"An Act To Provide For The Recovery Of Tobacco Related Health Care Costs"
May 7, 2001 Issue 4
The Committee met at 9:00 a.m. in the House of Assembly. (St. John's, Newfoundland)
CHAIR (Ross Wiseman): Good morning and welcome.
This is the fourth day of hearings for the House of Assembly Select Committee on An Act To Provide For The Recovery Of Tobacco Related Health Care Costs. I want to welcome you here this morning. This morning we have three groups presenting. The first one is Ms Karen Selick. Karen, just to give you a little bit of insight in terms of the process, what we have provided for is a half hour time slot, with twenty minutes for your presentation. That will give us an opportunity, in the ten minutes remaining, to ask some questions or seek some clear clarification of anything you might raise.
Having said that, I will turn the floor over to you.
MS SELICK: Thank you very much.
I am not sure whether any of you will recognize my name, so I will just start out with a brief introduction so you will know who I am.
I work as a lawyer in Belleville, Ontario. At least that is my day job. In the evenings and on weekends, I am a writer. I write a monthly opinion column for a magazine called Canadian Lawyer and I write freelance opinion articles for The Globe and Mail, The National Post, and various other newspapers.
There is one other thing that I want to tell you about myself right at the beginning. It is something that, in my opinion, should be irrelevant, but unfortunately in this day and age it is not.
I am here to oppose Bill 9, the Tobacco Health Care Costs Recovery Act. In many ways, I am a very unlikely person to take on this task.
You see, I am a non-smoker. In fact, I have never smoked a cigarette in my life. I get very irritable when people around me smoke. It makes me feel as though I cannot breathe. I think smoking is an unsavory habit, an unhealthy habit, and frankly a good waste of money. I do not allow smoking in my home or office, and I am always suggesting to smokers that they quit.
Being as opposed to tobacco as I am, you might expect me to be here applauding Bill 9 and encouraging you to rap those nasty tobacco companies across the knuckles; but, I am not.
The reason is this: None of the negative things that I have said about tobacco is rocket science. You do not have to be a genius to understand that there might be better ways to spend your money than buying cigarettes. You would have had to be living on another planet not to know that there is a good chance that smoking is detrimental to your health.
My point is: If people already know these things and they still continue to smoke, is that any reason for the provincial legislatures of this country to go around trashing time-honored legal principles, corrupting rules of evidence, and essentially abandoning the rule of law?
So, I am here talking to you today not because of my views on tobacco, which are entirely irrelevant, but because of my views on law. I respect and value the common-law system which has developed in Canada, and before that in Britain, over centuries. I think the tort law system that we have in this country is based on principles that defend individual rights and freedoms. It was designed to protect all citizens, both individuals and corporate citizens, from the arbitrary confiscation of their hard-earned property while still providing justice for those who have been injured through no fault of their own. This system should not be lightly discarded.
My fear is not just that Bill 9 does an injustice to tobacco companies, which I think it does, but that once having set the precedent of casting aside traditional legal safeguards and rules for the sake of expediency and revenue, there will be no end to other so-called "just causes" that will arise demanding similar treatment. Eventually what started out as the exception will become the rule, and we will witness the complete destruction of a functional, honourable, just and fair tort system.
At this point, I would like to spell out my specific concerns. There are four main ways in which this bill trashes the common law. The first one is what I call: dispensing with causation.
Traditionally, in a civil lawsuit, the plaintiff had the task of proving that the defendant had caused the plaintiff’s loss. You could not just go to court and make unproven allegations and expect the judge to hand you a chunk of the other guy’s money. You had to prove cause and effect.
Under Bill 9, the requirement of proving that the tobacco companies caused the provincial government to incur health care costs is swept away. In subsection 5(1) of the bill, what the Crown has to prove is that exposure to a tobacco product "can cause or contribute to disease." It does not say that the Crown has to prove that exposure did cause or contribute to disease.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am sure you all know that exposure to just about anything in sufficient quantities can contribute to disease, especially using the enormously broad definition of disease that is in this bill. You can seriously harm yourself - even kill yourself - by drinking excessive water. However, the existence of this phenomenon called water intoxication should not logically give rise to a claim that water utilities should contribute to the cost of health care.
Of course you probably all recall the Alar scare, where mice were supposedly getting cancer from this chemical that is used on apples. Later, it turned out that the necessary exposure to cause cancer would have been equivalent to human beings drinking 19,000 quarts of apple juice every day of their lives.
