Friday, May 05, 2006


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Children at Risk
Mr. S. Graham: For many years, a gap in social services for New Brunswickers between the ages
of 16 and 18 existed. When the current New Brunswick Family Services Act and its regulations were
established over two decades ago, the decision was taken to define a youth in care with an upper age
limit of under 16 and not to extend full social services to child clients or their families in the 16-to-
18 age group if the child applicant was not an existing client when he or she reached the age of 16.
This arrangement has contributed to several service anomalies for children in New Brunswick over
the years, including, among others, social service staff being put in the position of bending the
existing rules in order to obtain needed services for clients who, in the strictest interpretation of the
rules, would have been barred from receiving such services.
Our platform in 2003 made a serious commitment regarding a strategy for youth at risk. That is why
I was pleased to see, in this year’s speech from the throne that was delivered in December, that the
government itself committed to a strategy to deal with youth at risk, particularly those aged 16 to
18, which I am reading from the speech from the throne. My question is for the Premier this
morning. This is a very important initiative. Can the Premier update us on the strategies that he will
be proposing to deal with children at risk?
L’hon. M Dubé : Cela me fait vraiment plaisir de me lever à me la Chambre aujourd’hui pour parler
de nos adolescents. On sait qu’ils sont extrêmement importants, comme tous les enfants du
Nouveau-Brunswick. Il existe toute une gamme de services. Effectivement, nous savons qu’il y a
des améliorations à apporter aux services. Cela a été dit dans le discours du trône. Nous travaillons
à une stratégie avec nos partenaires. Cela me fera plaisir, lors de la présentation de mes prévisions
budgétaires et plus tard cette année, d’apporter des précisions aux différentes stratégies que nous
utiliserons pour améliorer les services offerts à cette clientèle extrêmement importante.
Mr. S. Graham: This is, indeed, a very important issue for children between the ages of 16 and 18.
It is no secret that our province requires a homeless strategy. We also need to look at alternative
settings for our school system, and we need to have programs in place to deal with assistance with
addictions for children between the ages of 16 and 18, who are currently falling between the cracks.
We have a social system that is not serving them.
017 11:15
We are the party that brought forward Equal Opportunity. Now is the time to also bring forward
social opportunity. That is why we are encouraged today that the government is, indeed, moving on
this initiative, which was a major component of our platform in the 2003 election.
My question to the minister today is this: Is she prepared to set up a youth-at-risk unit that will
provide a comprehensive approach to dealing with the management of each child between the ages
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of 16 and 18? We feel that it is a sensible approach and that this strategy will go a long way toward
helping the children who are currently falling through the cracks in the system.
L’hon. M Dubé : Dans la question du chef de me l’opposition — je devrais peut-être dire les
commentaires —, il laisse sous-entendre qu’il n’y a absolument aucun service pour les adolescents
de 16 à 18 ans. Je pense que, encore là, il devrait savoir mieux, parce qu’il existe des services pour
nos adolescents. Chacun des services est certainement évalué selon les besoins individuels, c’est-àdire
selon la situation familiale de l’adolescent. Lorsqu’il y a des situations spécifiques, chaque
besoin est abordé. Lorsqu’on regarde aux politiques générales, nous avons certainement identifié
qu’il y a des améliorations à faire. C’est certainement ce que nous faisons chaque jour et ce que nous
proposons de faire tout au long de l’année pour modifier et adapter certains programmes pour
toujours mieux servir la population du Nouveau-Brunswick et certainement les familles dans le
Mr. S. Graham: Today, if a young New Brunswicker between the ages of 16 and 18 has trouble at
school or trouble at home—and perhaps it is not the fault of the parents—unfortunately, this young
child can not remain at home. It has been clear for decades that there is a gap in services for children
between the ages of 16 and 18. The government acknowledged that by including a commitment in
its throne speech—the same commitment that we provided in our platform in 2003—to help youth
at risk.
