Whitehorse , Yukon
Thursday, April 7, 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 introduce to the House the three members of the Child Care Consultation Panel. We have the Chairperson, Joyce Hayden, Mike Nelson, Mary Kane and some day care workers.
Speaker: Are there any returns or documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I have for tabling today a green paper entitled, Lets Talk About Child Care in the Yukon.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have for tabling a chronology of ministerial correspondence and copies of letters to the Government of Canada, regarding the Alaska Highway.
Point of Order
Mr. Lang: I would like to rise on a Point of Order. I would like to remind the House that on March 30, we unanimously passed a motion asking that the House issue an order for return of information that would provide a listing of all service contracts in 1987-88 financial year. During the debate, it was accepted by all Members that those contracts would be tabled on Tuesday of this week. We are going into the supplementary debates. I would like to remind the government side that we are looking forward to that information being tabled.
Speaker: Are there any reports of committees?
Introduction of bills?
Notices of motion for the production of papers?
NOTICES OF MOTION FOR THE PRODUCTION OF PAPERS
Mr. Lang: I move that this House do issue a return for a copy of all agreements and treaties, international and national, that pertain to the Alaska Highway.
Speaker: Are there any notices of motion?
Statements by Ministers?
Lets Talk About Child Care in the Yukon
Hon. Mrs. Joe: Every government in Canada is being challenged to respond to the growing child care needs of our families. The tabling today of the green paper on child care underscores this governments commitment to this important social issue.
The green paper is called Lets Talk About Child Care in the Yukon. It is written in plain English. It is direct in its presentation. Its upon-ended approach invites dialogue and that is what we want to encourage. The consultation panel, whose members are Joyce Hayden, Mary Kane and Mike Nelson, will listen to comments from the broad Yukon community. The panel members will, in turn, be the voice of the people when they bring the views of Yukoners back to this government. These views will help to map out a child care policy that will really work for everyone.
The green paper outlines key issues, asks questions and invites discussion within the framework of the eight principles which this government endorses as the foundation of child care policy. They include: quality; parental choice; accessibility; affordability; comprehensive services; government responsibility; accountability; and non-profit vs. profit models of service delivery. These principles support an accessible and affordable quality system of care which ensures parental choice. They also support a comprehensive and accountable network of services where government ensures the most responsible use of public funds.
We know there is a wide diversity of opinions on how to respond to the challenge of child care before us. It is diversity that makes the Yukon what it is. The green paper is written to encourage dialogue and provide the opportunity for all Yukoners to take part in the planning of responsive, high quality care.
We want Yukoners to participate. The child care policy developed from these public consultations and approved by this government will be built on the views of Yukon parents, Yukon care givers and, most important of all, it will be policy that will serve the children of the Yukon. This is where our future lies.
In order to accommodate the muskrat trapping season, child care consultations will begin April 19 in Old Crow and will be completed nine weeks later in Whitehorse.
Written submissions will be received and public and private meetings with the panel will be held in each community. The key is accessibility. The panel will be available to each and every Yukoner who may want to comment on the questions in the green paper.
Child care is a top social policy priority in territory. It was also recognized as a high priority for economic and community development by participants in Yukon 2000 consultations. Building on the eight principles endorsed by this government, Yukoners today have the opportunity to develop a child care system that will remain strong and effective for years to come.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank those individuals who have worked for many weeks in order to put this plan together. Thank you very much.
Mr. McLachlan: I am glad the green paper is finally out, for better or worse. I am pleased to see that the government will be consulting with a number of the rural communities. This party is hoping that the green paper will address the important zoning restrictions that the City of Whitehorse does impose on day care operators here in Yukons capital. The city holds the philosophy that day cares should not be relocated in residential areas, but rather should often be located in commercial areas. The citys regulations are meant to impose this philosophy on the operators. Many new day care operators find it impossible to receive the go-ahead from the city because of these restrictions. They say to heck with legitimate means and open their doors to business anyway.
It is my sincere hope that the Minister has or will be addressing this major problem facing day care operators here in the City of Whitehorse.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: Those considerations have already been taken and recorded, I am sure, by the panel in the gallery.
Speaker: This then brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: Whitehorse Correctional Centre/staff morale
Mr. Phelps: I have a few questions today about the Whitehorse Correctional Centre and the numerous problems that keep surfacing in the public domain with regard to the operation of that centre. I am wondering whether the Minister would agree that there has been a severe problem at the centre with regard to morale among the people working there?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: No.
Mr. Phelps: I would suggest that there has been a severe morale problem, and in large part that problem is over the uncertainty of the direction the institution is heading in under this Minister. Would he agree with that?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: No. There is no uncertainty. I have made the direction abundantly clear here in the House. Indeed, in 1985 I spoke about it and it is clearly in Hansard. I have spoken about it to the particular employees at the correctional centre, both in individual situations and as a group. The direction is not in any way unclear.
Mr. Phelps: Could the Minister explain the topic at the team leader meeting on January 23, 1987 - more than a year ago - where, under the heading Morale, it says the following: Morale appears to be low at the centre. There is a fair amount of uncertainty about the direction the institution is heading.
How does the Minister explain that?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I do not attend these team leader meetings, but I would be extremely interested in what was talked about at that particular meeting. I will look into that at an early opportunity.
The question of morale at jails generally, and this jail specifically, is something that characteristically goes up and down. Jails are notoriously fairly difficult places in which to work. There is always a substantial emotional tension between the jailers and the people jailed, and it is a characteristic of jails. That mood swings, on occasion, and has done so ever since the opening of the centre.
Question re: Whitehorse Correctional Centre/staff morale
Mr. Phelps: Is it true that a review was carried out by Doug Borrowman and Don Head, of the Correctional Service of Canada, that looked into part of the operations of the centre because of the continuing low ebb of morale amongst the workers at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre and, in particular, because of the grievances filed in the summer of 1987 with regard to worker safety?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Because of the dishonest way the question was put, I have to answer no. However, a simple no answer would be misleading, because there was a review that is ongoing and has not been completed yet. The review is not because of a continuing low ebb of morale, which the Leader of the Official Opposition is trying to state is the case, I would submit, very irresponsibly. The situation is that the Occupational Health and Safety Committee was established around that time, and this is a part of the workings of that committee. They are generally looking at the question of occupational safety at the correctional centre with the full support of the administration of the centre.
Mr. Phelps: It is a curious set of answers that we have been getting from the Minister today. It seems to us that the Minister and senior justice department officials do not view the role of corrections in the same way as the report...
Speaker: Order, please. Could the Member please get to the supplementary question?
Mr. Phelps: ...leading to an atmosphere of mistrust and frustration on both sides and in some cases contradictory directions. Is that not a finding of those two independent people who did the inquiry?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: According to the rules, the Member who quotes from a document must table it. I ask the Member to table that document now.
The situation is that there was a study, which is not yet complete from my information. It was done by members of the Correctional Service of Canada. There was a preliminary report, or study, as an internal working document, and that report has not been finalized. That is the status.
Mr. Phelps: Does the Minister not find it as surprising as those of us on this side do that independent experts called in disagree flatly with his answer to my first supplementary today regarding the direction that the institute is taking and the lack of a coherent policy?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: No. The authors of that preliminary document were not put the question that I was. It is, I submit, irresponsible to try and put in the public mind a statement that I strongly expect that the Leader of the Official Opposition knows in his heart to be not true.
I ask him again to table that document, which he is obliged to do under the rules. There is an occupational health and safety committee at the jail that is generally studying the question of occupational safety. That committee has the full support of the administration of the jail and myself, and it is addressing problems that characteristically occur at jails. It is, so far, addressing them very well.
Question re: Health care studies in rural areas
Mr. McLachlan: Last Wednesday during debate in this Legislature on a motion about rural medical practices, the Minister of Health and Human Resouces used that debate to announce a major study into the health needs in the four largest rural communities in the Yukon.
There are a number of rural members present who are interested in these answers. Could the Minister advise when the study is going to be stated and when she expects it to be completed?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I have previously mentioned that that study was going to take place during a debate on another motion by the Member for Whitehorse Porter Creek East, and I mentioned it again in my response to that motion. The study has already started. It will be directed to four different communities, but there are other parts of the Yukon that may be contacted with respect to it. We were dealing with the four larger communities, because they had the largest hospitals that closed or had larger medical services, and those are what we are doing. I do not have an exact date of when they are supposed to be finished with that study, but I can bring that information back.
Mr. McLachlan: Can the Minister further advise whether the consultant group is from outside the territory or within the territory or, for example, are they a group of federal people who would be interested in the results as well?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I believe they are local people.
Mr. McLachlan: In anticipation of any further questions about details on the study, I am wondering - provided it may not fracture the Minister of Justices regulations about tabling of service contracts - if the Minister would be prepared to table the terms of reference of this study and, if so, would she be prepared to do so on Monday?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: As we mentioned, the contracts are going to be tabled, but I have no problem coming to this House and tabling the terms of reference for that one specific contract.
Question re: Whitehorse Correctional Centre/staff morale
Mr. Lang: With respect to the Minister of Justices earlier statement that the morale of the correctional centre is good,and that there are no problems there, has the Minister had the opportunity of reviewing the change in staff over the past year, as far as the number of guards are concerned?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Yes, I have.
Mr. Lang: Is it true that in the neighbourhood of 50 percent of the staff guard positions have changed over in the course of the past year?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: No, it is not true.
Mr. Lang: It is my information that there is in the neighbourhood of 10 permanent positions that have been changed as far as personnel leaving the correctional centre, as well as four casuals who have quit and a number of transfers. These are all good paying jobs, and I gather we are talking in the neighbourhood of $30,000 to $35,000 a year. If the morale is as good as the Minister says it is, could he explain to this House why we have experienced such a turnover in staff over the course of this past year?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: It is not accurate to say that there has been a substantial turnover in staff because of morale concerns at all. The Member opposite asked me two days ago about those issues, and I can report that the average population at the centre is 73, with a staff complement of 48, so the staff ratio is one to one and a half. It is expected to be reduced marginally over this year because of the effect of the opening of the Salvation Army residential centre. There have been six staff turnovers in the last 12 months, and the two recently, which occasioned newspaper comment, for a total of eight.
Eight out of a staff of 48 is nowhere near 50 percent.
Question re: Whitehorse Correctional Centre/staff morale
Mr. Lang: Is the Minister telling this House that, out of 24 guard positions, there has not been a turnover of 14 positions over the course of this past year?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I am telling the House that, in the last 12 months, there have been eight resignations: six and the two who went to the media.
Question re: Whitehorse Correctional Centre/staff morale
Mr. Phillips: In a statement by John Eaton Jones tabled yesterday in this House by the Minister of Justice, it makes reference to a knife being hidden in the correctional centre. Is it not true that a hunting knife with a three inch blade was subsequently found near the shower stall and that an inmate was planning to use the knife to stab a guard?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I have no information about the intent of an inmate and, I would submit, neither does the Member opposite, and his allegation here is irresponsible. The statement does talk about a knife, and the facts about that are known to the authorities now.
Mr. Phillips: Would the Minister of Justice check his facts and find out? Is it not true that an inmate later made a statement to a corrections official of his intention to stab a guard, and that that intent is recorded in a report?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: It is interesting the turn of events this questioning has taken. I guess the implication is that my ministerial responsibility covers the intention of an inmate who caused trouble at the jail. I guess that is the implication. It simply will not wash.
There are troubles at the jail daily, because we are dealing with troublesome people. The authorities at the jail are doing a fine job of containing them.
Mr. Phillips: As I said the other day, this issue did not rise a week or a month ago. It has been here for the last week solid. The Minister has had all kinds of conversations with the people in his department, and he knows it has happened. Can the Minister tell this House how many incidents have happened in the correctional institute that weapons have been found in the jail in the last six months?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: That is an interesting question again. The concern has only been here because the irresponsible Opposition is trying to make an issue out of something that is an ongoing concern and is serious, but which is characteristic of jails. I have just said there are troublesome incidents at jails everywhere in the country daily. There are troublesome incidents here at our jail up the hill. Despite the implied criticism of the Members opposite, the staff there are doing a fine job of containing those troublesome incidents. Our jail here is well run. It is one of the best jails in the country. It has been for quite some time and remains so.
Question re: Whitehorse Correctional Centre/staff morale
Mr. Nordling: I would also like to ask the Minister of Justice questions with respect to these troublesome incidents at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. I would like to know if there are now, or have been, any problems with drugs getting into the Whitehorse Correctional Centre in the past year.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Yes. I am sure there have been, and I could support the initiative made by the federal solicitor general to crack down on the drug problem in federal penitentiaries. Inmates of jails characteristically - not universally, but almost universally - have drug and alcohol dependency problems. They are addicted people, almost universally. There are, in every jail and penitentiary in the country, concerns about drugs and alcohol in the institution. The federal solicitor general has recently announced a serious crackdown and has stated that he thinks that approximately 80 percent of the inmates of federal penitentiaries have drug addiction problems while in jail.
