Tuesday, March 29, 1988 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will call the House to order. We will proceed at this time with Prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.
Introduction of visitors?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Speaker: Under tabling of returns and documents, I have for tabling a letter dated March 14, 1988 from the hon. Lowell Murray, Leader of the Government in the Senate, Minister of State for Federal-Provincial Relations. This letter is written on behalf of the Prime Minister of Canada and is in response to a resolution passed by this Assembly concerning the 1987 Constitutional Accord.
Are there any other returns or documents for tabling?
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?
Fur Enhancement Program
Hon. Mr. Porter: Today, I would like to advise the Assembly of my governments policy of increased support to the Yukons fur industry. Although we have, in the past, offered assistance to the industry, our new policy is a comprehensive package of support for Yukon trappers. Delivered jointly by the Department of Renewable Resources and the Department of Economic Development, the Fur Enhancement Program will provide $625,000 over two years, for a variety of initiatives. In combination with our work to protect the fur industry from the anti-trapping groups, this funding will significantly improve the industrys ability to produce a world class product, and it will help to ensure that our fur industry produces at capacity - providing a truly sustainable economy for much of rural Yukon.
The main features of the program include: an enhanced program of trapper education. Over two years, $110,000 will be provided by the EDA Program to continue and improve the Trapper Education Program. Experienced trappers will be provided support to hold community-based workshops for new trappers. This will help to improve the quality of the fur produced in the Yukon.
New trapline surveys will be funded so the long term development of trapping areas will be possible. Maps of the trapping areas will be produced. These will identify potential access routes, cabin sites and good habitat areas for fur bearers; $70,000 over two years will be made available for these surveys from the Department of Renewable Resources. Of special interest will be the habitat information that is collected because it will help to determine the sustainable harvest levels for fur. We will eventually know just how much fur is out there and how much we can harvest.
An additional $40,000 over two years will be provided through the Yukon Trappers Association to provide support for the establishment of local fur councils. This will provide for stronger local organization and a stronger overall trappers association. This will also help in the fight against the anti-fur movement.
Our fourth initiative will help to improve communications between my department and trappers and to improve the early season cash flow for the remote trappers. A Trapline Visits Program will be established. A further $40,000 will be allocated by the department to allow for visits to the remote trapping areas. The main benefit, besides better communication, will be the improved ability of the remotely based trappers to get fur out of the bush earlier and then to the fur auctions.
We are all aware of the problems created by the anti-fur campaign. Our 750 registered trappers face a loss of income and lifestyle, and we have been doing several things, both directly and indirectly, to fight the anti-fur movement; but it also has been pointed out that our best line of defense in some ways is Yukoners themselves. So we are enhancing our public education budget this year by $30,000.
Our sixth initiative is to provide support for the Trap Exchange Program. This program provides a $35,000 fund to assist long time trappers to move away from leg hold traps and exchange them for the more efficient quick kill traps.
One of the most significant other aspects of the program is the public relations benefits. A large number of southerners who might otherwise sympathize with the anti-fur campaign because of the leg hold trap issue say that, as long as there is work being done by governments on more humane trapping techniques, then trapping is okay. They are not opposed to using fur but they are opposed to the cruel treatment in their minds of the methods by which fur is trapped.
The last and most important announcement I want to make today is for a new program of operating capital grants for trappers. Through the Department of Economic Development, $300,000, over two years, will be made available. Trappers will be able to apply for a grant up to 25 percent of their capital requirements. This will allow them to go to a lending institution with some equity in hand and get the early season loans that are often necessary.
This program is almost a return to the grubstaking practiced by the Taylor and Drury Company in the Yukons early days, and for younger or new trappers it should allow a much easier startup. I believe that this will significantly improve the use of economic returns from the fur resources. The economic benefits to the rural economy will be large and the investment will have been well worth it.
In all cases these are projects that have been recommended by the trappers themselves. In particular, this program directly responds to the recommendations of the Select Committee on Renewable Resources and the suggestions of the Yukon 2000 workshops. We are responding directly to the expressed needs of trappers and all Yukoners.
The fur industry can be an economic cornerstone of our rural economy and the fur enhancement policy and program will be a major tool to help implement the Yukon Economic Strategy. Thank you.
Mr. Brewster: Sometimes when I get long statements like that I think there is something hidden in there and I think there is a little bit hidden in here, in not really saying what we want to do. I also have a problem with it because, as my daughter often tells me, I am a square. I guess that means I lived in a world where people stood on their own feet. As I mentioned to the Minister when he brought this in, the next thing you know they will be having television on all the traplines. Anyway, this is the new modern world. The Trapper Education Program I think we all will agree has been a great success for a long, long time. I see no problems with it. I would, however, be very interested to know just how many people take it who do not trap. It would be quite interesting and I will be asking the Minister for that later on.
The new trapline survey is something I have a problem with because I did not think there were any new traplines in the Yukon. It is my understanding in conversations in this Legislature that all traplines were taken, or at least registered. I suppose we can justify this one, and I think we can justify it by the fact that we are making a survey to know how much harvest or fur is in the area. I do, frankly, have a problem if we are going to start flying trappers all over and letting them spot where the good game is during the trapping season, which we do not allow to hunters and outfitters. They are doing it even though it is against the law. We are opening this up a little more all the time.
They have $40,000 for local fur councils. I agree completely with that; however, I would caution that I hope this remains with the Yukon Trappers Association, and we do not create another form of government that is going to start to handle this and get into a new trappers association. The trappers know by far the best way to do this.
The fourth one, the Trapline Visits Program, is a new one. I can recall for years when I first came to this country that the Indian people would come in and take their grub, and you would not see them for three or four months. They would be out there alone. Now, we are going to fly around and visit them. I suppose this is justified, that you are bringing the fur out and, then, they can get the fur to the market earlier. I cannot argue that the earlier you get out the better price you get.
Number five, public education, I agree, is a good one. However, last time we talked about registered traplines, I believe 25 percent of the traplines were not being used. If we are not using the traplines to their full capacity, I wonder why we go to such an extent. I would be interested to see, and we will be asking in Committee of the Whole, how many traplines are not being used this year.
On the sixth one, I look across to the hon. Member for Klondike. The select committee made that one, so I will not say much, but agree with it 100 percent.
On number seven, Operating Capital Grants, there is only word I do not like there, and that is grants. Here we go again: grants, grants, grants. I would much prefer that to be loans, and there are a number of reasons for this. Number one is, I think we all have to agree as you continually give out unemployment insurance and welfare, and all these things, there is always a select group of people who want to live this way. I am very concerned that, with these large numbers of grants, we are going to find a whole bunch of new trappers arriving in the area. Therefore, I think it is very important that one recommendation of the select committee should be put into this, so that we do not start to get abuse of this right away. That motion was that there be no more than one trappers assistants licence on any trapline, and there cannot be more than two assistant trappers on any line.
I will be bringing forth a motion into this House very shortly. It was suggested to me by the hon. Member for Riverdale North. It is that we, across Canada, have a trapper awareness week. I think if this was passed by this Legislature and passed by all the other legislatures, it would help more in understanding trappers and what trappers are about than a lot of these programs where we spend a lot of money. It should not cost a great deal to do this through the Legislature. The hon. Member for Riverdale North has assured me they will back me on this motion.
Mr. McLachlan: I would like to arise in support of a number of initiatives in this program. I am aware that for Yukons indigenous people, this program has been a number of years in the developing. I have only two short comments to do with number seven. If 750 trappers applied for the grant, it seems that $150,000 per year would not go very far. I hope that the Minister has spoken to some of the financial institutions and has some idea of what they are going to request before putting up any other money. My experience in dealing with financial institutions on areas where there is not a regular payroll cheque is that they can be pretty rigid.
I would have appreciated in the Ministerial Statement some idea as to what their calculations were for a return on the amount of money being spent. At a figure of $312,000 for two years, it will not take long before the $1 million estimated annual fur yield would be used up. It is perhaps a little expensive in relation to what we harvest, but I remain open to any comments that the Minister may have in trying to give us some measure of the yield or financial benefit of this program.
Speaker: This then brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: North shore oil and gas
Mr. Lang: This side of the House is concerned about what is going to happen to the Yukons north coast. We believe that in the long term, it could provide a very major source of revenue for the people of the territory if it is managed properly and if the necessary environmental safeguards are developed for further offshore oil exploration or for onshore ports for the Arctic.
The question of the proposed northern accord was raised yesterday and I want to pursue it a little further with the Government Leader. Yesterday, in answer to a question raised by the Member for Porter Creek West, the Government Leader said the following: We have a broad mandate that has come to Cabinet for approval.
My first question to the Government Leader is: could he provide the House with a copy of this mandate?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I regret not, because we are talking about a negotiating mandate, and I do not believe we want to show our hand publicly in negotiations with the federal government and the Northwest Territories. Let me also indicate to the Member now that the broad objectives that Cabinet has taken will have to be refined once the federal government has given a mandate to the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs. The Member may know, from a number of public statements, that Mr. McKnight is seeking a mandate now from the federal cabinet and is expected, I think, to receive one soon. To begin the negotiations, we will need to know something about whether the federal government, one, is going to agree to let him embark on them, and, two, what the scope of those negotiations will be. At that point, we will have to refine our mandate in order to allow us to come to the table.
I am prepared, at some point during the Estimates or in the House, to make a statement about our broad objectives; I do not think Question Period would be an ideal time to do that. I think I would like to be a little more reserved about the particulars of the mandate as we go into the negotiations - not to reveal our position to the other two parties.
Mr. Lang: It is not clear to me, and I would ask the Government Leader this: has the Cabinet approved a mandate for negotiations?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I indicated to the Member yesterday that we have considered it broadly and we have considered some broad principles for the negotiations, but unless and until the federal minister is given a mandate by his cabinet, we do not know yet what issues are going to be on the table. Once he has a mandate and indicates the scope of negotiations, we will in any case, based on some of the work done for us by Mr. Cotteral, have to come back and refine it and get a precise negotiating mandate.
Mr. Lang: I find this kind of confusing. It is my understanding that the Government of the Northwest Territories has been dealing with this issue for over a year, and I am informed further that the Government of the Northwest Territories has retained a number of very highly respected individuals who have been involved in the oil and gas industry for many years.
The ex-Premier of Alberta, Peter Lougheed, is an example of one. My concern is that it seems to me that we do not have a position other than a number of objectives.
Speaker: Would the Member get to the question please.
Mr. Lang: I would ask the Government Leader how long Mr. Cotteral has been retained by this government.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I would have to take the question as notice as to the precise date of his appointment, but it has been a number of months. I should explain to the Member that when we first became apprised of the potential willingness of the federal government to join these negotiations, our Cabinet created an interdepartmental working group that has been working on this issue. One of the decisions made by Cabinet was to retain the best available advice we could get within reasonable means. The Member opposite mentions that the Government of the Northwest Territories has retained the services of some very high profile, but I would also indicate also some very expensive talent, to assist them in the negotiations. Our position has been to move a little more cautiously and not to commit a large sum of money to this project until we know for sure that the federal government was going to be proceeding with negotiations.
We have, though, been in a general way preparing ourselves for those negotiations.
Question re: North shore oil and gas
Mr. Lang: This is a very important issue on this side of the House. In good part I believe it is going to set the future for Yukon and Yukons ability to be self sufficient in years to come. The job this government does with respect to negotiating a northern accord of the oil and gas potential of the Yukon is going to be a major contributor, positively or negatively, in many years to come.
When is the calendar going to be set so that active negotiations can begin by our government with the Government of Canada with respect to this particular issue?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I must emphasize that until such time as the federal minister is given a mandate by his Cabinet, formal negotiations cannot start. Such an astute reader of the national publications as the Member opposite will know that it is not absolutely certain that the federal minister responsible for the north will get such a mandate. There are interests within the federal government who are not in favour of a northern accord. Let me just say that.
