Thursday, March 31, 1988 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. We will proceed at this time with Prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.
Introduction of Visitors?
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I would like to welcome to the House today two women in the Public Gallery: Roberta Welch, who was the coordinator for the very successful symposium on Community Action Against Drug Abuse; and Vicki Hild, who is the state-wide coordinator for alcohol and birth defects in Anchorage, Alaska. I saw her presentation, and it was excellent.
Speaker: Returns or Documents for Tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have for tabling a distribution by community of the expenditures of the 1988-89 Operation and Maintenance Estimates.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Are there any Petitions?
Introduction of Bills?
Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Are there any Notices of Motion?
Are there any Statements by Ministers?
Yukon Minimum Wage
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I am pleased to announced the new policy of the government regarding the minimum wage following the unanimous recommendation of the Employment Standards Board. The Employment Standards Board has recommended a minimum wage of $5.39 per hour effective May 1, 1988. There will be no change to the application of the minimum wage. It will apply to employees 17 years of age and over.
The Employment Standards Board is representative of employers and employees with an impartial chairperson. In arriving at their recommendation, the board invited written submissions from interested parties through newspaper advertisements. The board received 11 responses. In addition, the board considered the results of the minimum wage survey conducted during the later part of 1987.
The board also considered research material gathered previously and the statistical information on the cost of the living and current minimum wage rates across Canada. The minimum wage survey indicated that very few employees will be directly affected by an increase in the minimum wage.
In arriving at a recommendation, the board considered the poverty line for a single person living in a community of less than 30,000 people. That figure was then adjusted to take into consideration recent costs of living increases and the higher costs of living in Yukon. It was their recommendation that a person working full time at minimum wage should not earn wages below the poverty line.
By tying the minimum wage to the poverty line and the cost of living, the board has provided a rationale that can be considered in future minimum wage reviews. Such a rationale will ensure that employers are not affected by dramatic increases in the minimum wage in future.
The board also recommended minimum wage regulations. These regulations clarify the status quo, which has existed over the past several years in the application of the minimum wage to classes of employees whose conditions of employment require that they be paid the minimum wage on a basis other than at a hourly rate. These are employees whose hours of work are general unverifiable and fluctuate daily or seasonally. The board has recommended a major change in response to submissions from lodge owners and employers of nannies or domestics who supply board and lodging as a condition of employment. The board is proposing a maximum reduction to the minimum wage earner of $5 per day for board or lodging or both. The regulation has the overall effect of ensuring that no employees wages are reduced below the minimum wage less $5 per day, no matter what the hourly wage rate may be or actual charges for board and lodging.
This new wage recognizes the higher cost of living in Yukon and ensures that persons earning the minimum wage will have a fair share in the Yukons vibrant economy. Since there are few minimum way earners in Yukon, the effect on employers will be minimal.
Although this is the highest rate in Canada, a person who is paid the minimum wage on a standard 40-hour week will earn $11,210.94 gross per year. Thank you.
Speaker: This then brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: Northwestel
Mr. Phelps: I have a number of questions with regard to the proposed sale of Northwestel. I would like to ask the Minister responsible, the Government Leader, whether he could advise us as to what parties are in the syndicate - of which this government or the Yukon Development Corporation is a part - that is putting together a bid for Northwestel.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am not in the position to make an announcement yet - and it might not be for me to make one, in any case - about the exact composition of a consortium to bid for the assets of Northwestel, but I can advise the Member that discussions are continuing toward, I hope, a quick conclusion on something like the same basis as I indicated to the House some weeks ago. We, through the Yukon Development Corporation, are in discussions with the Mr. Rolf Hougens group, which includes BC Tel. Discussions are also continuing with a number of aboriginal development corporations, representatives of an employee group, and, I believe, also agents of the managers of the company. The objective remains the same: to see if there can be a single northern consortium put together to make a successful bid for the assets of our telephone company, to serve the objective of keeping control, head office and the jobs in this community.
Mr. Phelps: Aside from the Yukon Development Corporation, has this government said it is prepared to fund any of the other groups and syndicates, directly or indirectly?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: In a general way, we have indicated our readiness to help facilitate the involvement of Yukon based groups, such as the employees or Yukon Indian Development Corporation. To this point, we have not had any specific request to do so. We are hopeful that those parties will be involved in the consortium. The decision as to whether they will be part, and the decision as to how they would finance their participation, is premature at this point.
Mr. Phelps: Have any of the potential members said they would be unable to put up their share of the money?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I cannot indicate the financial position of any of the members. As you may know, such arrangements can be packaged in quite a considerable number of different ways. Discussions have not yet proceeded in detail about that. The basic decision, which has yet to be concluded, is the membership and the respective shares in the northern consortium of which I spoke. It is certainly hoped by us that representatives of all the groups I indicated will find themselves able to take part.
Question re: Northwestel
Mr. Phelps: I read somewhere that the position of this government would be that no party in the syndicate would be able to earn equity through the negotiating process, that everybody would have to put up their fair share. Is that still the position of the government?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: It would generally would be our position that participants would have to ante up, that one would not be able to earn a substantial interest in the company simply by playing a facilitating role.
Mr. Phelps: Can the Government Leader tell us what the relationship is with the private group that he refers to as the Hougen Group? Are they working together or are they in competition?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Our objective is that there should be a single northern consortium. We have indicated through many discussions our willingness to work with Mr. Hougen and his group. Should we reach a satisfactory conclusion to those discussions, the consortium will be able to announce the results of those discussions and the respective roles of each of the parties.
Mr. Phelps: Can the Government Leader tell us who is on the negotiating team from the Government of Yukon and or the Yukon Development Corporation?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: There are a number of people throughout the government who are involved. There is a working group that is led by the Department of Community and Transportation Services. In some discussions, Mr. Roger Graham, the Acting Deputy Minister in that department, has been a participant in the discussions. Mr. Shakir Alwarid, the Deputy Minister of the Department of Economic Development has also been a participant, as have others. I do not think that I could guarantee from memory to properly name all of them at this moment.
Introduction of Visitor
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I would like, while I am on my feet, to draw to your attention the presence in the gallery of Mr. Ernie Epp, MP and his spouse. Mr. Epp is the MP for Thunder Bay- Nipigon and is visiting relatives here in the Yukon.
Question re: Vehicle licence stickers
Mr. McLachlan: I have been approached by a constituent to ask the Minister of Community and Transportation Services if he uses his influence within the department to short circuit the system and get his licence plate stickers on the final day, or does he stand in line for two hours, like every other citizen in the Yukon who has left the project until the final day?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I would probably classify that question as highly provocative. I would never consider using what influence I have with the Motor Vehicles Branch to seek special privilege to secure the licence stickers for my plates and my vehicles. I would not do that. In the past, I have often stood in line, as everybody else has.
The point of the matter is that the deadline date is well publicized. It is publicized months in advance. People have all kinds of time to prepare themselves to secure the necessary stickers for their plates. Those people who plan in advance get their stickers without standing in line. Those who leave it until the last day - and there appears to be a number of them - do have to stand in line.
Mr. McLachlan: I would not expect the Minister to use his undue influence in the department, but I wanted to get his answer on the record. The word on the street is that, at the moment, the Minister has not already got his, and he should be careful, because super-snoop may be watching tonight when the deadline approaches.
Can the Minister confirm that the department has looked at other methods to flip or regulate the deadlines within the department to solve the problems of the last minute rush, that is, expiry dates on March 31 and September 30? Has the department looked at any alternating system?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It so happens the department has been looking at alternative systems, and I hope to be in a position shortly to make a statement on a new policy for the issuance of licence plates in the territory.
Mr. McLachlan: Can the Minister advise if the department has given any credence to the manner of system where the customer picks the date on which his licence would expire, and the department notifies them that their deadline is approaching?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I hope somebody would not pick a date that was years in advance for their licence to expire. I think the new policy that we are proposing to implement will be more flexible than the current policy, which is to have a single deadline date. There are various jurisdictions in the country that have different methods of issuing licence plates. The policy change that we are thinking of implementing will provide more flexibility.
Question re: Day care surveillance
Mrs. Firth: I have a question for the Minister of Health and Human Resources. The recent surveillance methods by this government of the family day homes has resulted in parents being extremely upset at the invasion of their privacy to the extent that some of them feel they are being spied on and that they have to walk their children to their babysitters. Could I ask the Minister if she will call off the surveillance and ask her department to go back to the drawing board and see if there is not a more democratic method in which they can see that people are obeying the law?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: It is not up to me to make a decision to call off the surveillance. The surveillance has been directed through the Day Care Services Board and I would not ask them to do that because that is not up to me.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister is responsible for the surveillance and she does have the authority to call the surveillance off, and I would like to ask her again if she will ask for the surveillance to stop and go back to the drawing board and to come up to a more democratic method to ensure that people are not disobeying the law?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I have already answered that question.
Question re: Local hire policy
Mr. Brewster: My question is to the Minister of Renewable Resources. This government has often made much of its local hire policy and the use of local material. On Tuesday, I noted that the Member for Old Crow thanked the government for supplying funds to build a campground complex in Old Crow. My question is: Is it true that the Department of Renewable Resources has built a completed prefab campground complex in Whitehorse and is going to airlift it to Old Crow?
Hon. Mr. Porter: The policy of the department with respect to construction of campground related materials is to construct them on site in the shop that we have here in Whitehorse, and that has not changed.
Mr. Brewster: Can the Minister explain to me then why the people of Old Crow were not given the opportunity to build this campground facility and use local material?
Hon. Mr. Porter: The process is well known by members and has been going on for years. We have a parks branch here, we have a shop in the industrial area and we have always constructed our campground material at that shop and that has not changed.
Mr. Brewster: I guess it is nice to have lots of money. Would the Minister table the statistics as to exactly how many tourists will be using this campground?
Hon. Mr. Porter: Those statistics are not available. Any statistics that we do come up with would be basically guesstimates. In order to satisfy the curiosity of the member opposite, we will look at seeing what numbers we could ascertain from Parks Canada and other sources to project some probable number and hopefully maybe one day he will be one of those tourists.
Question re: Lottery regulations
Mrs. Firth: I have a question for the Minister of Justice regarding the lottery licensing regulations that he has amended. Yesterday, the Minister issued a press release, at which time he was quoted as saying We have redrafted the regulations to reflect the practices which were in effect before the new regulations were drafted.
I would like to ask the Minister: was the final draft presented to the concerned groups who had raised concerns for their comment and for their input?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: What occurred, as the Member I believe knows, because she asked me and I responded in writing, was that a proposal was put to the societies and agencies that were involved and they responded. The government responded to the lobbying that we received as a result of that invitation. Indeed, in some respects, we went even further. The specific regulation that was passed was not circulated except in its original sense when it was tabled in this House approximately a year ago.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister gives us some factual information but leaves out a lot of very important facts. The original communication for changes was different than the Order-in-Council that was signed - incidentally, on March 28, the day that the motion was tabled in this Legislature regarding the lottery.
I gather that the answer to the first question was no, that they did not see the final draft, so there were some snippets of information that they had, but they did not have the final draft.
I would like to ask the Minister a question regarding the policy. You see, the policy has not gone back to the way that it was before, as the Minister would like to make it sound. I will give you an example: the bingos used to pay $25 annually for a fee. The Minister changed it to $25 a day...
Speaker: Order, please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary question.
Mrs. Firth: Yes, I will. It has now been reduced to $10 a day.
Is it not correct that the policy...
Speaker: Order, please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary question.
Mrs. Firth: I am asking the question, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: It is a one sentence preamble for all supplementary questions.
Mrs. Firth: But I am asking the question.
Does the Minister not agree that the policy is exactly the same as it was before, that there has simply been a fee change, not a policy change?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The original question was about consultation and I should say that the policy of the larger lotteries paying a larger fee - which I believe was accepted in this House - is retained, and the agencies we contacted accepted that principle. What they objected to was any percentage of sales or a percentage of the prizes policy, and the government changed that.
With respect to bingos, the fees are now $10 a day, regardless of the attendance or of the prizes.
Mrs. Firth: So the Minister will agree that we are not going back to the regulations the way they were, as he stated in his press release, but it is a new policy and they are new regulations?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: That is an obvious conclusion. The new regulations are not precisely the same as the old. There are many changes. For one, they are in lay language and easily understandable. The other changes in policy which no one objected to are in place.
