Thursday, November 19, 1987 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
We will proceed with Prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper. Introduction of Visitors?
Are there any Returns or Documents for Tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have for tabling the First Annual Report of the Yukon Development Corporation.
Mr. Phillips: I have for tabling a letter regarding the Thompson affair sent to Mr. Kimmerly that I referred to yesterday from the Yukon Council on Aging.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees? Are there any Petitions? Introduction of Bills? Are there any Notices of Motion for Production of Papers? Are there any Notices of Motion? Are there any Statements by Ministers?
Mandate of the Yukon Development Corporation
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have just now had the pleasure of tabling the first Annual Report of the Yukon Development Corporation. The Development Corporation was created with the proclamation of the Yukon Development Corporation Act on December 29, 1987. The affairs of the Corporation are administered by an independent and responsible board, which is committed to the prudent management of the Corporations assets and to conscientious consideration of each new venture it may undertake.
YDCs mandate was developed in a careful process that took into account the opinions of the private sector, government officials and the directors of YDC, as well as the lessons learned from similar ventures in other jurisdictions. From this process Cabinet approved a policy mandate that has the following focus: YDC is commercially oriented and operates as a commercial enterprise without duplicating the activities of government or the private sector. YDC restricts it support, including acting as a lending agency, to projects in which it assumes an equity position. YDC functions primarily as a vehicle for undertaking commercial projects that will recover costs and provide an acceptable rate of return, but as a Crown Corporation it must consider the public benefit to be derived from its activities. YDC will take into account the impact of any project on other firms and sectors and will encourage the involvement of private sectors partners. Where there is no existing private sector interest, YDC will take the opportunity in identifying opportunities and facilitating development consistent with the Yukons economic goals. YDC may accept a higher risk level when dealing with rural Yukon communities in order to facilitate development in areas in which commercial lenders have been reluctant to venture. YDC is not intended to compete with the private sector but to act in those areas where private interest or funding is lacking and to make investments that have significant potential for Yukon development.
The focus for YDCs investments are those areas in which the financial magnitude of a project precludes Yukon private businesses from taking full responsibility. In such instances, the YDC will undertake joint ventures with entrepreneurs to realize projects which will contribute to the territorys economic health.
YDC has been designed as a small holding company operating with a skeleton staff and contracting with experienced private sector concerns to manage the operation of its assets. This policy will continue. Where further expert assistance is required, YDC will contract for provision of this assistance rather than hire new employees. This policy will ensure that the YDC retains the flexibility to be involved with a wide variety of business concerns without undertaking the expense of a large staff.
In the coming years, YDCs role will be to make sound investments in pivotal developments that will strengthen and diversify the Yukons economy. These investments will open up further opportunities for Yukon businesses and employment for Yukon citizens.
I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Chair of the YDC, Dave Joe, and the Directors: Ivan J. Cable, Tim Koepke, Linda Johnson, Fred Berger, Charles Sanderson and Shakir Alwarid. Their roles are demanding on both time and effort but it is through its Board that the YDC will fulfill its mandate for service to the Yukon Territory and its citizens.
Speaker: This then brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: Overlapping claims
Mr. Phelps: I have some questions regarding overlapping claims: they have to do with Indian bands from outside the Yukon claiming land and resources within Yukon. I would like to follow up on some questions and answers that took place in this House on November 9. At that time the Government Leader said that he would check to see whether any research was being done for Yukons court case, with respect to the Kaska Dena claim on some 10,000 square kilometres around Watson Lake in the Yukon. I am wondering whether or not the Government Leader has checked into that and whether he can report to the House.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I can confirm that research is going on into the question identified by the Leader of the Official Opposition.
Mr. Phelps: I wonder if the Government Leader could advise in the future whether or not there are contracts out specifically for consultants to do that work and whether or not we could be advised of the names of the consultants and when they were engaged.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: At this point it is my understanding that the research is going on in-house. There may have been some communications with our counsel on this score, but I would have to confirm that. As the Leader of the Official Opposition may know, counsel themselves may retain researchers from time to time. I do not believe that is the case, but I will check to make sure it is not.
Mr. Phelps: I wonder if the Government Leader could also advise whether any meetings have taken place with the Dene of Northwest Territories regarding Treaty 11, which takes in a large area of Yukon, including Watson Lake and that area.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am certain that there has been at least one meeting, probably more, between our negotiators, the federal negotiators, CYI, and the various negotiators in connection with the Dene/Metis claim, and some substantial discussions have taken place about efforts to resolve the overlapping claims on our eastern boundary.
Question re: Atlin Tlingit claim
Mr. Phelps: We have been hearing about the claim of the Atlin Tlingit people in British Columbia who, apparently, are claiming a large area of land in southwest Yukon. Can the Government Leader advise whether this government has received any maps either from the claiming group or from the federal government showing the area claimed by the Atlin people in southwest Yukon around Whitehorse and Carcross?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have not personally received any such maps, nor have I been notified that we have received any such maps, but I will check to establish the facts of the situation and report back to the House.
Mr. Phelps: If there are any such maps in existence, would the Government Leader table them in the House?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I see no particular problem in doing so.
Mr. Phelps: Can the Government Leader advise whether his government has had any meetings with the Atlin Tlingit with respect to their overlapping claim in the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am fairly certain, although I would have to confirm it, that no representative of my office or our negotiating team has had any formal contact with the Atlin Tlingit in connection with their claim.
Question re: Yukon Housing Corporation
Mr. McLachlan: The Budget Speech indicated that the corporation is desirous of building or obtaining 57 new units in the coming fiscal year. How was that number arrived at? Is that the number that is currently on the waiting list, or was that the budget restrictions imposed? Why not 77 or 37?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The number 57 is the per unit allocation that is permitted the Yukon by the CMHC under a formula that is determined by ministers of housing across the country. The NWT, Yukon and Prince Edward Island share approximately five percent of the national allocation. At this point, Yukons share is 57 units.
Mr. McLachlan: Does the Minister anticipate that when the Senior Citizens Complex, being presently built on First Avenue with the cooperation of the federal government, is completed, that it will satisfy the demand in that area. Or are we in a position that we will be building another one the same size one year from now?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That is a highly speculative question. At this point we feel that in Whitehorse the new Seniors Complex will go a great distance toward satisfying the existing demand. There will be a requirement for upgrading of units for senior citizens who want to remain in their own homes. I understand there is a fair demand for that kind of assistance and we have developed a program for those persons, and for disabled persons in particular, to allow for renovations to their homes so they may remain in their homes.
Mr. McLachlan: The largest block of housing currently available and not being used is the federal government allotment in Takhini. Can the Minister answer if his government has entered into any discussions with the Department of Public Works with regard to any type of solution for releasing or renting some of these. Any agreement that would ease some of the housing shortage in Whitehorse.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As I am sure the Member knows some leasing arrangements have already been undertaken with YHC for the Takhini DPW units. The Department of Public Works, however, is keen on selling the units to any potential buyer, as their top priority. That type of proposal is very problematic given the infrastructure in the Takhini area.
Question re: Territorial Court Act
Mr. Phillips: I have a question for the Minister of Justice.
Yesterday I asked the Minister if the Human Rights Act was paramount and superseded the Territorial Court Act. The Minister said, Legal opinion is so simple and obvious that I will give it, yes. Will the Minister step in now and uphold the law he drafted and reinstate Mr. Thompson and correct the mistake he claims was made by the Territorial Courts Chief Judge?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: That is a restatement of a question and response that has been made repeatedly in the media and here. It is not possible for me to take any action that would reinstate Mr. Thompson, except to propose changes in the Territorial Court Act.
Mr. Phillips: I believe it is possible and I believe that the Minister of Justice is just refusing to accept his responsibilities. We are not talking about a bag of flour, we are dealing with a mans livelihood and we are costing this gentleman undue hardships and stress. We are not talking about a court decision that the Minister has to overturn; we are talking about a judge who, as the Minister claims, has misinterpreted a clause in the Territorial Court Act, which on September 8 was no longer in effect.
The chief Territorial Court judge could be advised of this and Mr. Thompson could be reinstated immediately. We do not need to change the Territorial Court Act.
Speaker: Order, please. Would the Member please get to his supplemental question?
Mr. Phillips: Yes, I will. The Territorial Court Act was changed, in the Minister of Justices own words, on July 1, 1987, when his Human Rights Bill became law. Will he advise the chief Territorial Court judge who, I might add, should have already known that the particular section . . .
Speaker: Order, please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary question.
Mr. Phillips: Mr. Speaker, I am in the middle of my question.
Speaker: It is a supplementary question.
Mr. Phillips: Will he advise the chief Territorial Court judge who I might add, should have already known, that the particular section that the Minister of Justice says he used to remove Mr. Thompson is of no effect on September 8, 1987?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: On behalf of the House, I apologize for the opposite Members discourtesy to yourself, Mr. Speaker, and his inappropriate attack on a judge, made in this House.
The judge has interpreted the law and made a direction. The proper course of action to change that if anyone feels agreed is through the court process, or in this House by changing the law. Both of those legitimate courses of action are under way. The Member opposite is being ungentlemanly, disrespectful, intellectually dishonest, and irresponsible.
Mr. Lang: Point of Order.
Speaker: Point of Order to the Member for Whitehorse Porter Creek East.
Mr. Lang: Just a minute ago, the Minister referred to the rules. Would he please follow them with respect to addressing other Members in this House? If he wants to get into that kind of a game, I assure you Members on this side of the House can play it very well.
Speaker: On the point of order, I find there is no Point of Order but a conflict between two Members.
Mr. Phillips: The responsibility is with the Minister and what I was stating was exactly what the Minister said yesterday. Firstly, he said that the Human Rights Act superseded the Territorial Court Act. Secondly, he said the decision was made by the Territorial Court judge. I asked the Minister of Justice to inform the Territorial Court judge what she obviously did not know, and has made a mistake. If you say it was law and she misinterpreted it, she made a mistake.
Would the Minister accept his responsibility and at least let the judge know that the law was changed on September 8, when she made the decision to fire Mr. Thompson because he was over 65 years of age. Do your job.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Ministers of Justice do not instruct judges. If I did, the Members opposite would be the first to complain. The proper course of action is to take action in the courts and in this Assembly; so the legitimate courses of action are underway.
Question re: 501 Taylor St.
Mr. Phillips: We will try a new Minister. I have a question for the Minister of Health and Human Resources. Could she tell us what the current status of 501 Taylor Street is with respect, first of all, to legal action; secondly, how many children are in that place and is it utilized to its fullest extent?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I believe that we have appealed the decision that was made. I am not aware of any court case that is going to be coming up in regard to that. My latest count is that we have three individuals in the building.
Mr. Phillips: It is a fairly controversial issue. Does the Minister believe, or does the Minister actually know, if they have appealed it?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I just said that we have appealed it and there has not been any action to date.
Mr. Phillips: My understanding is that to justify 501 Taylor Street as a young offenders facility, the Minister has taken children from all the other young offenders facilities and put them in 501. Is this true that the other facilities, such as 5030, have been vacant all summer?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: We only have, at this point in time, three young offenders in open custody, and they are all at 501 Taylor.
Question re: 501 Taylor
Mr. Phillips: Can the Minister advise this House, and bring back to the House, the numbers of children who were in 5030 Fifth Avenue for the summer of 1987, and the numbers of children who were in 501 Taylor and any other young offenders facility in the Yukon. Could she bring that information back to the House, please?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: We just do not have the amount of young offenders in custody as we had before. We have one in secure custody; we have three in open custody, and rather than have one 5030, we moved them all to 501, and 5030 is being used for something else.
Mr. Phillips: Maybe the Minister could tell the House today: if we have no need for another facility, and we have another that is already empty, why did we spend thousands of dollars of taxpayers money building a new facility?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: Because we are required by law, and they know that.
Question re: Day home surveillance
Mrs. Firth: That answer was rubbish. We have determined from the Minister if Health and Human Resources comments that officials of the government parked outside at least one family day home and counted the cars and children as they were being dropped of at the day home. Can the Minister tell us now how the unlisted phone number of parents were obtained by the Department officials?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: The information was very thoroughly looked into. We had one unlisted phone number from an individual who had come to our department to apply for a subsidy but was not eligible because she was not in licenced day care. She had given us her unlisted number at that time. We searched very thoroughly, and there was only one person whose unlisted number we were able to get.
Mrs. Firth: Again, my information is different than the Ministers. I would ask her to check again. Can the Minister tell us today about whether neighbours of the family day homes, other than the one that was charged, were called to find out how many children were in that day home?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I will bring that information back a week from Monday.
Mrs. Firth: Again, the Minister has no answer, and she has to come back with information. Eighty percent of these questions have no answers. Can the Minister tell us what is being done with the information that is being gathered?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: The information that we have is on file in the office. We only had the one home under surveillance, and the Member knows that. I do not keep a daily tab on every single little thing that happens with every little single thing in my department...
Some Member: (Unintelligible)
Hon. Mrs. Joe: The Member says that it is not a little thing. Unlicenced day cares could be very big or they could be very little. If the Member needs the information, I will bring it back to her.
Question re: Child abuse accusation
Mrs. Firth: Not only does the Minister not keep a tab on what goes on in her department, she does not know what is going on in her department.
A licenced day home operator was called by the Day Care Services Board and was told that she was accused of physical child abuse. She was told to appear at a meeting, that she could lose her licence and that there could be charges. Just before the meeting, she was called by an official in the department and told not to worry about it, the meeting had been cancelled. I would like to know what the Ministers policy and procedure is regarding to this kind of allegation of child abuse within the day care services area.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: If there is some allegation of child abuse in any day care, and I am surprised the Member would bring up an individual case in this House because that information should be confidential...
Mrs. Firth: Point of Order. The Minister has in some way alluded to the fact that I have broken someones confidentiality in the House. I have not done that. I have raised no names, simply an incident. I would like an answer from the Minister regarding the policy of the department when it comes to accusations of child abuse.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: On the Point of Order. The Member opposite knows full well there is no Point of Order, simply a disagreement in debate as to the facts. Members opposite are repeatedly rising on spurious Points of Order and they should be corrected.