We have had informal discussions with the federal government and with the Government of the Northwest Territories, we have briefed ourselves on the issues that are potentially on the table, and we have retained the services of Mr. Ewan Cotteral, who, as the Member opposite knows, was a former senior official not only of DIAND, but has also had senior posts in the oil industry. We believed that in that person we are obtaining for a reasonable expense the kind of experience and expertise that would prepare us in a general way. If the federal minister gets a mandate, we will obviously get down to those negotiations in earnest.
Speaker: Would the Member please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Yes. We will at that point be detailing our mandate for the negotiations and then getting down to the work.
Question re: Hyland Forest Products
Mr. McLachlan: With respect to the Hyland Forest Products in Watson Lake, the Throne Speech refers to 200 men at the mill site. Recent publications by the government refer to a number of 94. Can the Government Leader advise why the number of employees at the mill site has suddenly jumped by 106 additional employees?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have the text of neither publication in front of me. I would guess that the difference in the numbers refers to the difference between those who are actually at the mill and those who have been employed in the woods or in transporting logs to the mill. The broad number of 200 may describe the total employment impact of the mill in Watson Lake.
Mr. McLachlan: Who was responsible for pricing the product at the mill? Is it the accountant hired by the company? Is it the Deputy Minister of Economic Development? Is it the Minister? Is it Jack Sigalit and Associates?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: It is the manager, the latter person identified by the Member opposite.
Mr. McLachlan: Why is the price of the product at the mill substantially lower than what larger competitive operations in British Columbia are presently selling their product for?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have no information that that is the case but, in any event, I will be happy to take the question as notice and have officials of Yukon Development Corporation either provide a written response directly to the Member or for tabling in this House.
Question re: Hyland Forest Products
Mr. McLachlan: I think the Government Leader should, in investigating that answer he just gave, be very careful in checking out his facts. Some of us believe that that gate price at the mill is priced artificially low to create the impression of a business attracting business from the number of areas. For one, I have a great deal of concern because we had a small operating sawmill in our riding of Faro, and that business is gone now. It has gone to the subsidized operation at Watson Lake.
Does the Government Leader or the development corporation intend to release a set of guidelines that they would expect to be followed when the mill is sold, that is, in respect to job guarantees, price, and future expenditures on the mill?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: In answer to the first part of the question, which is a representation of the prices of the products at the mill, I will convey the representation to the officials of the Yukon Development Corporation. In respect to the second question, I do not know at this point if that is a likely basis for sale of the assets of the Hyland Forest Products or not. The Member is essentially suggesting there may be some conditions attached to the sale that would protect the interests of the community and the employees.
I am sure we would, in making the sale, want to achieve perhaps the same objectives as the Member opposite. At this point, I could not guarantee in any way that those would be specific items in any agreement for sale.
Mr. McLachlan: Could the Government Leader further advise if the government or the development corporation intends to put more money into capital expenditures at the millsite, or is the plant to be sold on an as is, where is basis?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: My general disposition, as the Minister responsible, is to see the plant in good running order before it is sold, and I think it must be a viable business when we sell it. I think the other objective that I indicated in answer - I believe, to a question from the Member in the fall - is the assessment of the energy potential of the plant and, if that potential is realizable in terms of the needs of the community of Watson Lake, how we could make arrangements following a sale to protect that source of power for that community.
Mr. McLachlan: That whole idea of a viable operation is, indeed, an interesting one. Is the mill making money now, at this point, or is it still operating at below the break even line?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I believe the annual report of the Yukon Development Corporation last year indicated the mill would not make money in its first year, and I think we would be extremely surprised to see it make money at this point, but we are committed to getting the mill back in good running order. We want it to be a permanent employer in the town of Watson Lake. It is the biggest private sector employer there, and when it returns to private sector hands we want to make sure it will be there for a long, long time.
Question re: Day care surveillance
Mrs. Firth: I have a question for the Minister of Health and Human Resources regarding day care. The Minister has embarked on a review process through which a Green Paper is going to be brought forward and there will be some public discussion regarding day care and the policies within the Yukon Territory. Can the Minister tell us why she reactivated the charges instead of waiting for the review to be complete?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: We have received complaints from constituents in the Member for Riverdale Norths riding regarding certain family day homes. It is up to us to act on those complaints. I am not sure if the Members expect us to ignore them, but we have to act on them because there are a lot. That tells us that we have to act on them; we cannot ignore them. Maybe the side opposite would have, but we will not.
Mrs. Firth: We are not talking about ignoring complaints. I agree that laws should be obeyed. The issue here is how the government is going to enforce those laws.
Can the Minister tell me how many complaints were registered?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I do not have the exact number, because they do not all come to me; they go to the Day Care Services Board. We have three, and there have been a couple more related to me. There are three that we have been acting upon, and I have personally received complaints from individuals in other parts of Whitehorse. I do not, however, have a specific number.
Mrs. Firth: I would like the Minister to bring a specific number. I do not know if she is saying that there are three complaints or not. She said yesterday that three day homes were under surveillance. Did they have one complaint for each one? Is that why the three of them are under surveillance? I would like some clarification as to the number of complaints.
Were the people under surveillance approached by the department and told that there were complaints against them?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: There is a policy in the department that whenever we receive a complaint from anyone regarding a day care that they suspect is being run without a licence, the Day Care Services Board informs me that they do go to those home and speak to them about whether or not they are running a day care and whether or not they intend to be licenced. They are not investigated without that happening. That is the information that has been given to me.
Question re: Day care surveillance
Mrs. Firth: I gather what the Minister is saying is that she cannot categorically say that those people were approached; she is simply saying that the information given to her is that they were approached. The information given to me is that they were not approached by department officials, that they did not know that there had been complaints registered against them until the surveillance techniques started.
My new question for the Minister is: were the people who were complaining told that there was a review going on and that the whole day care process in the Yukon was under review?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I do not know whether or not they were. I am sure that any person that follows the news or that is interested in day care knows that the consultation process is going on. I do not know what bearing that has on it. We are going to be having a consultation process, but the law is still there. I know for a fact that we were told or asked to hold off all our investigations long before this thing became an issue. I cannot promise somebody that I will break a law. If there is a law, it has to be abided by.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister obviously does not know very much about the issue. The consultation process is not going on yet. One of the announcements in the Throne Speech was that it was going to continue to go on.
When the Minister made the decision to proceed with the surveillance, was the Department of Justice consulted?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: The decision to proceed with the surveillance was done by the Day Care Services Board. I do not believe the Department of Justice was informed at that time. Our department received information that the Day Care Services Board wanted to go ahead with the investigation of complaints that they had received.
Mrs. Firth: Is it not true that this Minister has to authorize that the surveillance go ahead? It is not some innocuous board; it is this Minister and this government who have put people who take their children to babysitters under surveillance.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: There is a law that we have to uphold. If that law is within my jurisdiction, then I suppose I am responsible for it. It is the Day Care Services Board that decides to do that, and it is that board that goes ahead and hires that person.
Question re: Day care surveillance
Mr. Nordling: I would like to know from the Minister of Health when this surveillant was hired.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I am being asked a lot of specific questions, and I know I am going to be asked a lot more. I do not know the exact date that that person was hired, and I cannot give him that information right now because I do not know. To be a little bit more specific in the information that they want from me, I would like a written question where I can get back with all the information that is wanted.
Mr. Nordling: Does the Minister know if this person was hired from outside government?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I do not know that answer. I will find out if that person was hired from outside government. I suspect she was.
Mr. Nordling: Does the job require any special skills that were not already present in government? When the Minister brings back this information with respect to the hiring, would she also make a commitment to bring back a copy of the contract, if this employee is on a contract basis, or her terms of reference and job description, if she has become a permanent government employee, along with information on how long the job is expected to last?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I would like to bring back as much information to the side opposite as I can. I would have to consult with the Day Care Services Board and find out what information they have and what information would be available. I do not know whether it would have any bearing on the investigations that are going on or not. I would have to find out whether or not I could do that.
Question re: Day care surveillance
Mr. Nordling: Did the Minister of Community and Transportation Services authorize the Motor Vehicle Branch to give out names of owners of vehicles to the Department of Health and Human Resources or to the Day Care Board?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I did not authorize any such thing.
Mr. Nordling: Does the Minister know whether this is being done or not?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not know whether there has been an exchange of information between the Motor Vehicles Branch and any other agency of government but, generally speaking, the information is not delivered to other agencies, apart from organizations such as the police for the purposes of seeking driver records.
I will undertake to check into the situation for the Member to clarify it and to provide an answer to the House.
Mr. Nordling: Can the Minister of Health and Human Resources say why the vehicle licence numbers of the people dropping their children off are being recorded.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I am not doing an investigation; I am not going out and doing whatever it is the Members across the House say they we doing, so I cannot give them any details. I do not know why they are doing it; it is not my job. It is the specific person who is doing the job who is gathering that information. It is not my job to investigate.
Question re: Day care surveillance
Mr. Nordling: Will the Minister find out from the surveillant why the licence numbers are being recorded and bring back an answer to the House?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I am not entirely sure I can do that. There are investigations that go on all the time, either by the RCMP or by other people, and when those investigations are going on I am not sure whether or not that kind of information is given out to the general public and I do not know whether it is appropriate to bring that information to the House.
Mr. Nordling: I hope the Minister will check on that. My concern is with the invasion of privacy of individuals. I would also like to ask the Minister if she will bring back an explanation of what will be done with the names of people obtained through their vehicle licence numbers?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I, again, am not sure whether I can bring back the information. The Member is a lawyer; he knows what happens in these circumstances. Whether or not it is appropriate to bring back that kind of information here, I do not know. If it is not appropriate then I am not going to do it.
Question re: Day care surveillance
Mrs. Firth: I have some further questions for the Minister of Health and Human Resources, whose job it is to know what is going on with this surveillance. This is not an investigation; it is a public being put under surveillance by the Department of Health and Human Resources and this Minister, and the fact about the licence plate numbers is extremely significant. If you will bear with me for a moment, I would like to read into the record a letter I received from people concerned about their civil liberties.
Speaker: I would rule it out of order to read from a document in Question Period. Perhaps you could use it just for reference.
Mrs. Firth: I will use it for reference and I will table the letter in the Legislature, then. Just to give a brief synopsis of what is in the letter, it is in regard to a woman who was called from work, very distressed, because there was a car sitting outside and someone in the car was obviously taking notes about something. When she approached the car, she was told that the individual had been given direction by her boss, who is Debbie Mauch, to put this particular home under surveillance. The woman was very distressed and asked why this home, and the woman told her that she had already done the other two homes she had asked questions about. In the ladys lap was a list with licence plate numbers on it.
My question to the Minister is - and she should have these answers - if this government has directed an individual to take down peoples licence plate numbers and violate their civil liberties, what is the information going to be used for.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: She is asking me questions that I am not entirely sure I can bring to this House. There are day cares that under investigation. She has just brought some information to this House regarding one of those day cares. I have already received that information, with the addition that the owners were going to tell their MLA.
There is an investigation going on. I am not prepared to give out the kind of information that is obtained during an investigation. Unless I am told otherwise, then I am not prepared to do that. That kind of information is not given out in any other kind of investigations.
Mrs. Firth: It is not an investigation. People who are taking their children to babysitters have been put under surveillance. That is what has happened. Peoples licence plates are being reported.
Speaker: Order, please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary question?