Question re: Lottery regulations
Mr. Lang: It concerns me that the Minister of Justice is once again implying that this Legislature agreed with the previous policy changes that were such a debacle. I want him to refer to April Fools Day, I believe, when we discussed the policy changes that he had brought forward. At that time this House was assured by the Minister of Justice that there would be no changes, no increase in fees to anyone involved in the lottery system. We all know the result of the assurances the Minister gave this House. Why has he just stated that there was common agreement in this House to an increase of the fees that the Minister brought in when he knows for a fact they were objected to by Members of this House during the debate at that time?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The preamble is simply wrong. What occurred is the regulations with the new fees were tabled in the House and were made public some six or eight months before they became effective. They were not objected to in this House. There was a debate about the policy of the changes, and we spoke about the policy of increasing fees with increasing prizes. It is accurate to say that this House did not pass upon or vote upon the regulations. I did not mean to imply that we did and consequently agreed.
Mr. Lang: I take exception, strong exception as a parliamentarian, to the Minister of Justice making statements in this House on behalf of myself, as a Member from a constituency, that I did certain things when I did not. It is in Hansard. Why did the Minister of Justice, on April Fools Day, 1987, tell this House there would be no increase in fees in the policy that he had brought forward? We saw the result of it over the course of this past year.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I have previously answered that question. The Hansard speaks for itself. At the time of that exchange, the regulations with the fees were public knowledge and were tabled in this House. We talked about the changes in the policies that were evident.
In any event, the major issue here is a problem that was quickly identified, and we fixed it.
Mr. Lang: It is almost poetic justice that tomorrow is April Fools Day. It was identified a year ago. Why does the Minister consistently stand up in this House - whether it be in Question Period or Committee of the Whole - and give us partial information, very little information on any subject, so he can twist the truth and be as devious as he wants at any given time? Why does the Minister not just stand up and say he misinformed us, it was not the facts, those are the results, and that is why the changes have come through?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I only respond to questions. The questions are not designed to elicit information. They are designed to make a political point. The Members opposite are trying to put a thought in the public mind that is totally irresponsible.
Question re: Young offenders facility
Mr. Phillips: With respect to the three year delay in building a secure custody young offenders facility that the Minister of Health and Human Resources stated in 1985 as being one of her top priorities, when will the construction on this facility actually begin?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: As the Member is well aware, there were problems with the bids that came in. They were much higher than was anticipated. We were not prepared to spend that much money. We are trying to keep costs down. We have gone back to the architects and done some small redesigning, and we have come down to a lower cost. The Member knows, because it has been in the paper, that that will be retendered. I cannot give him a date at this time when it will be completed. I cannot stand here and say that I am pleased with all the things that have taken place. I want that building as much as he does.
Mr. Phillips: It is interesting to hear the Minister say that there were problems with the bids that came in. There were no problems with the bids that came in, there were problems with what the Minister did to bring this all about.
The Minister stated in a recent press release that even with a later tender call, the building completion will still be this fall. Can the Minister tell this House how it will be possible, considering that the bidders in the January tender call expressed strong reservations about being able to meet the compressed date and now the Minister has made the time frame even tighter?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I am not about to talk about the redesign, because that would not be the right thing to do, because there will be a retender. I cannot tell this House the kind of things that are going to happen in order to bring the cost down. I would hope that we would be able to start building that facility late this spring. We will be behind, and there are reasons for it. As I said before, I do not relish the thought that our young offenders are still being sent outside, but what we are doing is that we are going to be building a facility that is of a much lower cost than the former government was going to build. There is a big difference between $5 million and $2.5 million.
Mr. Phillips: I thank the Minister for her non-answer. It seems that we never get answers from this Minister; we are just wasting time asking her any questions.
I would like the Minister to tell this House how much more this compressed time frame will add to the cost of building that facility.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: If I had a time limit, and if I were a builder, I would be able to give him that kind of information. The tenders will go out again. We will be looking at the tenders and we will be accepting one. I am hoping that we will be able to start building in late spring.
Question re: Young offenders facility
Mr. Phillips: I would like to pursue this issue with the Minister a little further, but I would like to turn my concerns to the well-being of the young offenders who have suffered as a result of this Minister having done nothing. I would like to ask the Minister about the containment of the young offenders in Whitehorse.
Since young offenders have been contained along with adult inmates in the Whitehorse Correctional Centre, how does the Ministers department keep them separate? In fact, are they kept well away from adult young offenders?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: There are certain circumstances that force us to put those young offenders in the adult jail. They are definitely kept away from adult offenders.
Mr. Phillips: Does the Minister assign any specially trained personnel to monitor young offenders when they are in the Whitehorse Correctional Centre, to make sure that they are not in contact with the adult offenders?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I do not think that we send our own youth services personnel up to the jail but they are in a section away from the other inmates and whether or not those individuals who are there have special training in looking after young offenders, I do not know.
Mr. Phillips: I would like to get this clear. When we have a young offender in the Whitehorse Correctional Centre they are kept segregated from the adult offenders. They are not put in with adult offenders at any time.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I have answered every question in regard to that.
Mr. Phillips: Does the Minister not know? These are young offenders.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I have been informed by my department that those young offenders are kept separate from adult offenders. I have already said that twice.
Question re: Senior citizens complex
Mr. Lang: A new senior citizens complex is being put up within a block and a half of this building. They are doing a very nice job on the exterior construction. About a year ago, there was a call out for the rental of commercial space for a portion of that facility. Certain individuals indicated that they were prepared to put proposals together for the use of that space.
Could the Minister of Community and Transportation Services tell me when a decision is going to be made respecting those proposals that were put forward. There was a great deal of work put into those proposals by the individuals involved.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will have to check with the Yukon Housing Corporation as to when the board is planning to make the final decision. It should take place in the month of April. The occupancy for the senior citizens complex does not take place until sometime after that, in June I believe. There will be plenty of time for the occupant of the ground floor space to move in and make plans.
Mr. Lang: I am not going to argue the merits of whether of not the commercial space should be made available. That is a separate issue and can be dealt with at some other time. Business people were approached, and they put together various proposals. The spring of the year is here, and pretty soon we will be into the busy tourism season. I would like to know why it has taken so long for the Yukon Housing Corporation to make this decision.
A business person, in order to make a decision to move into a space such as this, has to give another landlord notice, vacate other space and make other business commitments. This could mean about three months or more advance notice. Why has the Housing Corporation taken so long to make a decision on this matter?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I realize this is a very attractive building and people want to move in as soon as possible. It is in a good location, as well. I am sure there is competition to move into the building, and people want to see the decision made as soon as possible. I know the housing corporation wants to make as fair a decision as possible. This is not the kind of thing they normally decide, because this is not this kind of space normally offered in projects that they own.
The building cannot open until it is finished. That leaves at least two or three months between now and the time a person can move in. That has to be restated, given the tenure of the question. The housing corporation wanted to be fair and wanted to be sure that everyone had a chance to make a fair bid and get their interests for the space out early. That is the reason for the early call for prospective tenants in that particular ground floor space.
Mr. Lang: The Minister still has not answered the question. The calls were made last year for people who were interested to come forward and give proposals to the housing corporation for the use of this space. I will be the first to admit that they cannot move in until it is finished. I have a concerned constituent who has business commitments to make. Why is it taking so long for a decision to be made?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The housing corporation indicated that it wanted to give people plenty of time to express interest in the commercial space. They also indicated to me that they would give the successful tenants plenty of time to plan a move to vacate premises they may currently be in, in time for the official opening of the building.
The housing corporation wanted to be careful in its deliberations, and I believe they have been. I am sure they will give consideration to the needs of those persons who may have expressed an interest in this prime space. It is a very attractive building, and I know the housing corporation will ensure - to the fullest extent possible - to decide the question as early as possible.
Question re: Senior citizens complex
Mr. Lang: Is the reason they have not made a decision to allocate this space because they are considering making a policy decision of not leasing commercial space in that particular building?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The housing corporation has discussed this matter, to my knowledge. I was not present during their deliberations, but the board has discussed this matter. The plans for the ground floor space can include pure commercial activities, or can include commercial activities in the sense that they would be high traffic areas where commercial retail is actively going on, or can be lower traffic office space. They have set their priorities with respect to what they wish to see as tenants in the space, and will be making a decision shortly on the successful tenants.
Mr. Lang: This brings a whole new light to the questions being asked. I do not know why the Minister did not inform me at the outset that he was reconsidering the policy. What are the priorities on the allocation of space, since the Minister is obviously privy to the conversations?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: If I had given the Member the information he now says he wants, then he would have indicated that I was not answering the question. I gave this information already when the issue came up in the House in December. There was a desire that whatever tenant was to be located in that particular space would be a tenant that would, in some way, enhance the quality of life for that building. That was the first priority.
Secondly, the priority would be for a tenant that would not disturb the activities in the building. That would include office space or low volume office commercial activity.
If the Member is asking me whether or not there was a change in policy with respect to whether or not it should be commercial at all, there has been no change in policy.
Mr. Lang: Obviously, if it was going to be office space, with the way the government is growing, it would provide more office space for them.
I have constituents who are seriously looking for commercial space downtown and have applied for it. Have these people been informed at any time whether or not they fit the priority or if they fit in with respect to being eligible to rent this space?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The priorities are well known and were indicated by the call that was put out by the Yukon Housing Corporation. There are people who did express an interest in this particular location who would not neatly fall into the priority list, if I may put it that way. Nevertheless, they put a proposal in anyway on the chance they might get such attractive space. I know there is a shortage of space of that sort in Whitehorse and the Yukon Housing Corporation knows it too. The Yukon Housing Corporation will make a good decision in a timely way that best meets the interests of the seniors who are going to be living in that building.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed. We will proceed with Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Motion respecting adjournment
Hon. Mr. Porter: I move that the House at its rising do stand adjourned until Tuesday, April 5, 1988.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: Before progressing to Government Bills, I would like to inform the House that Motion No. 4, standing in the name of the hon. Member for Old Crow, will be removed from the Order Paper since it is almost exactly the same motion as Motion No. 12, which was decided by the House during yesterdays sitting. As the hon. Member for Old Crow noted during debate on Motion No. 12, that motion did not cover the subject matter included in the third paragraph of her Motion. If it is still her desire to deal with that subject matter it would be in order for her to give notice of a new motion to that effect.
ASSENT TO BILLS
Speaker: We are now prepared to receive the Commissioner in his role as Lieutenant Governor to grant Assent to Bills that have passed this House.
Commissioner enters the Chamber announced by Sergeant-at-Arms
Speaker: Mr. Commissioner, the Assembly has, at its present Session, passed certain Bills to which and in the name of and on behalf of the Assembly I respectfully request your Assent.
Clerk: Interim Supply Appropriation Act, 1988-89; Financial Agreement Act, 1988-90.
Commissioner: It is my pleasure to Assent to the bills as enumerated by the Clerk.
Commissioner leaves the Chamber
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
We will continue with Government Bills.
Bill No. 50: Second Reading
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 50, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. Penikett. Adjourned debate, Mr. Lang.
Mr. Lang: Members will know that I adjourned debate on this bill because of the unavoidable absence of the Leader of the Official Opposition. If the House agrees and gives unanimous consent, I would like to yield the floor to him at this time and give my speech later in the debate.
Speaker: Is there unanimous consent?
Hon. Mr. Porter: In the spirit of cooperation and to finally hear the long-winded speech promised by the Leader of the Official Opposition, we give unanimous consent.
Speaker: We have unanimous consent.
Mr. Phelps: I can hardly wait to give this speech. I have read with great interest the speech given by the Minister of Finance, the Government Leader, and enjoyed looking over this O&M budget. Of course, as this fiscal year is probably going to be an election year, we seem to have an election year budget.
In his remarks, the Government Leader certainly attempted to sound as though this government is in control of its finances and spending, when in fact it seems fairly obvious that the stark reality is that it is out of control. What we have is uncontrolled government growth, untrustworthy estimates, uncontrolled management and spending, a vague, almost invisible agenda, and the lack of any vision for the future of this great region of Canada.
