in the revised?


MR. DUTTON: In Salaries for Pensions Benefit Standards?




MR. DUTTON: There's an increase and that just reflected what we anticipated for step increases for the existing complement of staff. There's no change in the number of staff. The director position, the incumbent had resigned and we have someone acting in that and we're going through recruitment, but all of the positions have been maintained.


MR. K. PARSONS: Okay. So there are no conferences or anything this year in Employee Benefits? What's the reason there, no money budgeted for Employee Benefits?


MR. DUTTON: Right.


We went through the zero-based budgeting and that requirement was not identified during the zero-based exercise.




Let's go to section 2.1.04. Ms. Michael asked about the Salaries; Employee Benefits, I did – okay, furnishings.


You said that there was – because there is an increase. Has someone been added? What's been added in this? What positions have been added?


MR. DUTTON: The increase in Salaries; the change is the result of – it's actually a reduction of $65,500.


MR. K. PARSONS: I'm sorry; there is a reduction, yeah.


MR. DUTTON: Right.


So there was $10,100 from the zero-based budgeting exercise. Then there was a clerk typist III and two data entry operator positions that are being held vacant for a portion of the year to meet the attrition management target.




Go to 2.2.01.


MR. TRIMPER: 2.2.01?




In this section here, could you also on the Salaries – the difference between the budget and the revised is $391,900. Can you explain why?


MR. DUTTON: The salary reduction last year was primarily due to staff turnover and some hard-to-fill positions. So we're budgeting for the full amount for the year ahead. We've moved to fill some positions, including our two positions in Wabush.




Again, on the revenue line here, can you explain what that is?




The revenue is strictly from WorkplaceNL. All of the costs incurred are billed back to WorkplaceNL. As the expenditure goes up or down, the revenue moves accordingly.




Financial Assistance; again, there's Allowances and Assistance. Just if you could explain what the difference is here.




MR. K. PARSONS: (Inaudible.)


MR. DUTTON: Last year, there was $35,000 budgeted. The decrease was a result of aging beneficiaries. There are currently 59 people who are receiving funding from this account. So the $32,000 represents what was an anticipated expenditure for the year ahead.




MR. TRIMPER: This is as a result of an agreement from, what, the '70s?


MR. DUTTON: 1973 agreement with the Aluminum Company of Canada Limited.






MR. K. PARSONS: Section 2.3.02. I'm always interested in Grants and Subsidies. Can you just explain what's on the go?


MR. DUTTON: These are grants that are for the support of occupational health and safety initiatives in the province. In 2016-17, there was $9,000 in grants. These are for groups like the Newfoundland and Labrador Occupational Safety and Health Association, the Construction Safety Association, St. John Ambulance, the Forestry Safety Association. They support safety initiatives for the workplace.




Again, on the revenue side, just explain where the revenue comes from.


MR. DUTTON: Yes, the revenue is from WorkplaceNL. As expenditures are made, then there's offsetting revenue from WorkplaceNL.




I have some general questions now before we get into the Motor Registration Division. Under the automobile insurance review, I know we're looking at automotive. I'm just wondering: What's the status on that?


MR. TRIMPER: I'll start. Certainly, it's (inaudible) pressing issue. It's a mandated task associated with this department.


Since I've come to the department in late February, I've had a series of meetings with industry and ratepayers. I'm certainly hearing it from all sides that a lot of people are looking for a review.


We are working on a strategy. I would anticipate that you'll hear government signalling the start of that review very soon with a layout in terms of the terms of reference for what will be included in the review. There are a variety of questions there that we want to have answered. It's a rather encompassing document and I look forward to speaking about that very soon.


MR. K. PARSONS: Is part of that review to do a soft tissue injury; is that the main gist of it?


MR. TRIMPER: That would be an affirmative, yes.


MR. K. PARSONS: Okay, thank you.


Under Registry of Deeds there have been lots of questions asked about it. What's the plan for the Registry of Deeds? Is everything staying the status quo or is there any plan for any changes?


MR. TRIMPER: I'm going to turn to my ADM on that one.


MR. MCCARTHY: I'm not really sure what you would mean by status quo.


MR. K. PARSONS: I just –


MR. MCCARTHY: The CADO system, the Company and Deeds Online system was –


MR. K. PARSONS: No, I'm just talking about the Registry of Deeds itself. There are no talks about moving the Registry of Deeds and keeping everything that's presently down on Elizabeth Avenue, I would imagine, most of the –




MR. K. PARSONS: Right? So are there any plans for any changes at the Registry of Deeds?






Can you explain about the CADO system?


MR. MCCARTHY: The Companies and Deeds Online?




MR. MCCARTHY: That's the online system for searching deeds. Actually, we just did an upgrade this weekend where one of the irritants was that Internet Explorer was the only option for searching but now with the upgrade the weekend, other platforms can be used: Chrome and that. There were a number of other enhancements made to the system over the weekend. That should be back online now.




Are you offering any training to, say, law firms or anything like that that would use that system?


MR. MCCARTHY: That's a standard part if you want to become a user of the system. Yes, the staff of the Commercial Registrations Division does offer it to law firms. Actually we've been promoting, over the last few years, to try to get as many law firms and users as possible to be registering online and filing their documents online, which is a much more efficient use of the system. We've had some success with that.




Under Occupational Health and Safety, I know there were some positions in Labrador last year that were hard to fill. What's the status on those?


MR. TRIMPER: I thought it was in Wabush?


MR. K. PARSONS: In Wabush?


MR. DUTTON: They have been filled.


MR. K. PARSONS: They are filled now?




MR. K. PARSONS: They are filled, okay, that's good. We will go to Motor Registration.


CHAIR: Ms. Michael.


MS. MICHAEL: Going to Motor Vehicle Registration, Salaries – not a big question, but the Salaries, this year's estimate, is $56,600 lower than last year's budget and it was also a revision downward as well last year. Could we just have an explanation of all that?


MR. DUTTON: The reduced spending last year was just due to some temporary vacancies. The expenditure for the year ahead, there was a regional motor vehicle deputy registrar position that was eliminated. It was vacant. So we've done some work to combine some roles in Corner Brook and Grand Falls-Windsor. This was one of the areas where that was done, so there was no individual negatively impacted as a result of that.