Speaker: I find that there is no Point of Order, as there is no rule in this little red bible that has been broken.
Mrs. Firth: To get on with my question, I would like to ask the same Minister to carry on with the incident that happened this individual told me she hired a lawyer who was unable to get responses from the department when inquiries were made. Subsequently, an official of the department appeared at the family day home and told this individual to forget about the situation, admitted that the department had handled it badly, and that it would not be brought up again. I would like to know if this is the normal procedure for this government when it comes to this kind of issue.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I do not know the case she is talking about, but it is the procedure in the department that if there is an allegation of child abuse that it be investigated. If there is sufficient evidence then some kind of action is taken. I do not know the circumstances, I do not have the information on that and, therefore, cannot tell her whether or not everything was done in the order it should have been done.
Mrs. Firth: Again the Minister does not know something. She does not even know the policy regarding this matter. This woman incurred legal costs of her own, she spent many fretful, tearful days at home because of this issue, and when she raised it with the day care official was told that she did not even have to go and get a lawyer, that they would take care of everything and that the expenses were now her responsibility. I would like to know if it is the Ministers policy to harass innocent people this way?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: These are very serious charges. Whenever somebody comes to me and they want to know something about an incident that happened, I always have to check with my department to find out what they have to say. I do not stand around and make decisions and answer questions if I do not have the proper information. I only have what one person told me. I have to find out what the department has to say, and when I find out, then I will come back to the Member and I will let her know.
Mrs. Firth: Even when the Minister goes back and finds out, she comes back with the wrong information. I want to direct my question to the Government Leader, because I have had it with this. His Minister of Health and Human Resources has allowed her department to deteriorate to the point where it is out of control. Peoples lives are being affected daily people who take their children to day care services innocent people are being harassed, the Minister refuses to enforce the existing laws and, furthermore, has come back to this House and admitted and accepted the responsibility for misleading this House. I want to know if the Government Leader will, in the public interest, request the immediate resignation of the Minister of Health and Human Resources and appoint another Minister.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Judging by the behaviour of the Member opposite, the more appropriate resignation would be hers. During this session, I have heard constant accusations charges made by the Member such as the one today, with no evidence brought to the House, no courtesy in first of all making a discreet enquiry as to whether there is any foundation or any factual base. Just now she read out a prepared statement written by who knows ever -
Mrs. Firth: Me.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: making an accusation, not asking a question at all, which is what the proper purpose of Question Period is making a debating point. A personal and vicious attack on the most caring Minister of Health and Human Resources this territory has ever had.
Mrs. Firth: The Government Leader may be bigger than I am and he may be able to shout louder than I can, but I thought very seriously about this before I came into this Legislative Assembly. I can remember the other day when the Government Leader sat in that chair and said, Allegations of misleading without proof. Well, I have the proof. The Government Leader is always the Member who is yelling and jumping up and saying, Put your seat on the line, put your seat on the line. I put my seat on the line that day. I had my information and my proof ...
Speaker: Order, please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary?
Mrs. Firth: Mr. Speaker, if I may finish this is a very serious matter and very serious accusations that the Government Leader has made. I am prepared to table my information that substantiates that the information this Minister brought in the House was wrong ...
Speaker: Point of Order, for the Government House Leader.
Hon. Mr. Porter: Clearly, we have a situation where there is blatant abuse of the rules and the Member clearly understands the rules of Question Period and she should put her question.
Mrs. Firth: On the Point of Order.
Speaker: On the Point of Order to the Member for Whitehorse Riverdale South.
Mrs. Firth: I will be putting my question in. The Government House Leader, by standing up and interrupting with a Point of Order that is not one is not contributing to the discussion at all. No Point of Order.
Speaker: Order, please. Our Standing Order states: A brief preamble will be allowed in the case of a main question, and a one-sentence preamble will be allowed in the case of each supplementary question.
Mrs. Firth: I would like a new question then, Mr. Speaker.
Question re: Day home surveillance
Mrs. Firth: The Minister was asked this question in the Legislature and was given four days to respond to it and three times asserted in this House that the City of Whitehorse had given her some information.
This Minister has been a Member of this Assembly just as long as I have and knows the rules, and shes been a Minister longer than I have. She brought back information that was wrong and misleading. An apology does not remove the fact that she mislead the House. I am asking the Government Leader again for this Ministers resignation in the interest of the public so we may proceed with some decisions in the area she is responsible for, and people can get on with their lives in this territory.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member has made an accusation again about a matter that has been dealt with by the Minister and by the House. Having made the accusation previously about the incorrect information, the Member opposite did not wait for the Minister to establish the facts and come back to the House. She pressed the accusation.
The Minister responded in the House, advised that she had been given incorrect information and apologized. The offense in this House that is to be dealt with most seriously is deliberately misleading the House. The Minister did not deliberately mislead the House. In good conscience, she passed on information she received from her department. The Member, now to resurrect that issue again as a red herring in her typically nasty manner during Question Period, is inappropriate, not only on account of the fact that it is inappropriate for Question Period, but it is an issue that has already been addressed by the Minister and resolved.
Mrs. Firth: If it is the way the Government Leader says it, then I would requestbased on incompetencethat he seek this Ministers resignation immediately so the people of the Yukon who deserve better service can get on with their lives with a new Minister assuming that portfolio responsibility.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: There are many people in this territory in the recent day care debate who have been quite appalled by the actions of the Member opposite, who believe that she has played a mischievous and entirely destructive role. Outside this House, but not in it, she is reported to have been an advocate of unregulated and unlicenced day care. That is not the view of this government, and we will oppose to the end that view of day care. We believe in quality. We care about the kids, and we are going to make sure that the quality of day care is provided for children of this territory within the means that are at our disposal. That is what the present Minister is doing: acting on legislation and regulations that were passed by previous government. I believe the Member opposite is engaged in a dangerous, destructive game for purely partisan political purposes.
Question re: Change of Name Act
Mr. Brewster: My question is to the Government Leader. Yesterday during debate in Committee of the Whole on Bill No. 9, the Change of Name Act, my colleague from Whitehorse Porter Creek East asked the Minister of Health and Human Resources about a time requirement for the registrar to respond to an application. The Minister responded as follows, I do not know about that. I did look through it, and I do not know whether or not it is indicated anywhere else. If the Member wants me to find that information, I would be interested myself and would get that information.
My question: Can the Government Leader explain why his Minister is not able to provide basic information about a Bill she is sponsoring?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member opposite was very briefly and very ingloriously a Minister of Renewable Resources, and if he could recite to me from memory the Wildlife Act of the Yukon Territory, I would take his question seriously.
Mr. Brewster: There is quite a difference, and that is a red herring. This Bill was brought before the House and was supposed to be a very easy Bill to understand.
In response to the very next question, the Minister of Health and Human Resources responded, I do not know if it was a problem before, the time period of waiting, and I do not believe it was in the old legislation either. If the Member can tell me that it was then I would accept that, but I do not think that it was. My question: I would like to know how the Minister can claim that she is improving the old legislation when she obviously does not know what is in it.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I sat here for an hour last night and listened to the Minister explain the policy of bringing legislation into conformity with the Charter of Rights, making it cheaper and simpler for people to change names. I watched the Members opposite refuse to listen to her answers and continue to repeat the same questions over and over again. It is quite clear what is going on here. There is a personal and vicious attack being mounted by the bullies on the other side against the Minister, who has an enormous task dealing with many serious problems, caring about many people in the community and she is doing a fine job.
Mr. Brewster: I do not usually get answers and I do not expect any. It is with extreme regret, and I repeat, extreme regret, that I ask that the Government Leader accept the resignation of the Minister of Health and Human Resources.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I shall not accede to the request. I must sincerely say I doubt the sincerity of the request.
Question re: Day home surveillance
Mr. Nordling: My question is also to the Government Leader and I am not asking for a great philosophical or self-righteous speech. I would like to ask if this government finds the procedure, of calling one neighbour and asking them to report on another neighbour, is acceptable to this government and is the future that Yukoners can look forward to?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I normally enjoy the Member opposites self-righteous speeches and he is quite good at them. I am sorry he does not want to hear one from anybody else.
The question of the process of an investigation under regulations or an Act of this House, is obviously not something Ministers deal with on a day-to-day basis. I have never instructed an investigation in terms of how it should be done or how it should be conducted. That is done, I suppose, according to laws and the regulations. If Members have a particular complaint about a particular investigation and are willing to lay the facts before the House not just vague allegations I would be prepared to sponsor a proper investigation into the allegations. All we have had is very wild and very ranging charges. We have not had names, dates and specifics communicated to us privately or publicly.
Mr. Nordling: Does the Government Leader find it acceptable for one of his government departments to be charging people, offering to consult after the fact, and then not giving any direction to what I would call innocent bystanders in this case the parents as to what they should be doing for the next six or eight months while the government consults?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: As the Minister previously said, before any responsible official would respond to an accusation like that, they would want to hear the specifics of the case, get a response and try to see if there was an agreeable foundation of fact if the facts are as alleged by the Member. Then, if the facts were established, it seems to me the question about an inquiry would be in order.
Mr. Nordling: I am talking about direction from the Minister to people while her investigation is ongoing. No matter how nice a person is, and how caring they are, if they cannot carry a tune they should not be singing in the choir. Will the Government Leader ask this Minister for her resignation?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: No matter how many voices are joined in the chorus over there, the last people in the world I will seek advice from, in terms of the composition of the Cabinet of this government, are the people opposite.
Speaker: Question Period has now elapsed. We will now proceed with Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Special adjournment motion
Hon. Mr. Porter: I move that the House at its rising do stand adjourned until Monday, November 30, 1987.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Government House Leader that the House at its rising do stand adjourned until Monday, November 30, 1987.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: Government Bills?
Bill No. 2: Second Reading
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 2, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. Penikett.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I move that Bill No. 2, entitled Sixth Appropriation Act, 1986-87, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Government Leader that Bill No. 2, entitled Sixth Appropriation Act 1986-87, be now read a second time.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The purpose of this Bill is to vote expenditures for the 1986-87 fiscal year in excess of the previously voted spending authority. Appropriation authority in the amount of $4,134,000 is required as follows: $592,000 in Community and Transportation Services for Operation and Maintenance; $1,286,000 in Health and Human Resources for Operation and Maintenance; $818,000 in the Public Service Commission for Operation and Maintenance; and $1,438,000 in Education for capital.
In summary form, the overexpenditures being requested in this Bill are the result of the following: In Community and Transportation Services, unpredictable weather conditions increased the requirement for winter maintenance on the Skagway Road, and accounting depreciation for Yukon Housing increased the requirement for that program. Acceleration of construction at Yukon College and redesign of the college residence both increased the Department of Educations funding requirement in the Capital vote. In Health and Human Resources, higher than anticipated costs for out-of-territory doctors and hospital, and wage and volume increases have increased the departments 1986-87 funding requirement. A year-end calculation of accumulated leave and termination benefits for government employees requires additional vote authority for this non-cash item in the Public Service Commission.
While these sums were overspent, the remaining votes were underspent by a total of $18,335,000, for a net underexpenditure of $14,200,000 for the year. The government incurred an annual operating deficit of $4,234,000 in 1986-87, as opposed to the sum of $18,937,000 forecast at the time the last supplementaries for 1986-87 were presented to the House. This reduced expenditure is largely attributable to the net underexpenditure previously referred to.
The Ministers are prepared to speak to the appropriation being requested at great length during general debate and will, at that time, answer any questions hon. Members have.
Motion agreed to
Bill No. 3: Second Reading
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 3, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. Penikett.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I move that Bill No. 3, entitled Third Appropriation Act, 1987-88, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Government Leader that Bill No. 3, entitled Third Appropriation Act, 1987-88, be now read a second time.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The purpose of this Bill is to vote estimated expenditures for the 1987-88 fiscal year, in excess of spending authority previously voted in the Main Estimates. Additional appropriation authority in the amount of $8,279,000 is being sought in the supplementary. This sum consists of $2,113,000 for Operation and Maintenance and $6,166,000 for capital. The monies required for O&M purposes will, among other things, pay for additional teachers we have found necessary to hire due to our growing student population, fund the operating costs associated with the Human Rights Commission, and cover the cost of recent MLA pay increases.
The Department of Government Services will also be provided with additional funds so they can provide the other departments of government with a full range of services and implement the Yukon Business Incentives Policy.
Capital funding is being sought for a variety of purposes. Among these are: $2,146,000 for the LEOP program, $801,000 for projects under the Engineering Services Agreement and the Ministry of Transport Airports program as Members will be aware, these funds are recoverable from the federal government over $1.5 million for the Carcross School; $1.3 million for GA Jeckell gymnasium; almost $1.7 million for construction at the Yukon College site, including $500,000 to begin the first phase of the Yukon Arts and Cultural Centre.
Offsetting these additional funds is a reduction in forecast spending in the amount of $1,144,000 for an extended care facility in the Department of Health and Human Resources. The uncertainty of federal plans in connection with the new Whitehorse General Hospital make this reduction necessary. Monies remaining in the project will allow planning of the facility to proceed.
Ministers will, of course, speak to the supplementary requests in greater detail when the Estimates are considered in Committee, and we will be prepared at that time to answer any questions they may have.
Motion agreed to
Bill No. 59: Second Reading
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 59, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. Penikett.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I move that Bill No. 59, entitled Loan Agreement Act (1987) be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Government Leader that Bill No. 59, entitled Loan Agreement Act (1987), be now read a second time.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The purpose of this Bill is to renew the governments borrowing authority by putting in place sufficient authority to accommodate foreseeable borrowing requirements over the next few years. The authority to borrow by the Act over the past several years has come from the Loan Agreement Act (1982). Since the passage of this Act, the government has borrowed several times against the $10 million the Act authorized. In 1983, $2.2 million were borrowed on the open market, and approximately $3.7 million has been borrowed from the Canada Pension Plan Fund.
As Members are aware, the principal purposes for which we borrow money are to reloan to municipalities and to finance land development. We may also use some of these borrowed monies to finance a portion of the Northern Canada Power Commission purchase, but in no event are borrowed funds necessary or used to finance the day to day operations of our government. By the end of this fiscal year, we expect there will only be $3.7 million in authority left under the 1982 Act, and the purpose of this Bill is simply to authorize new authority once the remaining $3.7 million is taken up.