We do have the potential to be a great and self-sufficient region of Canada, a region that can in time repay the efforts and faith that fellow Canadians in southern Canada have shown in us. We have the opportunity to respond to show that the vision of Canadas north put forward by great prime ministers in the past, and I am thinking particularly of Prime Minister Diefenbaker, that those visions were certainly visions that were very close to what could be and what will be proper management of Yukons destiny.
I would like to spend a little time commenting on the subject matters I have just mentioned: the uncontrolled growth of government, the untrustworthy nature of the estimates, the uncontrolled spending, the vague agenda and the lack of vision.
The uncontrolled growth is of extreme concern to us. It means that we are creating a dependency on revenues from Ottawa, a dependency and an obligation to spend money that government, in no way in the Yukon, will be creating.
This government is not simply huge when one looks at the place it plays in our economy; it is bloated, it is gross. It is of great concern to us.
The increasing growth and dependency is clearly demonstrated in this budget. If we take a look at the Main Estimates for the year 1984-85, we were talking in terms of $140 million being spent on the operation and maintenance side. That was when this government first presented its budget to this House. This year, it is in excess of $200 million, a whopping increase of more than $50 million, an increase of more than one-third of what it was when this bunch took office.
If we look at the growth in terms of person years, of people who now are dependent upon this government for their livelihood and who have come here, in many cases, from other parts of Canada to work for this government, then I submit that page 10 of the Capital Estimates book bears close scrutiny. It ought to, at least, be interesting to anyone who takes the time to read it.
It shows an increase in person years from the estimates of 1987-88 of 1,715 to this years estimates of 1,745. That is an increase, but it does not tell the whole story.
The story, as they have said in Alice In Wonderland, grows curioser and curioser as one starts trying to compare that page with its companion page, the one that was there the year before. To find that, you have to go back to last years Main Estimates, of course, and look at page 10. What you would see then is that they took the time to give us some additional information that is missing here, because it stated that there are 332 auxiliary positions currently in the government.
We got rather curious, and certainly interested, in why that information was not shown in this budget - but we have to remember that it is an election year budget. The Member for Riverdale South asked about how many auxiliary positions there are currently in government, and, by golly, there are 830 - a whopping increase of 100 people, and for some reason, somebody forgot to place that information in the budget for at least the media to read, and certainly for us on this side.
One then should take a look at page seven in this budget. That page talks in terms of expenditure summary by allotment. One sees that the monies estimated - a pretty important word, estimated - to be spent this year on personnel is $95,569,000, of an estimated $200 million budget - sorry, $202 million, to round it off. Again, it is rather informative to turn back and see what we were presented with last year, because on page seven of last years O&M Main Etimatess, personnel was $83,740,000. That is an increase for person years for personnel of $12,000,000 - an astonishing increase, an astonishing continuing obligation for citizens who live in the Yukon because we are so dependent upon the federal government, and that dependency increases with each passing day that this government is in power.
Back to the person years: there are a few things that are not there that we are somewhat concerned about. The Yukon Housing Corporation is not reflected in the numbers on page 10. Of course, it was last year, but then last year was not an election year and presumably this one very well could be.
Questions again by the Member for Riverdale South elicited the information that that has gone up, too, from 17 to 22. Not much. That is almost one-third of what they had last year, and that is an increase in person years.
When you look at government growth, you cannot really confine your interest or curiosity to what is on and what is not on page 10, because there are other things, other people. There are the casuals that we do not see anything about. There is consultant, after consultant, after consultant. Consultants from Manitoba, British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario. I hope there are a few from the Maritime provinces as well. With the largess of this government, surely it should not be confined to only their favourite provinces.
I mentioned numerous times to you in the confines of this building, and I have mentioned even more times to others outside the confines of the Legislature, the remarkable increase in office space. It has been growing in leaps and bounds and practically every office building in Whitehorse has a few government offices scattered within it. The growth is truly of concern.
There are other kinds of ongoing commitments in this government that show that we are going to be, once again, more and more beholding to Ottawa in the future. Or at the very least, the flexibility that future governments might have is being decreased because of the obligations that this government is burdening the Yukoners with right now. Many of those future obligations, those future burdens to the territory are brought on by the way in which the government allocates its capital expenditures.
What is of concern is that the government does not really have a grasp on what operation and maintenance costs really are. We have no firm idea at this time what the burden of Yukon College, for example, is going to be on the taxpayers of Yukon in future years. Is it going to be $10 million a year or a lot more? There are a lot of people out there who are extremely concerned with that issue, many of whom do not presently live in Whitehorse, and do not ever want to live in Whitehorse, where the college is situated.
Similarly, we know from the last session that the government has very little concept what value accounting, cost analysis, depreciation, replacement costs, real operation and maintenance is for other numerous new buildings. I recall the fairly lengthy debate about what the operation and maintenance costs of the Ross River arena would be. For a change, the Member for Kluane lost his temper, because he knew what the real costs were for the citizens of Haines Junction for their facility, and he had a good idea of the yearly burden that was going to be placed on the shoulders of the citizens of Ross River as a result of this building being poorly planned. It was poorly planned because no one seemed to have a handle on what the building was going to cost on an ongoing basis.
That is a problem that a lot of people do not dwell upon. Long time residents in the Yukon will remember that the air force transferred their building on top of the hill to the City of Whitehorse for a nominal sum. The recreation centre was really a gift. Of course, it proved to be a white elephant. It proved to be too expensive and too much of a burden for the city to keep open.
There are all kinds of similar example. I can think of the Chooutla School in Carcross, that pretty well had to be given up because of the huge costs for operation and running expenses. I am sure every Member and every tax paying citizen in the Yukon can come up with other examples of this problem.
So, we are creating a lot of future debt right now. We cannot get answers as to what that future burden is going to be.
We will be trying. We will be asking the Members on the other side questions, and they had better start scurrying around or have their minions start scurrying around to pick up some answers for them, because we will be asking those questions. That is enough for that on that subject. It is depressing, but no more depressing than some of the other things that I have to say.
The second issue that I promised to inform the House about in more detail is that of untrustworthy estimates. We could start with what we found in the last session. Members will recall that by the time we finished the fall session, we had some very serious questions about the estimate of approximately $100 million for capital. As far as we could see, it was at least $20 million understated. It will end up being at least as much as was spent in the last fiscal year for the current fiscal year, which ends today.
We pointed out why we said that. There was the renovations to the old Yukon College for office space, which had been estimated at anywhere from $5 million to $13 million. There was the extended care facility at $4.5 million that did not seem to get mentioned. There were the school projects such as Watson Lake that were put in the books at $2 million and should be something like $7.5 million, and the list goes on.
In his speech, the Minister of Finance said that we could look forward, after a whopping $41 million deficit last year, to a surplus this year of $4.5 million. I suggest that just the imperical evidence that we have already put our hands on in the fall session would show that that estimated surplus has got to be out of whack. There is going to be a deficit just on the basis of the way in which the government estimated the capital portion of the budget.
We have the imperical evidence of what has happened in the past regarding Operation and Maintenance Mains. Every year we start out with an operation and maintenance prediction, and the government keeps coming back with supplements, supplements, supplements, and it grows and grows and grows. Last year it was estimated initially at $176,750,000, and it is already up to $185.6 million and will probably escalate beyond that before the Auditor General of Canada puts his stamp on the public accounts.
Now we have an Operation and Maintenance Budget of $202 million, and it is climbing. We have no idea, from this budget, what the real cost of the Yukon Development Corporation is.
Take a look at that budget. On page 269, there is a predication of the operation and maintenance expenditures of the Yukon Development Corporation: gross advances - $1; less internal recovery - $1; net advances - $1. They have a revenue side of course. They figure it is going to make some money. I have no idea, and I am sure the side opposite has no idea, of where this development corporation is going with regard to its revenues and its expenditures on the operation and maintenance side. I would love to get my hands on the figures for Watson Lake. I would love to have the opportunity to examine that, because I am sure that if we had that information, we could perhaps do a little better than estimating $1 for gross advances, less internal recovery of $1. I do not think that is reality, and I doubt that any Yukoner would disagree with my feelings on that issue.
The third issue is that of the uncontrolled spending and mismanagement of money by the government. Everyone knows that the government is out of control with its expenditures on the capital side. Yukon College was supposed to be about $26 million; it is now around $50 million and climbing, and that is for the same amount of floor space as the original estimate. It is more than double. We do not know where it is going at this point.
The original estimate for phase one of the Ross River arena was $500,000; now we are getting less than the $500,000 was supposed to provide us with, and we are up to $1.8 million and climbing. It is outrageous. The Dawson Museum in the books was $50,000; the smoke cleared, and it was $114,000.00. The list goes on. The mistakes being made, the money being wasted, is a source of concern throughout Yukon. It is partly because we have the benefit of being small, and being small means that people notice what is happening, particularly outside of Whitehorse. This wasted money is shameful, because it is money that does belong to the people of Yukon and could have been used for other things.
Let us move on to the next subject: the vague, almost nonexistent, agenda. Where are the policies of this government? What direction are they really taking? We have this wonderful public relations facade, known as Yukon 2000, which has cost the taxpayers of Yukon a hell of a lot of money, and for what?
Is this public relations for the next election? Part of the idea is that it is a good idea to get Yukoners from every walk of life together and have them dialogue and consult with the government, because you tend to get some new ideas out of that. So we held back on our criticism, because we could not really objectively criticize the concept of having that kind of get-together in order to see if there were ideas and thoughts that were new and refreshing - and I am sure there were. There always is when you get a bunch of Yukoners together, from any walk of life, from any part of this great region, but it has gone far beyond just that and has suddenly become the mystical answer to all problems in the Yukon until the year 2000.
All of the sudden the government is trying to pretend that there is some kind of consensus, and they call that consensus about future direction Yukon 2000. The last meeting was held in Dawson. Virtually every person I spoke to who had attended that meeting said that very little was done. There was no in-depth analysis of the materials provided to the participants, and there was certainly no consensus on a lot of, if not most, points.
I have seen how people in various departments have been running around saying, Boy, oh boy, we can prove that we need more money for this; we can prove that we need more money for that. Yukon 2000 has gone from being a good exercise, an innovative exercise, a first time for the Yukon where so many people have been brought together for that purpose, to being something behind which the government can hide, when it comes out with new policies, and say, This was Yukon 2000s idea.
Yukoners cannot afford to be manipulated in this way. We cannot afford to have them used by the government. We cannot afford to have the government pretend that it does not have its own policies, that the policies are a result of all Yukoners through this grandiose - at least, grandiosely named - exercise. It is dishonest to the people of the Yukon to pretend that there was a consensus that lead to this government to proceed with - what? - to proceed with Yukon 2000 and say, for example, that they are putting some money to proceed with this consensus for land use planning.
There are a lot of people who participated in Yukon 2000 who adamantly disagree with land use planning and the way it is being undertaken and with the land use planning agreement that was signed between the Government of Yukon and the Government of Canada. There is no consensus on land use planning. There was never any formal agreement between the parties.
Aside from being grossly expensive, and aside from being an obvious election gimmick, I am afraid Yukon 2000 is going to be used to hide the true and proper obligation placed on any government to make decisions - and say these are our decisions - an attempt to minimize where they stand, and an attempt to hide behind the skirts of something called Yukon 2000.
Perhaps the Minister of Health and Human Resources can say that all the participants thought that land use planning was a great thing, and that was a clear direction that came from Yukon 2000. If she is going to say that, I would welcome that on the record and welcome the response that will come from a lot of the people who were there and did not hear it said: that Yukon 2000 resulted in $200,000 being allotted to the corporation.
This government came forward with a housing policy that was absolutely inadequate. It only looked at one portion of a comprehensive policy. They got hammered on that. They got hammered, and we put forward our own policy, showing all the various areas housing policy ought to take into consideration as a result of what was said in this Legislature in the fall. This government has had to scramble to try to come out with something more comprehensive than simply begging for money from Ottawa to throw into social housing. Now they are saying it was an idea of Yukon 2000.
That is something they could surely come up with themselves and not have spent millions of the taxpayers money on something called Yukon 2000. That is the real cost, because you have the money going out for convention facilities and travel and all these other good things. There is also a huge burden within the administration of government, because a lot of people who are being paid high salaries are focused on expending their efforts on this public relations game known as Yukon 2000.
To be quite honest, I have read the Yukon 2020 report, and there is a lot more meat and fresh ideas in that than anything I have seen under the extremely expensive colours of Yukon 2000. I think taxpayers got a lot more for their money on the Yukon 2020 process than this.
