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Topics

Committee Motion 69-18(3): Committee Report 8-18(3): Standing Committee on Government Operations Report on the Review of the 2016-2017 Public Accounts of the Government of the Northwest Territories - Improvement in Reporting on Debt Servicing and Infrastructure Financing, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Thanks, Mr. Chair. I, too, want to give credit to the Comptroller General to improving the presentation of information about compliance with the Fiscal Responsibility Policy.

Our research staff had a lot of difficulty trying to replicate or duplicate the set of calculations where information had been pulled from and so on, and that's what I think this recommendation is really about: making sure that the information about compliance is verifiable and reproducible by a third party, including the Standing Committee on Government Operations, but it's really about transparency and accountability.

I think the information is in the public accounts, but it's not set out in as clear as manner as it could be, to allow for anyone to verify that we are, indeed, in compliance with the policy. That's what the recommendation is aimed at, and I support it. Thanks, Mr. Chair.

Committee Motion 69-18(3): Committee Report 8-18(3): Standing Committee on Government Operations Report on the Review of the 2016-2017 Public Accounts of the Government of the Northwest Territories - Improvement in Reporting on Debt Servicing and Infrastructure Financing, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

The Chair R.J. Simpson

Thank you, Mr. O'Reilly. To the motion.

Committee Motion 69-18(3): Committee Report 8-18(3): Standing Committee on Government Operations Report on the Review of the 2016-2017 Public Accounts of the Government of the Northwest Territories - Improvement in Reporting on Debt Servicing and Infrastructure Financing, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Some Hon. Members

Question.

Committee Motion 69-18(3): Committee Report 8-18(3): Standing Committee on Government Operations Report on the Review of the 2016-2017 Public Accounts of the Government of the Northwest Territories - Improvement in Reporting on Debt Servicing and Infrastructure Financing, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

The Chair R.J. Simpson

Question has been called. All those in favour? All those opposed?

---Carried

Mr. Testart.

Committee Motion 70-18(3): Committee Report 8-18(3): Standing Committee on Government Operations Report on the Review of the 2016-2017 Public Accounts of the Government of the Northwest Territories - Reporting of Student Loan Remissions, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Kieron Testart Kam Lake

Mr. Chair, I move that this Assembly recommends that the Department of Finance give consideration to reporting student loan remissions in another schedule of the public accounts separate from the schedule reporting bad debt write-offs and forgiveness. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Committee Motion 70-18(3): Committee Report 8-18(3): Standing Committee on Government Operations Report on the Review of the 2016-2017 Public Accounts of the Government of the Northwest Territories - Reporting of Student Loan Remissions, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

The Chair R.J. Simpson

Thank you, Mr. Testart. Mr. O'Reilly.

Committee Motion 70-18(3): Committee Report 8-18(3): Standing Committee on Government Operations Report on the Review of the 2016-2017 Public Accounts of the Government of the Northwest Territories - Reporting of Student Loan Remissions, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Thanks, Mr. Chair. Yes, this really springs from an issue that I've raised several times in this House about how the individual names and student loan remission amounts are listed in a schedule in the public accounts. I have characterized that as an unfair and undue invasion of privacy, and, in fact, the Privacy Commissioner herself has characterized it in the same way.

When the Commissioner appeared before the standing committee to present her last report, we asked the Commissioner about this, and she did provide us with copies of a couple of letters that she has sent to the Comptroller General on this subject. I just want to sort of highlight a few points, here, from this correspondence. She says that "the disclosure of the information in question, which pairs names with the amount of loans received and the amount of these loans for loan remissions and has resulted in a forgiveness of all or part of that debt, clearly amounts to a disclosure of personal information." She goes on to say, "Is it really necessary for individuals to give up their right to privacy in order to take advantage of the remission program?"

And in a second letter, she says, "There is nothing that I can find in the act which requires that the names of those students involved need to be included in the public accounts report."

That is coming from the Privacy Commissioner herself, who happens to be a lawyer, but this is just bad practice in terms of certainly in no way does it encourage our students to seek loan remissions, and I think, really, there is a perception that they are categorized in the same grouping of bad debts and write-offs and forgiveness. That is clearly not what this is about, and there is no legal requirement for this. I really want to encourage the Minister of Finance to stop this practice.

So that's what this is aimed at. The next recommendation is also aimed at this matter, but we have to stop this. This does not encourage our students to seek student loan remissions, and I have said this is an unfair invasion of their privacy and it needs to stop. Thanks, Mr. Chair.