Yes, there is a problem in the country. In our jail, there is a concern, but there is not the problem that there is in other jails in the country. We are doing a fine job but yes, there is a concern, a serious concern, and we are right on top of it.
Mr. Nordling: My understanding is that the RCMP did an investigation some months ago into whether drugs were being taken into the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. Does the Minister know about this investigation and the results of it?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Yes, I was advised of the circumstances of that investigation.
Mr. Nordling: I would like to ask the Minister if he is prepared to table the results of that investigation. My supplementary question is: is it true that there is a guard under suspension at this time, for a reason that may relate to drugs getting into the centre? Perhaps my question should just be: why has the guard been suspended?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: It has never been the practice in this Chamber to talk publicly about personnel matters, and I am not about to change that particular practice. The practice concerning investigations has always responsibly been that the circumstances of particular investigations are not made public.
Question re: Whitehorse Correctional Centre/staff morale
Mr. Phillips: My question again is for the Minister of Justice. We are concerned on this side about the problems up at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre, and it is time that the Minister of Justice accepted his responsibility and took some action.
We have a list of multiple problems out at the jail: very poor morale; alleged human rights violation; problems of an inquest cover up; illegal placement of a young offender; weapons in the jail; fire alarms that are not working, violating safety factors in the jail; alleged drugs being brought into the jail by a guard; and a 50 percent turnover of guards in the past year.
I would like to ask the Minister, in light of all these problems, would he consider calling an independent inquiry into the operations of the Whitehorse Correction Centre before something more serious occurs?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I listened to that litany of falsehoods, half truths and occasional truths, and I was amazed at the irresponsibility of the Opposition in trying to set up in the publics mind a series of allegations that have been shown, in the course of questioning, to be not true. Such a strategy is irresponsible and is not cognizant of the particular problems of running jails, which will constantly exist as long as there are jails.
By this irresponsible action, the Opposition is making a bad situation. It is not the fault of the jail; it is the fault of the irresponsible Members opposite.
Mr. Phillips: It has to be obvious to every Yukoner out there that the only irresponsible person here is the Minister of Justice for failing to act when he sees a serious problem happening.
Will he admit that there are serious problems at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre at the present time?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: We have previously had questions of that nature, and I have previously answered them. There are problems at the jail. There are problems everywhere. Life is full of problems. Jails are particularly prone to troublesome incidents. The situation at the jail is not perfect. There are some legitimate concerns, almost none of them have been mentioned by the Members of the Opposition, because they are not concerned about the real problems at jails. Yes, we are constantly working hard to make the situation better, and we will continue to do so.
Mr. Phillips: There have been several allegations made in the past few days by guards who were there in the past, and some who are there now. If the Minister believes there is nothing wrong, what fear does he have in calling for an independent inquiry into the workings of the Whitehorse Correctional Centre? Will he call one?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The concerns at the jail are many, and they have existed for years and years. Through sensible, sincere and prudent management, we are solving many of them. The situation at jails will always be tense, just by nature of the fact that there are jails. There will always be substantial dissatisfaction among the inmates and among the staff. At this time, it would be far more sensible to put any additional dollars into solving the problems, rather than trying to publicize them.
Question re: RCMP in Destruction Bay-Burwash
Mr. Brewster: On January 7, 1987 on page 379 of Hansard, the following motion was passed unanimously. That it is the opinion of this House that the Government of Yukon should negotiate with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police regarding the stationing of one or more police officers in the Destruction Bay-Burwash area of the Kluane region. Can the Minister of Justice tell the House what the government has done about this motion?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: It is interesting that that question is asked. The Member opposite knows because I advised him. We have had discussions with the senior members of the RCMP and with the local detachment at Haines Junction. He responsibly suggested that there be increased patrols to Burwash, and he was promoting that. The RCMP authorities have agreed, because I had relayed those concerns to them. It is my understanding that they are now occurring.
Mr. Brewster: I am not talking about that. I am talking about a motion that was passed in this House. Will the Minister table any documents and letters concerning this agreement?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I do not believe there are documents and letters to table. I will check, and if there are, I will table them.
Mr. Brewster: When will a policeman be stationed, as per this motion from this Legislature, at Destruction Bay or Burwash?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: That does not follow from the wording of the motion, and it does not follow the suggestions made by that Member during the debate on the motion. The situation is as I have described it.
Question re: Health care studies in rural areas
Mrs. Firth: I would like to follow up on the question that the Member for Faro raised with the Minister of Health and Human Resources regarding the announcement that she made about the major study on health needs of the Yukon communities. Could the Minister tell us how much this study is going to cost?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: The study is being done as a partnership between the federal government and this government. I am not sure how much the contract was, but the Member will be getting that information here in the House.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister does not know who is doing it, and now we find out that the federal government is paying part of it. She does not know how much it costs. I heard the Minister say to the Member for Faro that there were other concerns that would be taken into account with this study. Is the community of Whitehorse also going to be looked at? Is the possibility of the permanent hospital structure being built part of this whole study as well?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: The terms and references for the study do not include the transfer of the hospital. That will be done by the devolution department and members of my department.
Mrs. Firth: I was not talking about the transfer of the hospital; I was talking about a new hospital. Perhaps the Minister could tell us the answer to this question. There was a contract awarded for $21,500 to one of the former executive assistants of this government for a review of all the legislation in Health and Human Resources. Is that going to be taken into account with this major study?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I think I will leave that to the study.
While I am on my feet, if I may. I have some corrections with regard to the young offender who was in the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. The section that was mentioned by the Member for Whitehorse Riverdale North was section 17(3).
Point of Order
Mrs. Firth: Point of Order. I have challenged the Minister on this Point of Order before. In Question Period the Minister may stand up and correct statements she may have made; however, she is correcting statements that were made by a Member of the Opposition in Question Period and is challenging debate. Therefore, her statement is out of order, unless she is simply correcting a statement that she made. I believe the last time you ruled in favour of our challenge.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I simply wanted to correct some information that was given to the press by the Members across the House that was untrue. The information is in regard to sections of the Young Offenders Act that are different and do not even exist.
Speaker: I would like to rule on that. There is no Point of Order. I would like to remind Members that in any situation like this, please just table the documents.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: The Member for Riverdale North has cited sections of the Young Offenders Act which has confused this side of the House in Question Period.
Speaker: I would like to correct myself here. There was a Point of Order. I would like to remind Members that any answers like that should be tabled.
Question re: Crestview traffic flow
Mr. Nordling: I hope that the Government Leader took note of that Point of Order so that he will be more accurate in his instructions next time.
My question is to the Minister of Community and Transportation Services. During the fall session, and specifically on December 16, 1987, I made representations to the Minister with respect to traffic safety at the Yukon Alaska truck terminal near Crestview, and the two access roads into Crestview. The Takhini Area Transportation Study really only dealt with traffic flow and not safety, and did not look at the south access road to Crestview at all. I would like to ask the Minister if the government has done anything to address this concern?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I realize, for the Opposition, it is quite unacceptable for the government to try to correct the incredible, unsubstantiated allegations that are put before this Legislature on a regular basis, but let me just say this: the Takhini Area Transportation Study had very clear terms of reference. The report was concluded and made public by me in this Legislature. I indicated at that time that, apart from the Crestview truck terminal, which we would be addressing as soon as time and the weather permitted construction to take place, but that the balance of the recommendations would be reviewed thoroughly between the City of Whitehorse and the Government of Yukon, and a report would be made public with respect to what the government was prepared to do in terms of its financial commitments. The negotiations are ongoing at this point between the city and the government, and I would expect the conclusions to be drawn according to the timetable that I have already indicated publicly to the House.
Mr. Nordling: The Takhini Area Transportation Study that the City of Whitehorse is dealing with did not deal at all with the area that I am talking about. The Crestview truck terminal was tacked on and is a separate little report. On December 16, the Minister said ...
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary question?
Mr. Nordling: Yes, Mr. Speaker. I would ask if, in these discussions and negotiations with the city, they will be looking at the problems at the Crestview truck terminal with respect to the need for a deceleration lane for safety reasons?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The initial recommendation, I believe, - and correct me if I am wrong, I am going on memory - called for a left hand turning lane at Crestview and, at that point, I believe consideration was given to deceleration lanes to turn right into the Crestview truck terminal as you come south along the highway. The feeling at the time was that trucks could slow down because they were going uphill in any case, in order to turn right into the truck terminal; there was plenty of opportunity to do that and directions to the turnoff to the truck terminal were very clear. For that reason I believe, there was not a recommendation for a deceleration lane. I can check on that, as it is a detail I do not feel perfectly comfortable with; I will certainly ask the department to inform me as to the details.
Mr. Nordling: The constituents on the Mayo Road and MacPherson are not concerned with the traffic flow that would call for a deceleration lane. They are talking about the safety of the trucks slowing down in the middle of the road and turning right on the corner at the top of the hill. The Minister, on December 16, 1987, talking about his department making a final plan for that area and would report back as soon as he found out what the plans were and what would happen in that area. I would ask if the Minister would be prepared to bring back some report on what the Yukon Government is doing in that area within the next week.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I might be missing something from the Members question, but my understanding is that the trucks turning right into the Crestview terminal do not have to turn in the middle of the road. The track is sufficient to enable the Yukon Alaska transport trucks to not have to swerve out into the middle of the road in order to turn right. I will perhaps talk to the Member after todays sitting to get a clear understanding of what the Member is asking. I would be more than prepared to provide a written answer to the Members question.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed. We will now proceed with Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Speaker: Government motions?
Motion No. 8
Clerk: Item No. 1, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. McDonald.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Community and Transportation Services
THAT the following message be sent to the federal Minister of Public Works, the hon. Stewart McInnes, with a copy to the offices of the Prime Minister and the Member of Parliament for the Yukon:
The members of the Yukon Legislative Assembly wish to express disappointment on behalf of Yukon people at the lack of funding by the federal government for the operation and maintenance and capital upgrading of the Alaska Highway in the Yukon. This highway is an important transportation link for the territory. On behalf of Yukon residents, our transportation industry and our tourism industry, we request that funding be made available immediately for the upgrading and maintenance of the highway between Watson Lake and the Yukon/Alaska border.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I would like to inform my honourable colleagues this afternoon of this governments concern in seeking a stronger commitment from the Government of Canada to accelerate reconstruction of the Alaska Highway. As the primary road linking our territory to Alaska and southern Canada, this highway is of vital importance to the economic and social fabric of the Yukon. A reasonable quality of highway is essential for access to and from our Yukon market and to increase the safety and convenience of the traveling public. This would, in turn, contribute to the successful promotion of tourism and investment in the Yukon, and would improve the quality of life of all Yukoners.
Thus, Yukons continued development is closely bound to the standards of reconstruction and maintenance established by the Government of Canada for the Alaska Highway.
Cost estimates for reconstruction of the highway between Fort Nelson and Watson Lake, and completion of the north Alaska Highway segment of the Shakwak Project, are $260 million and $200 million, respectively. Clearly, the scope of these projects is such that significant resources must be committed on a timely and appropriate basis if they are to be properly carried out. However, instead of this commitment, we have witnessed a drastic reduction in the federal governments total capital budget for reconstruction of the highway from $25 million to $30 million, annually, to $13 million in 1986-87, and $15 million in 1987-88.
At this pace, reconstruction of the highway could take 30 or more years, and this is much longer than the life expectancy of rebuilt sections. Furthermore, whereas prior to these reductions the sums had been allocated on a 50/50 equitable basis between Yukon and BC in the last two year period, the majority of the budget has been expended south of Fort Nelson. In the last fiscal year, Yukon was the recipient of only seven percent of the total reconstruction budget.
Operation and maintenance expenditures in Yukon for the Alaska Highway have also consistently decreased over the past several years, from $12.3 million in 1983-84, to $10.2 million in 1987-88, representing a total loss of purchasing power of 38.6 percent since 1982-83. The need for sufficient maintenance dollars is becoming more pronounced with each year the capital improvements to the Alaska Highway are postponed, as routine maintenance costs for gravel road are much higher than for reconstructed-surface roads.
