February 27, 2013             HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY MANAGEMENT COMMISSION            No. 38

The Management Commission met at 6:30 p.m. in the House of Assembly Chamber.

MR. SPEAKER (Wiseman): Good evening.

I want to welcome everybody to the House of Assembly Management Commission meeting. Before we get started, a couple of routine things. I want to remind people their microphones will be live when the Chair acknowledges them. My microphone will be live throughout the entire meeting. Anyone wishing to speak, if they would just signal so, I will identify them and your microphones will be turned on.

Before we get started I wanted to, as usual, introduce everybody. This is a televised session of the Management Commission.

My name is Ross Wiseman; I am the MHA for Trinity North and Chair of the Commission. To my left….

MR. LITTLEJOHN: Glenn Littlejohn, Deputy Chair of Committees, District of Port de Grave.

MS JONES: Yvonne Jones, District of Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair.

MR. BALL: Dwight Ball, District of Humber Valley.

MR. GRANTER: Vaughn Granter, Humber West.

MR. KING: Darin King, District of Grand Bank.

MS SHEA: Joan Shea, St. George's – Stephenville East.

MS MICHAEL: Lorraine Michael, Signal Hill – Quidi Vidi.

MS KEEFE: Marie Keefe, Clerk's Office.

CLERK: Sandra Barnes, Clerk.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

As I have just commented, this is the televised portion of the meeting. We had an in camera discussion earlier and I want to report publicly of the decisions made by the in camera session.

The Commission made two decisions. The Commission approves the creation of one permanent Systemic Advocacy Consultant position for the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate, and the Commission approves the abolition of one of the permanent individual Advocacy Specialist positions for the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate.

That is the public record of the decisions made by the in camera session. Everybody has a copy of the agenda for this evening's meeting. It was distributed earlier to members of the Commission and made available earlier today to the members of the media through our Web site.

I want to table, before we start the meeting, a copy of a letter I received late this evening from the MHA for Carbonear – Harbour Grace, the Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board, that is self-explanatory. I will distribute copies to the members of the Commission and we will deal with it under Tab 6 or Tab 7 later on in the agenda. I will distribute that now, not for immediate discussion but when we get to that tab I wanted to have it added to the agenda items that have been distributed earlier.

The first item of business is found under Tab 1 which is the minutes of the last Commission meeting that was held on December 4 and December 5, 2012. You have had a chance to review the minutes as they were circulated. I will entertain a motion for their adoption.

MS MICHAEL: So moved.

MR. SPEAKER: Moved by Ms Michael, seconded by Ms Jones.

Are there any comments or questions coming out of the minutes?

Again, under Tab 1, there are a couple of routine issues. As we are aware, between meetings of the Commission there are certain authorities that have been delegated to the Speaker to make decisions around and report back to the Commission. There are two items here, issues under Members' Resources and Allowances with respect to constituency offices. There are two that have been approved by the Speaker.

The District of Port de Grave and the District of Baie Verte – Springdale had gone to look for proposals or went to tender for office space for those two districts. In both cases, we only received one that was over the allocation of $7,000. They have been approved and the lease is executed.

The second item, again similar, there are certain authorities that have been delegated to the Clerk to make decisions with respect to issues in between Commission meetings, and we are reporting back to the Commission that the District of Humber East had office equipment expenditures of $323.50. That has been approved by the Clerk, and providing that information to the House.

MS JONES: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, the Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair.

MS JONES: I think the question is – I was not aware that an MHA would have to seek approval to make certain purchases or report that to the Management Commission for the operation of their MHA offices.

Is this a common practice, or is there any particular reason why this would have come to us as a Commission?

MR. SPEAKER: There are certain items that are covered off under the office accommodation provision under the members' resource allocation. There are certain small items that are able to be purchased within that which are allocated under the members' allocation per district. This would have been an extraordinary item.

MS JONES: So if it is not on that exact list, then you have to seek approval.

MR. SPEAKER: Seek approval.


MR. SPEAKER: Another reporting item is we have the Sixth Report of the Audit Committee. This report from the Audit Committee covers the period of April 8, 2011 to January 22, 2013.

There are a couple of things I would just bring to your attention: the change of membership that has occurred in the Audit Committee and the appointment of a new person from the public to the Commission. Obviously, we have already dealt with the Chairperson position and Mr. Granter being appointed to the position.

We now have two members from the public and two members from this Commission who sit on the Audit Committee. They have indicated some of the work that the Committee has done and some of the meetings that they have held. This is for report purposes only, but if there is some comment or a question someone might have, I will entertain that.

Okay, thank you. The next item –

MS JONES: It is a very good report.

MR. SPEAKER: Pardon me?

MS JONES: It is a very good report.

MR. SPEAKER: It is indeed, yes. I think we are very fortunate to have such a competent group of people who are providing oversight and advice to the Commission on financial management issues.

The next item on Tab 2 is from the Audit Committee. They have reviewed the financial information and financial statements from the auditors, and also the Clerk's Management Certification. It is making a recommendation that "pursuant to paragraph 23(7)(d) of the House Of Assembly Accountability, Integrity And Administration Act that the Commission would approve and sign the financial information for the fiscal year ended 31 March, 2012."

The statements are following that letter of recommendation. Before I open the floor up to some discussion and questions, I will entertain a motion to adopt the recommendations as put forward by the Audit Committee.

Is anyone wishing to make the motion to adopt?

MR. BALL: I have one question (inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Maybe if we can get a motion on the floor then we could –

MR. BALL: So moved.

MR. SPEAKER: Motion moved by Mr. Ball; seconded by Ms Michael.

The floor is open for some discussion.

MR. BALL: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: I will defer it to the Clerk to see if she might have – the issue of being doubtful and adding interest, I am not sure that there is a correlation between the two. Until they are written off, they would still accrue interest – if that is that case. Maybe you should get clarity as to what that might entail.

CLERK: My understanding from the Chief Financial Officer, she indicated to us that there are adjustments made to this from the courts and in the Comptroller General's office on a regular basis, there are small amounts, and that changes the amount from time to time. We do not have all the details. It is held by the Comptroller General's office and managed from that end. It just shows up as an item on our statements, but there are changes made by the Comptroller General for specific amounts.

MR. SPEAKER: Does that answer your –

MR. BALL: Obviously, we would have difficulty getting an answer tonight; but, typically, when you find yourself in a situation where you have a doubtful account and it obviously was considered to be doubtful in 2011 because it is the same line, that that number would not grow the following year. Typically, you would see some erosion of that because the whole idea of a doubtful account is to get it off your books at some point. We can get clarification for that later, if you do not mind.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, we can do that.

Just to build on the comment by the Clerk, these amounts are not controlled by the House; these amounts are controlled by the balance and the judgement. So we are recording the amount that the court has awarded the judgement around. If there are additional costs associated with the judgement, they automatically get reflected in the debt, but we will provide some greater clarity for you at the next meeting of the Commission.

Are there any further questions with respect to the statements? There being none, I will call for the question. There has been a motion.

All those in favour of the motion?


MR. SPEAKER: All those against?

Motion carried.

The financial statements are here. I am signing them as the Chair of the Commission and I will pass them down and maybe I could ask Ms Jones if she would be prepared to sign them as a member of the Commission. They need to be signed by the Chair of the Commission and a member of the Commission.

MS JONES: Even though I am on the Audit Committee? Is that appropriate?

MR. SPEAKER: Well, maybe we should –

MS JONES: Yes, defer to –

MR. SPEAKER: To your colleague, yes. Good point.

Under Tab 3, this is a note for ratification. The provisions in our regulations that allows for an allocation for an independent member is – we needed to make an adjustment after the last Commission meeting to make a provision for the allowances for the independent member, and that was transferred from the government resource allocation. This is a note asking the Commission to ratify an administrative decision that had been made to do that in accordance with the policies as outlined by the act itself.

So, if I could have a motion to that effect.

MS JONES: So moved.

MR. SPEAKER: It has been moved by Ms Jones, seconded by Ms Michael.

Under Tab 4 we have a series of appeal letters. These are all similar, with the exception of number one. It is slightly different, but the other five are all with respect to the same thing. They deal with requests for members to have legitimate expenses paid, but they just missed the sixty-day deadline.

I notice that two of them are from members of the Management Commission. I would ask, when we get to those letters of appeal, if the members in question would remove themselves from the discussion. That way they could – there might be a potential conflict.

The first letter of appeal comes from the Member for Burgeo – La Poile. This is the one that is slightly different than the other five that are there. This is in respect to an issue around the renting of short-term space. If you recall, we had a discussion in an earlier Commission meeting about the $750 annual allocation that is provided for MHAs to rent meeting space to have meetings around issues with respect to their constituents, but the language is very specific with respect to carrying out business in the constituency.

It is very specific wording that exists in the language that restricted the officials in Corporate and Members' Services from paying the $62 because of the very restrictive language in the act itself. Some might suggest it was not the intent to be that restrictive but the language kind of ties people's hands. The request – he has made an appeal to the Commission.

In light of the spirit of having that provision in the regulation in the first place, that sometimes if you have to have a meeting outside of your constituency to deal with a constituent issue, then what would be the difference between doing that outside of your constituency than doing it inside the boundaries of your district? It is a slight nuance to the way that the wording of the regulation would be. So, that is the request we have before us.

Are there any questions with respect to the issue before the Commission?

Ms Michael.

MS MICHAEL: It is not a question, it is a comment. I can appreciate that it is not clear and we may want it to be the way that we are being asked to approve both the staff and you, as the Speaker, have denied because of your interpretation that it is not a legitimate expense.

I know of cases in our own caucus where we have had meeting spaces outside of our districts and we have not used – we have not made application. I do not feel I can approve this. However, we could have a discussion for a change in a rule with regard to the future, but in the present, based on past practice and where we are at the moment, I do not feel that I can approve it. I know it is a small amount of money but it is the principle.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Jones.

MS JONES: It is my understanding as well from the Briefing Note that if you were to look at section 46.(3) of the rules, which clearly state, "The following expenses necessarily incurred by a member to carry out his or her constituency business may be reimbursed: (f) expenses associated with attending at meetings and hearings involving advocacy on behalf of a constituent".

Now I know that is trying to find a rule that you can interpret to fit what the expenditure is, but, either way, I think the reality is that when you look at members around the Province and the work they do for their constituents, not all of us have the good fortune of being able to do all of that work within our constituency. I will just cite for you a number of examples. I represent a district, not unlike a lot of rural members in the Province, where we have to travel outside to represent constituents, especially on appeals and on other matters of interest they might be involved in.

In the past few months, I have had cases where I have had up to twenty-three constituents that were being charged in court cases, of which I was engaged with them on those court cases. They were held in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. I was flying in there from St. John's, so when I get to Goose Bay, does this mean I cannot rent a meeting room to meet with my twenty-three constituents that are being charged before I go in to meet with the Crown attorney or legal counsel with regard to their cases?

There are cases where workers' compensation appeals are being held in other areas outside of my district where I have to go meet with constituents prior to appeals. It is the same thing especially with employment insurance appeals. There is any number of examples that could be used.

If I lived in St. John's or all MHAs were in St. John's, I am sure this would not be an issue because the tax centre is down the road, the workers' comp office is up the street, and the employment insurance appeals division is just over on the next block. When you live outside and you have to depend upon centralized services, whether they are in Corner Brook, Grand Falls, Gander, or Goose Bay, then I think we need to have some flexibility in being able to represent our constituents in that way.