MS. MICHAEL: Okay, thank you very much.


Coming down to Supplies, $34,500 was budgeted last year and it was revised upward to $80,000 and this year it's still above last year's budget at $61,700. So just an explanation of the Supplies under this and why the variation.




The increased expenditure was related to toner cartridges and envelopes for a mass mail out, so that was the $45,500 difference. For the year ahead, we went through the zero-based budgeting exercise and determined the needs for routine office supplies for the offices, weigh scale inspections and toner, envelopes and paper.


MS. MICHAEL: Okay. Thank you very much.


Purchased Services; again, there's a variation from budget to revision and to this year's budget. If you could explain.




The decrease in expenditure last year was decreased costs for vehicle repairs following the purchase of new vehicles. For the year ahead, we have gone through the zero-based budgeting exercise and that area in the decrease was – again, we don't expect to have vehicle repairs to be so expensive in this area because the vehicles are relatively new.


MS. MICHAEL: Okay. Thank you.


Coming down to the Grants and Subsidies, what is that?




The Grants and Subsidies – and some of it is a bit of a misnomer, some of it is around memberships in associations.




MR. DUTTON: There are grants such as to the Newfoundland and Labrador safety council for the Lids for Kids program. But we're also members of the Canadian Council of Motor Transportation Administrators group, CCMTA. That involves all the registrars of motor vehicles across the country. That membership is charged there, also fees for the Canadian Vehicle Safety Alliance and the International Registration Plan membership assessment.


MS. MICHAEL: Right. Thank you.


Then, 3.1.02, the variation under Salaries, $79,900 less than last year and there was a revision downward as well in the last year.


MR. DUTTON: Yes, right.


The lower expenditure was just due to vacancies and staff turnover. In terms of the year ahead, there are some positions being held vacant for a portion of the year. There's a clerk IV and a driver examiner/motor vehicle inspector to meet our attrition management targets.


MS. MICHAEL: They were held last year or they –


MR. DUTTON: For the year ahead –


MS. MICHAEL: – or they're being held now?


MR. DUTTON: – they are being held vacant for part of the year to ensure we stay within our salary budget.


MS. MICHAEL: Okay. Thank you.


What's the impact of that?


MR. DUTTON: Well, overall, there are 67 positions in this area with six vacancies out of that number. It's not a significant impact given the size of the area.






MS. MICHAEL: Okay. Thank you.


Coming down to Purchased Services, last year it was $1,625,000 and this year it's up to $1,853,500. An explanation of what the purchased services are and why the increase.


MR. DUTTON: Right.


I think the biggest variance here, as the minister alluded to in another line item, was on Moneris fees.




MR. DUTTON: We're doing more and more transactions online at Motor Registration Division; I think about 50 per cent of people are renewing online now.




MR. DUTTON: So as that's been going up then we're collecting more revenue, but we have that expense with Moneris for credit card and debit card transactions.


MS. MICHAEL: Thank you very much.


I hadn't thought of asking this question. Certainly it's not written here for me to ask, but I'm just curious because one of the things we say with regard to online registration – I register online all the time.




MS. MICHAEL: Is there an age differential? Do you find that older people aren't registering online? Is there any kind of analysis of who's registering online?


MR. DUTTON: I mean we could probably generate a report, but I don't think it's something we've actively been measuring.


MS. MICHAEL: That you've actually looked at.


MR. DUTTON: Certainly, some members of the public prefer to go to a counter and some are more comfortable with going online, so we're offering both types of service.


MS. MICHAEL: Yes, I realize.


MR. DUTTON: We're certainly encouraging people more and more to use online services.


MR. TRIMPER: And there is a discount.


MR. DUTTON: And there is a discount, that's right that was reintroduced. So it is cheaper online than to go to Motor Registration to do it in person. That's driving more online business.


MS. MICHAEL: Yet, you do have a cost for online. You have the cost that you have to pay –




MS. MICHAEL: Yet, we still get a discount because we go online.


MR. DUTTON: Yes. Well, people weren't using it, I guess, when they eliminated it.




MR. DUTTON: When it was first introduced, there was a discounted rate and then that was eliminated.


MS. MICHAEL: Yes, I remember.


MR. DUTTON: Then people were going to the sites more; we were having longer lineups. So they reintroduced it and that's helped to deal with some of the issues with lineups. The minister announced this morning some additional measures to try to help deal with that so people will be able to make appointments –


MS. MICHAEL: I think I missed that announcement.


MR. DUTTON: – and get in on a timely basis.


MS. MICHAEL: I've been in this room all day since 9 o'clock this morning. These past couple of weeks have been a bit foggy for me in terms of reality.


Thank you for that explanation.




MS. MICHAEL: I think then going over to 3.1.03 – I'm not going to go through all the amounts again, but we do have the usual variation from budget to revision and to this year's budget in the salary line.




Previously, we had two areas that have been combined in the Estimates here as part of the reorganization of the highway enforcement officers and weigh scale inspectors. Some of them have a slighter higher classification now. We're going through a recruitment process to fill some of the vacancies in that area. So as those positions are getting filled, then the amount of expenditure is going up. It's a high priority for the department, so these are positions we've prioritized to fill and to keep filled.


MS. MICHAEL: What exactly are those positions?


MR. TRIMPER: Yeah, if I can add on that, it's a lot of the reflection of our emphasis on additional inspections, things around school buses, ambulances, things like that. So we're staffing up there more.


MS. MICHAEL: Oh, good.


MR. DUTTON: There were nine positions over the past year that had been unfunded pending the classification review. So as they've become classified and we're moving to fill them, then we have to budget for funding those in the year ahead.




Under Professional Services, it's half the budget and last year it was revised down to only $2,200. What would be under Professional Services there?




This past year the expenditure was to participate in the request for proposals for the Atlantic provinces driver's licence. That was the one expenditure in that area. We've reduced the amount through the review on zero-based budgeting.


We have training for facilitators that would be funded in this area. That's around transportation of dangerous goods and basic investigation techniques. These are important skill sets for highway enforcement officers to have, so we need some funding to be able to support that.