Today, we are in agreement that this issue has to be addressed. My question to the minister is this:
Over 13 months ago, your government made a clear commitment to put in place a Child and Youth
Advocate. Your Premier, instead, wanted to use this position for political gain. He and the Deputy
Premier sat down at the table to negotiate this position with the member for Fredericton North. I am
glad the member is acknowledging it today, but this position should have been filled a long time
ago. Madam Minister, would you not admit today that, indeed, a Child and Youth Advocate would
be a key component in bringing forward the policies that are needed in order to help youth at risk?
Hon. Mr. Lord: I am pleased to rise, because the Leader of the Opposition, through his lengthy
questioning, realized that he wanted to say something. What he said was incorrect, and I want to
correct it, once and for all. I never approached anyone on the other side to become the Child and
Youth Advocate, but I can say that we were approached by more than one member from the other
side, offering names for the position of Child and Youth Advocate. I think the leader needs to speak
to the member for Fredericton North, because I hope the member will at least tell the leader the
truth—that he approached the Deputy Premier, not the other way around. We have let that one go
by for a while, but if the members opposite want to keep bringing it up, let us set the record straight.
As well, with regard to the Child and Youth Advocate, we have received over 100 applications that
are being reviewed by a team of assessors. There will be interviews, and as soon as the process is
complete, we will appoint a Child and Youth Advocate.
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Mr. S. Graham: I am glad the Premier acknowledges today that the Child and Youth Advocate will
be key to the development of the policies that are required in order to deal with youth at risk in the
province. What we would like to see today is a youth-at-risk unit to coordinate services, including
a new youth-at-risk income supplement program, a reduction of the barriers to eligibility for social
service payments to youth identified as being at risk, and development of a youth homelessness
strategy. We would also like to see the examination of best practice options for alternative learning
environments. I know that the city of Bathurst has an incredible program dealing with alternative
learning environments.
Finally, we need to see the development of a comprehensive addiction strategy. Recently, I had an
opportunity to tour the Portage centre in the Sussex area. I know the Premier himself has been there.
To see the young New Brunswickers who are dealing with the challenges of addiction reinforces our
commitment that more has to be done. Today, we know that youth at risk, between the ages of 16
and 18, are falling through the cracks.
My question to the minister is this: I have just given you five clear commitments that should be
included in your strategy. Are you prepared to look at these reasonable requests?
018 11:20
Hon. Mr. Lord: The Leader of the Opposition acknowledges that our government is doing more
than what was done before. The way that we will be able to do even more for youth at risk, for
seniors, for children, and for families who need help, is by having a stronger, thriving economy. We
need more economic success in order to fund more social progress. That is the balance that our
government has always strived for. That is why I was pleased again this morning to hear the good
news shared by the Minister of Post-Secondary Education and Training which shows that, once
again, we have reached a new height for the number of jobs in New Brunswick, with more people
working and fewer people on social assistance. That is how we can help those who are still on social
assistance, those who are still at risk. That is exactly what our government is doing. That is why
there is more funding for those who are at risk. That is why there is more funding in education. That
is why there is more funding in health care. We have more jobs than ever before because we have
lower taxes and we have fewer people on social assistance. Because the economy is stronger, the
social progress is better.
Mr. S. Graham: This is a very serious issue. If the Premier wants to have his platform today to be
all about economic development, he can raise that in statements from the minister. What we are
dealing with today is a gap that exists for services for children between the ages of 16 to 18. I am
sure that the Premier did not mean to allege today that all these children who are falling between the
cracks are on social services, because that is not the case. The case remains that there are many
families where children between the ages of 16 to 18 are not receiving the support services from
government that they should be. I am going to give the Premier some flexibility here that maybe he
did not intentionally try to say that, but that was the impression that was given.
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The point I am making today is that we gave five clear commitments that your government should
be looking at. We also said that the Child and Youth Advocate should be directly involved in
crafting public policy that will be helping youth at risk in New Brunswick. We provided a concrete
suggestion, and we also brought forward the legislation to help implement these policy changes.