What I see in the case of Mr. Parsons, he was going to Corner Brook to meet with his constituents before he represented them on a particular issue. He had to rent a space to do that and I see it as a legitimate expense for an MHA in carrying out the business of their constituency. I think the Commission should approve the expenditure. I think the interpretation by the Clerk's Office here is that under section 46(3)(f) we have the authority to approve that expenditure. Therefore, I would recommend that we do so.

MR. SPEAKER: We need to be careful not so much about the merit of approving of the $62 or not; I think we need to be careful of how we approve it and make appropriate changes in regulations if necessary. Very specifically under the constituency, if we allow it to be paid under the constituency piece, while leaving in tact all of the regulations around the $750 in the short-term accommodation heading, then we will be setting the stage that once someone has used up the $750, they have an ability now to trigger into the other because of a different definition.

It was envisaged that these short-term meetings would be dealt with in a very specific way, and therefore there was a very specific provision set up for it. Should we want to deviate from that, it is a whole different discussion. Let us be careful of how we approve.

If it is the wish of the Table to approve the $62 claim as before us, let us be careful of what it is we are recommending that we change here to allow it to happen. If we allow it to be paid under the constituency allowance, that has implications for how we deal with it in the future. If we want to approve it and suggest it should be approved under the $750 short-term allocation, it would require a change in that regulation to facilitate it. I raise that for the Table's consideration as to how we handle it.

Mr. King.

MR. KING: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I would defer to your advice and guidance on how we might approach this. I would concur with Ms Jones' opinion. I represent a rural district as well. In my particular case, a lot of business that I do for constituents and with constituents happens to happen in Marystown which is outside of my district.

This rule, I do not believe at all is intended to hamstring MHAs; I believe it is intended to support them. I would encourage us to approve this, with your direction as to how we might want to approach that, and perhaps with a change so that in future we are not enforcing rules simply because they are rules that restrict MHAs' ability to do their work, but rather support them in doing that.

MR. SPEAKER: With that comment, might I suggest that the Table make a decision about whether to approve it or not on the basis that the Table would rely on me, as Chair, bringing back to the Commission a recommendation as to how we would manage these as we move forward. Allow the decision to be made with respect to this one this evening in any fashion that the Commission desires. Should they desire to approve it, leave it to my bringing it back to the Table for a future discussion around how we would deal with this issue of short-term accommodations as we move forward so as not to create a conflict akin to what I described a moment ago.

Ms Michael.

MS MICHAEL: (Inaudible) I will be voting against it simply because I know of cases in the past where I have MHAs who have lived by the rule. I would like to see a clear change in the regulation brought to us and then we decide on a change to the regulation.

I will vote against this now if we do it for the reason that I have stated. I would agree with what you are saying, but then I would like to have that brought to the Table and we have a change in the regulation.

MR. SPEAKER: Okay, so we can dispose of the issue – I should have done this at the beginning – can I have a motion on the floor so we can have something to consider?

Mr. King.

MR. KING: I move that the expense be reimbursed as presented. I am not sure how I need to phrase the motion. I am not sure how we would process it, but my motion is intended to ask the floor to reimburse Mr. Parsons for the expenses.

So, perhaps with your guidance on how we need to put the motion?

MR. SPEAKER: Can I have the seconder for that motion?

Ms Jones has seconded the motion.

The discussion with respect to how we – I still think it would be okay if the Table considers the motion as you have presented it, to make sure to deal with the request to pay the $62. The policy implication as to how that would be managed so as not to create a conflict, then I would prefer to come back at another time to make a recommendation as to how we might manage it because we have two pieces of the regulation here – one dealing with constituency allowance, and the other dealing with short-term accommodation that we need to reconcile how we manage this as we move forward, so as not to create an opportunity for two kicks at the cat with the same kind of invoice, if you use that language.

MR. KING: If it is appropriate, Mr. Chair, it would be my intention that both would be included in the motion –


MR. KING: That we would process the payment and provide you direction to come back with a recommendation for future consideration.

MR. SPEAKER: Okay, it is seconded on that basis. We have heard the motion and we have heard the seconder of the motion. Is there any further discussion?

Ms Michael.

MS MICHAEL: I have a problem with that, because there are two parts to the motion – one of which I want to vote against, and the other I want to vote for. I do not want to be forced into voting with the two pieces in the same motion. It is two separate issues.

MR. SPEAKER: With the consent of the mover and seconder, if we wanted to – because I do not think, from my hearing from the Table, there is a desire to try to resolve this issue. In principal, I am hearing that there is no conflict as to what we all want to try to do here, the Table would like to try to do. So, in the interests of moving the issue forward, with the mover's and seconder's consent, if we separated the two pieces and then we can deal with the first issue, which is the request to pay the $62, and any further discussion on that particular motion that is on the floor.

MS JONES: I have a question.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Jones.

MS JONES: Ms Michael had indicated a couple of times in her comments that there were other MHAs who were turned down, and I am just asking –

MS MICHAEL: No, no, we did not apply (inaudible) –

MS JONES: Okay, because I was going to say, I have never seen another request come to the Commission.

MS MICHAEL: We did not think that you could, so we did not do it. That is the only point I am making. We lived by the rule, in other words. We did not bring a request to the Management Commission. I did not mean that.


MR. BALL: (Inaudible) Ms Michael, was that for constituents –


MR. BALL: – because I know in my case, as leader, I will often meet with groups around the Province, but I do not really consider them constituents of the District of Humber Valley.

MS MICHAEL: One in particular definitely was a constituent, yes.

MR. SPEAKER: So we have the motion on the floor that the $62.15 will be paid for the purpose that it was used for, and as a stand-alone motion. So, we heard the motion, it is seconded, there has been discussion and questions.

All those in favour of the motion?


MR. SPEAKER: All those against?


MR. SPEAKER: Motion carried.

The second piece of the motion, Mr. King, you may want to repeat it.

MR. KING: The second motion, if you will, would be that we give direction to the Chair to do a piece of work around adjusting the regulations that would provide appropriately so that this, in the future, would not have to come to the Commission for special consideration. I am rambling a little bit but –

MR. SPEAKER: We get the gist of it.

MR. KING: MHAs who need to do business on behalf of their constituents outside their districts would be able to avail of this particular allowance.


Is there a seconder for that motion?

Seconded by Ms Jones.

Are there any questions?

Mr. Ball.

MR. BALL: One comment I would like to add to that is that we still stay within the $750 cap. Essentially, what we are looking for here is a new definition of how we spend that $750.


There being no further comment, all those in favour of the motion?


MR. SPEAKER: Against?

The motion is carried.

The others are all similar in their requests. These are letters of appeal where MHAs have made submission outside the sixty-day submission deadline. As the notes would indicate, there are circumstances where the officials have reviewed the details of the claim and they are legitimate expenses that ordinarily would be eligible for reimbursement, had they been submitted within the necessary timeline.

There is a not a question here of whether or not they are eligible expenses. It is an issue of the timing in which you submitted your claim. The first one comes from the Member for Burin – Placentia West and it is in the amount of $153.79.

Could I have a motion to deal with the request?

Moved by Ms Michael; seconded by Mr. Ball.

All those in favour?


MR. SPEAKER: Against?

Motion carried.

The second item is from the Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair. The same kind of circumstance, outside the sixty-day submission deadline, and the amount of the claim is $1,051.44. I will entertain a motion.

Moved by Mr. Granter; seconded by Ms Michael.

All those in favour?


MR. SPEAKER: All those against?

Motion carried.

The next submission is from the Member for Humber East – same circumstance, outside the sixty-day submission deadline. The dollar amount is $1,558.96. I will entertain a motion.

Moved by Mr. Granter; seconded by Ms Michael.

All those in favour?


MR. SPEAKER: Against?

Motion carried.

The next one we have is from the Member for the District of Mount Pearl South. Again, outside the sixty-day submission deadline and the amount is $1,236.75.

A motion –

MR. KING: So moved.

MR. SPEAKER: Moved by Mr. King; seconded by Mr. Granter.

All those in favour?


MR. SPEAKER: All those against?

Motion carried.

The final one is similar, the same situation, outside the sixty-day submission deadline for the Member for St. George's – Stephenville East. The amount is $283.57. I will entertain a motion.

Moved by Mr. Granter; seconded by Mr. Ball.

All those in favour?


MR. SPEAKER: The record will show that the Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair and the Member for St. George's – Stephenville East removed themselves from the discussion and voting on these items.

The next item is found under Tab 6 in your binders. You might recall in the latter part of last year when we received the report of the Members' Compensation Review Committee. Provincial Court Judge Brazil completed that review for us. It was tabled earlier in December and we indicated at that time that the Commission would take some time to review its content and to then start to deal with it a piece at a time.

What we have this evening is we are bringing forward – because there were twenty-six recommendations altogether and this evening we are bringing forward fifteen of them and they centre around salaries, they centre around pensions, and they centre around some of the allowances. The others, we will set up some additional meetings of the Commission to deal with the rest of them over a period of time. This evening's agenda focuses on, very specifically, several in particular.

The first one that we are dealing with under Tab 6 here is the issue with respect to salaries, and members have the note that is before you and there were a series of four recommendations that were made here with respect to the compensation issues for Members of the House of Assembly.

I distributed earlier a copy of a letter that I received late this evening from the Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board with respect to this issue. We have the note that everybody has before them, and I would ask members to refer to the letter they have before them to use as their reference in shaping or informing or influencing the discussion that we are about to have.

To start a discussion, I would like to open the floor for a motion to either accept or reject the recommendation made by Judge Brazil. I remind members of the Commission that the legislation that is put in place provides for the appointment of the compensation and review that takes place after every general election and provides direction to this Commission as to how we dispose of it.

We have some choices. We can take the recommendation as made by the Review Committee and endorse them as they are, we can reject them outright, or we can modify it in a fashion, if we wish. When we modify them, we cannot modify them in a way that gives greater benefit to members than would ordinarily be given with the recommendation itself.

In other words, we can modify the recommendation to be a lesser amount, to derive a smaller benefit to members, but we cannot do anything that extends benefits to members beyond what is in the recommendation. Be guided by that direction that the legislation gives us as well in our deliberations with respect to these recommendations.

With that caveat, I want to open the floor for discussion. To help focus the discussion, I will entertain a motion from the floor to start a discussion around this recommendation. The recommendation deals with recommendations 1, 2, 3, and 4 around salaries for MHAs.

Your motion is to –

MS JONES: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, to make a motion so we can start. Your motion is to accept the recommendations?

MS JONES: No, I move that we have some discussion around the four recommendations that are there, because there are four different recommendations that are there.

MR. SPEAKER: Okay, but what I want to get is a motion on the floor for some discussions. I need a motion to start a discussion.

MS JONES: Oh, okay.

MR. SPEAKER: If you want to make a motion to endorse the recommendations or if you want to make a motion to reject the recommendations, make a motion so that we can have it moved and seconded so we can start a discussion. Then we can vote on how we dispose of it.

You have the floor.

MS JONES: First of all, I think we need to be cognizant of the letter we just received from the Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board. As you know, the Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board is the person who is in charge of the finances of the Province, including the budgets of the House of Assembly. The note that has been passed to me, that I have had an opportunity to glance through, is asking that the Management Commission at this time not proceed with any recommendations that deal with salary increases for MHAs, and that, in fact, salaries should be frozen.

I think based on that request being made, it is unfortunate that we did not have an opportunity to discuss this with the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board as a Commission to have a better understanding of what the fiscal position is and the rationale for putting it forward. I guess it has obviously been felt that this is very important and it is significant. If not, it would not have been passed to our Table at this late hour as we are about to make a decision.

