Monday, January 4, 1988 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. At this time we will proceed with Prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.
Introduction of Visitors.
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Speaker: I have for tabling a report from the Auditor General on Any Other Matter for the year ended March 31, 1987. Are there any Returns or Documents for Tabling?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have for tabling the Annual Report of the Department of Education Public Schools Branch for the 1986-87 Fiscal Year.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have for tabling a number of Legislative Returns.
Speaker: Are there any Petitions?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am pleased to respond to the Petition tabled before the Legislature on December 15, 1987 concerning the construction of two duplexes on Bamboo Crescent in Whitehorse.
Members will recall the Yukon Housing Corporation had gone to tender for the construction of the two duplexes following consultation with the Whitehorse Housing Authority and municipal government. The petition requested that the decision to construct these social housing units be reconsidered. As promised during Question Period on December 16, 1987, I addressed the situation with the Yukon Housing Corporation and sought its position on this matter. Yukon Housing Corporation officials have taken a close look at the petition and have reviewed the concerns expressed by individuals and in the media. They noted that the concern is not with the future tenants of the units, a fact which is confirmed in letters and news stories. Similarly, the expressed concern does not relate to the density of the houses to be built, nor to their quality and design. The area is appropriately zoned and the houses are designed and constructed in a manner which will complement the neighbourhood. The conclusion is, therefore, that the petitioners are concerned about the way that the houses will be managed. If this concern is based on the way in which social housing was managed in the past, it might be understandable; however, it is important to look at what Yukon Housing has done to bring the previously much neglected social housing portfolio into shape and what is now being done to ensure that the social housing projects remain assets to their neighbourhoods in which they are located.
Prime examples of the upgrading work being carried out by the Corporation on the social housing stock can be found in downtown Whitehorse. There are similar examples in the communities. This type of work was undertaken during the past year and will be continued until the problems of the past have been dealt with. Earlier in 1987, a comprehensive preventative maintenance program was started by the Yukon Housing Corporation, under each unit in the Housing portfolio was inspected four times each year. Small repairs are carried out right away and larger jobs are scheduled as part of the capital upgrading program. Extensive check-in and check-out procedures are followed for tenants starting and leaving tenancy in social housing units. Frequent income reviews and tenant support by Whitehorse Housing Authority staff further serve to ensure close contact between the tenants and management personnel.
Based on the foregoing, the government has concluded that effective measures are now in place to minimize the kinds of problems that appear to be the major concern of those who signed the petition. I discussed this matter at length with the Yukon Housing Corporation officials, prior to the announcement of December 18, 1987 that the project would proceed. I support the course of action taken by the Yukon Housing Corporation.
For the information of the Members of this House, the bids received for the construction of the duplexes are being analyzed at this time. A decision by Yukon Housing Corporation on an award of contract will be made in the near future. I will be pleased to keep Members up to date on developments.
Speaker: Introduction of Bills? Are there any Notices of Motion for Production of Papers? Are there any Notices of Motion? Are there any Statements by Ministers?
This then brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: Ross River arena
Mr. Phelps: The cost of the Ross River Arena was originally estimated at $750,000. It is now over $1.5 million and is climbing. I understand that the Minister of Community and Transportation Services had a meeting with residents in Ross River on December 21, 1987, and at that time, he recommended that a process be set up that would include a steering committee of citizens of Ross River. Has this steering committee been set up?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The intent of the steering committee is to review, on an ongoing basis, the status of construction as it transpires over the years to come. The Member made reference to the fact that the arena is over budget, and said that it is now $1.5 million. Unfortunately, he neglected to mention that the scope of the project also changed to include various ancillary facilities associated with the arena.
The community of Ross River has also indicated that in their long term aspirations, they would like to see other facilities joined with the arena complex. The government has agreed in principle to support such a long term venture.
Mr. Phelps: The Minister is committed to finishing the arena. I am wondering whether or not, following the meeting in Ross River, he has a more realistic figure for completion than the $150,000 he put before this Legislature prior to that meeting?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The $150,000 we put before this Legislature was the amount we anticipated spending in this particular year. That is the position the government has taken before and that is the position the government takes now.
With respect to completing the change rooms entirely, the government will, through discussions with the Community Association, determine what funding can be made available. Perhaps there will be the inclusion of the use of the LEOP as well.
Mr. Phelps: So now the Minister is telling this House that the $150,000 will not complete the arena, and he will have to find monies from some other programs to finish it. Is that what he is telling us now?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As you can probably detect from the Members questions he is demonstrating a fairly glaring ignorance of what is actually happening in Ross River. The issue at hand here is whether not only the change rooms, but whether the community hall addition will be completed. The $150,000 is for the mechanical-electrical work in the change room portion of the building and further work will be necessary either this year - if resources can be found - or next year, to do the mill work and carpentry work associated with the facility.
Question re: Ross River arena
Mr. Phelps: This is outrageous. We are sitting in this Legislature, day after day, trying to keep some kind of handle on the money this government is wasting and blowing in all directions. We are trying to find out what went wrong in Ross River, how much it is going to cost to complete the present project, and we get this kind of answer. No answer at all.
The Government Leader, at a public meeting in Ross River last fall, promised an analysis to the citizens of Ross River. The analysis was to be a complete analysis of what went wrong and who was responsible, and would find ways to ensure similar problems did not hamper future projects.
My question of the Minister is whether or not that complete, in depth analysis has been started.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The analysis that the Government Leader was referring to was the project analysis that will be conducted afterward in projects like this in the phase we were speaking about, which is the phase we are speaking about, when the arena change rooms are complete. The Member says he believes that this is a waste of money; that the government is wasting and blowing money in all directions, and refers specifically to the Ross River arena. This is a clear indication that the Conservative opposition is clearly not in favour of, as they term it, a waste of money on the Ross River arena.
The government takes a much different position on behalf of its constituents, and we are pleased to do so.
Mr. Phelps: The Minister gets more and more pathetic as he answers each question, because we were for an arena, a fairly luxurious arena. We voted $750,000 to build that arena. For him to try to hide behind that kind of rhetoric and completely illogical response is rather pathetic.
I would like to know when the analysis is going to start. Is it going to start once the $150,000 we were told was needed to complete the arena is spent, or is it going to start some time in the future when all these other methods of bringing in money in an underhanded way are spent?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I can only assume that the Member is willfully either ignoring the fact that I have stated that the scope of the project has changed, or is simply ignorant of that fact. Clearly, no matter how you look at it, the Members opposite cannot disguise the fact that they are not in favour of the project as it is conceived by the community and the government. The government is committed to completing the first phase and hopefully, over the long term, completing all phases of the project.
The post project analysis will be completed when all the existing phases by the contractor of the addition are complete. There is some minor work to be done by the contractor to complete his contract.
Mr. Phelps: Can the Minister tell this House why he travelled to Ross River and threatened the people that if they did not shut their mouths with regard to the extravagant waste of government money up there, this government would not complete the arena. Why did he do that?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I did absolutely no such thing. What I indicated to the people of Ross River, and this is on the public record in Ross River, is that they could say whatever they liked with respect to this particular project and that there were problems associated with construction that would have to be addressed. It was useful at all times to make those concerns known publicly so that remedial action could be taken. At the same time I did say that there is another political issue being fought in this Legislature and that is the fact that the government was trying to improve the facilities in rural communities and expending money that the Conservative opposition felt was unwarranted in undertaking projects that the Conservative opposition is opposed to. I indicated the government had continuing support for those projects and that we did not want to fudge the two issues, that the government supported the projects and the Conservatives did not.
Question re: Meech Lake Accord
Mr. McLachlan: I have a question of the Government Leader.
As a result of the December 23, 1987 decision by the British Columbia Appeal Court, is it the intention of this government to take the Meech Lake issue to the Supreme Court of Canada?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: We have reached no decision on that issue yet. We, with the help of our lawyers, will be studying the judgment and making that decision within the 60 days that are allowed for us to do so.
Mr. McLachlan: Is it the intention of the government to wait until all the provinces have made their decisions on that issue before proceeding with this as well?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: No, I doubt very much if all the provinces will have made their decisions within the next 60 days. As the Member opposite knows, they have up to three years to complete their considerations of the matter. The new premiere of New Brunswick has indicated that he may take the maximum allowable time to consider the matter. We will have to make a decision about whether we will appeal the court case within 60 days, as I indicated, and at this point the two track strategy that we have pursued has not involved, if you like, the events of one dictating the other. We will be going to Manitoba, Ontario and to New Brunswick to lobby. I believe I have indicated to both opposition leaders in the past that it would be my intention to underwrite a lobby from those parties to their counterparts in those Legislatures in an effort to persuade one, two or, if possible, three of the Legislatures to amend the Accord in the way we have sought.
Mr. McLachlan: Does the Government Leader have any idea how much this government has expended to date on legal costs before the considerations of the British Columbia Court of Appeal in carrying this Meech Lake case forward?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: No I do not, but I am pretty sure we do not have all the legal bills at this point. I will take the question as notice and I am sure, depending on what happens in court, I will, by the time of the spring session, be able to give an accounting of what we have spent to date.
Question re: Yukon Housing Corporation
Mr. Lang: There is a major concern that is becoming more and more evident all the time and that is the question of the policy direction of the Yukon Housing Corporation. We have homes sitting empty in Destruction Bay, and homes being sold because the Yukon Housing Corporation has not maintained them. At the same time, other houses are being built in the same community. Senior citizens homes are being built, and there are no senior citizens to move into them, and the list goes on.
The Minister stated on December 16, 1987, The Government of Yukon sets the policy for the Yukon Housing Corporation, the general policy guidelines, the principles; those have been communicated to the Corporation. Could the Minister do a favour to the general public that we represent and table those particular policy principles that he, as the Minister responsible for Housing, has communicated to this all-illustrious body?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am glad to see that the Member is finally showing some respect for the Yukon Housing Corporation. Certainly, I will table the principles and policies that I have communicated to the Corporation on behalf of the government.
Mr. Lang: Is it the policy of the government that the Yukon Housing Corporations Board of Directors are responsible for initiating and implementing policy, and where applicable, revising policy when the situation arises?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not know what the Member is referring to. There are all kinds of policies. There are policies on what kind of paper supplies we buy and on how much social housing one wants to engage in. The government has communicated the general overall policies to the Corporation. There are a number of administrative procedures that have been either deemed to be that in the classic sense, or they are incorporated into the bylaws of the Corporation. Those also guide the course of action that the Board takes.
Mr. Lang: Obviously, the Minister does not know much about the Board of Directors of the Housing Corporation. The question is very simple. Does the Yukon Housing Corporations Board of Directors initiate and implement policy, where applicable, and revise those policies when necessary? Is that the position of the government?
For example, was the decision to go ahead with the four social units on Bamboo Crescent made by the Board of Directors?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The decision on whether or not to go ahead with the social units on Bamboo Crescent, or whether they will proceed in any other community, is made in consultation with the local housing authority by the Board of Directors. The Board of Directors will be responsible for implementing the decision.
Question re: Yukon Housing Corporation
Mr. Lang: The major concern - contrary to the public statement he made - of the people in that area is the density of social housing units on that crescent. Almost 50 percent of the homes on that block will be social housing if the government goes ahead with the decision that they have made. Did the Board of Directors reconvene at a meeting to discuss the petitions and the concerns of the residents prior to making the decision to go ahead with the two duplexes?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is worthwhile to note here - the Member makes reference to the density on Bamboo Crescent - that the area that is bounded by Wann Road, Basswood and Cedar Crescent, which is the neighbourhood to which we are referring here, is going to show a social housing density increase from seven percent to 15 percent, which is, by all accounts, not an excessive density ratio. That is the reason why the decision was made in the first place to proceed.
I did not intervene with the Housing Corporation Board because they made a very good case in communicating their basic decision to me. They made a very good case that what was being done in Porter Creek and in this particular neighbourhood was, in fact, quite appropriate and had, in fact, communicated with the City of Whitehorse to ask their views and had received gestures of support from the city.
Mr. Lang: The Minister did not answer my question. My question was very simply put: Did the Board of Directors have a meeting to discuss the petition, the implications and consequences of the decision they had made earlier in respect to the obvious concerns expressed by 90 people who are citizens of the Yukon? Did the Board of Directors have a meeting?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I understand that the Board of Directors were in discussion with one another. I do not know whether they had a full meeting. I regarded the petition as being addressed to the government and made a decision based on whether or not the government should intervene in a decision that was appropriately made by the Housing Corporation Board.
Mr. Lang: So, let us get this clear about the decision making that made in respect to what is a very critical issue to those people in that area. Is the Minister telling this House that he, as the Minister of Housing, made the decision, arbitrarily, that this particular project would proceed on Bamboo Crescent?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I made the decision as Minister responsible for Housing not to intervene in a decision that had been made after consultation with the Whitehorse Housing Authority and the City of Whitehorse, taking note of the significant need in Whitehorse for housing of this kind, and of the decision that had been made by the Board of Directors of the Yukon Housing Corporation.
Mr. Lang: In other words, the Minister of Housing - I want to get this clear in the record - chose to make the conscious decision to ignore the petition that was filed in this House and to proceed with that project. Is that correct? Yes or no?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The answer is no. We did not ignore the petition. In fact, we went to great pains to understand what the petition was saying and tried to respond to the concerns of the petitioners in a manner I think is satisfactory.
Question re: Low income accommodation
Mr. Phillips: I have a question for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services as well.
The CBC reported on December 30 that the Yukon Housing Corporation is buying up houses in Whitehorse prior to the year end to rent to low income families. This flurry of government spending has inflated the prices in the popular $65,000 to $90,000 range, according to buyers. Can the Minister tell the House how many houses this Corporation has purchased in Whitehorse in the month of December, or in the last year, and the purchase price and location of each of those houses?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I can provide the exact locations of the units. Seven are projected to be purchased in this fiscal year, the current fiscal year. The units the Member is referring to are units where the paperwork has not been finalized.
Mr. Phillips: When the government seeks these houses out in the popular $65,000 to $90,000 range, does the government first look into the demand by the public before it moves into that market?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The government is trying to respond to a number of demands, one of which is from a very significant list of people who cannot afford housing. That is a demand we are also trying to respond to. That is the demand we are trying to respond to through the social housing program. We are trying to be as sensible as possible in trying to be sensitive to the market need. We purchase modestly priced houses to meet the needs of people who cannot afford decent housing, and in so doing the Corporation has found it necessary to purchase seven units. The preference in Whitehorse is to construct rather than to purchase existing housing units because of the housing shortage. The fact of the matter remained that time was running out for the year and there was a very significant demand by people who are most in need of decent housing and the government and Housing Corporation are trying to respond to that.
Mr. Phillips: Time was also running out for some individuals who were trying to purchase a home privately. Did the government realize when it ran out and purchased or made offers on all these houses that it drove the prices up dramatically on all the houses for the average Yukoners who wished to buy himself a house before year end?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am not prepared to accept the allegation that the fact that the Yukon Housing Corporation actively purchased, or is projecting to purchase seven units in this fiscal year in Whitehorse has dramatically raised the prices of the houses in Whitehorse. I do not think that is a warranted assumption in any stretch of the imagination.