Unfortunately, the position has not been filled.
My question to the minister is this: With the five clear commitments that we have given today, will
she be willing to take that into the policy discussion?
L’hon. M Dubé : Cela me fait plaisir de prendre cette question. Je me e veux apporter certaines
précisions au grand commentaire du député de l’opposition. Cela me fait rire ce matin d’entendre
des suggestions du chef de l’opposition. On sait de ce côté-ci de la Chambre qu’ils ont négligé le
côté social pendant de nombreuses années. Pendant 12 ans, non seulement ils l’ont négligé mais ils
ont réduit dans les services. Ce matin, ils essaient de nous faire la leçon.
Je peux vous dire que nous avons d’excellents services. Nous avons de plus en plus de services. On
a des services de plus en plus intégrés avec les programmes fédéraux et provinciaux. Nous avons
des équipes en place dans chaque région qui s’assoient ensemble autour de la table pour harmoniser
justement les services pour s’assurer que les familles sont bien servies et qu’il y a des évaluations
des enfants ou des adolescents et que ceux qui ont des besoins ont les services nécessaires. Jour
après jour, nous améliorons les services, nous travaillons avec tous nos partenaires dans les
collectivités, au fédéral et dans les différents ministères du gouvernement. Nous continuons
d’améliorer les services.
Je suis heureuse au moins que le chef de l’opposition avoue ce matin que nous avons de plus en plus
de services comme le Portage C’est un excellent service que nous offrons à nos adolescents ayant
des besoins. Il y a aussi une aide au niveau de leur scolarité, lorsqu’ils vivent le traitement. Je peux
continuer, parce que la liste est tellement longue. Nous avons des services…
Résultats scolaires
Mme C. Robichaud : Mes questions sont pour le ministre de l’Éducation. Plus tôt cette semaine,
nous avons vu les résultats des tests de la 9e année en lecture et en écriture au niveau intermédiaire
du secteur anglophone. Le résultat était très décevant. Selon une étude de Statistique Canada, les
élèves francophones en milieu minoritaire ont des résultats en-dessous des élèves anglophones. Le
ministre peut-il expliquer à la Chambre comment les élèves francophones du système du secondaire
premier cycle sont évalués en écriture et en lecture? Quand pourrons-nous avons accès aux résultats?
Sont-ils aussi troublants que ceux que nous avons vus plus tôt cette semaine?
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019 11:25
L’hon. M. Williams : En réponse à la question de la député de Baie-de-Miramichi, nous avons en
place le Plan d’apprentissage de qualité qui est justement pour aider en ce qui a trait à la lecture et
l’écriture. Le ministère travaille étroitement avec les différents districts scolaires afin de s’assurer
que des mesures et des plans sont mis en place afin que les résultats de nos élèves soient les
meilleurs possible.
M C. Robichaud : Depuis sept ans que ce gouvernement est en place et les résultats ne se me sont
pas améliorés. Il y a presque deux mois, soit le 10 mars 2006, the Atlantic Institute for Market
Studies a rendu public son rapport annuel sur les écoles secondaires du Nouveau-Brunswick. À ce
moment-là, AIMS a critiqué le Nouveau-Brunswick pour avoir abandonné les tests de niveau
provincial pour les élèves de la 11e et de la 12e année. Lors de son assemblée annuelle NBTA
débattra prochainement d’une motion pour réintroduire les examens provinciaux. Lorsque le rapport
fut publié, un porte-parole du ministre de l’Éducation a dit que la province revoyait présentement
ces évaluations et qu’elle explorait la possibilité de réintégrer les examens provinciaux au niveau
Le ministre de l’Éducation peut-il me confirmer ce matin que son ministère a complété la révision
et si ces examens seront réintroduits?
L’hon. M. Williams : En 1999, la population du Nouveau-Brunswick a donné un mandat à ce
gouvernement en éducation.