Representations by private citizens, the Association for Yukon Communities, Yukon businesses and MLAs further underline the need for improvement of the situation. On numerous occasions, this government has endeavoured to seek a remedy to the problem. Initiatives included, on July 29, 1986, the Minister of Tourism telexing Bernard Valcourt, the Minister of State for Tourism Canada, expressing Yukon concern over the condition of the Alaska Highway north of Fort Nelson and the potential harmful affect this could have on our tourism industry.
On August 7, 1986, I wrote to Stewart McInnes, Minister of Supply and Services Canada, affirming the Minister of Tourisms concern and identifying the problems associated with inadequate maintenance funding. The combination of increasing maintenance costs and inadequate maintenance funding has led to a situation where the quality of the road has drastically decreased.
On December 9, 1986, my hon. colleague, Mr. Porter, and I wrote a joint letter to Stewart McInnes expressing our mutual concern about the condition of the highway in northern British Columbia. At that time, we requested a review of the development and maintenance plans for the highway, with a view towards improving the condition of the highway and removing what was perceived as a barrier to travel to the north.
On March 26, 1987, I met with Stewart McInnes, now Minister of Public Works Canada, to again raise Yukon concerns and to discuss plans for highway upgrading. On April 13, 1987, the deputy minister of Community and Transportation Services met with the deputy minister of Public Works Canada. The federal deputy minister indicated that Public Works Canada would be conducting a full financial and project review of the Alaska Highway.
On June 25, 1987, the deputy minister of Community and Transportation Services made a presentation to the Federal Interdepartmental Committee on Northern Roads. Senior federal officials were presented with the Yukons position and concerns. On December 10, 1987, I wrote to Stewart McInnes, strongly requesting a reconsideration of Public Works Canadas funding priorities for the next and upcoming fiscal years. It was stated quite clearly that a timely commitment was required for sufficient funding for concurrent reconstruction of the north Alaska Highway and the Fort Nelson to Watson Lake segment of the Alaska Highway.
On February 17, 1988, I wrote once again to Stewart McInnes, reiterating my concerns and stressing the need for accelerated and concurrent reconstruction of the segments of the Alaska Highway that serve as the primary entry and exit points in the Yukon. On February 24, 1988, I met with Stewart McInnes in Ottawa to personally present the Yukon governments position on the Alaska Highway capital and operation and maintenance funding cutbacks and requirements. At that time, it was emphasized that there was a need for restoration of the total annual capital budgets for the Alaska Highway to the approximately $30 million level established prior to the 1986-87 and 1987-88 cutbacks, and that there is also a requirement for annual operation and maintenance budgets for Yukon to be adjusted to account for changes and rate of inflation. These increases are minimum levels of increase that the Yukon government believes to be acceptable. Furthermore, the need for a balanced approach to reconstruction was identified.
During the heads of government meeting held in Alaska on March 13 and 14, the Government Leader, Mr. Penikett, the Governor of Alaska, Mr. Cowper and the Premier of British Columbia, Mr. Vander Zalm, discussed the importance of the Alaska Highway to their respective jurisdictions. They jointly agreed to lobby the Canadian and American federal governments for sufficient capital and operation and maintenance funding to ensure that the Alaska Highway is reconstructed and maintained in a timely and appropriate fashion.
In addition to these specific initiatives, the department has maintained contact with the regional office of Public Works Canada to press for acceleration of the reconstruction program.
The north Alaska Highway, from Haines Junction to the Yukon/Alaska border, is part of the Shakwak Project, a program of reconstruction and pavement proposed and 100 percent funded by the US government. The Haines Road from the BC/Alaska border to Haines Junction also falls under this project. Considerable work has been undertaken on this section. Its completion is now expected in 1991 at the latest.
Indications are, however, that the Alaska state government has no immediate plans to reconstruct the north Alaska Highway due to the cost. Recent correspondence from Public Works Canada confirms that capital funds are unavailable in the 1988-89 fiscal year for reconstruction of this segment. It is now clear that those two segments of the Alaska Highway are of vital importance to the Yukon, namely the Fort Nelson to Watson Lake section and the section north of Destruction Bay to the Alaska border, and are not scheduled for reconstruction in the upcoming fiscal year, nor are maintenance levels expected to increase to compensate for this.
This government maintains that the situation is unacceptable and seeks reinstatement of the capital funding that was allocated prior to the 1986-87 reduction. We will continue to press the Government of Canada for commitments to improve the situation, and seek the unanimous support of this House in this endeavour.
Mr. McLachlan: I rise in support of the motion put forward by the Minister, and would agree with him that the highway is of critical importance to the Yukons transportation and tourist sectors. It is often a mystery to me why a federal government that is striving so hard to maintain good relations in trade agreements with our neighbours to the south and west, in this case, would let this element of public relations deteriorate so badly. If anything, I believe it underscores the need for some sort of long-term agreement that provides a minimum level of funding, with some sort of escalator clause for road numbers and/or weights on the road.
We ran into this same sort of thing when we were trying to negotiate the Skagway Road reopening. When we have problems such as the Skagway Road and Alaska Highway maintenance, this severely restricts the ability of this territory to develop both its economic and its tourist potential. I agree wholeheartedly with the motion that has been brought forward by the Minister of Community and Transportation Services.
Hon. Mr. Porter: It is with regret that I speak to this motion. The condition of the Alaska Highway, both in the Yukon and in northern British Columbia, is of grave concern to Yukon tourism. My colleague, the Minister of Community and Transportation Services, has clearly documented the federal governments abrogation of its responsibilities in funding and reconstruction and maintenance of the Alaska Highway. Both capital and operation and maintenance funding levels have been drastically reduced, and the Yukons share of reconstruction funding has declined severely. This downward trend in funding has continued, despite consistent and unified representation from Yukoners over several years.
As the Members may know, the vast majority of Yukon tourists travel highway routes. The Alaska Highway is the major artery supplying the lifeblood of the Yukons number two industry, tourism. Yukoners, from lodge owners to the Tourism Industry Association, from the Town Council of Watson Lake to the Association of Yukon Communities, have repeatedly appealed to the federal Minister of Public Works to honour the federal governments commitments to the maintenance and reconstruction of the Alaska Highway.
The Yukons Member of Parliament has often and eloquently expressed Yukoners concerns about the declining state of the highway. Officials of the Department of Tourism and the Department of Community and Transportation Services have raised the matter with their provincial and federal colleagues. I have repeatedly raised the matter with the federal minister responsible for tourism and, in conjunction with my colleague, the Member for Mayo, I have appealed to the Minister of Public Works. The Government Leader, at his recent meeting with his colleagues, the Premier of British Columbia and the Governor of the State of Alaska, had discussions on this issue, and I expect the Government Leader will report today to the House on those discussions concerning this issue.
Yet, all of these appeals have repeatedly fallen on deaf ears. The federal response to date has been a further slashing of the Alaska Highway budget as it relates to the Yukon. I would like to quote from a Tourism Industry Association letter to the hon. Stewart McInnes, Minister of Public Works, which I think does an admirable job of describing the tourism industrys dilemma on this question.
From a tourism perspective, upgrading this highway in an absolute necessity if we are to continue to attract visitors to the Yukon. Over 75 percent of our total tourism income originates from visitors traveling in their personal vehicles along our highways and, thus, deterioration of the Alaska Highway, the primary route to and through the Yukon, is indeed a blow that is unacceptable and must not be allowed to happen. TIA Yukon spends a great deal of promotional time and money touring the retirement RV parks in California, Arizona and Texas each winter, reassuring potential visitors of the improvements and upgrading of the Alaska Highway and, if word gets out that the highway is being returned to gravel in some sections, it will be a major setback and potentially an impossible obstacle to overcome.
The highway, without doubt, the highway is the main concern of these would-be visitors. There is not an RV park we visit that the question about the condition of the highway is not raised. In that case, the stories of driving the Alaska Highway have ingrained themselves in the minds of older American travelers and, although we are correcting that image and proudly showing the changes and improvements that have been made, it is a precarious task that can be all but nullified if these improvements are allowed to deteriorate.
On a more general level, the north relies on the Alaska Highway as our primary contact with southern Canada, and its maintenance and upgrading affect the lives of all Yukoners. We urge you and your colleagues to reconsider the funding for this highway, and believe that this is not a matter for discretionary fiscal manipulation.
As Members may know, the community I represent - Watson Lake - is a community situated on the Alaska Highway. As a matter of fact, it is the first Yukon community on the Alaska Highway when the traveler enters the Yukon. For Watson Lake, the condition of the Alaska Highway is of particular concern because, as you know, Mr. Speaker, - as you represent the community of Teslin and you are unfortunately unable to voice your concerns, but I am sure you would be in agreement with this motion - the residents in the communities like Watson Lake and Liard have a competing highway adjacent to the Alaska Highway, and that is Highway No. 37 through northern British Columbia. It is recognized that that highway is no great shakes, either. However, there has been a program by the British Columbia provincial government to continue upgrading that particular highway.
Clearly, there is the possibility that, through federal negligence on the Alaska Highway, we could see a situation where the traffic flow trends will be that, because of poor conditions on the Alaska Highway, drivers coming to Alaska and the Yukon may take the alternative route of Highway No. 37 much more than they have in the past. If that were to be a continuing situation, if the federal government allows that to happen, serious harm could be done to the economy of Watson Lake and to the residents of that particular community.
As I stated earlier, the community of Watson Lake has been voicing its concerns. They have contacted me and my colleague from the Department of Community and Transportation Services. As well, they have written to Mr. Stewart McInnes, who is the Minister responsible federally, and I would like to quote from that letter, as well. The letter reads as follows:
The council discussed the condition of the Alaska Highway over the past four years, and have made the following resolution.
I would like to read into the record a resolution passed by the Town of Watson Lake, and it reads as follows:
Whereas we do not believe the Alaska Highway between Fort Nelson, British Columbia, and Watson Lake, Yukon, is being maintained to a sufficient standard to enhance tourism; and
Whereas tourism is a major portion of the economic base of Fort Nelson, British Columbia, and Watson Lake, Yukon, and the area between,
Be it resolved the Department of Public Works be encouraged to improve the maintenance on this portion of the Alaska Highway to a standard that will enhance tourism.
This letter comes from the Mayor of Watson Lake, and is addressed to the federal Minister responsible for the maintenance of that highway.
For tourists who have a major investment in their rolling residences, road conditions are a primary consideration in choosing routes and destinations. I am alarmed by the number of negative comments that tourism officials received from visitors last year on the condition of the highway. They stand in sharp contrast to the many complimentary comments on our scenery, campgrounds, fishing facilities and people.
For the record, I would like to read some of the comments that the people who are travelling to the Yukon have made regarding the condition of the highway.
The roads are no good. Fix the roads. Better roads. The roads could use more work. Roads need repair in many places. Driver cannot pay attention to scenery. You would not want them to be doing that for a safety factor, but the particular individual went on to comment, Guardrails on hill curves would be nice. I realize roads are unpredictable, but there are stretches on the Alaska Highway that are worse than bad. Would suggest reconstruction as soon as possible. Need to spend more money on maintenance of road, especially on both sides of Haines Junction. Roads are terrible. Bad roads. Roads between Kluane and border are terrible. Entry road into Canada from Alaska heading south is shameful. Please fix Alcan. Highway close to Alaskan border could be improved. Noted the roads became poorer as we approached Alaska above Whitehorse. Is there a reason? Do not like roads. Roads not very good. Roads must be repaired, widened; too dangerous for old people. Driving was like Mario Andretti. Roads are terrible. The roads from Burwash Landing and Beaver Creek need much added work. Highways need improvement to Alaska border. Some bad roads but better than northern BC. Some money has to be spent on roads. It would be Canadas advantage to repair the roads from Haines Junction to the border. At 50 kilometres an hour, we were leaving the surface of the road on the worst bumps. If you dont want to repave it, it should be bulldozed and gravelled where it can be graded regularly. That stretch is worse than unpaved sections by far. Dips in roads are hard on trailer units. Some roads coming from Alaska to Haines Junction are not well maintained. Improve the roads - people would gladly pay a toll. Spend much more money improving frost heaved roads near American border. Your roads are out of this world. Hope they are better two years from now when we come through.
Those are just a sample few of a whole list of comments that tourists themselves are making to the Yukon government officials about the condition of the roads. Specifically, these comments are all related to the one major highway through the Yukon, the Alaska Highway. We know that other highways in the Yukon - for example, the highway between here and Dawson City, particularly the section from Carmacks to Dawson City, which is a road that has been maintained and built by the Yukon government - are much better than most sections of the Alaska Highway.