In any case, the Housing Corporation has been particularly sensitive to the housing market in Whitehorse and that is the reason why they and the government have chosen as a matter of preference to construct rather than purchase in Whitehorse.
Question re: Yukon Housing Corporation
Mrs. Firth: It is known from the last questions that were raised in the Legislature that the government, through the Yukon Housing Corporation, has purchased some houses in Porter Creek. Three houses in Riverdale South have also been purchased: one on Ketza Road, one on Firth Crescent and one on Hart Crescent. More are under offer by the Yukon Housing Corporation.
Both of these areas are popular for individuals wishing to buy their own homes. They are popular residential areas. There is currently pressure in the market for houses for individual home owners. Will the Minister tell us what the policy is regarding the government purchasing houses in areas of high demand by private home owners?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I realize that the Member was reading the question. I just explained what the governments policy is. It is to try and respond to the very significant demand of housing units for people who simply cannot afford to own their own homes. That is the demand that the government is responding to because the private sector is not.
We are doing everything we can to meet the demand as expressed by a very significant waiting list, which I have communicated in detail to this Legislature already. Practically every neighbourhood in Whitehorse is considered popular these days. If we are going to construct social housing, or engage in social housing in Whitehorse, we are going to be, in some respects, seeking housing units that may be desired by individuals who want to purchase houses. We also have to be very mindful of the people who cannot afford decent housing, and the program is designed to address that.
Mrs. Firth: I am reading my questions so that I do not abuse the privileges of the House and give long speeches like the Minister just did. After that response - that literally choked me up - could the Minister tell us some specific policies. We have had people say publicly that they have lost out on buying houses because the government has stepped in and bought the houses. What is the specific policy when it comes to private home owners wanting to buy houses in residential areas, and then having to compete with the government? What is the governments policy regarding that issue?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will reiterate the policy. The policy is to engage in a level of activity to meet the needs of people who cannot afford decent accommodation within the existing budget levels that this Legislature provides. The preference of the government is to construct new homes, given the fact that there is a popularly-perceived and practically-perceived housing shortage in Whitehorse. In the event that housing cannot be constructed, the government will attempt, through the Housing Corporation, to purchases homes - if necessary as a last resort, to meet the needs of people who are in most need. There is an attempt to do that in accordance with the needs analysis that is ongoing and done by the Whitehorse Housing Authority. That determines where the prime, or optimum, locations are for social housing.
The Member for Porter Creek East is accusing me of making a speech, and the Member for Riverdale South is insisting that I provide a detailed policy response. They cannot have it both ways.
Mrs. Firth: We are asking for a simple policy direction here. We are not asking for a speech. The Minister has just gotten up and given a bunch of drivel and has said nothing as to what this governments policy is. From what this Minister has said so far today, social housing takes precedence over private housing. It does not demand what the demand for private housing is...
Speaker: Order, please. I would like to remind the Member of Standing Order No. Seven. A one-sentence preamble is allowed for each supplementary question.
Mrs. Firth: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, I will get to my supplementary question. Just to reiterate what the Minister has said: social housing takes precedence over private, no matter what.
The Minister has talked about an ongoing needs analysis. I would like to know if he is prepared to table the needs analysis?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I did not say no matter what. I said that the Housing Corporation and the Whitehorse Housing Authority attempt to develop, or, if they are required to make purchases, to do so sensitively with the housing market and as a last resort - and that is what they are attempting to do. It is a very tight housing market and any attempt to purchase any units in Whitehorse are going to meet up with someone who is also going to want to purchase that unit. But if the Member is asking me whether, if anyone in the public expresses an interest in purchasing a unit, any unit, will the Housing Corporation step back and therefore not try to meet the needs of the people who are in the most need - then the answer is no, as a general principle. That ought to be obvious, and that is the social responsibility of a responsible government.
Question re: Yukon Housing Corporation
Mrs. Firth: Again the Minister did not respond to the question. I wanted to know whether he would table the needs analysis, so I do not want to have to take up another question repeating it, Mr. Speaker. I hope you will be very liberal with me with that question.
There is already evidence that the purchase of homes by the Yukon Housing Corporation is upsetting the market. There have been people complaining publicly about that, people who have said they have lost out on housing purchases.
The Corporation is alleging that they are careful not to upset the market by buying too many units at one time. I would like to know whether the Minister is going to listen to my question or not, or if he is going to carry on a conversation?
To repeat my question. There is already evidence that the purchasing of housing by the Yukon Housing Corporation is upsetting the market and the Corporation has said that they are careful not to upset the housing market by buying too many units at one time. I would like the Minister to tell us, very briefly, what policy is in place in order that the Corporation can say that. What makes that fact?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: If the Member would like to make argumentative preambles then she is going to expect that the government, or Minister, is going to respond to an argumentative preamble.
With respect to tabling a needs analysis, to show how needs are determined in Whitehorse, I would be happy to do that.
With respect to the basic question the Member is asking, which is if there is any private sector interest or any individual interest in any unit in Whitehorse, then the Yukon Housing Corporation will not proceed to purchase the unit. I would have to say as a general proposition that the Corporation has not received that direction from this government. The Corporation has been told to be particularly sensitive to markets in the various communities, including Whitehorse. I do know for a fact that the Whitehorse Housing Corporation and the Whitehorse Housing Authority are doing their best to try to be sensitive to the markets in those communities.
Clearly, they also have to respond to a need. That is also the policy and direction of the government: to respond to the need of those people who are in most need, the people who cannot afford decent housing. They are attempting to do that as well.
Mrs. Firth: Again the Minister did not answer the question. I would like to know how the Corporation can make that comment? What fact is there to substantiate that they are careful not to upset the housing market by buying too many houses? There must be a policy or something in place.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There are a number of things involved here. If the Yukon Housing Corporation builds houses and increases the supply - that has an effect on the market, some effect. If the Yukon Housing Corporation purchases units, that has an effect on the market. What the Members are saying, because they are obviously concerned about any impact whatsoever on the market, is that the government should neither purchase nor construct houses to meet the needs of people in the lower income bracket - people who cannot afford their own homes. Clearly the policy of the government is that within the financial resources available to the Housing Corporation, it should try to address the needs of those people who are in most need of decent affordable housing to the fullest extent possible. The government has been attempting to do that. A number of these analyses have been undertaken. A federal-territorial needs analysis was done as an initial exercise by this government and by the federal government, and that laid the groundwork for determining what the needs are. There was follow-up done by the Housing Associations.
Mrs. Firth: The government should not buy or build without policies in place and it is obvious that is what is happening here. There are no policies in place, because the Minister has not been able to stand and give one definitive example of what the policy is.
The Minister said that this does not happen, they are very careful that this does not happen. Perhaps he could tell us what criteria are in place so they do not upset the housing market.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I dispute the fact that there are no policies in place. There are policies in place, and I am trying to do my best within the time constraints of Question Period to explain what the policies are.
With respect to the housing markets in the various communities, analyses are done to determine what the impact would be of trying to address the social housing needs of the people in those communities, including Whitehorse. Analyses are done to determine what the impact might be. They are done in every community to determine what the impact would be of construction. Certainly if the Member asks a specific question about a specific item, in terms of assessing what the needs are or with respect to what review the Corporation has done or with respect to assessing the impact on the market, I would be happy to table it.
Question re: NorthwesTel sale
Mr. McLachlan: Could the Minister of Community and Transportation Services tell me when the blue ribbon committee of government officials that is examining the proposed sale of Northwestel is due to submit its report to the Minister?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The interdepartmental committee reviewing the options for the government is not scheduled to report in any formal sense. It instead is to report to the government at a number of decision points, to make recommendations on how the government might proceed depending on how things transpire with the sale of Northwestel. I received correspondence from the President and Chief Executive Officer of Canadian National indicating that it is their desire to proceed with the sale through an agent, who they will be selecting by the end of January.
He indicated that it would be unlikely that any sale would take place in less than four to six months. There are a number of things that the government will have to consider in that interim period, and we will be in constant communication with our officials who will be assessing options and who will also be assessing the marketplace that will come to our attention as things transpire.
Mr. McLachlan: Will the Minister make that information available as it is developed by the committee to the rest of the MLAs, or is it still considered, at that point, to be in the realm of a Cabinet document and thus top secret?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The information that the committee will be communicating to Cabinet Ministers will be considered to be information respecting policy decisions to Cabinet and will be considered confidential. If Members wish, I will be more than happy to explain events as things transpire and I will report to the Legislature, if we are sitting, the trends that are taking place during the period that the company is up for sale.
Mr. McLachlan: Other than the interest displayed by the Government of the Northwest Territories, does this government have any idea who may be in the bidding game?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have some information that I believe is confidential, so I cannot name the other potential bidders from the south. I do not think that anyone should be surprised to discover that there are national and perhaps international telephone companies who will be looking seriously at the prospects of taking over what is at this point quite a profitable business.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed. We will proceed with Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Hon. Mr. Porter: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Government House Leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Motion agreed to
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chairman: The Committee of the Whole will now come to order. We will recess for 15 minutes.
Chairman: I will call Committee of the Whole to order.
We will continue with Bill No. 5, First Appropriation Act, 1988-89.
Bill No. 5 - First Appropriation Act, 1988-89 - continued
On Solid Waste - continued
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I think I explained all these items. Does someone want me to go over them again, just to refresh peoples memories?
There are eight projects proposed. I believe we talked a little bit about them the last day: Canyon Creek garbage dump, the garbage dump at Tagish, the Klondike Village garbage dump relocation, the Golden Horn garbage dump relocation, the garbage dump/sewage pit relocation at Carcross, the garbage dump relocation at Beaver Creek, the garbage dump relocation at Pelly Crossing, and a traditional item of miscellaneous garbage dump improvements. I recall there was a question, I believe from the Member for Kluane, about pump-outs at Beaver Creek. My information is that the garbage dump that the Department would intend to construct at Beaver Creek could handle the limited pump-outs that would take place in Beaver Creek, so that ought to reduce the O&M costs of actual pump-outs because I believe right now, as the Member indicated, the pump-outs have to be transported to Destruction Bay.
Mr. Brewster: Since the Christmas spirit and everything is here I would like to give the Minister a little recommendation. For years we have been going through the same problem of garbage dumps and that, number one, is that they are built by the Department of Highways and then the Department of Renewable Resources comes along and tells them to get out of there and to go somewhere else because there is a bear cub in it, so they go somewhere else, and then when they get this finished the foresters say you cannot burn them and clean them up, and then Renewable Resources says, well if you burn them and clean them up the bears will not be there, which is correct, but the forestry - which is a federal outfit - turns around, and I would probably make the suggestion that you get it under one control and one person, instead of about five different departments. Even the Environmental and Health Departments get in this and they are all making people relocate all over the place, and some of them are impractical. For instance, hauling sewage that far is absolutely stupid and I do not think the Minister would turn around and say that I was wrong. It is absolutely out of the world that other departments can force you to do things in garbage dumps. If you could get this under one departments control, so everybody knew who they were going to, to clean up the messes, and to see that they were done, then I think it would be a lot easier for everybody.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I agree with the Members assessment but, firstly, there is a great deal of difficulty locating the dumps and certainly, in the recent past, there have been varying opinions from Public Health officials on both the YTG and federal side as to what is the appropriate location and usage of a particular site, which at times varies with the communitys views and municipal engineerings views, as well. Clearly, in the case of the community garbage dump in Beaver Creek, it is going to be certainly extraordinarily difficult to find a place that is going to meet all persons concerns with respect to the location from the view of the community and also the federal health officials. I agree, and if the Member can provide any further information about a preferable site location, even privately, I would be pleased to take note of it.
Chairman: Is there anything further?
Solid Waste in the amount of $450,000 agreed to
On Mosquito Control
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This is simply for mosquito control equipment of a replacement nature: foggers and spares and clothing, etcetera. The reason for the reduction this year is that last year a shed was constructed in the maintenance yard to store chemicals and stir and mix the chemicals. That is not going to be undertaken this year, of course, as it is complete. The only expenditure here is the replacement equipment, which is a traditional expenditure.
Mosquito Control in the amount of $13,000 agreed to
On Emergency Measures
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Last year this was a major expenditure for the government in that it was almost exclusively devoted to the Dawson Dike construction. This year there is no such major project in this line item. There are some expenditures required for the completion of the Dawson Dike and also for the completion of the Mayo Dike. There is also some minor dike work in Pelly Crossing, as a flood study undertaken in 1987 indicated that some berm work was desired.
The dike in Dawson is scheduled for $195,000 worth of work, in Mayo $60,000 and in Pelly Crossing $20,000. Also under this line item there is a $5,000 expenditure for emergency measures equipment - that is a traditional item. The work for the Dawson Dike that is anticipated at this point, if all parties to the agreement live up their stated commitments to the dike, is to haul and apply topsoil to prominent areas of the new dike surface. This has two purposes. The main purpose is to stabilize the dike itself, so that it maintains its current configuration and shape. The second, obviously because Dawson is very much a tourist town in many respects, is to beautify the dike with the application of topsoil and grass.
The total government involvement would be $195,000 this year, and a stated commitment to complete of less than $100,000 in the following year, for the same kind of work. In Mayo, it is simply the same thing: apply topsoil and grass to the area that was constructed, and level the dike in the current year - basically the same kind of project as the one in Dawson.
Mr. Lang: Regarding the Dawson City Dike, the Minister said something to the effect that if all parties lived up to their agreement. Is there some thought that they may not proceed because of one party not doing that? Could the Minister explain that to the House?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: During the dike design discussion stage, the City of Dawson, through the mayor, made representation that it would be preferable for the government to design a bow in the dike to have it depart from the existing riverbank into the river to allow for more open space in the area around the bank building and south.
In so doing, an extra expenditure was required for the provision of material, which we did provide. In return for that, the City of Dawson agreed that they would expend the monies necessary to fill in the hole. That is the area between the old riverbank and the new dike. This is considered a necessary project as there is some feeling that over time the structural integrity of the dike might be compromised if this supported earth work was not laid up against the dike. That is the commitment of the City of Dawson. To date, the commitment has not been filled, and I am not entirely sure if there is an intention to fill that commitment in the near future.
There may be a desire, rather than to provide topsoil and beautification money, that the government instead provide its remaining commitments to this dike by filling in the hole. We do not want to damage the structural integrity of a very significant project that we have undertaken. Our commitments are fixed this year. It is incumbent upon the City of Dawson to meet its obligations, in one form or another, and we will be discussing that with them during the spring.
Emergency Measures in the amount of $303,000 agreed to
On Fire Protection
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There are basically nine projects incorporated here. The fire alarm system in the territory is still maintained by the Government of Yukon. The projects that we have identified in this line item are the upgrading of the fire alerting system in Beaver Creek; to upgrade the fire alarm system in Carmacks; to provide a training facility for Destruction Bay, which is projected at $100,000; to construct a fire hall in Pelly Crossing, which replaces the old log building that is owned by Indian and Northern Affairs, which is in a seriously deteriorated state.