Motion agreed to
Bill No. 5: Second Reading
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 5, adjourned debate, Mr. Phelps.
Mr. Phelps: It is time once again to make some comments about the Budget Speech, and I have already been quoted on some of my thoughts with respect to the Budget.
We will be examining with great interest and in great detail the supplementary Bills, as well as the Budget, in the weeks to come. At this time, we are speaking to the principle. There are some issues that are extremely important and that are extremely forboding for Yukoners. I have talked about this theme before, I will talk about it again, and I will talk about it as long as it is a concern to me and to right-thinking Yukoners everywhere.
The theme of dependency is one that we cannot avoid. We seem to be growing in our dependency on Ottawa, growing on the largess of money from the south. This is partly true because of the ever increasing size of government and the ever increasing size of government expenditures. Not only are we talking about government growth in terms of person years but all the offices and buildings that this government is producing. These require an ever increasing amount of Operation and Maintenance money. There has been no evidence laid before this House, as of yet, that much thought has gone into Operation and Maintenance costs of the buildings in question. As this increasing dependence grows and grows and grows, the more vulnerable this government is to a downturn in the economy, and the more vulnerable and dependent this government is on the whims of the party in power at any given time in Ottawa.
We have seen these mistakes before. I cannot understand why they are being repeated now. We have seen what happened in Alberta with the oil boom. All of the sudden the rug was pulled, and we see all the buildings that have been shut down over the course of the past couple of years because of that provinces dependency on oil. We have seen what happened in Alaska, the huge growth that paralleled what is happening here where very little thought was given to the ongoing costs of the monuments erected in the governments name. When we go to Alaska now, we see an exodus of people. We see a crumbling housing market. We see buildings shut down all over the place.
This government is growing steadily and intentionally, in leaps and bounds. There are more buildings, more offices and more businesses, particularly in real estate, completely and totally dependent on the largess of the YTG, which is in turn completely dependent on the largess of the government in Ottawa.
We see a trend here to, all of a sudden, attack a problem at the last minute. I am speaking about the new social housing program that this government is embarking upon. Firstly, it says a lot about the attitude of this government, because the government want to be the big landlord in the Yukon in years to come. Secondly, it shows that the government has not been thinking about the impending social crisis that we have in terms of housing shortage in the Yukon. We have a critical shortage of land, and that is going to become more and more apparent as we run out of lots that were developed by the previous administration. We are running out of those lots in Whitehorse very quickly, and we have not had any new lots in many rural areas, particularly in the Carcross area. The frustration among people there is extremely high, as the Government Leader himself found out when he attended a public meeting that I chaired in Carcross not too long ago
Person after person complained about that shortage, and nothing has been done to meet it to date. Over a year ago, it was obvious to the Members on this side that we were facing a crisis with respect to home ownership. A unanimously passed motion went through this Legislature. What have we got from the side opposite that is so busy spending money that they have not had time to think about the real problems of infrastructure in this territory? A week ago, they embarked upon a study that is going to send people from Vancouver around the territory, phoning residents in the territory. This government has been in power for two and a half years. This is the third Capital Budget we are going to be debating. They have squandered over $200 million. Some of the things that have been built are great. They have all this money and have not dealt with the basic problems facing this territory. It is a disgrace.
We will be very interested in having a look at the impact the housing has on infrastructure in the communities and whether there are any studies on that. For example, when they talk about building social housing in a place like Carcross, whether they have given any thought to the water and sewer problem there or in any of the other rural communities, for that matter. I will be very interested in seeing what kind of projections have been made by this government about the cost of heating, the cost of maintaining and the life cycle accounting so desperately required in these times when it comes to planning Capital expenditures.
This government has been on a spending binge. They stand up and try to take credit where credit is not due. The money they are blowing right now was a result of the efforts of the previous administration, who negotiated all the money that is coming from Ottawa now. A previous administration is constantly under attack by this government when we criticize this government for what they are not looking at, for their lack of foresight, for their lack of action. They say it was all the previous government. They have had an easy time. We should look back at the tough times the Yukon has had. Perhaps the people of the Yukon would like to consider who they would rather have in charge.
We went through terrible times in 1981 and 1982 and 1983. All during those years there was a firm and steady hand at the helm. We came through those times with very little money from Ottawa, with the mines having shut down. We came through those times with an accumulated surplus, and we met unexpected problems along the way.
They deserve credit for the sound management that they displayed back in the early 80s. I remember, out of the blue, we had the failure of the Credit Union in Whitehorse...
Some Member: Of which the Government Leader was a director.
Mr. Phelps: I did not know the Government Leader was a director of that.
The previous administration bailed out the people who had their money in accounts in that credit union, despite the fact that the economy was in a very, very severe downturn. We came through those times very nicely.
By the time this government took office in 1985, there was an accumulated surplus, a very large one, not to mention the budget for the next three years was in place through the Formula Financing Agreement with Ottawa. All that this government did was come along and spend a bunch of money. It is going to remain to be seen just how wise their efforts have been.
When one looks at the actual Budget Speech itself, the document that was given to us all on Monday night, and looks at the Index on page 21, it tells a very interesting story. In 1981-82 this government, in its Capital Main Estimate, spent $25,600,000. In 1982-83, $37,400,000. In 1983-84, $24,400,000. In 1984-85, just under $26 million. In 1985-86, $48 million. In those hard times there was very little money to be spent. What this government has done is grabbed hold of the accumulated surplus and the monies that we negotiated with Ottawa and spent it. It has been an easy time for them; they have just been throwing the money around. Look at it. Almost $81 million in 1986-87. An estimate of $114 million in 1987-88, and we now know it is $l20 million, and an estimate that we are now debating of $100 million plus, and we can be sure that that will grow.
It has been an easy time for these guys and gals opposite and they have had a wonderful time just spending, but there has been absolutely no evidence, in my respectful submission, to the people of the Yukon that this government has been busy aggressively attacking the root problems that face the territory. They consult and consult and consult, but what do they do? They have not even come forward with programs for home ownership, although they spent a couple of hundred million bucks already and they want more to spend.
Have they been out there trying to encourage the private sector to build apartments in Whitehorse or the communities? There is no evidence of that, no evidence of any proactive stance taken by this government, no evidence of any innovative programs, and we had those even from the previous federal government in the past; programs that have led to the private sector building all kinds of apartment units in Whitehorse and I can name the ones on Lewes Boulevard all kinds of them, but nothing from this government because they do not want the private sector to do this, they want to do it themselves. They want control. The reason they are against free trade is because free trade undermines a socialistic government; it undermines them because they are unable to be in control of anything, Big Brother cannot control everything if you have competition from outside your boundaries.
This government is one that has a schizophrenic attitude towards business. On the one hand, they say, Oh, sure, we love the mining industry; we love business, and we are running around trying to get some votes there. At the same time, what is happening? Renewable Resources is intervening against placer mining on the Wheaton River, an intervention which was improper, uncalled for, politically motivated and silly. And they looked like a bunch of geese when they finally had to appear and say it was not really the governments position; it just happened to be filed by a bunch of people who had what, gone wild? Has the bureaucracy gone completely wild, what with this surveillance we hear about of innocent people trying to have their kids looked after in homes in Riverdale? Has the government gone completely mad with the way they tried to crush Danny Nowlans business, the Game Farm? Is that just because there is no control from the Ministers over their minions? We have heard these Ministers blame their officials time after time after time, and name their officials and blame them. Do they know nothing about the doctrine of ministerial responsibility? I am quite prepared to go back through Hansard and list the times that has happened.
So, we have a situation where they try to bust the Game Farm at the same time as they were negotiating to buy it and they still are. That is rather sinister and rather interesting, and we will be getting into that in some detail in the weeks to come, because we have not let that issue go, believe me.
This is a government with a strange attitude towards business and the business community is well aware of that a government that feels all it has to do is speak in sympathetic terms about the plight of the people overseas and talk about sensitivity and talk about consultation, and do nothing. It is not good enough. It is simply not good enough. We will be examining each and every project in the Capital Budget. Some of these certainly stem from decisions made before this government took office. There always has been a five year plan at least, in recent memory. There always has been the need for some of these developments to go ahead. But our problem is this: there is not enough attention being paid to facilitating the private sector. There has not been enough done with regard to energy infrastructure, active pro-active work, done in that regard. There has not been enough done with regard to assisting the mining industry in the Yukon. There has not been enough done to encourage foreign investment into the Yukon, and of course those hated multinational companies have not been made to feel welcome here. I think it is a large mistake.
We look forward to going through the Capital Estimates in committee. We will be scrutinizing very carefully and asking questions about the Operation and Maintenance ramifications of the monies being asked for, and the monies spent already.
Because we are concerned that not enough has been done in that regard and everything in this budget points to the growing dependency that we have, as a territory, on the central government in the east. We will be looking forward very much, as I have said, to going through this item by item. Thank-you.
Mr. McLachlan: I will not go on at the great length that the Leader of the Opposition has done but, by the same token, I do not want to encourage the other Members by thinking that there is a great, long list of compliments that I could pay for the Budget Speech.
One of the particular items that I was looking for in the Budget Speech, on behalf of the Government Leader, had a lot to do with the economic development initiatives that were to have been brought to the territory by the acquiring of the assets of the Northern Canada Power Commission. At the time we commence the spending of the monies of this budget April 1, 1988 it will have been one full year that the NCPC has been transferred into the YDC. At the time we heard a lot of prophetic statements being made about decreases in power rates and how the Corporation is going to be used as a development tool in the territory. We have not seen any change in the power rates. We have yet to see any initiative that the Power Corporation, the power side in the YDC, has taken in the area of economic development. Where is the encouragement of industry, based upon the acquisition of those assets? Where is the North Fork, the power study of Dawson City? Where is the additional power capability to be provided to new and expected mining operations?
I was very disappointed in not seeing any initiatives taken in the area of the use of the use of the Development Corporation and the good selling tool we have with power.
For the benefit of the Minister of Community and Transportation Services, I want to set the record straight on something he has pontificated about to a great extent. I have never said that I was against social housing, nor have I ever said that the Liberal Party was against social housing. I want to ask the Minister that if he can search Hansard and point out to me where I have said that, I will eat those words. But in so doing, I want the same courtesies extended by the Minister of Community and Transportation Services. For if he searches and finds that I did not say that in the area where he said I was reported to have said that then I would like him to eat those words, too. I am going to assist him and help him to get that down, because I have brought the salt and pepper along to help him with that mouthful that he is going to have to digest.
What I did say, was that I believed the directions and priorities this government was setting in the area of social housing, were misdirected in that they unfairly contribute money to one side or one sector, without an equal consideration of the other side of the ledger.
It has been driven home to this Minister with a great deal of force that the housing study motion passed by this Legislature over 15 months ago just got off the ground. What does the Minister say? I have had a very heavy workload. I have only been in the portfolio for 30 months, but I have had problems getting the wheels stuck out of the sand.
The government was elected to look after all aspects of the territorys people. That is not being done when $9.9 million goes one way and the Minister, knowing full well the problems that exist in Whitehorse in the rental areas, has said, we are thinking about it. Come back soon because we should have something in a few months. The Minister has said that it takes a long time to get land planning in process and have lots available. I agree with him. We know that the large block of land in the Granger subdivision is a big development. Where was the Minister last year? Still sorting out YHC, by the sound of it.
I know the Minister will say, I have lots of alternate land available. There are lots in Mary Lake, there are lots down here and there are lots over here. Just as there are people who like to live in rural Yukon, there are those who would prefer the residential suburbs. The Minister knows because the facts are available to him. Forty-seven people applied for 19 lots in Riverdale. Twenty-eight people went away, cap in hand and deposit returned. No problem about the amount of money for the lots, even though the lots in Riverdale were the highest this government has sold in many years. That was not a problem. People want land that badly.
The Minister has now gotten himself in a box that he cannot get out of easily. He is behind on the land development, and whose fault is that? The Oppositions? The Minister and the Government Leader were well aware that, when the mining operation started in Faro in early 1986 and people began returning to the territory 430 of them that that was going to stimulate a large part of the economic development in Whitehorse. I am well aware of that because we know where a lot of the pay cheques from Faro are being spent. That has been a great boon for Whitehorse. Tied into that, as I have indicated before, with an economy on the up-curve comes problems that we see right now.
Newspapers this week have detailed the stories and the problems of people who are trying to find a place to rent to live. I have indicated in previous questions this week that, if the Fourth Avenue Residence is sold, the Minister of Justice may have the only riding in the territory where people are sleeping in the street. Apparently, that does not faze him.
I wonder how he will explain that to his constituents at the next election.
One of the areas that I wish to address with the Minister of Community and Transportation Services has to do with the block funding formula that is applied to the communities. I voted for that initiative in April, 1986 when I believed that it was working well. I can see a problem developing now in this direction. Now that there are literally millions of dollars for distributing around the territory for fire halls, curling rinks, community centers and hockey rinks. I cannot say that the communities should not have them because Faro has them. We have them now but we are still paying for them. We are still paying them because we mortgaged our future and, in some cases on some of the debentures, our childrens futures. We will be paying for them for a long time to come. Everybody else is getting them on a free basis. They have only the Operation and Maintenance. We have both the repayment and the Operation and Maintenance.
In addition, now that the $1.04 million is transferred to Faro, any capital expenditures within the municipality have to come directly out of that block funding grant. There are a number of cases where that money will not go far enough, both to do the rebuilding of the infrastructure and the heavy programs on the roads that are required. The Minister probably has a great number of thoughts on that type of formula. After the municipal elections are held on November 26, I will be sitting down with the town council and the town manager and going over that problem.
There is a major crisis in the territory on the day care issue. Of that, no one in this assembly would dispute. I do not agree totally with the idea of doing the consultation and coming back in nine or ten months with the report. The Minister is trying to buy time. If she believes that by buying time she can get an answer out of Ottawa, I am afraid that she is going to be disappointed. That topic has been removed from the First Ministers Conference that is being held next week in Ottawa. Maybe she will get answers the week after.