Let us move on, because I know you are keenly interested in the next subject. That happens to be the issue about lack of vision. That is also of great concern. We have been questioning the government already for a few days on aspects of this issue. I am speaking about the questions raised this week regarding the north Yukon and the attempt to negotiate resource revenue sharing, a package for the north.
In 1976 it was apparent that the federal government was contemplating that type of negotiation. We have seen that the Government of the Northwest Territories had the vision to move quickly, spend a lot of money and give priority to hiring some of the best brains in the business to put forward what they wanted to see on the table. They started that process in January of 1987, more than a year ago.
What happened here? The government finally woke up a couple of months ago and decided it would hire somebody. They were not really interested in doing anything. The first move was up to the feds. Who cares about the vast resources and riches of the Beaufort Sea. Who cares about the fact that we are in a boundary dispute with regard to our northern boundary with that government? Who cares if we lose out entirely because we are not interested in that sort of thing? I do not want to overstate this, and I do not think I am. I think it is deplorable.
There are times when vision and concern about the future ought to be paramount to any region, to any jurisdiction, to any country. That time is now for the Yukon and the focus, at least in part, has to be on the north and our future there. Some day, when we have a little control over this, that may turn out to be one of the richest areas of the world for hydrocarbons. If that is the case, the revenues derived by government will be huge. Spin off impacts on suppliers and the work force will be almost unimaginable.
We have to look beyond our nose. We have to look beyond being dependent all the time on others. We have to look beyond being a begging welfare state. We have to look to the future. We have to look at issues that are forever.
The issue of who gets jurisdiction over the Beaufort - we or the Northwest Territories is determined - is a decision that is forever. This government, for the first time that I can ever think of, has been negligent in not being concerned, and being completely outgunned by the Government of the Northwest Territories. I find it really hard to believe. With all this money, all they want to do is spend it fast, because that gives them an excuse to go back for more - more dependence, no pride, and no desire to be self-sufficient, no vision for the future to look at the great kinds of developments that could take place in the Yukon without any impact on the quality of life here except for the good, except for the issue of pride, except for people getting away from that kind of attitude and towards self-sufficiency, except for the attitude that made the north, the individual who believed in himself, who did not like rules and regulations and big government and state, who does not like police forces, does not like spies, does not like being snooped on or bothered, and cannot stand all the paperwork that the government brings in.
What a change that we have experienced in the last few years. How we have fallen behind our neighbour, the Northwest Territories, from a jurisdiction that had a wholly elected council in 1909 - 60 years ahead of the NWT - way ahead in political development, way ahead in executive council, way ahead in having an elected head of government, miles ahead in negotiating land claims and in negotiating constitutional issues, to this, a situation where they are ahead of us; to a situation where the health care transfer was all but complete, as was forestry. We have NCPC only because it was so far in progress when they came into office that they did not dare back out. What about the issue of energy development? What have they done? They are not interested in energy development. There is almost nothing, because it is not a priority with this government. What have they done with transportation and White Pass Rail? Nothing.
It is shameful because these are issues that are not simply for today.
These are issues that will affect our children and their children. These are issues that determine what the Yukon will be like in the future. It is not a matter of a government coming into power and going into debt for doing a couple of silly things or a lot of silly things, as occurred in BC under Barrett. It is tough, but through prudent management a government can bear the burden and struggle back.
It cannot get back a boundary that has been lost. It cannot get back jurisdictions. It cannot change very easily from a direction irrevocably set for a destination of dependency, welfare and despair to a destination of beliefs and a golden future, of pride and self-sufficiency and an equal place in Canada. It cannot do that very easily. I fear that this direction leads to the low road.
Here we have a government that is so concerned that it might not get some money from the federal government that it will not put any money aside for a rainy day. They have been asked not to spend all their money on capital projects. The Yukon Chamber of Commerce said that the economy is over heated, that we have a problem. It is far better if this money was put aside and used in the next downturn, which there will be. No economists in their right mind would disagree with that. The government says that we cannot do that. If they did that, they could not run around with their hands out begging for more money. There is a chance that the dirty old federal government might not give them more.
I am almost ashamed of this government, ashamed of that dependency attitude. I am really concerned about the huge, not small, shift that we have had in direction.
I have said that we, on this side, are unhappy with this budget. I talked about the uncontrolled government spending. I have talked about the untrustworthy nature of the estimates that are placed before us. I have spoken, in some length, about the uncontrolled spending and the lack of control over the mismanagement of large projects. I have talked about the vague agenda and the fallacy of believing in this mystical concept known as Yukon 2000. I thought, too, about the lack of vision. All I can say is that we will, in the weeks to come, examine these issues in some detail in Committee of the Whole and hopefully bring forward a more accurate picture of where the Yukon is now and where it is going under the NDP.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The Leader of the Official Opposition started out saying this was an election budget. He then proceeded to give an election speech. We have seen the positions he will be taking in the next election, and I have a few words about those positions.
The first thing is this allegation that government spending is out of control. What we have here is a balanced budget. Indeed, there is a slight surplus. We have a balanced budget, and they call it out of control. How ludicrous, how ridiculous.
They talked about a lack of vision, and I will have more to say about that in the face of comments in the Budget Speech and the Throne Speech about Yukon 2000. Much was made about Yukon 2000, and I will come back to that. It is interesting that this is the first balanced budget that we have seen in some time in the Yukon, and it is exactly the kind of thing called for by the Chamber of Commerce recently.
The first point that was made by the Leader of the Official Opposition was that there is this uncontrolled growth, and growth of dependency upon revenues from Ottawa. I remember a debate like that about the 1982 budget when the Conservatives increased the dependency of Yukoners on Ottawa from just over $4,000 per capita to $7,000 per capita. What we have done in this budget, and over the life of our mandate, is as follows.
In the year 1985-86, the federal transfer payment as a percent of our budgetary income was slightly over 62 percent. In 1986-87, it was 61 percent, rounded to the nearest percentage. In 1987-88, it was 60 percent and, in this next year, 59 percent. We are slowly and gradually decreasing our dependency on the federal transfer payments. At the same time, the transfer payments are going up. The reason why we are decreasing our percentage dependency is we are putting the money to good use to grow, to increase the infrastructure in the territory, to bring about the prosperity that we see here, and to build a strong and healthy future for our territory. The percentage growth in the economy is going up at a faster rate than the percentage growth in the governments expenditures.
I would repeat, the federal transfer payment as a percentage of our budgetary income has decreased substantially over the life of this government, which is an imperical and objective fact. It makes nonsense of the words of the Leader of the Official Opposition.
He talks about the growth in the government and in the expenditures - that, in the light of the uncontroversial fact that total government expenditures are slightly below those forecast by the last fiscal year. He simply cannot get around that. This budget projects expenditures that are slightly below those currently forecast for the last fiscal year, and he has the audacity to ignore the truth and talk about government growth. There is a growth; however, the total government expenditures are lower than last year and we have a balanced budget. They simply cannot get around those central facts.
The Leader of the Opposition talked about the federal transfer payments, and he complained about it. He complained about us holding our hand out to Ottawa. I guess he does not feel, as has been recently stated in Ottawa, that the way to increase Canadas claim to sovereignty in the north, and the way to increase the national interest in the development of our north, is to have a strong, vibrant, growing economy here.
The federal government are transferring the money to us that they do for a very good reason. It is because it is in the national interest that we have a strong, vibrant economy here and that the territorial governments increase and are prosperous. I guess he is opposed to that, because he said that we should not have this federal transfer payment to the extent that we do.
The Leader of the Official Opposition, in his first major speech in this House in 1985, talked about consistency. That was his big word. Well, we know what it means to him. He tries to praise the past government for negotiating the past federal/territorial fiscal agreement - the transfer payment - but, when we negotiate our agreement, which is essentially the same, he criticizes it. What inconsistency. It is simply incredible.
The Leader of the Official Opposition then talked about the future operation and maintenance costs of the capital expenditures. This is now commonly called life cycle costing for capital expenditures. I was chuckling a bit when he was commenting on that because I know that, when I took over as Minister of Government Services and Justice, we had two projects that were announced just before the last election, and they were Yukon College and the Philipsen Building.
It is interesting that the Philipsen Building would have gone over the projected cost if I personally had not taken some of the frills out of it. The plans they had would have cost more than the projected $12 million and, more than that, I was appalled when I learned that they did not know the operation and maintenance implications; they did not study it and had no idea. It was projected by the civil service that there needed to be 22 person years to look after that building - janitors, security guards and security staff in the new cells, and all the new cameras required for a person to watch the video screens. It was our prudent management that brought that down to six. They had the young offenders facility budgeted at $5 million, and we brought it down to approximately $2.5 million. We now know the projected staffing levels of that facility. They did not before.
They said the Yukon College was $26 million, and they showed us a model that was costed at $39 million. There are substantial improvements made over the years, and I am sure the Minister responsible is eager to talk about them when he speaks.
The Leader of the Official Opposition talked about the old Yukon College. They had not even thought of what they were going to do with that old building - no planning at all. As Minister of Government Services, I know that in the nation, life cycle costing for buildings is beginning to be done. It is true that, in 1985, there were no jurisdictions in Canada that concisely and adequately projecting all these costs, but we are now beginning to do that. The old government did not. We are doing it now.
The Leader of the Official Opposition talked about what he said were untrustworthy estimates. All he could say was that, essentially, he got a feeling about that because, lo and behold, this government has brought in Supplemental Estimates after every budget. Well, surprise, surprise. There has not been a budget in this Legislature that did not have Supplemental Estimates.
That is the nature of the process. As we go through the year, we are able to determine precisely the cost of things and supplementals are necessary. The practice that we have had is no different from the previous practice of the conservative government.
The Leader of the Opposition talked about a vague agenda and about a direction. It was here he criticized Yukon 2000, but he did not totally criticize it. He did say it was a good idea to get people together and to consult with all segments of our economy and of Yukon life. The conservatives were in power for eight years before we were. They did not do it. We have been in power three years. We have done it. That is the difference between their agenda and our agenda.
When we stood for election, our campaign slogan was working together and in a very real sense, we have brought the segments of our economy together more so than they ever have been in the life of this territory. That is part of our agenda. They did not do it in eight years. In three years we did it.
The Leader of the Opposition rambled on at length about Yukon 2000. He said it cost millions, which is patently false and he criticized the result. The result is not announced yet. The result is not before us. It is clear that he is criticizing something when he does not even know what the resulting work is. It is obvious that when it comes out they will continue to criticize it. They do not have an open mind about the results of Yukon 2000. It is patently obvious that they have criticized it before they have even seen it. That is the attitude of the Conservatives across the way. They have no fairness or open minds whatsoever.
I guess they are against land use planning. This is interesting, after the previous government brought in a bill imposing it.
They are simply criticizing everything and they have no credibility left.
They talked about the northern accord and the Northwest Territories. I chuckled again because the Leader of the Official Opposition time and time again criticized us for hiring consultants. Now he is holding up the Northwest Territories as a model for hiring the most expensive consultants available, Peter Lougheed and company, not from the territories but from outside, and he is lauding them for spending more money than we are on consultants. He talked about consistency. How inconsistent can you be?
He talked about the future of the Yukon and about a vision. I listened intently to the Throne Speech debate and it was notable for one very major absence. In the Throne Speech there was mention of Meech Lake, then a green paper on constitutional development, and a legislative process - a public consultation process - to talk about constitutional development. The Tories on the other side did not even mention that. They are not talking about land claims - about constitutional development in the territory. All they want us to do is pick a fight with the Northwest Territories about a boundary dispute, which is a boundary dispute on paper only. The Cabinet of the NWT and the Cabinet here agree that the north slope and the northern waters are ours. We do not need to fight where there is no fight.
They talked about the riches on the north slope. It reminds me of when the Tories used to talk about the pipeline and the pipe dreams of mega projects that were going to bring untold riches to the territories. They have not gotten out of that old mentality of these mega projects that are going to bringing riches. The Yukoners are asking: riches for whom; for the multinationals, for southern Canada or for us? It is about that that we have a vision. Our vision is that the economy of the territory ought to serve Yukoners.
