Wednesday, December 2, 1987 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. We will proceed at this time with prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper. Introduction of visitors?
Speaker: Are there any returns or documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have for tabling information pertaining to the inventory of Yukon Housing Corporation units around the territory.
Are there any reports of Committees? Petitions? Introduction of Bills?
Notices of Motion for Production of Papers? Are there any Notices of Motion? Are there any statements by Ministers?
Commercial Air Service Development
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The economic growth and diversification of the Yukon continues to create a demand for competitive, reliable, timely and cost effective air service.
Members of the Legislature are aware of the concerns that this government expressed upon the merger of Pacific Western Airlines and Canadian Pacific Airlines. This government has made representations to the Canadian Transport Commission on two occasions within the past year. The specific concerns expressed arise from the fears of many Yukoners that the monopoly position of one airline linking the territory with southern Canada would result in increased costs of travel, decreased frequency and decreased convenience of scheduled flights. We strongly expressed our firm position that the levels of service enjoyed by Yukoners be preserved.
The performance of the new airline has not lived up to the billing it was given at the time of merger, or to the expectations of many Yukoners. The Department of Community and Transportation Services has been actively consulting with Canadian Airlines International. Concerns about increased incidents of lost and damaged baggage, late cargo delivery, the bumping of essential cargo and animals were all forcefully brought to Canadian Airlines International senior executives attention. In the absence of consultations with Yukoners, Canadian Airlines developed a winter schedule resulting in significant operational difficulties for local air carriers, for connecting passengers going to other points in the Yukon, and for Yukoners travelling beyond Alberta or British Columbia.
The air service that is required for Yukoners to meet their objectives of growth and diversification can be obtained if this government is allowed to continue its efforts to persuade the existing air carrier, and possible competitors in the market, to consider expansion of service to Whitehorse and other Yukon communities.
The Department of Community and Transportation Services has been extensively involved in discussion with Canadian Airlines International and Time Air regarding air services to Watson Lake. New services to that community are expected to begin in April, 1988. Though greater frequency of flights is expected, concerns have been expressed by some members of the community over possible reductions in cargo capacity and difficult flight connections. The community was assured by Canadian airlines International that there would be no change to the service. The Watson Lake Chamber of Commerce will be appealing directly to Canadian Airlines International concerning the service level to Watson Lake. The Department of Community and Transportation Services has arranged to review and comment on the Time Air application before the Canadian Transport Commission decision is made.
The goals of this government in promoting competitive air service in the Yukon are concentrated on development of frequent service on a long term basis. Sophisticated jet service will provide quick access to the Yukon and for all Yukoners. Results should include: consistently adequate cargo capacity; a reduction in lost and damaged baggage; expanded seat availability and; a greater availability of affordable fares to meet the needs of Yukon. All of these factors will result in consistent and high quality service to the traveling public and Yukon businesses.
To achieve these goals, this government has been proactive in supporting the Air Canada affiliate, Air B.C., in its application to serve the Yukon. The Department of Community and Transportation Services has been in continued communication with Air B.C. as plans for expanded service have been developed. This government supports Air B.C.s application for service to Whitehorse and has forwarded a letter of support to the Canadian Transport Commission. I have also, by letter, asked Yukoners involved in business, industry and travel to support the Air B.C. application by sending letters of support to the Canadian Transport Commission. I will continue to consult and communicate with all air carriers.
Our actions have been clear and strong. Channels of communication are established and open. Consultation and discussions are ongoing. All avenues that may result in further development of air services to the Yukon will continue to be explored. Performance will be actively monitored. Development of commercial air service will be pursued as an important aspect in the overall evolution of the Yukon, its communities and the economy.
Mr. Lang: I have a couple of comments regarding the statement presented by the Minister with respect to airlines. I want to refer the Minister to Motion No. 21 on todays Order Paper. The Leader of the Official Opposition has put forward a motion that reads as follows:
THAT this House urges the Government of the Yukon to support competitive airline service between Yukon and Vancouver and Yukon and Edmonton;
THAT the Government of Yukon encourage Canadian air carriers to provide service between Yukon and Vancouver and Yukon and Edmonton in competition to the service provided by Canadian Airlines International; and
THAT the Speaker forward a copy of this resolution to the Canadian Transport Commission and the Hon. John Crosbie, Minister of Transport.
In view of the statements made today I want to say to the Minister that we are looking forward to unanimous agreement to the resolution before us that may be debated later on today.
Further, I would like to share a concern with the Minister on an area he touched on in his statement. That is in reference to Watson Lake. I quote, ... possible reductions in cargo capacity and difficult flight connections, the community was assured by Canadian Airlines International that there would be no change to the service. The department should be looking further into the concerns of the community because one of the propositions that has been put forward to me and some of my colleagues is that with the smaller size of the airplane flying into Watson Lake, the result may well be that a great amount of traffic from Cassiar could well be redirected to the Dease Lake area and then southbound from there. That would have an effect, to some degree, on the general economy of Watson Lake, and it is an area that has to be seriously looked at for the welfare of that particular community and area. Therefore, we are pleased to see the direction the department is going and this side would like to say that with working together perhaps we can get a satisfactory resolution in this area. It is a non-partisan issue.
Mr. McLachlan: I rise today to support the general direction taken in the Ministerial Statement. However, it may be a case of too little, too late. I feel that if the government had combined with the Government of the Northwest Territories and made a stronger statement and stronger representations to the Canadian Transport Commission last April when the contemplated merger was being discussed and took place, it may have sent a strong signal about the way Yukoners felt about the impending move. If you allow a two airline system to decrease to a one airline system into a monopoly position the resulting sufferers will be the passengers and the level of service. That is the situation we are seeing today.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I look forward to the debate on the motion, which may come this afternoon. It is true to say that there may be general agreement on all sides of the House with the direction that the government is taking. I would like to reassure the Member for Porter Creek East that the government has every intention of making an intervention before the CTC on the Air BC application for Watson Lake.
With respect to the Member for Faros remarks, I would remind the Member - in the spirit of non-partisan discussion - that the department and I made very strong interventions, which were quite public, at the time of the merger between Pacific Western Airlines and Canadian Pacific Airlines, which did speak to our concerns with respect to a monopoly air service to the Yukon. We also made an intervention when PWA made application to remove itself from the Yukon market.
We have made our views known very early in the equation and have also taken the opportunity to make a major point of this matter in the Ministers address to Transport Ministers across the country.
Speaker: This then brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: Territorial Court Act
Mr. Phelps: With respect to what has become known as the Bill Thomson case, the judges are ethically bound to not get embroiled in politically contentious debate. That is a well-known principle and is the subject of a speech given by the Chief Justice of Canada, Brian Dickson, on August 21, 1985, when he addressed the Canadian Bar Associations annual meeting in Halifax.
Does the Minister of Justice agree that judges cannot get embroiled in politically contentious debate?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: That is a general topic, and I could talk for some time, but I will not. The general answer is: occasionally. We have seen in the last few days that judges are embroiled in debates. It is true and uncontroversial to say that judges should avoid that as much as possible.
Mr. Phelps: I am very pleased to see that the Minister has seen fit to agree generally with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada. Does the Minister also agree that one of the main reasons for the Judicial Council being set up is to preserve the independence of the judiciary, so that complaints about specific judges could be investigated discretely by that body?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I am not sure if it is accurate to say that complaints would be investigated discretely by that body, because in the legislation it says that inquiries shall be public unless the inquirer brings them in private for certain reasons. It is true that the major reason for the Judicial Council here and elsewhere is to deal with complaints concerning judges.
Mr. Phelps: I am sure that the Minister then would agree that the Judicial Council has, on various occasions, discretely investigated complaints that have been laid against judges in the past by citizens. Some of those complaints have come in the form of letters to the Judicial Council.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I do not know that. I have no knowledge, in that the Judicial Council does not report to me. I have had no communication with the Judicial Council at all about complaints involving justices or judges. Common sense would, however, lead me to predict that since the creation of the body, there have been some complaints.
Question re: Territorial Court Act
Mr. Phelps: I know that there have been. Obviously, from the Ministers answer, investigations have not been public.
I suggest to the Minister that when he received the letter from the Chief Justice, he panicked and he tried to save his political hide. He went to see the Judge who would not speak to him because it was improper. She would not place herself, I would predict, in the position to be bullied by the court administrator and the Minister. The Minister panicked and held a press conference at 9:00 a.m. on Monday to save his political hide. Is that true?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Exactly the opposite is the case. It is not the case at all that it is improper for me to speak to the Chief Judge about this matter. I do not believe that is her attitude because there was a conversation, and she invited a conversation later this week. She suggested a meeting occur later this week, and I hope that meeting will occur. If there was any attempt to bully a judge, that would be improper, and it would be unsuccessful because judges would not permit it. The purpose of a meeting is to discuss the facts to get at the bottom of exactly what happened.
Mr. Phelps: Did the Minister not know that by holding a press conference, that two things were happening? Firstly, in order to save his political hide, he was making it very clear in the public domain that he was stating that what the Chief Judge of the Territorial Court of the Yukon Territory was saying was untrue, casting into doubt her veracity. Secondly, she cannot defend herself publicly because of the ethics which we spoke to earlier in this Question Period. So what he did was raise these doubts about her veracity, knowing she cannot enter into a contentious political debate.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: That is exactly why I am seeking a meeting with her. I sought a meeting on Friday. I knew after speaking to Justice of the Peace Thomson on Friday night that this matter was going to be a very public matter. At that point it was clear in my mind, that it was appropriate and responsible, to make the information which is available, public. That is the only legitimate course of action I had left.
Mr. Phelps: Did the Minister not know she could not ethically defend herself? Why did he release those letters at 9:00 a.m. on Monday morning?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The Judge can ethically defend herself in various ways and means, and I would emphasize that the charges or allegations have not come from me, but from Members opposite. There are certainly discrepancies and inconsistencies that should and must be explained, but no charges have been made by me, but solely by the Opposition.
Question re: Yukon Development Corporation
Mr. McLachlan: I have a question for the Minister of Economic Development. Can the Minister advise if it is a policy of this government, or this Minister, that the Yukon Development Corporation will only take part in assisting a venture if it can have a majority controlling interest - 51 percent or better - or is the YDC content with less than a controlling interest?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The situation has not arisen in the sense that we have not entered into any joint venture agreements to date. As a general rule, if we were making the majority of the investment, we would want to be able to protect our investment by having a majority voting representation on the board. The only investment that we have made, other than the energy corporation or the acquisition of NCPC, is Hyland Forest Products. It will eventually be sold off once it has been refurbished and once we have established exactly what we are going to do about the energy potential of that plant. Then we will be discussing how we can divest ourselves of that asset.
Mr. McLachlan: There probably very likely are terms of reference that the government, the Cabinet, has provided to the Yukon Development Corporation in respect to this very issue.
My question to the Government Leader is: would the Government Leader be willing to table the terms of reference or direction that is provided to the Yukon Development Corporation with regard to making investments in the territory?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Well, I have already done that, I believe, by way of a ministerial statement earlier in the session regarding the mandate this Cabinet has given to the Development Corporation. That information is public, - I have made it public - and those are the instructions under which the Board is operating.
Mr. McLachlan: At the moment, the government is dealing with a proposal to re-activate at least a part of the railroad. Can the Government Leader advise if there is a timeframe or a deadline by which this government must make a decision by to be involved, or not be involved in that project?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I did not know the Member was making inquiries about the railroad. At this moment we are not in any negotiations at all about the railroad. We have been in discussions, of course, with Mr. Hougen, who is attempting to negotiate an arrangement to re-start the railroad, an objective which we support. One possibility that we have indicated to him is equity participation by the Yukon Development Corporation. In that case, knowing the kind of scale of the operation involved, and knowing the wishes of the principal actor in the deal, I would think it highly unlikely that the Yukon Development Corporation in that case would be involved in anything other than a minority basis, if it were to become involved.
Question re: Territorial Court Act
Mr. Phelps: I want to get back into questions about the Thomson affair. The Minister has stated on several occasions, and it is in Hansard, that a legal opinion was asked for by the court administrator on Judge Ilnickis instructions. I refer to Hansard, page 122, the hon. Mr. Kimmerly, The course of events was that the judicial administrator asked for a legal opinion concerning the validity of Mr. Thomsons appointment after his sixty-fifth birthday...
Again, it shows up on page 142, in yesterdays Hansard where he says, The initiative for the opinion came from the Chief Judge and was obtained by the court administrator, who asked lawyers in the Department of Justice for an opinion.
Mr. Speaker, I guess what I would like the Minister to admit now is that the legal opinion was by way of a memorandum, which was dated August 31, 1987, received September 1, 1987, addressed to Gordon Michener, who is not the court administrator but the Director of Legal Services, and it was sent by, or from, Tom Ullyett of Legal Services. If you will admit that, I might just save a bit of time by also asking him to admit what the first sentence of that legal opinion says, and I will quote: This is further to Bill Byers memorandum, of July 21, 1987 to you and to your request that I follow up my oral opinion with a brief memorandum. Are those facts correct?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Yes, those facts are correct, and there are additional facts in that the chain of command occurred as it did. However, the request was made by Mr. Williamson. The reference to Mr. Byers memorandum is accurate, and I obtained a copy of that this morning. The first sentence of the memorandum is, Judge Ilnicki telephoned me on the twentieth instant to advise that she believes Bill Thomson is now 66 years of age and as she interprets the legislation governing the sitting of JPs, he is no longer eligible to sit.
Mr. Phelps: Could the Minister table those memorandums?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Yes.
Mr. Phelps: The legal opinion, it would seem, was requested in a way that is rather different from that suggested publicly by the Minister of Justice when he was so busy casting doubt on the veracity on the Chief Judge. The legal opinion was obviously asked for by Mr. Byers and subsequently by Mr. Michener, who is the Director of Legal Services. Is that not correct?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: That is the chain of command, yes. I specifically asked those questions of the department this morning, and I was advised that the initiator of the request was Bill Williamson. A copy of the opinion went to Mr. Williamson, as it indicates, by a carbon copy on September 1, 1987.
Question re: Territorial Court Act
Mr. Phelps: Thus far, what the Minister has said is rather misleading. In this, what the Minister himself has called, bizarre chain of events, we have the Minister stating two things, and they appear in Hansard as well. One is that the court administrator delivered the letter September 8, 1987 to Mr. Thomson on that day. That is on page 142 of Hansard, part way down: I was asked about the severance pay that was offered to Bill Thomson, and the answer is that on September 8, when the letter was delivered, it was delivered in person by Mr. Williamson to Mr. Thomson. The Minister also said in his press conference that Mr. Williamson showed the letter to Judge Ilnicki on the day before it was given to Mr. Thomson. The Whitehorse Star of November 3, 1987 says, Williamson drafted the letter and reviewed the draft with her to ensure she approved, and she did. The next day the letter was given to Mr. Thomson.
Would the Minister not agree that the previous day, September 7, 1987 was Thanksgiving?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I do not know, but I stand by the statements that I made, which is information given to me by Mr. Williamson. The previous day may have meant the previous Friday. The information I have repeated to the House is exactly as it was given to me.
Mr. Phelps: The Minister should remember British Parliamentary traditions and the doctrine of ministerial responsibility as we proceed through this. I made a mistake and, for the purpose of the record, I would like to correct it. I said Thanksgiving and meant Labour Day.
The reply is the previous business day, probably the Friday, or whatever it was before that.
The government has documentation in its possession to show that the Chief Judge left the territory on August 31. She went from here to Vancouver to attend a judges conference and returned on Labour Day, September 7. The documentation is in the hands of the government. There is a travel warrant, as I understand ...
Speaker: Order, please. Would the Member please get to his supplementary question?
Mr. Phelps: ... and all the backup material to prove that is the case. Was the Minister aware of that when he was making his press conference and casting doubts on the veracity of the Chief Justice on November 30?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: No, I was not aware of that. I am confident it makes no difference whatsoever. The facts, as I believe them to be, are that the court administrator met with the Chief Judge and showed her the letter before the letter was delivered to Mr. Thomson.
Question re: Territorial Court Act
Mr. Phelps: I will go on to a new question, Mr. Speaker.
The situation is somewhat bizarre. The Judge was not here when the written legal opinion was received. The Judge was not here when the letter was prepared. The Judge was not here when the letter was shown to Bill Byers, the Deputy Minister - that is to say the department - and sanctioned, at least with respect to the policy decision regarding the three months pay.
Does the Minister now want to admit that what he has been saying publicly and in this House appears to be somewhat misleading?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: No, not at all. The facts are very clear that the court administrator drafted a letter; the court administrator reviewed the letter with the Chief Judge to ensure that she approved. She did. The appointment to speak with Mr. Thomson was made after that event, and Mr. Thomson received the letter, delivered by Mr. Williamson.
Mr. Phelps: Would the Minister like to table the document he is reading from?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Yes, I will.
Question re: Territorial Court Act
Mr. Phelps: The next situation is that we have the Minister of Justice in Hansard on page 121 saying, The Court Administrator obtained a legal opinion in the Department of Justice. That legal opinion was given to the Judge, and the Judge later instructed Mr. Williamson to a course of action regarding sending the letter.
When the legal opinion was delivered it was September 1. That is the date stamp on it. The Judge did not get back until Labour Day, September 7. My submission is that everything the Minister has said is inaccurate because of those facts. I am submitting, and am asking the Minister to agree, that the legal opinion was not received, given to the Judge, and then the Judge later instructed that the letter be written. Would the Minister agree with that?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: No.
Mr. Phelps: The letter was delivered to Mr. Thomson on September 8. The Minister has said that the letter was shown to the Judge the day before. Is the Minister saying that the Judge was shown the letter on Labour Day or Friday when she was not here?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The statements that I made I believe to be accurate. The information about travel I expect can be explained by speaking to the particular individuals involved and asking particularly about the hours that they met and precisely when. The information that I have given the House I believe to be accurate.
Mr. Phelps: I submit quite the opposite. All this doubt cast upon the Chief Justice was premature, based on inaccurate facts, and simply not true - that she did tell the truth. Would the Minister agree with that?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The situation is, I was presented on Friday with information that was contradictory to the previous information that I had. I have done my utmost to discover the specific facts. That is what I am doing, that is what I have done, and what I will be doing. The debate here will not change precisely what occurred. This kind of debate is more suited to an inquiry, which in due course may happen.
Question re: Territorial Court Act
Mr. Phelps: He seems to be saying that he can stand up as Minister and put the credibility of the Chief Justice based on facts that are inaccurate at best - at best - completely abdicate his responsibility to the judicial system - something that is unheard of in Parliamentary tradition anywhere in Canada. I have never heard of anything like this occurring before. Then, when he is cross examined, or examined in this House, it turns out - let it be that way because he has misled the public, he has created a crisis in the system.
Will the Minister consider resigning?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: It is interesting how the Member opposite feels that he has better information than I do. I am aware of the doctrine of ministerial responsibility. I am responsible for what I say. I am reporting the facts to the House as I believe them to be true. I can do nothing more than that.
Mr. Phelps: I guess the best that he can scramble out of this one with, crawl out of this hole with, is that the Minister is a completely incompetent and irresponsible Minister. The Minister does not mind calling other people liars when he does not have his facts straight. Another issue of great interest is in Hansard, page 121. I asked the question, Can the Minister advise this House when he first found out about the letter of September 8, 1987? His response was, I found out from a reporter. It was either on September 8, 9 or 10, 1987. I believe it was either September 8 or September 9, 1987. I had no knowledge of that letter prior to being told by the media.