A fire truck and equipment will be purchased for Upper Liard. There are two minor expenditures which are traditional ones: the purchase of replacement protective clothing for volunteer fire departments, and equipment for volunteer fire departments.
I neglected two projects. Golden Horn Fire Department communications, and fire protection equipment for Canyon Creek.
Mr. Lang: What is fire protection for Canyon Creek comprised of?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Basically it is a minimum of equipment that includes everything from jackets, coats, axes - all the rudimentary equipment, including oxygen masks and tanks. All the accoutrements of fire fighting, short of a truck. There is a desire to assist the Indian band with the purchase of a tank with a pump on it, for a pump that can be loaded onto a small truck as primary fire protection equipment. This is a form of protection that has served other communities fairly well for some time.
Mr. Lang: How much money is designated for this particular program?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: $40,000.
Fire Protection in the amount of $629,000 agreed to
On Ambulance Service
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There are a number of small items and one large item in this line item. The small items include Whitehorse Ambulance Station Equipment for $8,000, a general line item of vehicle upgrading at $5,000 for all ambulances in the territory under YTG control, all ambulance supplies, which is an ongoing expenditure of $10,000, and ambulance replacement. There is a tradition that the government replaces an ambulance every year, usually choosing the oldest ambulance to replace. This year the ambulance replacement will either be for Destruction Bay or Beaver Creek, one of the two communities.
Ambulance service agreed to in the amount of $88,000
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The item Cemeteries is one project that is cost shared 90:10 with the Carmacks Indian Band for the Indians who live outside the municipal boundaries, and this is to provide improvements to the cemetery property for the Indian Band. It is general upgrading and includes culvert extension on the access way and gravelling, et cetera.
Mr. Lang: Is this $18,000 strictly for Carmacks?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes, it is. It is for one project, cost shared on a 90:10 basis.
Mr. Lang: Does that mean that Carmacks has two cemeteries?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I believe Carmacks does have two cemeteries. It may have more. I do not know how many official ones there are for the village itself, but certainly the Indian Band has a cemetery that it has historically used, and this budget item refers to that. I know the village of Carmacks has an unofficial cemetery, but I do not know how many. They certainly have two, at least.
Cemeteries in the amount of $18,000 agreed to
On Equipment Purchase
Hon. Mr. McDonald: On the line item Equipment Purchase, this is for miscellaneous equipment for the Municipal Engineering Branch. It is for new and replacement equipment for Branch use, for such items as pumps, repair parts and survey equipment, which are needed from time to time. It has now been separated out into this item as a distinct item in the Estimates. It was at one time incorporated into the bulk of equipment for the Department.
Equipment Purchase in the amount of $20,000 agreed to
On Roads and Streets - Planning and Engineering
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Roads and Streets budget is to provide the Municipal Engineering Branch with funding for pre-engineering of roads and streets around the territory. It does not always entail ultimately ending up with a new surface. It sometimes entails improving various community roads, survey, and some design of community roads, for unorganized communities or communities outside municipalities and subdivisions, or rural settled areas outside municipal boundaries. It is an ongoing item and I basically try to anticipate where the greatest need is for road development and road upgrading, and do the preparatory work in anticipation of further capital expenditures.
Planning and Engineering in the amount of $50,000 agreed to
On Road Upgrade
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There are a number of projects involved here, eight in total. I will just run through them and then we can deal with the details. The projects include: $22,000 for Beaver Creek; street upgrading in Elsa, $78,000; road and drainage improvements in Keno City, $10,000; street upgrading in Burwash Landing, $85,000; road upgrading in Ross River, $110,000; road improvements to the Carmacks Indian Village at $18,000; street upgrading in Carcross at $135,000; and drainage ditch construction improvements in Carmacks Indian Village at $5,000, for the total of $463,000.
Perhaps I will respond to questions as they are asked on these items.
Mr. McLachlan: I was always under the impression that the mining company maintained all the roads and streets and did the upgrading in Elsa. Is this a new arrangement - or perhaps I understood wrongly?
Hon. Mr. McDonald:Well this is a new arrangement since I became Minister of Community and Transportation Services, and it is a new arrangement for this government, given that the government is now starting to do things in the communities that had traditionally been done by the mining company. The point of the matter is that the mining company has not done the work here. There is an obvious need for street upgrading in the community. Last year we voted some funds for survey; that survey was undertaken and completed. This would be primarily for surfacing certain roads and streets which would be free of heavy equipment in the community, exclusively in residential areas in both Flat Creek and the Elsa town site proper.
Mr. McLachlan: Does the government camp at Mayo do all this work at Elsa as well as the entire road maintenance through to Keno City, then? Or does the mine still do the road maintenance through to Keno City?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Let me put it this way: the Mayo highway camp is responsible for the road maintenance on the Silver Trail, which includes all the road between Stewart Crossing and Keno City, to varying degrees. There are differences between Stewart Crossing and Mayo, Mayo and Elsa, Elsa and Keno City. There have been times in the past when, on occasion, at the mines own behest, they have sent out mine graders to do some work on a road where they felt it was necessary after receiving approval from the road foreman. But basically the road is maintained - and I think fairly well - by the Mayo maintenance crew.
Mr. Lang: Just to follow the Member for Faro, does the company cost share this amount of money or is this seen now that the company has no financial responsibilities nor responsibilities, and the total cost of maintenance within the community will rest with the territorial government? Is that the decision that has been taken?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The company is responsible for all water and sewer services and for maintaining the roads in the community. This is capital upgrading of the roads and would involve the improvement of the streets. After you have seen the streets in the residential areas you will know instantly what I am referring to. The company will be responsible for all operation and maintenance inside the community, as has been the case in the past. This expenditure was made to improve the quality of life for the people in that community and was perceived as the priority item for the hamlet council.
Mr. Lang: I have to register a concern here. For any other project in any other community a requirement is that the taxpayers pay a portion of whatever those projects are. For an example, in Porter Creek, where they are going ahead with a paving project, every home owner is going to be faced with a $2,000 bill as their portion of the cost attributed to that project.
Here we are getting into a situation where because the Minister happens to be from that riding we can do it 100 percent, hocus pocus: a 100 percent capital project. I want to go on the record here as saying that we have to be very careful throughout the territory that we do not get a them and us situation where perhaps if you are not of the right political stripe in your constituency you will have to pay more than if you live in another riding. The Minister should pay more attention to that. I do not object, and will go on the record as saying, to improving the quality of life and if there is a requirement to upgrade the road. I am concerned because there does not seem to be a policy with respect to how you do that project versus one in Ross River, Watson Lake or Mayo. There is a requirement that the people getting a service should pay for at least some portion of the cost of that service. I want that on the record. I am not getting into an argumentive mood. I want the point made that be it in Dawson City, Mayo, Elsa or Faro, there has to be some commonality of purpose and some common principles involved. If we are getting into a situation where we are going to put money into certain areas because of constituency concerns, that is one thing, but there has to be general principles or policies embodied as well.I do not blame the Minister for taking care of his riding but there has to be some concern for cost sharing.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As MLA for the area, I will do everything in my power to see that the government takes care of the Mayo riding. I am quite proud of the work that has been done in the Mayo area, and I am quite proud to be associated with it.
I dispute the explicit charge of political favouritism. The Government of Yukon tries to seek cost sharing with municipalities for all major projects outside the block funding and within the confines of the law. That is a principle that stands: 90:10. There has also been a desire by this government to seek cost sharing arrangements with unorganized communities. In many cases, organized communities are not in a position to come up with even ten percent of a project. Historically, the government has then asked the community to show best efforts, such as sweat equity, in cost sharing relationships. The first community where the government did not seek 90:10 sharing on a road project was in Carcross, where the work that was done could not realistically be cost shared by the community, so the government asked for best efforts.
In that case, there was very little that the community could do to share in the project. It is much different when it is a building project where sweat equity can be provided through labour. There is only so much that a community or a small organization can do to provide a ten percent financial cost share.
When we look at the record of what is being done around the territory in terms of projects being undertaken in the communities, we will see a very fair split among the ridings. I have been here for a number of weeks listening to the charges that I am showing political favourtism to my riding every time a project for my riding comes up for discussion. That is very unfair because the record demonstrates that there is every intent to meet the greatest need wherever it exists. Even a listing of this line item would demonstrate that the government has made great attempts to be fair and politically unbiased in determining where the expenditures ought to go.
We have, in the case of this project, dealt with it in the same manner as we would deal with other projects, and our contact is not the mine in Elsa; it is the Hamlet Council in Elsa.
Road upgrade in the amount of $463,000 agreed to
On Asphalt Paving
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Asphalt Paving expenditure is for further work on the Mountainview Drive project, which was begun some time ago and is continuing today. I am hopeful that this expenditure will complete the Government of Yukons obligations with the City of Whitehorse to complete the paving from Copper Road to the intersection of the Second Avenue extension. The government is obligated to make these expenditures in accordance with a duly negotiated agreement with the City of Whitehorse on the paving and surfacing of Mountainview Drive. You will recall that we chipsealed the long ends of Mountainview Drive proper, and in this current fiscal year the agreement requires that we continue the paving to Second Avenue. Discussions are ongoing now with the City of Whitehorse with respect to what that will specifically entail. I am hopeful this expenditure will complete our obligations with the City and - to anticipate the Member for Faros question with respect to expenditures outside the block fund - this is clearly a municipal expenditure. Yet, it is an old agreement and I indicated some time ago in the House that we would be obligated to adhere to, and complete, old agreements.
Asphalt Paving in the amount of $770,000 agreed to
On Community Recreation Plans
Hon. Mr. McDonald: With respect to Recreation, Community Facilities, there are three projects under Community Recreation Plans. They are: Beaver Creek, $10,000; Burwash Landing, $27,000, and Carcross for $5,000, for the total of $42,000.
Mr. Lang: It is one thing to say you are going to throw some money at a community club. What exactly is the money supposed to do?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: We have been engaged in these for some time. What the community club/Indian band basically does - in the past, it was municipalities or LIDs - is do an assessment of the existing facilities, a needs analysis as to what the facilities need to bring them up to standards, and also to do an assessment of what the community will is with respect to where recreation efforts ought to be made in the future over the long term. There was a desire expressed five or six years ago that the small unorganized communities, and even the LIDs in those days, try to plan ahead as much as possible and develop a plan that has a community consensus - inasmuch as that is possible - and to update those plans on an ongoing basis so that there is a coherent, reasonable and well thought-out understanding as to what the community has in mind for recreation facilities and for its recreation efforts in the future.
Quite often, in the cases where it has not been done, the bulk of the expenditure is in the engineering assessment of the existing facilities. A number of times it is more than that. It is planned and molded with a variety of community planning exercises. The community does more than simply plan recreation, they plan the community itself. They go through the consensus process in planning as well. There is a desire to have LIDs, now municipalities, and unorganized communities - some community organization, whether it be a community club or an Indian band - do some planning and encourage the local residents to think ahead and plan in an organized manner for their futures.
Community Recreation Plans in the amount of $42,000 agreed to
On Recreation Facilities
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There are a number of projects here - 11 projects - some of which the Members are familiar with, some of which they are maybe not. I will list them and we can deal with them in whatever detail is desirable.
There is community centre construction in Burwash for $300,000, recreation centre design in Carcross for $50,000, ice plant installation in Carcross for $9,000, curling rink construction in Elsa for $350,000, outdoor skating rink in Old Crow for $50,000, swimming pool in Ross River for $20,000, arena completion for this phase in Ross River $150,000, community centre in Upper Liard for $30,000, community playground in Upper Liard for $10,000, community hall improvements in Tagish for $25,000 and community hall water supply in Keno for $18,000.
Mr. Lang: Does he want to go through and give us an idea of what these particular projects are going to cost for final completion?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: For Burwash Landing there was $30,000 for design this year, and $300,000 is to complete the facility. That is our share. There is also DIANDs share. I believe their share is approximately $100,000, making it $400,000 total.
Recreation centre design in Carcross is $50,000 and the recreation centre is projected at this point - and I will stress for the record, that this is a very rough, rough estimate - at $500,000.
There is a community centre in Carcross now with a curling rink attached that is in very bad condition. It has been necessary to erect buttresses to hold the walls from collapsing. The facility has served the community well for a number of years, but it is in need of replacement. I am hoping that the projection of $500,000 will be fairly accurate. It would be roughly comparable in size to the Carmacks curling rink, which has three sheets, not two; I suspect that Carcross will be two. Carmacks has a smaller open area than Carcross has in mind for the community hall, I am sure. The costs are for the replacement of the existing facility that is decrepit.
The curling rink construction for Elsa will hopefully complete that project. This costs also includes the library and a Hamlet Council office for a total of $800,000, over three years. The outdoor skating rink for Old Crow is projected at $50,000. This is to purchase and transport boards and lights, and for the building materials for the change rooms. Given the construction costs in Old Crow, that is not out of line.
The swimming pool in Ross River is an expenditure for the purchase of the Faro portable swimming pool that resides in the Faro curling rink in the summertime. Faro is going to be building its own pool and is going to sell the pool to Ross River. These costs are for transportation and the erection of the pool in Ross River.
The arena completion in Ross River is $150,000. We have been through this a number of times before. It is projected that in order to complete the phases that we have agreed to at this stage, it would be approximately $225,000 to do the mechanical and the basic millwork. There is indication that perhaps through LEOP or other sources we might be able to get the project completed in advance of schedule this year.
The community centre in Upper Liard is fairly decrepit. It is an old building, I have been in it myself. This is for the design of a new addition, or the upgrading of this building. It is a basic, wood heat only, no water or sewer services building.
The community playground in Upper Liard: this is for the clearing and the purchase of playground equipment, and that will be the total for the community playground.
Community hall improvements at Tagish: this is the total for this particular project. The Tagish Community Club has indicated an interest in upgrading the community hall, which is on the Tagish Road, and has indicated a desire for certain kinds of improvements which, at this point, have been costed at $25,000. So that is the total of that particular project.
The community hall water supply in Keno: this was an expenditure that we anticipated would be done next summer. We know that much of the expenditure has already been done this year through the good offices of the Keno Community Club and the City Community Club and so there is the feeling that not all of the $18,000 will need to be expended, but what is essentially occurring there is that the community club would like to move from a situation where they have water by water delivery to a situation where they can have it pumped from the fire hall pump house located across the street. This is simply for the insulation underneath the street to hook up both the community hall and the pump house, which is attached to the fire hall, for a total here of $1,012,000.
Mr. McLachlan: The outdoor skating rink at Old Crow: is this a completely new facility, or a fix-up of the existing one that is there?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I guess it is saying something to call it a facility; it is an outdoor arena with boards and posts - the kind that many of us, including even me, believe it or not, grew up with. It includes brand new materials for posts, boards, screening lights, and the materials for the heat shack where people will go to get warm on occasion.