Minister, I'd like to come back to the comment that you made with regard to the inspection of school buses and your staffing of. You're saying that more of the inspections will be done by people from your department?


MR. TRIMPER: I'm going to divert to my deputy on that.




The regular procedure is that all of the school buses are inspected multiple times a year. They may be inspected at official inspection stations and that is typically done in the summer.


The highway enforcement officers also inspect all of the new buses that enter the province, which usually happens in the summer months. In the fall, highway enforcement officers inspect all of the buses. That resulted in some of the enforcement actions that people heard about in the news last fall.


In the spring, which is well underway, they inspect at least 30 per cent of each and every bus fleet where they identify any other issues. They may inspect more than the 30 per cent for a given fleet. With the staff actions, we'll be better able to deploy our resources more effectively so we hopefully can start and finish those regular inspections they would normally do faster.


MS. MICHAEL: Right, so that –


CHAIR: Okay.


Mr. Parsons.


MS. MICHAEL: Oh, okay.


MR. K. PARSONS: We're going to go back to 3.1.01. I know I asked questions a little while ago about the previous year's budget. In Budget 2016, the previous year's Estimates document, it showed that budgeted for this year was $1,196,100 and this year your budget shows, from last year, at $688,700. Why is there a difference here?


MR. DUTTON: I'm not sure where you're reading the second number from.


MR. K. PARSONS: Okay, the question I'm asking last year's budget document –


MR. TRIMPER: I am going to go to Robyn.


MS. HAYES: Within the MRD we did reorganization and essentially cut it from four activities in the Estimates down to three. So if you took the totals of the four activities in the '16-'17 Estimates, it would equal those amongst the three Estimates activities that are left: 3.1.01, 02 and 03.


MR. K. PARSONS: Okay, so they were combined last year is what you're saying?


MS. HAYES: There were four last year.


MR. K. PARSONS: Four last year.


MS. HAYES: And we've reduced those down to three to align with the lines of business within MRD: Administration, Service and Enforcement.


MR. K. PARSONS: Okay, there was a difference of $507,400. So what one was that?


MS. HAYES: So what was in Administration last year you will see some of it in the Administration activity this year. There may be some under Service, 3.1.02 and there may be some under 3.1.03, Enforcement.




Again, there are some other areas here also with Supplies, Purchased Services and Property, Furnishings and Equipment.


MS. HAYES: Same.


MR. K. PARSONS: Is that where we'll see it? So we can add up 3.1.01 and 3.10.3 and they should add up the total –






Is there a new section? Why wouldn't you put it under the revised? If there was an amount budgeted last year – so there is a new section added? Is that what the difference is?


MS. HAYES: No, we reduced from four sections to three sections, so we do a restatement during the year.




MS. HAYES: So to allow for comparison of the '17-'18 budget, we restate the numbers for '16-'17 so that you can get a clear representation of what the budget reflected in '16-'17.


MR. K. PARSONS: But in last year's budget then we would have voted on $1.19 million – that is what we would have voted on. What we voted on last year, I'm still trying to get why you wouldn't put it in to the revised for this year.


MR. TRIMPER: (Inaudible) a little bit.


MR. K. PARSONS: Yeah, okay.


MR. TRIMPER: I mean it's a similar analogy to my situation a little while ago. What you're wanting to do is compare back a year when you had a similar structure. What we're saying is the structure was quite different last year.


So to compare to what the structure is now to what it would have been last year, had the change been made sooner, that's why that number looks different from what you have from the previous budget. As with my own travel, we went back and put a number in that reflected my travel as forecasted a year ago, even though I wasn't in that position.




I still find it difficult to understand why –


MR. TRIMPER: Yeah, I hear you.


MR. K. PARSONS: – if you budget something last year and this year the budget shows something completely different.


Okay, we'll go to – now, where are my general questions, right here?


OFFICIAL: (Inaudible.)


MR. K. PARSONS: Section 3.2, again, I know – okay, so if you can tell me what sections.


OFFICIAL: 3.1.02.


MR. K. PARSONS: 3.1.02. This one here is showing a difference. Last year, it was $1.985 million and this year it's showing at $3.210 million. There's a large increase there.


How do you add them up? I'm trying to figure out. Last year I took the Estimates book out and we looked at what the Estimates were last year, trying to compare them to this year. Unless there's something different that's added, it's a job to follow it.




Roxie and I arrived in the department on the 18th of August. This was already decided before our arrival so I am at a bit of a loss, other than to say that there was a separate item in last year's Estimates; I think it was called National Safety Code.


As a result of that reorganization – one of the impacts being the reclassification of the weigh scale inspectors and now we have a greater number of highway enforcement officers as a result – all of the activities in Motor Registration that were being funded last year are being funded this year. There has been some movement in where expenses are being incurred, but they're doing all the same things that they were the year before.


MR. K. PARSONS: I know, but just to try to figure out how each division works, it's nice to see what they were budgeted for last year versus what they are budgeted for this year. Last year, when it was budgeted and what we voted on was $1,985,700 and yet this year it's showing that last year's budget was $3.2 million. I'm just wondering: Where does it come from? Is there something that's added different than it was last year? Do you want to explain that?


MR. TRIMPER: I'm just going to make a transparent comment, always in the interest of being helpful. I'm just going to reach back to Robyn and ask her. I get your point and this concept of restatement is really the conflict here. It would be interesting, there's almost a different format of some kind to say that while that's a budgeted item that number didn't exist last year because it reflected a different structure, and it's difficult for you to trace from year to year. I don't know, Robyn, if you have any comment if it's ever been done. We always run into this each year.


MS. HAYES: When we do a restructuring during the year, it would be similar to even the departments that are restructured you see them go into their new department. It's similar when you restructure an area of the department. We restructured Motor Registration Division to align with the lines of business, so anybody that's related to the service part of Motor Registration their salaries were moved under the Service line because that's the line of business that they're in.


All of the clerks at Motor Registration, ones that serve you at the front counter, their salaries would be within here. We do have a full – what's the word – reconciliation of the four activities and how the money was moved around that we could provide, if you wish.