Their vision of the territory is that there are mega projects and pipe dreams. Our vision is that we will have an economic diversity, an economic democracy, an economy for Yukoners, and we will not have two classes of society - Tories and other. We will be working together for the benefit of all Yukoners.
The Leader of the Official Opposition talked about putting money aside for a rainy day. He says what we should be doing is taking the federal transfer payment and put it aside for a rainy day. He is going to prepare for the downturn, and there will be a downturn. That, I guess, is the Tory vision of the territory. There will be a downturn, and he is going to put money in the bank to prepare for it.
Well, if they put their money in the bank, there will be a downturn. We are putting the money into the economy and circulating in the Yukon to develop the Yukon, to develop the diversity of our economy, to develop a strong original economy, so that there will not be a downturn. That is our vision.
Mr. McLachlan: I am not going to quite as long winded as the previous two speakers. I want to point out some direct problems that I see in the budget, some holes that are big enough to drive haul trucks through, and some distinct problems that relate to money management situations.
The previous speaker, the Minister of Justice, and no doubt many other Cabinet Ministers to speak later, have prided themselves, and will pride themselves, in the fact that it is a balanced budget, and it has the whopping total surplus of $4.7 million in the current year. What is $4.7 million here and there to this government? It is a little slip in a project here, a little slip in a project there, a few burned up graders. It is not going to take much to wipe out the $4.7 million.
One of the things that concerns me very much, in coming from the riding that I do come from, and having seen the problem of a parent company that gets into trouble, of a falling price in the market, over which Members have to admit we have no control as we have no control in this territory of international values of money, it will not take much to produce serious troubles in a short period of time. It came apart fast in 1982, in about 12 months or less.
Members on that side are kidding themselves if they do not look behind them all the time, or if they do not look over their shoulders.
We have lived through it in Faro, and have seen the riding go from 2,100 to 90 persons. Its consequent effects on the territory are well known, and it could happen again. All I want to do is to throw out a cautionary note and say that the $4.7 million is not a great figure to be proud of and to warn them to be cautious about future spending plans.
One of the things that nobody yet has referred to that has carefully been left out of the Budget Speech - and the reason is that it is an embarrassment to the Government Leader, is the current unemployment rate in the territory. It is still, at least according to third quarter reports, about nine percent. That is not mentioned anywhere. It is higher in the riding of Klondike at this time of year; there is no doubt about it, but in five of the ridings that I see in this Legislature, the unemployment rate is higher than nine percent - in the ridings of Tatchun, Klondike, Mayo, Campbell, and Old Crow.
I want to ask you a riddle. Do you notice anything in common about those five ridings? I do. I do not hear any complaints from opposition Members emanating from those ridings about the unemployment rates. Every one of those five situations are held by Government Members, and if I were the Government Leader, I would not want to mention the cyclical unemployment rate rising to well above the nine percent territorial average.
Yes, it is true that employment is much better in Faro, Watson Lake, and Whitehorse, but there are still five areas, and many more, I am sure, that are much higher. The Government Leader has conveniently left those figures out of the Budget Speech. I guess next week we are going to talk about an attempt to change that around at Tatchun. We are going to talk about a project that appears like it will be sending half a dozen heavy equipment operators to school for six weeks so that they can get ten weeks of employment, but that is a fifth of a year, and then the government is going to leave them out there hanging after that. Maybe some work will come along; maybe it will not. It is a start, I will admit, but it is not going to go very far in changing the 25 to 28 percent unemployment rate in Carmacks.
I find it extremely interesting that the budget statement that the Government Leader read in this Legislature on Monday evening had nothing to say - nothing - about the rate of unemployment in the territory.
The Government Leader referred to a 3.1 percent inflation rate and then he proceeded to explain that part of the increases in spending were due to the fact that the public service employees union had a wage increase in the range of 3.5 to four percent. The 3.5 percent is close to the 3.1 percent rate of inflation, but then he mentioned that the government had limited spending increases to seven percent, and I am not sure what economics the side opposite is offering, but in the limited experience that I have in that field, when the spending is doubled - the rate of inflation in this case more than doubled - that is the first signal of a series of problems. But that was not mentioned. There was no comparison made to the seven percent increase in spending to the ratio of the 3.1 percent rate of inflation.
If he really means that it will take five people, not one, he should tell us at the time that the announcement is made. He should not come back three months later and say that they did not really expect the learned judge to type his own letters. That is not a fair representation of the facts behind the fuel price inquiry. I want the Government Leader to know that that is the sort of case that is being watched.
We have heard that the housing starts have gone up from 182 to 261. What was not said was that 61 were probably private industry and 200 were the governments starts.
It is too bad that the Minister of Health and Human Resources is not in the House at the moment. One of the things that is pointed out that is a deception, but is done cunningly, is that the Government Leader has stated that they would be revising the social assistance rates payable to people who are on welfare social assistance. The reason is that it is cunningly deceptive is that this government was instructed to do so by the Auditor General of Canada. To come back to this Legislature and to say that we are going to do this and take credit amongst the Yukon public for doing it, after being told that they had to do it to keep in line with the spending authority in the Financial Administration Act, is totally unfair and unjust.
We have heard, in this Budget Speech, about a reverse trade show. We now have the phenomenon by this government that is known as reverse credit, telling everybody that they are going to do something when they have been ordered to do it by the Auditor General. It is absolutely ridiculous.
I happened to ask a friend of mine the other day if he had the choice, which department he would seek employment with. He said Health and Human Resources. Finding that rather strange, I asked why. Is it because the Minister is easy to get along with? Is it because the budget is $42 million? Is it because they have good social rapport, good parties or what? He said, no, that department does not have any term employees. It is the largest department in the government that has no term employees. It is easy to get a job there, and it is easy to keep a job there.
When I went to university, that was referred to as tenure. Once the university professors had tenure, it was regarded as a rather cushy situation. I wanted to draw that implication out, because there are people who view working for this government as a cushy situation. They are not hounded. They are not whipped. They are not forced. They are not pushed. They think it is a good deal. There probably are a large number of employees who do an excellent job in their work. I do not want to denigrate any of their efforts, but there are a number of situations where some of them felt that the Department of Health and Human Resources was a good deal because of its term employees.
We have heard a number of statements about how good the budget is, how good the spending is, and I am sure we will hear a number more.
Given the facts of the matter, given the track record, only time will tell what the public of the Yukon will judge in the spending of the 1988-89 Operation and Maintenance Budget.
Mr. Nordling: I am pleased to reply to this budget address presented by the Government Leader, because it perfectly illustrates the points I made in my Reply to the Speech from the Throne. That is the simulation of virtue and competence of this government. Let us look at a few figures.
In 1984-85, the total budget for Yukon was about $190 million. In 1986-87, it was about $252 million and, for 1988-89, the budget is over $302 million. Due to formula financing negotiated by the former Conservative government, the Yukon government has over $100 million a year more than it had before - over $100 million extra each year to spend on 25,000 people. That is almost $300,000 extra for this government to spend every single day of the year.
The Government Leader, the Minister of Finance, stands up proudly and says he is a good financial manager because he did not raise taxes. Rubbish.
Despite the rich formula financing agreement, this NDP government did raise taxes in 1986 - taxes that were not necessary, and the Minister of Finance knew it. Do you know what he said in introducing the tax increase? I will quote it for you from Hansard, March 26, 1986.
...I must acknowledge that the purpose of this change is twofold. Firstly, it goes without saying, it is intended to increase revenues and, secondly, because it increases prices it is hoped that consumption levels will be thereby reduced, thereby reducing the social costs that go hand in hand with alcohol consumption.
The Government Leader went on to say:
... I would like to make it quite clear that our preference as a government would be to forego the direct revenue if we could have any impact at all on alcohol abuse.
If you recall, the original bill was so messed up and so ill thought out by the Minister of Finance that it had to be revised. I would like to hear a report on the success of this fiscal measure and its impact on alcohol abuse. Was the increase in revenue generated in line with the Ministers predictions made on March 26, 1986?
I do not think so. I think he missed by a mile. Can the Minister stand up in this house now and tell us that, as a result of this increase in taxes, consumption levels of these products have been reduced? Can he stand up and say that social costs, that go hand in hand with alcohol consumption, have also been reduced? I think not.
Let me give you another example where this Minister of Finance missed by a mile. First, I would like to quote the Government Leader from his budget address with respect to prudent management. He said, This and previous budgets are illustrative of that concern and that commitment to careful financial management.
Let us look at the Capital Budget in the Department of Economic Development for the year ended March 31, 1987. We will see how exacting this government can be when it comes to budgeting. The Government Leader - the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Economic Development: Mines and Small Business - budgeted approximately $12 million in his Capital Budget. This target was missed by $5 million. The Government Leader - this financial wizard and economic guru of the NDP government - was out by $5 million on a $12 million budget.
In his defence, he will say that these were new programs introduced and it was difficult to estimate the demand. I accept and respect that sort of honesty, but the budget address given three days ago does not reflect that honesty. In fact, the address was just the opposite. It is difficult not to lose respect for the integrity of the Minister of Finance, and I am disappointed in this attempt to convince the public, not with facts or examples, but simply by standing up and shouting over and over again, I am a good financial manager, hoping that, if he says it loud enough and long enough, someone will believe him. I am not convinced.
To make the previous illustration even more interesting, before the 1988-89 budget was presented, the media reported the Government Leader as saying that, now he had the economy under control, the focus was going to switch to social programs. Yesterday in Question Period, the Minister of Justice said we had gone from the sublime to the ridiculous. I agreed. The Government Leader had just answered for the Minister of Health and, then, the Minister of Justice stood up.
On Monday night, the sublime Government Leader read his budget address designed to inspire awe and to raise his image as a prudent financial manager to new and greater heights. Let us look at the evidence.
Let us look at the facts. In 1986-87, four departments spent more than they were legally allowed to spend. We, in the Opposition, had previously asked the Minister what he could or would do if this type of over spending should occur. The Minister of Finance said, in essence, that it could not happen but, if it did, then heads would roll. It did happen to the tune of over $4 million. If anything was done, I have not heard about it.
When 1987-88 is wrapped up, the government will be showing a $41 million deficit for the year. To reach this $41 million figure, we are being asked to approve supplementary monies of over $23 million in the next few weeks. Obviously, this government missed again in 1987-88. The predicted deficit was $11 million and will be closer to $41 million. That is only about $30 million out and not to the good.
Often, in politics, perception is reality. What the NDP is trying to do with this budget is create a perception- a perception that, in my opinion, does not reflect reality.
Ms. Kassi: I think we have to call this budget a good one. Once again, the communities are being heard. I see more funding geared to the communities, and this is what we need. Compared to Whitehorse, they do not have very much, and it means a lot to the people when the government listens to them.
In Old Crow, for instance, we will see more than $1.4 million being spent by the government for operations and maintenance. Most of that is for the school. The next biggest expenditure after that is Community and Transportation Services. This is where there is money for services such as sewer and water, which needs the attention. The majority of the people in my community are still using honey buckets and bag sewage, which leads to very unhealthy conditions. This government is doing its best to address these problems.
I think it is really important that there is no tax increase in this budget. Like the Finance Minister said, the cost of living is much too high already. Just look at what we have to pay for fuel and food in Old Crow. We are certainly looking forward to the results of the fuel inquiry, a program that is being initiated by this government.
This budget also shows increased economic activity. This is reflected in higher revenues to the government. I know for a fact that, in Old Crow, there are more jobs than ever before, especially during winter. This means more people are paying income taxes. The budget also sets aside money for important things like land use planning, which is finally being initiated by this government, and devolution. We must be careful on devolution in that we have to make sure that any new programs transferred from Ottawa are accompanied by enough money to run them.
Once again, we have listened to the people of the Yukon. This budget has addressed most of their needs, and I can go on longer but, overall, I can say it is a good budget and I commend this government for it.
Mrs. Firth: After listening, with a great deal of interest, to the comments that the Members have been making today regarding the budget, I am sure that the officials in Finance and the Auditor General and some of the administrative staff in the department must be smiling to themselves when they hear a bunch of politicians standing up and talking about who is a better money manager than the other, and who is a prudent money manager. I am sure that a lot of them figure that we cannot even balance our own personal cheque books, let alone balance the great deals that Members were dealing with here today.