What is the Minister going to do to deal with existing licenced day care that have incurred substantial debt, some of it not in the day care grant program, to go into operation, to provide services in response to her regulations? In some cases, there is a great deal of borrowed money, and now they are having problems with enrollments. The Minister has not been able to address this problem. I have some doubt as to how she is going to deal with that.
The Budget Speech is fairly short on specifics in the Department of Government Services, but that department is not short, I assure you, in any of the problems they have at the moment. The change orders on Yukon College are in the hundreds. Some of them are justified, a great deal of them are the result of last-minute changes, last-minute planning; changes that were made because somebody forgot them. There is no problem, there is lots of money so we will whitewash it over and everybody will live happily ever after.
There are a number of problems in some of the smaller community projects that have been built, some of them for the Department of Community and Transportation Services, some of them in the recreation area. The Minister does not worry, he is not concerned, he has lots of money. I will be bringing forth in Question Period a number of the problems in the areas of Government Services in the next few weeks.
I wish there was something more complimentary I could address in the Budget Speech. I know the Minister of Community and Transportation Services will jump up and say, in defence of the spending that YHC is about to embark upon, that we just signed a 75/25 program with CMHC so it does not really matter because it is coming down the pipeline from Ottawa.
I maintain that the other problems have not been addressed. The Minister is using 75/25 programs as a defence for negligence in areas that should have been addressed last year. This year the truth has come home. If you do not believe us read the newspapers every day. There the litany of problems is described by those people trying to find a place to live or rent a house.
Mr. Webster: I would like to begin by saying thank you to CBC radio for making a correction on one of their newscasts concerning the Capital Budget on one item, namely the Dawson dike. They incorrectly reported on the morning news that $4 million had been set aside for the Dawson dike. I was answering a few phone calls from my constituents calling as to how much higher the dike would be built. I had to assure them that was an erroneous report, the $4 million that was spent on the dike was the total cost for that project spent over a four-year period including design, construction and landscaping. I am pleased that the CBC, when alerted, did make that correction on their noon and evening newscasts.
I also want to thank them because they were accurate in another story regarding the Red Feather Saloon. They correctly said that $100,000 had been set aside in this Capital Budget to start the restoration work. That has gone a long way to end some rumours in Dawson City that have been circulating for quite awhile about the construction of a new liquor store. Basically, the impression was that the new liquor store was going to be built in one year and would be fully in operation at this time next year. I am very pleased to see that false impression has been addressed.
I would like to deal for a few minutes with other impressions about this governments Capital Budget, and the spending habits of this government. I also think the impressions are false. The first one that comes to mind is one that the opposition is always saying: we are a spend, spend, spend government; we spend like drunken sailors; we are squandering everything. This deals with two issues the quantity of money we have to spend, and the nature and type of expenditures. Looking at the quantity of the money, it has been recognized that it is a result of the formula financing agreement we have managed to work out with the federal government thanks in great deal to our former Member of Parliament, Erik Nielsen, which I will be the first to acknowledge providing us with a vast increase in sums for capital works for a three year period with a specific intention, specific purpose, of improving the infrastructure of the Yukon Territory. That is what this government is doing, over the three years, in its Capital Budgets. It is improving the infrastructure of the Yukon Territory. It is spending money on roads, on schools throughout the Yukon, not just in Dawson City. Jeckell School is just getting some improvements to its gymnasium, Watson Lake is due for some improvements in general, facilities in all the communities.
So, it is with some surprise that, when we take a look at the nature and the type of these expenditures which I feel are quite good there is a complaint that there is an overabundance of capital projects which are non-productive. I have already addressed this in my speech in reply to the Throne Speech, but I certainly think that the construction of a new school in Dawson City, instead of using the present condemned one which has been condemned for the last four years, is certainly a very productive move. One which incidentally, to address a charge by the Leader of Official Opposition, will decrease the O & M costs of our school in Dawson City. Right now, because of the foundation problems, it is on a 24-hour fire watch, it is not well insulated and we are spending huge sums of money for Operation and Maintenance purposes. The new community school complex will certainly save us money in that sense.
There has also been a charge that a lot of these projects are not creating new wealth something else I touched on last week in my speech. I will admit it is not, in the traditional sense, creating new wealth; for example, as mining gold from the ground which we do very well in Klondike. But it is bringing new wealth to the community of Dawson City. As I mentioned in my speech last week, the number of tourism attractions such as: construction of the new interpretive centre for Jack London Square, improvements and restoration work at Moosehide Village, the recreation area that will be built around the dike, and in the future when the liquor store is built, that will be a restored building from the turn of the century. Basically, it is improving existing tourist attractions and bringing new ones on stream, with the end result of making Dawson a great attraction for tourists to visit. It is improving Dawsons stature as a tourist destination.
That, in turn, will cause visitors to stay longer, spend more money; basically put more money into the pockets of the business people in the Dawson City area. So, there is more than one way to create new wealth a suggested one is to mine the pockets of visitors. I have also mentioned some of the other capital projects that have been built in my community in the last two and one half years that have vastly improved the meeting facilities, which will enable Dawson City to increasingly attract more conventions. We had a number this year, and we are on the right track. This, in a different sense, has created new wealth for our community. That whole impression that this is a spending or squandering government is a false one.
Another false impression is the quality of expenditures. Are we getting quality for our money? I would be the first to admit that there is probably room for improvement, especially in some of the major capital projects. This false impression even extends to the small expenditures. In early September, I had coffee with a Dawson City work crew. The subject of the Speakers chair came up. I was taking a lot of ribbing that the Government of Yukon was spending $13,000 on a chair. There was nothing I could say to convince them that the work included substantially more than a chair and as we can see, it includes the desk and railings. For that reason, I am thankful that when the job was completed, the press included a picture of all of the work. Those people are finally convinced, I think, that we did get value from this project. I would like to be the first Member to recognize the new addition to these chambers. They are a handsome edition, and I want to compliment the contractor on his skill in design, and his craftsmanship.
At that same meeting, the members of the crew in Dawson City brought up another false impression about this governments spending habits and the Capital Budget in general. They thought that the government did not really care about financial management. That was quite ironic because in that very same week, the Minister of Community and Transportation Services was negotiating with the City of Dawson to get them to pay back their outstanding debt of $1.5 million in addition to $.5 million of interest.
I brought this to the peoples attention. They conceded that perhaps the government was looking out for the best interests of the taxpayers and were doing a good job in collecting the money. The Minister of Community and Transportation Services has worked for about one and half years bringing about those negotiations.
I believe it is finally settled to the satisfaction of everyone.
Another impression which I believe is false that has come up, and in fact has been mentioned by both Opposition parties, is that ridings held by Members of the New Democratic Party are being favoured. Now I am most sensitive to this charge because I will freely admit that the riding of Klondike has been the beneficiary of not only this Capital Budget, but the last one as well. But I want to repeat myself again: I think they have been for good purposes, not frivolous purposes. I do not think the government has been squandering the money.
I think it is very easy to justify a new school, to replace a condemned one. And I do not think any Member of this Legislature has any problems with Dawson City receiving $8 million over three years for that purpose. I do not think you have a condemned school, Member from Faro. And I am certain you do not begrudge us that. I do not think anyone begrudges the fact that Dawson received a dike that was much needed to prevent a disaster like the one of 1979.
Taking a look at the allegation that the riding of Klondike is receiving $6.5 million, if you remove the $5.2 million of that total that has been allocated for the school community complex it is the only school of its kind in the territory that is suffering that badly, and, as you have already said, you do not begrudge us for it it brings us to a total of $1.3 million. Let us compare that with some of the other rural ridings held by the Opposition and I want to bring to your attention that there are not that many but the riding of Kluane will be receiving a total of $1.5 million, not far off from the riding of Klondikes $1.3. The tiny riding of Faro is receiving $1 million. So I think that is an impression that is certainly false.
But obviously I did not convince the Opposition.
I would like to make a few remarks about roads because some Members of the Opposition have also criticized where this government is putting some of its money in road construction, and are especially critical of the attention the Klondike Highway is getting. This is consistent with the long range plans of the Government of the Yukon that were established a number of years ago, by a former administration. There is no diversion from this; I think the government would be criticized if it did. I just want to remind some Members that this Klondike Highway forms a major part of the sea to sea route, and it is very important now and is going to be increasingly so in the future. Naturally, the improvements to the Klondike Highway will mean a lot for the residents of Dawson City, which I would like to remind you is the second largest community in the territory. It will be of great benefit as well to the tourists and to our industry, which is mainly placer mining dealing with a lot of heavy traffic.
In the matter of housing, there is a lot of criticism to address in this area which I will not go into, but I would just like to bring up a couple of points concerning this criticism. I noticed there was a great deal to be said in one of the papers the other day, including by the Mayor of Dawson City. His comments were quoted as if he was a Member of the Opposition. They say it came out that he was not in favour of social housing. I have some difficulty with that.
On one hand he can praise the efforts of the Dawson Indian Band for bringing on four or five houses for each of the last three years for the benefit of the members of the Band. On the other hand, when other residents of the City of Dawson who do not happen to be members of the Dawson Indian Band, have similar needs that are going to be met by this government, he is critical.
In Dawson City we have a total of 62 housing units. In speaking with the manager of the Dawson City Housing Association yesterday to get some statistics, I was informed that there are 35 units in Dawson City of social housing. There is one vacancy existing at this time, and that is because there is some renovation work being done. As soon as that work is completed the first person on the list will move in.
In terms of rent geared to income, there are five suites available in an apartment building with no vacancies.
In terms of rent at market prices in that same apartment building, for staff there are eight units and five vacancies. The reason for that is that the government employees in Dawson City are long-term residents of that community and they have made the big move to go into their own housing, to build their own, leaving this free.
The Fairview Fourplex for seniors has currently one vacancy which will soon be filled by the first person on the waiting list.
For staff houses there are eight with one vacancy, this being reserved for the new staff member for the Department of Renewable Resources.
The last two, curiously enough, have been leased by the City and both of these are occupied. It is a bit of a contradiction there. If the mayor wants to provide some incentive there to the private sector to come in and build some houses, I do not think that leasing two units from YHC for the benefit of their employees is a good way to go about it.
The whole argument about lowering the values of private homes by flooding the market there are 57 units spread throughout the territory this year is not a valid one. An example of that is bringing on stream the new lots in the Dome area of Dawson City. I do not think by bringing on stream another 25 lots in that area is going to depreciate the value of the lots in downtown Dawson City.
Incidentally I am very pleased to see that this government has addressed the critical shortage of land in my community, and other places in the territory, by allotting $250,000 in this Capital Budget for the development of those lots on the Dome. You have to look very realistically at the housing situation in rural Yukon. People do not build privately in rural Yukon as an investment. At best they get a return of what they put into it. They build to suit their own needs and lifestyles. There are many hardships, one certainly being the cost. I am pleased to see, and agree with all Members of this House, that some program should be put into place a mortgage pool if you will to secure mortgages for Yukoners who want to build. I am quite confident that this government will do this.
The other hardships are the short building season and dealing with contractors who may not always show up or complete a job. Invariably it takes at least two seasons to build a home. I can speak from experience, I have built my own home in Dawson City. With so many hardships it is not surprising that a lot of people do not build. People in Dawson City bring in homes. They have been bringing in homes over the last two or three decades from Bear Creek, Clinton Creek and Whitehorse, and the old teacherage in Mayo. It is really a costly, time-consuming and frustrating experience.
The real problem in rural Yukon is that there is a large number of middle-class wage earners who do not have a place to rent. Private enterprise is just not building units to rent out on an as needed basis. A lot of these people do not have the money or the interest to build. We cannot really tell them that there is nothing for them. There has to be some options. The ability to purchase a Yukon Housing Corporation unit is one that is attractive for a lot of people. We just cannot tell them, sorry, and they leave. I do not know what would happen to Dawson Citys service industry if that was the case.
The Member for Faro criticized the development of electrical power in the territory and the role of the Yukon Development Corporation. He was not listening to my address in response to the Throne Speech that I made last week. I indicated then that the Development Corporation is actively looking at a variety of options to bring new types of power, namely hydro-electric power, to the Dawson City Area. One of those is the revitalization of the North Fork power project. They are proceeding, and the Member is correct that they do have a great responsibility. They are assessing the present needs for my area as well as the needs for the next 20 to 30 years. They are talking about spending a great deal of money, so I am not surprised that they are progressing in a very cautious manner. They are addressing the question, however. I would ask the Member for Faro to save that salt and pepper because he is going to have to eat his words that he said about capital block funding.
I would like to thank the Ministers in the front bench for putting together this Capital Budget. It is an excellent one. It will serve all Yukoners very well, and it will do much to encourage growth in the territory so that Yukoners may continue to prosper.
Mr. Brewster: When I got out of bed this morning, I decided I would be a nice little boy in the House today because I am going home tomorrow. Right now, I have to get my breath over a few of the things that the Member for Klondike said about all of those expenditures. I can understand why the CBC was confused. There are a lot of us who are confused.
However, in replying to the Capital Budget, I want to look at it from a different perspective. I note that the government is always very quick to take credit for everything good but when things go bad, Ottawa, or the government before them is to blame. This government has been in power for over two years, and it is about time that they stood on their own feet and run on their own record.
The gross capital main estimates for a number of years has been quite an interesting sheet of paper.
In 1981-82, it was $25 million and some odd; in 1983, $37 million and some odd; 1983-84, $24 million and some odd; 1984-85, $25 million and some odd; 1985-86, $48 million and some odd; 1986-87, $80 million and some odd; 1987-88, $114 million and some odd; 1988-89, $100 million and some odd. It is quite apparent and I have never heard this side at any time give the government credit for getting that type of money in but anyway, you certainly know how to spend it.
The Conservative government, with a small amount of money, did a fairly good job. They went through a lot of crises; they went through, as the Government Leader called it, the dog days. We had a lot of problems, and we solved those problems. Some of the things we did were probably not popular; some of them were not very nice. But we did it. We kept our boat afloat and we kept on sailing.