MR. K. PARSONS: Okay, that would make it better because then it would help to explain why – this is a huge variance in the difference. When you go back and look at the previous Estimates and see what's actually there, it's a job to follow it. If there's something that's added on in this section then …


MS. HAYES: If I may, the restatement is done that way so that when you look at the current year's Estimates you can compare what we have for this year as to what the expenditure was in '16-'17. So it's as if the structure in '17-'18 always existed in '16-'17, where you can see then where the budget is up or down, and it also informs for our Public Accounts submission for variance analysis there as well.


But we do have an explanation, a reconciliation, of how the four were split and where the money went.


MR. K. PARSONS: Can I get a copy of it?






I'm going to go to the section: Enforcement. Under Enforcement, with weigh scale operations, have there been any changes in the weigh scale operations and the duties of the people in this area?


MR. DUTTON: Roxie, would you like to take this one?


MS. WHEATON: The major change that we did, organizationally, is we had two levels of classification of people who are responsible for all things highway safety, so that includes the highway inspections but it also includes the inspections of buses and those kinds of things.


One of the things that we found is when you have two different levels of classification you can't deploy your staff to deal with priority areas. We went through a classification so that now everyone is classified the same and then we can use those staff in a different way. During the summertime, when there's an increase in activity on the highway, we can have more resources out there when there's more traffic flow through the corridor. Then it also allows us to, as things start to lessen, redeploy those staff to do school bus inspections.


The big change is we went through a reclassification, a massive bout of training. We were able to take advantage of the fact that some of our staff was retiring, so we were able to recruit some new people. It's a very, very state-of-the-art group of staff now fully trained, have a whole bunch of new tools to be able to assist them to be able to do their jobs.




Ms. Michael, I have some general questions in the Motor Registration. Can I go a little bit longer than – they're just general questions in this, so then I can get clear of it and we'll have it done, okay?


The announcements you made today, Minister – which is a good announcement. If there are 45 people, we'll be able to go down to Tim's and get a coffee and be able to go ahead – so that's a good announcement. I'm just wondering is there any impact on staffing?


MR. TRIMPER: None at all.


MR. K. PARSONS: None at all? Okay.




MR. K. PARSONS: I liked it today because there are times when I've gone in there myself and quite a while you have to wait.


MR. TRIMPER: This was an initiative that really was looking towards the customer and reducing wait times, making it more convenient for them.




MR. TRIMPER: For those, certainly, who choose to continue to come in, in person, it was all about satisfying those people. As I mentioned this afternoon in my remarks, I think we can anticipate up to 10,000 people go through there a month.


MR. K. PARSONS: I know.


MR. TRIMPER: So some serious lineups. It wasn't looking too bad there today, but people should find that a lot smoother now.




Last year the Motor Registrations were up 25 per cent from the previous four years. Are they up again this year?


MR. TRIMPER: (Inaudible) for me.


MR. K. PARSONS: The registration of vehicles itself, are they up this year?


MR. TRIMPER: I think we may have to contact the registrar.




MR. TRIMPER: We can get you an idea on that.




MR. TRIMPER: We'll get a hold of Alan Doody.


MR. K. PARSONS: Last year the revenue from Motor Registration was $8.2 million. Is that the same again this year?


MR. TRIMPER: Again, we can check with Alan Doody.




MR. TRIMPER: So revenue and number.






MR. K. PARSONS: Just a question that I wanted to ask, myself: Why does it take so long to get your stickers? When you go to the bank sometimes – and I did a trailer a little while ago and brought in my registration. It must take about three weeks before the stickers came. Is that the norm or does it take a long while to get the stickers when you go through, say, a banking institute or something like that?


MR. TRIMPER: What I can tell you is that having had a tour of the office recently and seeing how some of these stickers are physically stapled onto a document and the stack and the incredibly tedious and time-consuming job, we are looking at new strategies for dealing with that.




MR. TRIMPER: So I was firmly convinced of the need to do something in that regard a little while ago.




Minister, this one really drives me nuts, to tell you the truth. I listen in the morning and you'll hear of people getting pulled over – and I know it's a job to do it, but you hear unlicensed, unregistered, uninsured vehicles. Is there anything we are doing to curtail any of the things?


I know some places where the person gets off the road or is there something we can do with taking a licence plate and keeping a licence plate with a vehicle and stuff like this? I know it's a huge issue and I know the general public out there really get frustrated –


MR. TRIMPER: Absolutely.


MR. K. PARSONS: – when you see a fellow owing –


MR. TRIMPER: It's also one that dominates the discussion amongst this team looking at new strategies and so on. You're raising a topic that's near and dear for ourselves.


It's interesting in the discussion with other jurisdictions what's going on there. I think if you are looking across the country, you may see ideas that are intriguing us. As soon as we get together and can make some decisions we might get some guidance there, but there's no question this is an area for improvement.




Another complaint that I've received lately and I know it was in the media – I am not sure if it was today or whatever – are the licence plates itself. I think the warranty covers it up to five years. If somebody has a licence plate that is six or seven years old and it happens to be peeling off, then they have to pay the $30 fee. If it's a faulty plate, no matter if it's five years old or whatever – because you can see plates that are out there for 20-odd years and they are in great shape. Why are we charging people that have faulty plates? I know the warranty covers up to a certain period, but again if it's faulty whether it's five year, six, seven or eight years, and people do complain about it.


MR. TRIMPER: Yeah. The fee has been in place actually for several years. We are receiving some complaints recently and the Office of the Citizens' Representative has taken up the case. We are actually looking seriously at the issue right now.


Again, this will be another one that we'll be reporting on. It's obviously very topical right now. Any further comment from my team? Because they were working on it as recently as this afternoon.


MR. K. PARSONS: You must be hearing the same complaints, right?


MR. TRIMPER: Oh yeah.


MR. K. PARSONS: Is there anything that you're working on to be able to do any …?


MR. TRIMPER: I'd prefer to – because I was sitting here looking at you this afternoon. They were working on this today.


MR. K. PARSONS: Yeah, I know.


MR. TRIMPER: So we hope to be able to speak to this quite soon.


MR. K. PARSONS: Okay. All right, because I had a call from a lady that told me hers was eight years old yet they had to go in with it.