As one Commission member, I can only recommend at this time that we would accept recommendation 1, and that is that MHAs' salaries would be frozen at least until December of 2013. I think if we would have had an opportunity to talk with the minister and understand what the rationale is, we may be able to move for an extended freeze. Certainly, at this time I would be moving a motion that we not grant any salary increases in this fiscal year – for MHAs, I should say.

MR. SPEAKER: It has been moved and seconded – not moved, rather seconded. It has been moved that we would implement recommendation 1, which is MHAs' salaries will be frozen until December of 2013.

Is there a seconder for that motion?

Seconded by Mr. Ball.

The floor is open for some discussion.

Ms Michael.

MS MICHAEL: Yes, I was coming to the meeting ready to say – before we got the letter from Minister Kennedy – I did not believe that we should actually even get into the raises et cetera, that we should reject all four of them; however, based on the letter from Minister Kennedy and the motion that is on the floor, perhaps the way to go is to say frozen until December 2013, and then look at the other recommendations at that time.

We do not know what the fiscal situation is. We have not been in the House of Assembly. We have not had anything presented to us. We have a Budget that will be coming in for 2013-2014. The only thing we know about our fiscal situation at this point is what we have been hearing through the media. We really do not have any concrete information on our fiscal situation on which to base a discussion even.

I am not sure we can go beyond what is being proposed by this motion. I was prepared, actually, to say no to all four of them, I really was. We have had an awful lot of things going on over the last few weeks in the media with regard to our fiscal situation, and now the letter from the minister, which I do honour in terms of it coming from the Minister of Finance and the head of the Treasury Board. I think at this moment maybe it is only recommendation 1 that we should deal with.

MR. SPEAKER: Is there any further comment?

Ms Shea.

MS SHEA: I take the letter from the minister seriously, and I do understand the financial situation of the Province. I also understand we have this review to deal with tonight. I would be more comfortable if we just made the recommendation that there are no pay increases until the next Management Commission review reports after the next general election.

I do understand we are in a difficult financial situation as a Province. I do know people look to us for leadership in dealing with the fiscal situation. Personally, I would be far more comfortable if we made a definitive answer on that this evening.

MR. SPEAKER: Is there any further comment?

Mr. King.

MS JONES: No, I just wanted to get clarification because I understood that we could not create our own recommendation or amend our own recommendation. Not that I do not agree with what you are saying, because I could very well agree and support what you are saying, but I thought we would either reject all of the options here or we support one of those four options, not create another option. I need some clarification on that.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, that is a good point you have raised. I go back to my comments earlier, the caveat that I created for our discussion.

The legislation gives us, as a Commission, some direction as well in how we deal with recommendations from the review process. We can accept the recommendations as we see them here, as one option. We can reject it as we see it here, that is another option, or we can change it; but in changing it, modifying it in any way, we cannot do it in a fashion that gives a greater benefit than we would get from the recommendation itself.

Recommendation 1 says that MHAs' salaries would be frozen until December 2013. Should the Commission decide to freeze those benefits for some time beyond 2013, that is not a greater benefit, it is less of a benefit.


MR. SPEAKER: Therefore, as a Commission, we are able to actually do that and comply with the legislation. With that clarity –

MS JONES: Thank you.

That is what I was wondering.

MR. KING: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I appreciate the opportunity to speak to this. I, too, have read the letter and certainly am fully aware of the recommendation that the Finance Minister has presented before us. I will support the motion. It is my understanding, in speaking to this motion, that we are speaking to the motion to accept recommendation 1. I am also looking for clarification that I will support that. I do believe it is the right thing to do.

We also have the opportunity – and I am asking for clarification – to do each of these other three recommendations, which allows us to provide some direction as to what the Commission wants to do in out years, beyond 2013.

I ask the question, Mr. Speaker, that we can consider each one of those four as they are presented and apply the lens that you offered, which is to endorse, reject or modify with no enhanced benefit.

MR. SPEAKER: If you are posing it as a question for some advice as to dispose of the motion before us now, there are two things that I have heard. I just want to go back to the question of clarity raised by Ms Jones.

If it were the desire – because the letter that we are talking about, for the people who are listening to the televised piece of this proceeding, it is a letter dated February 27, today, that is addressed to me as the Speaker of the House of Assembly. There is reference to the 2012 review of MHAs' salaries, allowances, and payments. Minister Kennedy reproduces recommendations 1 through 4 from the Commission.

The operative paragraph in the minister's letter says: Given the current fiscal situation of the Province that I recommend that the House of Assembly Management Commission not proceed with the MCRCs recommendations for salary increases at this time, and suggest that MHAs' salaries be frozen at their current level. Any changes in MHAs' salaries should only come as a result of any future recommendations by a Members' Compensation Review Committee appointed after the next provincial general election.

The effect of his request would be to reject outright all four recommendations. The motion on the floor now by Ms Jones and seconded by Ms Michael is that we would only freeze it until December of 2013. So, if the desire of the Table was to respond to the recommendations of Minister Kennedy, then this motion would be voted down and a second motion would have to come forward, and the wording of that second recommendation would not be the recommendation of the Commission but a repeat of Minister Kennedy's last paragraph.

If it was the desire of the Table to give effect to Minister Kennedy's request, then the mechanism to do that, given where we are with the motion on the floor now, would be to have a vote and to reject the motion, vote against the motion on the floor, and then entertain a second motion – if that is the desire. I provide that for clarity, because there is some discussion around the letter of Mr. Kennedy and the motion that is on the floor by Ms Jones and seconded by Ms Michael.

Ms Jones.

MS JONES: I just want to ask the question because I made the motion – and it is my intent with the motion to honour the request that has been made by the minister, notwithstanding the fact that I do want it on the record that I think we should have been provided some advance notice and had some discussion with the minister, as a Commission, prior to this meeting.

Having said that, what I would be prepared to do, as well, is to amend the motion that I made – and I do not know if we can do this, so you have to tell me – that would say that MHA salaries shall be frozen until December 2013, but also that they would be frozen in 2014-2015, or until a new review has been conducted and recommendations are made. So, you still get the time frame.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Michael.

MS MICHAEL: We could make it simpler, actually, and just take the end of the language of the fourth recommendation – move that no further adjustments shall be made to MHA salaries until such time as salaries have been reviewed by the next Members' Compensation Review Committee. Just take that language and make that the motion.

MR. SPEAKER: Recommendation 4 says beyond 2015, implying that there was an action taken in 2015. So, I think if you are looking for some guidance as to how to deal with the motion that is on the floor, because what I am hearing –

MS MICHAEL: No, I did not include beyond the 2015 raise. The motion would be that no further adjustments shall be made to MHA salaries until –

MR. SPEAKER: If I might suggest to the Table, we have a motion on the floor and from what I am hearing the wording of the motion does not reflect the intent of the mover. The easiest way to deal with this is to vote on the motion and defeat it –

AN HON. MEMBER: Withdraw the motion.

MR. SPEAKER: – or we can have it withdrawn with consent of the mover and seconder. So the motion has been withdrawn and now the Table is open for another motion.

Mr. King.

MR. KING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to put a motion forward and the motion would be that MHAs' salaries would be frozen, at their current level, until such time as the next members' compensation review occurs, which would be after the next general election.

MR. SPEAKER: There is a motion on the floor. Is there a seconder for that motion?

Seconded by Mr. Ball.

It is open for discussion. We have a motion on the floor. It has been seconded. Is there any discussion?

Ms Shea.

MS SHEA: Just for clarity, what we are saying is that MHAs' salaries are frozen for this period. There will be no adjustments prior to the next compensation review commission which will not be struck until the next election. We are not assuming the next one will even give a pay increase then. We are just saying at this time they are frozen, not to even be discussed until we hear back from the next review.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion that is on the floor - that is what will happen if that motion were passed by the Commission.

Is there any further discussion?

If there is no further discussion, all those in favour of the motion?


MR. SPEAKER: All those against?

Motion carried.

Just for the benefit of members present, the effect of this motion now means that there will be no consideration for compensation issues with respect to MHAs until the next commission report comes in and whatever that says will be considered by some future Management Commission. The result of that would be the freeze of MHAs' salaries for what will be a seven-year period, given the four that have already gone by.

Now, under Tab 7, the next series of recommendations that we will deal with deals with pensions for MHAs and the recommendations from Judge Brazil's report, recommendations 5, 6, 7, and 8. They are lumped together because they all deal with pensions, and there were only four recommendations with respect to pensions. We do not have to deal with them as a group; we can deal with them individually. We have recommendations 5, 6, 7, and 8 before us.

Recommendation 6 is probably the one that has the most substantive recommendation here. It talks about – 5, recommends that MHAs' pensions remain unchanged for now, but 6 is the operative piece here. It says "…the Management Commission should adopt recommendation 78 of the Green Report…". It directs the Commission to develop a proposal that does one of two things, "…that either converts the MHA pension plan to a defined contribution plan" – which is a departure from what currently exists as a defined benefit plan, it is either or – or develop a proposal that "…significantly modifies the existing defined benefit plan."

That proposal will be ready for submission to the next review commission. In other words, this committee here, this Commission would start a process, or direct a process to start that would see an evaluation of the current pension plan. The people doing that would be directed to come up with a proposal that either changes to a defined contribution plan, or takes the current defined benefit plan and make significant changes to it.

The direction is clear. The current pension plan, in Judge Brazil's mind and her recommendation suggests, has to be changed in a significant way. She has given us direction to do one of two options. That is the most significant piece of all four recommendations in and around the pension piece. Then the other two deals with how to facilitate the way forward mostly. The one of substance, the recommendation of substance here is recommendation 6.

With that kind of introduction of the note and the recommendations from Judge Brazil, I open the floor for a motion that will help facilitate the generation of discussion.

MS MICHAEL: Can I ask a question, please?


Ms Michael.

MS MICHAEL: Or to put a concern out first. This is really complicated what we have here. I would have preferred to have seen a motion even to help us know how to deal with – especially recommendation 6. Recommendation 6, it seems to me there would have to be a committee of the Commission set up. We would have to have people who know pension issues.

We have to be ready to actually make a recommendation to the committee in three years time, is what this means, or after the next election or by the next election before the next Members' Compensation Review Committee. We have to have a fair bit of work done. That is what we are being told by Judge Brazil. The last committee did not deal with it and sent it back to us. We sent it to the next one, which is Judge Brazil, and now she is telling us it is back to us again. It seems to me it is a fair piece of work.

I am not sure what motion we would put forward. Do we put forward a motion that we set up a committee to actually start the work on this? This is a big piece of work here.

We also have the two pieces of – at what point would we make the decision about whether we stay with a defined contribution plan or a defined benefit plan? Does that come after a committee does its work and it comes back to us to then struggle over? That is a big difference, looking at a defined contribution and defined benefit.

This is extremely complicated. I feel really uncomfortable with trying to come up with a motion at this moment about the content. It has to be about the process we are going to use, I think. It is a huge piece of work that we are talking about here.


MS SHEA: If we go through the four recommendations in order, I think that we can deal with each of them in a logical way that is going to outline our path forward. I do not want to get into the discussion now but when we move – about number 6, we can speak to that process. All we are going to do is provide a proposal to the next review commission, and that does not have to be us.

We can talk, but once we go through it and we discuss that particular recommendation, we can determine and come back with recommendations on how to proceed. We do not have to determine that this evening. I think the easiest way is to just go through these one at a time in form of a motion and you will see a logical progression as we go through them.

MR. SPEAKER: I wanted to provide some latitude, because it is a complex issue, in how we discussed it around the Table. Clearly, the mechanism to allow us to dispose of it is by way of a motion.