Depuis 1999, nous avons le Plan d’apprentissage de qualité qui est effectivement pour améliorer la
situation. Nous sommes très conscients des situations dont fait référence la député de Baie-de-
Miramichi, et nous avons pris des actions concrètes, justement pour aborder la question de littératie
et de lecture dans les écoles.
Le Plan d’apprentissage de qualité qui est en application depuis trois ans aura des résultats positifs
dans l’avenir. Nous sommes à l’écoute et nous avons des investissements justement pour aborder
ces situations-là. Nous allons continuer à travailler étroitement avec les conseils d’éducation, avec
les directions d’école, pour justement s’assurer que les programmes en place auront des résultats très
Recruitment of Doctors
Mr. V. Boudreau: My questions are for the Minister of Health. Our new Minister of Health has
been eager to speak about the recruitment and retention of physicians and how many physicians the
province has recruited since 1999. I would like to touch on that, but I would like to be a bit more
specific to the Miramichi region. My colleague from Miramichi Centre had some questions a couple
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of weeks ago. The minister was not able to give specifics then, so I hope he has been briefed since
by his department and may be able to give us some more specifics.
First, I want to read something. In the Miramichi Weekend a little while back, the former Minister
of Health was reported as saying that the Miramichi region had grown by 24, from 46 to 70
physicians since 1990. My first question is this: Does the current minister agree with the statement
made by the former minister?
Hon. Mr. Green: If the member opposite had been following the course of question period in the
House, he would know that I very quickly came back to the Chamber to provide detailed
information to the member for Miramichi Centre and follow-up to his question. I was pleased, at that
time, to inform the House that there are more doctors working and practising on the Miramichi today
than there were in 1999. One of his specific questions had to do with internists. I was pleased to say
that at least two new internists have been successfully recruited for the Miramichi, and will be in
place and working by this summer.
Mr. V. Boudreau: I will take that answer, I guess, as an agreement. The current minister does agree
with the statement made that, since 1990, it has grown by 24. Based on the minister’s own
information that we received through an RTI, the number of physicians recruited in Region 7 since
1999—not 1990 but 1999—has been 33.
020 11:30
However, the total number of physicians who have left Region 7 since 1999 is 27, and the total
number who have reduced their services is 7, for a total of 34. That gives me a net loss of 1
physician since 1999, so I can only deduct that any progress made in the Miramichi, in terms of
recruiting physicians, must have happened between 1990 and 1999. Would the minister agree with
that statement?
Hon. Mr. Green: No, I would not deduce that at all. I think the honourable member should explain
what he means by reduced services. Clearly, there were some family practitioners on the Miramichi
who had community-based practices who moved into the hospital. However, they are still practicing
on the Miramichi and are still seeing patients. I will go back to the point that I reiterated just a
moment ago—the same point that I made in response to the member for Miramichi Centre. Region
7 is successfully recruiting new doctors. They will be in place and practicing within the next few
Mr. V. Boudreau: The numbers are clear. They were provided to us by the department: 33 were
recruited, 34 have either left or reduced their services dramatically, for a net loss of 1 physician.
Obviously, if there were any gains, they were made under the former Liberal government. However,
my third question for the minister is this: The minister is well aware that one of the big reasons there
is a problem with recruitment and retention on the Miramichi is surrounding the Badley Report,
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which the minister has had for several months now. This is a report that has dealt with physicians
being fired and physicians being let go for suspicious reasons, yet the minister has been sitting on
this report and has not made it public yet. When will the minister make this report public?
Hon. Mr. Green: In the space of about 120 seconds, we went from some physicians apparently
reducing their practices to their dramatically reducing their practices. Again, I would like to have
details as to exactly what the member opposite is saying. What I do know is that, in this province,
as of the end of April, we had 214 more doctors working than we did before. I also know—because
I have had a face-to-face meeting with the CEO, the chair, and other board members in Region 7
within the last few weeks—that Region 7, in terms of delivery of health care services, is in a very
positive state. It was a very positive meeting. Physician recruitment is going well.