Mr. McLachlan: The $50,000 is a one-shot effort; it is not part of a continuing program for a roof, like a domed stadium?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have not planned to put a dome on it at this point. I think that an arena in Old Crow, given our experience with arenas at this point would be an extraordinarily proposition. At this point, there are no plans for a covered arena in Old Crow. The Band, I understand, is interested in pursuing a cover for the arena. We have not made any decisions for providing a cover for this facility.
Recreation Facilities in the amount of $1,012,000 agreed to
On Rural Electrification
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This Rural Electrification has been extended to telephone service. The experience so far with NorthwesTel is that they have started to pick up obligations in terms of provision of telephone service in less densely populated areas more aggressively than ever before. A good example of that is the Carmacks Industrial Subdivision and Russell Creek in your constituency. This is a program that is cost recoverable and is what we anticipate may be expended. If there is increased demand, given the cost recovery element of this program, I am certain I would come back to the Legislature to see whether or not MLAs would be prepared to increase this vote. This is based on historic expenditures, what we anticipate might happen, and is as much a ballpark figure as you can find anywhere.
Rural Electrification in the amount of $100,000 agreed to
On Capital Block Funding
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This is the same kind of expenditure that we spent last year. It is less than last year because last year we had a supplementary grant added to the total, which is calculated by legislation as being one percent of total municipal assessments. Last year, pursuant to the legislation there was a supplementary grant that was proportionally handed out in accordance with the terms of the legislation. This year, the grant stands at $7,593,873 and is proportioned out on the basis stipulated in legislation. While it does note a decrease, it is the same percentage decrease that exists with the Capital Budget at a whole, as it turns out. That was intentional. In any case it is also the exact one percent of the total municipal assessments.
Whitehorse would be entitled to $3.3 million; Faro - $821,000; Dawson - $796,000; Watson Lake - $842,000; Haines Junction - $513,000; Mayo - $425,000; Teslin - $403,000 and Carmacks - $405,000. Just to ensure that my remarks are not misrepresented by anyone, offsets, in accordance with the repayment schedule for the Dawson water and sewer debt, will be sought from Dawsons capital block fund.
Mr. McLachlan: When the municipal assessment is redone on the five year basis, as it has just been completed in the case of Faro, is it fair to assume that the municipality will then get an automatic increase in its municipal block funding as well as the tax revenue that will accrue to the municipality because of the increase in assessments? In other words, will there be a compensating decrease by the government to the municipality because of an increase in the amount of taxation?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The assessments that were done on a territory wide basis were completed last spring. It is on that basis that we determine what the total municipal assessment is. We agree, by legislation, to pay that amount in the coming fiscal year. We have our figures from the final analysis of the 1986-87 fiscal year, and we will be spending the block fund, per the one percent, which we have determined as a result of that analysis, in the 1988-89 fiscal year.The grant is absolutely fixed according to those figures, and no other calculation is done that modifies those figures in any way.
Capital Block Funding in the amount of $7,594,000 agreed to
Community Affairs in the amount of $14,914,000 agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There are two items here on page 17: VHF Replacement and Community TV and Radio. I will deal with the minor expenditure first. The $118,000 is for the removal of existing propane powered mountain top TV translator units, to be replaced by TV receivers located at road access locations. It is determined that not only is the reception inadequate for the mountain top translator units, but they are extremely expensive to maintain.
Not only that, but when there is a failure - which does occur with fairly inconvenient frequency - the inconvenience to the public is considerable, especially when the public receives only one or so television channels. So, there is every desire to remove the mountain top propane-powered translator units and put them where they can be accessed easily by road. In one respect, the response time for service repairs will be faster, and also the Operation and Maintenance costs will be reduced. It is expected, by the way, that in 1988-89, the initial reduction, depending on when the work can be done, will be probably around $10,000 in that fiscal year. But, it will climb to a reduction of Operation and Maintenance costs for the translator units - so we are talking about $25,000 in further years.
I think I have already mentioned where the work will be undertaken: Kluane, Caribou Mountain and White Mountain, which are basically in the Burwash and Carcross areas.
That is the one area, and perhaps if Members have any questions I could answer them now
Mr. Brewster: I agree with the Minister on the proposition of getting them off the mountains. It is a quite practical position. However, when I was up the road a while ago, the government people were saying where they were going to put the one in Destruction Bay and Burwash, and they were cutting out about 12 or 14 families down below at the south end of the lake. When the families asked if they were going to be cut out, they said, We do not know; we think so. That is not a very good answer. These people have had television for a long time and we certainly should be able to situate it where it would pick up those other families at the other end of the lake. It is not that far between places.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I agree. Every effort will have to be made to cover all those persons who are currently receiving the television signal, with the television signal in the future. We ran into the same problems when we removed the mountain top translator unit at Stewart Crossing. Incidentally, that was a propane-powered unit which had Operation and Maintenance costs of approximately $400 per person per year, which was considerably expensive - about one television set per year per person in the community. It was projected that two families would be missed and they were covered through some new link. I understand they have some television signal, and certainly they have a radio signal. I can assure the Member I will undertake to discuss this with the Department to make sure that every effort is made to cover as many people as possible when the move is made.
Mr. Phelps: I am sorry, I understood the Minister to say that Caribou Mountain would be the one that served Carcross and Tagish. Did the Minister say White Mountain? Does he mean Jubilee Mountain for Tagish, or what is the position of Tagish with regard to losing the transmitter that is presently on top of Caribou Mountain? We discussed at some length the possibility of using Jubilee.
Hon. Mr. McDonald:The government, basically - if the Member wants further details I will have to seek them - has every intention of covering as much of the Tagish area as possible and ensuring that in this coming summer work is done to ensure that they have television service there as well.
Mr. Brewster: This is White Mountain. I presume that at they are taking the one off the White River location. Then the other question comes up, in other words, that the five lodges and the people who live in that area will have no television. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: What I could do is set them up with the municipal engineering branch and they could discuss the expected coverage of individuals in their area and they could discuss, perhaps, optimum locations with the municipal engineering people, in order that maximum coverage is given to all people currently receiving signals. It may, in some cases, mean that more than one ground station is desirable in the longer term, and that is something that we will have to consider, but it will still be cheaper in the long run.
On VHF Replacement
Chairman: The first item is the VHF replacement, at $900,000.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As I indicated before, in general debate, this is an expenditure that is anticipated for the first stage in the coming year. I said, I believe in December, that we would be formulating some conclusions on the bid prices that come forward to replace the existing network and that work is being done right now. I anticipate that this month the government will certainly be coming to some conclusions with respect to the best bid, and the criteria for determining the best bid is, as I have stated before, but will include especially what might be available to the private sector in improving the communication link and improving their needs for communication as a standard infrastructure item. It has been communicated to me by members of the Chamber of Mines, for example, that in some respects communications is not as important as road access, but certainly very important as an infrastructure item and they would like to see better infrastructure provided to the private sector in outlying areas in order that they have better communication with others in rural areas and with the outside itself.
Certainly that will be a major determinant in my view, and the governments view, as to which bid is chosen.
Mr. Lang: Who is the government contracted with for the purposes of evaluating the various systems that could be put into place and which particular organization is evaluating the tenders that the Minister spoke of?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Initially, Teleconsult was. I will check this. I was under the impression that Stratavision was also involved, but certainly Teleconsult was the communications expert with whom we consulted with respect to not only determining the needs analysis for all existing, potential users, but also evaluating what turned out to be extremely complicated bids from some of the consortiums who put forward bids. I believe, in the case of the two front runners, they are both local companies with outside partners who provide necessary technical backup that they do not possess. So Teleconsult provided the necessary communications expertise to help us analyze the character of the bids as well.
VHF Replacement in the amount of $900,000 agreed to
On Community TV and Radio
Community TV and Radio in the amount of $118,000 agreed to
Communications in the amount of $1,018,000 agreed to
On Recoveries, Grants, Contributions and Other Transfer Payments
Chairman: Are there any comments on Recoveries or Grants which appear on page 18 or 19?
Mr. McLachlan: There is a recoverable figure under MOT Airports of $1,006,000. On page 13 the expenditure under MOT Airstrips is $945,000. That is without considering the Emergency Airstrips. It seems to give the impression, perhaps false, that we are getting back more than we are spending on M.O.T. Airstrips. How can that be possible?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Historically, it has been done on a contractual basis on agreement between the Ministry of Transport and the Yukon government, where the Yukon government basically works out with Transport Canada the capital needs for the territory. Once they have an agreement as to what those needs are, and a priority listing, then the Government of Yukon undertakes the capital improvement themselves and charge an administration fee. The difference is the administration fee.
On Community and Transportation Services
Community and Transportation Services in the amount of $46,048,000 agreed to
Chairman: We will now recess for 15 minutes in preparation for the Department of Education.
Chairman: The Committee of the Whole will now come to order.
On Department of Education
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will begin with an outline of the projects that will enhance public schools. These account for the majority of the capital expenditures in the Budget.
By far, the most substantial capital project for 1988-89 will be the construction of a new school in Dawson City to replace the existing deteriorating facility. Most of the construction of the school will occur during 1988-89, at a cost of $5,168,000. The project will be completed in 1989-90 for an estimated additional $761,500. The preliminary design work for this new community school was completed this year in close consultation with the people of Dawson City. The new school will replace all but the existing gymnasium, which is still structurally sound.
The school has been designed to fit in with the historical theme of the community. The people of Dawson have voiced their pleasure with the new facility design, which will serve a variety of community purposes. For example, the school and community library will operate jointly in the new facility.
Watson Lake High School also requires extensive upgrading and expansion. Following community consultation, the decision was made to construct a new school facility to adjoin with the existing 1978 addition, which is still solid and sound. Construction costs will be spread out over two years with $2 million committed for this Budget, and the final allocation being determined following design completion.
Porter Creek Junior Secondary School is currently filled to capacity and requires additional classroom and activity space. An amount of $106,000 has been allocated in this budget to initiate the design.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister tell us if they have an outline of the action plan yet? Is it established or have they even started formulating the action plan?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The department has some ideas as to the skeleton and some of the body of the action plan. There have not been discussions with the Education Council because this is going to be a joint initiative, so we would like to do this jointly with the Education Council, so certainly nothing is fixed. Certainly the design for the school will be determined based on public response to a Yukon Facilities Action Plan, to be released for comments in a few months hence.
It is of great importance to rural students who come to Whitehorse to complete their high school years; $900,000 has been allocated for the design and construction of a new student residence in Whitehorse, with a capacity to accommodate 32 students. The current facility requires extensive interior and exterior retrofitting and cannot be expanded to house more students. Due to the need for a larger and better facility, the government has therefore decided it is best to construct an entirely new residence facility in a central location, most likely in an area near Riverdale schools. A final design will be determined in the near future and construction will be undertaken, hopefully, in 1988-89.
A number of schools will be undergoing various renovations and upgrading to improve their facilities and extend their useful lives. These include: Whitehorse Elementary School $400,000; Jack Hulland $100,000; Christ the King High School $90,000; JV Clark School $50,000; Chief Zzeh Gittlet School and Teacherage $40,000, and small facility operations in various schools for a total of $80,000. These projects will cost a total of $760,000.
In addition, three school gymnasium floors will be finished under this budget, including those in the Takhini Elementary, G. A. Jeckell and Christ the King Elementary Schools, for a total of $90,000.
To allow access for physically handicapped students to all our schools, all Yukon schools built on more than one level will be equipped with the necessary facilities over the next three years. For 1988-89, $40,000 has been committed to install a third lift in F. H. Collins School, completing work to allow handicapped access to all areas of that school.
As part of an ongoing initiative to install computer labs in all Yukon schools, this budget has provided $40,000 for two such labs, one in Ross River and one in G. A. Jeckell School.
In the area of school grounds improvements and landscaping, the 1988-89 budget allow for grounds improvements at Carcross, G. A. Jeckell and Kluane Lake Schools, for a total of $116,000. An additional $47,000 has been allotted to cover summer grounds maintenance, bringing the total allocation to $163,000.
Moving from school facilities to equipment, $200,000 has been designated for miscellaneous instructional equipment in Yukon schools. This includes audio visual, library, office and classroom equipment needed to replace those items in schools as they wear out or to bring equipment up to approved standards and criteria. This is a necessary expenditure to ensure that our standard of education is consistent with the BC curriculum used in our schools and to ensure that equipment maintenance costs are kept within reason.
In addition to general school equipment, there are a variety of programs specifically highlighted that require specialized equipment in order to remain safe or up to date and which are subject to high replacement costs due to a great deal of wear and tear. These include: industrial education and home economics, for a total of $80,000; physical education, $40,000; music instruments for school music programs, $30,000; kindergarten programs, $10,000, and special education equipment, $5,000.
Equipment for educational computing is once again a major budget item, as it has been for the past several years since this government committed itself to giving our students access to the world of computers. The goal of a ratio of one computer to eight students will be reached in 1987-88, completing the introductory phase of this program. The 1988-89 expenditure of $250,000 will begin the replacement phase, given the lifespan of approximately six years for a school-based computer and given the rate at which computer technology is changing. This expenditure covers the computers themselves, general computer maintenance requirements, and the purchase of new computer software.
The Learning Resources Centre, which serves as the hub of a variety of resource materials used by the network of Yukon schools, has been allocated a budget of $10,000 for new and replacement equipment. The department aims to replace stage and window drapes in three schools each year. This will cost $34,000 for 1988-89.
French Language programs have several specific capital expenditures identified in the budget. Such immersion program is expanding by one grade per year and therefore requires classroom equipment for that grade. In September 1988 the immersion program will expand to include Grade Eight, for a capital cost of $15,000. LEcole Emilie Tremblay, the French First Language program, will receive $2,000 for new shelving needed to store its own learning materials. A French language computer and associated software will be purchased for $6,000; furthermore, the French Language Centre will be allocated $8,000 for new and replacement audio/visual equipment used by the expanding oral French language programs.
As an ongoing requirement of school maintenance, $25,000 has been earmarked for custodial equipment such as floor polishers, ladders, and vacuum cleaners.
Now, with respect to those expenditures related to Yukon College: the construction of the new college facility in Whitehorse is proceeding on schedule. For 1988-89, $2,312,000 has been allocated for continued construction of the college complex. The academic, commons, and trades areas will be completed in 1988-89 and the college will open its doors September, 1988. The major construction project will be completed in 1989-90.
The Arts and Cultural Centre, for which this government and Arts Canada North have been working together, will be located on the new Yukon College site. The 1988-89 budget provides $2 million for the construction phase, which is to be completed in 1989-90, for a further estimated $4.5 million of Yukon government capital funding. The community complex will incorporate various performing and fine arts facilities, as shown in the design concept unveiled by Arts Canada North this fall.
In order to provide new or replacement equipment needed for existing Whitehorse-based Yukon College programs, which soon will be moving to the new college facility, a budget amount of $800,000 has been provided in 1988-89. This major sum of money is a necessary part of moving into a new facility and is therefore significantly larger than the usual new and replacement equipment budget amounts for the college.