Mrs. Firth: Yes, I will. Their licence plate numbers are being recorded. Could the Minister tell us where in the Act it says that the government must hire a surveillant to watch Yukoners and to record their licence plate numbers? Where does it say that in the Day Care Act?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The Member opposite is giving the House wrong information. She has repeatedly said that this is not an investigation. The Minister who is responsible and who has knowledge of the matter has told the House that this is an investigation. It is a clear tradition, it is a clear practice of law enforcement agencies to not make public investigations. That is clear and uncontroversial around the Commonwealth and around the world about all investigations.
Speaker: Order, please. Would the Member please get to his answer?
Mrs. Firth: We thank the Member for his legal opinion, which was not solicited.
The Minister did not even know what was going on. We are not talking about a public investigation. We are talking about an initiative of this government. It is an initiative of this government to put people under surveillance with a special hired individual.
Speaker: I would like to remind the Member of guideline 7. There is a one sentence preamble for all supplementary questions.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister tell me where it says that a surveillant must be hired? Where in the Day Care Act does it say that licence plate numbers must be recorded from individuals who are taking their children to babysitters.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I do not think it is spelled out anywhere how you do an investigation. There have been a lot of correct answers. They just do not hear them. There are certain things that are not spelled out. There are certain things that have to be done, and those things are done in a manner that is appropriate to whatever the complaints are. If there is a complaint coming to us that there are individuals in the Members riding who are breaking the law then, of course, we have to check into it. The Member may feel that they do not have to be checked into. She may encourage them to break the law. I do not know, but we have to abide by our laws, and that is exactly what we are doing.
Question re: Day care surveillance
Mr. Lang: It is a fairly serious matter that we are dealing with here. We are dealing with the civil rights of individuals. We are dealing with an issue that is also an invasion of privacy, of why peoples licence plate numbers are being documented by an individual hired by the Department of Health and Human Resources. It has nothing to do with the Department of Justice or the RCMP, and nothing to do with being a peace officer.
This is getting to the point where I would almost refer to it as political harassment. Is the Government Leader aware that, last September 6, the territorial crown prosecutor stayed proceedings against a day care operator and, I quote from the newspaper: Prosecutor Stan Benda asked the charge to be stayed, a process in the practice is about the same as dropping the charge and, further, that an official said it was being stayed simply because the short-handed prosecutors office felt it had a low priority.?
Was the Government Leader aware that that decision was taken last September?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: What the Members opposite are doing is irresponsible and reprehensible. There is an investigation going on, and it is contrary to the public interest to have details about investigations revealed in this House. It is a clear practice and tradition that the rights of the people being investigated, and the other people involved, should be protected, and the information not revealed publicly. What is occurring is irresponsible.
Mr. Lang: I could not agree more. What is occurring is totally irresponsible. Was the Government Leader aware that charges that were laid against one day care operator last September were stayed and, further, that people within that department said it was a low priority and they would not be proceeding with those charges?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am as aware of it as any citizen. It is not the responsibility nor the intention of this government to be politically involved with, or make political decisions about, such charges. There are complaints that a law has been broken, a law that was brought into this House by the previous Conservative government. There are complaints that the law has been broken. Those complaints are referred to a body created by the law passed by the previous Conservative government. Those complaints must be investigated, unless, of course, it is the view of the Conservative Party that the law should be ignored. The complaints are investigated and if there is evidence of a violation of the law then the Members opposite know what consequences flow from that.
Mr. Lang: If the policy of his government is that there would be no political involvement in how a case proceeds before the judiciary, why, when a week after the territorial crown prosecutor stated that they were not going to proceed with the case, and further, officials within the department said they would not proceed with the case because of low priority, on September 10, 1987 would Mrs. Joe, the Minister of Health and Human Resources, said that the Beech case was not being dropped. If that is not political involvement, what is?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: We know the Member opposite does not know any law and is not interested in learning anything from anybody who does. The matter is an ongoing matter. The Member asked me if I was aware. I told him I am not personally aware because I do not personally interfere in those kinds of matters. If there is a complaint that a law is broken and that complaint is referred to a body created by a law, the same law, and if that complaint is investigated, and if there is evidence to substantiate the due process, then there will be proceedings under that law. If the Member opposite is saying that the law should be broken, if the Member opposite is saying people should not respect the law, then let him come out and say it in the House. If he is countenancing law breaking, let him say so.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now lapsed. We will now proceed with the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne.
ADDRESS IN REPLY TO SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Clerk: Adjourned debate, Mr. Joe.
Ms. Kassi: It has been a busy time since this House last met ten weeks ago. As a representative of my people I have been lobbying on Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the caribou issue. This has taken me to Washington, DC, and San Francisco, California, and recently to a meeting of the Tanana Chiefs Conference in Alaska. And I attended a conference on the sustainable development which was held in Vancouver this past month and discussed the Old Crow Conservation Strategy.
Everywhere I went, I distributed copies of the new publication, The Caribou are Our Life, and the poster that goes along with it. It has been very well received and many times I showed the film done by Carol Geddes for the Porcupine Caribou Management Board. I would like to thank all the people of Old Crow who have done so well in the development of this very important film, called Together We Survive. The key participants of this very important film are our Elders, Ellen Bruce, Rowena Lord and Steven Frost. This film is being shown all over North America and is a very important tool in our lobbying efforts. Members of the Porcupine Caribou Management Board and the other representatives from my community, as well as the Council for Yukon Indians, also travelled to Washington to lobby on this issue. This shows you how important an issue it is to all of us, and I want to take this opportunity to thank them for their hard work and participation.
It was clear to those who listened that we spoke with one voice. Hon. Members know how important the caribou are to my people, and I thank this Legislature, this government and the Canadian government for their support on this issue so far.
It seems we still have a ways to go. While the U.S. Congress may not act on this issue this year, we have to look to the future, prepare ourselves and continue the education process. I heard the remarks yesterday of the hon. Member for Riverdale North, and I am surprised at what he said. It is obvious that the people of Old Crow and many of the Gwichin are united on this issue, as we have been saying all this time that the caribou are our life. Our lives revolve around the caribou and when they are threatened the people of Old Crow, the Vuntat Gwichin people, the people of the Gwichin Nation as a whole, the Northwest Territories, Alaska and the Yukon Territory, all become concerned. We firmly believe their calving grounds to be sacred lands and all of its important habitat should be left alone. If he does not believe us, then has he not read the government report on how the caribou will be harmed? The Yukon government and the federal government agree with us. Is the hon. Member now saying that his party has changed their position and that they no longer support the people of Old Crow?
It has been a busy ten weeks and part of my time has been spent in my village in meetings with my people and in listening to what they have to say. I have seen great strides over the past few years and want to express our gratitude to this government for their support. There are many needs which remain unmet and the Throne Speech referred to some of them.
We see the continuation of the LEOP Program in many new jobs in our community. This builds up pride and self-esteem, as well as upgrading the communitys facilities. As a result, this year we will have a newly renovated conference centre, a small engines repair shop and our local Anglican Rectory will have a meeting place for everyone. There is more work being done on economic development projects, and I hope to see more progress on this soon. We look forward to what the Yukon Economic Strategy has for us.
There has also been a lot of good work done on personal development with the life skills course which recently ended. This created tremendous growth in the village. People are a lot stronger. Eleven students graduated from the program, and it was a very happy day for us all when they completed their course.
I want to take this opportunity to congratulate the students who successfully completed the eight weeks of personal skill development. It was not easy for them all. The community is looking forward to another one. More people want to take this kind of course, and it should be encouraged. The future for Old Crow lies not just in sustainable economic development, but in a solid social and spiritual foundation for our young people and for our community as a whole.
That is what makes programs like these life skills courses so important. They strengthen the social fabric of our people. There is a big need for more social and community development. To succeed, we need government support to continue along these lines, and I was happy to hear in the Throne Speech about the new community justice coordinator. This person will work with the Vuntat Gwichin Tribal Council on things like crime prevention, counselling and liaison between the police and the community. To me, this is another small but important step to increase the self-determination and self-reliance of our village.
In the past few years, the Government of Yukon has done many things for my community. I want to express my thanks to Rod MacKenzie, who works for the Yukon territorial government in Old Crow, as he is the person who is responsible for seeing many of these initiatives through, including the sewer and water, road maintenance, and keeping the river bank from eroding. I also want to thank the government for setting aside money in the Capital Budget for a campground in Old Crow. Our people are grateful for this. Every year we see more and more tourists coming down the river and, when they stop for a visit in Old Crow, there is no place for them. Now we have a campground, and that is what we needed.
There are still many needs to be met. We have seen great work done with recreation in the past couple of years and some important training that has taken place in the past while. We need this very important program to continue, and it will take government support to make it work.
The building where we have the community learning centre is not a good facility. It was a building that was used by the RCMP for many years and was relocated further uptown. Because of its age and damage it had received when it was moved, it needs upgrading. The good people of my village are working hard to get their education. There is increasing interest; there are a lot more students attending the education centre now. We will be looking forward to more support in developing or renovating the existing facility to a much more comfortable place.
When they are not working or studying, people like to skate, but we do not have much of a skating rink. This year, our community was unable to enter a team in the annual native hockey tournament. Needless to say, the young men in my village were quite upset. We do not want a fancy arena, just something that will keep the snow off and the wind out. This is an ongoing concern of the youth of my village, and it is our hope that we will do something about it soon.
Getting to and from Old Crow has been made a lot easier with North Yukon Air and its service from Eagle Plains. The price of groceries has gone down, our food is much fresher. However, people find the airstrip dangerous and really want to see a road built to the Tuttle Lake Strip a few miles away. I know this government is working to get a solution to this problem, and we look forward to some positive news in the near future.
Banking services is another one. People are talking a lot about the lack of banking services in Old Crow. I hope that this government can do something soon because the problem needs straightening out. We do have a large amount of revenue with increased activity in the economy, and the need for a bank is more of a demand.
People know that there more to life in Old Crow than these day to day concerns. We have great pride in our culture, and our heritage means a lot to us. That is why it is good to hear that another step has been taken towards establishing a museum in our community. For a long time, we have been lobbying the National Museum in Ottawa because they have a lot of artifacts from Old Crow. A lot of our past is located down south and we want it back.
Recently, a museum person was in Old Crow looking at buildings and seeing which ones could be fixed up so that the artifacts could be returned and kept where they belong. This government has provided some funding in the Capital Budget, so I hope that things work out soon and we can get these items back home.
The Throne Speech touched on many things, and I want to talk briefly on a couple of them. I was pleased to hear about the initiatives coming for trappers, and I look forward to seeing details. This is an important activity for many people of the Yukon, and we need to make it stronger. At the same time, we must keep up the fight to deal with the anti-fur lobby, which seems to be getting more powerful all the time.
There is also the issue of housing. It is good that this government is going to be moving on home ownership for people. I want to point out that in places like Old Crow, these things might not work because there are only so many jobs and so much income to go around. We still have terrible housing conditions for many of our people, and we do need something better. There are situations where there are 10 people living in a two bedroom home. That is just too many. So, when hon. Members have things to say about housing, I ask that they keep these situations in mind.
Right now, a feasibility study is going on about new housing for the elders in Old Crow, and I look forward to the results. I believe that, if nothing else, we must take better care of our elders, and this includes decent housing.
Education is another important area for our people, and I am glad to see the announcement of the hiring of a coordinator of northern and native curriculum for the Public Schools Branch. I agree that this is a necessary practical step to make our Education department better to serve the needs of Yukons aboriginal people. It will be helped along a great deal when they start hiring more native people. To me, it is significant that Yukon College is now developing a short course for cross- cultural Communication. This is something that we need more of in many places, including this government. There still are many problems of aboriginal people being shut out of certain situations or not getting information that they are entitled to because of a communications problem.