Bill 9 goes even one step further, in subsection 5(2). The court’s Trial Division is directed to presume that tobacco exposure caused or contributed to disease. In other words, don’t bother us with what the facts might be; the Legislature has told us what we shall believe, and that is the end of the story.
The second concern I have ties in somewhat closely with the first. In my opinion, it was actually a bit of statutory overkill on the part of the draftsman. They seemed to feel that in case they had not already stacked the deck sufficiently with the causation stuff in section 5, they would nail it down once and for all with one more sentence. This appears in section 7, which says, "Statistical information...is admissible as evidence for the purpose of establishing causation...."
Ladies and gentlemen, the law has not traditionally recognized proof of causation by way of statistics, and I do not think it should start now.
There are good reasons why proof by statistics should be rejected. The first is pure logic. Statistical correlation is not the same as causation. When you look at the types of diseases that smoking is accused of causing - cancer, stroke, heart disease and so on - you will find that many other factors besides smoking bear a strong statistical correlation. Eating fatty foods is correlated statistically with these illnesses. Eating insufficient fibre is correlated. Here is an even better example: poverty is statistically correlated with these diseases. Who are you going to hold responsible for that?
Let me give you a comparison regarding the use of statistics as evidence. No doubt you are all familiar with the name Clifford Olson, the mass murderer out in British Columbia. If the Criminal Code adopted the same kind of statistical evidence that Bill 9 proposes to use, here is what would happen: The prosecutors would say: Clifford Olson killed a lot of people; so, statistically speaking, there is a good chance he also killed a few more who are missing. We cannot prove that he killed the victim in this particular case, but we will rely on the statistics and convict him anyhow.
I am sure you would agree with me that this kind of reasoning is totally unacceptable in a court of justice, and there is no reason why you should be willing to accept it now.
The third concern I have is what I will refer to as the "reverse onus" provision. It is in subsection 5(4) of the bill. This subsection says that after a defendant tobacco company has been presumed to have caused health care costs, the amount it has to pay may be reduced if the defendant can prove, on the balance of probabilities, that it did not cause the disease.
Traditionally, under Canadian law, it is the plaintiff who has what we call the burden of proof, or the onus of proving that it was harmed by the defendant. With this bill, the onus is shifted to the defendant to prove that it did not cause the plaintiff’s problems. It is a subtle distinction, perhaps, but it is an important one.
If we adopted this reverse onus provision in criminal law, it would be tantamount to abandoning our presumption that an accused person is innocent until proven guilty. In effect, we would be saying: You are presumed guilty unless you can prove that you are innocent.
Again, I hope you would agree with me that this would be a wholly unacceptable development in criminal law, and it should be equally unacceptable in civil law.
Not only that, but after requiring the tobacco manufacturers to prove their innocence, the bill also deprives them of every conceivable tool by which they might do so. Under subsection 4(5), they have not right to compel the production of details of any individual cases where people claim to have been harmed by their product. If they could compel inquires into such cases, who knows what they might find? Maybe 75 per cent of the people whose diseases are being attributed to tobacco are also people who are grossly obese. Maybe the manufactures of potato chips bear as much or more responsibility for the poor health of these people as the tobacco companies.
In effect, this section of the bill requires the tobacco companies to fight with both hands tied behind their backs.
The fourth way in which this bill breaks with legal tradition is in the last section, section 11. It says that once the bill is enacted, it has retroactive effect for all purposes, including allowing an action to be brought for things that took place at any time in the past.
Ladies and gentlemen, if the House passes this bill with this clause in it, quite frankly every member who votes for it should be ashamed of themselves. This is simply not fair play. It is one thing to say that people should be responsible for their actions but it is something entirely different to pass a law creating an entirely new cause of action and then say it is going to apply back ten years, or twenty years, or fifty years. If this law had been in place fifty years ago, then no doubt the tobacco companies would have taken into account what they were being made liable for. They would have factored the cost of this law into the prices of their products. Or maybe they would have said, "We are not going to sell tobacco in Newfoundland at all," which would have set a raging black market in place here. But this bill simply blindsides them. Were they supposed to be clairvoyant all those years ago and make provision for this new law?