Committee Motion 70-18(3): Committee Report 8-18(3): Standing Committee on Government Operations Report on the Review of the 2016-2017 Public Accounts of the Government of the Northwest Territories - Reporting of Student Loan Remissions, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

The Chair R.J. Simpson

Thank you, Mr. O'Reilly. To the motion. Order. Order.

---Laughter

Now that order has been restored, would the House like the question put to it?

Committee Motion 70-18(3): Committee Report 8-18(3): Standing Committee on Government Operations Report on the Review of the 2016-2017 Public Accounts of the Government of the Northwest Territories - Reporting of Student Loan Remissions, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Some Hon. Members

Question.

Committee Motion 70-18(3): Committee Report 8-18(3): Standing Committee on Government Operations Report on the Review of the 2016-2017 Public Accounts of the Government of the Northwest Territories - Reporting of Student Loan Remissions, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

The Chair R.J. Simpson

All those in favour? All those opposed? The motion is carried.

---Carried

Mr. Testart.

Committee Motion 71-18(3): Committee Report 8-18(3): Standing Committee on Government Operations Report on the Review of the 2016-2017 Public Accounts of the Government of the Northwest Territories - Protection of Privacy in Non-Consolidated Schedule of Bad Debts, Write-offs and Student Loan Remissions, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

June 1st, 2018

Kieron Testart Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Chair. I move that this Assembly recommend to the Department of Finance, upon completion of a privacy impact assessment in 2018-2019 by the Information and Privacy Commissioner, and having considered the committee's suggestions contained in this report, reconsider amending the non-consolidated schedule of bad debt write-offs, forgiveness, and student loan remissions to better protect the privacy of individuals. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Committee Motion 71-18(3): Committee Report 8-18(3): Standing Committee on Government Operations Report on the Review of the 2016-2017 Public Accounts of the Government of the Northwest Territories - Protection of Privacy in Non-Consolidated Schedule of Bad Debts, Write-offs and Student Loan Remissions, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

The Chair R.J. Simpson

Thank you, Mr. Testart. There is a motion on the floor. To the motion. Mr. Testart.

Committee Motion 71-18(3): Committee Report 8-18(3): Standing Committee on Government Operations Report on the Review of the 2016-2017 Public Accounts of the Government of the Northwest Territories - Protection of Privacy in Non-Consolidated Schedule of Bad Debts, Write-offs and Student Loan Remissions, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Kieron Testart Kam Lake

Thank you, and I'd like to thank the honourable Member for Frame Lake for really championing this issue of student loan remissions in the public accounts. The standing committee, of course, shares these concerns, and in addition to the previous motion that has just been carried, this further recommends that a privacy assessment be taken up and that, perhaps based on that assessment, the whole issue of student loan remissions be reconsidered. So rather than just moving them to a separate schedule, this recommendation is more about removing them altogether as individuals named in the public accounts. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Committee Motion 71-18(3): Committee Report 8-18(3): Standing Committee on Government Operations Report on the Review of the 2016-2017 Public Accounts of the Government of the Northwest Territories - Protection of Privacy in Non-Consolidated Schedule of Bad Debts, Write-offs and Student Loan Remissions, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

The Chair R.J. Simpson

Thank you, Mr. Testart. To the motion. Mr. O'Reilly.

Committee Motion 71-18(3): Committee Report 8-18(3): Standing Committee on Government Operations Report on the Review of the 2016-2017 Public Accounts of the Government of the Northwest Territories - Protection of Privacy in Non-Consolidated Schedule of Bad Debts, Write-offs and Student Loan Remissions, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Yes, Mr. Chair. I had forgotten about one other point I wanted to make. In our review of public accounts, we found that, in previous years, there was some disclosure of bad debt write-offs that were just sort of a consolidated amount. There was no individual listing of where those bad debts came from. That occurred in more than one of the public accounts over the last eight or 10 years. So if we can do that for bad debt, why can't we do that for student loan remissions? Just have a single figure. There is no need to disclose individual names and amounts.

I am encouraging the Minister of Finance to work with his staff to use the same method that is currently used for bad debts for student loan remissions. If you can't list who the bad debts are from, you shouldn't be listing the students individually, as well. I want to encourage the Minister of Finance to stop that invasion of privacy. By the way, it's not done in any other jurisdiction in Canada, except for Nunavut, and that's just an artefact of division. So stop that practice, please. Thanks, Mr. Chair.