I do not want to get into that debate of whether I am going to be a more prudent money manager and pat myself on the back because I have spent the money better than somebody else has spent money. I think there is a more important point here, and the point is to follow up on a couple of issues that have been raised and pooh-poohed by the Government Members - issues like this being an election budget. You will notice that the increases have been more substantial, more than a double percentage increase than the last operating and maintenance budget. That waves a flag right away and we have to ask ourselves why. Of course, the government has concentrated very heavily in the communities and their support services to the communities, and far be it from me to accuse them of doing that because that may be where the majority of their Members hold their seats, but I think there are some who would come to that conclusion.
I have to look at this budget, and I have to agree with some Members when they say that it is an election budget, and I have to agree that it again emphasizes the growth of government. On the comments about the visionary concept of the budget, the vision of this government, the vision of this party for the Yukon Territory, well, when this government was first elected, they came in and they had a budget that had already been prepared for them that they had to follow through with. They had a chance to show us what they could do with their first operating and maintenance budget and we had a tax increase immediately that turned out to be rather disastrous for the government and they had to come in and amend their new tax increase. We had great pomp and ceremony about how they had managed to hold the line, and how the budget was not increasing, how it was the smallest increase in years and years of history. We do not hear any of that this time, we just hear about not having any taxes. I do not know why on earth anyone in the Yukon would think that we would have to have an increase, with the great surpluses of money that the Members have mentioned. The Member for Porter Creek West went into that in great detail, about how much extra money this government has to spend every day, so it would not be reasonable that there would be tax increases.
They talk about the thrill of balancing the budget, and being a prudent manager, but again, with the great deals and quantities of money that this government is dealing with, there is really no reason why they should not have a balanced budget.
If you look at the growth of this government over the last three years that they have been privileged to be the government, to make the decisions on behalf of Yukoners, and you have to take a look at the increase in the Public Service Commission, in the government offices and space requirements in the government facilities, in the operating and maintenance costs of the facilities. I do not think there is one person out on the street who would come to the defence of this government and say it has not grown in the last three years. Everybody is talking about how the government is growing and how much money is being spent.
That is evident from the Minister of Health and Human Resources comments. She tells us that now there are 36, instead of 23, government employees in every community. That is 13 more civil servants in each community. We will have to see how that works out. I am sure there are people in the community who think that is good, and other people who do not think it is good. If the Minister of Health is questioning whether she said that or not, from the Hansard of day before yesterday, March 29, The number of permanent employees living and working in rural communities has increased from 23 to 36. That was a comment that the Minister of Health and Human Resources made in her Response to the Throne Speech.
The Leader of the Official Opposition already mentioned the increase in the numbers of auxiliary employees - how it has increased from 732 to 830 - and I have yet to find out how many casual employees this government is employing. I have asked for that information and, no doubt, it will be forthcoming from the Department of Finance. They have to check with the Public Service Commission. I have also asked for some information about a sample payroll in the off season and during the highest employment season, so we can make some comparisons.
As a Yukoner and as a taxpayer I find the fact very disconcerting that this territory takes in as revenues $57 million, yet it spends over $300 million. I am not suggesting, as the Minister of Justice will probably say some day, that we should spend within our means, that we should only be living off $57 million but, again, I know that my constituents have raised a concern about it. They want to know how much we take in as revenues and how much we spend and, when I tell them that we take in $57 million in revenues and spend over $300 million, they are in shock. They cannot believe it. This is a territory that, one day, is supposed to be a province and be responsible for itself, fiscally and constitutionally. With those kinds of numbers, we are a long way off from that kind of eventuality.
I look at the government payroll now of $95 million. That is also an interesting figure to a lot of people. They want to know how much we pay out just in salaries for government employees. It has increased by $12 million. I recognize that a large part of that increase is due to the union negotiations and settlements that have come about. Also, it is due to the additional number of employees this government has hired. It is due to the Job Evaluation Study which resulted in equal pay for work of equal value, which was an initiative of this government. The Minister of Health and Human Resources is applauding equal pay and that is fine. It has increased and escalated the cost of the salary dollars to the taxpayers of Canada. We could not even cover the cost of our employees here in the Yukon Territory, so it takes an increase in the taxes of the average Canadian to support that great wealth of civil servants that we have looking after us here in the Yukon Territory.
I looked through the budget from beginning to end. When we come to the department by department, line by line analysis of the budget I am going to have a lot of very specific questions in all of the departments. I have already made some interesting observations that I will not get into now. I will wait and maybe surprise the Members with some inquisitive and provocative questions.
I have to make a couple of observations now, particularly in the area of education. I notice that the number of school children is increasing by approximately 343 and yet we do not have any additional teachers identified for this year. That will be an interesting area. The Member for Klondike is saying 10 and maybe we will find that out in the budget. It has not been identified in the budget.
I also looked at the cost of health and human resources to Yukoners. I find it quite interesting. I asked the Minister this question the last time we debated an operation and maintenance budget and she did not have an answer for me then. I doubt that she will this time. I find the Ministers comments very interesting in her response to the Speech from the Throne when she talks about the achievements and the successes of this government. She tells us that the successes are seldom talked about because unfortunately social services are most often subject to criticism. I have been trying to get some information from the Minister so that I do not think the criticism is really levied at social services itself. I think the Minister is probably well aware of that. I have tried to get information from the Minister about this issue. The point I am trying to make is if people are employed who were not employed before - the Minister has said that job creation and business development is self-evident as more Yukoners are working and the record of the government is better where these are concerned - yet she talks about how there is this great monumental task left to do in the area of social services.
The costs of the delivery of social services to Yukoners keeps going up and up and up. I have always been of the impression, and economists say, that when the economy is better and more people are employed, earning money and supporting themselves, the requirements for social services decline. The crime rate goes down, and the need for social support services goes down. It does not disappear altogether, but it does go down. The need for the government acting as an intermediary in family situations goes down. If the economy is better and if circumstances are generally better, then family life should also be better.
Yet, this Minister talks about all these great new initiatives we need in the Department of Health and Human Resources. She says we will need $2 million to meet the increasing health care requirements of Yukoners. I will be interested to find out what those increasingd health care needs are. She says that there is more money needed for the day care program. The Minister again finds it difficult to make decisions about day care, so she simply tries to make the issue disappear by giving it more money. That is just not going to happen.
I asked, during the budget lock up about the $4 million that the Auditor General had identified as an over expenditure of this government and whether or not it had been built into the Operation and Maintenance Budget. I was told that it had not been, therefore, we are looking at another $4 million of potential expenditure that the government could be facing. The larger portion of that is within the Department of Health and Human Resources. Again, we could be looking at more escalated costs in that department, which is costing us more and more and more every year despite all of the good situations and circumstances here in the Yukon.
I want to speak a little on the comments that some of the Members have made about this being an election budget and the government poo-pooing that idea and saying that it is not an election budget. I am taking a look at the breakdown that we were provided with at our request of the distribution of monies by community and by department. I compared it with last years breakdown from the 1987-88 budget. I would just like to give the House an example of why this can be interpreted as an election budget.
If we take a look at the Department of Health and Human Resources and the amount of monies that are being given to the communities that just happen to be held by the Members of the Legislative Assembly who are sitting in the government benches. We take a look at the Community of Carmacks, which had no dollars identified last year for Health and Human Resources; however, they have $103,000 this year. We look at Dawson City. They had $346,000 last year. This year they have $661,000.
You look at the Community of Mayo. They had $81,000 last year; this year they have $247,000. Look at the Community of Pelly Crossing; they did not have any money identified last year; this year they have $27,000. Ross River did not have any money identified last year; this year they have $82,000. The Community of Teslin had zero dollars last year and $153,000 this year. The Community of Watson Lake had $140,000 last year and $363,000 this year. It is almost double for many of these communities.
Now take look at Whitehorse. Last year Whitehorse had $23,603,000. Interesting, they have a decrease this year. They are going down to $22,910,000. What other conclusion would one draw other than that the Members are taking care of their own constituencies? I recall how outraged the Members of government were when they were in the Opposition and how frequently they liked to make these accusations when we were the government. Now, fair is fair. I know the Minister of Justice agrees with me. He has a bit of a smile on his face.
You can also look at the communities again under Community and Transportation Services. The changes are not as remarkable here, other than the communities that are held by Members on this side of the House are given small increases, but nothing at all like the increases that are given to the communities who are represented by Members of the government. Keno City, for example, had $20,000 last year and they are getting $194,000 this year. Teslin last year had $1,277,000, and it is going up this year to $2,833,000. The community of Watson Lake had $1,847,000. It is going up to $2,153,000 this year. Again, we come to Whitehorse. Last year Whitehorse had $13,342,000. Interestingly, this year it has $9,226,000. Again, the facts and figures speak for themselves. The Members are looking after their constituencies. They are making sure that the government services have been enhanced in their constituencies. They are making sure the finances have been enhanced in their constituencies. They are, in a way, paying tribute to the rest of the Yukon Territory.
The Government Leader cannot get offended and hurt when he hears us refer to it as an election budget when we have that kind of substantiation and that kind of evidence to back up our charge.
I do not want to go on much longer. I would like to wrap it up and to just say that I will be looking forward to an absolutely fine-tooth combing and in-depth analysis of the budget, page by page, line by line, word by word, dollar by dollar, if we have to, to find out where money has been shifted around and where they have cut money so that they can enhance programs and put additional monies in other areas. We will find out, I am sure, as the Supplementary Estimates come forward, whether the comments and whether the patting on the back that the Government Leader gives himself and his government about a balanced budget are, in fact, true.
Mr. Joe: I want to say a few things about the budget, which the Minister of Finance brought into this House. We have to call it a good budget for these reasons: one, there are no tax increase. People do not want any tax increases. Two, it is a balanced budget. The government will take in a bit more than it spends. Three, there will even be a surplus. After this next year is over, the Yukon government will have $41 million in the bank.
I am sure the people of the Tatchun riding will be satisfied with this budget, so the MLAs in the House should support it.
First, if we need more teachers in our schools, we should hire them. Second, if the roads need more work, what should we do? We should spend more money on our roads. I see in this budget, $1.5 million for better roads on the Robert Campbell Highway, and the government has decided to spend more money to fix them up.
I, for one, will vote for that. This will make the people happy.
There are lots of good things in this budget that should get our support.
The Minister of Finance stated that the government is going to get more money in taxes - all the different kind of taxes - because there are more people working. More people have paycheques and are spending money. More people pay taxes, and this is more money for the government.
One thing that I want to say about this budget is that it contains some new dollars for the Fur Enhancement Program that the Minister of Renewable Resources talked about yesterday.
This is the kind of thing that we need for our trappers. They need support from this government, and that will cost money. So, this government decided to say yes, we will put some money into it.
I think all hon. Members can support this and the many other good things in the budget. We should all vote for it.
Mr. Phillips: As I give my Reply to the Budget Speech today, it should be entitled Good Sound Financial Management. As I rise today to reply to the budget, I do so with a great deal of concern. It scared the living daylights out of me to hear the Government Leader, in his speech, repeat time and time again that his government is practising good, sound financial management. I am sure glad that he is not managing my personal account. Mind you, the way that the government likes to get into the lives of all Yukoners, it would not surprise me if that was next.
I am not going to take a great deal of your time, but I would like to point out just a few examples of what this government believes is good sound financial management. Let us start up in the northern Yukon where we are going to build a campground. I am talking about Old Crow. I do not have an argument with a campground, but I am extremely concerned that this government plans to prefab it in Whitehorse. Is this not a perfect opportunity for local employment in Old Crow? Is this an example of good sound financial management? I do not think so.
How about the Beaver Creek swimming pool? Five change orders later, we have a pool that is too low in the ground, and they have to construct a moat around it to stop the run off water from flowing in. How about the new Destruction Bay teacherage that no one wants to live in? These are more examples of good sound financial management.
Let us look, for a moment, of this governments example of good sound financial management in Whitehorse. Yukon College would be a good place to start. The estimated cost was $25 million. Today, after two and one half years of good sound financial management, we have a college that costs $55 million and climbing.
We had a promise from the Minister of Health and Human Resources, as soon as she was elected, that her highest priority was a young offenders facility. Here we are three years later with no young offenders facility and the costs escalating every day .
It is another perfect example of good, sound financial management. We have several other examples of this government practicing responsible financial management. There is the Bill Thomson affair. How much did that cost the government? We have another $50,000 to pay off a judge and cover our legal costs. We have a mere $200,000 to shuffle almost every government department around the City of Whitehorse. Some departments have moved several times and others are planning new moves even as we talk.