In my opinion, this kind of behavior on the part of a Legislature does not encourage civic responsibility. Instead, it encourages disrespect and contempt for the law. This behavior is exactly the sort of thing we expect from a schoolyard bully who cannot win a game under the normal rules so he makes up new rules and forces them on the other kids. He rigs the game. It offends our sense of justice and it makes us mistrustful of all future dealings with the bully - namely, the Legislature.
Those are my concerns about the specific legal issues arising out of this bill, but I have a variety of other concerns as well - what I will call my philosophical concerns. There are six of these. The first one is the "thin edge of the wedge" argument. If the Province succeeds in bringing this legislation against tobacco companies, it will be tempted to go on and see who else it can tackle. As I said earlier, why not the makers of potato chips or chocolate bars? Why not MacDonald’s and Wendy’s and Burger King? Or, how about this: hundreds, maybe even thousands, of elderly people are hospitalized with broken bones every year because they fall on stairs in their own homes. Maybe you should pass a law making construction companies bear the health care costs of these people.
Then, of course, there are the car companies. There is a nice, deep pocket to target. Why don’t you pass a law making them liable for the health care costs of people who have car accidents? But, you had better be careful; because, logically, this door swings both ways. A huge percentage of car accidents involve alcohol, and guess who is responsible for selling alcohol in the Province? Why, of course, it is the government. But it is the car insurance companies who have to pay every time some drunk smashes himself up or injures some innocent victim in a car accident. Why shouldn’t the insurance companies to be able to sue the government for having caused their loss by selling alcohol? How would the government like it when the shoe is on the other foot?
My second philosophical objection is that this bill really has nothing to do with the courts at all. It is merely a tax in disguise. Conducting a lawsuit, with all the lawyers and judges looking dignified in their black robes, is merely an elaborate charade.
In fact, for what this bill is designed to achieve, there was really no need to write eleven sections. You could have pared it down to two sections. I will tell you how they should read. Section 1: If the government sues the tobacco industry, the government wins. Section 2: The amount of damages will be whatever the government asks for.
This kind of legislation reduces the courts in the Province to kangaroo courts. Why don’t you just be honest about it and impose a direct tax on the tobacco companies, instead of dragging the whole justice system into disrepute?
This leads directly to my third point, which is that there are already huge taxes being paid on tobacco products in Canada. I believe the figure is about $6 billion per year by the tobacco industry as a whole. What is this money being used for? Why isn’t this being used to fund health care costs? Why should there be double taxation of the same product for the same purposes?
My fourth objection is that this bill dismisses entirely any notion that individuals should have personal responsibility for their own behaviour. As a non-smoker, I do not like having to pay through my taxes for the health care costs of smokers, but making the tobacco companies pay does not constitute justice either. How about making smokers pay? Why not place the responsibility directly on those who have a chance to do something about their own behaviour? Why should they get health care provided for free when they demonstrate no apparent concern for their own well-being and no sense of responsibility to the non-smoking taxpayers of this Province?
Now, some people would argue that smokers cannot help their behavior because they are addicted to tobacco, and those nasty tobacco companies deliberately add stuff to cigarettes to get them hooked. I do not buy this argument for one second. I am sure everyone in this room knows plenty of people who have quit smoking and none of them are people with an extraordinary degree of will power. In fact, according to Professor Pierre Lemieux of the University of Quebec in his book Smoking and Liberty, more than half of the 66 per cent of non-smoking Quebecers are former smokers. That is more than half of 66 per cent. In other words, one-third of the people in the Province of Quebec are former smokers. They have quit, they have had the willpower to quit, and no doubt it is the same in other provinces.
If I may revert just briefly again to the issue of causation, I would like to point out that what really causes the Province to incur health care costs is the fact that you have chosen to adopt a system of socialized medicine. There was no law handed down by God on Mount Sinai that says a government has to provide everybody with free health care no matter how they abuse their own health. This House of Assembly passed legislation adopting socialized medicine, and that is the direct, proximate cause for taxpayers having to pick up the health care tab for smokers. This House is far more directly to blame than the tobacco companies are.
Free health care is a sacred cow here in Canada, but it need not be. Smokers could be required to pay a user fee for each and every medical service they use. Or better yet, in my opinion, the entire health care system could be privatized and insurance companies could be allowed to sell health insurance with premiums, instead of taxes, based on the individual health risks that people choose to incur. I can hardly believe the hypocrisy that lets you say statistics should be used against tobacco companies, while you won’t not allow private health insurers to use statistics to make actuarially sound judgements about the cost of insuring the health of smokers.