I think this indicates a very serious situation in the Yukon, and I hope the federal Minister is alerted and appreciates the seriousness of the question. As we approach the celebration in 1992 of the 50th anniversary of the construction of the Alaska Highway, it is ironic that sections of the highway are reverting to their original condition. I think it would be more appropriate for the federal government to honour that anniversary by ensuring the reconstruction of those sections of the highway that intimidate the travelling public - more appropriately, to provide the funding necessary to ensure that all of the Alaska Highway is maintained to a standard that encourages visitors to the Yukon rather than actively discourage them.
I support this motion, but regret that we have to bring such a motion before the Legislature. Hopefully, something will be done. We have tried everything. There have been meetings with Ministers and letters to the Ministers concerned. Hopefully, when they see a motion that comes forward from this House, unanimously adopted by all parties in the Yukon, maybe this time they will listen.
Mr. Lang: This side of the House shares the concern with respect to the standard of our highways, not only the Alaska Highway but other highways as well. I want to assure all Members that we are very emphatic that the various levels of government carry out their responsibilities.
I want to give credit where credit is due, and that is to federal public works in the past 10 years for the work that has been done. I think it is safe to say that if one travels between Whitehorse to Watson Lake on the Alaska Highway there have been vast improvements considering what it was 10 years ago. There are two or three sections that have been slashed and are ready for further construction. That would put it to a higher quality and standard and complete that section of the road. It does disturb this side to see a cutback in the financial assistance that is available. There are a number of aspects to that.
Number one is the safety of the travelling public. The safety of the travelling public should be paramount to all of us. I had the opportunity of experiencing it this past weekend when there was a major snowfall between here and Watson Lake, and there were a number of accidents. Those accidents were predominantly in the areas that had not been upgraded to the standard of the areas worked on in the past number of years. That is one area of very major concern.
The other concern is in the area of tourism and the long term effects, as the Minister has pointed out to this House. There is no question that if there is no financing to continue the upgrading of the highway it will adversely affect a very dynamic part of our economy. This side finds that unacceptable as well.
I want to point out that we are sending a motion to a Minister in the Government of Canada who has, to my knowledge, never been to the Yukon. It is my feeling that we should be trying to do something positive in conjunction with the message we are sending and try to reinforce our message to the Minister of Public Works and the Government of Canada. It is my feeling that we should invite the Minister of Public Works formally to the Yukon in order to view, for himself, the stark differences experienced on the Alaska Highway, vis-a-vis the Haines Junction to Beaver Creek section opposed to the section between Watson Lake and Whitehorse.
Therefore, it would be my opinion that there should be an amendment to the motion. Therefore, I would move
THAT Motion No. 8 be amended by adding the following:
and THAT this Legislature issue a formal invitation to the hon. Stewart McInnes to visit Yukon and travel the Alaska Highway as a guest of the Legislative Assembly in order to view the present condition of this international highway.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Member for Whitehorse Porter Creek East
THAT Motion No. 8 be amended by adding the following:
and THAT this Legislature issue a formal invitation to the hon. Stewart McInnes to visit Yukon and travel the Alaska Highway as a guest of the Legislative Assembly in order to view the present condition of this international highway.
Mr. Lang: I am putting this forward from a number of points of view, and I think that it is important that it be highlighted. Earlier today I submitted a notice of motion for the production of papers requesting that all treaties and all agreements, national and international, be tabled in this House. The reason is to highlight the fact that this is an international highway. It is not just strictly a highway that starts at Watson Lake and goes to Beaver Creek, but it is a highway that provides access to Alaska for Americans, so its standard has important international consequences. I think at times, because of where Ottawa is, and its distance from the Yukon, that this is forgotten - not intentionally, but I am sure that it is not the topic of discussion every day in the various political caucuses or in the government, for that matter. The fact is that we are that far from Ottawa.
We have a Minister who is, I believe, from the Maritimes. To my knowledge he has not been to the Yukon. This invitation reinforces the importance that we give to the issue, and our feeling that he should take the time and the effort, since it is his responsibility, to come and view the Alaska Highway in order to reevaluate and reassess the priorities on the financial side of expenditures by the Government of Canada.
I think that this could be seen as a positive step by this Legislature, as opposed to just strictly a request, because it verifies the concern felt by all Members on this side of the House. I think that if the Minister were to come to Whitehorse and take a day or two to travel and view the Alaska Highway, especially in those areas where maintenance is obviously becoming very much of a question - and, as well, we have areas ready to be reconstructed and money has already been expended for the purposes slashing and clearing - then maybe the Minister will be able to say, Look, maybe the request can be legitimately granted.
It is common knowledge that a picture is worth a thousand words, and if he can view the highway for himself, in conjunction with his departmental people, then maybe he will give the necessary support to the hard-working federal representatives in Whitehorse and northern British Columbia, who are very concerned that adequate funding has not been made available.
I hope that all Members will accept this amendment, in order to reinforce the position of the House that the Government of Canada come to Yukon and view its responsibilities, and see what can be worked out regarding getting ahead with some of the reconstruction and the lack of maintenance in some quarters.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The idea of issuing an invitation to Mr. McInnes has occurred to me and has also been broached with the Minister on two occasions, once last year and once in February. I did indicate to the Minister, given the fact that he is also the Minister responsible for CMHC, that there will be an opening of the senior citizens complex that he may want to participate in as they are a significant participant in that project.
I also indicated that he might even want to stop in Watson Lake and drive to Whitehorse at that point as well. The drive can be quite a pleasant one. I suggest, given recommendation from our Minister for Tourism, that perhaps the Member for Kluane and I might want to escort the federal Minister, if he has the time, to see some of the more serious problems that exist in the riding of Kluane.
Obviously, I will support the motion. It will give the second formal offer to the Minister to come to the Yukon, see the highway and visit the Yukon. He has expressed a personal interest in seeing the Yukon and has always wanted the opportunity to come. This project could be an excellent opportunity. He and I do get along very well on a personal level even though we might, at times, disagree, on the importance that the federal government has, in the past, put on funding the Alaska Highway. I am sure that we could make his stay in the Yukon a very enjoyable one while he comes to understand more of the character and the environment.
So as not to frighten the Clerks office too much, we can issue the invitation as one from the Legislative Assembly, and the Department of Community and Transportation Services would see fit to provide the necessary vehicle and resources to ensure that Mr. McInnes trip is comfortable. We do not want it to be too comfortable because we want him to travel the Alaska Highway.
The Member for Porter Creek East also said that he felt the importance of the Alaska Highway as an international travel way was a significant point to make. I did have the opportunity to pull out a map of the Yukon and the Alaska Highway when I was last visiting with the federal Minister. I indicated to him how close the Yukon was to Alaska and that a significant amount of American traffic does pass through the Yukon in order to go to Alaska. That visual impression upon the Minister was significant, and he did take note of it.
There should not be anything stopping copies of those agreements and treaties being brought to the House on Monday as are requested in the motion. I have copies here, and I could probably pass them over to the Member even sooner than that.
In any case, we will support the amendment and hope the Minister takes the invitation in the spirit in which it is given. We hope the experience of a period of time in the Yukon will help the Minister visualize and show more support for funding for this highway project.
Amendment agreed to
Speaker: Is there any further debate on the main motion as amended?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I would just like to take a minute to add something to this debate. In recognition of the importance of this highway as an international corridor, we did raise it at the recent heads of government meeting between Premier Vander Zalm, Governor Cowper and myself, which took place in Fairbanks last month. I want to note for the record here that the three government leaders resolved to lobby their respective federal governments for increased funding for this road. It was the general view at the meeting that parts of it are in serious decline and adverse consequences to our tourism industry and other sectors of our economy could result from inattention to this important route. There was general agreement as to the importance of this, and I am sure the other two governments will be joining their voices to that of this Legislature in conveying the concern expressed here today.
Mr. Brewster: Number one, I am rather pleased that they have let me be the last speaker, except for the mover of the motion, which means that only one Member of the government can pick on me. It has been almost my day today. I am going to get away quite easy, it looks like, and I would also like to thank the good Lord up there that, after six years of fighting in here, I seem to have everybody talking the same way. The people in lodges along the highway will be tickled to death to hear that, finally, we are all getting on to something that we have been trying to tell for the last 15 years. I have been trying to tell it for the last six.
One thing that does concern me, however, and I would certainly like it noted when this motion goes to Ottawa where our Great White Fathers live, that there was a motion made a year ago by the Member for Kluane and another by the Member for Riverdale North on the same subject. I sometimes wonder where these motions are going. They certainly do not seem to be moving out of this Legislature very fast. However, governments are slow and, as I get a little older, I am a little more lenient and a little more prepared to go a little slower, because my head is getting sore from hitting brick walls, and I just do not always get where I want to get.
For years, our people in Watson Lake and all along the highway have always said that there would be a bypass and Watson Lake would be left. That is when that road cutting through was a little gravel road, and everybody laughed. Now, the Minister of Tourism gets up and finally decided Watson Lake is going to lose out. That is nothing new. They did not need a study or anything on that. They were told by lodges all along the highway a long time ago that was going to happen.
Anyway, we have got everybody going on that one. I am very pleased that in my area, at least, the Americans put some money in. If they had not, the best business we could have been in would be to make the Bennett buggy wagons, because we were going right back into the old days when cars just did not work. In some places, we even wondered if we had a road up there.
I think it has been proven all over that the more you fix a road up, the less you maintain it. The minute we went into calcium chloride, we saved money. Then we advanced from there. We went into chip sealing. We saved a great amount of money from there, but the big problem with some of the chip sealing is that we put the chip seal down when we did not have a road bed.
Maybe this has backfired, because it stands up for a year or two years and people say we have a good road. Now, that chip seal is naturally falling off, and it just becomes a matter of replacing chip seal on something that will not last. We have to get road beds under this, because we are just throwing good money away.
It would seem they have a problem with that. The first time I was on this highway, it was a nine foot road. It was put in in nine months. They convoyed you for 100 miles and, then, the military police would stop you and, then, the convoy going the other way would turn around and go through and, then, you would have your turn. This is the way they operated this road. I can remember when there was a military traffic policeman sitting on top of the hill - an American, incidentally, not a Canadian.
In 1992, it will be 50 years. I can take you, and I would like very much to be able to take the Minister from Ottawa, and show him miles and miles of the original roadbed that we have not moved in the Beaver Creek area. There is 25 miles that is lower than the road around it, because it has sunk in the muskeg and has never been built up. That is the original road and has never been moved in 50 years. We have sent people to the moon and developed things and the whole world has moved. We have an international road that is going down into the muskeg and disappearing. Nobody is interested. Yet they want people to live here. The federal government says they have to move people north to protect our north. They better get their buggy wagons out, because they are not going to go very much longer this way.
It is an international highway. In talking with American engineers, my understanding is that this is part of the trans-Canada standard highway, coast to coast. The Haines Road and the Shakwak Project were part of it, but that is another argument. That is built to trans-Canada standard highways, and that is a good road. There again, the Americans built it all, and at least they passed enough money to get to Haines. They apparently already made a mistake to start with, because they went 15 miles past Haines Junction before they went down the Haines Road, so we have started on the road to Beaver Creek. We have a little ways to go yet.
I would be very interested to see what is in the treaty. This was an international treaty, when this highway was turned over to the Canadian army from the American army. I have the one on the Shakwak Project, and it says some very interesting things. This is not done by politicians. This is done by international governments and international agreements. I believe the Alaska Highway will have this same type of agreement. I would be very interested to see what is in this agreement.
As to inviting the Minister up here, I will make a proposition right now that I personally will meet him at Fort Nelson. I will pay the whole shot. He is not going to have a Cadillac. He is going to get in my little vehicle out there. I will bring him up the road right to Beaver Creek, and I will pay for everything. I will wine and dine him, everything. I will contribute that to the Yukon getting this road. I have no problem with this, and I will show him people on the highway who know about the highway and will tell him. We are not going to have a big parade like opening up the senior citizens. I am not criticizing the senior citizens, and I am not criticizing them being there. I want to take him to the people.
I can remember when I first came into this House. One of the first things I asked the government, and I was on the government side at the time, was to let me have some of the deputy ministers and take them out. They say they go up and down the road and they walk into a lodge and have coffee by themselves. Let me take them and introduce them to the people that have to crawl around under these buildings, have to stand up all night and do this work. I took a number of deputy ministers out, and they admitted their eyes opened up. They never knew and never realized, because people started to talk because I was there. Ordinarily, they come in and have coffee and nobody talks to them, because it is just another government guy with another form or something.
Get them where you start the conversation and let them get going. Let them tell these Ministers a few things. Let me assure you that, when he leaves here, he will have an ear full. Whether he does anything about it, I do not know.