MR. TRIMPER: We're certainly hearing from people. Yeah.


MR. K. PARSONS: Okay, perfect.


Last year's –


MR. TRIMPER: The deputy has some comment.


MR. DUTTON: Sorry, before you go on, earlier you asked a question about revenue for Motor Registration Division.




MR. DUTTON: That is projected. For last year we had, in our '16-'17, about $98.9 million in revenue from Motor Registration. We're projecting for '17-'18 a slight decrease, $95.65 million.


MR. K. PARSONS: Increase or decrease?


MR. DUTTON: Decrease.


MR. K. PARSONS: Decrease?


MR. DUTTON: Yeah, so it's a slight decrease that's projected at this time. We do updates over the course of the year as activity goes on.




Last year you contracted, I think, Gemalto Canada to improve security features on driver's licences. Can you tell us what the update on that is and how much it cost?


MR. TRIMPER: Yeah, so this is Gemalto. We actually made an announcement, what, two to three weeks ago? The contract has been awarded to Gemalto.


This is part of our co-operation with our Atlantic provincial counterparts. You'll now be able to go online and request a new driver's licence. It will be issued and can be delivered in a very expeditious way.


MR. K. PARSONS: You can do that now?


MR. TRIMPER: It's quite a cost saving for government as well. If you look back about three weeks and, I think, just search Gemalto, you'll see some details on that.




Minister, the new laws that were brought in under impaired driving laws recently – and introduced new rules. Can you provide an update and tell us about the new laws and the effect that they – you know, they have (inaudible).


MR. TRIMPER: I'm sorry, I didn't …


MR. K. PARSONS: If you can just give us an update on where we are with the new regulations that were brought in, in that bill?


MR. TRIMPER: Do you want to talk about …?




MR. TRIMPER: I'll throw it to the deputy in terms of the rollout of the regs.


MR. DUTTON: Yes, so –


MR. TRIMPER: I certainly was heavily involved in the launch, but …


MR. DUTTON: Yeah, I think during the debate in the House of Assembly, there was acknowledgement that there was some work to be done on the regulations.


MR. K. PARSONS: Oh yeah.


MR. DUTTON: That's progressing well. We've considered some of the feedback from Members and the general public on that. I think we're still on target and we have to do some work to prepare for having our systems in place and the law enforcement ready to bring that into effect. That should be ready later this year.


MR. K. PARSONS: Yeah, okay. It's going to be interesting to see how the system works with the interlock system in particular.




MR. K. PARSONS: I know it's 22 years or younger, it will be interesting to see how – I think it's going to be a positive thing for everybody.


MR. TRIMPER: I'll just make another comment on that because it was so significant and everyone at this table behind me were involved. We've never had such a level of discussion and input from the public; the phones were ringing, great support and lots of suggestions.




I think there was great support in the House also.


MR. TRIMPER: As the deputy said, we are still listening to people as we go to tweak those final details.




I think you saw great support in the House also on all sides.


MR. TRIMPER: Absolutely.


MR. K. PARSONS: While we have – and this is a question, I'm looking at this, it's very interesting. I know the legislation is going to be brought forward by the Government of Canada on marijuana and I'm wondering what are we doing to prepare for the legislation that's coming.


MR. TRIMPER: A committee that has been struck within government and staff are actually assigned. We have nine –


OFFICIAL: (Inaudible.)


MR. TRIMPER: Several folks are working on this now. I've had a presentation delivered to myself, as have other ministers so far on timelines, what provincial jurisdictional responsibility is going to be versus the federal one.


It's a very aggressive timeline, given that the federal government is signalling that they want this to be rolled out by July next year. So we're working backward from that date, anticipating what needs to be done, what legislation needs to be brought before the House, decisions made and so on. Yeah, this is going to grab a lot of our attention here.


MR. K. PARSONS: Yes. I know most of this will come through the Department of Justice, but I'm also wondering about the cost – we're talking just about impaired driving and obviously drug use also has impairment on drivers. I'm curious of how we're going to, whether it's through blood tests – I'm not sure what the recourse is. There are a lot of questions out there from the general public also how this is going to be regulated. I don't know if there is anything you can give us on that.


MR. TRIMPER: What I would comment, absolutely, there's a variety of measures being considered across the jurisdictions and looking elsewhere where cannabis has been legalized.


One thing I would say, given this is an Estimates of Service NL, there is going to be responsibility; I believe we have three acts within our preview that are captured by these decisions, the Highway Traffic Act, Occupational Health and Safety Act and there is one other one that I noted in my own. So, yes, Service NL will be and is heavily involved.




I know I asked a question earlier when it came to salaries and stuff like that, but highway enforcement officers, how many are there, any idea?


MR. DUTTON: There are 40 positions.


MR. K. PARSONS: How many?


MR. DUTTON: Forty.


MR. K. PARSONS: And that's the same as we had the year before?


MR. DUTTON: Well, it's increased insofar as previously some of them were classified as weigh scale inspectors.




MR. DUTTON: Now they've received a higher classification.




MR. DUTTON: Some positions are still in the process of being filled.




Ms. Michael, I thank you very much for letting me to do that. They were just questions that I liked to get answered in that. I'll give you lots of time to go ahead now, so all your questions now.


Thank you very much.


MS. MICHAEL: Thank you.


Coming to 3.2.01, just two quick questions here. Just an explanation of the rise in the salary in this year's budget – it's up by $82,400 – please.


MR. DUTTON: In 2016-17, there was a higher expenditure than had been planned. There were some positions that had been unfunded in the salary plan but that were filled to meet the operational requirements. Funding had to be moved from other line items to cover those priorities.


Then for 2017-18, there is an increase as a result of the zero-based budgeting exercise. Some positions, again, that were unfunded in the previous salary plan we determined to be priorities to fill. That's what's attributable here.


MS. MICHAEL: Thank you.


Under Allowances and Assistance, the $69,000 that wasn't spent, obviously, we were told last year they were bursaries for students studying environmental health at Cape Breton University. Is that so? It looks like now it's just gone.