This government has millions to spend, and every time there is a crisis I hear the Minister of Transportation get up and cry, They took a bunch of money away from my college. Then I hear the Minister of Renewable Resources, They are not going to give me any more money for fisheries. Here is a government, in Ottawa, that is billions and billions and billions of dollars in the hole, that we have caused every one of us. They try to cut the taxes and then they put a little squeeze to try and get some of this money, and what happens? Oh, no, no. Dont touch me. Go and get him. Take all his money, but leave ours alone. Just leave things the way they are; we are doing good, just leave things alone.
There has been a number of good things done by this government, and I will be the first to admit it, but just let me explain all this. For instance, for Haines Junction I wanted $90,000 to put in two little washrooms for the little kids so that they did not have to go out at forty below zero weather to go to the toilet. When the bureaucrats got through, my whole arena which the people of Haines Junction built; the people of Haines Junction raised the money and the people built it was condemned. The reasons we do not know. Anyway, we found $300,000 and I thought it would be nice to have a little bigger arena, so we went with that. Then it got up to $500,000, and I thought, My gosh, where are we going now? We were in government then, and I am prepared to admit that. I said, Thats it. No more. I just cannot face the taxpayers and the people on a thing like this.
What happens? We turn around and lose an election; we have a building out there now that is worth over a million dollars. Fine, I am happy; it even has my name on it. But think what the taxpayer is going to have to pay on O&M on these things. When are we going to grow up?
People ask what I would have done with that money? I have been going around with my back out of joint for two weeks because I just drove back from Beaver Creek. Oh, no, the Americans look after that part of the road. That is not ours, it is the Americans. That is theirs. We get the tax money; they stay in our hotels; we pay back...?... Go and ask the Americans. Let them do that. But after they put the money in there, then it is ours; we want it back; it belongs to us and we do not want Americans around. We just want the money." So we sit and wait.
The Member for Klondike wants to throw away $5.2 million. Well, throw it away between Beaver Creek and Donjek and fix the bridge up so that the poor MLA does not snap his back out every time he goes up there.
We can take a good look at the employment figures here. Accommodation and Service reads 2,022; Mining and Exploration is 1,058; Transportation and Communication is 1,305; Territorial Government is 4,411, which is more than any of those three sectors that keep us alive. The private sector, mining, keeps this territory going. There is no one on the side opposite who can deny that. Governments do not contribute revenue. The people working in them pay taxes but governments are now revenue bound. They spend everybodys money but they do not bring in money. Governments never, in history, have brought in money. That is applicable to the whole of Canada.
There are lots of stories about how unemployment has been cut back. There is a blue book that the Government of Canada sends out that says that we are the fifth poorest in Canada. The other four are the Maritimes, which were attached to Canada for rations. We are, too, because it is quite apparent that we are the poorest areas, and we cannot argue that. There is probably 80 percent of our money coming from Ottawa, and I am glad that someone from the side opposite acknowledges that Ottawa does give us the bulk of our money. Let us give us the devil his grace.
There are people who say it is all talk. The press is up there and is gone to sleep like they always do when I talk. I challenge every one of them to get the records to see whose signatures are on them. I know what I signed, and there is no one else who can forge my signature. Banks will even tell you that no one else can write like me except for possibly the Clerk. I challenge people to look at those records. I know what I signed as I am sure the other Ministers know what they signed.
The Member says that we received $1 million. We did. There is $300,000 of that going into a community club. There is nothing wrong with that. There is another $100,000 going into a training camp in Destruction Bay. The Minister of Community and Transportation Services will take a crack at me for saying that. I am not criticizing. I am just pointing out that there is $400,000 being put into projects that will bring no revenue back to the people. If the government wants a $100,000 training camp and fuel costs for one training session a year, I have no problem with that. That is the way things are.
The Member for Klondike told me that we are getting about the same as his riding. There is one difference, and that is that most of his goes into things to attract tourists, such as a saloon. Can you imagine, they are going to have another $1 million saloon in Dawson City. Excuse, me. It will be $200,000 this year, $200,000 next year, and when no one is looking they will grab another $1 million. I am very sorry that I cannot say anything graceful about this.
I guess I was born 20 years too soon. I was talking to a young boy the other day, and I was shocked by what he said to me.
He said, I dont understand what is going on, and I said, Well, what is the matter now, John?, and he said, Well look, I watch you and your wife, and my dad and my mother, and I watch the people down at Canyon raise children, work 14 to 15 hours a day and try to pay their bills. They were always quite happy, and now I come into a world where, every time I turn around, the government is going to look after me. And he said, You people are actually happier than we are. You never had the problems we have. We had a little problem with money and I guess we always will have. Some of us are not too bright with money. I would sure like to get my hands on some of these millions of dollars that are floating around. I could use it for some pretty good purposes.
We have 75 members in the Conservative territorial party. Now, think about this: these are young children, and some of them are still in school. I shouldnt say children they are young men and girls. They have already separated from the socialist to the conservative, saying: we have to start paying our own way. When are we are going to pay it? We have debts across Canada. We keep grabbing for more money, we keep screaming for more money and all we are doing is putting our children and our grandchildren and everybody else in debt. You would think, with the explosion that has happened in the last month with the stocks falling right out of the sky, that governments all over would turn around and take a look at this and say: we had better smarten up, because the money people are leaving us, and leaving us fast.
Hon. Mr. Porter: The measure before us is the proposed 1988-89 Capital Budget and, from our perspective, this Budget is designed to continue the governments commitment to economic and community development, while reducing expenditures to a level that is sustainable.
I think it should be pointed out for the record that the overall Capital expenditures proposed under this Budget for the 1988-89 capital year show a reduction by 12 percent, compared to the 1987-88 Capital Main Estimates that were debated in the past before this House. To be fair in the debate, we have to look at Capital expenditures over the past few years from a historical perspective. As well, we should look at the Operation and Maintenance expenditures because, earlier, one of the themes that has run consistently throughout the Oppositions debates on this question has been the nature of the Capital Budget increasing. At the same time they have stated, for the record, that when we were in power, we held the line, even though those times were tough.
If you look at the O&M expenditures over the years, those numbers indicate in 1978-79 there was a $70 million budget; 1979-80, $79 million; 1980-81, $89 million; 1981-82, $104 million a 16 percent increase; in 1982-83, $116 million an 11.4 per cent increase; 1983-84, $130 million 11 per cent increase; and in 1984-85, a 13.6 per cent increase.
When the government you see here before you took power, there was no increase like the increases that had been seen previously. It was eight percent for 1985-86, 6.8 percent for 1986-87, three percent for 1987-88. In terms of the expenditure levels that have been presented to this House by the government in O&M indicates that, in the time the party opposite was in power, we saw substantial increases on a yearly basis for the O&M expenditures.
When the Leader of the Official Opposition spoke, his rhetoric was along the lines that this is a government that is spending like a drunken sailor. He went on to say that it was spend, spend, spend. That kind of language reminds me of a drunken parrot in terms of the repetition he has been putting on the record. He states that it was we who negotiated the monies from Ottawa, it was we who did all the legwork. Nobody disputes the fact that the signatures that are on the financial agreement between Ottawa and the Yukon government are not the Ministers here, but that is a fact of life.
The negotiations for the financial agreement started with the Liberal government in Ottawa. During the course of the negotiations, there was a change in government federally. Therefore, when it came time to finalize the agreement, we had a change in government in Ottawa. When the negotiations were complete, it was a Progressive Conservative government, in the Yukon as well as in Ottawa, that signed the deal. The people who actually negotiated the agreement, who have not changed, are the people who work for the government. It is the officials of the government who did the day to day negotiations. They brought home the bacon, and they are still here.
It is a little misleading to say that we, the politicians, tramped off down to Ottawa and hauled back this whole sackful of money. It is the good bureaucrats who work for the Government of the Yukon, all the people of the Yukon, who negotiated the deal and who are negotiating with Ottawa for an extension of the financial agreement.
In summation, all this rhetoric about spend, spend, spend, is one of sour grapes. The fact of life is that they had an opportune time in their history of political evolution in the Yukon. There was a good financial package before them. They could have had the controls of expenditure, they could have directed the monies, but they chose to call an early election, and the people of the Yukon made a political decision and said, we want another party in power. That is history. That is what the people of the Yukon decided.
I hope we do not hear them crying the blues anymore about the fact that monies are being spent. That is our job. The people of the Yukon need programs, need better roads, need better schools, need better community halls, and our job is to meet those needs. That is what we are doing.
As well, in the speech the Leader of the Official Opposition gave, he spoke about mining and that this government had a schizophrenic attitude toward the mineral industry in the Yukon. I can state emphatically and I do not think there is a Member in this House who can refute the statement that this government in power today has spent more money on the mining industry, has done more for the mining industry, than any other government in its history. That is clearly on the record and so, hopefully, we will not be hearing any more remarks of the nature in which they accuse us of not paying attention to the mineral sector of our economy. We recognize its importance and, if you go through the Capital program that we are presenting to this House for its consideration, the importance of the mineral sector will be directly reflected.
The Member for Hootalinqua did digress and talk about the Watson/Wheaton issue and criticized the Department of Renewable Resources for appearing at the Water Board hearings and objecting to the placer claim that was before them for the water licence. Is the Leader of the Official Opposition in support of allowing the placer claims legislation to be utilized to construct residential homes? That was the essence of our appearance before that board. We said the mining acts were there for a purpose: to encourage mineral development. Mining acts should not be used by individuals as a way in which they can establish residential buildings. If they want to do that then they should see the government on the residential lands questions and obtain land for that purpose. That is the major point of the appearance of the Department of Renewable Resources on that particular application.
The Leader of the Official Opposition also talked about the falcon debate. I will not spend a great deal of time on that. There was a lot of hypocritical stances being made on that debate, and I look forward to the time when we can sit down and have a go at it so we can clarify for the record exactly what has gone on with respect to the conduct of not only this government, but the government that preceded it.
One of the major themes that has emanated in this Legislature so far is the whole question of housing. I suggest that it is probably going to be the area in which we will continue to debate not only for today but probably when we get into the Capital Estimates and so we should. That is what we are here for: to put forward programs and be able to defend and speak to those programs.
I glanced through Hansard of 1981. I was not in this Legislature but many Members of the House were. That particular debate in the Estimates in the fall of 1981 centred around the issue of housing. At that time, the government of the day was being told that there was a housing problem in the Yukon.
They have to do something about it. If you go back through the debates, you will see the intransigence portrayed in those debates by the government of the day, in which they were not willing to move substantially to correct the housing problem that existed at that time.
Over the years, that problem has festered and has grown to the point where I suggest that the housing issue is one of the biggest issues that face the people of the Yukon; it is one of the biggest problems not only in Whitehorse, but throughout rural Yukon. The Government Leader and I were in the community of Watson Lake this summer, and we met with a group of individuals. We sat down and asked if they could tell us what some of the major problems were in that community as they saw it. Immediately, the first item that was thrown on the table for discussion by those individuals was housing. They informed us at that time that, as a non-profit housing society, they had 18 families waiting for a house in that particular community. I think housing is an issue that is of major consequence to the people of the Yukon. The Member for Faro says he is not against social housing. If you listened to him in the last week of Question Period you would never come to that conclusion. He has attacked day after day, repeatedly, the program that has been announced by this government. It is a mistake on his part, and I am sure he is willing to pay the consequences of that.
What we are talking about is that, when a government is met with a situation where the people in which it is set to govern with, has a problem of the magnitude such as we are experiencing in Yukon housing, that government must act. Governments in the past have refused to do so, and that is not the situation of this government today. We are going to do something about it. We are not going to simply look at one area of housing as the Member for Faro suggests. I can guarantee him that every aspect of the housing program will be looked at, and we will do something about every aspect of the housing program. He wants everything done right now, and it has been an area of neglect.
As a matter of fact, the Member for Porter Creek East called my good friend from Mayo here the czar of housing. To put it in its proper context if, as he suggests, my colleague the Member for Mayo/Elsa is the czar of housing, then I suggest he has been the termite of housing. In the past, when he has had the responsibility, he has chewed that housing program corporation down to the point where there was nothing left. We now have the responsibility to rebuild that program so that it serves the people of the Yukon and it does what it is supposed to do, which is to look after the housing needs of the people of the Yukon.
Mr. Phillips: A house for every man, woman and child.
Hon. Mr. Porter: The Member for Riverdale North says he wants a house for every man, woman and child. I am sorry, we are not able to deliver at this time. Hopefully in the future we will have a society that is properly housed as it should be.
This is an area of debate that has dominated the House and will probably continue to do so. I look forward to its continuation. It should be a good debate.
I will speak to the Budget as it affects my departments when we get into the departmental debates and indicate then the new expenditure areas of the Department of Renewable Resources and Tourism.
One of the responsibilities that rests with the Opposition, inasmuch as they have categorically criticized the government for the measure brought down before it, is that they have talents, and they simply cannot get away with being negative in their rhetoric. They cannot go back to the communities and say that they fought a good fight in Whitehorse, and it is good to see all of the government expenditures being spent in the community. They have a responsibility to indicate to us exactly where in the Capital Budget they do not feel we should be spending the money.
As much as the Member for Porter Creek East says that we have the job to build the budgets, put them forward for debate and to justify them, similarly, the Opposition has the responsibility to indicate to the government where they do not see the expenditures being approved. I look forward to the debates in the future so that we can see the position of the Opposition.
The $2 million expenditure for the community of Watson Lake for the rehabilitation of the school is a much needed one. We have had a number of meetings in Watson Lake. I have had the opportunity, as has the Minister for Community and Transportation Services and the Government Leader, to tour the facilities in Watson Lake. Some of the problems in the school are horrendous. The gymnasium floor had rotted. A new non-wood floor was layered over the rotted floor, and nails were actually coming out of the floor. That was a danger to the students. For a normal sized adult, as most of the high school children are, to drink water from the water faucet one had to kneel down. I know that many of the Members on the side opposite would not have problems drinking water in that school.
There is a tremendous need in that school, and I am glad that the government has chosen to react quickly. The people of Watson Lake will be supportive of the program and will be pleased to see the government take the initiative that it has on this project.