I will entertain a motion on number 5. Is there a recommendation that we accept recommendation 5?

Ms Michael.

MS MICHAEL: I am ready to move that the current MHA pension scheme remains unchanged until we go through this process. It remains unchanged at this moment.

MS SHEA: The recommendation could come back that it stays unchanged.

MS MICHAEL: Well, it could.

MS SHEA: So we just leave the wording as it is.

MS MICHAEL: So, just leave it as it is.

I will move the current MHA pension scheme remain unchanged.

MR. SPEAKER: Is there a seconder for that motion?

MR. BALL: Seconded.

MR. SPEAKER: Seconded by Mr. Ball.

We have it moved and seconded, recommendation 5, that the current MHA pension scheme remain unchanged.

Are there any questions or any discussions with respect to the motion?

There being no questions, all those in favour of the motion, ‘aye'.


MR. SPEAKER: All those against, ‘nay'.

Motion carried.

Let's move on to item number six, which was the one that I kind of started to summarize and paraphrase a moment ago with respect to the substance of these cluster of (inaudible).

Ms Shea.

MS SHEA: I will move a motion that says: the Management Commission "…develop a proposal that either converts the MHA pension plan to a defined contribution plan or significantly modifies the existing defined benefit plan."

This proposal should be submitted to the next Members' Compensation Review Committee and that committee should be given necessary time and resources to conduct a thorough review of the proposal of the existing MHA pension plan. So, I am moving the recommendation in the report.

MR. SPEAKER: Seconded by Ms Michael.

Are there any questions or discussions of the motion as seconded?

Mr. Ball.

MR. BALL: I would like to make a couple of comments on this. Number one, I guess first of all when you look back to the Green report, which was in 2007 – we accept recommendation 6, based on, when you look at the schedule it would be 2016 before we would actually see any introduction. You would not get any meaningful changes in the MHA pension plan until around 2020. That will be thirteen years after the Green report.

Personally, I will not support this motion simply because I think we need to find some mechanism where we can actually get some meaningful changes before the next provincial election. I realize it is going to take some work to do that. It will require the work of some actuaries but it is something that if we are committed to changing this plan, I think as a group we need to make sure we do it before the next provincial election and not wait until 2020.

MS JONES: What would you be (inaudible)?

MR. BALL: This is the thing; it becomes a matter of process because of the management review committee. I seek direction from the Chair. Is there a process under the current rules of this committee that we can actually do that?

MR. SPEAKER: You mentioned the timeline, just to comment on a couple of points you raised. The Green report did come out in 2007, but I think we – and Ms Michael made a similar comment a moment ago about the process here and moving this question out. There were some changes made in the pension plan as a result of the 2009 compensation review process as well.

The Green report had some recommendations. Then when the legislation came in as a result of the Green report it referenced, referring the salaries and compensation issues to be referred out to a review committee. That happened, and there were some recommendations that came back. They were accepted back in 2009. There were some changes to the pension plan in 2009 coming out of the last review.

The question, if I understand your question that you are proposing, is: Is there a mechanism to bring about change to the pension plan prior to the next members' compensation review? The recommendation of Judge Brazil is that a proposal be developed to do one or the other.

I would prefer to just take a moment to have a look at the legislation, because the legislation dictates that any changes to the plans, any changes to salaries and compensation-related issues, including pensions and severance, can only be done by a recommendation of a review committee.

This review committee does not make firm recommendations with respect to what to do. She talks about a process to have changes come into effect, but her recommendation does not say to do X-Y-Z that will result in these changes to the pension plan. She talks about a process and should we engage in a process that makes a recommendation, these proposals get developed, and a series of recommendations get made about changes to the pension plan.

Whether or not the Commission or the Legislature has the power to make that change in light of the current legislation is a question that you are posing. We are dealing with section 16 of the House of Assembly Accountability, Integrity and Administration Act – and I will just read for the benefit of the Commission.

"Beginning with the Forty-Sixth General Assembly, the House of Assembly shall, at least once during each General Assembly, by resolution appoint, upon those terms and conditions that are set out in the resolution, an independent committee, to be called a members' compensation review committee, of not more than 3 persons, none of whom shall be a member, to conduct an inquiry and prepare a report respecting the salaries, allowances, severance payments and pensions to be paid to members."

Then it goes on to talk about the process for the appointment of those people. Then it talks about the responsibility of the Commission then to deal with it – the Speaker is bringing the recommendations forward. It says, (a) submit the recommendations, as accepted or modified, relating to salaries and non-taxable allowances and other matters that may be necessary to be implemented by legislation, to the Minister of Finance or Justice, or other appropriate minister, for the preparation of a Bill to amend this Act" and other acts accordingly.

I am not giving you the definitive answer because I am questioning myself here now whether we would have the authority to enact without recommendation from a committee. The mechanism in place to have these matters dealt with is through a committee. The House can only consider recommendations made by a committee around compensation. The committee has not really formalized a recommendation other than to guide us as to how we should arrive at one.

Mr. Ball.

MR. BALL: Just a question for clarification. I thought you might have read there that it said that at least once during the session, in your opening comments there, that you strike the committee at least once. Could we not ask this particular committee to go back with one specific item and to deal with that and put a time frame on when they report back?

MR. SPEAKER: If you are asking whether or not we would – by resolution we appointed Judge Brazil to do this piece of work and present a report within 120 days. She has done that. This committee has done their work and the resolution before the House has been satisfied.

If your question is would we develop another resolution before the House and direct either her or some other individuals to develop a proposal to bring forward within a specified period of time, that is a very different question. I am questioning whether or not we would have the authority to develop as a Commission a series of recommendations with respect to pension and bring it forward to the House to vote on in the absence of having a recommendation from a review committee. That is what the legislation says is the only way to do it.

MR. BALL: I am not saying we do it without the review committee. What I am saying is we put the conditions in place on the work that we ask the committee to do, in the time frame when that report would be back, so that we can have it ready so that we deal with it in this session.

MR. SPEAKER: If I am hearing your question, you want a resolution of the House or the effect that you are asking for, as I am hearing it correctly, is you are suggesting that maybe the House should propose another resolution to appoint another review committee with one single item on their agenda, which is to undertake the process to make recommendations to this Commission and the timeline that they would have to work with would be in time to have it ready before the next general election because you have referenced the appointment of the next Commission.

MR. BALL: Except for the time frame, recommendation 6 is something that I can support, except I would want it before the next election.

MR. SPEAKER: Mr. King.

MR. KING: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I am speaking to the motion on the Table. I certainly will support the motion. As we contemplate what we do with the recommendations and contemplate what you just said, I think the spirit and intent of the members' compensation review is fairly clear, at least thus far, in that we have been looking at a review once every term of office and we have followed that, and when we receive the recommendations we give consideration to them here.

In this particular case, as in the last review, there are pieces of the recommendations that come forward that are not always all that pleasing to different people; some people like some things and they do not like others. I think that is a fact of any review.

I am not sure that it would be the intent that because we do not like the recommendations that we institute another review immediately. I believe in the motion that Ms Shea has put forward, if we accept that here, we are giving clear indication that we want a definitive piece of work done around the pensions and that that work would be available for the next review commission which would ordinarily, assuming we do not do anything else for the moment – I know I am not suppose to assume, but assuming that there is no other decision taken by this group today, that this piece of work would be available and ready to the next members' review commission that would be formed after the next general election.

I believe, in considering this recommendation, that we are going to be taking action in the spirit of what would have been expected of us.


MS SHEA: I agree with what the House Leader is saying. In a sense, what we are saying is that the pension piece is a very complicated matter and whenever we strike a review commission, they are always going to be faced with the same dilemma as to how do we get through this process of trying to figure it out and come back with solid recommendations that can be looked at? I get that piece.

I think all we are looking at, at this point in time tonight, is that as the Management Commission it is our intent to get a proposal started. At this point I do not know what that means. As Chair, you are going to have to come back with recommendations and options of how we set up to get that proposal done.

Once that proposal is done and it is presented to the Management Commission, the debate that Mr. Ball just put on the table can happen. Because once we get it in hand – we might have that, I do not know, in six months, in twelve months, in eighteen months – then we can determine, based on what we have: Is it clear enough and ready right now that we can strike another review commission or it is better to wait based on the length and what is in the proposal for the next one?

I am not against it, necessarily, saying of when. At this time my first intent is to get this proposal done, because I think that as we are going through this process we will never get past it if we do not allow significant time and somebody in the know to develop that proposal for us.

I am thinking we are probably okay with the motion as put forward without putting a time frame to it. Let's go through the process of how we are going to get this proposal developed, then let it come back. Once we receive it, then we can take further action as to how we refer it or implement it or whatever. So it is not so much saying, no, we cannot do it. My thing is, let's get the proposal. Because it is going to take us a while, knowing how we move things along, to agree on how the proposal is going to get done.

I think we need, as soon as we can, to get the recommendations back as to how we are going to collect or who is going to put this together for us. As a committee, we are not going to sit around and come up with the proposal. We would not have that skill.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Michael.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you.

Some of the points Ms Shea just made are points that I was sort of making in the beginning, that I do not think the Commission – as a Commission, we do not do that around this table. There has to be a working group that has to do this.

I know we are talking to the motion that is on the floor, which is basically recommendation 2, the second recommendation we are looking at out of the four recommendations that Judge Brazil submitted to us, but I do have to look at the next one because the next one talks about – the next recommendation of Judge Brazil, I mean – the Members' Compensation Review Committee, which would be the one that would be set up. We do not know when that could be. Maybe it could be prior to the election. That would be my hope.

I am with Mr. Ball on that one, that this committee be provided with actuarial and other resources to conduct a thorough review of the MHA pension plan. It seems to me that our proposal has to come out of a review of the pension plan. Are we doing two reviews here?

MR. SPEAKER: I think this might answer your question for you.

The way the recommendations are set up, and as I understand them, Judge Brazil had recognized that a review committee such as hers – because the pension issue is a very complex issue. When you start talking about making a change from a current system to something very different – because what she is proposing here or suggesting is that we need to either change significantly a defined benefit plan or introduce a defined contribution plan. That requires a significant amount of analysis and actuarial expertise to do that kind of evaluation.

Based on how she has set up her recommendation, she is envisioning clearly a piece of work being done in advance of the appointment of a review commission so that information can be provided to the Commission to inform their work and allow them to continue with doing their work. That is why she has sequenced them in this order.

The intent of her recommendation would be to have a substantive piece of work done to the evaluation and developing proposal alternatives, and then appoint a commission. That that commission use that baseline information to do their own work and then come forward with a recommendation as to what plan should be acceptable.

Her recommendation 6 is tied to 7 and 8, but she sequenced them in this fashion so as to allow number 6 to be implemented. Once that is performed, that activity is completed, then that will help inform the commission once it is appointed. So, 6 is pre-appointment of a future commission, and 6, 7 and 8 deal with what the commission should be armed with to do their work.

Ms Shea.

MS SHEA: My comment – and I am hoping we can do these in order – is that once we decide on 6, then 7 and 8 will flow. Because depending on what comes back as options of how we are going to do the proposal from the Management Commission, if we provide the actuarial to do a thorough review right now to help us with our proposal, I do not know if we need to put the same person on a review commission, on our compensation review. So, to me, I would rather deal with 6 and then come into 7.

The next Members' Compensation Review Committee, in fairness, needs to be set up after the next general election or before, depending on how we proceed, but by the members at that time. For instance, if it is not going to be until the next general election, I do not know if we need to be sitting here today dictating to members if neither one of us are sitting around this Table who needs to be on their review commission.