In closing, from one of the tourist information things here, we have a lot of people working with us. I would like to read for the record from the federal Conservative caucus meeting that was up here that met with the tourist bureau, and this is what they told them. Included was a wide range discussion on the importance of the Alaska Highway, not only to tourism, but to the Yukon Territory as a whole, and our extreme concern to the trend from the federal government of cutting back development and maintenance money on this road.
That is showing up in a lot of places. It is beginning to be my day. I think I have the bureaucrats backing off on the Kluane National Park and, now, I have this. Maybe they think I am going to retire when I get these two, but that is not true. I am going to come back, because I have some other plans.
Mr. Phelps: I just have a couple of words to add to those that we have heard on this motion. I thought I could not miss the opportunity to underline the fact that, once again, the Opposition is being extremely cooperative and positive in joining with the government on a motion that many parties would not go so far as to do. We have said on numerous occasions that the Yukon Progressive Conservative party will do whatever it can to further the rights of Yukoners and the common good of Yukoners, whether or not in doing so it must disagree with the government in power, even though that government in power in Ottawa is also a PC government.
We are objective in our positions. We are positive. We do cooperate and move forward with the other two parties in the House whenever we feel it is in the interest of the common good and the interests of the Yukon.
On the same note, we have gone to great lengths to put forward the position of northerners on Meech Lake. We put forward a motion in this House that made very clear our displeasure with the bilingualism bill that was being put forward in this House, first by the previous Liberal administration and, now, by the Conservative government. Again, that was a motion that enjoyed unanimity on the floor of the Legislature. We take the same position regarding the 10 percent tax that is being levied on long distance telecommunications by the federal government. We look forward to joining with the other parties in making our displeasure known.
The list goes on. We have spoken out when it came to getting action on the boundary situation between Alaska and the Yukon. We remain ready, willing and able to do the positive and the right thing whenever it is for the common good of Yukoners.
I am more than pleased to say that this motion will be fully supported by all Members in this party in the House, and we look forward to working together in a positive way on matters of mutual concern.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As the mover of the motion, I am delighted to see that all Members of the Legislature are cooperating and will unanimously support this motion. I admit that all this talk, at the very end, about the Opposition being positive was like entering a twilight zone once again. It happened once last year, and I felt disoriented for days. The list going on and on is maybe something that the Leader of the Official Opposition might want to explain at some other point in the day.
A unanimous motion for the Legislature should carry effect with the federal government. If worse comes to worse and the status quo is maintained, or if the situation gets worse, the Legislature will see fit year after year to express its unanimous will in support of the need for ongoing upgrading in the operation and maintenance expenditures for the Alaska Highway. We will express that forcefully to the federal government until such time as action is taken.
A visit by the current federal Minister will be a much appreciated, and I will ensure - along with Mr. Speaker, who I am sure will pass the motion forward to the federal Minister - that the message gets to the federal Minister in short order, and that a cordial, friendly, fraternal invitation will be extended to the federal Minister. I will also ensure that he is aware that there is at least one Member who wishes to accompany him all the way from Fort Nelson to Beaver Creek and pay his way, out of the Members own pocket. I am sure that the federal Minister could not ask for a more delightful companion on that trip.
Speaker: Are you prepared for the question on the amended motion?
Motion No. 8 agreed to as amended
Bill No. 60: Second reading
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 60, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. Penikett.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I move that Bill No. 60, the Fourth Appropriation Act, 1987-88, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Government Leader that Bill No. 60, entitled Fourth Appropriation Act, 1987-88, be now read a second time.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Following the last speech of the Leader of the Official Opposition, I am tempted to ask him in all sincerity if he would be prepared to deem the budget as having being read, but I recognize that that offer would not be taken as charitably as it is suggested.
The purpose of Bill No. 60 is to vote sums required for the 1987-88 fiscal year that are in addition to the amounts that have been previously voted by the House. The net total request is for an additional $29,345,000. This net total is made of up $37,014,000 in new funds being requested for some departments, less $7,669,000 in previously-voted funds that are not now required by other departments.
Of the net sum of $29.3 million that we are requesting in this supplementary, $29.5 million is simply the conversion of the Yukon Development Corporation promissory note and $10 million of the advances that we have made to the development corporation to the equity grant.
I believe I indicated last fall in Committee, in answer to questions from the Leader of the Official Opposition, that this would be our intention. Were it not for this non-cash transaction, the net amount of the supplementary would be a reduction in overall expenditures of $155,000 since the last supplementary tabled in the House in the fall.
Of the new funds being requested by departments, other than the already mentioned $29.5 million grant to the development corporation, the bulk of the money is required to fund the wage settlements we have recently reached with our employees and to provide the annual amount required to be set aside for the accumulated provision for employee termination benefits in the Public Service Commission - a book entry.
Members will recall that the fall supplementary no. 1 projected an annual deficit of $70,990,000 for 1987-88. We are now projecting an annual 1987-88 deficit of $41,292,000, including the conversion of the development corporation items to equity grant. If the equity conversion was not being booked, the projection of 1987-88 deficit would be $11,772,000 - a reduction of $6,218,000 from the projected amount in the first supplementary.
This reduction in the annual deficit is due to the slight reduction in regular expenditures that I have already mentioned and an increase in the transfer payment from Canada. The transfer payment to be booked in 1987-88 has increased substantially as a result of new Statistics Canada and Conference Board of Canada figures for the provincial local escalator used in formula calculations.
The Ministers in this government will be speaking to their individual departments during Committee discussions, at which time we will pleased to answer any questions Members may have regarding this supplementary.
Mrs. Firth: I just want to make some brief observations about the Supplementary Estimates about which the Government Leader has just given us more information on. I have some specific questions I can put to the Government Leader now in anticipation of him bringing back the information for us later.
The first observation I want to make is the fact that the estimates again contain very little information for us so that, as a Member of the Legislative Assembly, I find myself in a position where I look at the document, and the government is in fact asking for an increase in operating and maintenance expenditures of $6.7 million and, aside from the amounts the Government Leader mentioned, which were for the wage settlements and employee termination benefits, which I think amount to a little over $2 million, I find myself at a loss to know exactly what the expenditure is going to be for. Therefore, I have to go through a cross-examination process of each Minister when it comes to the individual departments.
Just to give an example, the $6.7 million the government is asking for in additional operation and maintenance funds, I look at page 18 in the Supplementary Estimates book, in the Department of Community and Transportation Services, and I look at the Recreation, Community Facilities/Services item for $1.8 million. We have no idea - and the public who look at this document have no idea - what that means or what it is for.
I would like to again make the point that I think more information could be included in here so that, when we read the document, we have a more comprehensive idea as to where the government is allocating the money and what it is going to be spent on. There is another example, on page 25, in the Department of Education, where we have a request for a supplementary for $1.47 million in Public Schools, but it does not say what it is for, other than that it is for Public Schools.
I really think the information - not only in the Supplementary Estimates but also in the Capital Budget, as I have raised before - seems to be becoming scantier and sketchier every time we have one tabled in this Legislature. Although I have not had a chance to examine the Operation and Maintenance Budget that was tabled completely to see if all the requests made by the Public Accounts Committee for further information are contained in the budget this year, the information provided to the members of the public and to the Members of this Legislative Assembly would appear to be more adequate in that budget.
I always find it quite interesting when I look at page 34, the budget of the Department of Government Services, and find out that the supplementary request for additional funds in the operation and maintenance side is $778,000, and the capital just happened to have $778,000 that they were going to be turning back. I find it quite odd that it balances out exactly, and remember quite a debate in this Legislature when that occurred in other departments,
The questions that I will be asking the Government Leader will be regarding whether or not this additional $6.7 million that has been built into the Operation and Maintenance Budget for 1988-89 have been taken into account. We will have some questions about new programs. If the Government Leader has areas that have new programs that are put in here, we would appreciate knowing it. From the information that is provided, we do not know, as Member of the Assembly whether they are new or continuing programs that were established by this government.
Would the Government Leader be so kind as to tell us whether or not the computerized commitment control system is in place yet? The Public Accounts Committee was told by the acting deputy minister that the system would be in place by April 1, 1988, and if it was not in place there would be interim measures taken. What are those interim measures? I would like the Public Accounts Committee and the Legislative Assembly to be made aware of them.
I look forward to the department-by-department questions so that we can find out exactly where the government is spending the additional funds in the operating and maintenance portion of the budget.
Mr. Lang: When I rose on a Point of Order earlier, I spoke about a list of contracts and asked when they would be made available. The House voted unanimously for that motion, and those dollars have been spent, in part, in this document, but have never been identified through public tender or through any other notice.
I feel very strongly, as a Member of the House, that when we are talking about $20 million or $30 million, that the particular document should be made available to us as promptly as possible so that it can be examined in conjunction with what we are doing here. If it is not, the Legislature is being ignored, and the accountability and responsibility that lies in this House is being bypassed. As a parliamentarian, I feel that it is fairly important that the dollars being spent by the government that have not been publicly advertised should be scrutinized closely to ensure that the expenditures are in the public good. I would like to think that that is the case.
I cannot accept the argument it has not not yet been prepared. Everything is on computer printout. The commitment was made that we would have it at the year end, April 1, so that the House could examine it. That happened a year ago after much wrangling and much debate that did not have to occur, but it did.
I am not going to get back into why it occurred. We feel it is important that it be made available to us for the purpose of reviewing the budget.
The other observation I want to make is that there are going to be questions with respect to the overall taxation revenue summary. There has been significant increases in some areas, and it will be interesting to see what the reasons are for those increases.
The other area in revenues is the question why so much less has come forward for invest income. There is $700,000 less accruing than estimated for the financial management of the government.
Those are a couple of my concerns and I look forward to being provided the information that I asked for being unanimously approved by this House.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I rise primarily to correct the record. The Member for Porter Creek East is trying to imply that things occurred that did not occur. It is absolutely clear that this side of the House is perfectly willing to make all the information available about contracts. This information is of a very detailed nature. In fact it is a listing of every single contract. It is most properly the subject of scrutiny by the Legislature in Public Accounts; however, the present Opposition simply does not accept that. We are not here to fight with them about that, because it is a useless fight. If they wish to use the time of the Legislature not to talk about policy and Ministerial direction but to talk about administrative details then, so be it. They have that ability to direct their questions.
Now there was a notice of motion for the production of these papers which had been announced. It is clear in Hansard that we will provide them annually, and we will provide them. They are not going to be provided on April 1. The Member opposite is improperly trying to sneak that in. There was never any statement about that. Indeed what we would like to do is put the documentation into an indexed order - we are not going to do this this year because of the time constraints - to make the information readily useful to all Members of the House and to the private sector. We will make this information available as soon as it is available.
I have looked at the question of speeding it up, and I am advised by the civil servants that it is not prudent management to try and speed it up. For one thing, the receipt of the information in the Government Services department occurs some weeks after the expenditures are made by the various departments, and it is important to supply all of the information asked for and to do a good job.
The information will be available; it will be available when it is produced by the department, and it will certainly be available in the month of April. If Members opposite are going to bog down the debate about this kind detail, the prudent thing is to do the Main Estimates first and to wait until the information is available so that the information can be available to all Members, while we go through the Supplementary Estimates. We have no problem with that. We will make the information available as soon as it is available.
Mr. Phelps: Much of what I was going to say has already been said with regard to second reading, but there is one area that continues to puzzle me, and I am sure that my mentioning it now will mean we will get a full and adequate explanation during the Committee of the Whole investigations of the items under review.
We are being told that one of the primary reasons for the large - indeed, huge - deficit of $41 million this year results from the writing down of the $19.5 million promissory note and, in addition, reflects the advance of another $10 million, for a total of approximately $29.5 million to the Yukon Development Corporation. I understand that, but what does make me curious is that when one looks at the public accounts for the fiscal year that ended March 31, 1987, there is an additional promissory note for the sum of $19.5 million that is reflected in the ledgers due from Yukon Development Corporation, Note 10. There was $39 million under that item, on the asset side.
I believe that we did ask questions. I know that I did ask questions about that item in Public Accounts Committee, and my understanding was that both promissory notes would ultimately be treated the same, and both written down. The prospect would seem, on the face of it, at least, so that the similar items repeated similarly for accounting purposes - it would appear to me at least, at face value - that we will be looking at, some time in the future, an additional $19.5 million increase on the deficit side, in order to handle the other promissory note on an equal basis as the one that was written off in this current supplementary period. I am referring, of course, to the Public Accounts, Note 10, Yukon Development Corporation, on page 13, which explains the two $19.5 million promissory notes that make up the $39 million that appeared for the first time in the asset side of the Public Accounts as due from the Yukon Development Corporation.
I am simply putting the Government Leader on notice that that is an area of interest to me, because they may call for another deficit in the year to come. With that I will conclude my remarks and I look forward to going through the Supplementary Budget item by item.
