Thank you, Madam Speaker. The work of the committee in Taloyoak raised the ongoing concerns of committee Members regarding weaknesses in the Advisory Committee on Social Housing's terms of reference. During the final day of meetings, the Members discussed these concerns and, as a result, developed amendments to the terms of reference to address the concerns. The amendments focus on three key areas.
Name Of The Committee Making Recommendations To The House
The committee was originally set up strictly as an advisory group. This allowed the Minister of Housing to share ideas on housing issues with ordinary Members and receive feedback which would allow the development of more effective policies and programs.
However, since the creation of the committee, the issues surrounding social housing have become more controversial. The drastic federal funding cuts and the resulting program reductions by the Housing Corporation mean that there will be times when the committee not only wishes to recommend changes to the Minister, but also wants to bring those recommendations to the Legislative Assembly. Committee Members feel they will be taking a stronger role in the future as the tough housing decisions must be made; as a result, the committee needs the authority to make recommendations to the government on housing issues, rather than just providing the Minister with advice.
To accommodate the changing role of the committee, two changes to the terms of reference are proposed: first, that the name of the committee be changed to Special Joint Committee on Housing; and second, that the committee have the authority to make reports, motions and recommendations on housing policies programs and other issues to the government through the Legislative Assembly.
Selection Of Chairman
For most committees of the Legislative Assembly, the chairman is selected by the committee from among its Members. However, under the current terms of reference for the housing committee, the Minister of Housing is automatically the chairman of the committee. While Members are satisfied with the performance of the current Minister as chairman, they would like to see a different method for selecting and removing the chairman in the future. Members recognize that, as chairman, the Minister can control the agenda and direct issues; however, he cannot talk to the issues, which is a distinct disadvantage.
Madam Speaker, to provide consistency with other Legislative Assembly committees and to give the committee flexibility in its choice, a change to the terms of reference allowing the committee to select its own chairman from its Members is proposed.
The committee will be bringing forward to the Assembly amended terms of reference for consultation and approval.
Madam Speaker, I will not be comfortable in reading the next line, so I will ask Mr. Gargan to proceed. Thank you.