Ross River is another community that has an opportunity to experience this governments demonstration of good, sound financial management - the Ross River arena. For a government that has promised the people that if they build any facilities in a community they will consult the community and build with local products and labour. They have failed miserably. Ross River is now blessed with a large monster that was supposed to cost $750,000, is not yet finished, and now has more than doubled to $1.5 million, using very little local materials and labour. How in the devil are the good people of Ross River going to afford the thousands of dollars a year to keep the doors open on this facility, or is this government just going to worry about this later?
There is not going to be a tax increase this year. Of course, as all of us know, this is an election year and taxes never go up in an election year. We all know that. It will be interesting to see what will have to happen after the next election as a result of this governments good, sound financial management.
Yukon Housing Corporation could take a week of debate in this House. You have the luxury of this governments idea of good, sound financial planning in a new senior citizens complex in your riding, Mr. Speaker, but surprise, no seniors want to live in it. Even today, seven or eight months after it was built, there are no seniors there. The Minister of Housing told us the reason it was empty was that all the seniors died. That is not very funny, but that was his excuse.
In Ross River, the sound financial planners bought a house, shut the heat off, froze it up, and then spent a few thousand dollars fixing it up and then sold it again for a big loss - another example of good, sound financial management. While this is going on, they spent another $230,000 on two new homes. I should add that that tied in with this governments sound planning and strong local hire and purchase of local products. They, in their wisdom, ordered these two new prefab homes from outside Yukon.
Then there is Carcross, and the streetscape project - $25,000 to build super sophisticated sidewalks out of wood, and designed to handle weights of 25 pounds or less, but not even a continuous sidewalk down the street. Outhouses full of you know what that nobody wants to empty. Nobody planned for that. I guess they just thought they would never fill up. Garbage cans have gone the same route. Trees we have sentenced to death by planting them in sand and not thinking they might need some water.
This next one is one of my favourites. This is the Swift River housing project where the government planned so well that it is not quite certain whether they were working in metric or Imperial measurement.
That project - $500,000, a mere pittance to the Government Leader - sits today under two feet of snow. This summer, it will have to be torn apart and started all over again. As I said before, we can be very lucky that this territorial government is not in the tunnel-making business. Is this another example of this governments good, sound financial management?
Yukoners around Liard River will be watching this spring to see if the well-planned $200,000 project to stabilize the river bank will wash down the river with spring breakup. Many people I have talked to in the area say it will be a miracle if it holds. Most want to take bets that this well-planned government will be spending a few hundred thousand more dollars next year to do the same job again. They may get it right after half a dozen tries. It creates a lot of work, and that seems to be the attitude.
With respect to Watson Lake Forest Products, it was essential to get the people of Watson Lake to restart this mill. We supported that move, but this government has pumped millions into that project and has not addressed the fact that it has to be made viable or it just will not survive. They are playing politics with the people of Watson Lake. We all know the lumber industry has many ups and downs and, for this mill to survive, it has to be more efficient. The Government Leader cannot sit there today and say that mill would survive in a tough economic climate, because he knows the facts. I defy him to stand up in this House and say that.
I hope this government can see the problem in Watson Lake with this mill before it is too late. Watson Lake needs the mill, but it will not survive unless it becomes more efficient.
In my response to the Budget Speech, I tried to follow the example of the Government Leader and use the phrase good, sound financial management throughout, to reassure both myself and Yukoners that this government was spending our money wisely. As you can see from the many examples I have pointed out about the government wasting our money, the phrase good, sound financial management has a decidedly hollow ring to it.
Hon. Mr. Porter: I would like to not only thank you, Mr. Speaker, but also the Member for Riverdale for appreciating my presence here today in the House.
When you listen to the comments of the Members of the Opposition today, you would think that, somehow, we had turned the clock back and found ourselves in the dark days of 1982 and 1983 when there was massive unemployment in the Yukon and a great deal of hardship suffered by the people of the Yukon. I recognize, politics being what it is, that there is an obvious tendency on the role of the Opposition to be critical with respect to the governing powers initiatives when it comes to budgetary expenditures and programs that are initiated by government. However, the one thing that has been absolutely consistent with respect to the Opposition that is now in the Legislature in the Yukon, is that they have been consistently critical with very few attempts to engage in constructive rebuttal.
We are only seeing a change in that attitude recently with their announcements of positions on issues that they endorse and that they would bring into fruition should they become a part of the government.
However, I still think that one thing that they have accomplished in the time that they have spent in the House as Opposition is that they have firmly entrenched, in the minds of the people of the Yukon, the fact that they are, by nature, driven by criticism more than anything else. I would hope that there would be more substantial, constructive alternatives put forward by the Members of the Official Opposition and I will not totally write the effort off. Maybe we will see, over the next few days, when we get into the specifics of the debate, related to this appropriation measure, that those alternative ideas will surface and we will see the exact content of it.
The Yukon is not in the situation that it once was, of massive unemployment. The situation has completely reversed itself. We find ourselves in the position of having one of the highest growth rates in this country. I think that that has to be recognized, and that has to be driven home. Our growth rate in 1987 was in the neighbourhood of 20 percent and in 1988 our projected growth rate is in the area of eight to 10 percent. Our employment rate is 10 percent higher in the second half of 1987 than it was in 1986. When you look at the relationship to inflation, despite the growth rate, inflation is only running at 3.1 percent in 1987, compared to the national average of 4.4 percent. The O&M budget that is before the Members is a seven percent increase over 1987-88 expenditures and I think that this compares favourably with the historical relationship of the annual increases of previous governments here in the Yukon.
We have to recognize, unlike the Member for Faro, that the surplus that has been identified for this fiscal year, of $4.7 million, is substantial. I think that there are people in the Legislature, and definitely in the Yukon, who can remember a day when a $4 million surplus was the extent of the entire surplus available to the government on a annual basis, in total. However, the situation that we find ourselves in is that the surplus at the year end, at this particular point, is expected to be $41 million.
In terms of the employment factor of the Yukon, it has always been the goal of the government, as we said in the previous campaign, and as we have repeated many times over, one of the primary goals that this government has embarked upon is economic diversity. One of the other major initiatives that the government has put forward is community involvement and also, most importantly, improvement of the quality of life of the people of the Yukon.
I think that we have no problem and no hesitation whatsoever in being able to state that many of those goals are being met, and will continue to be met. When you look around the community of the Yukon today, as opposed to what had been occurring in the past, the Yukon is a very attractive place to live these days. People are employed, people are working, people are buying homes, people are making investments with respect to new businesses, and I think that there is a tremendous feeling of buoyancy in the people of the Yukon. People are happy. People are doing well in the Yukon.
There are always particular people who will never be satisfied, no matter what is done. There are people who are born simply to criticize, to be critical of whomever is in power. I think it is almost inbred in their genealogy, it is contained in their hormones.
We have to simply live with the fact that there are those people in our society. Overall, in order to be fair and analytical about the situation, you would have to agree that life in the Yukon has greatly improved and it may not be a situation that people encourage, as there are some people who would hope that things go bust and the lights black out simply for their own personal biased positions with respect to being able to regain power at the cost of the majority. That is clearly a situation that some people subscribe to.
Fortunately, the people of the Yukon, by and large, are not of that nature. One of the disturbing statements that continuously arises in these debates, that I find disturbing, is the question of the bashing of the public service of the Yukon government. It is a situation where these people are in a very unfortunate position, as they cannot speak out on their behalf, and politicians state on mass that these people are not fruitful and are not productive but are simply sitting on their duff taking handouts from the public purse and not doing anything in return for the good of the people of the territory. Those kinds of personal and vindictive political cheap shots are the easiest to take against people who are in the position of not being able to respond. That is unfortunate and it will certainly be remembered when people in my department come in on the weekends and at nights to assist me and the government in preparing programs and initiatives to meet the wishes of the people of the territory. I think that we have a good hard working civil service in the Yukon and I think that more credit should be given to them for their efforts and that the easy shots should be passed over.
One of the primary areas of focus for this government, as I said in the outset, is the whole idea of community development. One of the major initiatives of the Minister of Community and Transportation Services has been in the area of trying to devolve more authority and control to the local governments. It is clear that the philosophy of this government is that we favour the position that the local governments should be given as much responsibility as possible and allow the people at the local level to resolve issues that affect them to a greater degree than has been done in the past. One of the major initiatives that has been brought forward toward that end has been the introduction of the Municipal Capital Grants Program, where the spending power of government has been devolved to the local level and has made the local politicians more capable of deciding for the wellbeing of their own communities.
Another area of managing the impact of government spending power has been the distribution of the dollars on a more fair basis. It was interesting that the Member for Riverdale South took the summary and concentrated on only one area of spending and drew an analogy that she wanted to draw with respect to communities. If you look at total expenditures and look at the numbers that are being produced by the expenditures of the government on a fairer basis, you would see that, in many instances, communities that are served by the Members opposite are receiving as much financial assistance as are communities held by this side.
One of the major changes that has occurred is that the government that is represented here today has taken a more active role in recognizing the fact that this is a government for all the people of the Yukon. Previously, we had seen a trend where territorial government spending power has, for the most part, ignored the aboriginal people in the Yukon. The response in the past has been that the needs of aboriginal people should solely be met by the federal government through the Department of Indian Affairs.
That had been the situation for many years and, if you look at the expenditures that have been brought before this Legislature by this government, you will notice there has been a tremendous turnaround on that particular question. The roads in the aboriginal communities, public facilities: those questions are being addressed by the Minister of Community and Transportation Services, and rightly so. To simply ignore the fact of their existence and to state that they should knock on the federal Ministers door is an abrogation of basic governmental responsibility.
The record can clearly show that there has been a tremendous improvement in that area by the government. The numbers could easily be produced if the Members wish to see the analysis.
There are other specific areas of development in the government that recognizes local autonomy and local control. The Minister of Education has worked on increasing the assistance to local community learning centres throughout the Yukon. The development of Yukon College is a clear investment in the future of the people of the Yukon. With the establishment of the college, we will see people of the Yukon looking to this particular institution for higher education. It will be cost effective, inasmuch as over the long term the trend will be for people to take their education here and not go outside, and the expenditure levels of government with respect to higher education will show a decrease over the long term.
There have been suggestions brought before the House that related to what that college should do. We will be debating this again in the future, but clear areas of expertise have been defined. One of the areas that we would like to increase our expertise in is in the area of tourism. The Minister of Education is working on the creation of a tourism institute for the college, as well as a mining sector.
The overall philosophy of the government in terms of recognizing what our strengths are is being incorporated into the role of Yukon College.
I think it only makes sense to continue with that particular direction. One of the major issues has been the question of Yukon 2000, and we have seen today premature criticism of that process. People have already begun to stake out their ground and, as has been stated by the Minister of Justice, we are sure that when we do announce the contents of the Yukon 2000 process the contents of that exercise will definitely be criticized because we have been given notice today that that is going to be the case. It is very questionable, inasmuch as they do not even know what it is in the report, but they have taken the position that they will be critical of the contents regardless of what is in the process.
The most impressive aspect of the Yukon 2000 process that has to be recognized is that it is a process that involves the people of the Yukon. For many years the process of government here has been that you go to the polls every four years and elect a government. They, in turn, take on the attitude that they have the authority, they have the power, and they will decide for you, regardless of what it is that exists in the community. We have seen the results of that intransigent position and that particular mode of philosophy.
Yukon 2000, in terms of its basic philosophy, is diametrically opposed to governing by absolute authority. It is a process that has been structured to bring all of people throughout the Yukon community together in single forums to be able to talk to each other. You can have farmers, trappers, miners and tourism people all in a single forum discussing ideas collectively and putting forward recommendations on a collective basis as well. When the Leader of the Official Opposition talks about there being no vision on this side of the House for the future of the Yukon, there being a vague agenda, the government has clearly mapped out its agenda. The government has clearly said to the people of the Yukon that we want a situation where we can have a cooperative attitude in terms of relationships among the mining sector, the conservation sector, industry and labour, aboriginal and non aboriginal people, between men and women; that we are interested in the people of the Yukon working together to build a Yukon for the future. We have articulated that clearly in our efforts like Yukon 2000 and other public consultations we have undertaken.