MR. DUTTON: The bursary program wasn't used in 2016-17, so there was –


MS. MICHAEL: It's not going to be used –


MR. DUTTON: My understanding is there was no take-up on the program.


MS. MICHAEL: Okay, all right. Thank you.


3.2.02, Regional Services, here, we have a big change in Salaries. The budget was $7,679,700. There was revision downward of approximately $77,000 and then downward again in this year's budget $7,205,200, which is $474,000 difference.


MR. DUTTON: Yes. So in that case the reduced expenditure last year was just due to staff turnover and recruitment being ongoing during parts of the year.


The decrease in the budget here, some of that's from the zero-based budgeting exercise that was $177,400. We also had going from four regional directors to three. An incumbent had retired in the end of January, so it allowed us to combine the roles of the directors in Clarenville and Gander. We have one director for basically the Clarenville to Springdale. That also includes the Burin Peninsula. That was $101,800. Some positions that were funded last year are being left temporally vacant to meet the attrition targets this year, so they may be filled later in the year.


MS. MICHAEL: Okay, thank you.


MR. DUTTON: That's a funding allowance.


MS. MICHAEL: Does that have to do with budget as well, like before you were saving some money by doing that or is …?


MR. DUTTON: Well, we had attrition targets each year over a five-year period and we had to look at our salary plan and see where we had vacancies, were there ways to meet that without impacting people. We were told to try to avoid involuntary departures and we've done our best to do that, and I think that we were certainly successful in that this year.


MS. MICHAEL: Okay, thank you.


Coming down to Transportation and Communications, which is a large line, the budget has gone up from last year by around $50,000. Could you explain that, please?


MR. TRIMPER: Instead of using private vehicles –


MR. DUTTON: Right. There's more use of private vehicles out in the regions rather than government-owned vehicles. So there's an increase in the mileage claims. Of course, that's an offset, that and the repair costs. There's a trade off with the fact that we don't have as much money to purchase vehicles as we might have had last year.


MS. MICHAEL: Right, okay.


Property, Furnishings and Equipment, you're down to $7,600 from $20,000.


MR. DUTTON: Yes, there were just some savings during the year as some positions were filled later, so we didn't expend as much. The decrease was through the zero-based exercise and we are just forecasting a lesser requirement for replacing furniture and equipment.


MS. MICHAEL: Right, thank you.


Vital Statistics Registry, 3.3.01, just an explanation of the salary line, please.




Last year, again there were some positions in the salary plan that had been unfunded that were filled to meet the operational requirements of that division. Then, for the year ahead, going through the zero-based exercise, we're funding a clerk typist III position that had been unfunded the year before and there are some forecast adjustments there as well.




Purchased Services, it's going up a slight amount.


MR. DUTTON: The increase was increased costs for printing birth, marriage and death certificates and the new birth package. Then, for the year ahead, it's reflected more in the rightsizing of the budget, I guess, you would say.


We have funding for Canadian Bank Note that does the birth, marriage, death certificates. We also have increasing costs for Moneris fees at Vital Statistics as in some of the other areas of the department.


MS. MICHAEL: Famous Moneris.




MS. MICHAEL: 3.3.02, I really don't have a lot of questions there. Supplies there would be self-evident; I'm not going to ask that one.


Under Revenue – Provincial, what is that source of revenue? It was revised downward last year and it's up slightly this year.


MR. DUTTON: This primarily is for annual subscriptions to the Gazette, advertisements, first reading of bills, statutes and sales inventory.


The reduced amount was fewer revenues than anticipated. There are more people accessing the Gazette and legislation online, so that's had an impact. In terms of the year ahead, the revenue, there was some fee increases so as they're annualized, then they might be slightly higher revenue next year than there was last year.


MS. MICHAEL: Okay, thanks.


3.3.03, the Purchased Services is $534,000 down to $500,000 and lower still this year at $490,200.


MR. DUTTON: Right. This is primarily leases and copying charges for high-volume copiers. We have some fairly expensive equipment from Xerox that does some high-quality printing jobs.




MR. DUTTON: The decrease in the year past was savings that was reallocated to cover supply costs in another line item. Then, in the year ahead, again we went through the zero-based budgeting exercise, so we've identified some savings there as well.


MS. MICHAEL: Right, thank you.


Last but not least, le français, French Language Services, 5.1.01. I note that the salary line has gone up from last year's budget by $85,300.




MS. MICHAEL: Is that a new position?


MR. DUTTON: No, there were four positions there all along and, in fact, the same four individuals have come to work with the department. I don't believe they had sufficient funding last year to cover them all, so this reflects the cost of the four positions for the year ahead for 12 months.


MS. MICHAEL: Okay. So the change in the French language training which has moved into the – I forget the name of –




MR. DUTTON: Centre for Learning and Development.






MS. MICHAEL: Yeah. That didn't affect the staffing.


MR. DUTTON: No, I think that was done long before this reorganization occurred.


MS. MICHAEL: What do you mean? What was done?


MR. DUTTON: Well, February 22 when there was reorganization –




MR. DUTTON: – the Office of French Services, these four positions came over; but before that time; the Centre for Learning and Development was already delivering French language training.


MS. MICHAEL: Okay. They seem to be doing more now than they were doing.


Minister, I noted in the very beginning, the description of the department says that French Language Services are still doing French training, but I thought that was gone now. I thought there was no French language training going on at all in the French Language Services. Am I incorrect?


MR. TRIMPER: You are correct. I'm not aware of any training and I suspect that – I went in and read that; I probably should not have. We severed that –


MS. MICHAEL: Yeah, because it does –


MR. TRIMPER: They're, in fact, looking at other aspects of providing Francophone services.


MS. MICHAEL: That's what I thought but the front page says the Office of French Services provides French language training and translation.


MR. TRIMPER: Yes, very astute catch; that's a good catch.




MR. TRIMPER: I'm going to indicate just further on the comment you said on salaries. As the deputy indicated, I'm not sure if he said, but this year the agreement is up for renewal with the federal government –




MR. TRIMPER: – over the provision of the costs, and sharing the cost towards providing Francophone services in this department.




MR. TRIMPER: So we're anticipating, if you would like, rightsizing that contribution because we see we're at the low end of what we should have.