I also heard the Throne Speech talk about the fuel price inquiry. I sure hope that we can do something about the situation in Old Crow. We are the only place in the territory that has to fly its fuel in, and the prices are far too high. This hurts the cost of everything from hunting and trapping to going out for logs an firewood. It also means really high electrical bills. If anybody deserves help with these high costs, it is people in Old Crow.
In summary I was pleased with the direction of the Throne Speech and the direction this government is taking. I believe we, as a government, are listening to the people and working with them to make the Yukon a better place for everyone. A lot of credit has to go to our Ministers and I want to thank them for all the hard work and long hours they are putting in. I also want to thank them for the support they have shown to me as the MLA for Old Crow and for the support they have given to my village.
We have a lot more to do and I know we can succeed as we are on the right track.
As well, I want to take this opportunity to publicly send my congratulations to the new Chief of the Kwanlin Dun Band, Anne Smith, and wish her all the best in her work for her people. Mahsi-cho.
Mr. McLachlan: My greatest problems and concerns with the Throne Speech were that when detail was needed it was not there. When programs and explanations were needed they were not there, as well. I must have missed something in Faro because I thought that the mine at Faro had only closed once and opened once. This is the fifth Throne Speech now and in at least four of them the same government has claimed credit for the same thing twice a year, four successive times. I wonder how many times one can guild the lily, how many times one can take credit, jump into the spotlight or take a bow. With this front bench it would seem to be forever.
The Minister of Economic Development has a number of serious questions that have to be answered about the way the government is going to continue handling investments all of us have in Watson Lake and Hyland Forest Products. There is more than just a little suspicion about the cost and pricing of the product, and how much the mill is really making if, in fact, it is going to make anything, or should I say losing.
The Government Leader has not been able to answer whether it is in his, or his partys, interests to use the bill as an instrument of social policy or one of economic development policy. The answer to that is important because often the two do not mesh. So far we do not have any clues as to what this Government Leader is intending to do. There is not a clear blueprint for the sale of the product. There are no answers to the time schedule, price, return on investment and strings that may be attached in any way. Probably, if it did exist, it is a nebulous idea in a never never land of make believe.
A great deal has been said about the Yukon 2000 process. People in the territory have come to believe it will be the best thing they ever saw since sliced bread was introduced to this territory. I have to question a number of the procedures that appear to be evolving with the process of Yukon 2000. In the report, things that matter to us, things that have been mentioned at conferences are translated down into goals and objectives. They are translated by people who work for one department, Economic Development, they are interpreted by people who work for Economic Development, they are written into the report by Economic Development people, then they are released to us and say, here, this is what you wanted. What I would like to see is those ideas developed into a goal that would produce worthwhile results, results that will be measurable, and most importantly, results that will be obtainable.
In the areas controlled by the Minister of Community and Transportation Services and Education, I searched desperately through his speech yesterday to try and determine if some of the answers I have wondered about from the Throne Speech were there. I found none, but I did find this statement that will get no argument from most Members in this House. To quote, the Minister said: There appears to be an overwhelming consensus of opinion emanating from people in this Legislature, primarily, that I am far too long winded and boring for my own good. I think Members would second that and perhaps we can work that into a motion some day.
Another answer not provided by the Minister: the community development fund is referred to but what is its initiative? Is it going to replace the block funding? Will the community development funds only be available to locales that do not have block funding? He has left more questions open than he provided answers for.
The Minister has said that he is going to revise the Municipal Act and the Municipal Finance Act and I hope he has seen fit to revise the operating grants formula to correct problems that the current system has manifested in Faro. Ten or 12 years ago, when governments did not have the monies we have now - for reasons we have heard many times in this Legislature - and private enterprise did, Faro mortgaged its future and the future of its children to build the infrastructure that governments could not fund. Now, when the pendulum has swung the other way, and government has the funding, and a debt load is hurting the town - five or six out of every eight dollars go back into paying the debt, leaving very little for capital development in the areas of swimming pools, road developments and improvements - the Minister has a chance to rectify that situation again, for a second time. If he does not, he will have missed the boat, again for a second time.
Questions are raised about something new called the business development fund. Is it going to be over and above the loan development programs now offered by the Department of Economic Development, or how will it fit into the overall scheme of things?
The Minister of Economic Development has unveiled a new process called the development assessment process. It sounds suspiciously like another level of bureaucratic red tape to cut through. The development assessment process, abbreviated to DAP for short, is designed to streamline a process but sounds like it will slow it down, or do exactly the opposite of what it is intended to do. I feel that DAP will zap the major projects instead of helping them.
I am hoping that the Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs will be able to give us, during this legislative session, some insight into what the plans are for the government in the area of hydro rates. Because of its reference in the Throne Speech, can one now assume that this government is in favour of equalizing rates all over the territory, regardless of the method of generation?
There is a further indication from the Throne Speech that the government will take a larger role, both as a policeman and as an investor in the impending Northwestel sale. That policy direction - if, in fact, that is the direction of the government - may be left open to some very severe scrutiny. I would agree that it is critical and very important that the Economic Development Agreement must be renewed in those areas that are critical for Yukons goal - mining, tourism, renewable resources and small business - and must be done at a level that is, at least, comparable with previous figures.
I do welcome a change to the Roads to Resources Program, that would see the program broadened to include air and water transportation costs but, at the same time, I would caution the government that they have just added the two most expensive parts of the transportation infrastructure, especially air. It would be quite easy to exceed the $2.5 million in annual budget in this area, if the government is swamped with a number of applications in the water and air areas.
I am pleased to see that the Minister of Community and Transportation Services is finally going to move in the area of home ownership. It is long overdue. At the present time, Yukon is the only jurisdiction in Canada that does not have a similar program in this vein. Where are the details, though? Maybe they are going to come up next month, maybe it will be next summer, far later than most people who are looking at this building season would prefer.
It is incumbent upon the Minister to release details of the program. That has not happened. This Member gave the Minister a major policy initiative four months ago in the area of a mortgage corporation. But what does this Minister, who represents an open government, a democratic government and two departments that have solicited more public response in education and transportation than all other government put together, do? He gives the whole process short shrift and dismisses the entire concept in 30 seconds.
I am extremely disappointed that things are not moving faster and in a more definitive direction in the area of day care. The Minister and, indeed, all of the Cabinet, are well aware of the controversies that are surrounding the territory in this area these days.
In conclusion, I would say that there is just enough in the Throne Speech to wet the followers appetites, but not enough to provide detailed analysis to anything. It is like the continuing saga of a soap-box romance, only the romance is wearing thin with the Yukon public. They represent one bridal entourage that is not going to be fooled. They want specifics and, often, not the flowery and overblown descriptions contained in the Throne Speech. They want details and not a seduction with their own tax dollars.
Unanimous Consent to set aside Standing Order 26
Hon. Mr. Porter: Before I begin my speech on this motion, I would like to request the unanimous consent of the House to set aside the provisions of Standing Order 26, which requires that the question be called on this motion today. The last person speaking today would then be able to move a motion to adjourn debate. This would enable us to call this item of business on Wednesday night following government business and thereby allow the Leader of the Official Opposition, upon his return, to participate in this debate.
Speaker: Is there unanimous consent?
All Members: Agreed
Speaker: There is unanimous consent.
Hon. Mr. Porter: It is a privilege and a pleasure to be able to respond to the Speech from the Throne. Since one of the major messages of this springs Throne Speech is my governments clear commitment to community development, I thought I would begin my speaking to some of the changes that I have noted in the constituency I represent, the community of Watson Lake.
Three short years ago, when this government was voted into office, Watson Lake was a town with an uncertain future. Its major industry, the sawmill, was on shaky operational footing. People hesitated to make new investments. The town was in a holding pattern waiting for something to happen.
That something did happen is a testament to this governments faith and confidence in the community of Watson Lake, in the good people who elected to stay in town to work to make something of their homes and businesses and the resources of their area, the forests and the Alaska Highway, which brings many visitors through the Yukon and the communities adjacent to the Alaska Highway.
The Yukon Development Corporations purchase and reactivation of the Watson Lake Sawmill as Hyland Forest Products was a catalyst for the development of community confidence. Approximately 120 people are employed at the mill on a permanent basis. The vast majority are long time Watson Lake and Yukon residents. Dozens more - fallers, skidders and truckers - work for private contractors supplying timber to the mill.
A substantial Yukon Development Corporation investment has turned a ramshackle mill producing indifferent lumber into a competent business now capable of supplying quality kiln dried dimensional lumber to local and export markets. With some assurance that there is a sound basis for a permanent community, business people have invested. The availability of manageable financing through Yukon small business loans, the Canada-Yukon Economic Development Agreement and other programs, facilitated by a community based Yukon business development officer, has seen the reconstruction of the Belvedere Hotel, additions to the Watson Lake Hotel and the Gateway Hotel and improvement to other visitor facilities in the area.
The tourism appeal of Watson Lake has been enhanced as well by the streetscape program. The planning and delivery of the Watson Lake streetscape project was managed by a local committee, which used it knowledge of the community and its visitors to decide on improvements that would most develop the towns tourism potential.
This government has shown its confidence in the community and its people in other ways. Watson Lake, like the other Yukon communities, which have chosen to form municipal governments, receives annual capital funding based on an equitable formula supported by the Association of Yukon Communities. Locally elected community councillors and mayors make responsible decisions about the expenditures of municipal funds. Municipal councils commission community plans and also present these for public discussion, as the Watson Lake Council did a week ago.
Since municipal councillors expect to make a future in the communities, they plan for the long term. This government encourages this confident and constructive approach.
Today the Committee of the Economic Development Agreement has forwarded a letter of offer to the Town of Watson lake. The program will provide $10,000 for the development of an economic plan for the community. Other programs initiated by my government to help create a climate of confidence that the Members opposite will recognize as a prerequisite to prosperity. The Watson Lake Chamber of Commerce, for example, has applied for and received a $5,000 annual contribution from the Department of Economic Development to assist in promoting the community and businesses of Watson Lake. Programs like Partners in Tourism and Special Events offered by the Department of Tourism provide funding to promote Watson Lake as a tourist destination and to assist in the staging of tourist attracting activities.
The Watson Lake Chamber recognizing the benefits to businesses of such programs has made constructive and creative use of the funding available. The mayor and councilors and members of the Chamber of Commerce are not the only people working to ensure that Watson Lake thrives. Energetic Watson Lake Ski Hill Club members have turned a local hill into a wintertime attraction that lures visitors to the slopes and local visitor facilities from Whitehorse and other Yukon towns and villages.
The Local Employment Opportunities Program was able to assist in the development of the clubs facilities this winter with a grant of $100,000 for phase two of the chalet. A $61,350 project for the Rod and Gun Club Range building may well assist them to attract a major shooting competition to the community of Watson Lake.
Other LEOP projects sponsored by the Liard Indian Band will not only see improvements for Upper Liard in your constituency, Mr. Speaker, but in the Two Mile and Two-and-a-Half Mile area as well. In Upper Liard $95,000 went toward the construction of a community centre, $43,000 went for bus shelters, picnic tables and garbage boxes for Liard, Two Mile and Two-and-a-Half Mile.
As the Commissioner observed in the Throne Speech, a growing prosperous population needs more schools, training, child care and housing. In regard to my constituency of Watson Lake, I am proud to point out that my government has taken action on all of these fronts. Residents of Watson Lake have long recognized the physical deficiencies of school facilities in the community. After consultation with the school committee and a study of the facilities, the Department of Education has committed itself to the replacement of 80 percent of the Watson Lake School. The Legislature has approved $500,000 for planning and architectural work on the rebuilt facility. A design committee of Watson Lake residents is now working with the architectural firm of Wood, Gardiner, ONeil and ONeil to develop a design for the school. More than $5 million will be spent in the next two years to see the project to completion. To keep operation and maintenance costs for the revitalized school low, it is proposed that heat recovered from Watson Lakes diesel electric generators will supply the building. The Town of Watson Lake, the Department of Education and the Yukon Electrical Company have received approval for significant funding from Energy Mines and Resources Canada and my governments Yukon Energy Alternatives Program.