Community campuses will also be receiving funding to upgrade or replace existing equipment or to purchase additional equipment, in order to offer additional courses in individual communities. These funds include $16,000 for replacement equipment in existing programs, $23,000 for new equipment for existing programs, and $15,000 for new equipment for new programs.
I will move on now to discuss expenditures for the Yukon Public Libraries and Archives. Libraries and Archives Branch has a project of particular importance for preserving records of our cultural history. A new archives facility is to be built at the new Yukon College site. This will bring the archives up out of the flood plane of the Yukon River and thereby providing better protection for the many documents housed in the archives.
In addition, the proposed new facilities will be much larger than the current downtown site providing for better viewing and research facilities and much improved storage for archival materials. The relocation will allow ready access by college students and members of the public.
An amount of $1.5 million is allocated for the 1988-89 budget with construction scheduled for completion in 1989-90. In order to accommodate expanding archival records in the interim until a new archives facility is constructed, $45,000 has been allocated for the conversion and renovation of appropriate, specialized additional storage area and equipment. The current facility is completely filled and an interim step must be taken to address this acute problem.
This budget includes a further $15,000 for the purchase of additional large asset items such as a microfilm reader, printer, shelving and card catalogues and other storage equipment. Funding of $10,000 is allocated for the preparation and maintenance of archival displays. A further $12,000 is provided for the conversion of heavily used archival films from film to video format for distribution territory wide.
With respect to Public Libraries, $60,000 has been identified for the upgrading of community libraries to better serve the public. This may include upgrading from volunteer library to community library status as, for example, Ross River, or improving facilities to meet such standards.
An additional $15,000 is provided for replacement of community library equipment. Library boards are involved in determining how this library equipment fund is spent.
The Yukons Audio Visual Unit is part of the Library and Archives Branch. In this budget $15,000 is earmarked for the replacement of worn or obsolete audio-visual equipment and equipment which is deposited to communities and circulated within Whitehorse for use by the public.
The Central Technical Services Unit of the Branch is allocated $5,000 for new and replacement equipment.
One final budget item at a cost of $1 will allow the department to continue its work in collecting and cataloguing northern hydrocarbon development information. The project is fully cost recoverable under the federal Northern Oil and Gas Action Program. The total amount of the 1988-89 Capital Budget for the Department of Education is $17,425,000.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister mentioned a couple of things that I have some general questions about, and then I would like to get into some more detail when we go through the Budget in the line by line vote.
All of these studies are being done in the department right now, specifically the Joint Commission on Indian Education and the Task Force on Education. A busing committee has been established to review busing concerns. The Rural School Facility Study and the Urban School Facility Study were completed some time ago and were sent in to the Minister. How were those studies used when this Capital Budget was proposed and developed? To what extent were the studies and task forces used in determining where the money was going to be allocated, and how the priorities were going to be met?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will deal with the first three committees that the Member mentioned: the Joint Commission on Indian Education report, the Education Act Task Force report and the Busing Committee report. The report of the Joint Commission on Indian Education has been and is being digested by the department. Some clarification in certain areas is being sought from various sources. The governments initial actions will not be demonstrated until the Operation and Maintenance budget, when any financial response that the government may have will show up. At this time, I have not had a chance to speak with either the Education Council or the Council for Yukon Indians on the report. In the interim, we have asked all school committees, interested persons, and Indian bands to respond to the Joint Commission on Indian Education report. There has been some limited response to that.
The Education Act Task Force report has been submitted to the government. The governments response will be in the form of a White Paper on education, which will be coming out early in the spring for public discussion.
The Busing Committee is one that is basically a permanent or standing committee of persons interested in busing in Whitehorse. The committee was struck some time ago in response to concerns about bus scheduling that had been expressed by various school committees. There was a desire by the Education Council and the school committees in Whitehorse to take a more coordinated approach to how we handled the allocation of busing. The committee is basically represented by all school committees in the Whitehorse area, with Department of Education officials acting as advisers to the committee.
The committee itself has commented in the past on global territory enrichment, such as bus insurance, et cetera, but the government takes, as advice, information not only from this busing committee but also from other school committees from around the territory who have an interest in busing as well. Basically, the effect of the committees are felt on the Operation and Maintenance side, financially.
The Urban and Rural Facilities Studies - as I mentioned in November and December - referring to the joint announcement between the Education Council and the government, are now being rolled together and a position paper will be put out for public discussion early in the spring. There was considerable feeling from a variety of school committees that they did not have enough time to comment on the recommendations put forward. They did not have enough time to dispute, in some respects, some of the conclusions that were reached by the consultants reports. Consequently, we concluded that a more thorough public consultation was desirable and, with the Education Council, we jointly issued our action plan for the Urban and Rural Facilities Study.
To answer the Members question, about whether or not the Urban and Rural Facilities Studies were used, I can say that they were used relatively little. However, those technical minor deficiencies that were identified in the study by the consultants, regarding the governments capital assets in terms of the schools, were taken into account. In terms of the ongoing minor maintenance work, the government has attempted to try to address those items.
There was a recommendation that at least a new school be built in Whitehorse or in the Whitehorse area at the elementary level. As the Member can see, the government has responded to at least that recommendation, in as much as it has identified initial planning money for a school for the City of Whitehorse. The issue is not perhaps so much as to whether a school should be built. There is universal understanding that unless the existing schools are going to be expanded greatly, a new school should be built. The question primarily is where it should be built. There are a number of factors to be taken into account, including a desire to reduce the level of busing and to make the school more accessible to pedestrian traffic. That is one issue that has to be resolved, and probably the most major issue. In as much as we did respond to that recommendation, very little of the consultants report has been addressed or adopted formally by the Department of Education.
Mrs. Firth: I have a concern about that, because that was the general impression I got when I reviewed the School Facilities study, particularly the Rural School Facilities study. I found there were some instances - and I will give an example so that the Minister can understand where I am coming from - where I got the feeling that they were not even addressing issues that had been raised in the Rural School Facilities study that dealt with areas of safety. The example I want to cite is the Ross River School. I would like to know from the Minister what areas they did respond to in the Rural and Urban Facilities Studies then. The concern I raised about the Ross River School was that there was a recommendation made regarding the structural evaluation of the roof and its supporting systems to be done. I would like to find out from the Minister what has been done regarding these facilities studies. Were they responded to in a sense that some of the recommendations made were followed through with, and could the Minister tell us which recommendations were followed through with and which were not, or does that involve a three hour analysis of all the reports?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It would be fairly extensive, but there was certainly an effort to try to respond to technical and safety deficiencies identified by the consultant. In the case of the Ross River School, it is a case where I think you will find there is a dispute between engineers as to what is happening at the school. There is a problem at the school. There was some speculation at one point by some consultants that the cracks showing at the school were due to significant settling problems, serious foundation problems, and that more work would have to be done than simply replacing a number of cracked tierod anchors that were considered to be malfunctioning. A number of other technical reviews of the foundation have been undertaken by Government Services and engineering consultants, and there is a feeling that while there is some settlement due to permafrost thaw, there is not a serious foundation difficulty either existing or anticipated with the Ross River School. That is something that is being monitored currently - even as we speak, I guess - to ensure that our understanding of serious problems not occurring is in fact correct.
There has been some work done on the roof this summer, I understand, in terms of its leaking; but, that is considered more of a minor maintenance rather than a significant capital expenditure. I can also undertake to determine what exactly did take place, if the Member is interested. In terms of the major issue of the settling of the Ross River School, there is a dispute between the engineers as to whether or not there is a problem, let alone whether or not the problem should be addressed.
Mrs. Firth: I want to get some clarification from the Minister as to exactly what service this is. We spent a fair amount of money on both of these facility studies. Now, another consultants opinion has been solicited, I am sure, at some cost. I am interested in finding out that cost. It is an opinion that disputes the first opinion that was given. Are there other circumstances where that has happened? Have we just done another whole rural facilities study and another urban facilities study because the department picked out areas where there were some questions? Did the government have consultants give another opinion regarding those areas?
I am just citing one example. There could be many others. The point is not whether the engineers are in dispute. It is whether or not the people feel that their children are going to school under safe conditions. There will probably be people in the communities who will take both sides depending on which consultants report they read and believe.
I understand that there is going to be a facilities action plan for public comment. I would like to know when the action plan is going to be ready, more specifically than soon. What is the purpose of the action plan? It obviously is not going to be responding to the recommendations if the government is already soliciting second opinions of consultants and engineers regarding some of the recommendations. Perhaps the Minister could outline for us what this facilities action plan is going to involve, and what kind of public comment will they be looking for from the public?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not want to leave the impression that the government has simply shelved the facilities study. We have not. We have to bear in mind, however, that the Rural Facilities Study had engineering consultants do a quick review of all of territorial facilities at a cost of approximately $80,000. That was for an analysis of population projections, et cetera, in those communities. There were discussions on the services with various persons in those communities.
When we get down to a highly technical situation such as the cyro anchors and the settling problems at Ross River School, it is unrealistic to expect that we will get a proper engineering analysis done by some engineers who happen to be in town. It is a very technical problem that the government is trying to resolve. There are cracks in the walls, and every attempt is made to determine what is causing those. Papering over the cracks is not going to do the trick, so we have to determine what the causes are.
Initially it was thought to be cyro anchors. After extensive engineering analysis, it was determined that some were malfunctioning, but permafrost was not a reason for the cracks getting worse, or that the settling was not going to continue. That was the result of a more in depth engineering anaylsis.
So clearly, if we were to involve ourselves in actually doing some major work, we would not be expecting the rural facilities study, or the recommendations of the rural facilities study to tell us the details. I should say, too, that while the rural facilities study was happening, the analysis of the Ross River school had been ongoing for some time. Well before even I became Minister, there was some concern and anguish over what was happening with Ross River and that is the reason why so much effort has been made to try to determine the reasons for the school sagging on one side. Certainly, without any question whatsoever, it is the governments desire to make sure that students go to school in safe conditions, and go to school in safe facilities. I do not think that anybody would doubt, apart for the notable exception at Robert Service School, that all the schools are pretty well first class. Obviously, there is a need to finish the demolishment of the Del van Gorder new/old gymnasium, but even in the case of Robert Service, every effort is being made to ensure, through constant monitoring and fire watches, et cetera, that the school is not only preserved but that the children are going to school in a safe environment, and we are paying the price of that on the O&M side.
The reason why the action plan was created in the first place, as I mentioned, was that the school committees felt that some important decisions for the long term were being made - which is quite correct - and they wanted full opportunity to discuss them. Even though the studies have been sent around to the school committees, there have been expressions of concern by parents, who perhaps had not consulted with school committees, and even some school committees members themselves who had not had the chance to read the report or read about what the government was doing, did not want the government to take any preemptive action that might set a course that might be difficult to reverse. So for that reason, we said we were going to go with more thorough consultation. That is the purpose of the action plan, to come forward with a basic position, run it thoroughly past the school committees, prepare the school committees for the event, likely at the end of March, and ask for thorough input on the priority list for projects in Whitehorse and around the territory.
A major area that had not been addressed in either study, which we are going to have to address in the joint plan, was the significant issue of school facilities in the Whitehorse environs, immediately around Whitehorse, because there are fairly significant conglomerations of people populating areas such as the Carcross cutoff and Judas Creek and areas around Whitehorse who are complaining about the length of time that their children have to travel on the bus, sometimes 40 minutes one way.
They would like the government to look at the possibility of fairly low cost, cheap elementary school facilities for the younger students. It is something that was not addressed but will have to be addressed by the government in terms of this plan in concert with the Education Council. That is the purpose of the plan, and that is the reason why we have not taken any preemptive strikes with respect to the Capital Budgeting process apart from the areas that I mentioned. Clearly, there is a need for a school in Whitehorse. We do not know where the school will be placed finally and conclusively, and it is incumbent upon us to consult with the school committees in the City of Whitehorse on that. That is the reason why we put some funding in to begin the planning, but are unable to determine at this point where the location will be.
Mrs. Firth: I want to start over and discuss the action plan, and then I will come back to statistics on the Ross River School and Old Crow School and some of the recommendations that were made in the Rural School Facility Study.
From what the Minister has said, all I get is the impression that there is going to be this action plan and they will be asking for peoples opinions about it. What is it going to do? Is it going to give them recommendations as to where the new school could be located? Is it going to list various options? Is it going to list options of perhaps extending grades at Grey Mountain Primary, or adding on to Takhini Elementary, which is something they are already looking at? Is it going to give people options to choose from, and are all of those options emanating from the two facilities reports? Is this action plan going to list anything else besides options and recommendations? It is fine to give people something to read and look at and to ask for their comments, but I know that both of these school facility studies overwhelmed some people, and they did not know where to begin when the government asked for their comments about the report.
The Facilities Action Plan has to be very concise and specific as to what the government wants from the people in the way of consultation and input. I would like some clarification from the Minister regarding that matter. I am sure he will be cooperative, as he has been in the past, and present the Opposition Members with a copy of that action plan as well.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: With respect to the last assumption, the answer of course is yes, the Member opposite will receive the action plan simultaneously or before it is released publicly. The action plan will be fairly specific; there has been some discussion - and considerable discussion, I do not want to downplay it or minimize it in any way - amongst the school committees and Education Council with respect to the priorities they would like to see implemented. This is not going to be an open-ended process where basically the options are a number of five, for example, and none of the above. You ask the public to provide comments. That will be a very lengthy process. We are considerably more into it, and the public is more aware than ever before of what the options are, as they have been discussed in school committee circles and expressed in the consultants reports.
I think it is incumbent at this point for the government to come forward basically with a fairly specific recommendation as to what the priorities should be around the territory and not assign any date or make any commitment with respect to what years certain projects will be undertaken. That will be up to the government of the day to determine, and we do not want to fix that in peoples minds. I think that would be unfair. Certainly, the Legislature is going to have to have the opportunity annually to determine what its priorities are, financially; but we will come forward with a list as to which ought to be the governments priorities in terms of education related expenditures. I think we are sophisticated enough in our view of the situation, given the reports and the discussions that have taken place to this date and the considerable discussion that has already taken place within the circles of the Education Council to work out with them a territory wide plan of action; and then give, not only the school committees the opportunity to discuss it themselves, but also to lead the discussions for their schools in the territory. Basically, what we are going to be doing is asking the school committees themselves to manage the public input in the sense that they will be responsible for doing what is necessary to seek public input for their schools and holding meetings to discuss the action plan with parents and individuals in their areas. Obviously, this will not prevent individuals from coming to the department directly. That is always a given and is accepted. But we would like to allow the school committees to take a lead role in the public consultation process. That is what the intention is of the action plan.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister tell us if they have an outline of the action plan yet? Is it established or have they even started formulating the action plan?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The department has some ideas as to the skeleton and some of the body of the action plan. There have not been discussions with the Education Council because this is going to be a joint initiative, so we would like to do this jointly with the Education Council - so I will not say that anything is fixed. Certainly the Department of Education is well enough along that they have some proposals to put forward, in terms of a joint initiative with the Education Council for the actual plan.