It was 20 days later that an article appeared suddenly in the Whitehorse Star dated September 29, 1987. Twenty days later. It says here, However, Kimmerly noting he is personally not aware of any letter sent to Thomson, said discrepancies exist between the Territorial Court Act and the Yukon Human Rights Act, which must be ironed out before a judge or a justice of the peace over 65 years old can be allowed to sit. Again, the Minister misspoke himself only 20 days later. What is the truth? When did he find out about this letter?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I found out about the letter from a reporter immediately after it became public knowledge.
Mr. Phelps: In a serious matter such as this, for the Minister to be out by three weeks, is extremely serious indeed. Can the Minister tell us what date it was? Did he not know better when he misspoke himself in the House with respect to the dates of September 8, 9, and 10?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The facts are as I have stated them for the House.
Question re: Territorial Court Act
Mr. Phelps: Are the facts then that the Minister first found out on September 8, 9 or 10 - more than likely on September 8 or 9, 1987?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Yes.
Mr. Phelps: Can the Minister advise us why he told the reporter from the Whitehorse Star, Chuck Tobin, on September 29, 1987, that he was personally not aware of a letter sent to Mr. Thomson?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: If I believe in our Standing Orders it is improper to ask for a comment of an account in the media. The facts are as I have stated them.
Mr. Phelps: Did the Minister tell the reporter on September 29, 1987 that he was personally not aware of any letter?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I have no specific memory of what I said on September 29, 1987, or a day or two before that. That could have been a quote that I made earlier. I do not know.
Question re: Territorial Court Act
Mr. Phelps: When did the Minister find out that his Deputy Minister had reviewed the letter of September 8, 1987 before it was delivered to Mr. Thomson?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: On Monday this week.
Mr. Phelps: We have a situation that shows complete incompetence at the very least. It is leading to an extremely serious situation in which the Chief Judge of the territory has her credibility questioned in the media. All this, and a situation where the facts are so shaky with so many discrepancies - that it would be laughable if it were not so serious.
We have a situation where the Minister chose to go public without having all the facts, rather than take the ...
Speaker: Order, please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary question?
Mr. Phelps: ... rather than take the responsible course, which was to go to the Judicial Council and go through the proper channels, if he had some problems, knowing that the Justice ...
Speaker: Order, please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary question?
Mr. Phelps: Will the Government Leader ask the Minister of Justice to resign in the face of this crisis?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: No, Mr. Speaker.
Question re: White Pass railway
Mr. McLachlan: The Government Leader has specified that the government would consider taking an equity position in the railroad development proposal by Mr. Hougen. What form would that equity take?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I cannot say with confidence, because there have been no specific negotiations at this point. Consistent with the mandate of the Yukon Development Corporation would be for it to invest in the railway in order to see it re-established and operating as a tourist railway. What kind of shares might be held or what representation it might seek on the board in consideration of that investment, I could not say at this point. That would be premature.
Mr. McLachlan: Does the Development Corporation have to make a profit on any position it takes in an investment?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: In the mandate, if the Corporation is being asked to make an investment with some social purpose - in other words, one that would not return a profit or have a commercial return - then it would have to seek Cabinet approval. Its basic purpose is to operate in a commercial environment. In other words, the Development Corporation does not exist to subsidize non-economic investments.
Mr. McLachlan: If the Development Corporation has a preferred route of investment, is it through preferred shares, low interest loans or deferred interest?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: With respect to this particular possibility, the Development Corporation has not had any reason to consider that possibility yet, as there have been no negotiations on that point. I would indicate to the proponents that, while it is possible to consider YDC as a possible investor, they should not consider any gift from this government of any substantial sum of public money to White Pass in order to facilitate a deal. That will not happen.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed. We will proceed with Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Speaker: Before proceeding, I would call to the attention of the House to the fact that Motion for the Production of Papers No. 4 appears to be satisfied by the document tabled earlier today. I would, therefore, order that the motion be withdrawn from the Order Paper. May I have your further pleasure?
Hon. Mr. Porter: Based on an agreement between House Leaders, I would request unanimous consent of Members for Motions Respecting Committee Reports to be called as the first order of business this afternoon.
Speaker: Is there unanimous consent?
All Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: There is unanimous consent. Motions respecting Committee Reports.
MOTIONS RESPECTING COMMITTEE REPORTS
Committee Report No. 1
Clerk: Item No. 1, standing in the name of Mr. Phelps.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Chairman of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts
THAT the Eighth Report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, presented to the House on November 10, 1987, be concurred in.
Mr. Phelps: I am very pleased to speak to this motion for concurrence, and would like to say once again that it has given me a great deal of satisfaction to continue on as the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee - a Committee that is an all-party Committee, tends to be non-political in its deliberations and enjoys good conscientious work by each and every one of the members on it. I also want to say, in opening, that once again we are extremely pleased with the cooperation and work that has been performed by those who assist us from the Auditor Generals Office of Canada and that we have really enjoyed working as a team with those officials.
This spring, the Committee did a major review of Health and Human Resources, and Community and Transportation Services, and this time the theme of the Committee was Human Resource Management. That focus was a rather new one for the Committee in its experience, and it really involved looking at the way certain departments were being managed from a slightly different lens or viewpoint than traditionally has been done, where the main thrust has been looking at performance indicators and that sort of thing.
The departments were very cooperative in providing a lot of material prior to the hearings. There were requests from us about issues relating to human resource management, training and that sort of thing. We certainly enjoyed cooperation from them and found the departments to be forthcoming with answers during the formal hearings themselves.
I must make a comment that when it comes to following up after we make our recommendations, that departments were more thorough in their initial responses to the report when it was first made available to them. The Committee would not have to bother them as much as it does now for clarification or elaboration, and if they were more forthcoming in that regard they would be less likely be called for hearings.
I would like to say that the Committee is very pleased to see progress on performance measurement indicators. A number of departments have made great strides in developing performance measurement indicators. The Committee will be following up to see that departments use them as a basic management tool and that the indicators are used as part of a basis for supporting funding for ongoing programs and activities.
It is of interest that, regarding Health and Human Resources, the Committee asked for a year-end accountability document. We did not want the usual fancy document that we often get from departments, but something that would set out some of the basic facts. We think that kind of accountability document is something that ought to be considered by government as a standard for line departments.
We have some ongoing concerns regarding the Department of Finance, in that we are still not satisfied that the department is fulfilling its role and responsibilities pursuant to the Financial Administration Act, to ensure appropriate financial management and control; that their watchfulness and efforts in this regard have been, in the opinion of the Committee, somewhat lackadaisical in the past. Although the Financial Administration Act has been in force since 1984, the department has not updated the financial administration manual, which serves as a guide to all the departments. And the department has said, for the record, for a number of years, that this will be done as soon as possible.
I would also like to say that we have not noticed much of an improvement in the Capital Estimates Book which still, in our opinion, is short on information. In that respect we feel that the Department of Finance has not taken recommendations from the Auditor General into consideration. Specifically they relate to including in the Estimates Book an introductory statement by the government regarding long-term capital spending strategy; including a statement of procedures for management and control of capital projects; and including a narrative comment in respect to new projects, or an explanation of major changes in scope or costs of projects included in prior years estimates.
We are pleased, however, to see that there is information on the total estimated cost for the capital expenditures of any given project in the 1988/1989 estimates. We would like to see an estimate of the Operation and Maintenance costs and an indication of life cycle costing.
Those are the main comments I have. I would like to close by saying that I was very fortunate in being able to attend the national Public Accounts Committee conference this year that was held in Quebec City. We spent several days with members of other committees from every province in Canada, from the Government of Canada itself, and from the Northwest Territories, and I think that the general opinion of everyone there is that the Public Accounts Committee compares very favourably with those in other jurisdictions. I think, and said, that is partly due to the fact that the government does and has in the past taken the Committee seriously and has been reasonably cooperative.
I firmly believe that the experience of Members on this Committee has a salutary effect when there is a change of government because many of the Members opposite - and indeed the Government Leader himself was at one time the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee - are, have been, and remain, dedicated to the principles that Committee operates on. I am sure that steadfast dedication to those principles, and to the belief in the utilitarian aspect of the Committee, has resulted in this cooperation that we have enjoyed by government partners.
Mr. McLachlan: I am pleased to rise today in my position as vice chairman of the Public Accounts Committee to respond to the motion of concurrence for acceptance of this report. As the chairperson has just said, the Committee took a review of two departments this year - Health and Human Resources and Community and Transportation Services. The theme of human resource management dominated the hearings this March. That theme is freely interpreted as utilization of manpower and machinery where applicable for the management of government resources to achieve the ends that they have set forward in their objectives.
It is noteworthy that the two departments picked were two of the largest departments in the government in terms of staffing, and the topic of management of the human resource was very relevant to their sizes.
I was responsible in the areas of Health and Human Resources Services for the Health Services Branch. In that connection, one of the recommendations that was made by the Committee was for the preparation of a year-end accountability document that reflected the comparative data from the preceding years. One branch in this department that does produce such a document, and does so in a timely and informative basis, is the Health Services Branch. It is just such a model of this type of report that the Committee had in mind when it made this recommendation. I would like to commend the Director of the Health Services Branch, Mr. Davidson, for his work in producing this document for his cooperation with the Committees questioning.
I also had responsibility for two other areas in the Community and Transportation Services department - Municipal Engineering, and Highways - Operation and Maintenance. In general, the Committee found that Municipal Engineering, apart from the general complaint of too many projects and not enough people to look after them - was performing its related work functions well. Because of its small size and heavy work load, often compressed into a brief season, management has a challenge to perform an effective use of human resources to achieve its objectives.
Highways Operation is a horse of a different colour. This branch is so big that it really required more time than the Committee was able to give to it. It is quite the opposite to Municipal Engineering, with manpower and machinery spread from one end of the territory to the other. Because of this, training and utilization of manpower - with particular emphasis on the development of human resources - is a very critical area in this large department.
In his opening remarks in testimony before the Committee, the Deputy Minister had a number of new initiatives and new directions that he was putting forward for the overall improvement and efficiency at that department. We were not always able to notice the direct reflections of those objectives, but I can safely say that all members of the Committee will be watching and looking forward to the deputy ministers initiatives in this area.
In closing, I would like to pay particular thanks to the help afforded by the very capable staff of the Auditor Generals department in Ottawa and Vancouver - Mr. Dubois, Mr. Young and Mr. Beaton - who often times gave of themselves over and above the normal call of duty and make the work of this Committee very pleasurable - a very excellent bunch to work with.
I am pleased to be a member of the Public Accounts Committee and pleased to be working with the other members. I am looking forward to the hearings this January.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am pleased to rise to address the Public Accounts Committee report and would like to compliment the Committee on its work. I will respond to the report and to some of the comments made by the Chair of the Committee, with particular responses not only from the Department of Finance, but from two other departments for which I am responsible - the Public Service Commission and the Department of Economic Development: Mines and Small Business.
In the Department of Finance section of the report there are four outstanding recommendations from the Public Accounts Committee: one, monitoring adherence to financial agreements; two, revision of Financial Administration Manual; three, reviewing Contribution Agreements; and, four, delegation of signing authorities.
Monitoring adherence to and reviewing agreements is a matter that is often extremely difficult on a practical basis, as I am sure Members will understand. To be frank, the department has had some difficulties in this area. Members will be aware of the very large volume of such agreements and monitoring all of them in the Department of Finance poses certain real problems.
When the revision of the Financial Administration Manual is completed, it will contain a section that will highlight the administrative procedures to be followed by both Finance and the departments as they relate to reviewing and monitoring adherence to the terms of financial agreements entered into by this government.
In the meantime, the Department of Finance will be developing some temporary measures to accomplish this objective. This will be in the form of some new procedures.
The plan for the revision of the Financial Administration Manual has been completed, and proposals have been received from consultants. The selection of a consultant will be the next step and should take place in the very near future. The work is scheduled to begin in the current fiscal year and be completed in 1988/89 fiscal year.
With respect to the observation relating to the delegation of signing authorities, the department has advised the Committee that the computerized commitment control system is not yet operational, unfortunately. Our goal is to have the system fully operational at the beginning of the next fiscal year. At that time, all necessary procedures and authority will hopefully be in place to ensure the effective operation of the system. This delay in implementation is necessary to allow other portions of the Financial Management Information Systems Project to be problem free prior to going operational with the commitment control system. There have been some glitches and problems with the system. The department is trying to work them out now, and I hope that this long awaited commitment control system will be in place, as indicated, in the next fiscal year.
The chair of the Committee, in his remarks a few minutes ago in the Legislature, spoke of the desire for a statement about a long term strategy in the Capital Estimates, and I want to say that we will take that under advisement. We have considered some possibilities in this regard, including the possibility of publication of a precis of, extract from, or some version of, the Five Year Capital Plan, with which most Members here will be acquainted with.
However, there are a number of quite obvious problems with such a publication. Among them are the problems of inviting some speculators to assemble land in and around places where they think public work projects may take place. The other is to sometimes create unrealistic expectations in communities. As Members here who have served in Cabinet know, you may well have projects identified in the Five Year Capital Plan that cannot be funded. Departments have identified them as things they would like to see done, and if not put on a wish list, but feel that in an ideal world they would do this this year and do that in the next year, but for very basic financial reasons, or reasons of lack of resources, it may not be possible. The publication of a plan that indicates that project X will be taking place in Year three, when the means do not exist to do project X in Year three, could create some false expectations and some problems.
However, the notion of providing some statement of the capital strategy in the Estimates Book at the time of the estimates is something that we would like to consider further.
In my capacity as the Minister responsible for the Public Service Commission, I would like to say something about the recommendations for that department. The recommendation regarding the development of performance measurement indicators in the Public Service Commission deserves some comment. The government continues to refine the information presented in the estimates document in support of funding requests. We are also very much encouraged by the work undertaken by various departments on the development of performance measurement indicators, as was stated in the Public Accounts report.
With respect to the departments I am directly responsible for, I would like to point out the refinement of the indicators that I believe have occurred, particularly in the case of the Public Service Commission. In this department, the development of meaningful performance indicators is now at the stage where they will be included, for the first time, in the 1988-89 Operation and Maintenance Estimates. In regard to the disclosure of the total number of casual hires made by the departments with delegated authority, the Public Service Commission here has also developed meaningful performance indicators, and we intend these to be included in the 1988-89 estimates.
The recommendations also affect the Department of Economic Development: Mines and Small Business. Two recommendations specific to this department relate to the development of performance measurement indicators and the identification of capital expenditure initiatives. The department has now developed a set of performance indicators for each activity. These activities are used on a monthly basis in reporting program results. The department is continuing to enhance the performance measurement system with the recent addition of computer resources, and we can look forward to more refined indicators in the future.
The department is preparing its Capital Estimates in the manner directed by Management Board upon the advice of the Department of Finance. The Capital Estimates that are now before the House identify the current year and multi- year capital requirement on a project basis where applicable. I hope that Members will note, however, that the Economic Development capital program is used to fund loans, grants and contributions and not to construct or purchase fixed asset. Therefore, the issue of life cycle costs multi-year commitments does not apply in the same manner.
There was an appropriate observation of the chair of the Committee respecting the provision of information requested by the Public Service Commission. The chair of the Committee that if officials were more forthcoming, it might save the time of the Committee and perhaps their own time in appearing before the Committee. That is a word to the wise.
Members may be interested to note that I have an advantage as a former Public Accounts Committee Chairman in an unique perspective on this question. My advice to deputy ministers and officials appearing before the Committee is to not look at this Committee as officials apparently do in Ottawa, as a sort of backbencers frolic, but to look at the member of the Committee who is asking questions as possibly being their Minister next year. If we look at the Member who is asking questions with that in mind, we may be answering them with the right attitude. That is the instruction that I have given to deputy ministers.
I hope that as a general rule about parliamentary evolution that deputy ministers will for years to come, consider that a standard.
Once again, I want to compliment the Committee on its work and indicate that this government will be pleased to support the motion to adopt the report.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I am responding to the Committee report both as Minister responsible for Justice and Government Services and, today, as Acting Minister of Health and Human Resources.
Firstly, with respect to Health and Human Resources. The Public Accounts Committee paid particular interest to this department, as all Members are already aware. I am pleased to note the positive comments in the report on progress made by the department in the areas of program plans and objectives, performance measurement indicators and improved information reporting to this Assembly through the Main Estimates.
On reviewing the transcripts of Committee hearings, I was impressed with the line of questioning taken by Committee Members. The concerns identified respecting equality of service in rural Yukon, improvements in the assessment of community needs, more community involvement in the planning and delivery of health and social services and staff orientation and training are ones I share and am working hard on with the Department of Health and Human Resources.
I say, on behalf of the department Minister, we have a way to go yet, but I believe we are providing more effective health and social services for Yukoners than ever before. The department has responded to each of the Committees recommendations directly so I will make no further comment today.
On behalf of the Ministry of Justice, there are three outstanding recommendations included in the Standing Committee on Public Accounts Report. In review, two of these matters, the 1986 government wide recommendation respecting the development of performance measurement indicators on page 10 of the report, and the 1982 recommendation respecting activity performance indicators on page 17 of the report, are overlapping and can be addressed as one. I support the development of key performance measurement indicators both for operational use and for presentation to the Legislature and the public. The Department of Justice has developed, and is currently collecting, a number of performance indicators for all of its program areas. These indicators are measures of efficiency and effectiveness of program operations and may be generally divided into the following categories. The number of the indicators developed are essentially work process outputs. These are volume and time based indicators and provide an indication of the activity level undertaken by the various program units. For example, work process outputs include the number of occupational health and safety inspections per annum, as well as the cost per inmate day at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre.
The performance measurement indicators also include client benefits and impacts. These are indicators that are designed to link program objectives to the clients for whom the program is designed to serve. As an example, these indicators would include the number of native persons assisted in dealing with the courts, and the dollar value of inmate labour within the Whitehorse area.
The most broadly based category of performance measurement indicators includes the section on the consequences of why the work activity is undertaken. These are primarily narrative indicators relating to the quality of the service provided in undertaking such government activity.
As an example, the consequence of maintaining a sheriffs office in the Yukon is to expedite a dispute resolution. In this instance, the proper economic and social functioning of the community requires that people have the ability to seek legal remedies to civil disputes. This means not only obtaining judgments, but also ensuring that positions are implemented. Just as the police ensure order by enforcing criminal law, so the sheriffs office ensures order in civil law matters. For the information of the Members, these revised performance indicators will be presented as supplemental information in the 1988-89 Operation and Maintenance Main Estimates Book.
On page 17 of the committees report, there is an outstanding recommendation respecting the production of documents by the Department of Justice. As outlined in the 1987 report, the court registry information system is well advanced, and phase two is expected to be completed by February, 1988. At that time, the Department of Justice will be able to provide all parties involved in the court process with timely and accurate statements on proceedings. Documents on the actual process under which the court registry information system will operate will be tabled with the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.
I would conclude by adding my thanks to the members of the committee.
Hon. Mr. Porter: I will be responding to both the Department of Renewable Resources and Tourism, beginning with the Department of Tourism.