Speaker: The hon. Member will close debate if he now speaks. Does any other Member wish to be heard?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will try to respond to some of the comments made by three of the four Members who spoke.
In response to the concern of the Member for Riverdale South about detail in the Supplementary Estimates, I did note her observation about increasing the amount of information which is provided in the Main Estimates, which I submit is the appropriate place for that kind of detail which describes the line by line activities of the department. I would explain why. Since the sums described in the Supplementary Estimates are net sums - unless we, in this House, want to have what would in effect be a full debate on every line of the budget not just once in a year, but three and perhaps in some years even four times - the Supplementary Estimates cannot be otherwise. To do it in the manner which the Member seems to be implying it should be done would involve minor under expenditures or over expenditures of every single line, perhaps even very small amounts of dollars being described and causing us to go through every single line item again. So far, I have not judged that to be the will of the House, but I look forward to discussing that point in Committee.
The Member asks if every item accounted for in the Supplementary Estimates is built into the program expenditures presented in the Operation and Maintenance Budgets. I am sure Ministers will speak to that when we get into their departments. Let me mention some obvious cases where that would not be the case. The costs involved in the lobby and the court battle around Meech Lake, the expenditures involved with the lobby on the Arctic National Wildlife Range and expenditures about the Fuel Prices Inquiry, will not be ongoing departmental expenditures.
The appropriate point to discuss some of the issues that the Member identified are in the Operation and Maintenance Mains. I would hope, since the information is in the Main Estimates book, that that is where we will discuss them.
The only thing I can say on the subject raised by the Member for Porter Creek East on contracts is no commitment was made on this side of the House to provide the information on April 1. Indeed, I think we would find it impossible to provide it on April 1 given the volume and complexity of the information. A commitment that has never made before has been made in this House to provide this information to facilitate debate and to provide for accountability. I am quite prepared to accept that it is useful information in the context of the Supplementary Estimates. It seems to me that that information cannot be made available for a few days, the logical consequence of that is to begin the Operation and Maintenance Budget debate rather than doing as the Member opposite suggested, simply adjourn the House. I think that would be ludicrous. Begin the Operation and Maintenance Main Estimates debate and if the House wishes to return to the Supplementary Estimates at the point that the government information comes available, I am sure there would be no hesitation in doing so.
The question about revenues was also raised by the Member. I am quite happy to talk about that in greater detail, but there are two obvious reasons for the reduction in investment income, one of which has to do with cash flows. Obviously, the money we have invested is cash on hand during the year. The other significant item under that is that, of course, as a result of the banking agreement, we forego the interest on a certain amount of our deposit money every year in order to pay for the extra banking facilities in rural Yukon.
I take seriously the concern raised by the Leader of the Opposition about the equity grant to the Yukon Development Corporation, and I wonder if I could, in the interests of facilitating debate, try to explain it a little more fully now so that, if the Member has supplementary questions when we get into Committee, he might either give me notice of them in advance of debate so that I can answer them more fully or, if there is some debate about principle, we might have it at that stage. I will try and explain it as fully as I can because I understand it can be complicated.
Members will remember that the NCPC assets were purchased from the federal government for $95 million; this was made up of $56 million long-term debt owing to the federal government, of which $16 million was a fixed bond and $40 million was what I will call a flexible bond - not, I might confide in you, Michael Wilsons word for it, but we will call it a flexible bond for the purposes of this debate. There was a cash payment of $19.5 million and the Yukon Development Corporation promissory note of $19.5 million which, I believe, is the one referred to by the Leader of the Opposition.
The vehicle used to purchase the NCPC assets was the Yukon Energy Corporation, which is, as all Members know, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Yukon Development Corporation. The Yukon Energy Corporation is the debtor for the long-term debt of $56 million owing to the federal government. The Yukon Development Corporation purchased the share capital of the Yukon Energy Corporation for $19.5 million cash and $19.5 million in the form of a promissory note from the development corporation to the energy corporation. Yukon Energy Corporation paid the $19.5 million in cash to the federal government as part of the NCPC asset purchase. Yukon Energy Corporation signed over to the federal government the promissory note from YDC as part of the NCPC asset purchase.
A side agreement was made at the same time between the Yukon and the federal governments specifying that the Yukon government or its agencies would operate and finance energy equalization programs in the Yukon in the future and such programs, as Members know, had been previously financed by the federal government. In consideration for undertaking these programs, the federal government signed a $19.5 million Yukon Development Corporation note it had received from the energy corporation as part of the asset purchase to the Government of Yukon. This note was set up in the governments books as at March 31, 1987, and the entry was a $19.5 million debt to assets due from the Yukon Development Corporation and a credit for a similar amount to the accumulated surplus.
Since the development corporation will require some equity in recognition of the fact that a subsidiary, the energy corporation, will be operating the energy equalization programs, it was decided to convert the promissory note and $10 million of the accountable cash advance to the development corporation in 1986-87 to an equity grant to YDC.
As the Members know, this $29.5 million equity grant is in the nature of a long-term investment and, as such, is considered a capital rather than an O&M item.
The result of this conversion is to reduce our accumulated surplus by $29.5 million of which $19.5 is simply a reversal of the increase booked in our surplus in 1986-87. The remaining $10 million is a true reduction of the surplus. It should be kept in mind that we have gained an income-producing asset whose annual net income is added to our surplus.
The point for the Leader of the Official Opposition is that theoretically we had a choice with the accountable advance of converting all of it or part of it. We made the judgment, at this point, to convert $10 million of it to an equity grant.
I will hypothesize for a second by way of closing the debate. It could be that because the pattern has generally been one of some under expenditures and some lapses that the surplus will be higher at the end of this fiscal year than we anticipated. At that point, we would then have the option of further converting that advance into a grant if we choose, or it could become a debt. We could convert it into a note. Those are the choices available to the government. We did not convert the whole thing.
We made the judgment that $10 million was an appropriate amount at this point and leaving our options open on the rest of the amount. I hope that that information goes some way in explaining the matter to the Member opposite, but I would be quite happy to answer further questions when we get into Committee.
Motion agreed to
Bill No. 77: Third reading
Clerk: Third reading, Bill No. 77, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. McDonald.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that Bill No. 77, entitled An Act to Amend the Municipal Finance Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Minister of Community and Transportation Services that Bill No. 77, entitled An Act to Amend the Municipal Finance Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: I declare that Bill No. 77 has passed this House.
Bill No. 88: Third reading
Clerk: Third reading, Bill No. 88, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. McDonald.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that Bill No. 88, entitled An Act to Repeal the Dawson City Utilities Replacement Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Community and Transportation Services that Bill No. 88, entitled An Act to Repeal the Dawson City Utilities Replacement Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: I declare that Bill No. 88 has now passed this House.
Bill No. 16: Third reading
Clerk: Third reading, Bill No. 16, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. Kimmerly.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I move that Bill No. 16, entitled An Act to Amend the Motor Vehicles Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Justice that Bill No. 16, entitled An Act to Amend the Motor Vehicles Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: I declare that Bill No. 16 has passed this House.
Bill No. 21: Third reading
Clerk: Third reading, Bill No. 21, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. Kimmerly.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I move that Bill No. 21, entitled An Act to Amend the Insurance Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Justice that Bill No. 21, entitled An Act to Amend the Insurance Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: I declare that Bill No. 21 has passed this House.
Hon. Mr. Porter: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Government House Leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chairman: The Committee of the Whole will now come to order.
We will recess for 15 minutes.
Chairman: The Committee of the Whole will now come to order.
Bill No. 50 - Second Appropriation Act, 1988-89
Chairman: Bill No. 50, Second Appropriation Act, 1988-89.
On Clause 1
Chairman: General debate?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The purpose of the bill is to request the appropriation authority for the 1988-89 operation and maintenance expenditures.
Mr. Lang: Point of Order. I thought we had an understanding that we were going to the supplementaries and then move into the Main Estimates. Until the order of business has been changed, I expect the common courtesy of some debate on the change of venue that the side opposite is bringing forward.
Hon. Mr. Porter: There is obviously a misunderstanding here. It was my understanding, as a result of the meeting this morning, that our line-up of business today would be the second reading of the supplementary and then, when we went to Committee of the Whole, we would be dealing with the Operation and Maintenance Main Estimates.
Mr. Lang: That was not my understanding. This side has always been very concerned about the order that business has been conducted in this House, in that we should be dealing with the supplementaries first and then deal with the main budget. Up until now, it has always been the practice of this House that we dealt with the supplementaries and then moved onto the Main Estimates. I was never under the impression that we were going to debate the Main Estimates this afternoon. The supplementary mains were going to be discussed at second reading and then we would debate the supplementaries.
Hon. Mr. Porter: If the misunderstanding has the potential to delay the proceedings of the House, and the Opposition is not prepared in terms of their understanding of the discussions to proceed on the matter, maybe the proper thing to do would be to adjourn the House until we sit on Monday and deal with the business then.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: On that Point of Order, it seems to me that would be a colossal and absurd waste of time. The supplementaries only just had second reading today by House Leaders agreement. The Main Estimates were introduced a week ago Monday. Since it seems to me there is still potential House Leaders agreements about what might happen Monday, and I was told, following the House Leaders meeting this morning, that the House business would be second reading of supplementaries, reverting in Committee to the Main Estimates, because Members would be not ready to deal with the supplementaries in Committee, having only just had the second reading debate, it seems to me the sensible thing to do is to proceed with general debate on the Main Estimates.
It is extremely unlikely we will get past that point. If the House Leaders want to make some other arrangement about House business on Monday or Tuesday, that is in their power to recommend to their caucuses. It does seem me, on the other point, we have indicated that the contract information requested by the Members in connection with the supplementaries debate is not going to be ready for a few days. We seem to be torn in two directions, but I am almost infinitely flexible at this point and am prepared to discuss whatever the House wants to discuss. I was told to be prepared for the Main Estimates this afternoon, and that is what I am prepared for.
Chairman: There is no Point of Order here. Is it the wish of the Committee to continue debate or to recess for 10 minutes while the House Leaders meet?
We will recess for 10 minutes.
Chairman: I will now call the Committee of the Whole to order.
Mr. Lang: I know we asked for 10 minutes but, as House Leader, I had discussions with the House Leader from the other side, and he was going to be discussing further with the Minister of Government Services where the impasse is, once again, and always does come from, and he was going to get back to me. So, I do not know whether or not you want to carry on a public debate in here or maybe take another five minutes and see what the House Leader has to say to me privately
I leave it in your capable hands, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman: I will look for some direction from the Members as to the length of this next recess.
Hon. Mr. Porter: The Opposition House Leader has asked for a specific date on which the contracts will be made available, and I conferred with the Minister of Government Services and the date is the April 18.
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister tell us the reason for that? Is the Minister of Government Services coming back?
Hon. Mr. Porter: From my discussions with the Minister of Government Services, the information is not available at this time because we have just completed the fiscal year and many of the contracts and paperwork have not arrived in government. Basically, we are waiting for unfulfilled contracts in terms of the administrative paperwork sundry to those contracts. Once they have arrived, all contracts will be compiled.
Mr. Lang: Has there been a problem compiling this information?
Hon. Mr. Porter: My information is that the contracts are not all in, and they have not been compiled. The Minister of Government Services indicates that he anticipates by April 18 that he will have all those contracts to be tabled in the House.
Mr. Lang: I want to register a major concern here. I did indicate to the House Leader that it was our intention, or at least our understanding that we would be dealing with the Supplementary Estimates and then moving on to the Main Estimates. I am sure, but I have not checked the records, that overall that has been the general format that we have followed in discussing the main budget - the logic being, and I do not think it is one that can be argued with, that we should be dealing with money that has been spent, new programs that perhaps have been started over the course of the year when the House is not in session, that there could be an explanation to the House or to the general public, and then move into the Main Estimates.
That was my understanding and this sides understanding with respect to the conduct of the business of the House. Quite frankly, I find it difficult to believe what has been told to the House with respect to the documents asked for, and I would like to know why last year the government was able to compile service contracts for 1982-83, service contracts for 1983-84, service contracts for 1984-85, service contracts for 1985-86 and table them on April 9, 1987? This is April 6, and one year is all we are asking for.
The point has been raised by the Member for Riverdale North that, further to that, there have been further sophistications made to the system to have these on computer so that one can punch any button at any given time and have as much information as he or she possibly needs over the course of the year.
What concerns me is that we had a motion last week, and I will agree with the side opposite that a date was not put into the motion that was presented for the production of papers, but I made it very clear, as a Member of this side, that we expected that information was available and would be tabled on Tuesday or even Wednesday. It was unanimously passed by all Members on the government side. The Minister of Government Services should have had the parliamentary decency and courtesy to stand up in this House and tell us that they would not be available until April 18.