Mrs. Firth: I wanted to know if there was anything in writing yet or is it still a concept being discussed? In the Annual Report they talk in terms of producing a Facilities Action Plan. Is there anything in writing yet or is it still just a concept that is being discussed?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is in writing, and is a concept that is being discussed. It is not been determined jointly with the Education Council yet, so it is obviously not in any completed form. There certainly are a number of factors that have been thought through by the Education Department staff, which they will be discussing with the Education Council in determining the joint initiative. It will not be a Department of Education initiative and also an Education Council initiative; it will be one initiative and the Department of Education will come to discussions with the Education Council prepared with facts for presentation at the joint meetings, so that everyone is well aware of all the options in terms of setting up the actual plan.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister mentions factors. Could he elaborate on that and give us a couple of examples. He said they would be bringing certain factors forward and it will be in the Facilities Study Plan. Could he be more specific and give us a couple more examples to help us understand the plan?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Obviously, the department has digested the Facilities Reports and is in a position to translate those into something in terms of some of the options that are available to the Department and the Education Council, in terms of actual planning. The various factors include what is already known as projected needs; for example, the Whitehorse area projects enrollment needs for various, currently existing schools. Also existing are projections for population growth areas in the City of Whitehorse, which will take into account where best to put a facility that will serve future requirements. Analysis of the current busing situation has obviously been done, to determine the effect of various locations on busing requirements. Those are the kinds of details we brought forward with the Education Council in determining the Action Plan.
Mrs. Firth: I get the feeling that the action plan is just going to be the facilities study written another way from the indication of the information that the Minister has given us. Those facilities studies touched on all of those topics that the Minister mentioned. I guess we will just have to wait until the end of March and get a copy of the action plan, then we can ask further questions.
In the Rural Facilities Study, special concern was brought forward on three schools: the Watson Lake Elementary and Secondary Schools, the Ross River and the Old Crow Schools. It was recommended that a structural evaluation of the roof and the supporting systems of the Ross River school be done. Did that get done? Was another consultant called in who had a different opinion? Was that specifically to do a structural evaluation of the roof and supporting systems?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There will be more to the action plan than that which exists with the facilities study. It would not be correct to assume that the recommendations of the facilities study will simply be regurgitated through the action plan. That would not be a safe assumption. There may be some recommendations that are based on the information that is provided, both through the work that the consultants did and through the consequent discussions with school committees, et cetera. These will influence the recommendations, but it would not be fair to walk away from this Legislature thinking that, for example, the recommendation on the Grey Mountain Primary School will be regurgitated in an action plan. That is not correct.
The last review undertaken by Government Services on the Ross River School was in March of 1987. That review was recommended, not only by consultants, but was also required by the government. It was of the view that no serious foundation difficulties existed or were anticipated. That was a thorough engineering analysis.
There are obviously varying opinions. The balance of opinion in technical circles of Government Services is that no serious foundation difficulties exist at this time. Infra-red photos and scans of the cyro anchors are being undertaken to ensure that they are not failing. There are temperature cables attached to the school that provide readings The principal has been trained to read these and will provide monthly information to our engineering people to provide monthly information on what is happening with the school foundation.
A regular monitoring system is presently being undertaken to see whether or not any further settling is taking place.
Mrs. Firth: Regarding the Old Crow School, there was a recommendation made about the blocking and compaction of the gravel. Is the money identified in this Capital Budget to do what the Facilities Study recommended be done on the Old Crow school, or is it for something else?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: For something else. I will check with the department, but my understanding is that the work that was recommended be done by maintenance persons. It was not considered a major capital item. The work identified in Old Crow was to primarily upgrade the washrooms and the utilidor system outside the school, as the washrooms are used by the community generally for washing purposes. This is a desire to upgrade those facilities.
Chairman: Any further general debate? If not we will turn to general debate on the first branch.
On Finance and Administration
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The expenditures here are for the first phase of the Yukon Arts and Cultural Centre and also for the traditional expenditure of custodial equipment for the schools. I am not sure exactly how much Members want to know about this, but I will be happy to pursue whatever lines of questioning they may have.
Mrs. Firth: For Finance and Administration we are talking about $2,025,000, and it is supposed to be for financial personnel and general administrative support services for the Yukon Arts and Cultural Centre. Why do we need $2,025,000? What does that involve?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That involves the first of the construction of the Arts Centre and the total commitment, as I said before, is projected at $7 million. It is projected that $2 million will be the first capital expenditure for this item. We budgeted $500,000 in the current year, there will be $2 million expended in the coming year, and in the year 1989-90 there will be $4.5 million, for a total of $7 million. This is the actual construction of the Arts Centre itself.
Mrs. Firth: That is the same facility that the Minister referred to as Yukon Place? Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes. Quite properly, the terminology ought to be that Yukon Place refers to the site and includes the college. There is a misstatement somewhere in the budget book about Yukon Place, but Yukon Place is the rather banal term to express the existence of Yukon College, the arts centre and Archives structures. The arts centre is this particular expenditure and I think, given the expressions of various Members during this sitting about the name Yukon Place, I think it may be due for a name change.
Mrs. Firth: My colleague for Riverdale North has made some comment about it being called Piers Palace. We will have to wait and see if that is what the name change goes to.
On custodial equipment - could the Minister tell us where that is for, please?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The custodial equipment is for all schools and it includes floor polishers, vacuum cleaners, carpet cleaners, ladders, et cetera, for custodians. It is all capital equipment that is not in the Operation and Maintenance equipment. It is not dusting and cleaning agents and things.
I will take the name Piers Palace from the Member for Riverdale North as his submission.
Yukon Arts and Cultural Centre in the amount of $2,000,000 agreed to
Custodial Equipment in the amount of $25,000 agreed
Finance and Administration total amount of $2,025,000 agreed to
On Public Schools
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As I mentioned in my opening remarks, this is where the bulk of the governments expenditures for this year are taking place. There is a fairly extensive listing of the projects on pages 33 and 34. Perhaps what I can do to initiate discussions is to explain the first item, which is the St. Elias Student Residence. As Members will note, in the 1987-88 Revised Estimates, we had budgeted $350,000 for the St. Elias student dormitory. The dormitory itself, in the year previous to this one, was considered extremely overcrowded - there were three or four children per room at that point. This year, the crowding conditions are pretty well the same in that building, even though we have removed a number of the older students to Nisutlin Campus.
They are being taken care of together in that facility.
What we tried to do initially in 1987-88 was to see if a more simple solution to our space problems would occur. That basically involved an expansion of the dorm facility into property adjacent to the facility. As it turns out, we could not purchase the property adjacent to the facility. The owner simply did not wish to sell. Therefore, that was not an option. The building was not designed to take other floors, so that was not an option. Basically we had to determine whether or not we could maintain this facility or build a new facility, and have two facilities. It was determined that in order to keep the Operation and Maintenance costs to a reasonable limit, given that there had to be 24-hour supervision, we decided that one facility was the only respectable way to do. In so doing there was a clear desire to move away from an institutional setting for students who come in from rural areas, and adopt more of a group home atmosphere for those students - more of a natural home setting. Furthermore, there was a desire to ensure some community involvement, as much as possible, with not only the design but also on the ongoing participation of the community. By that I mean there are primarily native communities who want an elder or a respected person of the community, nominated by the band, to be resident with the students and provide, basically, a parental direction. There was some desire by many of the people who would and do take advantage of this facility and student dormitory facilities, to have some accommodation made for someone to live in and provide some extra parental support or adult guidance to the students that is more culturally sensitive than that which exists currently.
As most of the students currently living in dorm facilities are of native origin, this weighed very heavily on the planning - which the government undertook - in terms of what the government wanted to see happen conceptually with the St. Elias Student Residence. Consequently, though the design has not been undertaken at this point, the desire will be to maintain central services, in the sense that the facility or facilities with components can all basically use the same supervisory personnel so that the proper official supervision can take place for meals, et cetera, without added cost. But at the same time, it can allow so that persons nominated by the communities could also provide parental support or guidance. So that is what we are intending to do by essentially allowing them to conceptually live in with the students themselves.
The design of the residence would look more like a home than it does currently. Right now, it is a biscuit box in downtown Whitehorse and has very little quality in terms of its architectural style. There is a desire to improve the current practice.
Mrs. Firth: I gather that the Minister is talking about building an apartment type facility instead of biscuit boxes. He really went on for quite some time talking about this residence. For a moment, I thought I had lost him somewhere.
I would like to get some clarification about the new student residence for the 32 students. Is that part of this public schools vote? I do not see a specific line item unless it is included under the St. Elias student residence. I do recall him saying that they were looking at building a new student residence for 32 students within the Riverdale school to accommodate students. Could the Minister clarify that?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I may have spoken for a long time, but obviously I did not speak long enough. We are talking about one and the same thing. The residence facility is not going to look like a biscuit box, but it going to look more like a group of homes clustered with central services. It will be designed specifically for students. It will ensure that there are meal preparation facilities as there exists with the St. Elias residence. The St. Elias residence will be just a residence unless we change its name.
Mrs. Firth: I think I understand what the Minister is saying when he says that they are going to build this cluster of homes. Where is it going to be located? Is that cluster of homes going to accommodate just 32 students? Are we going to upgrade the St. Elias Residence? This year we are estimating $900,000, and in the multi-year project costs, $1.25 million is projected. Could the Minister clarify that? From what he is saying, it sounds like it is going to be two separate facilities.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will be very clear here. The place now called St. Elias Student Residence in downtown Whitehorse will be surplus. It will be used for some other purpose. There will not be students living in it. It will be surplus, sold, or used for other government purposes, or whatever. It will not be used for students. That is the intention. There is a desire to locate this new facility, which can handle initially a minimum of 32 students - and hopefully there will not be more than that - in Whitehorse, and we are calling it St. Elias Dorm as well. It will be located in the educational lands in Riverdale. There are extensive education lands in Riverdale currently. Unfortunately, some of those are zoned for recreational use and some are zoned for institutional construction. If we were to choose a plot of land, for example the land between Nisutlin Drive and Selkirk Street School, then we would have to go through a zoning change. It would require public hearings and all that sort of things, because it is currently zoned for recreational use. However, for example, if we were to choose the right hand side as you cross the bridge into Riverdale - the corner property in the F. H. Collins area - that is already zoned for institutional use and would require no zoning change. I know that Department of Education officials have had meetings with city planners to discuss possible locations already.
Mrs. Firth: With all due respect to the Minister and to us on this side, I think now the Minister has made himself clear. He did not tell us they were not going to be using the present St. Elias resident structure until just now. I think we can all understand that what the Minister is talking about is a new complex being built that is going to be called St. Elias Residence as well, but is going to be a community kind of settlement, as opposed to the present structure that is there.
I would like to ask the Minister two questions, then. I would like to know if he knows what the old residence is going to be used for, what is going to be housed there, and how big an area we are talking about - in lot sizes, square feet or metres or whatever they are measuring it in now. I would like to have some idea of how big an area we are talking about in Riverdale.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes, I think I have made myself clear now and I think the Member understands what is being anticipated here. The old St. Elias dormitory will be surplus and will be sold unless the government, through its normal procedures, identifies a need for it. I suspect at this point that it will be sold. The plan at this moment seems to build what effectively will be the equivalent size of four medium-sized houses, with a central facility for administration and cooking.
Mrs. Firth: Now we are starting to get somewhere. We are going to build four houses in the same area. Children who are utilizing the schools are going to have adult supervisors staying in these houses. Are we then going to take on the Operation and Maintenance costs of those houses and the salaries for those supervisors, or are the supervisors going to come and do this on a volunteer basis? Perhaps the Minister could elaborate a little more on how this is going to work. What are the projected Operation and Maintenance costs for this facility?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Firstly, the projected Operation and Maintenance costs - incremental increases - are approximately $21,000. As for utilities and custodial services, the persons who would act as community support would be nominated by the agent, school committee or band, in the community, through some sort of consensus mechanism. At this point it is basically considered that we would provide what might be referred to as a granny suite, and access to the kitchen in the same manner that students have access to the kitchen. Apart from that there is no consideration to paying these individuals as full time counselors; they would simply be given free room and board in a sense. That is the planning at this stage.
Mrs. Firth: Do I understand correctly, then, that we are going to build a little community for the students to go to school? I would like to know who is going to be responsible for the maintenance and upkeep. Are these supervisors going to have to do the cleaning, vacuuming, washing dishes, mowing the lawn and all the rest of the day-to-day chores that are involved in keeping up a house? It sounds like the government is going to build four houses and give them, free of charge, to individuals who want to live in it under the basis that they will be supervising children from out of town, who will be utilizing the school facilities while they go to school? I hope it is strictly for out of town children, or will there be local children using it as well? Is there going to be a time limit on how long people can live in these accommodations? Is it for the duration of the childs education? Perhaps the Minister could elaborate a bit more on some of the questions that have been asked.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This facility is primarily for students. It is a place for students from rural areas - who either do not have any kind of grade options in their schools, or who cannot receive options within a grade from their local school - to come to Whitehorse and go to F.H. Collins where the full range of options is available. Currently, and well into the future, I project, given the waiting list and the need for this facility, and given the fact that the government historically has provided even some of the service to northern BC residents, at full recovery, the facility will be used by rural students - not Whitehorse students. The facility itself may be designed as four houses, but it will be a facility for students.
There are currently 24-hour supervisory personnel, custodial personnel, kitchen, cooking personnel at the St. Elias dormitory. Those people would move from the old St. Elias dormitory downtown to the new St. Elias dormitory, projected, at this point, to be in Riverdale. They will continue to provide the kind of service that they provide currently: the supervision, the counselling, the cooking and the cleaning and all that sort of thing. I am sure that they would be ensuring that the student pick up in their rooms as they normally do anyway, but with respect to the use of what I will call for a moment granny suites, those suites would be for the use - as projected at this moment - of respected people in various communities, maybe three or four of these, perhaps, who would be permitted to live for the duration of the school year. They would, in likelihood, be respected elders in those communities who are prepared to come to Whitehorse to add more of a home community atmosphere to the residence itself and provide certain kinds of input for the students. They would not be duplicating what the supervisory personnel currently do. They would not try to prevent drugs from coming into the residence. They would not try to do many of the things that the supervision staff do, but they would provide the cultural element which is considered extremely important for the students who are staying at the residence.
Mrs. Firth: Are we talking about four separate houses, each with their own cooking facilities? The Minister is indicating that there is one common area for recreation, cooking facilities, eating facilities, where the students would all gather so that they would still be eating together. Can the Minister tell us if he has a design or a conceptual drawing on this facility so that we have a better understanding of what he is proposing?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: When the conceptual design is ready, I will give it to the Member. It is not completed, but it ought to be completed before the end of the fiscal year. Approximately $50,000 is allocated for design engineering and blueprint development. That hopefully will be done in this current year. We do not wish to duplicate kitchen facilities in all of the units, but that they have a central facility for administration and kitchen facilities. They would look like houses. Hopefully, with the atmosphere that is created, they would feel more like home rather than an intimidating institutional setting.