The 1987 report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts identified two recommendations that are considered to be not fully implemented. The first of these was a recommendation that the department develop performance measurement indicators in the areas of program activities and human resource management in order to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its programs and to provide some meaningful information in the Estimates. The second recommendation was that the Heritage Branch should develop an operational plan with clearly defined priorities.
On the question of performance measurement indicators, I am pleased to report to the House that these have been established for all programs as part of the departmental operational plan. Some specific examples within the Marketing Branch include the conversion study, which will now become an annual activity; the major visitor exit survey, undertaken this study; and the ongoing focus group testing.
Within the Heritage Branch, the performance indicators for its activities have been established and are included in the departmental operation plan for both Operation and Maintenance and Capital programs. Some examples are the number of person weeks of employment generated by Heritage construction projects, the number of Yukon artists represented in art collections, the number of archaeological sites in the Yukon data base, and the number of historic sites placed in the Yukon inventory.
The Development Branch has also developed, and is implementing, program indicators for its activities and program, which are also reflected in the departments operational plan. The branch has been heavily involved in coordinating all consumer and market research described in the Marketing Branch performance measurement indicators. The results of this research also provide quantifiable measurement of some of the development activities. Other development activities are measured using the same indicators as the Heritage Capital projects.
In addressing the second recommendation of the Committee, covering the department development of an operational plan for the Heritage Branch, I am pleased to advise that this plan is now complete.
This operational plan for, not only the Heritage Branch but the other branches within the department, identifies performance indicators, priorities and human resource utilization. The development of a long term operational plan and performance indicators for Heritage will be impacted by a number of initiatives currently underway. These include the Yukon Heritage inventory, which is evaluating recorded heritage sites in the Yukon. The results of this inventory will provide a thematic and priority framework for the future development of historic sites in the Yukon. Further, definitive indicators are to be developed when the inventory is complete.
The second initiative being undertaken within the Heritage Branch is the development of a Yukon heritage act. Passage of such an Act will have influence on the direction and priorities within the Branch and it will be used as a primary tool to guide all heritage activities in the future. It will establish overall government direction and emphasis on heritage resource preservation, management and development. Completion of the Act is expected in early 1988.
The third initiative is the development of a museums policy. Based on the recently completed Lords Consulting report, a Yukon museums policy and operational plan will be prepared. This is scheduled for completion in the late spring of 1988. The museums policy and plan will firmly establish direction and priorities for museum development and programming in the Yukon. Specific indicators will subsequently be developed.
The last major initiative is a review of federal archaeological and museums policies. It is anticipated that new federal policies in these two areas will have major impact on local policies and programs. Pending the completion of these initiatives, the Heritage Branch has developed a statement of its goals and objectives. In order to set a framework within which these objectives can be met over time, the following program priorities have been established:
1. The acquisition of knowledge and understanding of the Yukons heritage resources;
2. The preservation of the Yukons heritage resources;
3. The management of the Yukons heritage resources;
4. The development of its resources; and, finally,
5. The interpretation of them.
In rationalizing funding requests and implementing projects and activities, the Branch follows the following criteria: all Branch activities and projects shall be related to one or more of the objectives listed above and all activities and projects shall be rated against the operation priorities listed above.
A detailed response regarding these two recommendations has been submitted to the Chairman of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts on November 12, 1987. Advice received from the Public Accounts Committee Secretariat is that the committee has reviewed the responses and now considers both recommendations to be fully implemented.
Turning to the Department of Renewable Resources, the Public Accounts Committee has made only one reference to the Department of Renewable Resources in its recent report and it deals with performance indicators for the department. The report noted among its outstanding recommendations reviewed in 1987 that the Department of Renewable Resources should define its objectives in terms of activities so that performance can be measured against these objectives. As part of the departments work on the strategic plan, the objectives of the department have been revised and each branch is preparing program statements. Part of this process involves the development of indicators that can measure performance. This work is underway and if the current schedule is maintained, a broad ranging set of performance measurement indicators will be in place in the department in the coming year.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am speaking as Minister responsible for Community and Transportation Services right now, and am pleased to respond, on behalf of my department, to the current and outstanding recommendations of the Public Accounts Committee. I would note that there are no recommendations either current or outstanding that deal with my other portfolio, namely Education, or the corporation for which I am responsible, the Yukon Housing Corporation.
I certainly did sympathize with the task that was before the Committee in reviewing the Department of Community and Transportation Services, which has it has such a broad range of responsibilities and is of so much importance and interest to so many people.
In response to recommendation number six of the 1987 Public Accounts Report, which dealt with human resource management, I was advised that extensive consultation with the Public Service Commission has occurred throughout the past year, to assist in resolving staffing difficulties. Program delivery branches have been closely involved with the departmental administration unit in developing workable solutions which address recruitment and staffing needs, while retaining the elements of control deemed essential in the public sector environment. A manager of training and development has been hired to provide the department with the expertise required in developing long term training needs analysis, assisting supervisors in directing employees to appropriate training, and supporting program managers in developing and delivering department-specific training.
This position is also responsible for assessment and evaluation of training programs undertaken. An outstanding recommendation from the 1982 Public Accounts Committee report called for an adequate data base, and development of an action plan to assist the planning and control of capital construction and maintenance activities. The Public Accounts Committee was already informed by my department officials of the considerable work undertaken in this area. For example, 1987 saw the completion of a financial planning and programming manual that is currently being used by departmental managers for long- and short-term planning processes. Improved information technology will be used in gaining access to related data bases of information available through other jurisdictions, and in providing more detailed analysis and projections for use in the long-term planning process. As a Minister I am extremely conscious of the need for short- and long-term planning and the procedures and data necessary for that process.
An additional recommendation that the Public Accounts Committee made was in respect to the infamous Dawson sewer and water account. As well, the Auditor Generals report on any other matter for the year ended March 31, 1986, drew a reference to the need for a review of the accounts and a closer monitoring of all financial agreements of the department. As most Members are aware, I can say a great deal about this subject, but I will reserve this to a period later in life when I have grandchildren on my knee and they request a scary story. An audit of the City of Dawson water and sewer system was completed by the Audit Services Bureau, and an agreement regarding repayment of amounts owing was reached with the City of Dawson.
A comprehensive compilation of all financial agreements for the department has been completed. This manual will be updated on an ongoing basis and reviewed on a regular basis to ensure that the terms and conditions of all the agreements are adhered to.
An additional matter that was addressed in the Auditor Generals report of March 31, 1986 called for more detailed information in the Capital Estimates. An increased level of detail has been provided in both the 1987 and 1988 Operation and Maintenance and Capital Main Estimates, in response to the concerns expressed. I will attempt to provide further information that is of significance to Members during the Estimates discussions.
A concluding issue raised by the Auditor Generals report of March 31, 1986 dealt with procedures for planning purposes. The Financial Planning and Programming Manual has been developed to provide formal long term planning procedures.
I would like to extend to the Members of the Public Accounts Committee my appreciation for their work, and I encourage their continued vigil over the financial operations of the department. I would also like to thank the Auditor Generals office, with which I am somewhat familiar, for the work they have done. I also thank, who is reputed to be the workhorse of the Committee, Missy Follwell, who gives a great deal of time and passion to her work and who has a bit of a nationwide reputation for her work in Public Accounts Committee circles. I thank everybody for the excellent work that they have done. I thank the Chairman of the Committee for the theme of the review, Human Resource Management. That is one area of review that is long overdue, and I am happy to see that they have taken that under their wing as well.
Mr. Brewster: I was not scheduled to speak on this, but I have to congratulate the Government Leader on his advice to the deputy ministers and their administrators. We can certainly agree on that. It is rather frustrating for people like myself to have to get information that is hidden from me all the time. We can tell the difference in these deputy ministers. I will be interested to see how many follow the Government Leaders advice and how many accept it in good spirit and cooperation.
Mrs. Firth: As a Member of the Committee, I had not intended to speak, but thought I should raise a couple of things that the committee has been doing over the last year.
The Ministers have already mentioned the new direction the committee took last year in the area of human resource management, which really is directing the focus from the performance measurement indicators - although the committee is not giving up performance measurement indicators. Human resource management is really the management of personnel in all aspects. The committee feels that is just as important as the financial management in achieving effective overall management of government activities.
I can safely say that it was thought-provoking for the departments who were interviewed and who had their areas reviewed. We received some positive feedback and comments about the direction and focus the committee was taking.
I wanted to mention also that we were very fortunate as a committee to have as a witness, in the last session of hearings, the Auditor General of Canada, Mr. Kenneth Dye. If Members will bear with me I would like to briefly say that we find it a privilege to have Mr. Dye to be a witness before the committee Members. For all of the Members of the Legislature, as well as the general public, I would like to pass on some of the comments in case they have not read them.
The chairperson of the committee asked Mr. Dye how he viewed the role of the Yukon Public Accounts Committee in relation to other jurisdictions. The comments were extremely interesting and reflect on all of the Members of the Legislature. Mr. Dye commented that most of his familiarity was with federal Public Accounts Committees, but he said this about the Yukon Public Accounts Committee, from Public Accounts Committee, March 9, 1987, page 4:2, My sense is that you are very progressive. You have one style that is not used by others, which is to do your investigations of departments without necessarily having a report of the department in front of you; but you call officials before you, and you have your in-depth examinations, which strikes me as being a very useful exercise in accountability. I expect the testimony is salutary for the department and probably useful for your own committee, in terms of your legislators understanding of the fulfillment of the policies you have set. That is one thing that you do that I am not aware anyone else does. I think you meet quite frequently, compared to others. You are doing your duty. Some committees have been known not to meet. Some committees have been known to stack it with government ministers, therefore, it is virtually impossible to take more of the view from the bleachers, of watching the parade go by rather than being in the parade. My sense is that what you are doing is very appropriate for accountability of a government to a parliament and onto the people who carry the freight.
I mention that because I think it does reflect well on the Members of the Public Account Committee, both previous and present, and the style of Public Accounts Committee that we have.
I want to mention also the workshop the committee had in August where all the committee Members now have a practice of getting together and outlining new directions, discussing the mandate of the committee, discussing new things the committee can achieve and pursue - all in the efforts of providing the best services they can for the Yukon taxpayer.
I want to raise one point that is still a point of contention that I have, as well as some other Members. That is to do with the Capital Estimates and the information provided therein. Last year we saw some additional supplementary information. For some reason that has disappeared this year and there is less supplementary information.
Although last years was in the form of an outline, some of the outlines are not included in this years. I know other people have had concerns about this. I understand the government has sent out copies of the Capital Budget to some people, and they have come to me and asked for further information because they did not really feel it provided them with enough information to respond if the media had been asking questions, or to really understand where the government was spending money. I will look forward to more commentary about that when we get to the debates on the Capital Budget.
I appreciated the comments from the Minister of the Public Service Commission, and Economic Development. I found particularly interesting his comments about the direction he had given the deputy ministers. As Members have both been in Opposition and in government, I think it would be very beneficial for us to sit down and have a private conversation as to how much influence we have over the deputy ministers when we give them direction. I think we would find that there was a lot of Yes, Minister exchanges between the two of us as politicians. Sometimes it does not seem to matter what you say, the responses you get back are consistent. Deputy ministers have the luxury of the security of a certain amount of longevity, compared to what politicians may have. Therefore, I think they do not have as much difficulty responding and answering to a particular line of questioning. Politicians do not share that security.
I would like to tell the Minister responsible for Community and Transportation Services that we will look forward to reading his publication when he is grey and feeble. It is called, Scary Stories, by a Former Minister of Sewers. We will be looking for the chapter on the Dawson City water and sewer system.
I want to finish up by thanking Mr. Kenneth Dye for taking the time to spend two sessions with us as a committee, to thank his officials - Mr. Ray Dubois, Don Young and Alan Beaton - and to thank Missy Follwell for her tireless efforts helping the committee out and constantly reminding us of things we should know.
Mr. Webster: I was a member of the Public Accounts Committee with the responsibility as lead-off questioner for the Department of Community and Transportation Services. I have a few comments concerning the training practices of that department - a topic we spent considerable time with, for a couple of days.
The Committee invited the Department of Community and Transportation Services to appear before the committee on March 10, 11 and 12 of this year. The testimony on matters related to this topic of training was provided by Mr. Andre Gagnon, Deputy Minister, and Mr. Ray Magnusson, Director of Highway Maintenance.
In his testimony, Mr. Gagnon stressed the importance of training to improve the qualifications of unskilled workers, as you cannot get the best value for your investment from an unskilled worker. The importance and need for more training cannot be stressed more emphatically. However, despite the importance he did place on training, he admitted that there was no one in the department who was responsible for doing assessments and evaluations of training programs.
With respect to the budgets, he questioned why the Public Service Commission should be controlling the training budget. It was his contention that training should belong to departments, and the departments should be responsible and accountable for the training done for its people. As a result of this testimony, the Public Accounts Committee made a recommendation to the Department of Community and Transportation Services with respect to human resource management.
It reads: The department, in concert with the Public Service Commission, should review the line of responsibility and accountability with respect to staff hiring and training, and recommend changes that would achieve more effective human resource management, while retaining the key elements of control exercised by the Commission.
A response that we received from the department last week gives us some reassurance that the work of this Committee has not gone unnoticed. I will read from the response on this recommendation: Extensive consultation with the Public Service Commission has occurred throughout the past year to assist in resolving staffing difficulties. A manager of training and development has been hired to provide the department with the training expertise required in developing long term training needs analysis, assisting supervisors in directing employees to appropriate training and supporting program managers in developing and delivering department-specific training. This position is also responsible for assessment and evaluation of training programs undertaken.
I raise this matter respecting training for it is an excellent example of what are the major elements of concern and interest to the Public Accounts Committee, which might be of interest to the Members of this House who are not on the Committee. We are dealing with human resource management and improving productivity from our workforce. The training deals with improving the effectiveness of the employees and the accountability of the department that is a very important principle achieved through improved training programs. I am pleased to see that the department has responded by providing a person on staff for the purpose of assessing the training program.
We are also talking about efficiency, improving the efficiency of departments. It is not only of interest to members of the Public Accounts Committee but to all Members of this House, and especially to the taxpayers of the Yukon.
I would like to thank members of our Committee for their patience with me and for their support, all the officials who appeared before the Committee for their cooperation and for the help of the advisers of the Auditor Generals office of Canada. I was very pleased that our Committee could host them in Dawson City for our semi-annual meeting and to show them a good time, as well as the sewers of Dawson. I would also like to thank the Clerk of the Committee, Missy Follwell.
Speaker: The hon. Member will close debate if he now speaks. Does any other Member wish to be heard?
Mr. Phelps: I am pleased to close debate. I was negligent in my opening remarks. I forgot to give credit to Missy Follwell who really is the driving force behind the Committee. There is no question about that. As someone said across the way, she is somewhat of a legend among Public Account Committee Clerks throughout the land. I also would like to thank the Member for Klondike for hosting our group when we had a session in Dawson in the late summer. We had a very enjoyable and productive time.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: Motions other than government motions?
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS
Clerk: Item No. 1, standing in the name of Mr. Webster.
Speaker: Is the hon. Member prepared to proceed with Item No. 1?
Mr. Webster: Next sitting day.
Speaker: So ordered.
Motion No. 9
Clerk: Item No. 2, standing in the name of Mr. Webster.
Speaker: Is the hon. Member prepared to proceed with Item No. 2?
Mr. Webster: Yes, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Member for Klondike THAT Chapter 11, Petitions, of the Standing Orders of the Yukon Legislative Assembly be referred to the Standing Committee on Rules, Elections and Privileges; and THAT the Committee review the rules for petitions with the purpose of making it easier for petitions from the public to be received by the Assembly; and THAT the Committee report its findings and recommendations to the House.
Mr. Webster: This is a very straightforward motion that requests one of our standing committees to review the rules for receiving petitions, with the intent of relaxing some of the requirements.
During the life of this Legislature, eight petitions have been filed, of which four were not received by this Assembly because they did not conform to our House rules. It should be emphasized that the reasons for not receiving half the petitions filed, as reported in our Votes and Proceedings, were not related to substance but, rather, to procedure. For example, one petition did not have a date on some pages, while another contained some signatures that were copies of the originals.
Unfortunately, these procedural requirements present a barrier to the public in getting its message to their elected representatives. I believe that we should be making it easier for the public to bring forth their concerns and, thus, this motion appears before us today for your consideration.
Mr. Lang: This particular issue was debated at some length approximately three to four years ago with respect to requesting a review of this particular order. At that time, the majority of the Members stated that they felt the rules, which were relatively new at that time, would suffice. Now that we have had the experience of over 50 percent of the petitions filed not being accepted by the House, I want to emphasize that I still think it is important that there be a clearly defined procedure for the purposes of putting a petition together for presentation to the House.
If a petition is to be tabled in this House, the time and effort has to go into putting it together in order to ensure the seriousness of the issue at hand. Therefore, as a member of the committee, I will support the principle of it being discussed in committee and looking at possible relaxation as the Member for Klondike has indicated but, at the same time, we have to keep in mind that there is a reason to have a procedure in place that must be generally followed in order to be acceptable to the House, which means to the people of the Yukon Territory.
This side will support the request to review that particular area of the Orders.
Mr. McLachlan: I rise to support the motion put forward by the Member for Klondike. After having gone through a personal experience of being one of those 50 percent who was rejected, it is somewhat disconcerting for a Member to spend a lot of hours diligently collecting signatures to bring forward an issue he believes is important to this Legislature, only to have it rejected because of one small oversight on the originality or the date or the title or the form of presentation. I do not believe the procedures by which petitions are to be presented to this Legislature were meant to be rejected on mechanical things as small and as simple as that. I believe there is a good intention in this motion in bringing it forward today for consideration by the House to give better considerations to those things we have discovered to be problem areas in the presentation of petitions.
Motion agreed to
Motion No. 10
Clerk: Item number 3, standing in the name of Mr. Webster.
Speaker: Is the hon. Member prepared to proceed with item number 3?
Mr. Webster: Yes, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Member for Klondike
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the agreement signed by the United States and Japan to fly plutonium over northern Canada represents a potential safety risk to the people of the Yukon; and
THAT this House urges the Government of Canada to deny the use of Canadian airspace for the purpose of transporting plutonium.
Mr. Webster: This motion is about a very serious issue that is a threat to the health and safety to not just the people of the north, but perhaps to people around the world. This motion covers two points. First, that proposed flights of plutonium over northern Canada pose a threat to our health and safety; and second, that we are urging the federal government to do something about it.
We have to look at this issue in context to see why this proposal is coming up in the first place. It offends my sense as being a northerner, as I am sure it does all Members of this House, that the United States, Japan and other countries think of the Canadian north as a wasteland where no one lives, that it is a garbage dump for civilization, that they can do what they want with this place and no one will notice, let alone care. The people of my riding and the people of the Yukon certainly notice. We do not like being treated as a testing ground for nuclear missiles, or a crash pad for radioactive Soviet satellites, or a place considered safe to fly plutonium over. If they think it is so safe to fly plutonium, why do they not fly it over the continental United States? The answer is because there are a number of serious risks to public health, and that is why this motion has been brought forward today.
We have heard that one speck of plutonium dust is so toxic that it can cause cancer. We have to ask ourselves when large amounts of this material will be flown twice a month over our heads about safety considerations of transporting something this toxic. Incidentally, in case Members are wondering how much this will be in each shipment, the answer is 1,000 pounds, which is a great deal by anyones standards.
