Debate on Bill 33

May 10th Committee of the Whole House debates on Bill 33, EDUCATION (LEARNING ENHANCEMENT) STATUTES AMENDMENT ACT, 2006

John Horgan of the NDP Introduced a series of amendments that would have:

  • replaced special needs caps with a weighting formula for
    calculating class sizes,

  • limited sizes of special ed classes
  • factored in ESL and other learning challenges
  • funded the proposed changes

These amendments would have gone a long way toward addressing concerns raised by parents and other education partners. However, the Minister stated that such amendments would add too much to the cost of public education.

Rising in the house on a point of order, House Leader. M. de Jong, had the amendments ruled out of order as they would cause the crown to incur an charge. Here is the full statement as reported in Hansard:

Hon. M. de Jong: The issue that I think the Chair has to be cognizant of is, whilst on the surface the difference between “consult” and “consent” is obviously significant, to the extent that we are dealing with imposing a charge on the Crown, the difference may be particularly significant.
I am certain that the language was chosen carefully here — and it may be language that members opposite disagree with — but in the case of consult, there are obviously different ramifications than requiring the consent. Consent implies that it could be withheld, and, in that circumstance, there would be, obviously, financial implications that flow from having to reconfigure classes.
I think I understand the point that members are trying to make around the amendment, but the rule that I believe the Chair has to be cognizant of is that proposed amendments cannot impose a charge, or the prospects of a charge, being imposed upon the Crown. I’m sure members have thoughts on that, and we might deal with that first.

Read full draft transcript of debate here ( pdf file) Original Hansard records can be found here

Coalition Calls for Withdrawl of Bill 33 provisions related to students with IEPs

Advocay groups concerned about the Bill 33 limits on students with Indiviual Educational Plans have issued a call for the government to withdraw the limitations proposed under the legislation for special needs students.

Download press release here.

See also, BCCPAC letter. Download letter here.The following is clipped from draft Hansard transcript and provides an indication of the timetable for bills, such as Bill 33, to pass the House.

Standing Order 81.1

Hon. M. de Jong: I rise pursuant to Standing Order 81.1, and want to advise the House that following extensive discussions with the Opposition House Leader, we have managed to come to an agreement regarding the completion of business for the balance of the current sitting, which is ending on Thursday, May 18. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]
That schedule will see all of the estimates and bills presently on the order paper completed except for Bill 23, which is the Public Inquiry Act, and Bill 32, the Adult Guardianship And Personal Planning Statutes Act. Those bills obviously have been the subject of comments by stakeholders and interested parties, and the government believes it would be beneficial to hear further from those with views. Those two bills will not be forthcoming or proceeding this session. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]
The Opposition House Leader has also been advised that given the concerns expressed by the freedom-of-information and privacy commissioner with respect to section 9 of Bill 30, the Miscellaneous Statutes Amendment Act, the government doesn’t intend to proceed with that proposed amendment to the FOI Act. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]
Well, I don’t know what to do next, Mr. Speaker. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]
Priority for the government has been to ensure that ample time is available for the Legislature to consider and debate Bill 35, the legislation around the children and youth representative. I believe that the Opposition House Leader and I have settled on a schedule that will allow us to do that. I am, as always, obliged to him for the time he has taken in working with me to settle on a schedule, which, I believe, serves the interests of this chamber and the people of B.C. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

M. Farnworth: I just want to concur with my colleague, the Government House Leader, that the discussions I think have yielded a result that allows for the disposition of bills, which are clearly very much in the public interest, in a timely fashion. It also allows for legislation that the opposition has believed to be requiring further discussion and inputs to be carried over. I think that that is something that will serve this House and this province well. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]
It also, I think, is important to note that this session is the first full session on the new parliamentary calendar with a full opposition. I think it’s important that that calendar has remained intact, that we have been able to deal with business in an orderly fashion, and I think that speaks well for the future. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]