St. Elias Student Residence in the amount of $900,000 agreed to
On Robert Service School Upgrade
Mrs. Firth: In his opening comments, the Minister talked about the design work and the consultation that took place on the Dawson School and how it was going to be used for a variety of purposes. He cited the library as one of the purposes. There is $5.168 million here, and the total cost of the project is going to be, in the multi-year estimation, $9.131 million. Can the Minister tell us what other facilities this project is proposing to provide? I heard that it is going to have a swimming pool. Is that true?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It may well have a swimming pool, but any recreation facilities associated with the building would be constructed by the City of Dawson as per block funding arrangements with those communities.
We have agreed, through the community school concept, to build the school to the extent of $9.131 dollars and include the public library and the public meeting room area in that for a variety of functions. The community groups want to ensure that the old school site, once the school is torn down, can be made available for other purposes.
When the conceptual drawings were undertaken, the architect was asked to ensure that future developments could take place on that site so that in the long tern a proper community school concept could be fulfilled in the future.
We have agreed in principle that that should be the case. All recreational facilities will be the responsibility of the City of Dawson. If, in the future, there was more need for perhaps a community learning centre or other services, then this would be an ideal location and would enhance the concept of a community school.
Mrs. Firth: I find the cost seems rather high considering we do not have to build a gymnasium. We are going to use the present one and we are talking then about the school library and meeting room. I am concerned why the costs seem to be so much. Perhaps the costs of building schools has gone up that much, but $9.1 million seems extremely high to build a school to serve the population of the students in Dawson.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As the Member will note, just the Jeckell gymnasium and auxiliary features are well over $2 million, and what we are doing in Dawson is building everything but the gymnasium. That is the reason why the expenditure is so high. That is correct. We are building all but the gymnasium. That is all classrooms, ancillary room, the public library, the school library and all facilities are going to be incorporated into this expenditure. All but the gymnasium. One can only imagine that if the gymnasium for a school such as Jeckell is in the neighbourhood of $2.7 million, one can project that for a much greater commitment, such as the construction of the lions portion of the school - it is going to be in the neighbourhood of $9 million.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister has misinterpreted my point. I was saying that I found the costs high, considering that we did not have to build a new gymnasium. So the Minister is saying that if we had to build a gymnasium in Dawson that the cost of this school would be $11 million, with another couple for a gymnasium. That is for 178 students. Has the school got some special features? Is this the cost of a standard school nowadays - $11 million for 178 students? Are there some special features, is it local materials? Why is it going to cost so much?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Firstly, it is going to cost a good deal because we are building a school that covers kindergarten to grade 12, with all the various functions. The plans are available for the Members perusal if she would like to see them. If Members would like to refer to a Department of Education report that I have tabled today, the design of the school is featured on the cover of that report.
The school itself is an institution that is much more solidly built than is the case in residential construction. The cost per square foot is higher.
The school does not involve all the functions that I mentioned. It is expensive to build a major facility of this nature in this territory, and if the Member wants to get into some detail about the actual construction, I can do that.
Mrs. Firth: I just want some justification from the government as to why it costs so much. I do not think it is unreasonable if I stand up and say that, to us, that seems extremely high for a school. It is not relevant whether the picture of it is on the report or whatever. It just looks like an average building. It does not look like something that is going to be terribly costly, building material-wise, and so on. The Minister is saying that with a gymnasium it would be $11 million or so. We are going to spend $9 million. I would like to know why. Are costs escalating that much to build schools? We built a school in Porter Creek that was extremely expensive, I thought at the time, for about $8 million or $9 million, but it was housing twice as many students. I would just like some clarification. I am not being picayune or picky. We are just trying to find out how this government determines how much money they are going to spend on a school and what the costs are of building new schools today.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not think there is anything unreasonable about asking about the cost of schools. I do not want the Member to misinterpret the comments I am making as either resentment or frustration with the question. There is no such thing. When the government initially went into this project, it walked into the project with the BC standard for classroom size for certain programs that are projected to be offered at the school.
Chairman: Order, please. The time being five-thirty, we will recess to seven-thirty.
Chairman: The Committee of the Whole will now come to order.
On Robert Service School upgrade
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There were a number of things that contributed to the cost of the Robert Service School in Dawson. I will try to explain some of those. The school got into initial problems as a result of an inadequate foundation, so extra special effort has been made, through engineering and construction, to ensure that those foundation problems do not reoccur. Extra expense has been engaged as a result of that in terms of the placement of the pilings and the number of the pilings.
The Department of Education discussed what was necessary for the Robert Service School based on a list of those requirements that would fit the British Columbia standard, by which we voluntarily abide.
The BC standard refers to the amount of classroom space necessary for certain kinds of programming. Even though there are less than 200 students at the Robert Service School, the classroom space for certain kinds of programs is necessarily required, given the range of programs that are offered at the school and given the fact that it is a full elementary to high school.
As a result of that and discussions with the community design committee, a listing of floor area for the main floor to second floor was subsequently determined, and that was the basis upon which the architect then drew conceptual drawings.
The architect also knew, in the design, that this would be a community school which would allow the community access to the school at various times, so special provision had to be made for public access and security in the design. There was also the recognition that the old school, the school that was to be replaced, was subsequently to be demolished as part of the overall project costing.
In any case, those were many of the significant items which contributed to the cost of the project. As I recall, one other significant feature was the historic bylaw which required that extra care be taken to ensure that various aspects of the facade and the structure itself conformed to the historical nature of the city. That included such things as ensuring that it be solid wood doors rather than metal doors and solid wood frames, et cetera. There was an extra cost due to that.
I would presume the Members would simply assume this: there is a cost associated with the extra costs over and above what it might cost in Whitehorse to construct such a facility, an extra cost associated with constructing a facility that is about 320 miles from Whitehorse. So all of those together contributed to what I call extra costs for this particular building.
Mr. Nordling: Does the Minister know the number of square feet in the building, so that we can calculate a cost per square foot, or does the Minister have a cost per square foot or per square metre estimate?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I anticipated the question, and I have got a breakdown that I certainly can provide to Members with respect to classroom space et cetera, but in terms of the total cost per square for the institution - and this includes all things: it includes the design, all equipment, government services, administration and the contingency fee, and also the desire to revise the roof elevation in the old wing to be maintained. It works out to be $194 per square foot.
Mrs. Firth: Would the Minister tell us if the low bidder was the successful bidder in this contract, and did they implement the value added concept when the contract for this project was awarded.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The low bidder was not awarded the contract. After the impact of the Northern Business Incentive Program that exists now, there was $3,000 difference between two bids - the low bid being a non northern contractor. The Management Board awarded the contract to the northern contractor.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister tell me if the value added concept of the Business Incentive Policy was implemented, because that policy is in effect today, I believe. I would like to know if it was taken into account when this contract was awarded.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Specifically, no. The reason for the consideration of the low bidder is the past poor performance of the low bidder on projects that it was working on in Alberta, and previous contracts that we researched. We discussed that with the company and although there was no agreement, we made them aware of our position as is required under the present contract directive.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister tell me what the projected Operation and Maintenance costs are for this new facility?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The projected Operation and Maintenance costs at this point are $49,800. This includes utilities of $34,600 and custodial of $15,200.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister tell us what the present Operation and Maintenance costs are for the facility that exists now?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: No, I could not. I would have to ask the department for that information. This is the incremental increase to the project minus the fire watch. Currently, there is a fire watch for the Robert Service School as a result of insurance requirements.
Mrs. Firth: Do I understand the Minister to say that the Operation and Maintenance costs are going up by $49,000 to what they are presently because of the new facility?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That is correct.
Robert Service School Upgrade in the amount of $5,168,000 agreed to
On Porter Creek Junior Secondary Expansion
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As I explained briefly in general debate, there are a number of schools in the city, including Porter Creek Junior Secondary School and Takhini Elementary, that have been identified as schools that are going to be facing student population pressures. For example, enrollment this year increased from 336 to 374 between June and September. There is a feeling that the amount of space available in this school will be deficient shortly. There is a desire to design and construct additional space at the school.
Mrs. Firth: I understand it is for classrooms, and the projected costs are $750,000. When will that be completed?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The actual construction is to take place in 1988-89, and we are looking at a minimum of four classrooms. Presently, there is not sufficient classroom space, and there is no room for a computer lab. As was reported at a school committee meeting, the learning assistants class is operating out of a small storeroom, so there is a desire to get this job underway as soon as possible. It will be undertaken in the 1989-90 capital year.
Mrs. Firth: Is that going to take into account the whole $750,000 for the four classrooms, or are there more classrooms to come?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That will take into account all of the classroom space that we project at this time that will be required.
Mr. Nordling: Could the Minister explain why we are budgeting $106,000 this year if the total of the construction of $750,000 is going to be done in 1988-89?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: First of all, there has to be design work done and once the design work is done, some initial construction for renovations of the existing school can take place prior to the major portion of the construction in the following fiscal year. There will be some preparatory work done within the school before the actual construction.
Mr. Nordling: Can the Minister tell us when it will be totally complete?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Given all of this advance planning, it ought to be completed at the end of this summer of 1989.
Porter Creek Junior Secondary Expansion in the amount of $106,000 agreed to
On Takhini Elementary Expansion
Mrs. Firth: How many classrooms is that for?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Takhini Elementary Expansion is projected for two classrooms plus ancillary rooms as there are a number of counselling functions that are currently taking place in dead space in the hallways.
Takhini Elementary Expansion in the amount of $500,000 agreed to
On Facility Design (Urban)
Mrs. Firth: I would like to ask which is going to come first here. Are they going to pick the location for the school and then look for a design or are they going to find a design and then look for a location?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There has to be a priority set. There is some feeling that an elementary to junior high school in the neighbourhood of 350 students is required. There is also a feeling in other portions of the community that a priority ought to be a replacement of Christ the King Elementary School to an expanded state. That will have to be determined. We will have to respond to whatever priority is established in this coming year. We will have to determine simultaneously the location and the size of the school and ultimately make a decision and start design in this capital year to meet the priority that we set.
Mrs. Firth: I do not believe the Minister answered the question. Have they got a location picket out? There is $5.6 million identified as the projected cost, the multi-year project total estimated cost. If you compare the cost of that to the cost of the school in Dawson City it could be questionable as to what kind of facility it is going to be, and how big it is going to be. It does not look like it is going to have a gymnasium or it is not going to be that big a facility.
I would like to know when we are going to have a decision as to where it is going to go, and if we are going to have that decision made before the design is looked at. I am sure that one could have a bearing on the other.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The reason for the $5.6 million projection is that the school is projected to be an elementary level school. The numbers of classrooms and specialty areas will not be required as they are in a high school. It is clearly a rough estimate. If priorities determine that it should be a high school or a junior high with more sophisticated facilities then clearly the revised total estimate for the school will change. It is our every intention to provide as decent a facility in Whitehorse as we would in Dawson or any other community.
The location has not been determined. That is part of the priority setting for the government in terms of what school is most needed, and where that school is most needed. As I indicated before, that will be the most topical of any of the discussions involving the actual plan.
Mrs. Firth: I am trying to assess where the Minister got this $5.6 million figure. I clearly heard him say before the dinner break that it was going to be a new elementary school. Now the Minister is saying that, if it is not going to be an elementary school, they are going to need more sophisticated technical equipment, and it could cost more. Where did the $5.6 million figure come from, and were there any projected Operation and Maintenance costs to go along with this?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As I indicated, given our understanding of the information we have gleaned, our best guess at this point is that it will probably be an elementary school. That is what we have based our multi-year projection on. If it is determined, through consultation with the public and the Education Council, that the priority is an elementary cum junior secondary school - which would require more sophisticated facilities - then we will have to revise our estimates. I repeat this for the record: without trying to anticipate the results of discussions we are going to have with the Education Council with respect to the actual plan, this is a best guess. That is all I can say at this point.
With respect to the Operation and Maintenance costs, it would depend on the size. If one wanted to draw comparisons, in terms of what we have projected as a best guess, the Operation and Maintenance costs associated with the Jack Hulland School would be roughly equivalent to what you can expect from a school that has 350 students at the elementary level.
Mrs. Firth: I get the feeling the Minister is making things up as he goes along. Where does the $5.6 million come from? The Minister says it is the best guess we can make. I do not think you set a Capital Budget by guessing. Are we looking at building a school for a certain number of children? What was the criteria to determine this $5.6 million figure? What were the factors involved in the guess?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As I indicated, the best guess did not come from the Minister sitting in his office and saying $5.6 million might be a decent figure to project into the Capital Budget. That is not the kind of guessing I am talking about. Leave guessing aside. This is the best estimate by the officials in Government Services who are asked to draw some conclusions based on existing experience, based on 350 students, based on elementary school status. That is what they base the $5.6 million on.
Facility Design (Urban) in the amount of $100,000 agreed to
On Jack Hulland Upgrade and Renovations
Mr. Nordling: With respect to the Jack Hulland Upgrade and Renovations, could the Minister just give us a more detailed breakdown of what it is going to be and when the total of $450,000 in the multi-year estimate is projected to be completed or spent?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: In this particular case, this is a project that could be phased - and I say this with all due respect to the people who are going to be putting together the Capital Budget, and next fall the Legislature will be reviewing the expenditures - over a period of time because it can be broken down into various components. But at this point, the idea is that it will be completed at the end of 1989; it is a two year project. Basically, this is to increase the size of the windows, install skylights in the primary wing and to upgrade the ventilation system, to install hot water lines to various classrooms and sinks, hot and cold water. As I said, portions of the work will be done this year and portions will be done in the future. The priority this ear will be, as I understand it, the water lines, but I will check on that for the Member; I am pretty certain the priority is water lines. The balance of the work, in all likelihood, will be done in the following year.
Mr. Nordling: Can the Minister tell us whether he expects any supplementaries for 1987-88? In the Revised Estimates in this Budget, there is nothing there, and I know there was work done on the Jack Hulland School this summer. I think when the kids went back there was painting being done and landscaping, and I do not see that anywhere here.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That would have been in last years Capital Budget. This is the 1988-89 Capital Budget.
Mr. Nordling: No, I was referring to the 1987-88, last years Capital Budget - there was nothing in it, and I just wondered if the Minister knew whether it would be brought in as a supplementary to the 1987-88 Estimates or whether it was regular O&M?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not have last years Capital Budget in front of me, but there is a variety of work that is considered O&M work, including painting, et cetera, which is done as a matter of course throughout the year on a fairly rigorous schedule but are not always identified in the Capital Budget as capital expenditures.
Jack Hulland Upgrade and Renovations in the amount of $100,000 agreed to
Chairman:Is there anything further?
On Chief Zzeh Gittlet School and Teacherage
Chief Zzeh Gittlet School and Teacherage in the amount of $40,000 agreed to
On Watson Lake High School Upgrade
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This is an expenditure that is projected for Watson Lake. The design work is to be completed by the end of the fiscal year. There is a tender, of course, for architectural work, which should be ready shortly and schematic drawings should be available this month for the design. There is also a community committee, similar in composition in many respects to that which existed and still does exist in Dawson, to help guide community input with respect to the facility itself. Various user groups such as the school committee and the town of Watson Lake, the Community Learning Centre advisory committee, and the Indian Band have been involved and have established the basis for the design program. This expenditure is expected to be the first expenditure of what is anticipated to be a total expenditure of approximately $5 million for the project, which is expected to go ahead this coming capital year.