There are risks of something going wrong with these flights and if something does then we are at risk because of the toxicity of the substance being transported. This concern is not mine alone, but is shared by the Whitehorse Board of Health and the Yukon Medical Association. Both have passed resolutions asking that these flights do not go ahead.
Let us look at the proposal. It is to fly this cargo from points in Europe, where the plutonium is manufactured at nuclear plants, to Japan. The polar routes take ten to twelve hours to fly from Europe to Anchorage, where a refueling stop is planned. Two of the polar routes cross the Yukon, one over Shingle Point on the Arctic coast, or further south, over Old Crow.
What can go wrong? Plutonium flights over the polar routes create a hazard in a number of ways. Air traffic control is supposed to keep track of flights on these routes, but under certain atmospheric conditions radio communication can be impossible for two to three days at a time. This means that aircraft can operate without any guidance or direction. At present between 20 and 40 commercial routes use these flight routes each day. Add to that a shipment of hazardous plutonium flying at the same time under these conditions. Will the people shipping the plutonium wait for communication conditions to improve or will they send up the aircraft anyway? The possibility of a mid-air collision is obviously increased a great deal under these conditions. If an accident occurred, it may be quite a few hours in a blackout before anyone discovered that something was wrong. That would mean that a number of important hours would be lost before authorities could begin to deal with the emergency.
Other risks exist, such as pilot error or structural failure. Aircraft could also deviate off their course, like what happened to the KAL 007 flight from Korea a few years ago.
Let us look at bad weather. Often commercial flights are rerouted through bad weather through Frobisher Bay or Gander, or even much larger centers as Montreal or Edmonton. This means flying the plutonium to more densely populated areas and perhaps to airports that do not have facilities to deal with any emergencies that plutonium shipments may cause.
We must keep in mind that although there are a lot of plans being made about shipping this plutonium, they have yet to develop a container that is crash-proof. A mid-air collision crash or fire could result in plutonium being dispersed in the air.
Let us pray that this plutonium does not get into the atmosphere because it could be there for a long time. Every particle falling to earth could cause cancer in any living organism in the north, perhaps the northern hemisphere. We only have to remind ourselves of the nuclear accident at Chernobyl to think about how widely that radioactive fallout was carried to envision what could happen with this plutonium.
There is no doubt it would fall to the surface at some point, as the material we are discussing has a consistency of talcum powder. As it could literally move hundreds of miles, carried by air currents, to make an attempt to clean up would be simply impossible. There would be nothing we could do. Particles landing on sea ice would again be transported around the north as entire ice packs revolve around the Arctic.
Let us examine another kind of accident, one not so bad. Let us say there was a crash and only one cask broke open, or perhaps none of them, but an emergency clean up would have to be undertaken right away. Consider what it cost Canada to clean up after a Cosmos 954 came down over the Northwest Territories. The bill for that was $10 million. That was for a very small amount of radioactive material.
In the 1960s, plutonium was spilled by the United States in Greenland. That cost more than $500 million to clean up. In Spain, a different spill of plutonium cost more than $300 million to clean up. What would it cost to clean up the Canadian north if this kind of accident were to occur, the kind of accident where a clean up was actually possible? Who would pay? Would the U.S. and Japan be willing to post a bond of several hundred million dollars, or several billion dollars, so we can sleep a little easier at night?
Yukoners are concerned about this matter, and rightly so. I was pleased to see the statement of concern on this matter made by the Government Leader a few weeks ago. We have also seen our Member of Parliament raising this issue in the House of Commons. This is most welcome, because Ottawa needs to be reminded about the fact that people are living in the north and that we do deserve to be heard and listened to. Locally, there is a petition being circulated throughout the territory.
I think hon. Members also have to consider what this means to our friends and neighbours in Alaska. It is an issue taken so seriously there that the government of the State of Alaska has filed a lawsuit against its federal government on the subject.
This motion calls on our federal government to say no to the flights, no ifs, ands or buts about it. But what is the position of the Canadian government? Although Joe Clark has told the Japanese and Americans that safety is our major concern, and John Crosbie has assured us that Canada does has the right to deny the use of our air space for this purpose, the position of Ottawa is one of wait and see.
I think that, considering all the factors, we must make our views known now, clearly and forcefully, so that Ottawa knows the position of northerners: that Canada should not allow the use of our air space for the transport of plutonium.
With that, I will conclude my remarks and ask all hon. Members to support this motion.
Mr. Phelps: I was not going to speak, but it is an issue of sufficient importance that I felt I had to lend my support and speak to the motion briefly. I think the Member for Dawson has canvassed a lot of the good reasons in support of his motion and particularly the issues related to safety.
I am concerned, personally, about the possibility of the plutonium getting into the wrong hands. I think that most of us, if not all of us, are concerned about the spread of nuclear weapons, the potential danger of unethical people getting the plutonium, which can be used to manufacture nuclear weapons. I think that is an extremely good reason - that fear, that concern - for us to be against the plutonium shipments, because I think that everyone in the world has to be concerned about reducing the number of weapons in existence and the number of hands on those weapons.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I would like to join this debate to put a couple of facts on the record and indicate what the Government of Yukon has being doing about this issue. Before I do so, I would like to congratulate the mover of the motion for bringing this issue before this House, and congratulate the Leader of the Opposition for his thoroughly instructive observations on what is a very important issue.
Simply put, the position of the Yukon government is that we are opposed to transferring plutonium over northern Canada because it is a potential risk to people and the environment in the event of a crash or another accident.
Furthermore, we believe that Canada should engage in further environmental assessment work to determine the potential consequences of such flights through Canadian airspace. In addition, the Yukon government has requested consultation and information from Canada on this issue and is requesting that Canada convey opposition to these flights to both Japan and the United States. These positions have been indicated in the letter from myself, on behalf of our government, to Mr. John Crosbie, the Minister of Transportation in the Canadian government.
I would like to mention a couple of things that were not mentioned by the Member for Klondike, just for the information of all Members. It was not until March of 1987 that we became aware of this possibility. On that date, the Nuclear Control Institute in Washington, announced that the United States and Japan were negotiating an agreement to ship highly toxic plutonium twice monthly, between reprocessing factories in Europe and nuclear plants in Japan.
The agreement they were negotiating is part of an umbrella nuclear cooperation agreement between Japan and the United States. The proposal is that jumbo jets carrying the plutonium may fly over far northern regions of this country en route to a refueling stop in Anchorage, Alaska. As was indicated by the Member for Klondike, plutonium is a man-made byproduct of uranium fuel used in nuclear power plants. It is considered by everybody who knows anything about it, to be one of the most long-lived and toxic materials on earth and is the primary ingredient in nuclear explosives.
Whether the container being developed to transport the plutonium can withstand the impact of a collision or accident is of huge concern to the people, and the people responsible for the habitat, of the north. Such a container failed a high speed crash test in New Mexico in the summer of 1986, and no assurances exist at the moment that containers can survive a high speed crash.
In this regard, I would like to quote briefly from an article that was published in the Globe and Mail on July 28 of this year, and written by Thomas F. Homer-Dixon and Carolyn W.B. Lee. This speaks of four issues that should concern Canadians.
First, what are the potential environmental effects of a crash in northern Canada? If a large cargo plane such as a 747 crashed in that region, it could explode or burn on impact, because it would be carrying 70,000 to 100,000 litres of fuel. Our research indicates the plutonium on board probably will be shipped as a fine powder. According to Professor George Rathjens at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, if such a powder is ejected into the atmosphere, as it could be in a large fire, much of it could remain airborne for many days and, depending on particle size and meteorological conditions, could travel hundreds or even thousands of miles."
The article continues: In terms of its potential health effects, what quantity of plutonium are we talking about? Some 4,500 kilograms of plutonium have been dispersed throughout the earths environment from past nuclear-weapons tests in the atmosphere. The alpha radioactivity (the most lethal form) of the plutonium on one of the proposed flights over our North would equal perhaps 25 percent of the alpha radioactivity currently emitted by all of this other plutonium. Not only that, the radioactivity of any plutonium powder released in a crash would increase for several decades as a portion of it decayed into a more dangerous isotope.
While low plutonium is relatively innocuous if touched or ingested, studies show that inhaling even a minute speck can cause cancer.
To be fair, this article goes on, it is unlikely that all the plutonium on board would be released, but how much is released depends crucially on the strengths of the casks. Even the best casks currently being designed will not be satisfactory for the Canadian situation, because the National Research Councils standard assumes a plane will crash on takeoff or landing. Over the North, the planes will be cruising at much higher altitudes and speeds. If one crashes, the impact could easily exceed 460 kilometres an hour. If an National Research Council cannot be designed, these shipments may use casks meeting much lower standards.
The Yukon governments position was made clear in a letter on October 6, 1987 to the hon. John Crosbie, Minister of Transport, and to the hon. Joe Clark, Minister of External Affairs. That states, Because of our concerns regarding the safety of people and the environment of the North, the Yukon government strongly objects to these shipments being routed over the Yukon. The Yukon position urges the Canadian government to convey to the US and Japanese governments Canadas opposition to these flights." The position of the Canadian government, as stated in the letter from the hon. John Crosbie, is that the Government of Canada will act in the best interests of Canadians and is fully aware and concerned about the safety of these flights.
However, because the treaty between Canada and the US has not yet been ratified, the Canadian position is that it would be premature for Canada to take action at this time to prohibit plutonium overflights over Canadian territory. This is a view with which we disagree, believing that the political costs, in terms of our relationship with the US, are less than they would be at a time when the plans for such overflights are more highly developed.
All Members here know that Governor Steve Cowper of Alaska has been very vocal in his protests to the US federal administration with regard to plutonium overflights, and the State of Alaska has launched a 16-page lawsuit against their federal government, contending that their federal officials violated the National Environmental Policy Act, which requires federal officials to consider the full environmental impact of federal actions. It also said that there has been inadequate opportunity for public participation in the decision.
Sources in Alaska indicate that they were unsuccessful with the lawsuit as it was found that their representations were not in the best interests of national security. However, Governor Cooper continues to lobby congressmen and senators to ensure that proper environmental safeguards are in place before the flights are allowed. Canada, apparently, will not lobby Congress on the matter as the treaty was signed between Japan and the US.
Mr. Crosbies comments on November 6, 1987 indicate that Canada is not about to take any firm position because there has not yet been a formal proposal for such flights. He goes on to say, Without the assurance of suitable transportation containers, the answer at this time would be no to the proposal. We agree with that position. However, we believe that Ottawa should also make it clear that it will not allow such flights because of the risk of an accident and a subsequent radioactive pollution problem. We believe that it would be in the national interests, as well of the regional interests of northern Canadians, if that firm no was communicated now so that the plans for these plutonium trans-shipments do not develop to a more advanced stage.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I have spoken, and marched, in the past about these kinds of issues, and I cannot let this debate go by without adding a word or two. The facts have been mentioned by previous speakers, so I will not repeat any particular information about the proposed flights.
I would like to thank the mover of the motion for bringing this most important and serious matter before this Assembly.
There is just one fact that I wish to emphasize and that is that it is recognized by those concerned, that the possibility of these containers or casks which would not withstand a crash impact - is crucial. I can quote from a letter from Federal Transport Minister John Crosbie to Jim Fulton, Member of Parliament for Skeena, which letter has been made public. I would quote as follows: One of the reasons for this - that is the flights - is that research and development is currently under way to design a cask that would withstand a crash impact. I emphasize that because that is clear recognition by the federal government that there are not in existence these casks presently - they are being developed. I do not know what kind of cask is possible to withstand a crash of supersonic jets at excess of 30,000 feet, but I am skeptical.
Another fact that could be emphasized is that plutonium can be converted into bomb material without any chemical change or physical change in the material. I would quote our Member of Parliament, Audrey McLaughlin, who says this, A high school student could make a bomb from this plutonium, and also, each plane will contain enough plutonium to make 15 to 20 Nagasaki-type bombs.
In light of this information, I ask why can we not take the sensible step and simply say no to all this madness. It is within our power to simply say no. That is all we have to do. I would quote from an editorial in the Globe and Mail on July 30 - this is the last paragraph of this editorial - If federal outrage over the voyage of the Polar Sea was more than huffing and puffing, surely the federal government cannot stand by now and let outside nations conclude deals involving Canadian territory without something so fundamental as Canadian permission. The alternative is to let federal concern about sovereignty degenerate into a rather painful joke.
I think it is appropriate to speak from the point of view as a Yukoner, and as a Canadian, and as simply a person, or citizen of the world. I have spoken to many Yukoners about this issue and one statement that comes up time and again is this: If the Americans were proposing to make these flights of 1,000 pounds of plutonium twice monthly over New York, and Washington, and Chicago and Seattle, it probably would not happen.
Now it is insulting and it is ludicrous for the American people to think that they can get away with exposing us to this danger simply because, in their words, this is a relatively uninhabited part of the world. That is not good enough, this is an inhabited part of the world, as indeed all parts of the world are inhabited by someone. As Yukoners we should be outraged, and the people who I have spoken to are in large part. It is appropriate to say as Yukoners: we say no.
As a Canadian I have spoken about the issue of sovereignty. This is not our plutonium, this is American plutonium, and the Americans have no right to expose us to this danger. Most of all, simply as a person, there is enough plutonium and other nuclear fissionable material in the world to blow up the world 20 or 30 times over. It is time that all people simply said about this proliferation of dangerous materials: no, we do not want any part of it.
The Legislative Assembly today is obviously going to say no. I am proud to be a Member and join my voice in that message. I am confident that a majority of the citizens of the world, and certainly a vast majority of the informed citizens, are simply saying no.
Mr. McLachlan: I am rising today in support of the motion, but would like to point out some clarifications and raise a few other rhetorical questions that no one else has addressed so far.
When the issue became prevalent in the papers in October and November, I checked the air traffic controllers at the Whitehorse Control Station, and they told me there were a maximum of four - or as the Member for Klondike has more correctly pointed, most likely only two routes - by which traffic from Europe flies over northern Canada. That leads to two questions: because the route is so far over northern Yukon it probably would not affect anybody, or the easier one would be, because they are so far into northern Canada it would take very little to simply fly around the northern end of the territory. Be that as it may, the danger is pointed out by the Members on the other side are still quite prevalent regardless of the routing, over or around, that the planes may take.
The other thing I would like to point out is that there are crash proof containers now being used and they hold the little black box that survives most airline crashes. The problem is that it has simply not been developed to the scale to hold the 450 kilograms that the Member for Klondike has referred to. Whether it will ever get to that scale is anyones guess. As the Government Leader has pointed out, one has failed miserably last year. Until that can be perfected it is one big question mark as to the area of crash proof containers.
The International and Civil Aviation Organization in Montreal has pointed out that most airline accidents occur on landing and take-offs. Once they are in the air the problems are very little, unless, as the Leader of the Official Opposition has pointed out, the material falls into the wrong hands and some quack decides to put a bomb on board. That is also a problem that very few people think of until the accident actually happens.
I agreed fully with the statements by the Governor of the State of Alaska, who has said that the proper method is to have an environmental impact statement, which is far more definitive and informative and is a much better way of dealing with it, than the State of Alaska has so far done.
It appears the Yukon and Alaska are well out in front on this issue. I wonder where the Northwest Territories is? I have heard very little controversy out of the Territories on it. They have a greater land mass to be affected than us, and I wonder where their Legislature is on this issue.
Lastly, the plutonium is returning to Japan after reprocessing in France, which means the radioactive material had to get to Japan in the first place to be used before it went for reprocessing. I am curious how it got to Japan in the first place and from what point. Very little is ever mentioned of this, yet radioactive material was sent to that country for use in their reactors to begin with.
In conclusion, we will be supporting the motion. I believe it is one issue that all Yukoners must be very intimately interested in.
Hon. Mr. Porter: I rise to speak in favour of the motion put forward by the Member for Klondike. At the risk of repetition, I would like to make several points in support of the motion. First, plutonium is an incredibly toxic radioactive substance that is most dangerous to biological health when it is let loose in the atmosphere. Secondly, nothing is more likely to put it into the atmosphere than something going wrong with a plane load of plutonium. Thirdly, plutonium can be transported in much safer ways than by aircraft. Finally, the benefits of transporting plutonium through Canadian airspace would accrue only to the United States, Japan and the processing country in Europe.
Canada has absolutely nothing to gain by allowing its airspace to be used for this purpose, and has every right and responsibility under international law to deny the use of Canadian airspace for such purposes. How toxic is plutonium? An article in the September 1976 bulletin of Atomic Science reported that dogs exposed to airborne plutonium in medical tests invariably developed lung tumors. At minimal doses, malignant tumors showed up six to 12 years after exposure. At higher doses, the animals died. It is one of the most toxic substances known to man.
Depending on the size of particles and the height at which the plutonium is introduced to the atmosphere, this toxic radioactive substance could be flown for miles, affecting any living creature exposed to it.
The Nuclear Cooperation Agreement between the United States and Japan, recently signed by the U.S. President, will see the movement of 45 metric tons of plutonium between a nuclear fuels processing centre in France and reactors in Japan. Forty-five metric tons of plutonium is 99,000 pounds, or 1,584,000 ounces of a radioactive substance so toxic that a particle can cause lung cancer. The total amount to be shipped is equal to half the plutonium in the United States nuclear weapons arsenal. As little as 25 pounds of plutonium could be used to make an atomic bomb. The most economical way of moving this material is by air. The shortest and cheapest route is likely to be one of the polar routes, which cross over northern Canada.
Movement of this plutonium is estimated to require two 747 flights each month over the next 30 years. We all know that things can and do go wrong with aircraft. The news recently has reminded us of this. We all know the flying conditions of the north at the best of times are not ideal. The proponents of the plutonium flights assure us that crash proof containers will be used. Yet, the current international Civil Aviation Organization standards for transportation of radioactive materials only provide for protection in 30 mile an hour impacts. They correspond to the International Atomic Energy Agency standards and are the same as those standards used for the transport of dangerous good by truck or ship.
There has been reference made by the federal Minister of Transport to a higher standard adopted by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission for the transportation of plutonium by air. Even that standard was developed to protect shipments in the event of a crash by a plane flying at less than 10,000 feet and impacting at less than 288 miles per hour. Any aircraft exploding or crashing in northern Canada will be travelling at much higher altitudes and speeds. Plutonium is more likely to be introduced to the atmosphere as a result of these proposed shipments than through any other means of which I am aware.
There are alternatives to shipping this material by air. The first shipment from France to Japan was made by ship. A small convoy accompanied the ship for protection. Larger quantities can be moved at any one time at sea, and therefore, fewer trips are necessary. The risk of collision at sea are more manageable than an air crash in the far north. Containers that could protect the plutonium in that circumstance already exist. Plutonium imposes a lower risk to biological health in water than in air.
The major arguments brought to bear against this alternative are economic ones. Simply put, the countries and companies involved in the movement of plutonium would save money by flying it. There are no savings to Canada. There are no benefits to Canada if the plutonium is flown through our airspace. There are only risks, which need not be assumed. The Government of Canada has the right and the responsibility to deny the use of Canadian airspace for the transportation of plutonium.