MS. MICHAEL: Right, so the $400,000 going down to $350,000, the federal contribution.


MR. TRIMPER: Yeah, we're looking to enhance our contribution from the federal government.


MS. MICHAEL: To enhance it? Okay, very good.


MR. TRIMPER: That work is going on this year.




Minister, I mean it's a related, but I suppose I could ask you this in the corridor, but since we're sitting here. We know the French language services are there and there have been times when I've gone to them to get a translation done, but there's really nothing written that says we have the right to go to do that.


The time I have done it, I thought am I supposed to be doing this because wouldn't it impact staff if – I guess they make the decision. I call, I make request and they decide if they can do it, timewise, I guess. But we really have no direction as another department or caucus office can use the services, like for translation.


MR. TRIMPER: Yeah, that's a really good point. I'll come back to both parties with a response on that. I know I talk to them often about their level of activity and so on and they keep their priorities where they are and stay focused on them and when they can, they're responding.




MR. TRIMPER: Sometimes they're turning it around overnight and sometimes it may be a few weeks, but I'm going to have to speak with Jim Prowse about that and I'll come back to you.


MS. MICHAEL: Okay, thank you very much.


MR. TRIMPER: Just in terms of how he's delegating requests.


MS. MICHAEL: Yeah. I've thought of it a few times. Anyway, good, thank you very much.


For the moment, I think they are all my questions.


CHAIR: Mr. Parsons.


MR. K. PARSONS: I know where we are now, Mr. Chair, but I can finish up in 10 or 15 minutes, if that is okay with the minister.


CHAIR: Okay. Is the minister okay with a few more questions?


MR. TRIMPER: Yeah, sure.


CHAIR: Okay.


MR. K. PARSONS: I'll go as fast as I can.


I want to go back to 3.2.01. I know this section deals a lot with safety inspections. As we know, recently there have been a lot of questions. I know, from schools in my area, they were wondering about online, where you can see the inspections, especially when it comes to bus safety and stuff like that. Are there postings online for different inspections?


MR. TRIMPER: Do either of you two want to answer that?


MR. DUTTON: The relative school bus inspections are online as well; that was published last December – all results of the fall inspections. We would do the same once the spring inspections are completed.


MR. K. PARSONS: All right.


We have new inspectors now. We got more inspectors for school buses and stuff like that. Are there more inspectors?


MS. WHEATON: What we have is the capacity to redeploy more of our staff to do school bus inspections. In essence, it is not that we have more people; it is that we're able to take the staff because they're a higher classification in training and we can put more resources so we can get these school buses done faster.


MR. K. PARSONS: I know it was an issue in my area where the buses were taken off. I know we do inspections in September before the school starts and stuff like that. What other inspections – are there any spot inspections being done? I know recently in the news when there was one guy taken out – I know the inspections are done beforehand but when are spot inspections done and how can people ask for those?


MR. TRIMPER: So 100 per cent of the buses are inspected in the fall. We target another 30 in the spring and then if there are any kinds of suspicious nature to a bus and so on, an inspector is able to respond.


MR. DUTTON: We have had situations where someone has expressed a concern about a particular bus and they've called Motor Registration and they've arranged to have it inspected and take the appropriate action.


MR. K. PARSONS: I'm curious from my own personal – I had a constituent call me about a certain bus. She was about to put her children on the bus and she saw the back brakes seemed like there was smoke coming out of them.




MR. K. PARSONS: She said no, I'm not going to put my children on that bus, so she called me. I told her to call Motor Registration and I'm figuring that's how the inspections – so we generate, is that how the spot inspections are done through complaints or is there another mechanism that someone goes out and just does –


MR. DUTTON: Right now, they have the schedule the minister outlined that we discussed earlier but if anybody has a concern, they certainly would be strongly encouraged to contact Motor Registration or the relevant police authority if they thought there was something that was of concern.


MR. K. PARSONS: I have another question for you now. I don't know, Minister, if it's in your portfolio or not, or whether this is where I should ask the question. I spoke to school bus owners and they explained to me that sometimes it's very difficult for them, too, because they buy new buses every some many years and it's a huge cost and stuff like that. It was explained to me that in Ontario they have a 10-year tendering process. They go and they put the buses out for 10 years and you have a certain criterion that you meet every year. As long as you meet that criterion, then it's a 10-year process.


For example, what was explained to me from a bus owner, they said it would make more sense for us to be able to go out and purchase buses that we know we can get 10 years' use out of those buses rather than have to be retendered every so many years.


Are you looking at anything like that? I know in other jurisdictions that's what they do.


MR. DUTTON: I guess the determining of the bus services is done by the school district, not by the department.


MR. K. PARSONS: Service NL, okay.


MR. DUTTON: So it would be up to the school district to make that determination. Under the new procurement act, they'll have more flexibility on what options they want to choose, whether that's tender or an RFP or some other approach to procurement. They'll also have the ability to exclude bidders that fail to comply with the obligations of their contracts through the supplier-performance measures in the act as well.




Again, you understand with the process he explained to me that it made sense that if they go buy new buses – if you lose the tender in two years' time –


MR. DUTTON: Right.


MR. K. PARSONS: – then it's a huge cost to you but if you have a 10-year period that as long as you keep your bus at a certain standard and they be inspected at that time then it makes business sense for that person.


MR. DUTTON: So I think normally if we're (inaudible) public bodies, they'll have the flexibility to choose the means by which they procure but on a consistent fashion. So if you choose to do a tender or an RFP, there's a set of rules but you can make a choice on what's the best process that works.


We encourage suppliers that have suggestions on how that could be done to get better value for everyone and safe for children that they should make that known to the public body that does the procurement. Under the Procurement Agency, we have a chief procurement officer in place. Then there'll be a process for dealing with complaints set up through that as well. They can also encourage both procurement, both within the province amongst various public bodies or with other jurisdictions – school buses I think is something that for a long-standing period Atlantic Provinces have worked together on and I'm sure they would be open to suggestions on how to do that better.


MR. K. PARSONS: A lot of the new school buses that are purchased they come here because of our regulations that we have here and a lot of them have to be modified to fit the Newfoundland regulations also. Are we in line with the rest of Atlantic Canada? Is that what you're saying that we are in line?