I would like to ask the Leader of the Official Opposition what his thoughts are on the Watson Lake sawmill. That was one of the major expenditure areas in that community, and the community has welcomed it. The sawmill has meant jobs and the production of wood to the point that we are now able to produce for the contractors and the industry in the Yukon all of the construction grade lumber.
I look forward to a response by the Leader of the Official Opposition as to his position on that particular venture that has been put forward by this government. He has already had his turn so we will have to await the next time he arises. With that I would like to conclude my remarks and wish all Members a good debate.
Mr. Nordling: The budget address was a pat on the back by the government for the government and the Member for Watson Lake has carried this on. As the Member for Watson Lake said, we must look at a historical prospective. The Member went back to the previous O&M Budgets. He got up to 1983-84, quoted $116 million, then stopped using figures and started on percentages. Let me enter into the record the gross expenditure estimate, Operation and Maintenance for 1987-88. It is $178,862,000. There is quite a difference between the figures and it is no wonder that the Member stopped using figures.
Let us face facts. When this government took over there was a surplus; healthy surplus. The Formula Financing Agreement had just been signed, giving this government more money than it had ever seen before and that was not enough for this government. The first thing they did when they came in was raise taxes. They have had more money than Yukoners ever dreamed of controlling.
Let us look at the history of the capital spending. In 1984-85, the Yukon government spent $25,959,000. Last year it was over $120 million. The first estimate for this year is over $100 million. I shake my head when I hear the Government Leader talking about the tough times that this government has had. This government has spent millions and millions of dollars and is still making plans. Meanwhile, the money leaks away and is lost. We agree that the money should be spent and should be used to improve infrastructure, although, unlike the Government Leader, I would suggest that there be some money set aside for disasters and bad times, which may come again.
The problem is priorities. This government has two priorities. The first priority is to hold onto power. The second priority is to control the supply and distribution of both goods and services in the Yukon.
This approach is not acceptable to the people of Yukon.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Someone said a long time ago that the more things change, the more they remain the same. That is true about this debate. There was a debate on November 25, 1981, about the same issues. The same attitudes and the same mistakes from the Members opposite are being made. The only difference is, in 1981 no action was taken to better the supply of housing in the territory. For 1987, some action is being taken.
As an example, I said in 1981 that the Greenwood House complex was an excellent program and was welcomed by senior citizens. There were words about supporting our pioneers and elders. Nothing was done about that, even after repeated questioning about waiting lists. Nothing was done until this government came to power and started to plan for the new complex that is now being built on First Avenue.
The Member for Porter Creek East is irresponsibly commenting about facts. I am personally aware of those facts. The previous government left us with no plans for seniors housing in Whitehorse.
Two Members opposite have tried to put on the record what this government stands for, and have talked about the attitude of this government. The Leader of the Official Opposition has stated that the government wants to be the big landlord. The Member for Porter Creek West has talked about the priorities of the government. Those are self-serving, politically-motivated statements with no basis in fact.
It should always be left to political parties to express their own policies. I am going to do that about the policies of the governing party, of the New Democrats, concerning housing. I will explain why in a minute but, just for a moment, I will read the housing policy of our party. It is as follows: Objectives: 1. To ensure an adequate supply of affordable, decent housing for all Yukoners.
Program: 1. To facilitate home ownership through: (a) making housing land available at affordable cost; (b) encouraging the use, wherever possible and practical, of local materials in housing construction; (c) removing necessary restrictions on the time required to build and the type of structure to be built; (d) making it a realistic choice for seniors to live in their own home and receive support services where desired.
2. To ensure that the housing needs of low income persons are met through (a) adequate supply and maintenance of good public housing, at affordable cost; (b) promoting community housing associations and cooperative housing where desirable to the home owners.
What Members of both parties opposite are doing is they looking at our social policy initiatives and are attacking those by implication and, in the cases of the Conservatives, directly, and meaning to imply or directly stating that that is our housing policy. That is part of our housing policy, and we are proud of that policy. For the first time since about 1977-78, we have a social housing policy. We are doing something in this area because of a very substantial social need. However, it is totally inaccurate to say that that is the policy of the government.
The policy of the government is as I have stated it, and the first plank in the platform is to facilitate home ownership. That is what we are doing and doing well. There is also a plank in the platform a second plank that is to ensure that there is an adequate supply of social housing.
In this Budget, we are increasing the funds available to social housing and, in view of the needs, that is perfectly justified and long overdue. It does not interfere with, or denigrate in any way, the first plank of the governments platform, which is to facilitate home ownership.
Mr. Lang: I rise to speak to the Budget in a very general sense. I want to begin by saying at the outset that the money negotiated from Ottawa, the excess in a quarter of a billion dollars of Canadian taxpayers money that was negotiated by the previous administration, was negotiated for the purposes of being spent in Yukon. It was a financial formula that took a lot of work, a lot of time and a lot of effort on behalf of the people primarily within the administration under the guidance of the Department of Finance putting proposals forward to the Government of Canada that eventually got a financial formula that was accepted both by the Government of Canada and the Government of Yukon Territory. In deference to those involved at that time, a great deal of credit has to be given to Chris Pearson and Erik Nielsen because, quite frankly, without Erik Nielsen as the Deputy Prime Minister of the country, I do not believe we would have received such a rich financial formula as we were able to procure at that time.
The point that is being put forward in the House here is a question of priority and a question of management. What we are putting forward to the side opposite is that, in some of the projects outlined, perhaps the scope should be examined very closely with respect to the Capital outlay that is being requested, but just as importantly, if not more importantly the implications of the O&M cost on an ongoing basis.
It disturbs me when I hear, for example, the Member for Klondike self-righteously standing up in this House and proudly proclaiming his skills as the MLA for Klondike and pork barrelling with respect of the public purse.
I am not here to argue whether or not a school in Dawson City should or should not go ahead. We know that something has to be done with the facility there. We are elected here not only to speak from a constituency point of view but from a territorial point of view.
I sometimes have to sit back in amazement when I hear the side opposite talk about the previous administration and what they did not do.
I refer to the MLA for Klondike. I happened to have been on that side of the House and was very much involved in trying to rectify the situation of the 1979 flood for the people of Dawson City. I was very much involved in the decision to go ahead with the arena and the facility that is in place in Dawson City. I did not go into that particular position as a Minister of the Crown with the parochial attitude that the reason I am going to take that position is to see how much I can grab for my riding. It disturbs me when I listen to the Members opposite going through their lists like boys in a toy shop wanting to convince their mother to buy them everything in the store. When I hear them going through their lists, I wonder how Cabinet and caucus made the decision on what projects would go and what would not.
It is sad to think that the way the side opposite did their budget was to see how much each one could get for their own riding and whatever is left over will be thrown to the Member for Faro or the Member for Kluane, or whatever the case may be. The Member for Klondike should be embarrassed because he attacked the mayor of Dawson City, who is not here to defend himself. I trust the MLA for Klondike will be man enough to go up to the mayor and say, Here are your votes and proceedings.
I want to delve into the results of the spending of these dollars that have been entrusted to us by the Canadian taxpayer. We were told the arena in Ross River would cost $700,000. It has not been completed and the price tag is $1.5 million, and climbing. I am not questioning the need for a facility in Ross River; I am questioning the scope of the arena and the lack of management with respect to that project. If it was one particular facility, then the government quite rightly could stand up and say that it had gone awry, but project after project is coming in over budget, and people are asking questions with respect to the validity of the principle of the project. After the project has been underway, they ask why it is costing so much.
The Government of the Yukon Territory is seen as a soft touch by anybody who want to get money from them. The side opposite may laugh and not take my comments seriously. There is such a consultant industry being created that last week there was a consultant in town consulting consultants. This is something that we have to take a look at.
What thought was given to the ongoing Operation and Maintenance costs of the arena in Ross River? Who is going to pay those? Where is the money going to come from? These may not be popular questions but they are real questions. They are questions that the government, on behalf of the people that we represent, has a responsibility to address. The government has not even bothered or considered addressing questions of this kind.
The $300 million that was granted to us by the Government of Canada was not for making people more dependent on government. They were made available on the understanding that the local government the ability to look ahead and invest it in infrastructure that was going to, not only improve the quality of life, but also was going to look at long term investment. It is our contention, as evidenced by the Budget, that has not done that. We contend that the government could go ahead with the majority of these projects if there was some thought given to the scope of them. There could still be excess money to put into energy, major road work and other resources that would generate wealth.
I am not going to talk about pork barrelling politics and how much money I got for my riding. I do not think that that is the intent of the Budget. The intent of the Budget is to direct the spending of the money.
I want to refer to a major issue of concern to this House and that is the question of housing. I want to put it on the record: the unfortunate element of all this is that because we are questioning the government we even have the audacity to question the government then the Government Leader and the Minister of Housing stand up and say Oh, you are against social housing.
I could speak for all Members in this House. Forget party, forget the partisanship. There is no question that if someone is in a position of legitimate need and if we individually or collectively have the ability to provide some facility to help them, we will. But there is a very fundamental difference between that side of the House and this side of the House, with respect to how far we are prepared to go. That is the question.
We see social housing as interim accommodation, not as a way of life, and that is the difference. I have no problem with the situation of where there is a young lady with maybe two or three children, who is put in a predicament in which they have no shelter to say that we, collectively as a society, should help them. But at the same time we have a responsibility through the social agencies that you and I and the taxpayers of Yukon pay a great deal of money to support, to help that individual: to be able to get the necessary training, if necessary, to get the necessary help in certain areas where it is necessary, and get them into a position where they can get into their own home so they do not have to rely on the new czar of housing because his or her rent is going to go up.
What is happening with this program is that there is going to be a growing dependency on government. I am speaking specifically of the smaller communities not those in Whitehorse, it is not going to affect Whitehorse that much, quite frankly but what it is going to affect is the community of Mayo, those people who have built their own homes with their own resources. And what this program has done, this budget has done, is lower the value of their homes. But who cares. Who cares from the side opposite? That applies to the communities of Haines Junction and Watson Lake.
The Minister of Justice the Minister who knows everything has said this will have no adverse affect on the private sector. I want to read, for the record, an article dated today, November 19, 1987, by Whitehorse Star reporter Jim Butler. It is front page news. A Yukon contractor says he has scrapped a plan to build a $900,000 apartment block in Watson Lake because the Yukon governments Social Housing Program for the communities would present too much competition.
It is too bad the economic guru of the government is not here to answer that point. With the plan that the government has put forward, it has been so badly thought out that it has not taken into account I have asked the new czar of housing why they did not initiate or finish the whole ownership option paper a year ago. It could have been thought of, and it could have been dealt with in concert with the Social Housing Program.
The reason I ask that question is because I never got an answer from the Minister at all. All I got was self-incrimination about how he did not have a general manager for a year and it was my fault. He has only been in the government for two and a half years. But the question was put to try to find out why it was not done. Why was that particular study not done, and provided for the Cabinet colleagues and the government, to consider the situation in its totality? It is our contention that if certain steps are done in this area, a lot of this public housing will not be necessary. If we go ahead with this public housing program as outlined by the new czar of housing, there are going to be some very social significant results not just economically. You are going to have, as I said earlier, a dependency on government. It will be housing that is going to provide for a way of life. You are going to have an effect in the community whereby the YTG is the major taxpayer, the major tax base in the community which, incidentally, the rest of society hates.
The other ramification is that people, as outlined in this article, as an example, will not be building their own homes because the value of their own homes is going to be that much less. I think what has to be done is that the new Bible, the study by Manitoba, has to be examined in totality and the consequences looked at with regard to the Yukon as a whole.
I think we must, at the same time, consider that the Yukon was built by its people. Some of those people prefer a log cabin. Some of those people prefer to have their own home, perhaps with no running water, but it is their own home. Under the terms and conditions of the study by the Minister of Housing, the house I built and lived in for ten years would have been termed substandard.
That is the Bible they are going by. That is the reason they are going ahead and launching into the most massive socialistic housing program the Yukon has ever seen. It is ironic, too, that the cottages in lower Carcross-way are considered substandard as well.
As I said earlier: some people do not necessarily want a mortgage, do not necessarily want to live in Porter Creek or in Riverdale. A lot of people want to build their own home, with their own money, and at their own pace. According to that study, that is substandard and unacceptable.
The tragedy of what we have here is that Big Brother is becoming more and more evident in our lives. We move onto the size of government. We have 4,000 civil servants between the levels of government for a population of 15,000 people over the age of 18. Four thousand! That means for every three people not employed by the government there is one civil servant taking care of them. The government is growing! I am sure when the Minister of Municipal Affairs stands up, he will say it is my fault. I know that; two and a half years in the saddle but it is the other guys fault. We have over 20 various office buildings in downtown Whitehorse filled with government employees. That is a fact. It is nothing you can hide, it is there. It is called decentralization.
Is that the Yukon we want to build? Where the government dictates every aspect of our life to the point that I am told I live in substandard housing. We are getting to the point where we cannot even have a wood stove in a garage because it is unsafe I am so stupid that I will go in there and blow myself up.
Forget political philosophy. We have to stand back and have a look at where we are going, and how we are affecting society in totality, instead of trying to target interest groups and geographic areas strictly for political purposes.
In some of the projects happening here all I can see is political greed; it has nothing to do with common sense. What we are experiencing is people going into a community, and upon request saying here, you can have it all. It is so bad, and we have so much excess money, that we have a document called the Capital Estimates with a front page that cost an added $600 dollars. I have not heard one complaint about the previous format of the Capital Budget. Who is going to read this document other than the Members of this House.
It is only $600, or $40.00 a piece. That is no big deal. That is $600 of the taxpayers money that has gone into this, and no one is ever going to see it. I was told that this cover was put on the Budget because it was sent outside to various libraries. Would Members have put $600 of their own money into this? The Member for Old Crow would not, but she is agreeing to it. It should be an interesting speech that she gives about what happened in her constituency. There was $50,000 put into an outdoor rink. It should be a pretty good outdoor rink at $50,000. That is a lot of money.