Under Article 35 of the 1944 Chicago Convention of the International Civil Aviation Organization, that is our prerogative. We ought not, by postponing a decision, encourage the U.S. to believe we are prepared to countenance such flights. If our northern neighbour, Alaska, is prepared to fight the U.S. administration on this, perhaps our words of urging to the Government of Canada through this motion can encourage Canada to take a sensible stand on such a serious issue.
Most often we are told by the companies and by the so-called experts on these measures that there is nothing to fear, that they have predicted all of the possible scenarios and have planned against eventualities and that nothing could go wrong. When we look back over the last few years, there have been many things that have gone wrong that Members here have already spoken to, such as the Chernobyl disaster in the Soviet Union, the Three Mile Island problem in the United States, and the chemical explosion in Bhopal. We cannot ignore the situation, and we cannot be lulled into complacency, saying that it is the U.S. and Japan and France could be possibly be cutting a deal on this and that there is nothing we can do to stop it. That would be the wrong attitude to take. We have to speak out on this question because it affects us and potentially our future generations.
I ask the mover of the motion to take the results of this debate today and the resolution to the Members of Congress, who will be debating this issue. This issue is now before Congress. and it will be there for a number of days. They will be asked to make a decision, and we should send our findings on this question.
Motion agreed to
Clerk: Item No. 4, standing in the name of Mr. Webster.
Speaker: Is the hon. Member prepared to proceed with Item No. 4?
Mr. Webster: Next sitting day, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: So ordered.
Motion No. 12
Clerk: Item No. 5, standing in the name of Ms. Kassi.
Speaker: Is the hon. Member prepared to proceed with Item No. 5?
Ms. Kassi: Yes, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Member for Old Crow
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Government of Yukon, in cooperation with Yukon Indian Bands and Tribal Councils, should investigate the feasibility of tribal police/peacemaking and tribal justice systems.
Ms. Kassi: This motions calls on the Government of Yukon to investigate something that has been talked about quite a bit by the aboriginal people here in the Yukon. We find that in some communities it is quite an issue while in others there are other priorities. It is not the intention of this motion to bring in brand new tribal justice systems everywhere or all at once. Rather, the motion asks the government to look at possible ways we can move towards tribal justice systems in the Yukon communities. This includes tribal peacemakers. The movement towards these systems would be done in each community at its own pace. We have long since recognized that tribal justice and tribal control is what we need. We continue to be concerned that the majority of the people who are daily incarcerated and presently serving time are of native ancestry, and we must address this problem.
As we can see with the example of the Kwanlin Dun Band Police, obviously there was a need or a demand for a police service besides the RCMP. Something that was more in line with the wishes of the aboriginal people. In this case we have a police service that enforces local rules under the direction of local people. It is done in cooperation with the RCMP and other authorities.
What we are talking about, mainly, is local control by aboriginal people over their own affairs, including laws and law enforcement. At this time we are not talking about changes to the Criminal Code or other laws of Canada. When we speak about tribal policing we like to call it something else - not policing, but peacemaking - which is exactly what they will do: maintain a peaceful community. I think this is a much better way to look at the role for the people doing this job. We are asking them to keep the peace and be active in doing that. What we are not asking them to do is keep everybody in line. This approach is more in keeping aboriginal peoples traditional way of doing things.
I want to point out that the Carcross/Tagish Indian Band is looking at having its own police force and there is a project well under way in the community of Teslin. We have seen native police services successfully operate in other parts of Canada as well. In Quebec, for example, the Ameridian police service operates in 22 communities with a staff of 73 officers. They enforce band bylaws, traditional laws, federal laws on the reserves, as well as any provincial laws that apply on the reserves. This police system is governed by a commission that is responsible to a council of the Indian bands, which use the services. It is working out very well.
It is controlled locally and local laws are enforced. The people working there are fully trained and quite professional. For community based policing, it is interesting to note the concept of tribal policing peace making is not that far off from recent thinking about policing in general.
There is concern all over North America that police are only responding to criminal offences and that there is not enough done in terms of prevention. Policing is costly and authorities are under pressure to get more results for the same, or fewer, tax dollars. What police forces are looking at now is what they call community based policing.
Basically,what they are saying is that police must plan, with the community, new cooperative models of police service delivery. Community based policing appears to offer a way of doing more with less by providing new and previously untapped community resources and support. They are redefining what have become exclusively police problems as shared community problems,and they are drawing on the capacities of both the community and the police to respond cooperatively to the order and security needs of the community. Specifically, they have found that police are becoming more and more alienated from the society they serve. They are seen as large bureaucracies that are insensitive to peoples needs.
There is a desire by people for more control or input into police activities. The community wants to have its say. In many cities there are police boards or commissions that provide an avenue for public input and police accountability. There is a growing demand for non crime services from police and, as a matter of fact, police actually spend more of their time this way than they do on chasing and catching criminals. Hon. Members are no doubt aware of some of the more popular examples of this kind of thing, such as the Safety Bear program, Neighbourhood Watch, and other educational prevention measures the local RCMP have been involved with. Police are involved in a wide variety of activities other than crime control, although both the public and the police see the most important job of police being crime control.
In a crisis, people need a professional, competent police force. At the same time, the public expects police to do more in terms of prevention. The discussion about the role of police also looks at how more effectively police can be utilized. The subject of foot patrols, for example, is one that has been looked at, although this is considered costly and not productive in terms of fighting crime. It has great benefits in prevention, especially in the communities. Research has found that there are fewer formal complaints to police when neighbourhood square foot patrols are made. This is because people can just go up and talk to the police and minor complaints are settled right away, often informally. This is a big switch from having people phoning for a police car to come around for any little thing.
Better relations between the police and the public occur with foot patrols, and police find they are better informed about neighbourhood issues and can do more in terms of prevention. The police on the beat find job satisfaction in preventing crime, dealing with people and instilling confidence and safety in the community.
These studies have found that the public is receptive to different methods of policing and find a greater degree of satisfaction with the police when they are involved in the decision making. Community based policing can be looked at in terms of five basic principles:
1. The importance of the community in police decision making;
2. The objectives of policing are broad and community defined;
3. The diverse functions that the police perform are legitimate elements of the police role;
4. Community based policing is based on a shared responsibility between the police and the community; and
5. Community based policing advocates proactive involvement within the community.
When we speak of tribal peace making and local control, it is not a new and radical subject. It is something that has been recognized as not only important, but necessary, for police all over North America to be more effective in fighting crime. Tribal peace makers are not new either. They have many examples outside the Yukon. In southern Canada and the United States where aboriginal people of various bands or tribes or nations have their own police forces, in most cases, the aboriginal people are happy with how things are conducted. These systems have progressed to the point where there is a native police academy.
I would like to discuss the other part of my motion to do with tribal justice systems. I am sure hon. Members are aware of problems native people in the Yukon face when they are charged with a crime and must appear before a court. The basic problem is that they are not being judged by their peers. Most of the justice system is non native and lacks cultural sensitivity. The police, the lawyers, the court officials and the judges are not aboriginal people. This is very intimidating for aboriginal people. I would also say it is not effective. A punishment or judgment is not as effective from people who do not respect as it would be from people who do respect.
It would be much more effective to have native peoples judged by their peers: other native people. Some progress has been made with the appointment of native justices of the peace in the communities, but we have farther to go. What we need to see are tribal justice councils, and I will share with you some idea on how they could work.
I am sure the hon. Members have, at some point, heard of the clan system of the Yukon Indian people. Firstly, there would be both clans equally represented on the council of the wolf and crow clans. Mainly elders would be these representatives. This council would replace the justice of the peace or the judge for some offences, based on what local people want to handle. They would decide the appropriate punishment for offences in the community and, believe me, it works. A lot of shame is imposed on the individual. The whole community gets involved.
For example, if an individual were to physically or otherwise abuse another, he would have to spend several days and nights with the victim to do whatever is asked of him or her. He may be instructed to show respect to the whole clan or the whole community by hosting a potlatch or a feast, which involves a tremendous amount of work to hunt and to prepare for that. As well, payments must be made to the victims family and to the leaders of that respective clan. This is a way of regaining ones self respect and the rest of the members of the clan of the accused.
The tribal justice council would take advice from the community and the resource workers in the community, such as the peace makers, the police, the probation officers, the alcohol workers, et cetera. They would listen to the family of the offender and make a judgment of the kind of punishment that is appropriate in this case as well.
Further, the tribal council would follow up the progress of each case and work with resource people, the family and the offender, to bring about good long term solutions so, hopefully, that person will never again commit a crime. This would be community control and community accountability by all concerned. Since it is the communities that are affected the most by crime, it stands to reason that they have the greatest stake in doing something about it and will be the most effective in getting results. They can bring into action a lot of different programs, such as helping victims of crime, diversion, mediation and other programs. These ideas were recommended by the justice review that toured the Yukon last year.
In looking at the makeup of the tribal justice council and the use of the clan system, I want to make a few additional comments. The clan system is the traditional way of aboriginal people who always governed themselves.
There are many advantages to strengthening the use of this clan system. The one way is through tribal justice councils and, especially, through the participation of our respective elders. That system has worked before and continues to work today in some areas, and it should work in the future.
I think we will see that the use of a more traditional kind of system will bring about better results with aboriginal people, and this will mean greater success for our justice system overall. This is where we all share the same objective. I think the solution lies in how we approach getting there. This motion asks this government to take a harder look at this idea in cooperation with the aboriginal people in the Yukon, and I hope hon. Members will support this motion. Mahsi-cho.
Mr. Brewster: When I was told to speak on this subject, I personally had a little problem for a number of reasons. It is quite apparent that the feasibility study that we were supposed to be talking about has nothing to do with it and has already been made. I would like to bring up a few problems on this situation. It is far reaching and affects many, many people.
I do not think we should bring motions into this House when we want to put things our own way and expect the House to come in here and sensibly vote on a motion that we really do not understand what we are talking about, and we do not.
I see the Member shaking her head. It happens that for five years I lived on a Stony Indian Reservation. I understand what native police are. I understand what tribal justice is, and I have gone through some of this. The native police force in the Blackfoot Tribe west of Calgary has been very successful. The one on the Stony Reservation has been nothing but a flop, and they are continually ...
The other big problem you have on this - and the elderly natives really have a problem understanding this one - when they come off the reservation they immediately come under white mans law. Therefore, they are being hurt because they are now under two laws that they do not understand. Does this law simply mean that it is for Indians only, or does it mean when we have a mixed marriage that the white person married to a native lives under that law? Which law does he go under?
You talk about respect for the elders. I have talked to a lot of elders, and I have talked to them a lot. They will tell you that the young people do not listen to the elders. If any of you are being fair about this, you will have to admit that this is fact - they do not. I witnessed a little of what I think was tribal justice. I was involved with it in Burwash in 1950 but will not go into what happened, because the Minister of Justice would have a fit. This type of tribal justice will not fit in this society, and it will not fit among the native people either, because that type of thing just does not go any more. We have progressed too far.
I have another problem in that we have 23,000 people and we want two sets of laws. Are these sets of laws for when the native person comes off the Indian land or reserve? I hope we are not going to Indian reserves. I have lived on them and I know what happens to native people who are crowded into these things. Regardless of what the native people in the Yukon think, they are far better off than those people down on those reservations, and do not anybody tell me any different. I have lived there and watched it. When the native people come off there, are they immediately under the white mans rule or do they stay under the other? Where is the line drawn? You are affecting families, and you are affecting people all over.
What law does the native person who lives and has a business in Whitehorse live under? You should be looking at a few of these things before you come in here. You came in with a feasibility study, and I have no problem with that, but you have come in and pretty well said what you are going to try to push. Your motion was to have somebody to make a study, not for you to make a study, and you brought it in, and I have a problem with that.
Therefore, I am going to make an amendment:
THAT the motion No. 12 be amended by adding after the word systems the following: and that this feasibility study be tabled in the House for debate prior to this Government taking any action to implement the tribal police/peacemaking and tribal justice systems.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Member for Kluane:
THAT Motion No. 12 be amended by adding after the word systems the following: and that this feasibility study be tabled in the House for debate prior to this government taking any action to implement the tribal policy/peacemaking and tribal justice systems.
Mr. Brewster: This is an amendment that, if accepted by this House, we can all live with. It is close to what the Member for Old Crow wanted. It gives us the privilege of bringing it back so that the legislative people of the Yukon can actually know what they are talking about. I have problems with the situation the way it is now. I know that we have a problem. What the Minister of Justice thinks a policeman should be doing in his area is completely different from what other people think. Somewhere we have to draw a line. He would like the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to interfere in certain things and his policemen in other things. He would prefer the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
There are a number of native police who would prefer to be in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for a number of reasons. There is a chance for advancement and higher pay. We need natives in the police force, of that there is no argument. I agree that we need native police in the communities. I have been arguing that and have put forward motions, but they have gone to the wastepaper basket along with many others. The one reason why I brought this motion forward is that if a government has a motion that suits them, it is passed and there is a go ahead. There is not study brought forward after that. If they do not like the motion, however, it is thrown into the wastepaper basket. I have asked for a Royal Canadian Mounted Police for the Burwash Destruction area, and no movement has been made on that. We have 3.5 policemen in Haines Junction, and I cannot figure where the other .5 is. Maybe he is between Destruction Bay and Burwash.
This is like the story of the grizzly bears. A biologist told a certain outfitter that he could have one half a grizzly bear. The outfitter asked which half he could take the first year, the ass end or the front. The biologist meant that he could have one every two years. Why do they not say what they are talking about? I hope that everyone will accept this amendment. If we could have a good debate over this, I am sure that we will get lots of support. The Minister of Justice and I like to tangle over the police in the communities, but I have never gotten through.
I agree with having native justices of the peace in the communities. I worked on this as well, but they are enforcing the law for everybody. I have a problem that all 26,000 people cannot live under one law, and I agree there are a lot of problems. We need to solve them without two police forces.
Speaker: Order please. Pursuant to direction of Standing Order No. 11(7), it is the duty of the Chair to call Bills other than Government Bills.
BILLS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT BILLS
Bill No. 102: Second Reading - continued
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 102, adjourned debate,
the hon. Mr. Kimmerly.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: We have had two weeks to consider this measure. There are two problems that I would like to describe and publicize in this House at this time. One of the problems is that this Bill specifically speaks about an appointment for a justice of the peace for a period of time and specific provision for reappointment. I can supply the Member for Riverdale North with legal citations in due course, but there is law in Ontario - and in Quebec, I believe - that that provision that speaks of and authorizes a reappointment has been interpreted in the past by the judiciary as an interference with the independence of the judiciary. The argument goes that judges should be independent of political influence completely. What would probably happen is those judges who acted in accordance with the wishes or policies of the government would be reappointed, and those who did not, who followed a different policy or who were not directed by government policy would not be reappointed. On its face, that is an interference with the principle of independence.
One can argue from a populace point of view that that reappointment proposition is exactly what citizens want, but it is contrary to decisions that have been made in the past. The decisions were made specifically about supernumerary judges and other categories.
The second problem is in the period of appointment. In the first instance, it would be up to five years. In discussing that with various people in the criminal justice system, I would suspect that there is a consensus that five years is not a long enough period of time, especially if there is not going to be a reappointment, in that it takes a few years to train people. There are examples of justices who are serving for longer than five years who are doing a good job, are supported by the community, and it makes no sense to change that. I recognize the original intention was to have a reappointment.
There is another possibility in principle. That is to leave the possibility of reappointment out of the Act entirely - that is that the law is silent on the point of reappointment. If that occurs, any attack would not be on the law but on the practice. It would be necessary to show that a practice interfered with the independence of the judiciary in order to strike down that particular practice or any particular appointment or lack of appointment.
And I raised that as a possibility about the principle around reappointments. I would emphasize that the principle of term appointments is a sound one. All in all, it is my view that this matter requires further study. However, in view of the particular circumstances in the Yukon, the disparity especially between the Territorial Court Act about judges and the justices, and the Human Rights Act, should be corrected if at all possible - and I believe that it is possible in this sitting of this session of the Legislature.
Mr. Lang: I rise to make a number of observations in respect to the Bill before us that I think need to be brought out and debated to some degree.
We have had a situation develop, starting as early as last July - to our knowledge last July, it may have been even earlier - where discussions and, in fact, memorandums were beginning to be circulated with respect to the question of the age of a justice of the peace and whether or not he or she could sit after the age of 65.
The first area of concern that I have with respect to the governments position on this is that the government provides, in good part, 98.5 percent of the legislative program for the people of Yukon to deal with.
Secondly, the issue is not new. It did not just come up last week. It did not just come up two weeks ago. The issue did not come up two months ago. The issue began probably prior to July - probably prior, when we get through all the maze and quagmire of who said what, but it will probably surface at some given time, that even prior to July there was some discussion or some reason that the government wanted to get rid of a certain justice of the peace through this particular section.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Point of Order, Mr. Speaker. I will not rise on the Point of Order that the statements are inaccurate - which in fact they were - but the statements are being made here about an entirely irrelevant matter. It is certainly appropriate to talk about a principle in the Bill, which is a term appointment for justices of the peace. The Member opposite is making an allegation that the government wanted to get rid of a particular justice of the peace. That is clearly irrelevant, aside from being false.
Speaker: Order please. Our Standing Order 57(2), The debate on a motion for second reading must be limited to the object, expediency, principles and merits of the bill, or to the alternative methods of obtaining its purpose.
I would like to remind the Member to keep your comments to the Bill at hand.
Mr. Lang: I was speaking to the Bill, and if you found I was not I apologize to the Chair. I want to say to the Minister again with respect to the question, the reason the Bill is before us is because of the Minister and the Ministers total mishandling of a situation that has been the topic of discussion of this House for hours at a time for the past week, and before that.
The Minister refuses to accept his responsibilities.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I made a Point of Order and I am making the same Point of Order again because the Member speaking is doing exactly what you told him not to do. He has not changed his course of action whatsoever.
Mrs. Firth: On the Point of Order. The Member for Porter Creek East is talking about the Ministers promptness in responding to this Bill and acceptance of his responsibilities. It appears to me to be completely relevant and quite in order, and the Minister of Justice would appear to be simply trying to interrupt the comments and points that the Member for Porter Creek East is making.
Hon. Mr. Porter: The rules that govern this particular section of our Standing Orders are very clear. The debate on a motion for second reading must be limited to the object, expediency, principles and merits of the bill. That is the extent to which debate can take place. It cannot wander off in never never land and speak to anything the speaker wishes to speak to. It must speak to the principle of the bill, which is clearly before the House, which calls for a five-year appointment of the justice of the peace. That is the principle of the Bill and that is what the Members who wish to speak to the Bill must contain their remarks to.
Mr. Lang: The Members opposite are very touchy, and I would be very touchy too. But if I cannot express to the Members of this House my feelings of why this Bill is here, the reason it is here - and if I do not have the right according to the Minister of Justice and the new guidelines that he would like to put down to the people of the territory - if I do not have that right it makes a mockery of this Legislature.
My statement was, why was the Bill being presented and why are we here debating it today - to give the history to the House, and in turn to the people of the territory. It is a fallacious point of order and the Minister of Justice knows full well that this is the best way to filibuster the Bill.
Mr. Phillips: On the point of order I would like to make one point. The main reason I brought this Bill forward was because of the inactions of the Minister of Justice. It was announced in the Throne Speech that there would be an amendment to the Territorial Court Act and there was none. It has been three months since this has been going on. The Member for Porter Creek East had very valid comments on the fact that the Minister was slow in bringing this in. That is one of the reasons we are talking about this Bill today.