We are in a situation where this side of the House is ready to conduct business on the supplementaries under certain understandings and, if you identify the promise that was made, and if you read the Hansard, I am sure you will find that some Members on that side thought that they were going to be dealing with supplementaries, as well. I took the inference that was made by the Minister of Government Services that we were to deal with the supplementaries.
Today, we had a motion on the floor of the House, and it was unanimously agreed to. One Member spoke - it happened to be me - and I clearly outlined what the intent of the motion was. Nobody refuted that intent.
Now we are in here talking about documents that are, I assume, probably in the neighbourhood of $15 million, and which the Minister tells this House cannot be available until April 18 when, last year, a compilation of four years was presented to this House by April 9.
It concerns me whether the intent is to sidetrack the debate on such a document, or why the delay in having these documents presented?
Why was the government capable of tabling these documents on April 9 last year, yet we are now looking at April 18, especially when we only have one year to take into account, as opposed to four?
Hon. Mr. Porter: The Member knows that I am not the Minister of Government Services and I do not have an answer for that question.
Chairman: We will proceed with Bill No. 50.
Mr. Lang: I did not see any recess that said that anybody was going home, unless perhaps if one was ill. I do not see a reason for it. We will agree to discuss the general debates on the Main Estimates under the understanding that, when the Minister of Government Services finds it in his timetable and his good graces to allow his presence to be available in this Legislature, at that point we can go back and ask specific questions of the Minister of Government Services, and I can understand why the House Leader cannot answer them. We will proceed with general debate on Bill No. 50, but that is the understanding.
Chairman: Any further general debate?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: As I was saying, the purpose of this bill is to request appropriation authority for the 1988-89 Operation and Maintenance Main Estimates. The total sum being requested is $201,806,000. As I indicated at second reading, the expenditures at this level will result in a small surplus of revenues over expenditures of $4.8 million for the year. This has been accomplished without us having to resort to any tax increases.
Our own locally-raised revenues are increasing at a rate well in excess of increase in the provincial local escalator under formula financing. This is as a result of a robust economy.
The consequence is a decrease in our dependence on the federal transfer payment, a process that has been ongoing for the past four fiscal years. While we all recognize the importance of this transfer payment to our financial well-being, I am certain that its slow downward trend in percentage terms as a result of high rates of increase in our own revenues is one that is welcomed by all Members in the House. These Main Estimates, when combined with the 1988-89 Capital Budget introduced in the fall of last year are, in total, 2.1 percent higher than the budgets for 1987-88. This is a rate of growth that is less than one-half of the growth in our place under the formula financing.
The small growth over the previous year would be even smaller but for the fact that the 1987-88 Main Estimates did not contain a provision for wage settlements that were under negotiation at the time those Main Estimates were tabled in this House.
I feel bound to note one change in the format of the estimates. Members will recall the change in presentation made in the 1988-89 Capital Estimates for the Yukon Housing Corporation. We have done the same thing in these estimates - that is, the total expenditure for the corporation is now being voted, rather than the previous practice of voting the net expenditure. This results in higher expenditures and higher recoveries than would otherwise be indicated. Therefore, when making a year to year comparison, one must change the previous years to the current format or, alternatively, change the current years format to that of the previous years.
In my first speech at second reading introducing these estimates, I referred to a number of new initiatives contained in the budget for this coming year, and I am sure there is no need for me to mention them again. I would, however, like to point out that this budget is designed to be financially responsible, while meeting the very real needs of our citizens. These needs take many forms, and Members will find that a number of departments have allocated new money for initiatives ranging from child care and Indian education to devolution and support to the fur industry. We will, of course, continue to identify needs and address existing shortfalls in meeting these needs, and we will do this in a responsible manner that maintains the integrity of our financial position.
Ministers will be speaking to their individual departments and will be prepared to answer Members questions at that time. If there are any general questions around the Main Estimates, I will be prepared to answer those.
At second reading some Members, including the Member for Riverdale South, indicated some interest in the personnel data. I have some of that in hand-written form at this point. During debate this afternoon, if I can answer some questions of the Members in this area, I will do so. If I am not able to answer questions, but Members can define more precisely the kind of information they want, I will try to bring it back in written form when next we sit.
With that, I will resume my chair and wait for questions.
Mrs. Firth: In the general debate we had regarding the budget, I raised some concerns with the Government Leader about the budget. In the lock-up session, I had also asked some questions. I would like to go back to the general make-up of the budget, particularly the areas where additional monies were requested last year and whether or not those monies were built into this budget.
The $2.1 million was the figure that we approved for the Supplementary Estimates last year. They were built into the base of this Operation and Maintenance Budget. Upon inquiry about the $4 million that the Auditor General had identified as an illegal expenditure of money, I posed the question at the lock-up as to whether or not that had been built in. I was told that it had not been, that it had been build into this Operation and Maintenance Budget.
Could the Government Leader tell us if the government is anticipating those escalated costs again in the area of Health and Human Resources and Community and Transportation Services? How do they plan to accommodate that $4 million expenditure?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: It would probably be best, if we are talking about particular departments, to allow the Ministers of the departments to handle that. In respect to the amount that the Member referred to from the Department of Health and Human Resources, which is a charge to us from the federal government, we are disputing that charge. The Auditor General identified that we have not accepted that amount, and we will not be booking it until we have a negotiated agreement about the figure.
Mrs. Firth: The Government Leader has mentioned that before, and we also heard it in the Public Accounts Committee. Could he enlighten us a little on just how the process is going to take place? As a Member of this Legislature, I am under the impression that this government is going to have to pay that. What kind of latitude or manoeuverability does the government have to dispute it? Is there some potential that they will not have to pay that bill? If the government does not pay, who will?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: There are three things. First, such disputes are not new. They have gone on for years. I remembers being in this House in years when one of my predecessors, Mr. Chris Pearson indicated a major dispute with the federal health authorities, which is not yet resolved. That is maybe ten years old.
The second thing is that the negotiations in the Main Estimates are conducted by the officials of the Department of Health and Human Resources, and that department and the departments Minister would be best able to describe the process of negotiation. However, since my knowledge of this matter comes from my position as Chairman of the Audit Committee and Chairman of Management Board, where I will hear about these things in a general way and know about them, I would be happy to take the question as notice and bring back some sort of written answer about the process if that satisfies the Member.
Mrs. Firth: I am aware that there are outstanding disputes, and we have to look at the validity of carrying on with this. Some day a decision has to be made. I am concerned that if this government is pursuing the transfer of health services and we have these outstanding disputes that are totalling a large amount of money - maybe the Government Leader could give us the amount - it is going to have some effect on the whole health care transfer process. With all due respect to the Minister of Health and Human Resources, I prefer to get the information from the Government Leader, whether it be in the form of writing or whatever. I am quite interested in the whole process of negotiation and exactly what the Yukon governments chances are of the federal government assuming responsibility for this debt.
Could the Minister tell us how this will be reflected on the books? How is it going to be entered? Will it continue to be an illegal expenditure, and is the Auditor General going to raise it again and flag it as an illegal expenditure on behalf of this government?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Let me answer the last question first. We will not book an amount until we accept that we have the obligation. That is basic, and the Auditor General could, I suppose, write a report or reservation on the financial statement that requires us to note it, but that has not happened yet.
I am quite prepared to come back - I do not think I can do it before Monday - and indicate to the Member the aging of the various amounts in dispute and the total of the particular large amounts in question. The Member should understand, though, that the situation in programs like health, and in the Capital Budget, is that there may be disputes that go on for years about the final settlement of amounts. Most of them are resolved readily, professionally and amicably, but there are some that are outstanding for considerable periods of time.
I can think of one - I do not remember the exact amount - where we had an identical situation with the Northwest Territories. This is going back several years. The Northwest Territories got a settlement from Treasury Board; when we went to Treasury Board on an identical claim some time later, they turned us down. We had exactly identical cases, and that is still a source of some grievance. The Member will understand that, even though it was a significant number of years ago, it can still, from our point of view, be an outstanding issue. The best I can do is tell the Member that I think this $6.3 million in the year before last is approximately $2 million plus for the past year; but I will get detail for the Member and an explanation of the process of negotiation for the resolution of such disputes.
Mrs. Firth: I would appreciate that from the Minister. Can the Minister tell us if it is in any way going to jeopardize the health care transfer? Is the transfer something we are looking at relatively soon?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will leave the discussions of the transfer to my colleague, the Minister of Health and Human Resources; but let me say, the transfer will not happen in one fell swoop some night at midnight. I doubt very much if the outstanding financial issues dealing with the hospital or other health care expenditures are going to complicate the negotiations. It is, I think, true with all devolution negotiations a matter of the big financial picture - in other words, the resources that are on the table to be transferred is a substantial issue in negotiations, but I do not believe that particular disputes about particular sums under particular agreements is likely to complicate the matter at all.
Mrs. Firth: I do not want to ask the Government Leader specific questions about the health care transfer, but I am asking questions in a general sense as there will be other areas we will look at to transfer to the responsibility of this government through the whole devolution process. That poses another question that I will get to later.
From the information and inquiries I have made the decisions being made at the hospital that are causing these extra costs are decisions we could be making here in the Yukon Territory. We could determine whether we send patients outside or whether doctors come up here and some of the new procedures. I wanted to see how high a priority it was with the government when it comes to devolution, particularly in the area of health services. The Government Leader has kind of hinted that it will not happen in one fell swoop. Perhaps he could be more specific in a general sense as to what his governments priority is for the transfer and how much longer we are going to have to be dependent on these other people making decisions on our behalf, then we could get into some other general discussions about the whole devolution process.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am happy to talk about the devolution process in general. I would note that I believe the Member has a motion down for debate on the particular subject of the devolution of health care programs. Since that has been filed, maybe we should save detailed discussion for that motion. In any event, I would not be leading that debate but the Minister of Health and Human Resources would be.
The most serious impediment in the progress of the health transfer is the issue of whether or not the federal government is going to make a commitment to build a new hospital here. As you know, for sometime there have been plans announced that there would be a new hospital, but as of this date I believe Treasury Board has approved no such expenditure. I think that since we would be loath to take the transfer, especially on the financial terms that are being indicated and then have the responsibility of building a major new health facility is a problem for us. As as Members know from previous presentations from my colleague, the extended care unit that we have done some planning work on would be also on hold until such time as we have a decision about the hospital, because it would not be a sound expenditure to build that without knowing that the hospital was going ahead.
To pick up a loose end from what the Member was talking about before, the $6.3 million outstanding item that I talked about that goes back several years is still an outstanding item. I would mention that we are still aggrieved on that point because, as I said in an identical case with the Northwest Territories, the federal Treasury Board approved the expenditure and in a subsequent application turned down this government. That is a grievance that goes back several years.
The Member wants to talk about devolution in a general way. My colleague, the Minister of Renewable Resources, and myself will be prepared to do that. Perhaps it would be better if I responded to specific questions rather than trying to make a general statement.
Mrs. Firth: I am simply trying to get from the Government Leader some indication of his governments priorities or policies when it comes to devolution. I am not asking specific questions. I would expect that the Government Leader could stand up and say, Well, our governments priority is to have health care transferred first, fisheries, second; we are looking at some target dates, we have started some negotiating with the government. He has already given us a couple hints that the health care transfer is going to depend upon whether the federal government will give a commitment to build a new hospital. They are going to have outstanding negotiations about outstanding debts, which total over $10 million, from what figures that the Minister has given to us. It does not sound very positive that the process is going to take place. I am simply trying to get some indication from the Government Leader, for the information of the public and of this Assembly, as to what this governments priorities are, and what the policy is, when it comes to the transfer of these services to the responsibility of the Government of the Yukon and the people of the Yukon.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I thank the Member for explaining the question. I will try and answer it in the spirit she put it. The devolution is a major priority, and the Member will notice that among the additional person years that are requested in this O&M Mains, are resources to expand the capacity of our central agencies, in Justice, the Public Service Commission, and Finance, to be able to handle some of the large, complicated financial, personnel, space and other issues around devolution. Some of these same people have been also required, of late, for the land claims negotiations, some related issues, and the justification for some of the new person years has been to find new resources for the land claims and the devolution processes in the central agencies which I indicated.