I think we need to look at our proposal, come back with the recommendations on how we are going to do that pension review. That may provide the skill necessary. That report going into the next review commission may have the very skill that the next recommendation is saying needs to be on that committee.

If we do not, and we look at it and it is not thorough or it does not provide that information, number 7 we can implement at that time. I think we are jumping ahead of the game. I think the intent right now is to get a proposal. I do not think anybody is opposed to that.

Let's get it back in. Let's have a look at it. I would hope if we are going to come back with options – if we are going to do a review it has to be a good one, it has to be thorough. It is not going to be something superficial. Let everything flow from our proposal rather than trying to jump every step ahead of the process now.

MR. SPEAKER: Mr. Ball.

MR. BALL: Yes, and speaking to recommendation 6, I have no problem with recommendation 6, as I said earlier, except for the fact I really do not see a timeline here. I would really like to see a timeline there. So if we gave it twelve months, we can pick a date. There are lots of pension plan people out there this day and age who are quite busy. If we put a timeline on recommendation 6, I think we would have a clear path forward.

MR. SPEAKER: I think one of the things we need to be cognizant of when we deal with number 6, in putting a timeline on it is, I question – I throw it out as a question; I am not questioning our judgment. I pose that as the question. If we sit as Commission members, and I admit personally whether – I do not want to judge your expertise in any area. Speaking for myself, I do not have enough knowledge and expertise in the area of pensions to say whether this piece of work is a three-month piece of work or a two-year piece of work.

To sit here and to put a timeline on it in a motion without being well enough informed to know how extensive this piece of work is, then I would be a little bit uncomfortable if I were called upon to cast a vote tonight in putting a timeline on it because of that. When you look at complex issues such as pension plans, it is not just a tweaking of a pension plan like what is the accrual rate or what are the contribution rates. That is not what we are talking about here.

We are talking about changing our plan altogether to a defined contribution plan or make significant changes – some operative phrases in Judge Brazil's recommendation. This is not some minor tweaking that we might ask some people who are currently in our Pensions Division to look at for us. This requires significant evaluation by actuaries and long-term forecasting about sustainability of the plan for future contributions; look at the current plan and current membership, the sustainability of it, and transition from one type to another. All of those are complex kind of mathematical considerations, and actuaries are the only people who are qualified to do that.

I am a little bit uncomfortable trying to nail down a time without understanding how complex a piece of work this is, what the scope might be, and to get some sense from more qualified people than me as to what would be involved in this. This might be a two-year piece of work; this might be six months, but I do not know. To make a resolution here tonight that says we would like to have this done by a fixed date, in the absence of having that insight, might be a little bit difficult.

MR. BALL: Just trying to clarify for my own self how it would work, then, the first step would be, as we said, to develop a proposal. How would we get that proposal? Is this what you would see, an RFP – we go out to a number of agencies around, we put an RFP together, and wait for a response. Is that the way it would work?


MS SHEA: My suggestion would be that the Chair comes back to a subsequent meeting with options of what our options are to do it. We look at how we were going to get this proposal done, but at the bottom line it is not going to be us sitting around a table doing it. That is why I think we need to look at our options.

What does this mean, this proposal? How in-depth is it going to be, based on, then, some research of how long that may take, how we recruit people to do it, or what skill mix we are looking for?

At this point, I am just comfortable accepting the recommendation so we are committed that we are going to do that proposal and come back with the options of how we would do that. I am not sure tonight how we do it, but that is the direction we need to go in.

MR. BALL: So what I heard was that by the next meeting the Chair would come back with direction –

MS SHEA: Options.

MR. BALL: Options.

Is the Chair comfortable with that?

MR. SPEAKER: I would be comfortable with it because I would have that time to solicit expert opinion and advice on it. I am not qualified to put a timeline on it, so I would want to meet with pension experts to understand what this will undertake, what undertaking we are getting into here, and if this is a six-month piece of work, a six-year piece of work, or a two-year piece of work.

We understand clearly, though, there is a sense of urgency to get this done sooner than later. I appreciate your point.

MR. BALL: Yes, we can meet again next week.

MR. SPEAKER: We have a motion on the floor. The motion has been made and seconded that recommendation 6 from the Judge Brazil report be accepted as printed here.

There being no further discussion, or we have had healthy discussion, all those in favour of the motion?


MR. SPEAKER: All those against?

Motion carried.

Now, we have motion 7 as the next one, which is, "The next Members' Compensation Review Committee is provided with the actuarial and other resources to conduct a thorough review of the MHA pension plan."

Ms Shea.

MS SHEA: I want to put a motion forward that we not adopt that, only because we need to see our proposal, and if we put that skill mix in the proposal we do not need to go there. Once our proposal comes back, if we are not satisfied in the skill mix, we need to add that. That would be a very expensive part of the next review commission if we already have that done.

I am not saying I am opposed to this. I am just thinking right now I am going to put forward that we reject it so that it does not tie our hands as we move forward, and probably put us into a very costly review that we can do beforehand.

MR. BALL: (Inaudible).

MS SHEA: Absolutely– we can also have the skill mix.

MR. SPEAKER: Is there a seconder for the motion?

It has been seconded by Mr. King.

Is there any further discussion?

It has been moved and seconded that we reject recommendation 7.

All those in favour?


MR. SPEAKER: All those against?

Motion carried.

Recommendation 8, "The House of Assembly includes an actuary as one of the members of the next Members' Compensation Review Committee."

Ms Shea.

MS SHEA: I am going to again do the same thing. I am going to put forward a motion that we reject number 8. My intent is that we do not tie the hands; that it has to have an actuary on the next Members' Compensation Review Committee. It does not mean we have to have it. We can still have it. It is just that in the case that when we strike the next Members' Compensation Review Committee we may all be here, none of us may be here, but we do not need to tie the hands of the next committee. They will have the proposal and they can put the right skill mix in at that time. So, for that reason I am putting the motion that we reject this one.

MR. SPEAKER: Seconded by Mr. Ball.

Are there any questions?

All those in favour of the motion?


MR. SPEAKER: All those against?

Motion carried.

So that moves us now into the next grouping of recommendations. The first two we are going to deal with is 15 and 17, and they deal with helicopter travel. They are together because they are related and tied together. There is a series of recommendations that are here spelled out under this heading that run from 15 to 23. The note that you have before you under this tab deals very specifically with 15 and 17. Then, when we move forward to the next tab in our series of recommendations, we are going to deal with 21 and 23 separately. So, we are pulling them out and dealing with them in a grouping that are similar and are tied together, if that is okay with the Commission members.

Recommendation 15 says, "The MHA for Burgeo-La Poile be granted reasonable access to helicopter travel"; and recommendation 17, "Helicopter travel not be included in intra-constituency cost estimates and should only be availed of with the specific permission of the Speaker upon representation by the MHA to justify such travel. It should be budgeted for separately."

One is the principle of providing access to the Member for Burgeo – La Poile, and then the second deals with the manner in which we provide the allocation. We have a fairly detailed note that provides some explanation for that. Maybe we can follow the sequence of the note because the note, recommendation 17, deals with budgeting this item separately. We have to go back to the Green report and look at how helicopter travel got identified in the first place and what figures were embedded in the current allocation that would be – they were embedded there solely for helicopter travel. You have to go back to the working papers of the officials who worked with Justice Green at that time to come up with the numbers.

When we do that, I bring your attention to the grid on page 2, which gives us the first insight into the calculations that were done by Judge Green. If we move ourselves forward to page 3, the top grid there says if we took the recommendation here and separated out helicopter travel from the current allocations for – because there is only three that currently have allocations for helicopters: Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair, Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune, and Torngat Mountains.

When we separate out, based on Justice Green's recommendation, what this grid leaves us with: We take the current allocations, pull out the amount that was identified as helicopter – and the first one I am looking at is in the top of the grid which shows Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair. If we pull out the $24,000 that was embedded in that figure associated with helicopters, then what is left in the intra-constituency travel budget is a figure of $25,200. The same with Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune, you pull out the $48,000, and in Torngat Mountains you pull out the $20,000.

That, in fact, deals with recommendation 17, which is isolate out helicopter allocation. When you do that, budget for it separately and do not embed it in your intra-constituency provision. That is what recommendation 17 says and effectively does.

Then the second part of the note that we are dealing with deals with 15. Now we have been asked to make a provision for Burgeo – La Poile. The question becomes should the Commission want to do that and accept that recommendation, then how might we attach a figure to it? How do you calculate what that amount should be? Where do we look to inform that decision? That is how the note is presented in that fashion. That is why 17 is dealt with in the note before 15 is.

I am just wondering, I leave it to members' discretion, but this note deals very specifically with one of the districts by a member of the Commission. I do not know if there is a conflict. When we deal with salaries and pensions all MHAs are affected by that, so it is a very generic kind of conversation. When we deal with recommendations that are very specific to a district, like we did with the late submissions of expense claims earlier, it is uniquely different.

I leave that to members. It is not my role as a Chair to direct members, but I leave that to the members.

MS MICHAEL: I do not see a conflict.

MR. SPEAKER: What is that?

MS MICHAEL: I do not see a conflict. We are always dealing with the general issues that affect our work, both in the constituency, expenses, et cetera. If we talk about the helicopter travel in general, which is what we are doing, then we would just make those decisions, and the effect of those on the different districts falls from that.

I personally do not see a conflict for the member of the district at the Table who uses a helicopter, but others might.

MR. SPEAKER: It is not my call as Chair. I raise it for the Table and I leave it to members' discretion, to judge themselves on how they want to deal with that.

MS MICHAEL: We all have interest in all things that come to the Table.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Jones.

MS JONES: First of all, I think we are dealing with two very different things, okay. I would like to see the Commission deal with number 15 as to whether another district or member who represents another district in the Province should be included under the helicopter travel program. I think that is a crucial issue within itself and the Commission should deal with that separately.

The second issue I see here is how helicopter travel is paid for, what the administrative process is. It is not talking about cutting helicopter travel from my district or for another district, but it is really talking about the administrative process. Do we continue with the process we currently have in place or do we leave it with a different process, which I am interpreting to be at the discretion of the Speaker?

I could be perceived in conflict on that particular portion of it because I have used the program. I have used it ever since I have been an MHA in the House of Assembly. I am comfortable with how the program works. I do not necessarily have a problem with it and I do not think it needs to be changed. Outside of that, if the Commission feels that I should not have further input or certainly vote with regard to recommendation 17, I would respect their wishes. I would not have any problem with that.

MR. SPEAKER: I guess if I could just provide a commentary. Recommendation 17 does not just deal with the administration of the helicopter allocation in terms of how you access it, but much more fundamental to the recommendation is the whole issue of funds control.

Right now, today – and this is the most significant piece at the crux of recommendation 17, actually. It is not so much the Speaker's approval or the Speaker not approving it; that is very minor in many ways. The most significant piece is that once you take out the helicopter allocation and not budget for it under intra-constituency provision – because right now, today, all members are given an allowance under the intra-constituency travel.

Within that global budget, you can spend it how you want. You can spend it all on helicopter travel. You can spend it all on travel by roads. You can spend it all on meals, or you can spend it all on accommodations. There is no control over how it gets spent. It is a global budget. There is discretion given to the member to spend it as they wish. When it is gone, it is gone, and it is over.

What this does, it takes in the example – and let me use Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune so we will create some distance. In that allocation right now, today, there is $59,000 allocated for the intra-constituency allowance. How that gets spent is up to the member.