Speaker: Order please. On the point of order again, I would like to remind the Member that it is okay, as an example of the situation at hand, to deal with what is on the floor at present.
Mr. Lang: That is exactly what I am doing. I am going back in historical terms with respect to why this Bill is presented by my colleague and is before this House for debate. The reason it is before this House for debate is because of the inaction of the Minister of Justice. Three weeks ago we were presented, with much fanfare, and at much cost to the taxpayers of the Yukon Territory, with a Throne Speech that said the Territorial Court Act was going to be here for amendment. Today is December 2 and it has not been presented to this House.
During the course of this session, with respect to the preparing of legislation, the people of the territory have witnessed not one but two Ministers standing up and not being able to substantiate to this House why their legislation is being presented - the reasons for it, and the cause and effect on the people of the territory.
I refer to the Bill that we have before us. The government had due notice to bring a Bill with their ideas of how this particular situation could be corrected. If it had to be corrected. In most legal circles there is some question as to whether or not it is even necessary, because we know that the Minister responsible for the Yukon Human Rights Act - that is now the law of the land - gave much fanfare to the people of the territory, that you could not discriminate because of age.
Today we have got two documents. Not one, but two, with respect to the present situation as far as justices of the peace and their appointments are concerned, and the question of 65 and whether or not the Human Rights Act took precedent over the Territorial Court Act.
The government has not done its homework. The government has been remiss in not bringing forward the necessary amendments for consideration by this House, because they have not done them.
The Member for Riverdale North, concerned about the controversy within the Ministers portfolio respecting this issue, has brought before us a solution that we believe will resolve the situation in the Minister of Justices department. The Minister says that he is not sure what the answer should be. He criticizes the principles brought forward by the Member for Riverdale North, but he does not have an alternative. He is the government. He is the Minister responsible. He should be bringing forth the amendments required to rectify the situation. They have not dealt with the issue. This issue, I repeat, did not happen last week, two weeks ago, or two months ago. It was brought to their attention more than four months ago.
The amendment was brought forward to ensure that there could be, at some time, a review process not tied to age. There was a unanimous decision in this House that there could not and should not be discrimination by age. There are a number of reasons for that. When a person turns 65, one does not turn deaf, dumb and blind. We know that our health system, which is probably one of the best in the world, has permitted many of our senior citizens to continue contributing well into their eighties and some into their nineties. The purpose of the five-year clause was not only that an individual would know that there was a certain time limit to the position. It is so that the Minister of Justice - God help us, who will not be here at that future time, I am sure - the political arm of government would not interfere in the reappointments. The position would be referred, after five years, back to the Judicial Council and the reappointment would be almost automatic. At least there would be a governing factor. This is a viable alternative to the present situation, the obvious quagmire, that the Minister of Justice has created and is facing at the present time.
I think there is one other point that I want to make: it is not unknown, in the context of government, to appoint individuals to positions for a period of time. We just had that situation in the Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment Act, where the Workers Compensation chairman was appointed for a three year period. So it is not totally unknown that appointments can be for a duration or a period of time. So I think, in fairness to the Member from Riverdale North, that the amendment that is before the House should be taken very seriously, and I just want to say that I think, from my perspective and my observation, that we have a government that has said it is bringing forward a legislative program and they have not brought it forward. And I think the people of the territory should be made aware of that.
Therefore, I think that we should vote for the amendment and at least give it a whirl. It is certainly better than what we have at present. It cannot help but contribute positively to the situation at hand. At least there is a resolution that is being debated, and hopefully accepted by the people of the territory in order that, in the future, situations such as this will be rectified.
I have to conclude by saying that a lot of thought, time and effort went into the Bill before us. It was not brought forward in two minutes of contemplation as far as the principle of the Bill was concerned. It was discussed with a number of individuals to see what kind of thought they had in respect to it, and its intention was fully explained that it would not be subjected to the political interference that the present situation has obviously been subjected to. This would protect those people who have said that they would be prepared to serve in that certain capacity, with the Judicial Council, if it is used properly, and the statues followed, that the political arm of government will not be involved in any shape or manner. So it makes sense, and I think the Legislature should vote unanimously for the solution presented by the Member for Riverdale North.
Hon. Mr. Porter: I move that debate be now adjourned.
Speaker: It has been moved that the debate do now adjourn. Are you agreed?
I think the yeas have it.
Mr. Lang: Division, division
Speaker: Division has been called.
Mr. Clerk, would you kindly poll the House.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Agreed.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Agreed.
Hon. Mr. Porter: Agreed.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Agreed.
Mr. Joe: Agreed.
Ms. Kassi: Agreed.
Mr. Webster: Agreed.
Mr. Phelps: Disagree.
Mr. Brewster: Disagree.
Mr. Lang: Disagree.
Mr. Nordling: Disagree.
Mrs. Firth: Disagree.
Mr. Phillips: Disagree.
Mr. McLachlan: Disagree.
Clerk: The results are seven yea, seven nay.
Speaker: Under Standing Order 4(2) it states, In case of equality of votes the speaker shall give a casting vote. In general the principle I apply to this implies that the Chair should always vote for further discussion, it is therefore my duty to vote against a motion to adjourn debate and I declare the motion defeated.
Mrs. Firth: I rise today to speak to the principle of this Bill No. 102 that has been brought into the Legislative Assembly by my colleague from Riverdale North, An Act to Amend the Territorial Court Act.
I think it is time that we took a very serious look at what is happening in this Legislature this sitting. It is time we took a look at the preparedness of the government in presenting their order of business, not just to this Legislative Assembly, but to the people of the Yukon. We have to take a look at the preparedness of not just the Cabinet Ministers, but the private Members, look at their state of preparedness to debate the legislation and the bills they are bringing forward.
We had a Throne Speech some three and a half weeks ago that laid out the legislative agenda, made a great to do about the regulations accompanying the bills, listed the bills, each one of them in order that were going to be amended this sitting of the Legislative Assembly, and included in that list of bills was An Act to Amend the Territorial Court Act.
We already know from comments that have been made by the Member for Porter Creek East, some of the historical comments regarding this matter, that this issue has been ongoing for sometime now. I compare it to the day care issue that has also been going on for sometime and was not addressed by the Minister. We have a similar circumstance here where we have an incident that has become public and very controversial, involves innocent people and their reputations and credibility, has embarrassed not only the government but the whole justice system, and the Minister has refused to address it by bringing forward an amendment to the Territorial Court Act as the government said they would in the Throne Speech.
The principle of this Bill is not complicated or complex. When the Minister of Justice spoke a couple of weeks ago to the principle of the Bill, he accused the opposition Members of wanting to have legislation by ambush, that we could not expect the government to address the principle of the Bill so quickly without having time to examine it. His department has been examining this issue for quite a long time. He said that the government needed more time to look at it, and that the department needed more time to examine the principles and to examine the contents of the Bill.
The Minister of Justice, at that time, adjourned debate on the Bill. He also made some interesting comments about the principle, and those comments should be raised at this time because the Minister has had a week and a half to look at it. He now says they he wants more time to look at it. At that time, the Minister of Justice said that they had sympathy for the Bill, that it would be wrong to vote against the principle and that it would be wrong not to simply vote the measure down. He asked for some time to study it to give it the attention it deserves.
One would hope that if the Minister had sincere intentions of coming forward with an amendment in the first place that there would have been some analysis already done, that it would not require days and days of time to study the proposed amendment. The Minister has a plethora of lawyers and legal expertise within the Department of Justice to review this and to examine it. For him to come back a week and a half later and say that they need more time, another adjournment, that they need to study it some more, does not give one the impression that he has the intention or the will to debate the issue in the first place.
How serious is the Minister about dealing with this issue? When he asked for more time and attention, he also commented about it being a measure of some urgency. He talked about how we should proceed with the matter. He has said that there is some Bill that has a passage in the House before Christmas. The Minister has given no indication as to whether or not he is prepared to bring something forward right now, other than what was mentioned in the Throne Speech. We have no indication if the Minister has changed his mind, if he is going to bring something to the House to replace this, or if the Minister and his colleagues are prepared to proceed with this Bill. We keep getting this stalling tactic, the adjournment of debate.
We are not asking for anything earth shattering. We are not asking the Minister to do great complicated, complex things that require a lot of time and consultation, or a lot of debate or Cabinet decisions. The Minister has stood in this House many times and expounded on how this governments policy is not to push for mandatory retirement, so he agrees with the principle.
I have to look at the Minister very seriously and ask him what the problem is. What is the reluctance and hesitancy to proceed with this amendment to the Bill? Surely the Ministers intentions after the announcement in the Throne Speech are good, and that there is going to be some initiative and intention on the part of the government to resolve this issue. We have an individual who has been affected by this governments inaction. That individual has now become a public figure, the Bill Thomson issue, case or affair - whatever title the media puts to it. There was no reason for this to have happened in the first place.
Here is the Minister sitting in the Legislature scrambling and trying to preserve his integrity and dignity, to say nothing of the dignity and integrity of the individual involved, of all the other individuals who are now becoming involved as a result of a failure of his department to address the issue in the first place, and the failure of the Minister to address the issue in the first place. This individual did not turn 65 yesterday, two weeks ago, or two months ago, he turned 65 almost a year and a half ago. The Minister has still done nothing about addressing the issue.
We brought an amendment to the Elections Act into this Legislature, and this government moved lickety-split to bring in their own amendment to the Elections Act that was exactly the same in principle and detail as the one we proposed. The Members on the government side could find it within their abilities and workload to come in immediately with an amendment for that Act. Incidentally, this one was not listed in the Throne Speech as a big priority for this government, and one of the urgent and pressing matters, one of the measures of some urgency that should be proceeded with, yet they were able to muster their lawyers and experts together to bring something forward and draw something up very quickly. We have an issue that has been outstanding within the department for a year and a half or more, since Mr. Thomson had his birthday on July 16, 1986. We have a Minister of Justice who is refusing to address the needed amendment to resolve the situation. This has turned into a media event at the expense of the people involved, at the expense of the whole judicial system, at the expense of Yukoners dignity, because residents of the provinces would not tolerate this type of display from a Minister of Justice, they just would not accept it.
So now we have a Minister of Justice who, because he will not address an issue, because he will not meet head on with a problem and come forward with a solution, who exacerbates the problem by running to the media and contributing to the media event - we have him stand up in the House again today and ask for more time.
Well, I am getting tired of the Minister of Justices feeble excuses. I have sat here and watched him sign probably two or three hundred Christmas cards. But he does not have an hour to sit down and review legislation that is brought before this Legislative Assembly. That is just not good enough. It is not acceptable, it is not fair to the people who this Minister is supposed to be representing, and it is not fair to all Yukoners. I object to having an individual conduct himself in that manner when I know it is going to reflect on all of us in the Legislative Assembly. And I want to register that objection with the Minister today.
His intentions have been less than honourable when it comes to dealing with this issue. The Member for Riverdale North worked very hard on this amendment. He did it with the best interests of the individual that was involved, and he brought the amendment forward here to this Legislative Assembly, which is the appropriate and the proper route to take. The Minister can not stand up here and convince anyone that he has the best interests of the individual involved - when he comes forward with this kind of stall tactic, this kind of unacceptable excuse for not bringing forward an amendment, this kind of unacceptable lack of preparedness to address the issue, and just a total disregard for the whole integrity of the system of justice - that he is so concerned about whether Yukoners have any confidence in any more.
I would submit as a final remark, that if Yukoners do not have confidence in the justice system today, the reason is solely because of the Minister of Justice and his actions.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for allowing me the opportunity to speak to the amendment to the Territorial Court Act. I found the discussion this afternoon in the last hour or so rather fascinating, largely because I think there has been substantial effort in the last 15 minutes or so to speak about two different issues, and try to roll them into essentially one.
In the remarks put forward by the Members in the Conservative Opposition there has been an allegation made that, not only is the government not proceeding to deal with the so-called Bill Thomson affair expeditiously, but also that the amendment that they put forward is in direct response to the need to deal with the Bill Thomson affair. The Bill Thomson affair, in summation - if I can simplify it somewhat - is the issue of mandatory retirement at age 65. Is that justified? Is that justified given the existence of the Human Rights Act in the territory?
Given that the government has already indicated that it is the policy that mandatory retirement should not be permitted. The amendment to the Act does not refer once to the issue of mandatory retirement. It, in no way, addresses the issue that the Members say they are addressing. It, in no way, justifies the Members complaint that the government has done nothing to address the issue. The issue at hand here is whether or not a justice should hold office for a period of five years. That does not directly address the issue of mandatory retirement at age 65 or any other age.
There must be, if we address the Bill Thomson issue, substantial thought put into determining the direction that amendments to the Territorial Court Act must take to bring it into conformity with stated government policy and with the Human Rights Act.
Across the country, there are different ages given for mandatory retirement. In other jurisdictions, there is no age of retirement stipulated in the Acts. The Member for Riverdale North should have addressed the issue rather than use the debate as the thinnest excuse to continue Question Period, which is similar to cross examination in a courtroom - something that would never have been permitted a couple of years ago. The Act at hand has nothing to do with the Thomson affair at all. There is nothing in it that addresses that specific issue. I am somewhat dumbfounded by the crying from the Members in Opposition - especially from the Member for Riverdale North - that this issue has been addressed through his Act. If he made the case that he was addressing the issue in his Act, that would be one thing. He has not addressed the issue. He has essentially perpetrated a fraudulent situation where it is claimed that an issue is being addressed, and there is no substantiation for it.
Who is being irresponsible? If the Members feel that the Act is something that can handle the situation, they should try to make the case.
As I read it, the wording of the Act makes no such case. The government owes it to all the people of this territory, to thoughtfully pursue the issue of mandatory retirement, which the Minister has committed to in this Legislature, and which the government has committed to in the Throne Speech: to bring forward an act that deals with the situation conclusively, not in the rather superficial and fragile way that the Member for Riverdale North feels that he has addressed the issue. He has not.
A lot of irrelevant discussion took place this afternoon with respect to what the Minister of Justice might do in terms of gestures toward his constituents, in terms of the honour that he has in sending out Christmas cards. There has been a discussion about whether or not his intentions have been honourable in trying to address an issue that was before the House, whether or not the intentions of the Member were honourable in terms of promising to address the issue in the Throne Speech, and whether the measure was brought forward in a timely way.
The measure is to be brought forward in a very timely way. The government has considered the subject matter at great length and is interested in responding to the issue of mandatory retirement, as well as the issue of the matter at hand.
Speaker: Order, please. The time now being 5:30 p.m., I will now leave the Chair until 7:30 p.m. tonight.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chairman: Committee of the Whole will now come to order.
Bill No. 2 - Sixth Appropriation Act, 1986-87
Chairman: We will continue with debate on the Department of Education, capital votes.
Mrs. Firth: When we were last sitting, the Minister was giving us a great history lesson about residences at colleges. I indicated to the Minister that we have two ways to go about the debate on this supplementary estimate. We can be short and sweet or we can be long and get into history lessons. I leave it to the Minister to make his choice. I am not going to make any comments about the Ministers history story yesterday, even though a lot of it was not totally accurate or correct. I asked him three simple questions, I believe, and I did not get an answer to any of them.
I asked when the policy decision was made to include the single parent family units in the residence, and I asked on what basis that policy decision was made, meaning did they have a great demand for it, had people made representation to them that they thought it was a good idea. Could he give us some indication of what had resulted in that policy decision, and could he tell us what the difference in cost was from the new direction the government was taking compared to what it was going to cost originally for the single person residences?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Mr. Chairman, I want to speak. I apologize if the Member felt it was a great history lesson. I thought I had answered the three questions, but let me say that the decision was made in 1986. There was a demand, as determined by the Student Services Branch of the Yukon College and the difference in costs - if I remember correctly - was $431,000 to redesign and provide the addition for the married students and for handicapped students.
Mrs. Firth: I thank the Minister for his concise and brief answers. Could the Minister tell us if there are going to be day care facilities in that residence, or anywhere within the college site, and is there some inclusion for costs for that here?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There will not be day care space in the residence itself but there will be room for day care in the college. As for the original plan, it will be amalgamated with the early Childhood Education program, which is currently a part-time program - and may be expanded to a full-time program. In any case, there will be a child care facility at the college.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister give us some idea of how that facility is going to operate? Is it going to be a government run facility, a private facility, et cetera?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: My understanding - and if it is wrong, I will correct myself as soon as possible - is that it will be run under the auspices of the college board and they will make the determination as to the character of the facility itself, the specifics of the operation. The board itself should be in place by the spring. It is going to be in place in time for the college opening.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister tell us any more about whether there are going to be fees charged, where the workers will be hired from. I mean, is it just going to be an empty facility and the board is going to make all the decisions about it. Is the government not going to give any indication of what their wish is for the operation of that facility? Are they going to tender it out? Surely the government must be giving the board some direction.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not think there is any desire to be too prescriptive about the operations of the college at this stage although I can say - let me put it this way - if there was not a board, it would be the supposition of the government that the Early Childhood program would provide the necessary workers, the trainees, to oversee the operation of the day care. There would be an attempt to ensure that the day care was run competitively with other operations in the city, so that it would not provide an undue competitive advantage to other day cares. That would be the governments preference. I think that it is important to the Board of Governors at the college that they be given, as the White Paper states clearly, some responsibility for the operations of the college, without the government becoming too prescriptive about its operations.
That is the reason why we want to set a board in place.
Mrs. Firth: Perhaps the Minister could tell us when he expects these facilities to be available for use and when he expects the board to be in place. What kind of time line will the board have to make all these decisions before the facilities are being used?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I made a slight omission. The parents will be involved in the day care facility as much as possible. In the spring session, it is my intention to table an Act in the Legislature. If all goes well, the Act will be through expeditiously, and the board should be in place by May or June, 1988. The college will be open for programming in September, 1988.
Mrs. Firth: What kind of demand is there for the Early Childhood Development Program?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There seems to be a number of people who are asking me and the department to stake commitments for next year in the child care program. At this point, there seems to be sufficient demand to make it a full time course. There are indications that it ought to run on a full time basis. We will give it every consideration in our budget review and test it against other priorities of the government for expansion of existing programs.
Mrs. Firth: I was looking more specifically for numbers of people interested in taking the program. Has the department had to turn people away? Have there been full programs offered and attended fully? Is that why the government is looking at extending the program, or is it just because the Minister has had some representation made to him for commitments?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There has been an increased demand apart from the controversy that was emanated in the media in the last month and a half or so. There has been some demand put forward by the public for the expansion of the program. The controversy recently has probably made the demand more acute. The decision has not been made as to whether or not the program will be expanded to full time. We will make that decision fairly soon because the Operation and Maintenance Budget review is being undertaken currently. Decisions, at the departmental stage, are being made now for review by Ministers next month.
Mrs. Firth: Within the Department of Education there are some concerns about the budget being broken up for other projects. Say you have money left over in one area and decide to use it in another. Can the Minister tell me if this happens very often? It would have to be done by Management Board, and the decision would have to be made within Management Board to reallocate funds. Can the Minister tell us if this happens occasionally or frequently within his department?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I confess I do not entirely understand what the Member is asking. In general terms there has clearly been a desire to squeeze what one might unkindly call fat in the department. The smaller degree of lapsing of dollars in the department in the last year is testimony to that fact. Not all expenditures have to go through Management Board, as I am sure the Member is aware. Expenditures within programs can be made at the ministerial level, or delegated to the department level. Expenditures between programs have to be approved by Management Board.