With respect to the report that was mentioned or a report that has had a lot of discussion on the floor
of this House, if there is a report that contains confidential, personal information, either about
patients or about health care professionals in this province, it will not be released, it should not be
released, and surely, given the discussion in this Chamber in the last two weeks and prior to that,
that is a lesson that we should have learned by now.
Federal Infrastructure Program
Mr. Jamieson: To the Minister of Environment, the largest obstruction to harbour cleanup in Saint
John has been this Lord government over the last seven years. To quote Mayor Norm MacFarlane:
“I’m still as confident as ever now that this (infrastructure fund) has been renewed that it’s a matter
of getting an agreement signed . . . I just want a letter.” The Lord government has not indicated that
it will put one cent into harbour cleanup this year, this spring, to get the job started.
In the movie Jerry McGuire, the phrase “Show me the money” was used. Talk is cheap, and Saint
John wants to start work this spring on harbour cleanup. Will you show us the money? Will you
make the commitment this spring, to the Mayor of Saint John and to the people of Saint John, to
start the work this spring?
Hon. Mr. Holder: I do not know how many times we have to go through this. The fact of the matter
is that we have shown the money. We had an agreement. For the first time in the history of Saint
John, money has been committed to this project. The member opposite knows full well that we were
on hand. We announced a first phase. There is a commitment on our part to commit $20 million to
this project. We are going to deliver on that commitment. The mayor knows that. We know that the
mayor is going to deliver on his commitment. I have no reason to doubt the federal government
when it says that it wants to work on a long-term funding agreement.
The question that the member opposite needs to ask his federal friends is, if the money was in place,
as they keep saying that it was, why are we having this discussion? The fact of the matter is that they
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depleted the fund. We are committed to it, they were not, and we will make sure that this project is
seen through to completion.
021 11:35
Mr. Jamieson: This minister has to get his head out of the sand. The city of Saint John is asking that
a commitment be made by your government for $20 million for 10 years. This year, it wants $2
million to start the project. That is all it is asking for. It wants a commitment from you. Never mind
the federal government. Saint John needs a commitment from this government to put the money in
place to start the project. The government talks about the former Liberal government. We actually
cleaned up 41% of the problem in Saint John when we were the government. We rebuilt the sewage
lagoon in Lancaster, which services half the city of Saint John, and we initiated the project in his
own area to clean up the problem there. Do not point fingers. You are the government which, for
seven years, has not put money into Saint John harbour cleanup. Is it time to start.
Hon. Mr. Holder: We have also made monetary commitments to this project. We completed the
project that he referred to in our riding. There are 5 000 homes that are now being redirected to the
Millidgeville treatment facility. It is great that the opposition worked on it initially, but we followed
through and committed to it, too. To say that we have not been committed to harbour cleanup is
false. The fact of the matter is that the opposition members failed to put a long-term funding
agreement in place. They had years to do it. They talked about it, but they never did it.
Mr. Speaker: I ask the members, when questioning and answering, to please address the chair.
Mr. Jamieson: The Environment Minister’s biggest announcement to date this year . . .
Mr. Speaker: For the second time, I ask the member who is questioning to please address the chair.
Mr. Jamieson: The Minister of Environment’s biggest announcement to date, since he became
minister, has been the beginning of compost week this week. That is his biggest announcement. New
Brunswick has had a government that has done nothing toward protecting this province on
environmental issues since it came to office in 1999. If something can be done, please point to it,
because from Belledune to Saint John, and from Moncton to Cap-Pele, nothing has been done by
this government to protect the environment. The Petitcodiac is still a problem. The Saint John
harbour has not been addressed. The air quality in Saint John is actually worse than it has been, and
this minister has to answer to New Brunswickers about the problems.
Mr. Speaker: Once again, I would ask the member who has the floor to address the chair. This is
the third warning.