In Judge Green allocating the number, he said: I believe $48,000 of that was put in there because of helicopter travel. It is the only reason it is in there. If there was no helicopter travel in that district, the $48,000 would not be there.

If it goes there and the member chooses not to use it for helicopter travel but uses it for hotel accommodations, meals, or travel by road, then that gives them greater flexibility and access to much more money than any other member would in the ordinary course of the allocation. What this does now, it takes that $48,000 out of that pool of money the member has full discretion to use as they wish and puts it in a pocket of money that says it is there for its intended use, and its intended use only. Not so much who approves getting access to it, whether it is the Speaker – or if you remove the Speaker from the equation all together, it really does not change that piece.

There is control over the fund. The helicopter allocation can only be accessed for helicopter utilization. It cannot be accessed for utilization for other expenditures. It was embedded in there for that purpose only, and it was embedded in three districts: Torngat Mountains, Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair, and Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune.

It was embedded because they were unique and different because of remote communities. They needed a helicopter allocation, so that is why it was there. Had they not been so unique, that number would not be there and the member would not have the flexibility to use it for other expenditures that go beyond what other members have access to. It is nothing to do with the administration of the fund that is the most significant outcome of the recommendation, but the funds control piece is the most substantive and the most significant issue coming out of recommendation 17.

Mr. King.

MR. KING: (Inaudible) I am going to take a chance and make a motion that we accept recommendation 15 and see if we want to proceed one at a time.

MR. SPEAKER: Is there a seconder for that motion?

Seconded by Mr. Ball.

Is there any discussion?

There being none, all those in favour of recommendation 15?


MR. SPEAKER: All those against, ‘nay'.

Recommendation 15 has been accepted, that we provide access to the Member for Burgeo – La Poile for helicopter travel.

Mr. King.

MR. KING: Mr. Speaker, I make a motion that we accept recommendation 16, and that helicopter travel be available only if less expensive travel is not available.

MR. SPEAKER: Is there a seconder for the motion?

Ms Michael.

MS JONES: (Inaudible.)

MR. SPEAKER: Pardon me?

MS JONES: Can I speak (inaudible)?

MR. SPEAKER: Oh, yes, I am sorry.

Ms Jones, speaking to the motion that we accept recommendation 16.

MS JONES: I just wanted to speak to it for just a second, and I am sure the same regulation probably applies now; I do not know. It is how you determine what other mode of transportation is available to you, and if that mode of transportation is an acceptable mode under certain conditions. I guess that is what I am getting at.

I have communities that I could possibly access by boat at certain times, but is it really safe to do so at those particular times of the year? So the option becomes then you either choose not to go or you choose another mode of transportation.

It is not unusual, because even the communities that I talk about during certain periods of the year, because that choice of travelling by boat is not necessarily a safe option, even the government, through the Department of Works, Services and Transportation, will provide helicopter travel in and out of those communities for the people who live there. If I can, I use their transportation mode as well. So, I guess I am looking for some interpretation of what that would mean, and is there certain blackout periods of the year under conditions like that that would avail?


MS SHEA: When we look at this, and here is how I would interpret that – and I think this is an important clarification – only be availed of if less expensive travel is not available. If the other mode of travel is not considered safe, I would not even consider it available, let alone less expensive. That is how I would interpret it, as simple as that. It is just that if all options are equal, you take the less expensive. If you are looking for travel at a time when the other travel is not deemed safe, I would not even consider it an option that you would even weigh out the expense of unsafe travel. That is how I would interpret it.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Michael.

MS MICHAEL: My interpretation would be close to that as well. I would be considering other forms of travel as other normal forms of travel for getting to a place. So if there is a ferry, and the ferry is running – our ferries are not running unless it is safe for them to run – then I think you get the ferry. If we are talking about hooking up with somebody who has a boat on the water in order to get to an island, no, I do not consider that a form of travel that is available. Of the normal forms of travel to get to that place, the cheaper for the normal forms of travel is how I would interpret it.

MS JONES: I just wanted to make it clear (inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: I think one of the other examples for consideration is sometimes there is urgency, the weather might be terrible today and it may not be a great day to go by boat, but the forecast might be great for tomorrow. So, waiting until tomorrow, you can go by boat, so why would you take a helicopter today, unless there is an emergency in the district. If it is a regular routine visit, waiting for the boat tomorrow may not be a bad idea and less expensive. If there is a circumstance in that community that you need to get in, then obviously that creates a different perspective on the decision.

Ms Shea.

MS SHEA: Likewise there may be days where there is no transportation, so the helicopter becomes your least expensive. Because when you look at your options, the helicopter may be the only option. Although expensive, it may be, at certain points, the least expensive anyway, if there is no other mode. That happens.

MR. SPEAKER: It is probably one of those circumstances where common sense needs to be prevailed in the interpretation of what that means. It does not appear to be very prescriptive – it is an observation. It is just good management practice to look at the most reasonable way to travel. It is not necessarily a restrictive provision but it is –

MS JONES: That is right. I think it is important to have it clarified because, for example, two weeks ago I went into one of the communities I would normally access by helicopter, but I did it by snowmobile with a guide because I was able to – the weather, the ice conditions, permitted it. In the other community, I could not go by snowmobile; I had to charter an aircraft that could land there. There are always different options.

Even with a guide, I was not comfortable making that particular trip. There are people obviously who know the land much better than I do and when they recommend that maybe you should look at another way to get in the next few days, then you do. Sometimes it is timing, as well as what could be available when you have to go into a community. I just wanted to get the clarification around that.

MR. SPEAKER: Do those comments give you some answers and comfort with how this would be used?

MS JONES: Yes, it does.

MR. SPEAKER: Okay with that said, all those in favour of the motion to accept recommendation 16?


MR. SPEAKER: All those against, ‘nay'.

Motion carried.

The other item – although that was not included in the note, but we will deal with it and get that one disposed of. The note does deal, though, with recommendation 17. I provided that commentary earlier just so that we understood what the substantive thrust of recommendation 17 is and what it actually means in the translation.

Mr. King.

MR. KING: I move that we accept recommendation 17.

MR. SPEAKER: A seconder for that motion?

Ms Michael.

Is there any discussion?

MS JONES: I have a question. In the information that was attached to the briefing note, page 4 of that, determining helicopter allocation and so on, under table 2 it talks about historical usage. There is $20,000 budgeted for Torngat Mountains.

MR. SPEAKER: If I could –


MR. SPEAKER: That issue does not speak specifically to recommendation 17. It more ties in to recommendation 15, how we implement 15. I am wondering – because we can dispose of the motion on the Table now on 17. This is not tied to recommendation 17 necessarily; it is tied more to 15.

MS JONES: Well then I need some clarification because I think it is.


MS JONES: What you indicated is that, for example, the $20,000 that was budgeted for Torngat Mountains was only put in there for usage for helicopter. If they are not going to be using the helicopter, then that $20,000 should come out of their intra-constituency allowance.

What I am asking, the question is: According to the historical data between 2007 and 2012, the members, the previous member and the current member, have not used the $20,000 for helicopter travel; have they used that $20,000 for intra-constituency travel? If you take it out, is that going to leave them short in their ability to do their job in their constituency?

MR. SPEAKER: The question you are raising is a very valid question. The answer to it is no, they have not. You are asking a very valid question because it does speak to the whole issue around Judge Brazil's recommendation.

If the $20,000 was only put in there in the first place because of helicopter requirements and the amount of money allocated for the intra-constituency travel was boosted up by $20,000 because of helicopters, if you do not need helicopter it would not have been boosted by the $20,000. It would not have been available to you to use for other purposes.

The fact that it has been used for other purposes speaks very much to the reason for separation in the first place. If the base amount in your intra-constituency is not high enough, that is another subject for another discussion. The intent of the recommendation is to separate it out so you do not have use of it, because other members do not get that same benefit.

If $20,000 is not enough for the Member for Grand Bank, then he has no option. When he runs out of money, he runs out of money. He does not have another pool sitting there because there is a helicopter allocation to draw on. That speaks to the very point of the recommendation 17 in the first place, which is to separate it out and treat it differently than the intra-constituency piece and put funds control on it as being used only for helicopter travel.

That is why I keep coming back to that, because that is an important distinction to make. That is the implication of doing what – recommendation 17, the implication of doing it is just that. Her question, I guess, she is posing: Why would you leave in three districts an amount that was designed specifically for helicopter? If it does not get used for that intended purpose, why should the member have that money available to them for multiple other purposes to a greater degree than any other MHA would in any other district? That is the point.

MS JONES: No, and I perfectly understand that. I guess I am just asking: Will it create another problem on a go-forward basis? Have you guys looked at the budgets for Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune, Torngat Mountains, and Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair to ensure that –

MR. SPEAKER: To answer your question?


MR. SPEAKER: It will have an impact in Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair but it will not have an impact in Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune, and it will not have an impact in Torngat Mountains.

MS JONES: There enters the conflict. Okay, that was my question.

Can I just ask one more question as well?


MS JONES: In the notes as well on page 2 – and this is just for my information, sorry, I should probably know. Where it talks about the Green report calculations and assumptions under Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair it also talked about the four scheduled aircraft. Is that included in the helicopter allowance or is that separate?

MR. SPEAKER: No, separate.

MS JONES: Okay – and I will not vote on this motion.


MS JONES: I will abstain.

Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: We have a motion on the floor. Are there any further questions or clarity required before we vote on the motion?

All those in favour of the motion, ‘aye'.


MR. SPEAKER: All those against, ‘nay'.

Motion carried.

That deals with recommendation 17, and we have made a motion to accept number 15, but the House needs guidance from the Commission about the implementation of 15 – here is the connection between the two of these. If we separate out the helicopter considerations in each of the districts that currently have it, which is Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune, Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair, and Torngat Mountains. We have done that. What that looks like when we do it is outlined for us on the top of page 3 in that grid.

We now have to implement recommendation 15. In implementation of recommendation 15, which is to give some kind of an allowance to the Member for Burgeo – La Poile, what should that number be? Do we pick a number out of the air? Do we use some kind of formula to use it? How do we go about calculating what that number is?

That prompted a more in-depth analysis of the current helicopter practice, the utilization of helicopters, the cost, and how those numbers that Justice Green had embedded in the constituency allowance, how did he come up with that number? We have included in the note here some appendices that give us some options to consider. Obviously, we now have three districts that have allocations for helicopters, and that was based on some kind of rationale by Justice Green at the time.

Do we use that same rationale today to allocate a figure to the Member for Burgeo – La Poile? If so, we would make some adjustments in the number for Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune and apply a formula of some kind to come up with a number; or, do we also give consideration to history and the practice, and how much we have actually spent on helicopters?

We have had five years now since Justice Green's report, so we have had some experience to guide us. Justice Green made certain assumptions and thought a certain dollar amount would be appropriate. As it has turned out five years later, we find out that number was much higher than necessary.

Now, when we establish a new number for Burgeo – La Poile, should we consider more realistically the numbers based on our historic practice? If we do that and we apply that different kind of logic, it would prompt us to reconfigure the allocations for the other three districts as well: Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair, Torngat Mountains, and Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune. That is the guidance that officials and the House staff need to get from the Commission. What lens should we put on the allocation for Burgeo – La Poile?

The floor is open. It is a different kind of consideration. We do not have a recommendation like we do on the others for consideration. I would ask if you have a question or something that you want to clarify, let's put it on the Table for discussion. Then I would look to the Table for a motion as to what guidance to give House officials in coming up with a number to assign to Burgeo – La Poile and in so doing, if necessary, using that same methodology to come up with a new number for the other three districts, if that is the wish of the Table.