If the Member wants to give me some indication of an instance she has in mind or the direction she wants to take the discussion, I might be able to provide her with more solid information.
Mrs. Firth: I will give the Minister an example. The department started out with a good cash flow at the beginning when they determined the landscaping to be done. By the time tenders were put and awarded, I had a concern raised that there was no money left so tenders were never awarded. Can the Minister tell us if that is so, and if that is the case, why is it happening? Are there other instances where it has happened within his department?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I cannot think of a large number of cases. I am not totally familiar with the actual tendering on the college site. The project management work was done under the auspices of Government Services. I am familiar with the expenditures made and requests made of the Department of Education for expenditures for the college, but the actual tendering is not my forte.
There were some cost overruns on some projects, cement, for example, on the industrial wing. This was not expected. Government Services and Education are going to have to try their best to live within the budgets allocated to them, and if they are faced with increases in certain components that run over what was originally budgeted, they will have to make some hard decisions about whether or not they can afford all projects in a given year.
At the same time we may have, for the sake of efficiency, tendered a number of projects. I know that Government Services and Community and Transportation Services do not like to tender projects unless they have the cash in hand, as a general rule. There have been times in the past when the tenders came in, and if the bids were overbudget, the department has decided not to proceed with those projects.
If the Member has a very specific question about a specific tender at a specific time, I could ask the department to research it and bring back that information.
Mrs. Firth: I have some circumstances, but I think it is incumbent on the Minister to come back and say whether the projects are being tendered appropriately and whether there are cost overruns, and, if there are, where they get the money from - for the cement, for example. I understand they ran out of money for the landscaping project as well.
If they are not sticking to the letter of the Financial Administration Act and they are having to move money, they are having to do that by Management Board approval. I am interested in what that process is and how they determine that if there are cost overruns, where they get the extra money from. Do they just take it from another project that has a good cash flow at the beginning because it has not been tendered yet? How do they make these decisions? How are they priorized?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: First of all, they have to priorize the projects, and that is true of both departments for which I am responsible. That is part of the operation and management of a budget. There are things that are not entirely within their control, and they have to set priorities.
With respect to landscaping - as the Member has identified the landscaping specifically as an issue that has been brought to her attention and an issue for which she wants some more specific information - I will seek that information. I hope the Member is not asking for me to provide blanket information on all aspects of the whole college, which probably involves hundreds of contracts and subcontracts being let.
If there is some other project besides landscaping, I will be more than happy to provide that information. I regard that as a duty, and I will come back with the detail the Member has requested.
Mrs. Firth: It is not only we who are interested in that information. I understand the government is also, after some of the newspaper articles we have seen. We do not have to get into the great detail now, I am sure we will have lots of time in the next two or three or four months to get into all that detail.
Can the Minister tell us what the acceleration of construction at Yukon College was? What did it include?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It included the accelerated work on the three wings that are currently almost complete: the academic wing, the wing that incorporates the library and food services, and the industrial wing. The funding was required for that and for the redesign of the residence.
Chairman: Is there any further general debate?
Mr. Phelps: There is always a problem with this kind of thing. We have a situation where the Capital expenditures for the Department of Education is over by $1,438,000. At the end of the year, after the money is all flopped around, we say it was Yukon College. The problem I have with that kind of statement in something like the Capital Estimates, is that it is misleading, taken by itself.
If the public was to pick this up or if the media were to skim through it and report it this way, it would appear to the public that Yukon College was over $1.4 million and that was all that happened in the department. Thanks to the newer format that was developed in the Public Accounts Committee this year, a person can turn to schedule 12, page 43, and see exactly what happened. There were a bunch of projects that were under budget, and there were a bunch of areas that were over budget. It all balanced out. There was over a page of these, 40 or 50 individual capital projects, and we ended up with the total needed by the department, $1.4 million.
What is misleading about it is, taken by itself, Yukon College-New Construction was over by $919 thousand, not $1.4 million. I am simply raising this because it ought to be said, and what better time or place to say it than in Committee of the Whole dealing with estimates, on a Wednesday night at 8 p.m. at night. This is a test. The first person from the media who phones me will convince me that person is doing a little work on their own.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not know what is more significant about those comments, the test on the media or what the Member was talking about. It is being said at 7:55 p.m. on a Wednesday night, but it was also said at 5:00 p.m. on a Tuesday afternoon. Yesterday I was very clear, with respect to the projects, on how this figure netted out. I explained the public school expenditure as well as the librarys under expenditure, and I was prepared to give a detailed breakdown. There has been no attempt by this government to disguise the information for Members, and schedule 12 is reflective of that.
The problem that we always have when we try to provide a quick reference for an expenditure - when you try to encapsulize it on one line - is that ultimately the whole story is not explained. The story is explained on page 43, and one can see that Yukon College new construction is by far the most significant item in front of us. I am fully in favour of this kind of information being provided to the House, and we have to give a lot more of it.
Mr. Phelps: I was not attempting to cause any embarrassment to the government or to the Member. It is a problem when the supplement booklet is on its own. It is misleading, whether someone takes the time to listen to the Ministers remarks at 4:55 p.m. on a Tuesday afternoon in Committee of the Whole or at 7:55 p.m. on a Wednesday night in Committee of the Whole. That is all trivia, and an aside. It is a point that is worth mentioning because it is somewhat misleading if someone sees this document and takes it to be the gospel.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The point was appropriate made by the Opposition. I hope you will concede, though, that in my introductory remarks I did reference the public accounts and did make quite clear that the actual detailed information was contained in a document already made available to the Members.
Mr. Phelps: It is 7:55 on Wednesday night and I am sure that when the Government Leader reads my remarks tomorrow morning in the Blues he will see I covered that off.
On Yukon College
Chairman: Is there any further general debate at 7:55? That being the case, the first line item, and the only line item, deals with Yukon College, in the amount of $1,438,000. Is this clear? So then the total of that much carries as well.
Yukon College in the amount of $1,438,000 agreed to
On Department of Health and Human Resources
Now, we will return to the Operation and Maintenance votes, Department of Health and Human Resources, in the amount of $1,286,000. This information is found on page 13.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I will act for the permanent Minister. This supplementary is for an expenditure to Hospital Services and $1,250,787 pertains to increases in territory hospital expenditures, specifically in regard to the Whitehorse General Hospital and $70,213 pertains to increased expenditures for out of territory medical services provided by physicians.
Mrs. Firth: The variance explanation says it is largely due to the volume increase in collective bargaining settlement and the increased costs in the health insurance program. Now the Minister has indicated to me that that was for in territory hospital expenditures at Whitehorse General. How much was the collective bargaining settlement increase?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The salaries and employee benefits overexpenditure here is $797,000 odd dollars.
Mrs. Firth: Could I direct a question to the Minister of Finance. I do not notice that in any other area, why was it so significant in this department and yet it is not mentioned in any other areas? The representative can answer for the Minister of Health.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I can answer that. These are hospital employees at the Whitehorse General Hospital and that process of establishing the salary is entirely different than for the territorial government employees.
Mrs. Firth: Is the Minister talking about the federal employees? Are we paying their salaries?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Yes, basically. We pay a figure that is determined by the federal government for the operation of the hospital, and that includes the salaries of the hospital staff.
Mrs. Firth: Has that been in effect for a while; is that something I cannot remember?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Yes, it has always been in effect.
Mr. Lang: I find this interesting. I always thought they were federal employees and were paid by the federal government. Are we paying the federal government a lump sum?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Yes, there is a similar situation for the RCMP.
Mrs. Firth: I have had my memory refreshed; I remember that now.
Could the Minister tell us why the hospital expenditures have increased so much, other than the salaries - the in-territory hospital usage?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The contract settlement determined it. It had been under negotiation with the Federal Treasury Board and the employee union for several years and the settlement resulted in retroactive pay for prior years that was paid in this year.
Mrs. Firth: I was referring specifically to the volume increase. Does that mean volume of patients in the hospital?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Yes, for supplies and other expenses, $121,000, and for medical and surgical supplies, $116,000.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister tell us how much the higher than anticipated costs for out of territory positions were and why that went up?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: This supplementary request resulted from a technical change in accounting practices for year end accruals, which was made possible by a new computerized claims system that was recommended initially by the Auditor General.
Mrs. Firth: Does it also involve the fact that there were more Yukoners going out of the territory for doctors services? If that is the case, can the Minister indicate how much more and what the cost of it was?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Not more people, but we were able to track costs and attribute it to the proper year more precisely. The total amount is $70,000.
Department of Health and Human Resources in the amount of $1,286,000 agreed to
On Public Service Commission
Chairman: Details are on page 17 of your books.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have previously explained to the House that the $818,000 is a non-cash item. It is for employee leave accruals. The calculation is done at year end. This years calculation showed that the liability for this item carried on the governments books required an increase. This appropriation is the result. The sum of the liability is a function of the years of service of government employees and the rates of pay. I think Members will recall last year that we first established it at $10 million, as required by the Auditor General.
Mr. Lang: Can the Minister explain to us why we have an actual expenditure showing in the Public Accounts of the prior years adjustments of $161,000 and, then, in the under expenditures we have it designated as being over $161,000.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: It is $161.00 for prior years adjustment.
Mr. Lang: In reading this, we did not spend as much on recruitment and training as we thought we were going to. Could the Minister explain why? There is $100,000 difference.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The estimate for recruitment will never be perfectly accurate, as it will depend on the number of vacancies that occur in the year and the number of positions we fill, the number that we are able to recruit locally, as opposed to outside hires. As the Member will know, outside hires are considerably more expensive to recruit than Yukon hires. With the best will in the world, it is very difficult to perfectly accurately predict the amount of training that we require. We get many short courses offered by the government. Projecting accurately would be quite difficult.
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister undertake to have an examination done on the management side of the government, with respect to the hires of the past year? How many were from outside of the Yukon and how many were done inside the Yukon? Not for today, but during the Main Estimates later on.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: If the Member would be willing to wait until year end I believe I could give a report for this year in progress, at the end of this year - in other words in the spring Estimates. Then I will have a calculation on that. For the year past we had 95 percent local hire, that was for all positions. I am not sure what the breakdown would be for management positions, but I could take a look at it for last year if the Member is interested.
Mr. Lang: I would appreciate it for last year, because when you deal with percentages it becomes very deceiving. The area of management is a cause of concern and it is something that should be looked at.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have no objection to that.
Public Service Commission in the amount of $818,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance in the total amount of $2,696,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance and Capital in the total amount of $4,134,000 agreed to
On Sums Not Required This Appropriation
Mr. Lang: When you look at Public Accounts, one thing that comes to mind and has to do with Renewable Resources - which is not part of the estimates we are dealing with, but an example - is the Watson/Wheaton Subregional Workshop for roughly $20,000. I do not think we ever had a debate on that and I would like to know what it was. I assume I can ask this in general debate in the Department of Renewable Resources when we get to it? I do not want to hold up proceedings, I just want to have some freedom so if questions of that nature come up we can put them to the Minister in charge.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: That would be a reasonable time to explore that because I think Members do know about the Watson/Wheaton Planning Project. That would be quite acceptable. I believe Members will find that much of the detail they would normally ask questions about for supplementary in mid-year, such as the next one we are going to, is in fact answered in quite substantial detail in the Public Accounts that have already been tabled - and will allow for questions such as the Member has just put.
Sums Not Required This Appropriation in the amount of $18,333,000 is agreed to
On Net Total
Net Total of $14,199 agreed to
On Clause 2
Clause 2 agreed to
On Clause 3
Clause 3 agreed to
Clause 1 agreed to
Title agreed to
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I move that you report that Bill No. 2, entitled Sixth Appropriation Act, 1986-87 without amendment.
Motion agreed to
Bill No. 3 - Third Appropriation Act, 1987-88
Hon. Mr. Penikett: During second reading I stated that the purpose of this Bill is to vote estimated expenditures for the 1987-88 fiscal year, in excess of the spending authority previously provided for in the Main Estimates. The additional funding requirement is $8,279,000. This is made up of increased Operation and Maintenance requirement of $2.1 million and an increased capital requirement of $6.2 million. The $8.3 million requirement will be financed from our accumulated surplus that stood at $77,589,000 at March 31 of the current year.
Almost half of the requested Operation and Maintenance funding will be allocated to the Department of Government Services to better enable it to respond to the needs of the governments other departments. In 1987-88 Operation and Maintenance Mains provided for no increase in expenditures to this department over actual 1987-88 expenditures, and as a result of inflation and growing demands upon the departments services, it is necessary to provide more operating funds. Also included is the funding to implement the Yukon Business Incentive Policy.
As a result of our growing student population - the population in Whitehorse showed an increase of ten percent from March, 1986 to March 1987 - the Department of Education has found it necessary to increase it complement of teachers, and slightly over $300,000 is for the Public Schools Program. More funds are required by the Department of Justice to support the activities of the Human Rights Commission, and the Legislative Assembly requires an increased appropriation to cover pay increases. Lesser sums are required by the Department of Community and Transportation Services and the Womens Directorate. Responsible Ministers will speak on these items during this general debate, or as Members put questions on the lines.
In the capital area, Members will recall that no local employment opportunities program monies were voted in the 1987-88 Capital Mains. This program has proven to be very successful as a means to providing employment, especially in the winter months, and to upgrade community facilities and standards throughout the Yukon. We are therefore requesting over $2.1 million to continue the program this winter.
Under the Engineering Services and MOT airports agreement, $801,000 in recoverable contract services work for the federal government is being requested in the Department of Community and Transportation Services, $2.9 million is included in the Supplementary for much needed work on the Carcross and GA Jeckell schools, and $2.1 million is being requested for Yukon College.
These Supplementaries contain the first request for appropriations for the new Yukon arts and cultural centre, to be built on the Yukon College site. This will be a fine facility, of which all Yukoners can be proud and enjoy.
As I mentioned at second reading, funding in the Department of Health and Human Resources for the extended health facilities is being reduced due to the uncertainty of the federal governments plans with respect to a new Whitehorse General Hospital. Enough funds have been left in the program to allow planning for the facility to proceed.
My ministerial colleagues and I will be pleased to speak in more detail on any of these items in response to questions from Members opposite. As Members who have been through the Supplementary process before will know, this is a Period Four Supplementary, so offsets are not identified as they might be in a Period Nine Supplementary, when those are more clear. Money is identified in this Supplementary that is for projects or programs that we know are going ahead.
Mr. Lang: The Minister referred to some other document that would give us a further break down with respect to the dollars that the government is requesting here. I think it would have more description about what we are dealing with here. I pick out the Department of Community and Transportation Services as an example, where it has Local Employment Opportunities program for $2 million, Engineering Services Agreement for $711,000, Airports for $90,000, but there is no break down on them. Those are pretty general headings with respect to the dollars that are being requested. What document did he refer to at the outset? He referred to a Public Accounts document that would give us further breakdown.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I must have been communicating badly. I did refer, in respect to the final Supplementary for 1986-87, that there was the Public Accounts Report, which would provide the Members with detail. No such equivalent document exists in mid-year for this fiscal year. The only respect in which I indicated more detail would be available would be from Ministers by way of questions from Members in the House.
The line descriptions in this Supplementary for Bill No. 3 are the same lines that appear in the Capital Mains and the Operation and Maintenance Mains. That is consistent with those lines.
Mr. Lang: With respect to the Supplementary before us for 1986-87, how many more permanent person years have been created by the departments since we passed the 1986-87 Mains?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The person year consequences of this Supplementary, if that is what the Member is asking, since the 1987-88 Main Estimates, are 13.2 person years created in the government; 3.8 of these have been created in the Capital area, and consist of 2.8 person years in Community and Transportation Services for the extension of seven term positions to March 31, 1988.
In Economic Development, there is one person year for a coordinator under the Small Business Incentive Agreement. That is the new sub-agreement that the Members are reminded that we signed with the federal government several months ago.
And which brings that to a 3.8 person year total.
The 8.4 person years have been created in the Operation and Maintenance area for teachers, of which there are 7.9 (person years), and remedial tutors, .5 (person years). As I indicated earlier, these are required as a result of the increased student population.
Chairman: Any further general debate?
Mr. Lang: We had a debate to some degree and I would just like to ask a general question of the Minister of Government Services, since he does have a number of issues that he is addressing in the House here. Is he going to be in a position to address the question of government space, and what the governments intentions are if they are going to continue make increases in the civil service - where they are going and where they are going to put them, because we had that study.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Yes, in the Capital Mains.
Chairman: The first department is the Yukon Legislative Assembly, the Operation and Maintenance Votes. The information appears on page 8 of your Estimates book. Any general debate on the Yukon Legislative Assembly Department?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I believe most Members will be well acquainted with the main reason for this increase, but I can get the break down if Members wish. There is $128,500 required for an increase in MLA pay for amendments made in the Legislative Assembly after the spring sitting; $10,000 required to cover the cost of the legislative internship program which was initiated by the Members Services Board this spring; $43,000 required to cover an increased allocation for funds to government Private Members. This is a result of a decision of the Members Services Board that the formula for determining the funding for research and clerical services available to Opposition Caucuses should apply on an equal basis to government Private Members. There is $24,000 required to cover increased travel cost for Members as a result of amendments to the Legislative Assembly Act made again during the spring, and $25,000 required to cover other costs related to the sittings of this House.
Chairman: Any further general debate?
Mrs. Firth: The other costs for the sittings, is that something like Hansard recording, or what is it?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Part of it is involved in the spring sitting that will be held in Dawson City. I do not have a more detailed break down on that but I could request it, if Members wish.
Mr. Lang: Just to go a little further on the sitting in Dawson: is it not the intention to be sitting there for two or three days, and then we would be coming back? I would just like the situation clarified a little bit.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I assume there will be some discussion between House Leaders about this but I had assumed something like the Throne Speech and proroguing a day sitting. Again, I think there have not been discussions between the House Leaders on this and I think that there should be before I announce what the arrangements will be.
Mrs. Firth: That raises an interesting question. Does the Government Leader know what the announcements are going to be before the House Leaders have sat, what the arrangements are going to be if the money has already been identified?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I know that this House by a resolution has expressed the will to sit in Dawson City. I know that as a result of informal discussions it was decided that it would be better to do it in the spring than to do it for the fall sitting. I know that we normally sit in March. I know that has been anticipated, in the spring. Beyond that, I assume I will have some say about what day in March but presumably there are arrangements - such as whether we sit just before a weekend in order to allow Members to travel back over the weekend in order to continue the Session the following Monday. Such matters, I think, properly ought to be the subject of some discussion between House Leaders and not something I am going to make a decision about unilaterally.
Yukon Legislative Assembly in the amount of $231,000 agreed to
On Community and Transportation Services
Chairman: We will deal with the Operation and Maintenance votes first in the amount of $214,000.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The explanation is quite simple, although reaching this conclusion was complex. This was exclusively for the community services program, and within that program this is exclusively for the operating costs of the Dawson water and sewer system in this fiscal year. I believe I indicated, and if I did not I am indicating now, that the amount budgeted was up until the end of the agreement, which was to expire at the end of August this year. That was what the department had budgeted for, not knowing what the arrangements would be beginning in September of this year. That had not been negotiated when the Operation and Maintenance Budget had been developed in December 1986, and approved in this Legislature in March or April of this year. This funding is exclusively for the Dawson sewer and water agreement. Some minor repairs were undertaken as per our commitments, hookups and things that we undertook to do. It is all included in this particular amount - Operation and Maintenance repairs, not capital.