The reconstruction of Watson Lakes high school is still another example of my governments commitment to the community.
Before I go on to training, child care and housing, I should mention that a study of the feasibility of using wood waste fired steam turbine power to supply the electrical needs of Watson Lake is due for completion any day now. Community leaders have told us that energy costs in Watson Lake are too high and we are hopeful that power rates can be reduced if power generation from wood waste at Hyland is feasible. While electrical power and its cost is a key factor in the development of a community, perhaps people are even more important. The knowledge and skills that people acquire are permanent assets to the community in which they live.
The new high school, for example, is more than a fiscal facility. It is our commitment to equipping the students of Watson Lake with skills and knowledge that will serve them all of their lives. The Watson Lake Community Learning Centre has taken on a life of its own since its establishment. Dedicated teachers and determined students have made it a centre of hope and a builder of potential. People long lost in educational eddies have discovered they can paddle back in the mainstream with help from the community learning centre.
Recognizing their key role in communities, my colleague, the Minister of Education, has budgeted approximately $5,000 in discretionary funding for each community learning centre. In Watson Lake, this will mean that, in addition to standard programming, the learning centre has latitude to purchase courses to satisfy particular local needs.
As well, one of the major questions raised in discussions with the local community of Watson Lake was the question of family counselling services. On that particular question, I am happy to report that, in discussions with the Department of Health, there is clear commitment by the Department of Health to provide those services, on contract, to the community of Watson Lake. As the Speech from the Throne indicated, there will be $10,000 set aside by the Department of Health for that specific purpose.
As all Members in the Legislature know, child care is a subject much on peoples minds these days. Two out of three Yukon women work outside the home. I am pleased to report that the capable executive of the Watson Lake Day Care Centre Society took initiatives this fall and winter that have had the effect of doubling the number of child care spaces made available by the society. Applications to the Health and Human Resources Child Care Capital Program and to the LEOP Program yielded more than $70,000 in funding to assist their expansion to 30 spaces. Once again, my governments programs were there to support community initiative.
Many people in the Watson Lake area live in subsidized accommodation. My government and the Yukon Housing Corporation have recognized this as a serious dilemma, as has the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. CMHC plans five units for Watson Lake in this building season. I have actively encouraged their initiative. Yukon Housing built a seniors fourplex and a staff housing unit last year. I hope that the combination will free up some of the private housing stock in the community.
Land does not seem to be the problem. Community and Transportation Services has a current land inventory in Watson Lake of eight residential lots and one multiple residential lot. Six country-residential lots in the Belleview Subdivision have been approved for well and septic systems and will go on sale this spring. Once water and sewer services are tested in the Campbell extension, a mix of 23 residential units will go on the market. I am hopeful that this accelerated lot availability, supported by the town council, will encourage the construction of more housing stock this building season.
Watson Lake is not the orphan child that it was in the hands of the previous government and as it suffered through the recent depression. I would like to quote from an opening paragraph of a Watson Lake community outreach report for the quarter ending December, 1987. I think that this particular quote from that local community organization demonstrates the kind of improvements that I have been seeing in the community of Watson Lake over the last couple of years, and I quote: At the end of December we compared statistics with those for the same quarters in previous years. We found that our job orders are at an all time high for this time of the year. Normally, winter months are the slowest period employment-wise. In the past, the majority of job opportunities were created through job creation projects funded by the territorial government. Of the 141 job orders in this quarter, only four positions have been created by make-work projects. That ends the quote.
The community of Watson Lake, like other communities in the Yukon, is enjoying a prosperous time. I think that particular initiative of the government, in terms of setting up Watson Lake Hyland Forest Products, has been the key to the revitalization of that community. I commend the Government Leader and the Department of Economic Development for that initiative.
In conclusion, I would like to commend this particular Throne Speech to all Members of the House.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: As Minister, I always try to respond to the questions raised by Opposition Members. Aside from the cliches and slogans mentioned by the Members for Porter Creek, I think there are three. They are the question posed by the Member for Faro just a moment ago about hydro rates, the question of the value added policy and the comments made by the Justice critic about native policing and about those initiatives. I will address those three concerns.
Firstly, about hydro rates, the rate equalization policy has had an interesting history in Yukon. It appears that the policy of previous governments - at least by their public statements - was to support rate equalization. The policy of the board has been different to support a policy of rates based on cost. There are various equalizations that occur around the territory. One of the least noticed and, I think, most infamous one is the one on whiskey. Liquor is the same price everywhere, whereas milk is not. I have always thought it ought to be the other way around.
The policy of this government has consistently been to support the costs in the rural communities. That policy will continue, and it is our clear intention to determine the policy about rates. We can do that under the existing Act by passing regulations directing the Public Utilities Board to follow a particular policy. We will do that, and we will do that before the Public Utilities Board is reactivated. The specifics about that policy will be known when the regulations actually go through Cabinet. I would expect that that would occur this spring.
Members opposite have made what are clearly negative comments about initiatives in the justice system that accommodate the native culture. They have raised the prospect of having two separate justice systems: one for the aboriginal people and one for the non-aboriginal people.
I will emphasize at several points in the speech I am making now that the intention is to have the justice system be more responsive to the needs of the native culture so that the two can come closer together, so that the present unrest in the native community will be lessened. I will go through several ways that that can be done, and I will get to that in just a moment.
It is important to look at the general situation concerning the two cultures. There was a justice system, in its general sense, in the aboriginal culture. Mr. Speaker you, I am sure, are very well aware of this, as you are a clan leader in your home community and understand the historical role of the clan leaders in the Tlingit culture. The intent of the system, or the cultural value, was to restore harmony to the community and, looking at the nature of the communities at the time, it is easy to see the wisdom of that intent. What has happened with the European system of justice is there is a difference in general intent. The intent is to assign blame, or to deliver a punishment, and the two cultures have not, in the past, communicated very effectively in the justice area. The traditions in European justice and in our present system is we have an authoritative system of justice meted out by a judge, who is appointed and is not a community leader in the native traditional sense. The method by which we arrive at decisions is adversarial, as we see in this House all too often. The methods are alien to the native culture.
It is important to spend a great deal of effort to rationalize the system to work with a different culture, an aboriginal culture, and it is to that aim that we have several iniatives we have spoken about.
I will mention some of them and also speak about some others that I have enunciated in other forums but not before in this House.
We have spoken about appointing justices of the peace, and I have spoken about the clear and definite intention of the government to have significant numbers of native people appointed as justices of the peace. This process has occurred in the Northwest Territories and here with varying degrees of success in the past; we are learning from those experiences and we can do a better job. One of the things that we have learned is that traditional justice was collective as opposed to individual. It is more culturally appropriate that a council of elders or a council of justices of the peace be the judging body rather than a single individual. This is achievable and will, I believe, be contemplated by land claims agreements. There have been various experiments in the past - certainly in Old Crow - done by past territorial judges, myself included, which have shown that this kind of initiative is welcomed extremely enthusiastically in the rural communities. It is also appropriate to think about the various other tribunals which we have, like the Workers Compensation Board as an example, the human rights adjudicators as an example, the various arbitrators and mediators around the territory; and I would propose that we appoint senior people who are community leaders, among them the traditional native elders, to take a very substantial part in adjudicating or mediating or arriving at decisions when there are disputes. This, in a slow gradual way, is occurring under this government.
It is extremely important when there are these cross-cultural boards and cross-cultural communications that there be training in cross-cultural communication for both sides, that is for both the native and the non-native side. It is apparent that, with some instruction and some seminar or discussion type of consciousness-raising, the communication between cultures can be vastly improved in these settings. So that is another initiative of this government.
I would also mention that there should be a cross-cultural sensitivity training among, for example, the guards at the jail, among people who act as police persons in the community. This effort in the past was occasionally done in a most inadequate way, but the will and the initiative continues to increase this substantially. It is true that there are some individuals in the justice system who exhibit behaviour or say things that are extremely insensitive from a cultural prospective. Occasionally, there is an out and out bigot, but mostly it is a matter of insensitivity, and this can be improved very substantially.
I have spoken about tribal justice and tribal policing. The Members opposite have spoken or have raised negative comments about the possibility of two systems as opposed to one. They could not be further wrong. I would emphasize that the tribal justice initiative is meant as a complementary process. I would emphasize that the tribal justice initiative will be different in the different cultural regions of the territory, and will be something which is supported when the community is asking for it. So far in concrete terms, two communities have been aggressive in promoting a tribal justice initiative. They are Teslin and Old Crow. The position of the government is to not stimulate this in other communities, but to support the initiative where it occurs. The initiatives have both been absolutely clear and emphatic in their statements that they do not wish to replace the existing system, but to grow with it, and to be engaged in crime prevention and solving disputes in a culturally sensitive way as opposed to simply imposing the dispute resolution values of a different culture. They are both extremely healthy initiatives and impact practically on policing and justice of the peace courts. They will enable these communities in the very long run to regain a community control over the justice system, It is only then that it will be the kind of system that we desire and welcome in a free and democratic country.
Concerning prevention, I have emphasized in the past year or so the increasing of the policy of having foot patrols in the communities.
I have discussed that with the RCMP, with the Association of Yukon Communities, with various bands and town councils around the territory. It is fairly universally supported as an effort to have the police, the individuals who wear the uniform and the community come together and work closely together. It is recognized that policing is only effective if it has the support of the vast majority of law abiding citizens in the territory. It is for exactly that reason that the native justice initiatives in policing are so valuable in the native communities.
There is an initiative for culturally sensitive rehabilitation and treatment at the jail for native inmates. This has long been ignored in our jail here. We are not the leaders in the country. We are following the example of several excellent programs in BC and on the prairies. This kind of initiative supports the involvement of the native elders in bringing people who have lost touch with their roots back into some balance with those roots. The culturally sensitive way, I am confident, will prove more effective than the methods used in the last decade or so in the Yukon.
I have had negotiations about policing with various bands, with the Solicitor General, with the Commissioner of the RCMP and the commanding officers here in Whitehorse. I have made the statement that on the renegotiation of the policing contract, which is traditionally a ten year contract, the native people will be consulted about that contract, and that is welcomed by the native leadership.
I have also made it abundantly clear to the RCMP, and I publicize it here now, that there is a term of the contract that requires that the commanding officer be approved by the Minister of Justice of Yukon. I have indicated that the quality that I will be looking at, above all others, is that persons willingness to further adapt policing to the needs of the native people, especially in the communities.
The debate will continue, I am sure. There is a motion on the order paper about tribal policing. I thought I would put this information before all Members now so that that debate can be in the light of what is occurring in the territory.
The Members opposite mention the value added policy. I am reminded of Throne Speech debates in the past. I was elected in 1981 and, on the first Throne Speech debate that I took part in, there was discussion about diversifying the economy. The economic situation beginning in 1981 and going into 1982, which essentially amounted to a depression in the territory, there was a substantial discussion about diversifying and developing a regional economy.
We all agreed. All parties in the House agreed, and there were three at the time. It is unfortunate that, even though we agreed in principle, nothing practically was done until 1985 when this government came to power.
The Tories opposite have criticized and resisted every practical step this government has taken to bring about a diversity in the economy and to develop a regional economy. Their words in 1981 and 1982 were empty. A prime example is the debate we had in 1986 about locally manufactured furniture. That issue is almost a symbolic issue. It is a microcosm, if you will, of the principle of the government promoting a better value for the dollars that we spend, to keep the dollars circulating here in the territory.