Ms Jones.

MS JONES: Thank you.

Obviously, when Green did this, I know we had input into it as MHAs. I consulted with him on this particular issue. I am sure the members who represented the other districts at that particular time, I would think, would have done the same.

I know my calculation that he arrived at, at the end of the day, was based on a number of factors. One was the fee of rental for helicopter time, but I think the more important piece was it was based on the number of communities I had to access by that mode of transportation and what was considered fair access on an annual basis to be able to get in and out of those communities. That was the reason, I think, he established mine at two trips per year, because other times throughout the year I could access the communities by boat or by snowmobile. It still allowed me to make at least four trips then into those communities on an annual basis. I look at Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune and I see that it is four trips per year. I would assume from that there are either more communities or it is much more difficult to access those communities by another mode of transportation.

I would suggest that, one, some consultation with the member for that district and to base it on similar analysis that the other districts were based on. In doing so, you might want to undertake to review the format after this long. It has been what, five years now, six years.

MR. SPEAKER: It is a fair point.

Ms Shea, you were going to –

MS SHEA: No, I agree. It is an issue other than the Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair that we are making representation on. The Member for Burgeo – La Poile has never had this in his budget before.

I would be comfortable, before we set the amounts and look through those options, that at least we consult. It is still our decision here at the Table, but it would probably be fair for the affected members – at least we can speak to the members within our own caucuses and just see what the implications are, what they feel about it.

I would almost be prepared to go with the most expensive option, not wanting to deny them access. They might look at it and think some of the other options are the way to go. I think at this point can we defer it until the next time?

MR. SPEAKER: We can do that, but if I could just make an observation for the Table's consideration. I take the advice and I will do just that.

One of the challenges that we need to acknowledge is that if we were to follow through with the current mechanism used to do the allocation, we would be effectively providing Burgeo – La Poile with $20,000 on an annual basis of allocation, we would provide Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune with $27,000 of allocation, we would provide Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair with the current allocation of $40,000-odd, and Torngat Mountains at $20,000.

We have $120,000 of money put in a budget that has funds control on it, so we have the budget for it. We do not have the flexibility to move the money around and knowing, based on our history, that we will spend $18,000 or $19,000 of it. So we build a budget today with $100,000 or $120,000 embedded in a line item on a budget, knowing that our history in the last five years has shown we have never spent anywhere close to it, but we are handicapped in how we can have that money available to do other things.

In a time when we are going through a budget cycle, where government is looking at how we provide services to the people of the Province and we are going to tie up $100,000 in a budget item that cannot be spent on anybody else, knowing that we will not spend it by virtue of going – so the consequence of these funds controls that go in place on these budget items is important for us to consider when we build our budget. It is not just a matter of saying well, let's put in $120,000 and if we do not spend it, we do not spend it.

It is blocked – it is stranded money that is not available for consideration for any other expenditure. That is one of the issues when you separate it out, like we did when we moved motion 17. There was logic behind it and there is good reason that we do it and the Commission made the right decision to embrace recommendation 17, but in so doing, recognize that when we do this piece if we do not tie a number to reflect what we realistically would need to have in there to spend, based on our track record, then we have budgeted $100,000 and we have it as stranded money and we cannot do anything else with.

MS MICHAEL: Just a question of clarification. Maybe I am missing a point. What is the difference between having the money allocated over here for helicopter and having it allocated in each of the budgets? It is still sitting there if it is not used.

MR. SPEAKER: No. Before, when it was sitting in the intra-constituency allowance, the money was never stranded. It got used for something else, beyond the intended purpose.

MS MICHAEL: You mean by the House of Assembly?

MR. SPEAKER: No, by the member.

MS MICHAEL: Oh, by the members.


MS MICHAEL: They were using it for other –

MR. SPEAKER: Mr. Ball.

MR. BALL: Mr. Chair, I appreciate your comments, but we are moving through the budget cycle, we are pretty deep into it now, as you know. I cannot see making the decision without speaking to the members.

MR. SPEAKER: I was not suggesting that we would do that. What I had said was I would take your advice and I will speak to members about their input. I was responding to the comment that we would take the higher number and I was cautioning the Commission on using that kind of logic of taking a higher number; it makes it more difficult. We will, yes, consult with the members, but we need to be cognizant of what happens when you do that.

MR. BALL: I will just finish up my comments. I guess we could make the same argument with all our intra-constituency allowances really. I am sure we have lots of members that do not use it all, and I guess that money potentially can be stranded. I think we should, in this particular case, stick with the process, speak to the members, and you can report back.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, we can do that.

MR. BALL: We have made budget amendments before in mid-year.

MR. SPEAKER: The next item we are dealing with is item 21.

MS MICHAEL: Just to (inaudible), Mr. Speaker, do you want a motion on that so that the minutes reflect that we have given that direction?

MR. SPEAKER: Well, I think we have not made a decision. We have deferred a decision on recommendation – well, we have made the recommendation to accept recommendation 15. There has been a motion to accept recommendation 15. What I was posing was I was looking for some guidance from the Table as to how we would go about implementing recommendation 15. The guidance I got is that we need to do a bit of homework and come back to the Commission to get a direction from the Commission again.

MS MICHAEL: So then it does not matter if the minutes reflect that or not?

MR. SPEAKER: Well, if you want to make it in form of a motion, by all means.

MS MICHAEL: I think I would like to make a motion that the Speaker consult with the two MHAs who are affected by –

MR. SPEAKER: There are four.

MS MICHAEL: – four, in getting further direction with regard to the splitting of the money, or however you want to word that.

MR. SPEAKER: Seconder for the motion?

Mr. Ball.

All those in favour?


MR. SPEAKER: All those against?

Motion carried.

The next series of recommendations we have deal with recommendation 21 and 23, and 21 and 23 were predicated on accepting the recommendations that we just did in 17. If we implemented 17, then the recommendation of the Commission was that we would bring forward a recommendation that in the intra-constituency allowance for Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune, when in reducing the budget for the helicopters and separating that out, which is what we did in implementing 17, that would result in a recommendation from the Commission to increase the travel allowance in that district. That is what 21 deals with, as does 23.

Remember, I said earlier that having it imbedded in the intra-constituency allowance made the money available. If it was not spent on helicopters, it could have been spent for something else. That is what happened here. Judge Brazil is saying that if you accept my recommendation 17 and take the helicopter piece out, then that leaves that district too short on the other side.

MS SHEA: Do we need a motion?

MR. SPEAKER: We need a motion to accept recommendations 21 and 23.

MS SHEA: I will move it. Do you want me to read it out?

The recommendation, "If the intra-constituency cost estimate for the district of Fortune Bay-Cape La Hune is reduced by $48,000, as set out in recommendation 17, the mileage estimate included in the intra-constituency cost estimate for this district should be increased from 4,500 to 20,000 kilometres and the dollar amount of the total to be adjusted accordingly."

MR. SPEAKER: It is moved; seconded by Ms Michael.

Is there a question?

MS JONES: The motion is saying that it is reduced, but it is my understanding that it is just not included in the intra-constituency and that it is just moved to another heading.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, but the implication is the same. You take intra-constituency dollars – the figure that appears under that heading –

MS JONES: I realize that, but it is saying –

MR. SPEAKER: – it is reduced by that.

MS JONES: It is making it look like we are taking money from this constituency.


MS SHEA: (Inaudible) budget item under intra-constituency is.

MR. SPEAKER: The member for that district still gets the use of money for helicopter time, but it is budgeted for under a separate line item.

MS JONES: Yes, but I do not interpret it that way when I read it.

MR. SPEAKER: That is what it means. The terminology intra-constituency is in a very explicit and well-defined category of budget allocation and expenditure item. What we are taking is we are effectively reducing that item by that amount.

MS JONES: That line item.

MR. SPEAKER: What we do with the money after is another story, but we are really reducing it by that –

MS JONES: Reducing it, yes.

MR. SPEAKER: – and taking it and parking it somewhere else.


MR. SPEAKER: Any further questions or comments?

All those in favour of the motion?


MR. SPEAKER: All those against?

Motion carried.

Ms Shea.

MS SHEA: I will move recommendation 23. "If recommendation 17 is followed, the amount of $1,500 should be added to the intra-constituency allowance estimate for the district of Fortune Bay-Cape La Hune for increased ferry travel."

MR. SPEAKER: Is there a seconder for that motion?

Mr. Granter.

Are there any questions?

All those in favour of the motion?


MR. SPEAKER: All those against, ‘nay'.

Motion carried.

The next recommendation deals with the procurement of short-term apartment-type rental facilities in the capital region. In the terms of reference, one of the very specific things we directed the Commission to give some consideration to –

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Oh, I am sorry; I jumped one, did I?

AN HON. MEMBER: St. Barbe.

MR. SPEAKER: How could I jump over St. Barbe?

Recommendation 22 – you might recall there was a piece of work done by Mr. Kennedy. This Commission had a piece of work done by Mr. Kennedy earlier on constituency allocations. Part of the recommendation that he had made in that report was that St. Barbe – and, in fact, Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune; the figures that we just dealt with in the previous recommendation came directly from the Kennedy Report as well – recommended that the allowances in the District of St. Barbe be increased from 15,000 kilometres a year to 20,000 kilometres, and the dollar amounts associated with that allocation be adjusted accordingly.

Mr. King.

MR. KING: Mr. Speaker, I move, "The mileage estimate included in the intra-constituency cost estimate for the district of St. Barbe should be increased from 15,000 to 20,000 kilometres and the dollar amount of the total be adjusted accordingly."

MR. SPEAKER: Is there a seconder?

Mr. Granter.

Are there any questions or discussion?

There being none, all those in favour of the motion?


MR. SPEAKER: All those against?

Motion carried.

Now, we can move to recommendation 25. As I was saying earlier, in the terms of reference we asked Judge Brazil to specifically look at this whole issue of accommodations. When members are travelling into the capital region, either the House is sitting or for other reasons, right now, there are accommodations through hotels. So, there were some issues of cost that were talked about, issues of convenience, issues of lifestyle, and what it means to have MHAs spending numbers of days in hotels and not having the stability necessarily attached to other types of accommodations.

So, she had made a recommendation that the "House of Assembly staff attempt to procure cost-effective short-term apartment type rental facilities for MHAs who are traveling to St. John's to attend the House or to attend to constituency business. An MHA can still avail of the existing accommodation allowance arrangement if that is his or her preference."

The recommendation has two components to it. Status quo, really, is what the last part says; or that the House of Assembly staff try to secure accommodations that would be available for MHAs to access if they wished, and if they did not wish, they would not access it, but the House would make it available to them.

The note provides some degree of commentary and analysis, and attached to it there is a number of things for some consideration, if the Commission were to give thought to the recommendation.

With that introduction, I will open the floor for a motion to generate a discussion.

Mr. Ball.

MR. BALL: To discuss it, I guess we will have to accept the motion to get it on the floor for discussion. Then we can vote on it later.

AN. HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, there has been a motion to accept –

MR. BALL: We can reject it then, yes.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to accept the recommendation as put forward. Is there a seconder for the motion?

Seconded by Mr. King.

The floor is open for some discussion.

MR. BALL: I put forward the motion simply to get the discussion started. Based on the feedback I have gotten, talking to members, the intent was not to get somebody from the House of Assembly to be searching around for apartments for MHAs or living accommodations

What I understood the problem to be – and members can speak to this in a few minutes. What I was hearing is that we had a number of members that, for some reason, it was actually cheaper to stay in hotels or better for them to stay in hotels rather than go looking for secondary residence simply because the funding arrangement on a secondary residence was low, and therefore many people found it more convenient or financially acceptable to go and stay in a hotel. In actual fact, that kind of defeats the purpose because now it actually costs us as a government – it would actually cost more money as a result of this.