MR. DUTTON: I think, as far as I know, we're all following the same national standards, the D250 standards –


MR. K. PARSONS: Yeah, the K250 standards.


MR. DUTTON: They do evolve over time as they're updated by the Canadian Standards Association. Our regulations say that the buses will meet the standard, and that would be generally what most jurisdictions would do.




I have another question and it's about elevators. I know the recent strike with the elevators, and here in the building there was a job to get up and down. I know the concern I had, I went down to the Miller Centre one day and I saw that one of the elevators weren't working. I got in the elevator and hardly any of the lights were working.


Where are we to now? I know that inspections were done. I checked on that; I know that inspections were done, but the problem was the work getting done itself. Where are we now with the elevators?


MR. DUTTON: There was a labour dispute that's since been resolved.




MR. DUTTON: As I understand it, those folks have gone back to work and that's ongoing. Certainly our staff through the permit and inspection services, inspection of elevators is one of the things that they do.


MR. K. PARSONS: I know I requested if I could get a list of the inspections that are being done because I had some concerns, like I said myself, and plus I had – so if you could give me a list of the elevator inspections that have been carried out, that would be nice to have.


MR. DUTTON: From what time period?


MR. K. PARSONS: Well, you can go back the last couple of weeks, actually, because I know most of the inspections were done. I'm just interested in how much work is actually getting done. I know this one out here that we use that is still not working, with only two elevators here. Probably the guy was in to do it and maybe there are parts that need to be ordered, I'm not sure.




MR. K. PARSONS: I got one other question, the last question I'm going to ask. I know at Motor Registration there used to be a position in there for a nurse and I think it has been eliminated. Is that correct? At Motor Registration there always used to be a nurse, right down in the far corner. It was for when anyone had to go in to do – and I asked the question one day when I was in there if the nurse was still there. There used to be a nurse in there and now she's not there anymore, so I'm just wondering.


MS. WHEATON: No, she's not gone.




MS. WHEATON: She came forward and for her own career development asked for a leave of absence to be able to go and do some additional training. One of the things that is emerging is around mental health issues. So she thought it would be helpful for her in her practice to have more training in that. No, the position is not eliminated. She should be returning from her training.


MR. K. PARSONS: I know Paul Lane would like to hear this one. What's the status now on the blue zone parking? Are we to all the standards that we should be at in the blue zones?


I know there were some regulations coming in last year that we were implementing so I'm just wondering about blue zone parking. Is there anybody out doing inspections and making sure that the proper parking spaces are in place?


MR. DUTTON: That's primarily done through law enforcement, is it not?


MR. K. PARSONS: Is that through law enforcement? I thought it was through Service NL?


MS. WHEATON: Once the blue zone designations are in place, then we rely on municipal enforcement, RCMP, RNC to kind of enforce the blue zone parking in their area. Certainly, our staff, from time to time, might get calls if there is some issue and we kind of try to resolve that. But, generally, that whole piece of enforcement –


MR. DUTTON: I guess there are two questions; one is whether there are sufficient numbers of blue zone spaces. And temporarily using one of those passes, I've come to notice they're not nearly enough. But there is a standard that has to be met, so that would be something that would be a Service NL issue.




MR. DUTTON: But if people are illegally parking in a blue zone spot, then that gets into the enforcement question which is more of a municipal or law enforcement question.


MR. K. PARSONS: Okay, that sounds good for me. Okay, I'm good.


MR. TRIMPER: No baby yet?


MR. K. PARSONS: What? No baby yet.


CHAIR: Call the heading.


CLERK: 1.1.01.


CHAIR: Shall 1.1.01 carry?


All in favour?




CHAIR: Carried.


On motion, subhead 1.1.01 carried.


CLERK: 1.2.01 to 5.1.01 inclusive.


CHAIR: Shall 1.2.01 to 5.1.01 inclusive carry?


All in favour?




CHAIR: Carried.


On motion, subheads 1.2.01 through 5.1.01 carried.


CLERK: The total.


CHAIR: Shall the total carry?




CHAIR: Carried.


On motion, Department of Service NL, total heads, carried.


CHAIR: Shall I report the Estimates of the departments of Office of Climate Change, Government Purchasing Agency and Service NL carried without amendment?


All in favour?




CHAIR: Carried.


On motion, Estimates of the Department of Service NL, Government Purchasing Agency and Office of Climate Change carried without amendment.


CHAIR: Okay, motion to accept the minutes of the last meeting.


Thank you,


On motion, minutes adopted as circulated.


CHAIR: The date and time of the next meeting shall be at the call of the Chair.


Closing comments?


MR. K. PARSONS: I'd like to thank all staff. I know lots of questions, usually asking questions off the cuff and stuff like that. I really appreciate all your answers.


Minister, I thank you for your good answers and that. I really appreciate this. I learned a lot here tonight. As your critic, I look forward to working with you, not against you sometimes, but I'm sure that safety and everything else – like I said today when I got up and spoke, your department affects a lot of lives in the province. It's a huge department and it's a job that's not easy to be done sometimes because so many things are covered in it.


I just want to thank all staff, I appreciate anytime I call or anything, the response I get, briefings or anything, so just a big thank you.


CHAIR: Ms. Michael.


MS. MICHAEL: Thank you very much.


To the minister and his staff, thank you all. It's always good to be with you and I certainly appreciate you being here until 9:15 tonight to take our questions and give us as full answers as you can give us.


Thank you, Minister.


MR. TRIMPER: I reciprocate thank you. I've enjoyed the discussion, as always. I've learned a lot about what's going on around me as well this evening, as you can tell. I much more familiar with the departments that came with me, but I have a great team here in Service NL and we're doing a lot of good stuff. So I thank everyone here because it's a very sharp crowd and we'll keep working hard.


Thank you.


CHAIR: Great, thank you, Minister.


To your departmental staff and to the Government Services Committee, thank you for your time this evening.


With that, I call for a motion to adjourn.


MR. KING: So moved.


CHAIR: Moved by Mr. King.


On motion, the Committee adjourned sine die.