There are basic elements of our infrastructure that have not been addressed by the government, areas that are not that politically attractive. That is safer than the question of equalization of electrical rates. Not everybody in the coffee shop talks about electrical equalization. It has been two years overdue in being addressed in view of the financial aid that the Government of Yukon has gotten. We hear of people paying as high as $.27 or $.33 per kilowatt hour for electricity. I imagine the government is doing another study. We do not even have people on the Yukon Electrical Public Utilities Board.
There were some people who disagreed with the Minister of Justice, and he successfully purged them too. We have a justice of the peace who was purged; the Yukon Electric Public Utilities board was purged; he did in the Yukon Native Courtworkers, the Workers Compensation Board, the Judicial Council and the Liquor Board. We have a responsibility to the Budget to seriously look at how it is being managed and directed.
Nobody is going to say that money should not be expended, but there is the question of how the money is being mishandled, in many cases, with respect to the priorities put forward in the Budget.
The Member for Old Crow yawned. I just want to get that into the record.
I know it is boring talking about accountability and responsibility. I have not seen it here since we came into this session, since the great majority, since we have seen the maiden speech from the Member for Tatchun the arrogance of this other side opposite. It must be really frustrating having to come in here and answer to somebody. It would be a lot nicer if we had a social democratic government, then we could just sit on a committee. We would not have to answer. We could consult, and then just go ahead and do what we want.
I do not think this is any yawning matter; not a laughing matter. We are talking about over $100 million dollars; we are talking about an organization that now in total spends $300 million; and we are talking about a government that, in our judgement, in some areas, has no control and unfortunately does not care. The end result of what they want, as my colleague, the Member for Porter Creek West, said so well, was power, political power. How do you do that? You try to go and buy the electorate. Go to your constituencies as the MLA for Klondike did and say, Look what I got for you. Actually, it is probably a very advantageous time Christmas is coming.
I think that is the tragedy of what we are seeing today. It is not a government that is looking into the future and providing an overall steady course with respect to looking for investment in the future. I think, unfortunately, what we have is a government that is looking for a short term gain for the purposes of trying to keep political power. In the long term, we have a budget that is going to create debt. The unfortunate aspect of that, I will bet, is that in ten years from now, at least two to three Members on that side of the floor of the House will not be here to answer for it.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I take great pleasure in responding to the Budget Speech, second reading, at this point. It is for me a rare treat to have had some of the spokesmen for the other side of the Legislature, having given their thoughts on budgeting, on responsibility, on arrogance, on the role of the Legislature, the role of the constituency representatives, all in one neat package. Unfortunately, I have five pages worth of something to say but I do not think I will be in a position where I can give full credit to all the remarks that have been made especially by the Member for Porter Creek East in such a short time. So I am going to take a great deal of pleasure in the Committee Debate when you, Mr. Speaker, are out of the Chair and when we can have a good to and fro that will test the mettle and understanding of the Members opposite on their knowledge of what it is they think they are talking about.
The last few years this government has been in power, it has been common practice to roundly criticize or draw upon memories of those of us who were here prior to 1985. It has always been felt that we should start from scratch, as was the situation in BC, where the New Democrat government was defeated in the early 70s. The governing party of the day always started from scratch and made sure that because they were in control, political history would start at the time they took office.
That did not happen, and it did not happen with the Members opposite in the Legislature either. They were regularly drawing upon the memory of a New Democratic government in BC from over ten years previous to try to draw analogies as to what might happen in the future. Members will have to pardon me for drawing from a few recent memories that are fairly clear in my mind, from the last couple or three years, because I do remember what arrogance is all about. I do remember the disrespect that government Ministers have had in the past for the Legislature and for the Members in the Opposition. That memory is extremely clear in my mind, especially when coming from the Member for Porter Creek East, who is arrogance embodied when he is sitting in a Ministers chair. In a situation like that the government is in a position where they do not have to care and can get away with it. That is the reason why the electorate of the Yukon allowed the New Democrats to thoroughly trounce the Conservatives in the last election, because of the significant arrogance displayed by the previous Ministers and by the previous government. That is a legacy that has not been repeated by this government.
The Member for Faro is kibbitzing, so maybe we will start with him. The Member protested far too much that he is not really against social housing. Everything the Member has said in the past week, and everything the Member has said in terms of wanting to ensure that the people of middle and upper income families had a fair crack at the public purse for housing programs, belies the fact that, given that we were faced with a situation where we had to set priorities, we did set priorities and we did put needy people first.
This suggests to me that social housing was not only a low priority for the Member for Faro but that it was a no priority. There is so much in the Members remarks that betrays a lack of sensitivity, not only to low income and poor people, but to every other community outside of Faro that it is pathetic.
I will get to the Member for Porter Creek East. He does not have to rush me; we have a couple of weeks, and we will have a chance to lock horns. I am going to take some pleasure to responding, in Committee debate, to what the government is doing for housing in the territory in terms of making land available. The Capital Budget has record expenditures to make land available for residential purposes. I will be quite prepared to defend, not only the priorities of the government, but also the general direction in which the government is going with respect to social housing and in respect to the private sector in meeting the housing needs of the people of the territory. The housing priorities are right and just. That is not shared by the Member for Faro, obviously, nor would it be shared by any Member on the opposition. We all know what their stand is on housing.
When I took responsibility for the Yukon Housing Corporation, it was somehow tucked away, quite illegally, in the Administration Branch, up in the corner, in the back. The poor civil servants working there were expected to do all the marvelous housing programs that the Member for Porter Creek East is wanting to champion, they were all sour-faced because they think the government has strangled the Corporation. It had quite illegally blended it into the government department, quite contrary to legislation. The Member for Porter Creek East complains that not enough attention or respect is paid to legislation. What in heavens name happened when he was a Minister, when the decision came to roll the YHC into the Department of Community and Transportation Services and to strangle it. Where was he then?
This is gross hypocrisy. We know that neither he nor the Member for Faro cares about social housing. We do know, however, that, even given the Member is more concerned about protecting property values than he is about social housing, the Housing Corporation would not have been in a position to undertake any of the programs that the Member now wants to champion, given that he is sold on the idea of financial support for the private sector to build houses. So, what did he do? He strangled the only delivery agent that the government has.
What does he do? He ropes in the management board to do something that is quite illegal, quite contrary to legislation, to the Yukon Housing Act. Does the Member have any respect for legislation? That is a legitimate question under the circumstances, is it not?
The Members lack of respect for duly passed legislation in the House speaks for itself. Who was in the Cabinet of the day? There are a number of people over in the opposite benches who were in Cabinet of the day, and who took part in that decision. There is significant evidence that support for social housing is either not a priority or a low priority or no priority, depending on who you talk to on the other side of the House, but support for the people who are poor in our society and a few do exist in the rural communities is not the priority of anybody that I am aware of on the other side of the House.
The demonstrable needs that are expressed by people in the Yukon in the rural communities for better housing are clearly not a priority of the opposite side of the House. The only concern the Member for Porter Creek East has is property values in Whitehorse and around the territory. It may be a surprise to the Member, but you can meet social housing needs without doing damage to property values in rural Yukon or anywhere else.
When we get into the housing debate, we will provide more than adequate justification not only for the actions that have been taken, but for the direction that we are going. I will undertake to ensure that the very clear statements, implicit and explicit by the Members opposite, are transmitted in total to the rural communities in this territory and to the people who are on the waiting list in Whitehorse for any kind of housing that they can get.
It will not do to say: Well, people in rural Yukon do not want housing. It is a lifestyle thing, after all. They can do without water and sewer services. They do not want that. Why do you think they are out there in the first place?
I come from a rural community, I live in a rural community, and I know there are a lot of people in rural communities who do want running water and who do want water and sewer. There are a lot of people in this territory who do not have water and sewer, who would like water and sewer. It is not good enough to say it is a lifestyle thing, that those people out there do not have it because they do not want it. I have got news for the Member for Porter Creek East: it just is not true. Proving it at the polls is something that can easily be done.
The Member for Faro spoke of the block funding formula and suggested that there were problems developing with it, that the community of Faro was not getting enough. It was not fair to Faro because, even though Faro had all the infrastructure, they still needed more money, and they had a major rebuilding program to undertake and roads to pave.
When the formula agreement was negotiated with the members of the municipal fraternity mayors and deputy mayors around the territory there was a significant desire not to include Faro at all. The reason for that was that Faro had infrastructure that most communities only dream about.
What did this government do when it assumed administration for Faro? Taxes were lowered, and books were brought into shape. The Member for Faro is not even aware that taxes were lowered in Faro. He is obviously irrelevant to the community of Faro if he is not even aware of something as significant as that.
The government ensured that Faro was incorporated into the block funding arrangement, because Faro is a legitimate community and a recipient of block funding. In this past year, I believe the block fund for Faro was in the neighbourhood of $1 million.
The infrastructure in any community can be improved, but the infrastructure in Faro is fairly sophisticated and well heeled in comparison to practically every other community outside of Whitehorse. Yet the Government of Yukon is still showing significant support for that community through its block fund.
Maybe the Liberal Party is not represented territory-wide. Perhaps I am making a wrong assumption, and the Liberal Party only rests in Faro, so the Member for Faro does not have to think about any other community in the territory. I find it incredible and inconceivable that the Member feels the block fund for Faro should be enhanced beyond what is reasonable and acceptable in territory wide terms. The Member obviously feels that he cannot possibly shake up support for his party, because there is no support out there to shake up.
The Member brought up a few other points I will be addressing in Committee, because I think they are very worthy of debate.
I would like to remind the Member that the debates are public and word does leak out. People do pay attention to what happens in the Legislature and they do, incidentally, read Capital Budgets. The Member for Porter Creek East does not seem to think the Capital Budgets are read, but I have some experience from my constituents that can dispute that particular claim.
The Member for Faro claims there are some problems with a number of community projects but he, like the Members in the Opposition, fail to name them. As the Member for Kluane says, there is a community centre going up in Burwash Landing; you will not find me saying anything against it, but it is really not one of those projects that brings in any revenue. The Member for Hootalinqua has never said anything about the significant expenditures in his riding, but they do not bring in any revenue, so they are essentially trying to take it both ways. They are saying that all the individual projects out there are good projects except the ones in their own ridings but they will never identify one.
The Member for Porter Creek East tried to be a little more sophisticated. He said the scope of the projects is what we are really talking about: maybe build something a little smaller and put some more money into roads, spread the construction out, and we can put more money into roads. What we should do is deal with these projects on a case by case basis, determine how much scaled down the projects ought to be, and then we will discuss what other monies could have been put into even more roads.
I am really fascinated by this because, in the last two years, we have spent more in transportation development than we would normally spend in an entire Capital Budget. We have spent approximately $57 million in transportation development in this coming year and last year. Infrastructure development: critically important to the economy of the territory, critically important in ensuring that the Member for Faros community opened up in the first place.
In response to something the Member for Kluane said about training, we definitely disagree on this matter. Training is an absolutely essential element to the economy of the country. In 1985, the party that is now government swore up and down that training was not only going to be maintained but was going to be enhanced, because if Canadians were going to take advantage of any kind of economic recovery, if Canadians were going to be capable of handling themselves in an information-based economy, they had to be better trained, and we had to direct more money into training than ever before for that one reason.
We are always talking about how we must improve infrastructure. The infrastructure is people being trained to do things, to take advantage and initiate economic activity. It is people being trained to use their skills in order to take part in the economy. We should not be making light of this. The Member for Kluane essentially said that the Minister of Education should not complain about cutbacks in training funds, because there is a federal deficit to consider. This is one area where I would argue that we cannot afford to engage in less activity.
What happened to the promise that we would enhance and protect training funding? It has been cut back by almost $1 billion. The future of the post secondary education system in the territory our college system and adult education is at stake here. This is a significant element in the recovery of this economy, and we cannot downplay it. I hope that the Member will not try and make light of it in remarks that he makes in the future.
The Member for Faro said that he could not say anything complimentary about the Budget. I will ensure that this fact gets back to his constituents quickly. The Member for Faro wants to know what attention is being paid to his constituency, knowing about the support for the private sector that the government has engaged in by ensuring Curragh Resources got up and running. He knows what expenditures were made to improve the infrastructure in that community so that it would be a livable and a workable place. The Member for Faro says that it was all done before the NDP were elected. The NDP government hustled to get his community opened.
The Member for Faro was completely irrelevant to the whole process. He says that he is going to speak to the Town Council. I am sure that that will be a relevant experience for them.
The previous Member for Faro attempted, quite unsuccessfully, to improve the access road to Faro. It was a very dangerous road that is important to the local economy. This government did it.
Through block funding, the government has allowed the community not only to pay off its debts, but to engage in much of the activities the Member refers to paving streets and other things that are important to the community. There was support through the LEOP for the school. I am sad that nobody in the Opposition criticized it as they normally do, because it would be fun to debate.
The Yukon government has also spent considerable resources ensuring that the Skagway Road is open year round. These things are not relevant to the Member for Faro, because the Member is not relevant to the community of Faro. Nevertheless, it is important to the economy of this territory.
There has been some suggestion that the projects in the Capital Budget were generally a waste of money. Essentially, the Member for Hootalinqua said the expenditures were wasted, and there was no evidence that the government was attacking the root problems of the economy, which presumably means that the Member has no confidence in the Roads to Resources program and no memory for the last two years for the economic activity that has been undertaken in the territory and the significant support that the government has given to the private sector.
The Members have said in the press that the government has not paid enough attention to its ridings. On one hand, the government is spending money like a drunken sailor but not enough on our ridings; they are favouring government ridings. Objectively, that is not the case. A couple of years ago, I might have been naive enough to try to appeal to the Members opposite sense of fairness, but I am not going to do that. I am going to make it clear when we get into Committee debate exactly where those expenditures are, and I am going to ask the Members opposite whether or not on each and every project in their constituencies they are in favour of the project or opposed to it. It is important to get it on the record. You cannot simply say, as the Member for Faro so pathetically tried to say yesterday, that I take credit for initiatives. It is amazing what a Member of the Opposition can do and, yet, criticize the spending patterns of the government generally. You say the government is not spending enough money on infrastructure development. You cannot have it both ways, and I am not going to allow the Members in their constituencies to get away with taking credit for projects and also criticizing the government for what they consider to be wasteful expenditures. That simply will not wash.