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Hon. Mr. Holder: We are doing great things with respect to the environment. The member opposite
wants me to point to one thing. We made an announcement last week to regulate the VOC emissions
in Saint John, which got widespread support. The clean air coalition in Saint John was firmly behind
that. That is just an example of the things we will continue to do by consulting with people from
around this province, through our Five in Five Initiative, to which we are very committed. If he has
anything he wants to add, he should take part in the Five in Five consultation. The fact of the matter
is that item 57 of their promises in 1995 promised harbour cleanup. They never delivered on it. The
fact of the matter is that whether it was Point Lepreau, St. Joseph’s Hospital, ball fields, or harbour
cleanup, these . . .
Gasoline Prices
Mr. Allaby: My question is to the Minister of Energy. Many studies on gasoline regulation have
been conducted over the years. The results, in general, have shown that the various models of
regulation in other jurisdictions tend to even out and stabilize prices, but have not, on average,
lowered them. Will the minister provide for this House the study that this minister has conducted,
and which she intends to use? With this model, will the minister guarantee lower gasoline prices?
Hon. Ms. Fowlie: I have spoken with New Brunswickers with regard to the regulation of the price
of gas at the pumps, and the majority of New Brunswickers recognize that regulating does not lower
prices. We have never said to expect lower prices. We have said to expect stable prices—stability
in pricing.
022 11:40
I am not sure what study the member is referring to. We are still working on the model that is going
to be used with regard to the regulation of the price of gas. We are looking at the models currently
being used in other provinces. Nova Scotia announced that it is going to go to gas price regulation
as of July 1, the same as we are.
I would still reiterate it. There is a question to which I have never received an answer: If the
members opposite were in government, would they regulate the price of gas?
Mr. Allaby: I am pleased to state that my leader has been very clearly on the record as being in
favour of granting the Public Utilities Board regulatory authority to ensure that New Brunswick
drivers are given the very best market prices possible for gasoline and diesel fuel. I think that is very
clear, to the minister.
I have another question for the minister. Will she tell this House how she will regulate this? Will it
be at retail price? Will it be at wholesale price? Will it be on margin? Will there be a uniform price
across the province, or will there be a transportation and storage differential, as in Newfoundland?
Will your regulation require all parts of the province to be serviced? There are many questions to
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be answered, and we have no indication from this government what model will be used. Will the
minister provide this House with a model, or at least what the legislation will look like?
Hon. Ms. Fowlie: I am not sure that the member opposite understood part of one of my responses.
We are looking at these things. The decisions are being made on how it will be done. When
legislation is introduced on the floor of this House in order to regulate the price of gas, all of those
questions will be able to be answered—why it was done this way, how it was done, and so on. We
are looking at other provinces to see what is happening there, and we hope to pick the best model
for New Brunswick.
Mr. Allaby: A final supplementary. The point of my last question was that there was a complexity
to this issue of gasoline regulation. It has a great impact on the people and on the economy of New
Brunswick. Will the minister be providing an opportunity for feedback on the model? We have
consumers’ associations, tourism associations, truckers’ associations, and chambers of commerce
in different communities. These will all have a great deal of interest in what is being proposed. Will
there be a provision for feedback? Time is running out, and the government has made a commitment
to have something in place by July 1. We have not seen any legislation. There has been no
opportunity yet for feedback, from what I can see. We do not yet even have a model. What will take
place? Will there be feedback?
Hon. Ms. Fowlie: One of the things that is being pointed out here is the difference in approaches
between how the Liberals would operate and how we operate. We are having discussions
beforehand, before the legislation comes to the floor of the House, with the wholesalers, the
retailers, and the marketers. That is how we are developing our plan. What is working? What works
for them? What do they need to see in this legislation? Those are the people out there in the industry
who have the inside information. They know the best way to do these things and how it will work.
What we plan on doing is to ensure that we do not cut out the small retailer and that the wholesalers
are still viable. We do not want companies refusing to deliver to rural areas of the province because
they cannot get the prices they are looking for. We are doing our work beforehand. When the
legislation is introduced, we will have people here to be able to answer all their questions. We are
looking at what is best for New Brunswick.

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