As well, in terms of our vision for the future, unlike the penchant that has been displayed by members opposite, in which the economic future of the Yukon has been more or less channeled to huge energy projects and the possibility of their coming to fruition, we have taken a clear and different direction. We say that we want to diversify the economy as much as possible, we want to ensure that there are more small business people in the Yukon, we want not only to be involved in dreaming about pipelines that never happen, but we want to invest in the economic reality of the Yukon and we want to expand our economy more into the renewable resource sector than has been done in the past.
I think that we are delivering on those particular positions. One needs only to look at the area of renewable resources and look at the programs we have involved ourselves in. One of the major questions we are investigating is the feasibility of growing our own produce. In terms of red meat substitutes, we have been involved in bringing reindeer, elk and wood bison to the Yukon. Someday, those species of animals will be cultivated. They will be utilized to end up processed and in our stores and restaurants and feeding people of the Yukon. There is no question about it.
Another area of development we have undertaken is the area of agriculture generally. We have stated that our ambitions for agriculture are not out of whack with reality. We are not going to sit on this question and dream about possibilities that cannot be realized. We recognize that there are limitations. Our climate is not conducive to many of the cereal grains and other fruits that we see elsewhere in southern parts of the world, but I think we can have an industry here eventually that is self sustaining and that cuts into the imported food items that we see so much of in the Yukon. There has been tremendous work done in that area. The announcement a few days ago of the Economic Development Agreement, the Renewable Resources Agreement shows that there has been a lot of effort and resources invested in the agricultural industry. I believe the figure was in excess of $800,000. We are looking at a process in which there can be year-round or longer seasonal storage of vegetable items. We have encouraged the development of aquaculture here in the Yukon. There have been specific programs for a sheep farm in the Yukon, involving domesticated sheep. There has been some assistance to market local caviar that is produced in the Dawson area. There has been assistance through the program to look at Yukon gardens and, as well, for forage crops development throughout the Yukon.
We have told the agricultural community that we are interested in not leading the way. They have very clearly told us they do not want to be a subsidized industry, and we agree with them on that particular question. We have laid it squarely before them that it should be private sector led and, where it is possible and necessary for government to regulate and legislate, we will do so, provided it is done on a basis that is compatible with the growth patterns of the industry.
As an example of that, one of the key questions that has been raised by the agricultural community is the whole area of meat slaughterhouse regulations. We have said that meat inspection regulations are recognized as an important priority, and we will be delivering from the Department of Renewable Resources to the Cabinet, eventually this spring, draft regulations for passage by the Cabinet.
We have been involved in the crop development experimental program with Agriculture Canada where basically we test certain cereal grains throughout the Yukon to see if those species can take hold here. This year we are embarking on a forage productivity study to investigate the forage productivity over native grasslands and range lands throughout the Yukon. That work is undergoing.
We have developed a Yukon garden handbook to enable Yukoners to investigate the basic ideas and principles of home gardening. That work is proceeding. My colleague, the Minister of Community and Transportation Services had been involved in bringing the Farm Credit Corporation to the Yukon by signing an agreement with that institution. We have been encouraging Agriculture Canada to continue their efforts here. The Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration Program is in the Yukon. The expertise that they lend is quite useful.
On the question of diversifying the economy, of getting more involved in the renewable resource sector, the governments record is very clear. We have stepped out on that area. We have encouraged development. This week we announced a trapper support program. We have been behind trappers and their struggle to combat the anti-trapping movement. It is recognized that there is a tremendous amount of work to do yet. There is an awful lot of work that is in front of us on that government goal, and we will be constantly trying to improve our record on that goal.
I would like to turn to the area of mineral development. We had a recent announcement by the Members opposite to their plans for the mining sector. For the most part, the most focused statement that was made was that they would change the name of the Department of Economic Development. That seemed to stand out more than anything else. That seemed to sum up the policy statement. For the record, I would like to discuss the extent of programs that have been offered by government.
The previous administration talked a lot about help and support for the establishment and development of small business and mines. When we look at the 1984-85 Capital Estimates, they indicate that only a total $2.9 million were allocated for the support and development of small business, energy alternatives and mines. Of that total, only $.5 million were allocated for the Small Business Development Program. That indicated a very small fraction of the total towards loans, and the rest was toward grants. We hear consistently, in the House, that they represent a philosophy that is totally opposed to grants. Yet, when they had the opportunity to govern, grants were widespread throughout the Yukon and were allocated quite freely.
There has been a tightening up of grants. Most of the programs offered under the tourism program are repayable loans. A vast majority of monies lent out under the tourism sub-agreement are on the basis of loan repayment.
The new administration, in its first Capital Budget of 1985-86, dedicated a total of $8.2 million for the Small Business and Mining Program. That total also includes the increase of a loans program to $1 million a year. In addition, the same years Operation and Maintenance Estimates showed, for the first time, the establishment of a small business branch to support the creation, sustenance, and expansion of small business, with the allocation of six person years. In the 1986-87 fiscal year, the Capital Estimates showed, again, an allocation of $7.4 million for Small Business and Mines. In addition to that, $2.5 million were allocated for the establishment of a Regional Resources Roads Program, which supports and provides the infrastructure necessary for mineral development.
In the 1987-88 fiscal year, the Capital Estimates for Small Business and Mines includes a total of $12.65 million for the development of mines and small businesses. The current fiscal year shows a commitment to the development of small businesses and an increase in the loan fund from $1 million to $3 million, expansion of the Opportunity Identification Program to $250,000, the establishment of the New Venture Capital Program with funding of $500,000, and the establishment of the new Renewable Resources Commercial Development Program at $300,000.
In summary, the Capital Budget for Mines and Small Business has gone up from $2.9 million, under the previous administration, to $12.6 million annually. This administration has spent a total of $23.3 million in capital funding for programs in support of Mines and Small Business, including the program for Regional Resource Roads.
One of the myths that we hear continuously about this government is that it is very much an anti-mining government. They continuously use what they consider to be the onerous and ominous days of Mr. Barrett and his time in BC. You consistently hear that throughout the communities from some of the ardent supporters of the Progressive Conservatives. That is their basic and pat line, that this government is very much like the BC government: Any day now - we do not know when it is going to happen - but any day now, the situation will be where the Government of Yukon will turn its back on the mining community and completely freezes the mining community out.
Reality, however, clearly illustrates otherwise. The government that is represented here today in the Yukon has probably done more for the mining industry than has any previous territorial government. That fact is clearly illustrated by the Bible of the northern mineral industry, called The Northern Miner, which is concerned with the mining industry, particularly in the north.
I would like to quote from the front page story of that particular magazine. It states, and I quote: A New Democrat government was quick to recognize the positive impact mining could have on the territorys economy and has provided incentives to spur exploration and new mine development. On a national scale, the incentives are second to none.
Maybe this is one area of development that, in the future, we will not hear too much fuss and bother about from the Opposition regarding this governments efforts and philosophy.
There was another area of development from the Opposition recently, in the tourism area. The Opposition had put forward a statement regarding the tourism industry. In a brief statement, I would like to say that we welcome the position put forward by the Opposition on tourism and development in the Yukon. For the most part, it entrenches and supports what we have done and it confirms, to a large degree, that we are headed in the right direction.
The study of the policy of the Yukon Progressive Conservative party does not really indicate any new directions, compared to what is currently being undertaken by Tourism Yukon. Much of the policy developments that we have seen in the paper put forward is contained in the Yukon Highlights Report that we have issued in the past, as well as from the Yukon tourism strategy.
I thank the Members opposite for those efforts, for confirming the direction of government, and the support they have put forward. Hopefully, we will discuss that in the future and be in continuous agreement with respect to the direction the government is pursuing.
One of the questions that has been raised in the House by the Member for Kluane is the area of development of Kluane. We have had some personal discussions with respect to this. He has put forward a motion from the past, and I suspect that we will see motions in the future on this particular subject. This year, we are fortunate that the federal government has agreed to revisit the question of the management plan for Kluane National Park. The timing is right, and I think that the Member for Kluane is going to realize support throughout the Yukon on this particular question.
I recognize that he has taken the initiative for many years about the question of public access to the park. I would like to formally reassure him that he will receive my support in a general sense. The specifics may differ with respect to where the bends and where the hills should be in any proposed access and what kind of development related to that access should be. For the most part, it should be known that we on this side clearly support that concept of public access. The development of Kluane will not only benefit the residents of Haines Junction in terms of future tourism development, but I think it stands to have one of the most tremendous impacts in the fields of tourism throughout the Yukon. All citizens of the Yukon stand to benefit from those future developments.
There has been a tremendous cooperation between this government and the private sector in the tourism sector. That cooperation will continue. As you know, there have been changes made in the Tourism Industry Association. We have fostered and urged the changes that have taken place. We have seen that the Tourism Industry Association has broadened its base and is welcoming more sectors in the Yukon community to become involved in its operation. That is a change for the good and is a change that we support.
I do have other opportunities to speak to the specifics of the departments that I represent and we will bring forward those remarks when we move to the Estimates debate.
Speaker: May I remind the Member that he has three minutes to conclude his remarks.
Hon. Mr. Porter: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This is one of the few times I have used up my allotment.
There is a clear divergence in philosophy in the parties represented in the House. To be clear on our philosophy, we believe in a cooperative approach to life in the Yukon and we believe in economic diversification. Simply put, we believe in the ability of the people of the Yukon to determine their own destiny.
Programs that are accentuated in the budget before the Legislature clearly support that philosophy.
Mr. Brewster: It will not take me 40 minutes to get up and speak. I was not going to get up and talk until this arrived and then I had to sit down and calm myself for a little bit. Then the Minister talked for so long that there are a few questions that I am going to have to ask him. He talked about all the lodges being so happy on the Alaska Highway North, which I presume he was talking about. I have 17 lodges up there. Four of them sold out completely last year and there are now six of them for sale. That is ten out of 17 and that is a pretty poor batting average. The people buying these lodges are not Canadians, they are from Europe and really do not know the problems they are getting into to run a lodge. The Minister of Renewable Resources keeps talking about how much the unemployment is down. We all agree with that but nobody mentioned that Prime Minister Brian Mulroney brought it down across Canada to the lowest it has been for a long, long time, way below eight percent. Everybody forgets that one. We are dealing with a few little people and he is dealing with millions, but nobody gives any credit there.
Then we talk about mega projects and how we are not going to have any of this and that, then he stands up and tells us what he has done for all the mines.
I would really like to know where we would be without the Faro mine, if that is not a big project. We do not need any of these. He has done a lot with agriculture. I am going to have to compliment him, but, once more, we put the cart before the horse - we have no land. How are you going to be an agriculture person? You shut it all down in Hootalinqua and everywhere else, but you say you are doing all these things for the farmers. All their stock has to go outside. Nobody has any land. We say we think we can look after and support the people here. In the Gold Rush days, with not nearly the equipment we have to mine now, no fertilizer or anything, they looked after a lot more people in Dawson City than we have right now in the Yukon.
So, let us not run around and start some more studying. We know we can produce stuff up here. I do not think Renewable Resources wants to let the agriculture branch get too big. They want to keep them down. I am a little dismayed that a certain conservation officer was kicked all over the place on the radio for doing his job, which was in the regulations. No Minister or anyone else stood up to defend him. I wonder why. Let us not play games here.
Then, they go into the thing that really heats me up, when I get the Operation and Maintenance Estimates for Community and Transportation Services. I hope I got that correct, because the Minister likes to correct me. If he is going to do that, he is going to be a pretty busy man, because I, unfortunately, do not use the English language very well at times. Destruction Bay has gone. Last time, it was the Aishihik map that disappeared. Now, Destruction Bay is gone. No money, no nothing. Can you imagine? Take a good look at it. I am not going to carry this on any longer, because we will be going at this in Committee of the Whole.
Where did that money all go to? I wonder. If it is what I think, and if it is the way it appears here, that stuff that hits the fan is going to hit the fan pretty roughly around here,
Mr. Webster: I move that we now adjourn debate.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Member for Klondike that debate be now adjourned.
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., Tuesday, April 5, 1988.
House adjourned at 5:25 p.m.
The following Sessional Paper was tabled March 31, 1988:
1988/89 O&M Estimates, Distribution by Community (Penikett)