My fifth philosophical objection is that this bill looks at only one side of the story, namely, the extra health care costs that smokers are presumed to incur because of their tobacco use. In fact, there is considerable evidence - although you never hear about it - that smoking may actually help to prevent certain diseases. I am again quoting here from Professor Lemieux’s book, "A recent review of epidemiological research concludes that the evidence to date, taken as a whole, provides quite strong support for the notion that smoking, presumably through the action of nicotine, reduces the risk of AD [Alzheimer’s Disease]. Another survey of the scientific literature by Morens et al. shows massive evidence (34 out of 35 studies published to date) that nicotine greatly reduces the risk of Parkinson’s disease."
So my question is: If the tobacco companies are going to be charged for the health care costs they supposedly cause, are they going to be given credit for the health care costs that they save, by reducing the incidence of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease?
My sixth and last philosophical objection is this: If the government is allowed to pass on the costs of tobacco related illness to somebody else, this will give it no incentive to minimize those costs; and there may be some very simple, effective steps that could be taken to do so.
For instance, we know that so-called tobacco related illnesses do not affect all people in all countries equally. In a paper produced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, it was noted that citizens of Greece have one of the highest smoking rates per capita in the world, yet their lung cancer rate is relatively low. One explanation proffered for this is the high consumption of fruit in Greece.
So maybe the simplest way of dealing with lung cancer is not to just let it happen and make the tobacco companies pay. Maybe the way to deal with it is to encourage smokers to consume more fruit, or alternatively, more Vitamin C, which is probably the protective element the Greeks are getting out of the extra fruit they eat. Maybe all it would take is for the government to stick a coupon in every package of cigarettes for a free bottle of chewable, fruit-flavored Vitamin C tablets.
We never seem to see any research on simple, cost-effective ideas like this. This forces me to conclude that this entire exercise is not really about the health of Canadians at all. It is a money grab, plain and simple. It is all the more shameful for the fact that governments are already the silent, senior partners in the tobacco trade, netting through taxation approximately nine times what the shareholders of the tobacco companies net out of the sale of tobacco products.
I see that I have pretty much used up my twenty minutes of presentation time. I thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to speak to you today, and I welcome your questions.
CHAIR: Thank you, Ms. Selick.
I will ask the members of the committee: Are there any questions that you would have for Ms Selick?
MR. HARRIS: Yes, I have a question, Ms Selick.
You seem to have, in addition to the specific concerns about the provisions of the act itself, some philosophical objections, and you have mentioned socialized medical. Do you also have an objection, from a legal and from a philosophical basis, for certain other aggregate style provisions in the Workers’ Compensation acts, for example, which causes all employers to pay the costs of industrial disease or accidents? Essentially, it is a collective type of responsibility as opposed to an individual employer responsibility? Would you not agree that Workers’ Compensation legislation, for example, was designed to remedy difficulties in the law?
MS SELICK: Philosophically, I don’t support Workers’ Compensation legislation for exactly the same reasons. That is, I think that it creates a lot of misallocation of resources. That is, instead of people being able to use the lowest cost methods of preventing illnesses, people get all lumped together, you don’t get individual responsibility. I have the same philosophical objections to that type of collective legislation of every style. In fact, I can hardly think of something that collectivizes responsibility that I would not object to. I think that individuals should take responsibility and that it should not be spread out over groups of people; unless it is done voluntarily. That is the purpose of insurance. Insurance that is done on a contractual, voluntary basis spreads risk, voluntarily, among people who are willing to collectivize their risk, but when it is done on a compulsory basis I am opposed to it.
MR. HARRIS: I take it you would also oppose labor relations, legislation that requires employers to bargain collectively if the majority of the members want to engage in collective bargaining. You would oppose that too?
MS SELICK: I oppose, essentially, anything that
imposes the will of one party on another when there are voluntary methods
of doing the same thing, but in the absence of labor legislation, employers
might well agree to bargain collectively with employees on a voluntary
basis. That would be the real test of whether the employees have any real
value to the company. If the employees are so valuable to the company that
if they threaten that they are all going to walk out and the company says,
gee, don’t do that, we will negotiate, then so be it, those are fair forces
at work. But, to impose the obligation to negotiate collectively instead
of just saying, well, if you are not willing to work, we will hire somebody
else, I am opposed to that kind of legislation, yes.