The Member for Hootalinqua brought up his age-old, tired theme that the money given to the territory by the federal government was money that he says was the result of considerable efforts by the previous territorial government.
The Member for Porter Creek West said that government spending was growing and he listed the government expenditures, the capital expenditures, over the last few years, as though this was, in itself, an evil thing. Now here is another basic, fundamental contradiction: you cannot ask for money for infrastructure development and then criticize when you spend the money on infrastructure development. You just cannot do it. Is there no contradiction in peoples minds, do they feel at all guilty trying to speak out of both sides of their mouths? Do you not feel just a little uncomfortable sitting over there? You ought to feel just a little uncomfortable. Surely the Member for Hootalinqua is squirming just a bit, that maybe he is not really putting the case as accurately and as properly as he should; maybe he is not.
The Member for Porter Creek West complains about the increases in capital expenditures, other Members complain about the increases in Operation and Maintenance expenditures which were, incidentally, less than the expenditures in their day but I am just stymied. You are left with the question: why ask for the money if you were not going to spend it? You wanted to keep it in the bank, that is it. The Conservatives wanted to make sure the money was in a bank so that the banks could spend it. Is that the only justification? You criticize the growth of expenditures but you want the government to receive the money for infrastructure development. It is a fascinating contradiction and is it not a basic, fundamental contradiction?
It draws into question the credibility of everything the Members opposite say, in spite of the fact that they are supporting the expenditures in their own constituencies but criticize the expenditures as a whole. I love the Member for Kluane I will just repeat it one more time I love the Member of Kluanes claim that he was not going to criticize the community hall in Burwash Landing but boy, was it a dumb expenditure: it was not bringing in any revenue.
Mr. Brewster: I have a Point of Order.I did not say it was a dumb expenditure. If you check the Hansard, I did not say that and he does not have to be putting words in my mouth.
Speaker: There is not a Point of Order; it is just a dispute between two Members over facts. Does the Member wish to continue?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The words speak for themselves. The community hall in Burwash Landing, he says, I will not criticize it, but at the same time, it does not bring in any revenue. As a constituency MLA, you have got to be honest with the government. Are you supporting this project or are you not supporting the project? Do you think the project could have been put off or does the Member think the project should go ahead? The Members have got to come clean on these things; all Members do. And the hypocrisy that is so inherent to the argument has to be purged from the discussion.
We will get down to the project by project listing, and perhaps we will see whether or not the expenditures for the school at Grey Mountain or the expenditures for the school at Jeckell, or the Carcross school were really in fact projects that the Members really were in support of.
We will also try to determine whether or not the swimming pool in Carcross was really a project the Member for Hootalinqua supported, and whether they really, in fact, supported the expenditures on all the work that has been done through all the various projects in the communities.
I think we should spend just a minute or so on the question of Operation and Maintenance expenditures. I think the government has, in the last year, or perhaps in the last two years, attempted to grapple with the issue of Operation and Maintenance expenditures resulting in capital expenditures. To be perfectly fair, in November of 1985 we were discussing this problem with respect to the offshoot Operation and Maintenance expenditures of various projects, and there was an admission that government historically had not paid clear enough attention to the ramifications of various expenditures. There was a general understanding that road expenditures, where surfacing was done, brought down those Operation and Maintenance expenditures, and that is quite true. There were concerns expressed about the long term commitment that communities might have to make in order to become responsible for infrastructure within their communities, and it is something the government has taken to heart. We have, in discussions about all these projects, every single one of them, including the Ross River arena, considered the Operation and Maintenance responsibilities for community projects.
There are projects, of course, which are ongoing now for which there was not proper attention paid to Operation and Maintenance and the government is going to have to come to terms with the details of those projects and the details of the operational side. An excellent case is the Yukon College. It was decided that the Yukon College should go ahead in 1984-85, and at that time there was no understanding whatsoever, even though the scope of the project had been determined, about the operation costs of that facility. The Legislature is going to have to come to terms with that. It is going to have to come to terms with that in the very next Operation and Maintenance budget. That is a fact of life.
I realise I am running out of time; there is so much I would like to say that what I think we will have to do is reserve more remarks for the committee debate. I think I have heard as much as I would like to hear from the Members of the Opposition, especially the Member for Faro. Perhaps I should stop this. I think I should not be criticizing the Member for Faro so much; the target is far too slow-moving.
I will be prepared to defend the estimate for both Community and Transportation Services, Education and the Yukon Housing Corporation, and I will look forward to not only defending the Estimates but ensuring the public are fully aware of where all Members stand on all of the issues.
Mrs. Firth: I have been listening to this debate and have been actually enjoying it. It has been quite entertaining. My presentation, however, has never been quite as entertaining as the Minister of Educations, particularly when he gets to speak after the Member for Porter Creek East or the Member for Faro. I will not even try to compete with the expertise and the eloquence of the Member for the Elsa riding.
Now that we are talking about the governments third Capital Budget, I would like to raise a few concerns I think should be brought to the governments attention. This is not a new government. By now, we definitely have some idea of what the governments so called priorities are supposed to be and how this government is working. We are now starting to get an idea of the character of the government.
When I went through my constituency knocking on doors, not only did I hear concerns about the child care issue, but I also heard concerns about the amount of money that the government was spending and the manner in which they were spending it. The Member for Klondike spoke of the work crew in Dawson, commenting on the amount of money that is being spent, and that opinion is held by a lot of Yukoners. It does not necessarily matter which government it is. If there is a lot of money being spent, people recognize that. They recognize, that for some reason, we have a great influx of government money.
That is an interesting point, because everyone seems to recognize that it is government money. Although they know that it comes from them, indirectly, they do not feel the pinch because the costs to them have not increased directly in the form of taxes. People recognize in the backs of their mind that the money will run out and ask what happens when the money runs out. People feel that what happens will happen to them. Therefore I think that there is a little more concern out there than the government Members would like to admit. I would like to make that representation on behalf of the constituents I represent.
During the last Budget Speech, I raised an issue on which the Government Leader agreed with me. We had just gone on an exchange to the State of Alaska where we had heard representations made by the Contractors Association about the tremendous cutback of government contracting, and how there were many businesses that were going out of business, and how the contracting association had become tremendously dependent on the government for their livelihoods.
I raised that concern, and the Government Leader agreed with it and said he was concerned about it and had been keeping his eye on it over the last year. I would like to hear from the Government Leader if he can reassure us that it is not going to happen here. I would like to bring to the governments attention an instance where this kind of issue can be substantiated.
I went to look at the numbers of business licences that had been issued to consultants last year, for 1986, and there had been 109 business licences issued; so, 109 consultants. When I checked to see how many there were for the 1987 year, there were 162 consultants holding business licences here in the Yukon Territory. That is a growth of 53 new consulting companies here in the Yukon Territory for one year. That example demonstrates the concern and the future of the contracting industry also. There is going to be a time when this government cuts down on the amount of consulting it does, and we are going to have an excess of consulting businesses who are going to be very concerned because they are not going to have enough business to maintain their livelihood. They will be at the governments doorstep knocking on the door saying you have to provide more consulting contracts. That is what I mean by dependency. That is when business becomes dependent upon the government. I do not think that is a healthy situation for our Yukon business people to get into.
I have a concern about the whole budgeting process after three budgets now and watching projects that have been approved and changes made. As we come to more free flowing debate in Committee of the Whole, I want to ask the government several questions about the whole budget process, particularly how the decisions are made, where they decide to build new buildings, what their priorities are, where their priorities are. I think it would be quite interesting for Members of this Legislative Assembly to know just how many Management Board decisions there have been to either reallocate money or funds, or to move money around to or from Yukon College, or the money that had been allocated for the school at Watson Lake. We know the government has the ability through the Management Board process to reallocate that money. We know that it has been done by this government and that it is going to continue to be done. So, I will have some questions about that process and about how the government determines what is going to happen.
The Minister of Education made some comments about scaling down projects. I listened to his comments, but I cannot think of any projects that we have scaled down in the last while, particularly capital projects. I am sure the Minister will do his best to bring some to my attention but, from what I have heard in the communities and from the projects that have been going on in Whitehorse, most of them seem to be getting scaled up. I do not know if that is a fault within the contracting system that contracts have to be let in a hurry because of time constraints and consultations are made but, because they want to use some other kind of materials or equipment, they decide that there is a more expedient way to do it and, therefore, the cost of the project ends up being considerably more than they had anticipated.
I hope that is what the Minister of Education meant by scaling down. I definitely interpreted it that way and I cannot think of any projects that have been scaled down.
I would like to point out three or four instances where I want to substantiate some of the Notice of Questions I have given the government. The first one that came to my mind after the Member for Watson Lake mentioned it, was the Watson Lake High School. I remember the government coming in here with their capital budget and identifying an amount of money for a new high school at Watson Lake. Then a report, and the community said they did not need a new school; the other one could be renovated. Then I believe the Member for that area went out and finally had a meeting with the people to find out what they wanted and what the school committee wanted. I understand that at the last public notice, we were going to be renovating the building, but it was going to cost us about as much as a new structure. I think that is a perfect example of how was that decision made in the first place. Did the Minister just go in and say he wanted a new high school for Watson Lake? Or did three people in the community tell him they needed it? I would like to find out from the government just how they make these decisions.
The second facility that comes to mind is the seniors residence in Teslin which has been officially open since August, I believe. However, there are no residents in that facility yet, and I have to ask myself why. When I talk to the people in Teslin, they tell me that the Elders like to be in their cabins where they have to get wood because it gives them some work to do; they like taking care of themselves. So I will definitely be asking some questions about the whole priority area of that facility.
One of our greatest concerns on this side of the Legislature that has been brought to the governments attention by our Leader has been regarding facilities that are being built, not only in the communities, but here in Whitehorse too. The government says they are supposed to be facilities to improve the quality of life in that community, but I am and my colleagues are concerned about the amount of analysis and examination that is being done on the proposed Operation and Maintenance costs that are attached with those facilities. The Ross River arena is the perfect example. Having talked to some of the people in the community, and recognizing how much money they have the ability to raise now to pay off O & M costs, they are going to be short more than half again of what they need. You may improve the quality of life but, in the same context, if the people in the community cannot at least pay part of the O & M costs associated with that new facility, I think that is something that has to be examined very closely.
I hear about empty houses in the communities. We have heard from several communities that have empty houses, and yet Yukon Housing Corporation is coming into that community and building new houses. Of course, this seems to be causing some dissension within the community. People do not understand why that is happening or why the government is doing it.
I will be looking for some answers from this government so that we are able to satisfy some of the requests that come forward.
The important thing that we have to ask this government to explain to us it is something that they have been shying away from and avoiding is what their policy is on some of the decisions that are being made. There is an instance here where the Minister introduced a piece of legislation. When she was questioned about the policy that the legislation was based on, she was unable to give us an answer. The government has a responsibility to indicate to us what their policy is based and on budget approvals that they make. I would like to know what their policy is on things like building new schools, or when does a community get a new community club. How do they make the decision as to whether they are going to renovate something or if they are going to build a new facility? The government has to have some concrete, specific policies that they can enunciate in the House. They have to give us some reassurance that they know what they are doing and that they are now just making decisions on an ad hoc basis.
I have a concern about some of the requests that have been in the Budget by the Members. I have a concern about how they determine who is going to get what and where the money is going. I get the feeling that departments and MLAs are told to come in with wish lists, and the individual who speak the loudest, or the ones who can put the best argument forward, or the ones that will guarantee the most votes for the government in the upcoming election, will get priority attention. I am starting to hear a lot in the community about buying votes. That reflects a very cynical electorate, a very volatile electorate. We should all be aware of that type of comment being made in the public since most of us are probably seeking reelection. I do not think that is a healthy attitude for the electorate to have.
Everyone else has spoken about the Yukon Housing Corporation. My concerns about this are relatively basic. I hope that this government, when they are looking at their housing programs, are looking at the numbers of homeowners who are going to be paying taxes, in relation to those who are not and who are going to be beneficiaries of government housing. I hope that they will be looking at the requirement of services to all of those people., Who will be paying the bill for those services? There had better be some kind of balance or we are going to run out of taxpayers to pay all of the bills.
I heard one of the Members stand up I believe it was the Member for Watson Lake for the Campbell riding and say that he wanted to hear where they should not be spending money, that the Members opposite criticize so they would like to hear where they should not be spending money. Well I do not think the government should not be spending money if it is going to create Operation and Maintenance costs in the communities, that the communities cannot handle with some dignity. What I mean by that: I recognize that these communities have small tax bases, some of them practically no tax bases, yet they are certainly entitled to some of the amenities that other Yukoners have. But if you do not allow people in that community to have some dignity and make them feel like they are paying their own way, and that they are not totally dependent on the central authority or the central office, you do not have a very proud community or a very proud people living in the community. So that is when I think the government should take a very serious look at where they are spending the money and definitely: if they are building facilities in the communities, they should be facilities that are oriented toward that community. Not an arena or a community centre that is so luxurious and so out of context for that community that the costs become cumbersome.
As I mentioned about the Yukon Housing Corporation, I do not think the government should be spending money if it is going to result in an extreme lowering of revenues or decline in revenues that the government will be getting such as the comparison I made between taxpayers and non-taxpayers, although all require services. Because that, again, causes dependency on the central authority and I do not think that is a healthy, dignified way for people to live either.
There have been Members taking shots at other Members in the Legislature for comments that they have been making and I know how mad the government will get at me for making this comment, but to say that the Member for Faro is against social housing because he raised some concerns about the governments program and their housing program my personal feeling is that this government is against private home ownership. Just as they are against parents knowing what the best child care for their children is. Just as they are against the independence of the individual. You see, they do not like it, either. Thank you very much.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Porter: I move the House do now adjourn until Monday, November 30, 1987.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. Monday, November 30, 1987.
The House adjourned at 5:30 p.m.
The following Sessional Papers were tabled on November 19, 1987:
Yukon Development Corporation, First Annual Report, March 31, 1987 (Penikett)
Letter from Yukon Council on Aging to Minister of Justice regarding dismissal of a justice of the peace because of age (Phillips)