Mr. Lang: What is the total amount for that program then for 1987-88, for the whole year? I do not have the numbers up to the end of August. The Minister alluded to the fact that we had voted some dollars for that, and then we had to come in for this amount. What is the total amount?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That is a good question. If the Member would mind having a few minutes for coffee, I will bring the big Operation and Maintenance Budget down and provide that information.
Mr. Lang: I would appreciate that. Could you also provide the breakdown of the capital costs for this year, 1987-88? What are the repairs to the water and sewer going to cost? They should be two separate subtitles.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The only repairs we are talking about would be Operation and Maintenance repairs in the classic definition of Operation and Maintenance repairs versus capital repairs. The capital works that we would have done on the system would have been approved in the budget. I might be able to provide an indication of what those were right now.
I will bring that back rather than waste time.
Chairman: We will now recess for 15 minutes.
Chairman: The Committee of the Whole will now come to order.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The total vote for this program is $943,000, an increase of $214,000. In the case of Dawson water and sewer, we have to understand that the grant is provided on a calendar year basis and not on a fiscal year basis, even though we vote our money on a fiscal year basis. We voted $172,000 in the Operation and Maintenance Mains to finish off the governments Operation and Maintenance obligations under the existing agreement that expired on September 8, 1987.
The $172,000 that we voted ended our obligations under the old agreement. The $214,000 that we vote now is to meet our obligations for the balance of this fiscal year, but the new agreement calls for $242,000 in the calendar year, 1988.
Mr. Lang: What was the last figure again for the calendar year of 1988?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It was $242,000. The figures I have for capital are rough, so if the Member want precise figures, I can give them to him tomorrow. The 5th Avenue replacement was undertaken last year, but it ran over into the early spring of this year. That was in the neighbourhood of $500,000. The Block Y extension was budgeted at $450,000, our share on a 90/10 percent basis. The actual expenditures, because of the tendering, were only $340,000 to the Yukon government this summer. There were miscellaneous capital expenditures of a very small nature that did not total more than $20,000. I do not have a more detailed figure than that.
Mr. Lang: I appreciate the Ministers willingness to try to convey the information to us. You will have to bear with us with respect to asking general questions, because the information here is pretty limited.
Has all the $840,000 that the Minister just outlined for Capital been voted in the 1987-88 Capital Mains?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes, that was all voted in the current year Mains. As I mentioned, the Fifth Avenue project was to be undertaken during the construction season of 1986. It was constructed late in that year and ran over into the beginning of this fiscal year, so there was some Capital expenditures that would have to be made in this Capital year for Fifth Avenue. All the monies were either covered under the 1986-87 Capital Mains or the 1987-88 Capital Mains.
Mr. Lang: There was some thought at one time that there was some accountability by someone with respect to the professional advice that was given to the government for the purpose of the installation of that system. Was there any foul up with respect to this $15 million investment that was taken on by the government of the day plus the municipality of the day? There have been some severe problems with it. Is the government following up in any way with respect to that aspect of it?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: In one important respect, yes. As Members will know from the agreement that was struck, the government will cost share obvious faults to the system on a climbing balance. The governments share of the cost sharing will be on the remaining useful life of the system.
In agreeing to that, like any other warranty, we insisted that a preventive maintenance plan, which we would oversee, be undertaken to ensure that all the proper normal maintenance is undertaken on the system. That was agreed to in the agreement, and the Municipal Engineering Branch has given indication to the City of Dawson what the terms of that preventive maintenance plan actually are.
Mr. Lang: I understand it was in historical terms that there may well have been some recourse legally for the government with respect to falling back on the professional advice that the government had paid good money for with respect to the system being implemented and installed. There was quite a documented history on the system. Is the government looking at any legal recourse of any kind with respect to the system?
Hon. Mr. McDonald:To my understanding, the answer is no at this point. There is a very significant difference of opinion between the Mayor of Dawson and the municipal engineering branch with respect to the operations of that make up or the engineering quality of that particular system. The Mayor of Dawson seems to feel, for reasons he has made clear to the Member opposite at one point at least, that the system had major flaws.
The municipal engineering branch feel that there were some flaws in the system that had been rectified. They also feel that the system on balance, as per engineered, is state of the art, and they also feel that the system should have no further failures as that which existed on 5th Avenue. So there is definitely the view that the system, as it stands right now, is as good a system as you will find anywhere, and the engineering analysis that was done was the best that could be found under the circumstances, given the governments understanding of the technology of placing a system of that sort into that kind of ground, in that climate.
Mr. Lang: I am not going into the history of it, but we will all agree that there still appears to be major flaws with the system, because the Minister has just outlined $800,000 that is being spent this year on major capital works on the system. To me that is a lot of money for a system that is relatively small in size.
Is the Minister saying that he expects to see very little major capital repairs required in the next five years? In view of the fact that 5th Avenue now has been totally rebuilt?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes, that is my expectation. First of all let me say that the Block Y extension was exactly that, an extension to the existing system, not a repair of an old one. The 5th Avenue replacement was a replacement that took place largely because of the irritant of the repairs. The repairs in themselves were not a massive expenditure, but was a considerable irritant to a town that depends on tourism to have the system dug up on and off every summer that it has been in existence. Certainly there was a decision made to proceed with the replacement for two reasons. Firstly, the digging up had a cost associated with it, but primarily the irritation involved was significant, and that is the reason we undertook those repairs. I have been assured by municipal engineering staff and those people most familiar with the system that they do not anticipate any such major expenditures to take place in the future. I say that with the full knowledge that there is no way of guaranteeing that. The words I speak tonight may come back to haunt me, but the best information from the YTG engineers indicate that there ought to be no further replacements of the sort we have experienced.
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister outline to us, since we do not have the documents, any major shifts in finances in the Capital Mains Budget. For example, since we saw it last have any new studies been undertaken or anything of that nature, or allocation of dollars to projects that were not discussed in the last Budget?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Does the Member mean Operation and Maintenance Mains or Capital Mains?
Mr. Lang: Both.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I can honestly say that I am not familiar with any major shifts in Operation and Maintenance funding in the department. When it comes to major studies undertaken I think that the plan that we established for ourselves is the plan that we have maintained both in the administration portion and the Community Services portion. I think we are going to be faced, ultimately, with some home owner grant increases and some grants-in-lieu increases but that is not wholly determined yet. I think we budgeted fairly accurately there. In Lands, there has been no major change.
I will check with the department, but at this point I can not detect anything that is called major change - and I will call for the sake of argument anything over $20,000 a major change, or anything over $10,000. I will check for the Members and I will relate it to the House.
Mr. Lang: It is difficult for us. As you look at these Supplementaries - and we are three quarters of the way through the year - things Cabinet does and Management Board does have certain authorities to move money around and nobody knows they are moving it around except for those directly affected, in most cases.
I just wanted to ask one more question about Community Services. It has to do with Porter Creek C. The government was in the process of taking legal action against the company that had put the water and sewer in there and the pavement and then subsequently, as he knows, had to be replaced. My question is: where is that court case at the present time and are we expecting a decision?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It may seem almost like an Operation and Maintenance expenditure of a permanent nature. I am not familiar with normal timetables for cases of this sort but I do know that examination for discovery is, believe it or not, still going on. I recall that a couple of municipal engineers went down to Vancouver at the end of the summer to provide evidence to the lawyers. The department is still actively pursuing the case and want the lawyers to actively pursue the case, and we will do whatever is necessary to come to a conclusion.
Mr. Lang: It has been a long, drawn out process: it now has been going on for its third year. I guess it has to be the third year and it is of some concern because we are talking a million dollars here, and my question is: is the company still in business that we are suing or are we suing the bonding company?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will have to take notice on that question, for a most recent update. The last time I checked, the company was in business. The Member is quite right: it is not only a matter of money, it is a matter of principle. There has to be a very clear lesson to all persons who do business with this government that shoddy workmanship cannot be tolerated. I realize I cannot say very much, because there more than likely will be a court case.We will pursue this case as long as it takes to ensure that the court decides who is right and who is wrong, and whose responsibility the failures of the system are.
Operations and Maintenance in the amount of $214,000 agreed to
On Capital Expenditures
Chairman: General debate?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: On the Operation and Maintenance variances, I will bring the figures back to the House tomorrow. I think what the Member was referring on the Operation and Maintenance side was whether or not the government made a conscious decision to change allocations. There were some things - like the flowing unit grants, the assessment equalization grants, water and sewer deficit grants - that may be driven higher than expected, but that does not connote a change of policy. I will still try to provide some indication of what those are, but there will be no clear indication of where the government is going to go on those until Period Nine. There will be attempts to absorb, wherever possible, expenditures within the Capital program.
The Capital Supplementary Estimates total $2,947,000. This amount is offset by $853,000 in recoveries from the Government of Canada. Supplementary funding required $2,146,000 for the projects to be undertaken through the Local Employment Opportunities Program. The program total for this year is $3 million, as has been indicated - the same as last year. Every year, this program straddles two years, and that is why the odd numbers are here for Supplementary voting.
As was the case before, it was not in the Mains. Additional funding of $711,000 has been established to increase the work possible under the Engineering Services Agreement. In response to traffic volume requirements, $701,000 of this amount has been earmarked for the Dempster Highway, and the remainder has been allocated to spot reconstruction on the south Klondike Highway. The Engineering Services Agreement is not as fully recoverable. There has been $90,000 identified to fund various Ministry of Transport airport projects at Burwash, Old Crow and Mayo. This money is fully recoverable as well. The recovery under both programs totals $853,000.
Under the Engineering Services Agreement, $403,000 was spent surfacing and installing delineators between kilometre 41 and kilometre 87. There was $209,000 spent restoring grade and surfacing between kilometre 320 and kilometre 468, a fair distance. An amount of $77,000 was spent installing new signs for 126 kilometres along the road, and $12,000 was spent on geotechnical investigations at Glacier Creek. On the South Klondike Highway, there was an increase of only $10,000 to bring the total there to $6,567,000. That was generally for spot reconstruction between kilometre 146 and kilometre 159. That is recoverable at 106 percent. The recovery for airports is greater at 110 percent.
The three projects under Airports were Burwash, which was increased by $20,000 to $37,000 for brush clearing and terrain leveling as well as for runway lighting; Old Crow is increased to $35,000 for a total of $388,000 for the covering for the fuel dispenser and runway lighting. In Mayo, there was an increase of $35,000 for landscaping, refurbishing of the lighting, brush clearing and terrain leveling and for some sidewalks for a total of $48,000 on that airport.
Those are all at this point still expenditures that are negotiated and approved by MOT. That is the total of the amounts to be voted.
Mr. Lang: I appreciate the breakdown the Minister is trying to give me, but it does not give me a good perspective of the department itself. For example, in last Estimates on the capital side we estimated $2.5 million for Roads to Resources. Did we spend $2.5 million?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: No we did not. What I will do is get an update on the program. I will find the project listing and provide tomorrow what budgets have and have not been approved. I do not even have to go to the department. I can go to my office and extract this information, but I realize it is getting late.
Mr. Lang: I appreciate the Ministers efforts. The point I want to make is that we are talking about major supplementaries for this year, recognizing that variance time is coming, yet it does not give us a full disclosure unless we pinpoint our questions and know exactly what we are going after. For example, I know a decision was made on the McIntyre Subdivision. With the change in that road and various other things, how does that affect the budget? There has to be an effect somewhere. X dollars were voted last year, and although it was a loan situation in that particular case because we hoped to recover our money, with that decision obviously some capital dollars are going to be attributed. That is a specific, do you have an answer to that?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: As you know, most of the votes are for lines for land development or some such line like that, or for a particular project. Even though we may have some capital program, such as Prospectors Assistance, we may look at a certain point of the year that we may reach the limit, and we can make some choices here, such as to cut off the program, or some such thing.
We will try and make sure we can cut and trim. If we go a little bit over there, then we can move some money later in the year to adjust. It is Period Nine before we get to that decision. In Period Four, we are looking at a situation such as identified here - LEOP because it is not in the Mains, and if we are going to continue that program, we should put it in the Mains next year. You could put it in the Main Estimates rather than the Supplementary. We are changing the college project by proceeding with the arts centre. That sum has been identified now, because it would be inappropriate to proceed in a substantial way with that kind of expenditure without some kind of authorization from the House. As the Member who was a Minister for a long time will know, by Period Nine, we will be telling departments that if they look like they are going to have an overrun somewhere, they have to find an offset someplace else and, when they have identified that offset, to come back to Management Board and show how they will still not go over the total budget.
You are not always going to be successful with those instructions, but they are nonetheless given. That will be our effort and, at Period Nine, we hope that we will have not only the areas where there have been expenditures that have gone over what was originally projected, but you will also have identified offsets in areas where we are spending less than we originally budgeted, and we will be able to have a budget that more closely resembles the original projection brought to the House in terms of its totals.
Mr. Lang: Over the course of the year, the government makes certain decisions. As an example, a project that is estimated in the 1986-87 Capital Mains is going to cost $1 million; it will go to tender and, three months later, we find out it is $500,000 because we have scaled down the project for whatever reasons. There is $500,000 that was voted for that project with the Management Board directives and the Financial Administration Act and the authority vested in Cabinet. That $500,000 can be shuffled off somewhere else through Management Board direction.
I am knowledgeable that we voted $1 million and that I have been given - by good faith in the governments best estimate - what it is going to cost. A year and a half later, I find out that it cost $500,000 because of our procedure with bookkeeping and everything else to try to follow through. I would make some representation to the government that, when the decision is to move monies over an amount of $20,000 or $30,000, at that time as a matter of course, Members of the House should be made aware that monies are moving from one area of the Budget to another.
So we are aware that this is happening. Otherwise we get into the House and start asking questions such as I am asking. I appreciate the spirit in which the Minister is taking my questions, but I would imagine that it is very frustrating on his behalf - that he has to appreciate our frustration because we are not aware of what happened to those dollars.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I understand the spirit in which the question is being asked but I think the Member opposite will also understand, remembering from his days as a Minister, that there may not be those substantial decisions that he is talking about being made until Period Nine. For example, you may have a project which is originally budgeted for $.5 million, and I have a number of programs in the Economic Development vote last year where money was returned because we did not spend what was originally estimated. In some cases that was because programs were new and in some cases it was because there was not the demand that we had originally anticipated. This year we had a very peculiar circumstance that I will share with the Member. There was a period during the year when it looked like federal monies, because of problems with DRIE, were about to dry up. We had a whole bunch of cost shared programs with the federal government, and as the federal money dried up our ability to spend the money that we had voted would shrink. I was having, at that point, to take a look at some kind of contingency, some kind of alternative about how we could get the money out that we wanted for certain purposes, even though the federal share would not be there. I was retooling our programs. As it so happened, the problem in DRIE has not been completely solved, but substantially solved, and I did not have to make those changes. Had I made those changes in time for Period Four, they would have been before the House. If we still had a situation that I had to do that retooling because of some other eruption or unforeseen event - for example, take money out of cost shared programs and put them into ones which are 100 percent YTG dollars so that we are essentially retooling our budget so we can get the Economic Development dollars out into the business community - then I would have brought a supplementary forward during Period Four. If we still have to do such a thing, we will do it in Period Nine, but that is the point in the year, particularly with the construction programs, where we really are getting some kind of sense of where we are going.
Mr. Lang: I recognize that at some point some of these decisions are made as late as January for the purpose of the preparation of the budget in the spring, or even February. What I am asking is for those decisions made earlier, where there is an amount of dollars shifted, what would be wrong with the Members of the House being told how those public monies were being spent as opposed to sitting in here grilling each individual Minister to find out where the dollars went? It may save time in the House. If a decision is taken at the Management Board Level to reallocate $.5 million from one project to another, make it so that the Members know. It is public information and is going to be public at one time or another, so why is it not public then?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: When we make major changes, and it comes to Period Nine, it looks like we have a serious overage here because the concrete is more expensive than was expected on a project, or we were able to do the project for much less than we budgeted, we do make those adjustments, and we will be reporting them to the House. At Period Four, we have not made those adjustments yet, because the Period Four supplementary is mainly identifying areas where, for one reason or another, we will need more money than was originally voted. In one or two cases - I cite the case of the extended care facility - we now know that that is not going ahead as originally projected because of the federal indecision about the hospital. We have reported that to the House now and we have. We are not at the point yet where we are moving $20,000 items between lines or between votes. When we get to that point in Period Nine, we will advise the House.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I did have the information on how much was committed to Roads to Resources projects this year. The amount is $1,605,425 to date. It may be that this program will be under spent again this year. It has not been for lack of trying to encourage applications if the program is under spent. We have also tried to encourage applications from a variety of sectors, not only the mining sector, which has taken up the major portion of the funds. They have taken up a major portion of the funds because they have been more sophisticated in the art of making application and have been able to estimate well the construction costs for roads. Other industry sectors are not as sophisticated in road building.
There are excellent reasons why the mining industry has taken, what some people may consider, more than their share. We have not tried to limit it by industry; it has basically been those applications that come in, are legitimate and meet the program criteria are the ones that are approved. We have been trying to encourage other sectors, the agriculture sector, the forestry sector, people who want to construct wood lot access roads, even fishing and tourism to take advantage of the program. I have given direction to the Selection Committee, chaired by the Deputy Minister of Community and Transportation Services, to become more proactive and make the program better known to the public.
On the question of McIntyre and the question generally that the Member mentions, there are times, of course, when the project will not go ahead, for a variety of reasons. The accounting is not always done at this point; sometimes in terms of moving money around or moving money out, from one line to another, but quite clearly, some projects have come in well over budget and simply the decision is made not to try to proceed with them. Certainly the Kusawa Lake road was one of example, the Keno City fire hall was another example that I am familiar with just off the top of my head. Those projects simply cannot go ahead, and the money is going to have to be reserved if the projects are to go ahead in the next year; decisions are going to have to be made whether or not to re-vote that money for the next fiscal year, and perhaps downscale the project or do something else to try to bring the tender bids into line.
Mr. Chairman, I move that we report progress on Bill No. 3.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Porter: I move that the Speaker now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I now call the House to order.
May the House have a report from the Chairman of the Committee of the Whole?
Mr. Webster: The Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 2, Sixth Appropriation Act, 1986-87 and directed me to report same without amendment. Further, Committee has considered Bill No. 3, Third Appropriation Act, 1987-88 and directed me to report progress on same.
Speaker: You have the report from the Chairman of the Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Mr. Porter: I move that the House do now adjourn.
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. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 9:28 p.m.
The following Sessional Papers were tabled on December 2, 1987:
Inventory of Yukon Housing Corporation Units (McDonald)
Memorandum dated November 30, 1987, from Director of Court Services to hon. Roger Kimmerly, Minister of Justice, entitled Letter to Bill Thomson (Justice of the Peace) (Kimmerly)
Memorandum dated July 21, 1987, from Deputy Minister of Justice to Director of Legal Services regarding eligibility based on age of Justices of the Peace (Kimmerly)