Mrs. Firth: The Facilities Study talked about having one school in Watson Lake - moving the high school over to the elementary school. The government has obviously dismissed that as an option and is proceeding with the new high school. I believe the multi-year projected costs are $7.6 million.
Can the Minister tell us what the difference in Operation and Maintenance costs were when they looked at having one school as opposed to the two schools in Watson Lake?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes, that was actively pursued to determine the character of that particular option. If I am not mistaken, there were projections that if the three teachers plus some measure - which was not finally determined in terms of standard Operation and Maintenance - could have been removed from the community if the community were to go ahead with one single facility. This proposal was rejected by the government after the community roundly criticized and, I believe, almost unanimously rejected that option, considering that they felt that the town of Watson Lake was going to grow in size and was deserving of two distinct facilities, as had been the case over the previous number of years. They felt that, given the economic prospects for the community, and the relative vibrancy of the economy of the community, that in the long term two facilities were needed.
Mrs. Firth: Is the only difference in Operation and Maintenance costs the salaries for three teachers?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That is for three teachers plus the incremental difference in operating costs for operating one instead of two facilities and separate heating plants.
Mrs. Firth: I have heard that the difference in Operation and Maintenance costs could be as high as $4 million a year to have the two facilities instead of one. Could the Minister bring back the analysis that was done within the department to substantiate his claim so that we can see in black and white what the figures are that would be the difference in operating the two schools as opposed to the one in Watson Lake?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I can provide those projections to the Member. A difference of $4 million would more likely denote a difference between two facilities and no facility.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister tell us when the government expects to spend the whole $7.6 million on this facility.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The construction is scheduled to begin in this Capital Year. It is expected to be completed in 1989.
Mrs. Firth: This is the second or third project that the Minister has said will be completed in the 1989-90 budget year. Why do we not have the estimate down here as $7.693 million instead of just $2 million if the project is expected to be completed?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Anybody who is familiar with community consultation will know that it takes a considerable period of time. Given that we do not expect a detailed design to be completed for five or six months, we do not feel that it is realistic that the government could spend that kind of money this year.
Mrs. Firth: We have an example here now within one department of quite a few million dollars that would have been added to the Ministers budget that would have made it $5 million or $6 million dollars higher than it is. This could happen in other areas as well and would have made the total Capital Budget a lot more than the projected $100 million. If the project is to be finished by that time anyway, the Minister is going to come back and ask for more money to complete the project, to revote the money so he can complete the project. Why are they not adding it here for a truer statement of what the total budget is?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This Budget is a statement of what the government realistically thinks it can stand in this fiscal year.
In the case of the Watson Lake High School, it is expected that in this coming year, given that we anticipate that discussion with community user groups is going to be lengthy enough that construction will not get started until later in the year. Given that construction will likely take six months or more, the bulk of the work will take place in the year 1989-90, and will hopefully be completed by the end of the summer in 1989. That is what the projection is from the government in determining what realistically could be spent under the circumstances. I could put $7 million in the budget and $5 million would lapse because we could not spend that this year. We know it. We know that community consultation and the design will take some considerable time as it did in Dawson.
Watson Lake High School Upgrade in the amount of $2,000,000 agreed to
On Whitehorse Elementary Upgrade
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am pleased to announce that this is the final year of this project. I think I ought to invite all MLAs who have been in this Legislature over the course of the past four years to come to Whitehorse Elementary and we can all rejoice in the fact that the four year project as determined five or six years ago is finally going to be complete.
This work is going to include mill work and wall and floor finishings and plumbing fixtures. There has been consultation with the school committee and administration throughout the project. It has proceeded very smoothly. It is an old war horse of a building but is projected to last a great deal longer than was anticipated half a decade ago. With the renovations that have been undertaken over the course of the last four years, it has ultimately been a wise investment by the territory.
Mrs. Firth: Is the Minister saying they expect to spend the whole multi-year project total estimated cost of $1,282,000 by the summer of 1989, as with the Watson Lake School and projects before that?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The multi-year total for this particular project will be completed with this expenditure. We have been voting money all along for Whitehorse Elementary School, in terms of the upgrading. This is going to be the final year of the multi-year project.
Whitehorse Elementary Upgrade in the amount of $400,000 agreed to
On Grounds Improvement and Landscaping
Grounds Improvement and Landscaping in the amount of $163,000 agreed to
On Installation of Computer Labs - Various Schools
Installation of Computer Labs - Various Schools in the amount of $40,000 agreed to
On Christ the King High School Renovations
Christ the King High School Renovations in the amount of $90,000 agreed to
On Gymnasium Floor Refinishing - Various Schools
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister tell us which schools that is for?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This year, the schools that are scheduled are Takhini Elementary School and Christ the King High School.
Gymnasium Floor Refinishing - Various Schools in the amount of $90,000 agreed to
On JV Clark Ventilation Upgrade
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister elaborate a bit on the $50,000 expenditure?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There are three offices and some floor area in the industrial education area that are unvented, creating what the school committee and the staff and school administration consider to be an unsafe situation. These offices are not only used by the people in industrial arts, but are also used by remedial tutors and guidance counselors as areas for interviews and one on one situations. The work here is identified as a new ventilation system for this area that was constructed a number of years ago. An analysis has been done by Justice, Occupational Health and Safety Branch, who, after their inspection last year, stated that the rooms should not be used until they are properly vented, given that industrial arts involves welding and other activities in this area. This is for venting.
Mr. Lang: My concern is the amount of money we are talking about. How did you come up with the figure of $50,000 if we are talking about three basic rooms when, for example, in the arena at Ross River you are estimating the total mechanical and electrical to be $150,000, just in cost comparisons of the amount of work that has to be done? We are told $50,000 for venting three rooms. Why so much?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: No, they are inside the school. They are not on the edge. When the old-new school was placed in Mayo and they added the industrial education area three or four years ago, they included office space which is now basically incorporated into the actual school itself and is not on the periphery. It is interior to the school, with the industrial arts rooms, welding shops, et cetera, wrapped around these offices. Because of the access to these offices being from the industrial arts area, it was originally anticipated they should be used exclusively for industrial arts, but they are now being used where they are needed, which is remedial tutors, et cetera. The ventilation system is going to require ventilation to the outside, but it is not as easy as it would be if the rooms were on the periphery of the school. They are interior to the school.
Mr. Lang: When we get back in the spring, can the Minister provide a further evaluation of the amount of money that is being spent here, because it seems like a lot of money. I recognize the problem. I also have some knowledge of ventilation, and $50,000 is a lot of ventilation. I think perhaps he should ask Government Services to have a re-evaluation of exactly what is being asked to meet the objective, which I think all Members would share. The $50,000 is a lot of money and I just ask that they take another look at it to see whether or not it is an area where we can save some money and still accomplish what has to be done.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I can undertake to provide - shortly, we do not have to wait until the spring session - details of what is projected to take place.
J. V. Clark Ventilation Upgrade in the amount of $50,000 agreed to
On Alternatives for Handicap Access
Alternatives for Handicap Access in the amount of $40,000 agreed to
On Minor School Facility Alterations
Mrs. Firth: Perhaps the Minister could tell us what that is for?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This year, this expenditure is intended to do a number of things. It is intended to increase the storage and alterations to a room and the vice principals office at Porter Creek Junior Secondary School; install fume hoods for stoves at F. H. Collins which are to conduct air to the outside; build a second floor of shelving units into the storage room at Grey Mountain Primary School, which is currently just a big storeroom with a lot of unused ceiling space - the second floor being essentially a big shelf; provide protective covering for the windows around the courtyard at Johnson Elementary School in Watson Lake; install eavestroughs and downspouts at the St. Elias School in Haines Junction; modify doors at the school in Teslin; correct storage rooms and provide rated fire separation and fire doors at the school in Old Crow; and it also includes other projects of a more minor nature for schools around the territory.
On A.V. Library, Office and Miscellaneous Equipment
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This is to provide miscellaneous school equipment for all schools in the territory, to bring them up to approved standards. It is an historic expenditure; it is supposed to provide for the purchase of items such as film projectors, video machines, television sets, tape recorders, record players, typewriters, photocopiers, desks, chairs, tables, chalk boards, et cetera. The funds are actually divided up amongst most of the various schools, based on the numbers of students and the programs that are offered, and after consultation with the school committees who set forward priorities with the principal. The school committees were all asked in the fall to provide a projection of what were considered priorities for their schools, and it was on this basis that a preliminary figure was set as to the figure for the Legislature. School committees that had not been asked to do this in previous years voiced some objection, and they were given reassurance by the department that these preliminary lists were certainly subject to change should priorities change, and that is the assurance that we have given to them. We certainly have a listing of what is projected at this point to be the needs of the schools.
A.V. Library, Office and Miscellaneous Equipment in the amount of $200,000 agreed to
On Industrial Education and Home Economic Equipment
Industrial Education and Home Economic Equipment in the amount of $80,000 agree to
On Physical Education Equipment
Physical Education Equipment in the amount of $40,000 agreed to
On Music Instruments
Mr. McLachlan: I realize there are bands in at least one or two of Whitehorse schools, but if a need or a number of people in rural schools, say a half or dozen or so, who could form a band, would the Department of Education buy the instruments for the band on a no questions asked policy. Does there have to be a minimum number of students in a band group to form one? When will the department buy instruments for the band?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am not sure what the Member means by no questions asked. A number of things are taken into account. First of all, it has to be determined whether or not this is a priority subject area for the school, given the resources at the school. Quite often what might happen is that if the school committee expresses a specific request for band instruction, every effort will be made during the recruitment process to hire somebody who is not only a Physics/Math teacher, but who also is familiar with band. Quite often, the department can be successful in recruiting in that manner. If there is a desire by a school to start a band program, and if a teacher can be found within existing resources, et cetera, to initiate the band program, then clearly the government will try to respond with some instruments. In terms of a full band, I would suspect that it would be appropriate that the government determine whether there would be a sustainable desire for the band program that could be met before too much of an outlay is made. What has happened in the past is that if a band program has basically collapsed in a given school, efforts will be made to transfer those musical instruments to other schools, so there is no loss to the government of the inventory - it is put to that purpose.
Music Instruments in the amount of $30,000 agreed to
On Drapes Stage and Window
Drapes Stage and Window in the amount of $34,000 agreed to
On Instructional Computers
Instructional Computers in the amount of $250,000 agreed to
On AV Equipment French Language
AV Equipment French Language in the amount of $8,000 agreed to
On Classroom Equipment French Immersion
Classroom Equipment French Immersion in the amount of $15,000 agreed to
On Instructional Computers French First Language
Instructional Computers French First Language in the amount of $6,000 agreed to
On Materials French First Language
Materials French First Language in the amount of $2,000 agreed to
On Kindergarten Equipment
Kindergarten Equipment in the amount of $10,000 agreed to
On Special Education Equipment
Special Education Equipment in the amount of $10,000 agreed to
On Industrial Standards
Industrial Standards in the amount of $5,000 agreed to
Public Schools in the amount of $10,557,000 agreed to
Chairman: Before moving on to Advanced Education, is it the wish of the Committee to take a brief recess?
We will now recess for ten minutes.
Chairman: The Committee of the Whole will now come to order.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister was going to come back with an answer regarding the discrepancy in the concrete costs overruns. When we last discussed it, he said that he would bring it back when we did the college. The Minister has a puzzled look on his face. The newspaper article said that there was a cost overrun on concrete of $500,000, and that was from the deputy minister of the department. The Minister stated in the House that there was a cost overrun of $1 million, and he had made a commitment to come back with an explanation of the discrepancy.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The cost overrun of $500,000 referred to the cost overrun on the trades building, which has a large amount of concrete. The $500,000 referred to determined the major cost overrun for the trades building.
Mrs. Firth: The projected Operation and Maintenance costs of Yukon College were quoted as being $3 million. Is that the correct cost?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: A number of things have happened. There was a projection requested of the college with respect to a wish list of what they would like to see in the college, and it included new programs and a variety of things. That wish list was substantial and was beyond what it currently cost to operate the college. The government then honed that list down to what was essential, given the size of the new building, the location, et cetera, and determined that the projected Operation and Maintenance cost incremental increase for the college would be $678,900 as a basic figure for the components that we have projected as being the three wings and the residence to be constructed. That would also include a projection of eight person years. These figures have not been approved by Management Board, but are still the best guess the department has as to the basic Operation and Maintenance, which would include $236,000 for utilities, $198,000 for custodial security, $64,000 for finance administration personnel - that would involve two persons: one in the mailroom and one as receptionist - and $180,000 for food services. That is the total projection at this time of the basic Operation and Maintenance incremental increase over current year estimates.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister made some comments earlier in his opening statement, first of all that the new Yukon College was on schedule with its construction. The opening was expected to be in September of 1988. When are the employees and staff and equipment and so on going to be moved from the old college site to the new college?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The initial plans at this stage are, that for the entire first week of June, a move of all personnel and movable items would be made from the old Yukon College to the new Yukon College. All major items which have not been removed by that time would be removed subsequently and placed at the new college site. The first week in June is the expected removal date.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister of Government Services has said that the departments that are going to move into the old college will probably be moving in June as well, and there are going to be some renovations required. Can the Minister of Education tell us if the renovations are going to be going on before the move takes place? Is that what his department officials anticipate?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: We do not anticipate any renovations taking place while classes are ongoing at the college. There will be a period prior to the first week in June when there are not expected to be classes, but at this stage we would expect there to be no disruption of classroom activity during the period when any renovations will occur.
Mrs. Firth: When does the Minister anticipate that the multi-year projected cost for Yukon College new building construction, total $38.2 million, will be expended?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: All phases of the college, which include the wings now and the residence, are expected to be completed to September of 1988. The construction of the gymnasium, which is the last facility that would be directly managed under the auspices of the college, would be completed the following summer. The other facilities at the site would include the art centre and the archival facility and it is projected that the Archives will be completed in the summer of 1989 as well - if not the fall of 1989, then certainly for a transition in the calendar year of 1989 for the archives facilities.
Chairman: Is there any further general debate on Advanced Education? If not we will proceed to the first line item.
On Yukon College New Building Construction
Mrs. Firth: We have talked generally about some cost overruns at the Yukon College and the Minister had made a commitment to come back with the reasons for the cost overruns, or to present them to us in writing, and we have not seen anything so far. Is the Ministe@Head = Whitehorse, Yukon
Tuesday, January 5, 1988
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. At this time we will begin with Prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.
Are there any Returns or Documents for tabling?
TABLING OF RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have for tabling a document entitled Takhini Area Transportation Study.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have for tabling
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I have for tabling a return (Whats he talking about?)
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Are there any Petitions?
Introduction of Bills?
Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Are there any Notices of Motion?
Are there any Statements by Ministers?