Especially in the post-Meech Lake environment, we have become very sensitive to the constitutional content of programs to be devolved. We are less interested in taking purely administrative responsibilities and are very much interested in assuming responsibility of jurisdiction and policy responsibility for programs, especially in the area of resources. The Member mentioned the fisheries and forestry. Those two would be the highest priorities in the broad area of renewable resources. The Minister will be reporting more to the House, no doubt, on negotiations in terms of fishery devolution, shortly and happily. I hope, shortly. If we succeed or fail on the fisheries score in that area, the second program slated for devolution would be the forestry area, but that is sufficiently complicated that it would take, I think, a couple of years.
We explained that the programs which are closest to transfer announcements, the ones that are most likely to come first, at this time, are land titles, and B & C airports. This is a judgment call I am making here, that those are the ones that are the closest to completion. I hope that Members will not, if I prove wrong about one of them, chastise me, but I am making a judgment call, but those are the ones that are closest to agreement at this point. I think that agreements are possible later in this fiscal year in areas like inter-territorial roads, rural residential lots administration, and the northern accord. If the federal Minister gets a mandate in the next month to negotiate a northern accord, I believe that that will be negotiated readily.
Two other programs that can possibly be transferred this year are the small business loans fund program and perhaps mine safety. I would rather defer to the Minister of Health and Human Resources here, but our Cabinet has recently been considering strategies around the health transfer; since I do not have that document in front of me, and I am not sure what I am at liberty to air or at what stage we are into in communicating our strategy and tactics, perhaps I could defer that question to my colleague.
Mrs. Firth: In the Throne Speech, there was some mention made of a constitutional public process and the Government Leader has just mentioned again the constitutional process itself, because of Meech Lake, has become a fairly high priority with this government. Perhaps the Government Leader could explain to us just what he means by that process and what the governments intention is?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: In this sitting of the House, it would be my intention to bring a green paper on constitutional development before the House and then, subject to discussions between the parties in this House and my Cabinet colleagues and caucus following the publication of that green paper, to make a decision about ways to obtain public input, whether by way of select committee or standing committee - I believe there used to be a Standing Committee on Constitutional Development in this House - or by way of a special committee or a parliamentary committee similar to the one done by Keith Penner, which, Members will recall, included parliamentarians and some ex officio members from the aboriginal organizations. Having said that, it is a broad range of options, and I have had no substantial discussions about them. In any case, I do not think I could until such time as we were ready to table the green paper and knew what kind of discussions were indicated.
Mrs. Firth: When the Government Leader talks about the constitutional process, is he, in essence, referring to the eventuality of provincial status?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am not sure I stated it that way. It is my view that, should we fail to get satisfaction either in one of the provinces or in the supreme court, the prospects of provincial status for this territory are considerably reduced. It seems to me that the green paper ought to look at that prospect and ask, if not provincial status, what then? What are our options? It may also consider in the post-Meech Lake environment, since the straight line path or direct path to provincial status does not seem to be easy for us, what other route might we pursue to achieve that eventual goal. A number of people, including the Leader of the Opposition, have expressed ideas about how that might be done and what the first ministers may be persuaded to do to facilitate that process. Those are the kinds of issues I think the green paper should address.
Mrs. Firth: I am sure, when we get to the Ministers specific departments that deal with expenditures in this area, I will have some more specific questions to ask the Government Leader, particularly about the process he is going to be establishing; I will be asking about the governments priorities and which have become greater priorities now.
In the budget lock-up, I asked some questions about person years specifically to do with numbers. I know that the number of auxiliary employees that the government has hired have increased substantially - almost by 100 from 732 to 830 positions. Do the categories of positions remain the same as it was before? We have indeterminate term positions, auxiliaries, casuals and contract positions. Is that still the case?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Yes. I would like to say something about the numbers that the Member has just put on record. She gave a number of auxiliary positions at the time of the lock-up, which was 830. The number of auxiliary positions in the 1987-88 Main Estimates was 732.
There was not a number in the Main Estimates because Management Board had been advised by the Public Service Commissioner that a number of the auxiliary positions had not been filled for 12 months or more. They were not active. We, in Management Board, wanted to have a look at that question. There have been, since we first discussed it, 30 of those positions eliminated since they were not being used. I am sure that my colleagues will want to have a close look at the 112 that have not been used in the last 12 months. Our general inclination would be an unwillingness to keep them in reserve in the departments in case they need them, rather than require the departments to come back to Management Board and have them approved anew when the need arises.
As of today, there were 96 casuals working, and the number of auxiliaries working today was 232.
Mrs. Firth: I will have to go over the figures that the Government Leader has given us on the auxiliary employees, because I not sure that I follow him. I will read it in Hansard, and if I have further questions I will ask him. Are the 232 auxiliary positions a total number?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will just go over the numbers again. Today, there are 232 auxiliaries working. I explained why the auxiliaries number can be misleading. At any point in the estimates, there might be a number of auxiliary positions that have been approved. That does not mean that there are anywhere near that number working. Auxiliaries, for the most part, are summer seasonal workers, but they may be people who work one day every once in a while. Casuals may be people who work a few hours or a few weeks at a time.
Today there are 232 auxiliaries working. Today there are 96 casuals working.
At the time of the lock-up the Member asked how many auxiliary positions we had, and there were 830. The number of auxiliary positions shown in the Main Estimates last year were 732. I explained to the Member the reason why we did not put a number in the budget was because we wanted to review the number and review the issue about which ones were actually active. Since then, that came up in Management Board, and 30 of the auxiliary positions have been eliminated. There are another 112 which have not been filled or used for 12 months or more. It is those that Management Board will be taking another look at.
Mrs. Firth: If the 830 positions that we were given in the lock-up, the 112 and the 232 that are there today and the 30 that were eliminated does not add up to 830 so where are the rest of the auxiliary positions?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have to do the arithmetic off the top of my head. You had 830 at the time of the lock-up. I am not sure if the 30 that have been eliminated would be deducted from that 830 before or since.
Those 30 are part of the 830. The 112 that have not been used for a year might actually be eliminated depending on what Management Board does with them. There are 232 working today. The others are simply those that are auxiliary positions which are established. The Member would be able to do the arithmetic. These are positions that are established, but nobody is actually working in today. They might be campground or highway positions in the summer or others.
Mrs. Firth: I understand the position now.
Just for clarification so I understand it correctly. The auxiliary personnel are being seasonal or on-call positions only. A casual is someone who can be called in for a short period of time. When the auxiliary seasonal positions are going to come up this summer, will the individuals who are interested in those positions have to apply for each position on an individual basis? Are they all going to be advertised or are people who held that position last season approached and asked if they wish to carry on with that job?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I remind the Member that the reason we created an auxiliary class is so that people who come back to those seasonal jobs year after year would be able to get benefits and bargaining rights. If you were in a heavy equipment operator position in highways last year, you will have recall rights for this year in that job. If, in the meantime you have gone off and got another permanent job, then the position would come open and conceivably an experienced casual might bid on it, or any other citizen. Part of being auxiliary is the recall rights.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Government Leader tell us if that is going to apply to instructors at the Yukon College as well, or is it just for staff other than the Department of Education administration staff?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: As the Member knows, the Yukon College is about to go through some changes that have not been considered by this House yet, but the Minister of Education has indicated that he is bringing a college governance act to the House in this sitting. He would be better equipped to describe the process to be gone through and personnel changes that will be the result or the consequence of independent governance of the college.
Mrs. Firth: How many contract positions do we have in the government right now? How many individuals are on a contract basis?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I do not have that number but, if the Member would like it as of today or as of Monday, I can get it for her.
Mrs. Firth: Yes, I would like to have that number.
Is it still the practice with term positions, for those individuals who are hired for a specified amount of time, that when that term lapses that person year disappears? Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Unless the department comes back and reapplies for either an extension of the term or conversion to indeterminate, yes, the person year lapses and the position is vacant.
Mrs. Firth: How many times can the department come back and say they have a certain term position that they thought was only going to be six months, but they need it more and do not want to lose the person year? I know how reluctant departments are to give up their person years. Once they have them, they just do not want to give them up. How many times is it the policy of this government that they will let a department come back and put the individuals on a term position? How many consecutive terms?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The question is hard to answer, because we do not have enough experience yet. The kind of terms we are contemplating are usually one, two or three year terms. I think three years is the maximum we have considered for a term, and that is the result of policy that has been put in place in the last several months. It may be more than a year ago, but the situation has not come up. In the case of some terms associated with capital projects, and some terms even in other areas that have come up in the fiscal year that has just ended, some have been approved for renewal, some have been converted to indeterminate and some have been terminated.
Mrs. Firth: Does Management Board make all of those decisions regarding the definition and extension of positions?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Yes. Nobody else can approve a term position.
Mr. Lang: I would like to return to the contract positions. Could the Minister bring that information back identified by how many contract positions for each department, as opposed to a total figure?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I can, because there are not supposed to be very many of them.
Mr. Lang: When we were debating this during the lock-up, there were some questions regarding the diagram that was provided in the Budget Speech on the federal dollars made available to the territorial government from the Government of Canada. It was agreed that the diagram on page 27 is showing federal transfers of 61.8 percent. It is used in comparison to the previous year of the previous budget. At the same time, the same principles were not used to determine this pie in comparison to the one of last year.
The commitment was made that there would be some work done by the Department of Finance to break that down further using the same principles of last year to identify the differences. When we talk of other revenues of 24.4 percent and try to say that it comes from various taxes, that is not the case, because most of it is federal money. Could that information be made available to the House on Monday, as well as the commitment that was made with the officials of the department?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I doubt if all of the information can be ready for Monday. We could probably have it by Tuesday. When I first heard the Member ask the question, I thought he was asking the difference between the federal transfers information on page 27 and the chart on page 28. However, the Member is directing his question to the breakdown of the revenues in the portion of the pie that is identified as 24.4. percent of the revenues. Is that correct?
Mr. Lang: I do not have my other book here. From the budget of last year, there was a diagram similar to this one of a pie breakdown. Various principles were applied to that pie to designate our federal transfers versus income tax, et cetera.
After discussion it was noticed that, if we compared this document to the one of last year, it was much different because different principles were used in dividing the pie. The Department of Finance undertook to apply the principles of last year and show how the federal dollars compared to the territorial dollars.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am advised we can certainly do a similar pie for last years budget. What is more difficult to do is to compare this years budget and last years budget, if that is what the Member is asking for. What we have had trouble doing is replicating the second pie on that page. On the computer, we can recreate a pie, either based on last years pie - showing pie last year compared to pie this year - where we can actually have pies that are in comparable terms and show the two pies to the Member.
Mr. Lang: I want the top diagram and to use the principles of last year on this one. It clearly designates our federal transfers carried throughout the cost share programs and everything else in relationship to what we actually generate here. I think that would give us a better perception, just looking at it, and will give us something to compare with.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I understand what is being requested now, and the department has been working on that since the question came up lock-up. I am advised that it may not be ready until Tuesday. I hope the Member understands that it cannot be ready until then.
Mr. Lang: We may be on the supplementaries on Monday.
With respect to the auxiliaries, the figure of 112 or 120 sticks in my mind as what the various departments had determined but had not filled. Are the dollars in those departments? If so, what is the amount?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The auxiliaries are positions that were seasonals that we converted into auxiliaries at the time we dealt with the act. I do not know the historical reason in every department why they would have had so many auxiliaries on their books, and I am sure they would vary. Suffice it to say that, since these 112 have not been filled for 12 months or more, Management Board will want to take a look at them and find out whether there is justification for their continuing to be on the list, and whether these positions should be retired as auxiliary positions. The departments would have to make a very convincing argument for keeping them on the list.
Mr. Lang: We have a budget before us, and I would assume that all the auxiliaries have the dollars associated with those positions allocated to the departments. Can the Minister come back and give us an indication of what the value for those positions is in the budget, or give us ballpark figures so we would have an idea. Here again, we have a budget and all of a sudden find out that there is maybe $3 million worth of salaries that are not necessary.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will try and indicate again that these auxiliaries may be people who are on call, who might be working one day a week on a regular basis, or they may be summer seasonal employees who work a couple of months in the summer. They may be spread around a number of departments. If Members understand that that will limit the precision with which we can respond to the questions, we will try and get the answers for next week.
Mr. Lang: In view of the hour, I move that we report progress on Bill No. 50 and that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
May the House have the report from the Chairman of the Committee of the Whole?
Mr. Webster: The Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 50, Second Appropriation Act, 1988-89, and directed me to report progress on same.
Speaker: You have heard the report from the Chairman of the Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
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. Monday next.
The House adjourned at 5:28 p.m.
The following Sessional Papers were tabled April 7, 1988:
Green Paper Lets Talk about Child Care in the Yukon (M. Joe)
Chronology of Ministerial Correspondence to the Government of Canada, regarding the Alaska Highway (McDonald)
A Review of the Whitehorse Correctional Centre (January 1988) (Phelps)