The Members opposite were opposed to it. They are still opposed to it. The public are not. The public have recognized the value of that initiative. The opening of city hall last week was very interesting. I was proud to see the locally manufactured desks and furniture in the city council chambers. Even the Tories on the city council were embarrassed to object to that, as the public have accepted that value of doing what we can do here.
The value added policy has that as its objective. When we spend money, the purpose is to have the benefit of that circulating in our economy to the maximum possible extent. The purpose of the government is to develop a regional economy, to diversify. Mining and tourism are extremely important, but a mature society and a mature economy needs the other infrastructure. We are beginning to get some manufacturing here, and agriculture is beginning to do well.
The Members opposite, just like in the furniture debate, are complaining about specifics and about how things are done. They are objecting and criticizing at every concrete step that we are taking.
The Yukon 2000 process and the budget and the economic strategy will develop, despite the Tories opposite, a regional economy that is prosperous, and we only need to look about us to see that the economy is prospering and prosperous and the value added approach is a part of that.
Mrs. Firth: It is always a pleasure to rise in this House and respond to the Speech from the Throne, and particularly today to discuss the Throne Speech in somewhat of a historical nature since we opened this sitting of the Legislature in Dawson City for the first time in many, many years.
I am always interested in what the Members opposite have to say when they give their Throne Speech responses. When I listen to them and reflect back to the responses they used to give when they were members of the opposition and we were government, I find the tones have somewhat changed and the priorities have changed and I guess the message that we, as politicians, want to get out to our constituents has also changed.
I was not planning on talking in a terribly philosophical context when I gave my response this time, but after listening to the Government Leader yesterday take a shot at us - I am not whining or saying it was unfair or expressing my thin-skinned insensitivity to the Government Leader taking shots at us; I expect that, as politicians, and this is the arena where politicians have an opportunity to stand up and express, on behalf of their constituents, their ideas and their beliefs - but he did talk about the NDP and how there was nothing the NDP could learn about democracy from the Tories, and he did make some comment about the plain hard facts speaking for themselves. So I decided that perhaps I should pick up on the Government Leaders comments and response and tell him I agree with them. Thet facts do represent the case and, much to the criticism and chastising of the Minister of Justice, I always try to make it a point to come into this Legislature with facts and with my homework done and with substantiation of the facts and the comments I am going to make in this Legislature, unlike several of the Minister who, I know, do not come in to this Legislature well prepared to debate issues. Actions do speak louder than words.
The Government Leader seemed quite upset that we were not giving them credit for doing anything good and that they had done a lot, and a lot had happened in the Yukon since the magic day the Minister of Justice talks about, in May of 1985, and particularly the day he was put into this Legislature.
Some of the actions of this government have been quite remarkable and I think have had quite a tremendous impact on Yukoners. It is in that context I would like to speak today about the actions of this government and how those actions have changed the social fabric of the Yukon and changed the structure of the Yukon Territory.
To avoid getting into a debate of whether we are more democratic than the side opposite or whether they are more democratic than our party and our partys philosophies, I think it is only fair to present the facts, as I see them, and hope that the Members in government will be as generous in accepting that my philosophy is different from theirs. I recognize my job as presenting an alternative to the electorate, and that is what I am here to do.
And if what this government is doing does not agree with my philosophy, I stand up and say so, this is the arena in which we should stand and say those things and I know that the side opposite differs with our ideas and with what we see as our vision and solution for the problems and the woes that Yukoners have yet to face.
I want to talk about the democracy of the New Democrats and I want to go back a little way to a convention that was held in Regina, Saskatchewan, in July of 1933, which is probably before some of us here were born. We will see if democracy and the social fabric and the direction and democratic intentions of this government are consistent with what happened then. At that time, the convention adopted certain principles that were to found the philosophies and objectives of the New Democratic Party. At that time, they said, the new social order at which we aim is not one in which individuality will be crushed out by a system of regimentation, nor will we interfere with cultural rights of racial or religious minorities. What we seek is a proper collective organization of our economic resources such as will make possible a much greater degree of leisure and a much richer individual life for every citizen.
Well, that sounds kind of wonderful and Utopia-like. The social and economic transformation was brought about by certain underlying philosophies and principles: the socialization of finance, the socialization of all financial machinery, banking, currency, credit, insurance, to make possible the effective control of currency, credit and prices and the supply of new product equipment for socially desirable purposes. They talked about social ownership, socialization - dominion, provincial or municipal - of transportation, communications, electrical power,and all other industries or services with potential for social planning and their operation under the general direction of the planning commission by competent managements, freed from day to day political interference.
We hear some of these philosophies being espoused in the House today. That convention and the principles of that convention were further reaffirmed and reconfirmed in June and July of 1983. At that time our Government Leader was the leader of the national New Democratic Party and I believe they were celebrating their fiftieth anniversary. At that time, the feeling was that they had to renew the conventions sense of urgency and the sense of commitment to fundamental change and the willingness to act beyond this narrow self-interest. Those are words from that convention, from resolutions at that convention.
The final paragraph of the historic task of the NDP at that time was that the New Democratic Party will not rest content until we have achieved a democratic socialist Canada, and we are confident that only such a Canada can make its rightful contribution to the creation of a more just democratic and peaceful world.
There you have the New Democratic objective, and I think that we can apply that objective and those principles here in the Yukon Territory, as they were applied in the Province of BC and the Province of Manitoba.
I am not one to stand up in this House or to speak publicly about socialism, or to refer to my socialist friends, or to talk about socialists and communists behind every bush. I do not think I have ever been extreme in my comments about the government Members and their intentions, and I am not being extreme now. I am quoting from fact, and I am presenting facts to the Legislature.
It is interesting that the young adults who are voting for the first time and who are becoming interested in politics are questioning very seriously the philosophies of the parties. They are looking for a difference in the parties so that they can make a choice as to what they believe in and to make a choice as to which party they would like to support. My concern is that politicians, in their clamouring to appease voters and get to the middle ground and not offend anybody, have so badly homogenized the philosophies that young people are finding it very difficult to make up their minds. Therefore, they are coming to MLAs. They have come to me to ask what I believe in, what I think the NDP believes in, and what I think the Liberal party believes in. I am sure that they ask the MLAs of other parties what their philosophies are.
People would like to make well informed decisions today about which party they want to support. Today, I presented some facts about the New Democratic Party. I have not given a personal hysterical extreme interpretation of what I think they stand for. The general philosophies of the NDP party can be applied to us here in the Yukon. The most obvious is their total disregard of the dependency that they are creating - not of the dependency on Ottawa, because we always talk about the dependency on Ottawa, that people in the Yukon are becoming too dependent on Ottawa for revenues.
It is even closer than that. It is right here in our backyard. The people of the Yukon are becoming so very dependent upon government, period. I read the Government Leaders comments over again in his response to the Throne Speech about the dirty filthy government dollar and how it could suddenly smell fresh. I am not going to quote the Government Leaders comments because he said himself that it was a very, very silly idea, and I think that it was a very silly point for the Government Leader to bring up. I would have expected better of him.
It emphasizes the tactics that the NDP are prepared to use in bringing forward some inanimate object like money and somehow making it seem like it is the money that is creating the evil, the money is bad. That is not the case. Where I have objections is to how the money is given out, how the money is being spent, how it is being distributed, and whether people are encouraged, through some government incentive to improve their station in life, or whether they are encouraged at all to do that. Too many times this government encourages and draws into their arms people to take government money, to be more accepting of government grant programs, of hand outs, of assistance, rather than encouraging independence. That is why our party prefers loans as opposed to grants. We have stood and said that consistently. The side opposite has criticized us because we stand and criticize and criticize and do not offer alternatives. That is not correct. It is absolutely not correct and the Members know it. I remember the Member for Watson Lake asking us to stand in this House and say where we should not give money. I told him where. I told him that if he was turning a community into a totally dependent body of people who were dependent upon the government not only for their capital structures, their facilities, but also to run and operate those facilities, and if the government was to take away the volunteer attitudes, good feelings and dignity of the community and make them totally dependent on a senior level of government, I did not think that was a good idea. They had to encourage communities to be independent, to use the services of their volunteers and to pay some of their own way. It was never acknowledged that we had made an alternative recommendation, or provided something constructive.
We look at a government here in the Yukon that wants to control everything, run everything and own everything. That is consistent with what happened in 1933 and in 1983, 50 years later. They will allow us what freedoms they want us to have, what rights they want us to have, what privileges they want us to have. They will set the laws and they will enforce them. They will enforce them the way they want to enforce them.
Soon, in the Yukon just about everybody is going to be working for government directly or indirectly because they are dependent upon government for services and the supply of goods. They will have us all looking after government, servicing government, providing services and goods to government. We will all be in government buildings, building government buildings for the Government Leader and his Cabinet colleagues.
This government has grown tremendously in the last three years that they have been in office. We have seen the whole Yukon turned topsy-turvy with some of their initiatives. It is not just one Minister who is responsible for the woes of this government. I do not think it would be fair to blame the Minister of Justice for all the problems of the government, although I am sure he feels sometimes he has a very heavy burden on his shoulders. All the front bench and the private Members, who sit in the back benches behind the Ministers, have to take upon their shoulders the responsibility for what is happening in the Yukon and for the direction that the Yukon is moving in for this so-called vision.
Again, I do not want to come in the House and make accusations without some examples or some substantiation that is factual. If we look at the performance of all the Ministers in all the areas, right from the Minister of Justice and his human rights, and the Minister of Health and her handling of day care, and the Minister of Community and Transportation Services and his handling of the wood burning regulations, I think there are examples of how all the decisions of that front bench, collectively, have affected the Yukon, and have changed the way people now live in the Yukon Territory.
We look at a government and we say that this government can either encourage people to be independent or they can encourage them to be dependent. My preference would be to encourage people to be independent and need government as little as possible to carry on their daily lives. I do not see that with this government. Every time those politicians turn around, they have some new incentive or some new initiative or new creation for people to come to ask the government for more money, whether it be in the form of houses, whether it be money to look after themselves, whether it be money to have someone look after their children, but always more, more money.
You do not have to pay your own medicare premiums anymore: we will pay them for you. You do not have to take care of yourself anymore. Just let the government do it for you. Government will do it for you. Those are the changes that are happening. Those are the subtle changes that are coming about in the Yukon.
We have to take a look at the initiatives of the front bench, of the Cabinet. We have to take a look at the turmoil that was caused here in the Yukon with the Minister of Justices human rights legislation. That has not gone away. It is still just as active as it was a little while ago. People are still talking about it. In fact, I think it is becoming more active with the new executive director of the Human Rights Commission. It is interesting to see the money allocated in the Budget, almost $250,000 again for the Human Rights Commission. That is about $10 for every man, woman and child in the Yukon, and that is probably about a half hours work that the executive director could spend on every man, woman and child in the Yukon, working on their human rights. That is an initiative of this government.
Then, we have the government bringing forward the Lotteries Licensing Act Regulations.
That certainly has been a highlight sensation in everybodys life here in the Yukon. A government that wants to tax the volunteers is absolutely unbelievable, but again not inconsistent with 1933 and 1983 - not at all inconsistent with the objectives then. So, we are going to tax our volunteers; we have our Minister of Justice stand up and say that he just cannot understand where some civil servant made some miscalculation, but he is going to take the responsibility on his shoulders. I guess he is. Not only is he, but the Minister of Health is going to take the responsibility on her shoulders, the Government Leader is, the Minister of Renewable Resources is and so is the Minister of Education, because they all made the same miscalculation. They passed those laws by Order-in-Council; it was not done by some civil servant in the department, it was done by these politicians, by the government, these people who deem themselves fit to govern.