The other thing that I have heard – this does not affect me – is that we have a number of people who were actually living in areas just outside the capital region that would maybe want to drive home some night and actually save money again rather than stay at a hotel –

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. BALL: Yes, that would be the next one.

I know we are mixing the two up; there is no question about that. The accommodations, where people live, verses a hotel is where I understood – this is what most members who I have talked to was interested in solving.


MS SHEA: Building on what Mr. Ball said, for the purposes of tonight, maybe we can ask the staff at the House to consult as well with Executive Council – because ministers are even in a different situation because we are in here more often – and look at, in the spirit of this, short-term apartment or apartment-type rentals and what we may be able to bring forward as a recommendation so that both policies are consistent, but it has to be cost effective.

What we have to do is look at what we are entitled to and what we spend in hotels. If there is another arrangement that is transparent and open and we have receipts or whatever, that we can look at a policy that would address short-term accommodations or apartments as opposed to hotels, but it would have to also be consistent with what ministers would do because you cannot be coming in on one plan and then another. At the end of the decision it has to cost less, because why would we go out and come back with a plan that is going to cost more than staying in a hotel here in town?

The only way we would modify the hotel piece of it is if we can come up with arrangements that are transparent and have receipts. So we are not staying somewhere in a tent, I suppose, and getting $1,000 a month rent out of it, that we come back with something that is transparent but cost less than living in hotels. I think that is the intent.

MR. BALL: Thank you.

That was (inaudible) my questions.

I think there is an opportunity to save some money here. Speaking to members and knowing the lifestyles of some of our ministers and members, there is some opportunity I think to save money if we put just a little bit more work into this.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Michael.

MS MICHAEL: Just one point, though, to add to that. It is in the note that has been put together by the staff in determining cost. It would require resources inside of the House of Assembly staff to do all of the work that is outlined here in this last box. I am just saying it is a cost that needs to be added in when we are looking at the cost. I am sorry, it is.

MS SHEA: I honestly do not think we need to go hiring staff to do this. We can get this analysis done. We are not in any rush to review the policy –

MS MICHAEL: I do not mean the analysis. I mean if we put it in place, the cost of having it in place.


MS MICHAEL: It would, it would take extra staff.

MS SHEA: You would have to put in your receipts, just like you have to put in your hotel receipts.

MR. SPEAKER: I think we are commenting on two different things.

MS MICHAEL: Managing the process of looking for suitable accommodations according to specification guidelines, preparing, negotiating and monitoring –

MS SHEA: No. To come back to the policy, I do not think we need staff to find apartments for us. I really do not think we are going to have staff out going through basement apartments (inaudible).

MS MICHAEL: Well, that is what it says.

MS SHEA: Yes, but let's come back with –

MS MICHAEL: I am just saying it has to be considered, Ms Shea.

MR. SPEAKER: I remind members of the Commission of an earlier comment that I made, is that we have a very specific recommendation from the Commission that says – the Commissioner has indicated, her recommendation is that the House of Assembly provide such accommodations and that other than hotels, no other accommodations be made available to members.

So, given the implication of that, the guidance we would get in accepting the recommendation, we would either accept the recommendation or reject it. Because if we modify it and give a benefit greater than the recommendation intended – if we made another provision for members to rent an apartment, that would be a benefit that is greater than what this recommendation would provide for us. We are a little bit challenged by that, but I take the point of further analysis could be done by officials and bring it back for further discussion. I just indicate to you that we would be limited by that caveat that we would have to put on the action we would take.

Mr. King.

MR. KING: Mr. Speaker, like Mr. Ball, I recollect some of the discussion around that point. I do not think what members were saying is reflected in that recommendation. I would move the Table to reject that recommendation.

MS MICHAEL: There is a motion on the floor here.

MR. KING: Oh, I am sorry.

MR. SPEAKER: There is a motion on the floor to accept the recommendation. It has been moved and seconded. We can vote on the motion.

All those in favour of the motion, to accept the recommendation?

I am not hearing any support for the motion. The motion is defeated.

Mr. King.

MR. KING: I move that we reject recommendation 25.

MR. SPEAKER: It is has been seconded by Mr. Ball.

All those in favour of rejecting the recommendation?


MR. SPEAKER: Motion carried.

The final one we have this evening deals with recommendation 26. It is a recommendation that deals with a point that was alluded to a moment ago by Mr. Ball, when he talked about the kind of issues that members face.

This is a circumstance where we have a group of districts that are outside the greater capital region, but not that far outside. We have places like Bay Roberts, people who might live in Bay Roberts, some of them might live in Whitbourne, who might find it easier to drive back and forth to their home at night rather than stay in a hotel in St. John's when they are in when the House is sitting.

The current guidelines say no, you must stay in St. John's and if you travel back and forth we will not reimburse you at all. Yet, it could be cheaper to drive to Whitbourne or Bay Roberts than it would be to stay in a hotel at $150 a night. That was the limitation of one of the previous policies.

What recommendation 26 does is it acknowledges that anomaly in the previous regulation and makes a provision for a select group of districts named in this recommendation to be allowed to make a choice. You cannot have both. If you drive home tonight you can get paid mileage. If you stay in you get a hotel paid for, but you do not get the option of having both. That is what recommendation 26 does.

I will entertain a motion dealing with recommendation 26.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: It has been moved that we accept recommendation 26.

Mr. King has seconded the motion.

It is open for some discussion.

Ms Michael.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you.

I understand the argument but I have a problem with the recommendation. I actually will not vote for it unless I get convinced otherwise in the discussion.

One of our problems is that the definition of commuting distance I think is too low. The sixty kilometres is not reflecting the practice of commuters. That is what some of the MHAs have said to me. MHAs who have said: I can leave here 5:30 o'clock at the end of the work day and I can be home, but because it is over sixty kilometres it is not considered commuting. Whereas, in actual fact, an awful lot of people who commute into St. John's and out of St. John's are travelling 100, 110 kilometres one-way commuting.

One of the MHAs who has spoken to me – one in particular who spoke to me a couple of times, his commute would be about 111, 112 one way. He says that is a normal distance for him. He would consider that a commute. Leave here at 5:30, home by 7:00 o'clock at night, and back the next day in time for the House.

I have a problem with this because people who are travelling sixty kilometres do not get their way home and back covered by kilometrage. If they go home, they leave here at 5:30 o'clock and go home, they go home. They do not get kilometrage for that. Yet, we are saying that people who think they live in a reasonable commuting distance can go home and that we are going to cover it. I have a real problem because it looks like we are covering commuting.

MS SHEA: (Inaudible). If I come in from Stephenville –

MR. SPEAKER: If I just could bring your attention to the note, on page 3 of the note. If I could bring members' attention to page 3 of the note, the option presented in the note would suggest a caveat be attached to the recommendation. There could be a potential for a conflict if you look at the commuting distances.

If you look at the grid that is provided in the following page, where you look at the districts that we contemplate would take advantage of this, a person could conceivably live in their district. Based on where they live in their district, we would then apply here the furthest point and the closest point to the capital region.

If you live within the closest point, you could conceivably be less than the sixty kilometres and you would be in conflict with someone who is limited. In dealing with this recommendation, we would still be consistent with the spirit of the recommendation. If we were to provide that caveat and modification to the recommendation as put forward by Justice Brazil, which would eliminate the conflict that you are – at least as I interpret your comment –

MS MICHAEL: Except I still think the commuting distance is too short.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, but the conflict portion of your commentary would be addressed with this caveat in there as identified in the option here. That might speak to it.


MR. SPEAKER: Now, the other piece of the commuting distance, that is a separate issue, not to take away from that point, but it is secondary to the recommendation.

MS MICHAEL: Based on what you just said, there would only probably be two MHAs who could possibly under that provision –

MR. SPEAKER: Not necessarily. All I am saying is when they declare their permanent residency, which they do, if you declare it – let's say, for example, if the person who is representing Bellevue – not Bellevue, that is a poor one. If the person is representing Ferryland, if they say that my principal residence is in Maddox Cove, then you are not going to be able to eligible for it. If you say your principal residence is in St. Shott's or somewhere in between, you could be eligible.

MS MICHAEL: That is why I said only two: Ferryland and Harbour Main. Ferryland, the closest is sixteen; and Harbour Main, the closest is thirty-two.

MR. SPEAKER: They could be eliminated if their principal residence is within the sixty.

MS MICHAEL: That is what I mean.

MR. SPEAKER: If their principal residence is outside of that, they would be eligible.

MS MICHAEL: I still think that the sixty kilometres of commuting – I know it is a separate issue, but it is connected. I think it is too short from the distance – that is one of the reasons that this issue was brought up.

MR. SPEAKER: The issue of the sixty kilometres, my suggestion would be to the Commission if there is a desire to revisit the sixty kilometres as a separate discussion, we may want to advance that as an agenda item for some future discussion, so as not to necessarily complicate this recommendation here in our dealing with and disposing of the recommendation.

It is a subject matter that if the Commission wishes to pursue it, we could have a discussion when we are able to bring back some background for the members that are around the Table to understand the origin of it, what it says, and the policy piece. We are not prepared for that discussion this evening with the background information for members of the Commission.

MS MICHAEL: I would like to see that discussion come to the Table, though.

MR. SPEAKER: We can do that, but I think we need some preparation work done in advance of that.

Mr. King.

MR. KING: I am not against that discussion at all, but I think it is a subsidiary to this particular point here, Mr. Chair. I want to speak strongly in favour of this. If you just use the chart that we have in front of us, I think it is absolutely ludicrous that we would say to someone who lives in Dildo that you can drive home, we require you to come into work in the morning, but we will not pay you to go home, which would be a cost to the taxpayer of $25, but we will pay you $140 or $150 to stay at a hotel.

Whatever the spirit of the initial rule was, it makes no sense to me. I believe this recommendation at least makes some sense and provides options for those who are within a reasonable driving distance, it saves money for the taxpayer, and it allows a person to be adequately compensated to return home in the evenings, if they choose.

MR. SPEAKER: Would the mover of the motion and the seconder of the motion – because I think the options identified in page 3 address a very specific issue that could create a conflict, should we not include it. Recommendation 26, as it is written in the recommendation itself, does not envisage that caveat – whereas if we do not include it, there could be a potential conflict. It does not take away from the thrust of 26, but it puts a qualifier in there so as not to create conflict with those who live within the sixty kilometres.

With the mover and seconder's permission, we could reflect that in the recommendation? Is that okay with the mover and seconder?


MR. SPEAKER: Okay, so we will do that.

Is there any further discussion?

All those in favour of the motion?


MR. SPEAKER: All those against, ‘nay'.


MR. SPEAKER: Motion carried.

To the members of the Commission, I thank you very much for your attention to these recommendations. As I said in the introduction, we have a number of other recommendations that we need to move forward with, and we will set up subsequent meetings of the Commission in the near term to deal with the rest of the recommendations of Judge Brazil's report. I do thank you for your consideration of this, this evening.

Tomorrow morning at 8:30 we will convene again. We are sitting in the Opposition caucus boardroom tomorrow morning at 8:30 for a discussion on this year's House of Assembly budget.

There being no further business, is there a motion to adjourn?

MS JONES: So moved.

MR. SPEAKER: Moved by Ms Jones; seconded by Ms Shea.

Have a good evening.

Thank you very much.

On motion, meeting adjourned.