MR. HARRIS: Okay.
In the legislation itself, your concerns are based on your analysis of tort law. You did not seem to acknowledge that, in fact, it is a new cause of action that is being proposed here, that it is an aggregate action as opposed to an individual action, and it removes the requirement of showing a particular individual received health care because that particular individual smoked a or a number of cigarettes. So, that is a new cause of action and I guess new rules of evidence would apply.
What do you feel about children becoming addicted to tobacco and that having some cause in their becoming smokers as adults?
MS SELICK: I think that their parents should discourage them from smoking, as mine did but, beyond that -
MR. HARRIS: I am sure they all do. I would say most, if not all, parents would discourage children from smoking.
MS SELICK: I hope. I imagine that even the people who work for the tobacco companies probably discourage their children from smoking.
That is really all I have to say on that subject.
MR. HARRIS: Thank you.
CHAIR: Mr. Ottenheimer.
MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Ms Selick, for your presentation.
I have a question for you, and again it relates to your commentary at the beginning with respect to tort law principles and how you feel that what is being proposed here violates many of the principles of the common law traditions as it relates to tort law.
In the U.S., for example, this whole issue, as you are aware I am sure, has resulted in very significant settlements. These global settlements, particularly in Florida, for example, and a number of other U.S. states, are very sizeable settlements where the tobacco companies, despite their awareness and perhaps concern, as you have expressed, in terms of violation of traditional tort law concepts, were prepared to enter into very significant global settlements in other jurisdictions.
I guess, as a lawyer and as an individual who has strong views on this issue, how do you view the industries willingness to enter into these very sizable global settlements in other jurisdictions where presumably, although a different jurisdiction - basically, I think it is fair to say those principles that you alluded to at the beginning of your presentation are quite similar in the sense of the basic common law principles of tort law, i.e. causation. So what are your views of what has happened South of the border leading to these very sizable and significant settlements?
MS SELICK: My understanding is that your Bill 9 was actually modeled on BC legislation, and the BC legislation in turn was actually modeled on US legislation, specifically Florida. So, in other words, when you talk about those US cases, what actually happened was the US tobacco companies were faced with this same sort of legislation that altered the common law and the US chose to enact this legislation for the same reason that I am fearful that you might enact it here; namely, you cannot win the game under the usual rules, so you make up you own rules. In other words, those settlements, I think, were essentially bullying of the tobacco companies by the legislatures.
In my view, it is wholly an invalid tactic. Yes, it may work here. By threatening to pass this legislation, you may ring settlements out of the tobacco companies, but I do not think that is any moral justification for threatening to trash the common law in that way.
MR. OTTENHEIMER: Could I just have one follow-up to that?
CHAIR: Yes, sure. Go ahead.
MR. OTTENHEIMER: If the companies were to hold that view - and obviously they would, that would be a significant part of their defense - in our jurisdiction or in other Canadian jurisdictions, why would, perhaps, the companies not be prepared to test the law and to raise the very fundamental issues, i.e. the principles of tort law that you have expressed, as a significant part of their defense in presenting a thorough case before one of the highest courts of each Province, and then waiting for a decision to see how, in fact, a superior judge of a superior court would interpret what it being presented by both sides of the argument?
MS SELICK: Well, no doubt that will happen and, in fact, it did happen. When BC passed legislation similar to this in 1999, it included some extra sections that are not in your draft bill. BC has since passed another act, I understand, similar to what is in your draft bill. That case did go to court. The tobacco companies brought a constitutional challenge, raising some of the issues that I have raised and a couple of others. In fact, the outcome of that case was that the legislation was struck down as unconstitutional on the grounds of extraterritoriality, that is if applied beyond the borders of BC. Now on the other issues, the court held that the legislation was constitutional, but that was just the first level of court.
It is my understanding that BC, as I said, has enacted a bill similar to yours. It removed the offending provisions of the extraterritoriality, and a new lawsuit has been started in BC. I believe that the tobacco companies probably will file a statement of defense that will make the same arguments over again, and they will test the constitutionality of it, and will make the same arguments, and I think they should.
CHAIR: Mr. Sullivan.