Look at the value added policy: I listened closely to the Minister of Justices comments that he made today about the value added policy. He said the value added policy has, as its objective, the idea to circulate money. The Minister of Justice is talking absolute nonsense. He came in this House in the last session, and could not even answer the most simple questions about the value added policy. He could not answer the most simple questions about implementing this policy - what it was going to do to contractors; how much extra work it was going to cause for them; whether they were going to have to have permission of inspectors and civil servants to make changes - he could not answer the most simple fundamental questions about his own policy. Again, it is not just the Minister of Justice; it is also the Minister of Health and Human Resources, the Government Leader, the Minister of Renewable Resources and it is the Minister of Community and Transportation Services, because they all agreed that this value added policy was the greatest thing that could be brought forward.
I am not going to dwell on value added for the rest of the afternoon because we are going to have more time to debate that issue and more time to discuss it. We look at those contributions that have been made. They are consistent again with 1933 and 1983. We look at the attitude of the Minister of Health and Human Resources, who feels that she can look after children better than the parents can; who feels she can make the choices for the parents; that if the government controls day care it will be better quality day care than if the parents make the choices themselves. It is this Minister who gave more money to the day care issue instead of addressing the problem a year or more ago when it became an issue, until it got to the stage where it is today.
The young offenders facility - this is the Minister who had all the answers for the young offenders facility. We still have our young offenders being sent out to other facilities where, I gather, they are being beaten up and picked on. This is the Minister who had all the solutions; who, as a member of the Opposition did nothing but criticize the initiatives of the previous government and then is so offended when we criticize her. I did not just criticize the Minister; I offered some solutions. I wrote the Minister saying, In the day care issue, this is what I think you should do; I would recommend you do these following things. She disregarded it.
I did the same thing for the Minister of Justice for the lottery licensing. I wrote to him and recommended that he do this, this and this, and that we were prepared to support these alternatives. We offered alternatives and solutions. The government refused to even take them into consideration. Do not say we do nothing but criticize, when you, as Members of this House, have indicated that you are not prepared to listen to any of the recommendations that we bring forward.
The Minister of Community and Transportation Services has had studies going on in the Department of Education for three years, and hopefully we will get some answers, not just promises of answers. This is the Minister who feels so comfortable with big government. He likes to have big government to protect and look after people, to look after everyones every need, desire and whim. That is consistent with what happened in 1933 in Regina and what was later reaffirmed in 1983. It is completely consistent. We had a good example of the Minister of Community and Transportation Services regard for the general public with his wood burning regulations - the general public that is so stupid that it had to be protected by bringing in these wood burning regulations. I think we have seen other instances of that kind of attitude where we have to protect people from themselves because they cannot make decisions themselves about their children. They cannot make decisions about where they should live, where they should work, what they should do. This government is quite prepared to help everybody out, make all their decisions for them, to pay for everything, to look after them, to house them, to clothe them, to feed them.
Then the Government Leader has the nerve to stand up and say that in his vision of the Yukon we are becoming more independent. We are less dependent upon Ottawa for money. What is happening right here? How independent are we as citizens here in the Yukon? There is not very many who are not totally dependent upon the huge structure of government, or directly because they are employees of this government. I know there are lots of good people who work for government who would rather be out having their own businesses, but they cannot. What is this government doing to encourage that, or to make it any easier for them? Do we ever hear this government talk about deregulation, about fewer laws? Never. This Minister of Justice wants us to have every law that every other province in all of Canada has. Every time he finds another law that somebody else has that we do not have, he rushes into this Legislature to make sure that we have it right away.
We have a Private Investigators Act, as my colleague from Porter Creek West has said, and we do not even have one private investigator in the Yukon.
The government has established, in the last few days, a very dangerous precedent.
They have hired a surveillant to watch people, to watch Yukoners. Now the Government Leader has gone on and on and on about the Conservative law, that this is our law. I asked the Minister of Health today where the law stated that you must hire a surveillant, that you must take down license plate numbers, you must keep this in files in the department, and she stood up and gave the correct answer. She said that the law does not say that. That is simply an interpretation of this government and this governments attitude as to how they are going to enforce the existing law.
I have told them that we have a different approach; we have a different way that we would do it. It is not that we are encouraging people to break the law, as the Minister of Justice has alluded to and as the Government Leader challenged today - are the Conservatives saying that people should break the law?
Of course we do not say that; we never have said that, but there is more than one way to enforce a law. What I am criticizing is the way that this government is enforcing their law. That is what we are criticizing. There is another way to do it. I have talked to the municipal level of government and they agree; they have another way that they would enforce the day care licensing laws that they have, and it is not by hiring someone to sit outside peoples home and take down license numbers.
We hear the media say to me, Mrs. Firth, are you saying that we are approaching a police state? Well, as I said earlier, I do not speak in extremes, I do not go around saying that we live in a police state, but whatever it is that we are approaching, we are not approaching it - it is here. It is here and it is that fact that people are objecting to, that people who work for this government, in their executive offices, are objecting to. It is the approach that they are objecting to.
This whole episode could have been avoided if the Minister had simply addressed the issue a long time ago when it first came forward, and that time I offered alternatives but the Minister would hear nothing of them. I did not just stand up and criticize; I said, This is what I would do; this is what I think you should do; this is what people are prepared to contribute, - but it was disregarded. However, I will continue to offer alternatives. Maybe, one day, the government will say, Okay, we will take one of those alternatives, and I may even be able to think of one or two that the Government Leader may have taken.
Let us get back to the general picture in the Yukon, and what is happening here. We just had our friends from Alaska visiting us. Alaska is experiencing a state of recession right now, depressed economic times, a period of economic restraint, and they came to the Yukon and were quite taken by the amount of money we had and how well off we were and how we were building new buildings everywhere and our unemployment figures were down. They were just taken by the rosy picture here in the Yukon.
They did not neglect to warn us that they, too, had that same kind of rosy picture in Alaska not so many years ago. I have discussed this with the Government Leader before and raised a concern about it. The Minister for Government Services wants to encourage new contractors to come up here. I believe that is one of his objectives of the value added policy, that he wants to encourage new business up here. I have already raised the point that we have 56 more new consulting businesses this year in the Yukon than we did last year, more people working for government, dependent on government, more auxiliary employees - almost 100. Those are people who are working part time for the government on a permanent basis.
This government is giving a very strong message to people, and the message is that you toe the line and you do it our way, or the rosy times are not going to be there for you.
I think Yukoners are getting just a little bit tired of this governments approach and pushing people around. I believe the contractors have expressed and school committees have expressed it and the public has expressed it and the Chamber has some concerns about it. This government has to stop pushing people around, because they do not like it. Sooner or later, they are going to stand up and tell them that they do not like it. I think that day is coming sooner.
I want to quickly sum this up. Yukoners do not demand a lot of their politicians. They do not work us to death. They do not come to us with every little complaint. They are an independent, lively bunch of people living here. I do not regard all politicians as evil and nasty and hurtful, and I do not make comments like the Government Leader did about us wanting to hurt each other in the Legislature. I do not think that is why any of us are here.
The expectations of the people - of the constituents I represent and, I am sure, the constituents of many of the Members of this Legislature - are that their politicians simply do a good job for them. That job is to protect them, and to protect their civil liberties, and to protect them from unfairness and inequities. Essentially, Yukoners want their politicians just to do a good job of governing.
Speaker: Order, please. I would remind the Member she has three minutes to conclude.
Mrs. Firth: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I will not even need the three minutes.
Yukoners want their politicians to do a good job, to do an honest job, of governing, and they want them to leave them alone and let them get on with their lives.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I am pleased to see Mr. Max Ayers here as our new Sergeant-At-Arms. It is a new experience for him, and I hope that he is going to enjoy it.
I, in 1982, was elected by the people of Whitehorse North Centre to represent them in this House, to speak for them and to bring a lot of those concerns here. In 1985, I was asked by the Government Leader to head up a department to initiate important changes in health and social services, as well as issues respecting the status of women in our communities on behalf of all Yukoners.
As Members of this Assembly, we are collectively responsible for giving Yukoners the kind of leadership, the policies and the services that meet the needs of the present and chart a course for the future. To date, there is much progress to point to, but there is more to be done. As legislators and as a government, we cannot stop working until all our young people have opportunities and our poor people break from the cycle of poverty, our families are strong, good health is a way of life, and quality health and social services are available to people irrespective of the community they live in. There are many many more.
I believe that this governments record of achievement in working with Yukoners and in supporting community initiative is second to none. Together in this House and in the communities, people can build a better economy, better communities and strengthen families and cultures. We have proven it. We will prove it again and again in the future. I am proud to be one of many Yukoners who believe that we can tackle our problems, create and seize upon opportunities to improve the quality in all communities.
Progress and accomplishments can be big and small. There have been major new program initiatives to benefit many Yukoners. There have been many individual successes in Yukons families although Members must realize that not all achievements in social services can be paraded before they are set out in statistics. Children are being returned to their families. Individuals are dealing with their alcohol problems. These successes are seldom talked about because unfortunately social services are most often subject to criticism.
This governments record in supporting job creation and business development is self-evident as more Yukoners are working. This governments record in improving the services in communities throughout the Yukon including education, social services, health, recreation, municipal infrastructure and justice is evident to people living in our communities and to those who travel among communities.
Last week during the historic session opening in Dawson, I admired the obvious spirit and community improvements achieved by Dawsonites. I especially enjoyed the sitting in the Legislature and especially enjoyed those young children who were sitting behind us. To quote what one said, This is neat, why do you not do it more often? From a young boy, I heard, How heavy is that mace and how much is it worth?" I had many other interesting conversations with those young people who were interested in what was happening in this territory.
A similar story of initiative: we can do attitude, people working together, a concern for lasting achievements and solutions to profound social problems rather than a quick fix can be found in Pelly Crossing, Watson Lake, Haines Junction, Teslin, Carcross, Carmacks, Ross River, Old Crow and Faro, virtually all of the communities in the territory.
The priority given by this government to participatory democracy implemented through community dialogues and planning are out in the open and not behind closed doors in Whitehorse as opposed to the approaches in the past has helped Yukoners of all backgrounds to come together to achieve common goals.
I am proud to have made a contribution to many things dedicated to improving health and social services for Yukoners. Much has been done to improve and decentralize community services in rural Yukon. Much is being done to support family and community initiatives in prevention and community development. Much is being done to strengthen the basic health and social services provided throughout the territory. I would like to highlight some examples for the benefit of this House, since this government took office.
A new community health centre has opened in Pelly Crossing and an addition to the health station in Old Crow has been completed. We have opened community social service offices in three more rural communities, for a total of 11 - specifically, Ross River, Pelly Crossing and Carmacks. Support for the day care needs of Yukoners has grown from less than $400,000 in 1986-87 to more than $1 million in 1988-89 - and that includes the improvements and capital expenditures that we have allowed.
Financial assistance for low income parents has increased. Measures to assist with quality affordable day care have been implemented, including direct operating grants to licensed day care centres and family day homes. Adult education opportunities and early childhood education have been introduced at the new Yukon College. The day care capital program established in 1987-88 has supported the development of new centres, specialized spaces for infants, and improvements in programming in a number of Yukon communities. I am very pleased to note the opening of a licensed day care centre in Faro and the expansion of the Watson Lake day care centre in new premises, scheduled to open officially in April.
These initiatives were initiatives as a result of a new government, and are brand new initiatives that have happened since the implementation of the day care program in the Yukon.
A coordinated home care program providing home making and home nursing services is now in place. A new chronic disease and disability program has been established to assist Yukoners. Despite a lot of criticism from the side opposite, I have talked to many individuals who are pleased that we have this available to them. A community addictions program was reinstated with permanent staff in nine of our rural communities, all of whom were hired locally. A social work education program for Health and Human Resources social service employees who live and work throughout the Yukon was designed in cooperation with the Department of Education and, with the assistance of the universities of Regina and Alaska, formal university level course work has been delivered successfully for the last two years.