MR. SULLIVAN: I have a question. I guess Bill 9 is not really about programs or elimination of smoking, or focused on eliminating future smoking at all. It is not about that at all. In fact, one of the concerns of mine is that - I am a non-smoker, I detest smoking actually, I discourage it and have been active in programs in the past to eliminate it in youth. I am concerned with one aspect, second-hand smoke, environmental tobacco smoke. Who is responsible to protect individuals, and the health care costs associated with the significant numbers of people who pick up disease from second-hand smoke?
I guess, this bill would indicate we are going after the tobacco companies. Would it be your position - and you have already stated that the individual has to accept a degree of responsibility. Should the employer have a degree of responsibility and should governments who could regulate and protect the workplace from those - what responsibilities would you attach to other individuals other than tobacco companies in this case?
MS SELICK: First of all, let me say that the dangers of environmental tobacco smoke - that is second-hand smoke- are highly overestimated. The studies that I have seen indicate, for instance - I am referring again to Professor Pierre Lemieux book which says that lung cancer risks are six point seven times higher in houses where pet birds are kept, which is a risk ratio five times higher than environmental tobacco smoke. I really think that people significantly overestimate the disease causing potential of second-hand smoke.
If there is some danger - and certainly I do not like being around second-hand smoke - I think that the question boils down to one of property rights. That is, if a restaurant owner decides that he is going to allow smoking in his restaurant, then it is his property and he has the right to choose whether or not to do that, and he has to realize that some customers will not patronize his business as a result. Given those facts, some restaurant owners will choose to have non-smoking sections. Some will choose to make their restaurant entirely non-smoking, some will choose to allow smoking throughout the entire restaurant, and the chips will have to fall where they may. People who choose to go into environments where smoking is allowed will have to realize that they are taking some of the risk. That is my view on the subject.
MR. SULLIVAN: Should the cost for non-smoker health care, if this legislation passes - could not parallel legislation also be brought in to hold smokers accountable for health care costs incurred by non-smokers?
MS SELICK: You might be able to build that in, although there is such a tenuous connection between smoking and the things that go wrong with people that I would be very cautious about trying to build into the smokers costs some extra premium for the damage they might do to non-smokers. I think that the connection is so tenuous, there are so many other factors that might have caused these people to have illnesses - some people get lung cancer without ever having smoked and without ever having been around smokers. Some people get it from exposure to radon gas, for example. Some people may get it because they worked in a coal mine. How can you sort out who gets it because of smoking or environmental tobacco and who gets it from some other reason?
If you did privatize this and imposed premiums on smokers based on the costs that they incur, it would really be up to insurance companies to determine that on a broad statistical basis. Of course, insurance companies research these things to a high degree, so I would leave it to the market place to decide essentially.
MR. SULLIVAN: The point I was making is: If we hold tobacco companies responsible for those costs incurred by non-smokers, shouldn’t we also hold smokers and people who provide that smoke responsible, because it is not the tobacco, it is the presence of the product when it is being smoked that causes the problem to non-smokers not the product itself?
MS SELICK: As I said, people can frequently chose whether or not they go into the presence of tobacco. In a restaurant, for example, you can decide whether or not you want to dine there, you can decide whether or not you are willing to work there, and the same goes with the workplace. Non-smokers are in the majority now, so most workplaces do provide a smoke-free environment or at least part of an environment which is smoke free, and people can sort this out with their employers. I do not see that we need a law to do this.
MR. SULLIVAN: You could not in the past with retroactive legislation. You could not do that in the past. You would have had to quit your job or put up with the smoke.
MS SELICK: Again, this is what I would call a market phenomenon. If your employer is so uncooperative that you have to quit your job to get away from tobacco smoke, probably you should look for another job anyhow. People will sort themselves out, because there are probably more employers who are non-smokers than smokers and they will naturally prefer to provide some free environments. So the people who want to work in a smoke-free environment will look for a smoke-free employer. The people who want to work in a smoky environment will look for a smoky employer.
CHAIR: Thank you, Ms Selick, for your very interesting presentation. I thank you for taking the time to present this to us.
Just for your information, we are going to, as a committee, conclude our hearings and have our report back to the Legislature by the May 14. At that time, we will be debating it in the Legislature itself. So thank you very much for your comments and input.
I apologize again for having tried to drown you earlier by tipping your water on your desk.
MS SELICK: That is okay.