A number of improvements have been made in the services for seniors in Macaulay Lodge in Whitehorse, including the introduction of a resident care system and special recreational, nutrition, medical, pharmacy and occupational physiotherapy services. A new family support program to work with families and to keep children in their own homes and out of government care was initiated in 1987-88.
The number of permanent employees living and working in rural communities has increased from 23 to 36. The rural safe home program has supported the establishment of new services in Watson Lake, Carmacks and Dawson City, and we have had requests for more. Community health services in Beaver Creek and Carcross have been upgraded from health stations to health centres. Community consultations on young offenders have resulted in the development of community based alternative measures and made-in-Yukon residential services, such as wilderness camps and many, many other new initiatives.
Measures to address the issue of family violence have been researched and implemented, including expansion of the transition home service, additional child protection personnel training and group work activities. A range of community and youth development projects have been supported in Old Crow, Ross River, Teslin, Watson Lake and other communities. A ministerial advisory committee on substance abuse has been established to help coordinate the efforts of various agencies and interests to tackle their social problem.
Support for the training of family mediators has been provided to develop an alternative resource to the courts for resolving child custody disputes. Development of a childrens treatment group home in Whitehorse has reduced the use of outside placements for young children requiring specialized services.
More has happened to improve the level of health and social service provided to Yukoners in the last few years than in the last ten, and the job is not done.
As indicated in the Throne Speech, a variety of initiatives are proposed for 1988-89. Some steps will be small and not expensive, but nonetheless very important to individual Yukoners, families and communities. We are spending sensibly. Our dollars are being targeted to meet real needs and support community and economic development in the territory. One of the major initiatives in the coming year was noted in the Speech from the Throne. I am pleased to say that financial assistance provided to Yukoners with low incomes through the Social Assistance Program will be substantially increased through a major rate perform package.
The community consultation on the future of child care in the territory will proceed very shortly to promote discussion about emerging needs and priorities for action in this area. Although many improvements have been made in the last two years, I expect that Yukoners will identify further areas for attention.
The Member for Riverdale North has made mention in her speech that she had many ideas and that we should use them to develop these changes. The words that the Member offered to the department will be included in the child care consultation panel, as will any other initiatives that she may have, and I thank her for that.
I remain committed to the establishment of secure custody services for young offenders in the territory. As Members are aware, the design of a planned facility in Whitehorse is being altered to ensure that it can be built to meet our needs within reasonable costs.
In view of the remarks made by the hon. Member for Riverdale North yesterday, I would like to encourage all Members to consult the official record of the House for accurate information on the expenditure plans of the former government. The documents that I tabled in this House on April 17, 1986, show clearly that the previous government intended to spend in excess of $5 million on the construction of a 24 bed secure custody facility. Those are the facts. They came to almost $6 million and that did not include services off site, site acquisition and site preparation. That is documented in a report that was done for the former government when the Member for Riverdale South was the Minister for Health and Human Resources. It is clear and I do not want them to forget it because they forget it every single time they talk about the expenses.
I would like to make sure that those facts are taken into consideration every time you talk about a former Tory government spending $1.6 million when, in fact, the plan was almost $5 million, or more.
As my consultations with Yukoners throughout the territory demonstrate, there was no support for such a plan and certainly no justification for such a massive expenditure in this area. The entire cost of the project planned by the previous government was to be paid for by the Yukon taxpayer. I say that because there was no commitment whatsoever from the federal government: none. The plan was to spend that much money.
This government is not prepared to proceed on that basis. Although a necessary delay resulted from the strategy, I am very pleased to have successfully concluded negotiations with the federal government to provide a $2.25 million in contributions to the capital cost of the secure facility, in addition to other implementation funding arrangements. Unlike the previous government, we are clearly good negotiators and better managers of the public purse in respect to the young offenders facility. There is a big difference between $5 million plus and $2.25 million.
This government intends to continue its efforts to support the quality of life and the level of health and social services available to residents of rural communities. In the coming year, further improvements will be made to support community initiatives and enhance the services available to support families, develop local placement options for children in care, encourage the participation of bands in the planning and delivery of child welfare services, and strengthen community services.
A range of small yet significant initiatives were identified in the Throne Speech. We will make the Family Support Program, first introduced in 1987-88, available to rural Yukoners as an additional measure designed to keep children from coming into care. In response to discussions with residents in Watson Lake about community needs, a pilot project to strengthen family counselling services will proceed. In an effort to provide more comprehensive social services, a review of rural needs for vocational and rehabilitation services, presently centred in Whitehorse, will be undertaken. A social worker position will be transferred to Carmacks to improve family and children services. New licensed day care centres and family day homes will be supported to provide quality day care for rural families. A review of community health services, with particular regard for emergency, non-emergency, and long term care needs of residents of Dawson City, Mayo, Faro and Watson Lake, has been initiated to identify current and future needs for such services.
I am pleased to comment on other important developments that would be recognized by my colleague from Old Crow. Anne Smith has been elected as the new chief for the Kwanlin Dun Band in Whitehorse. I am sure all Members of the Assembly join me in congratulating her and the band, and I look forward to working with her more closely, as part of that band is in my constituency.
Recent statistics on the participation of women in the Yukon labour force indicate an ever-larger number of women are seeking and finding employment. This is encouraging.
Considerable advances are being made by this government to assist in the provision of adequate and affordable housing for Yukoners. I am particularly delighted with the new seniors complex, which is near completion in Whitehorse. This governments plans to develop Yukon College as a comprehensive adult education institution, serving Yukoners and administered by a community board, will do much to give our youth and adults the opportunity to improve their skills and remain in the territory.
This is a government that is working with Yukoners to build better communities and a future for us all. I am pleased to serve my constituents in Whitehorse North Centre. I am pleased to serve Yukon as the Minister responsible for the Status of Women. I am pleased to serve all Yukoners as the Minister of Health and Human Resources.
Before I conclude, I would like to comment on one of the remarks made by the previous speaker in regard to some of the things that she mentioned.
She talked about grants and loans. There has been a lot of discussion with regard to grants versus loans, and it is their policy or position to encourage loans. There are a number of individuals out there who feel the same way but there are a number of other individuals out there who, in the past, have been able to benefit from grants that they have received and have helped build a better economy here in the Yukon.
The Member talked about the performance of members of this Cabinet and she slighted each and every one of us with something that we had done that was not done right. It is unfortunate that I have to say what I do, but sometimes I listen to things and I get a little bit upset at certain things that are being said. I recognize it as the right of the opposition to do the kind of things that they are doing, to criticize us and to hope that things may change to their benefit, but when I was in the opposition we were able to sit back and we were able to see the performances of former Ministers. As a matter of fact, we had occasion to see one Minister moved to the back bench - for what reason I will never know, but they must have had a good reason for doing that.
There has been much talk with regard to human rights and the Members have spoken about the human rights and the problems that it might cause. We were able to pass that Act in that House and put it into law and I am very proud that we were able to do it, despite the opposition from the other side. I do not think that they are in favour of human rights of any kind.
The Member also talked about what Yukoners are wanting and what Yukoners are saying about this government and the kind of feedback that she is getting and that Yukoners are in a pretty horrible situation because of what this government is doing. She never stops to talk about those individuals who have been able to benefit from this governments initiatives in the economy and the many other things. There are many individuals out there who are grateful that they have been able to get off the social assistance list, and there were many during that period of time. There are many people out there who are not saying the same kinds of things that the Members on the other side are saying. They are pleased, they are glad, they are actually patting us on the back and saying, I am glad I am not on social assistance anymore, or I am glad I am not on pogey anymore.
I have to mention that because whenever they speak, they speak as though they are speaking for every Yukoner - every Yukoner there is - and they are not, they are speaking for some people, but not speaking for all. I am proud to be part of a government that has been able to accomplish the kind of things that we have done. Thank you.
I move that debate be now adjourned.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Health and Human Resources that debate be now adjourned.
Motion agreed to
Bill No. 70: Second reading
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 70, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. Penikett.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I move that Bill No 70, entitled Interim Supply Appropriation Act, 1988-89 be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Government Leader that Bill No. 70, entitled Interim Supply Appropriation Act, 1988-89 be now read a second time.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The purpose of this Bill is to seek interim operation and maintenance appropriation authority for the month of April, 1988. This authority is required because the 1988-89 Operation and Maintenance Main Estimates have not obviously had time to be debated by the House prior to April 1, 1988, the beginning of the new fiscal year.
Sums contained in this Bill are based upon the 1988-89 Operation and Maintenance Main Estimates. However, Members will note that the amounts requested for the departments are not necessarily one-twelfth of the amounts contained in the Main Estimates. Many of the expenditure made by governments consist of up-front payments for grants, preparation of summer operations and so on that are made in the month of April.
Conversely, some departments have lighter than average requirements in the first month of the fiscal year. The result is the uneven pattern of expenditures reflected in this Bill. Ministers are prepared to answer any questions Members may have during general debate or in Committee on this Bill.
Mr. Lang: This side of the House committed itself to debating this Bill prior to April 1 in order that finances can be made available for running the public service over the next month during the debate of the Main Estimates. Therefore, we will be carrying out our commitment during the next day to ensure that it gets passage tomorrow.
Motion agreed to
Bill No. 10: Second reading
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 10, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. Penikett.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I move that Bill No. 10, the Financial Agreement Act, 1988-90 be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Government Leader that Bill No. 10, entitled Financial Agreement Act, 1988-90 be now read a second time.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Members will be aware that we have reached an understanding with the federal government to extend formula financing for a further two years, that is until March 31, 1990. The purpose of this Bill is to allow the Commissioner in Executive Council to enter into an agreement with the federal government to formalize that understanding. I need not remind the House of the importance of formula financing to the economic well-being of the Yukon. All Members share that knowledge.
With this extension of our base funding, our base funding is now assured for the next two years. We will have the security necessary to continue our program of upgrading our capital infrastructure and the quality of life of our citizens.
Members will appreciate that discussions leading to this agreement were long and, at times, difficult. This does not, however, mean that they were not cordial. The positive attitude and the constructive positions taken by federal officials in these negotiations were appreciated by us and facilitated the negotiations considerably.
I feel bound to note at this stage several minor modifications in the original agreements that have been incorporated into the extension, and I will be prepared to describe these in further detail in Committee, should Members require that information. They are technical changes and they have no potential for any financial impact of any significance; the most significant of them is that we have agreed to a ceiling on the provincial local escalator used in the grant calculation, and this is consistent with the ceiling agreed to by the provinces under their equalization formula. The ceiling will be the rate of change in the nominal - that means inflated - Canadian Gross Domestic Product. For the foreseeable future, this ceiling is not expected to come into play since it exceeds the provincial local escalator in all projections that have so far been published. The change is technical; we do not expect it to affect the flow of dollars.
While this is unlikely to have any financial impact, acceptance of this ceiling is, we believe, important in that it displays our willingness to assume greater financial responsibility and be funded on a basis that more closely resembles the provinces.
With that brief introduction, I will conclude my introductory remarks, but I would want, at this time, to indicate to Members that, in Committee, I will bring the necessary officials to the floor of the House to assist me in answering any questions they may have about the agreement.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Porter: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 4:35 p.m.
The following Sessional Paper was tabled March 29, 1988:
Letter dated march 14, 1988, from Sen. Lowell Murray, Minister of State for Federal-Provincial Relations, on behalf of the Prime Minister of Canada, in response to resolution passed by the Assembly concerning the 1987 Constitutional Accord (Speaker - Johnston)
The following Document was filed March 29, 1988:
Letter from an upset parent to Mrs. Firth regarding surveillance of an unlicensed Day Home (Firth)